“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.’ And He that sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said unto me, ‘Write: for these words are true and faithful.’” Revelation 21:1-5 KJV.
“And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.’” Revelation 21:6-8.
The above has been retained for context. The first passage above is from the King James Version and the second passage is from the New King James Version. I am very sorry for any confusion this may have caused.
“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ And he carried me way in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. And her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. And the city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. And the construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.” Revelation 21:9-21.
We are now given a better description of New Jerusalem which was seen as descending from heaven in Revelation 21:2. Since it is described as the bride the Lamb’s wife, it is the place which the Lord said that He would prepare for the church.
Some commentators feel that this is the home of all the saved in history, but other verses seem to refute this. It is my opinion that it is indeed the home of the church, the bride of Christ, in part because the angel calls the city, “the bride the Lamb’s wife”.
The angel takes John to a great and high mountain; this gives us a bit more of an idea of the new earth, it is not just a flat plain, there are mountains.
The city has a brilliant glow as of a diamond in the light; the light is the glory of God.
“Who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.” 1 Timothy 6:16.
“This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” 1 John1:5.
The entire city is surrounded by a great and high wall, with twelve gates, three on each side, and each with a name of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Now you are going to read many different interpretations of the things described herein because the eternal state is only described in these two chapters, with perhaps one or two vague references elsewhere.
As a result, some of these conclusions may not be agreed upon by all, though most are mainstream drawn from several different sources.
The first question is, why a wall? I believe that it is symbolic of the wall that was erected between God and man when sin entered the world.
For instance, the tabernacle consisted of a tent within a courtyard, the tent was divided into two sections, the holy place and the most holy place called the holy of holies.
The holy of holies was the part where the Ark of the Covenant was placed and God Himself was seated above the ark. Moreover, no one was allowed to just walk into this place, only the high priest and not without blood from a sacrifice.
This area was separated from the holy place by a veil/curtain representing the separation between God and man caused by sin.
In the temple which existed in Jesus’ time the two areas were also separated by a veil, one so heavy that it would take two teams of horses to rip it in half. Yet it says this of the Lord’s death.
“Jesus, when He had cried out again with a loud voice, yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split…” Matthew 27:50-51.
Christ has removed the dividing wall/veil between God and man. This 216 foot high wall is symbolic of the wall that used to exist between God and man.
The wall itself is made of jasper, clear as crystal, so you can see through it. Why can you see through a wall? There is a good reason; the wall has twelve foundations and on them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
These apostles are the builders of the church, and in doing so they revealed who God is through the four gospels and other New Testament books. God is revealed in Jesus, in fact He said of Himself.
“He who has seen Me has seen the Father…” John 14:9b.
And in another place He said.
“I and My Father are one.” John 10:30.
If you want to know what God is like, study the life of Jesus. Since God is in the eternal city, His glory shines through the wall.
The city is not inaccessible there are twelve open gates, three on each side, and each bearing the name of a tribe of Israel. I suspect that the tribes of Israel will live in homes surrounding the city, if so; they may be in the same order as they encamped around the tabernacle in the wilderness.
If this is the case, the gates would be named as follows. The east wall would have gates named, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulon. I suspect that the center gate would be Judah, since that is the tribe of the Christ and that gate would correspond with the entrance to the tabernacle.
The north wall would have Naphtali, Asher, and Dan, the south wall would be, Gad, Simeon, and Reuben, and the west wall Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin. The tribe of Levi which is the priestly line may well live between the homes of the tribes and the wall itself, since that is how they encamped in the wilderness.
For the reason the gates are named after them, hear the Lord’s response to a question of the Samaritan woman.
“You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.” John 4:22.
“What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God.” Romans 3:1-2.
“…Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.” Romans 9:4-5.
It was through the Christ that the way was opened to God’s presence and these gates are a remembrance of the faithfulness of believing Israel.
The twelve gates are each one pearl. A pearl is the result of a grain of sand or some other irritant finding its way into an oyster. In an effort to remove the discomfort the oyster starts to coat the irritant with nacre a strong iridescent material that after coat after coat becomes a pearl.
Oddly enough the Israelites did not value pearls as much as Gentiles so the pearl may be symbolic of the church which is made up of both Jew and Gentile, particularly in view of the parable of the pearl of great price.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46.
The picture here is of Christ who gave His life to purchase this pearl. It is the church that spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and opened the gate of salvation for all to enter in, notice that the gates are never closed.
Let us not forget the grain of sand, the irritant within the oyster. Both the children of Israel and the Christian church have endured a great deal of persecution through the ages. Indeed, the worst is yet to come during the tribulation.
Individual Israelites and Christians too have suffered the grinding pain of the grain of sand. Whether this is from accidents, illness, loss of families, persecution, or anything else, the end result will be a beautiful pearl. Mind you I do not write this lightly, I too have been in these places.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:28-29.
The finished pearl in glory will be the Christian conformed to the image of God’s Son, Jesus. The road is broken and rough, but the destination will make us forget all of that.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18.
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.
The foundations of the wall were adorned with all sorts of precious stones Revelation 21:19-20. While these all have a significance, some stones are difficult to identify.
They are listed here in order to make it easier for you to study them: 1. Jasper, 2. Sapphire, 3. Chalcedony, 4. Emerald, 5. Sardonyx, 6. Sardius, 7. Chrysolite, 8. Beryl, 9. Topaz, 10. Chrysoprase, 11. Jacinth, 12. Amethyst. This list is given in Revelation 21:19-20.
Compare this with the order given on the priest’s breastplate described in Exodus 28:13-28 which has twelve stones on it with the names of the twelve tribes engraved on them, yet they do not all correspond with those mentioned above.
“And you shall put settings of stones in it, four rows of stones: The first row shall be a sardius [or ruby], a topaz, and an emerald; this shall be the first row; the second row shall be a turquoise, a sapphire, and a diamond; the third row, a jacinth [or amber], an agate, and an amethyst; and the fourth row, a beryl [or yellow jasper], an onyx, and a jasper. They shall be set in gold settings.” Exodus 28:17-20.
They do not seem to correspond with the colors of the rainbow either. To remember the colors of the rainbow just think ROYGBIV, starting from the top: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, ROYGBIV.
Stones are mentioned throughout the Bible, so if you feel led to investigate you may find an answer. By the way, you can look up gemstone photos on your computer; however you will find that some of the ancient names are not the same stones of today.
There is little said about the city up to this point other than it is laid out in a square and its height is the same as its length and breadth; which happens to be a mind boggling 1500 miles.
Some see a city shaped like a cube within the wall, others have suggested a globe shape, which is strange, yet it could be like a geodesic dome. The shape of a pyramid with God residing on the top is visually more pleasing, but God seems to favor squares and rectangles so the cube seems to be the more likely shape.
If the city is actually a cube 1500 by 1500 by 1500 miles it would mean that the New Jerusalem would have a capacity of 33,750,000 cubic miles! If my calculator is not broken there is certainly enough room to house every person from the church age.
Some might argue that something that massive would certainly throw the new earth’s rotation off. One cannot be certain one way or another whether the earth will rotate, since it is not mentioned.
However if it did it is possible that the New Jerusalem would sit on the new earth’s north or south pole which would mean that the city would simply turn around in its place like a merry go round.
Whatever the answer to this mystery, a city made entirely of transparent gold shining forth with the glory of God would be one spectacular sight!
Revelation 21:9-21 taken from godisrevealed.com updated on 3-17-17, reposted on 12-1-22.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.