Scripture upon which we shall base our remarks in this chapter chiefly may be
found in the 21st and 22nd chapters of Revelation.
It is not so much a study of the whole of these two chapters, but a
study of New Jerusalem that we here undertake.
May God grant us wisdom in this pleasant task.
1. In the two chapters mentioned above we are told of a city. Of cities we all have some knowledge. With them our land is dotted. The word needs no explanation. At the hearing of this word every one forms a mental picture. A city must have locality, streets, houses, and inhabitants. The city of which John speaks has all of these. The locality of the city is given. The Word speaks of its inhabitants. We, therefore, infer that this city must have dwelling places. Without them it would not be a city.
2. The city is new.
It is one that never appeared before.
It is new in its location, in its purpose, in its material, in its
moral purity, in its style, in its size, in its system of lights, and in each
and every one of its characteristics. Everything
about this city is new.
3. It is called New
Jerusalem. This is especially
significant. Jerusalem was the
center and capital city of the kingdom of Israel.
Israel is God’s chosen earthly people.
Jerusalem is to be the site of the Millennial throne.
After the Millennium has closed, and the New Earth has appeared, all
the government of the world will have its center in New Jerusalem.
The Supreme Ruler of the World will be Jesus, next to Him in the
government will stand the glorified saints, and after these there will likely
be sub‑rulers from among the people then living in
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flesh. The Word speaks of “the
kings of the earth” (Rev. 21: 24), and this expression may refer to
sub‑rulers in the flesh. However,
all this may be, we must remember that New Jerusalem will be the head of
government, the point at which all worship shall concentrate, the source from
which all righteousness and grace shall flow after the Millennium has
4. Its origin. John saw it “coming down from God out of heaven” (Rev. 21: 2). He who makes it is God. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” Jesus went back to heaven, and, no doubt, He is now engaged preparing that place of which He spake. That place is this city, New Jerusalem. No human hands help in the construction of this city. It is built by the hand of God. The Word says that Abraham “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11: 10). Here for the first time this city appears to man. It is the city that God Himself hath built, and it is from Him that John sees it coming down.
5. Its literalness.
There is a tendency with certain people to spiritualize all the Bible
says about this city. Such
teaching is very erroneous. Everything
in the record leads us to look for a literal city.
The very material out of which the city is made is mentioned in detail.
Location is given to it. Jesus
said that He was going to prepare a “place” for His people, and yet many
of them say that it is no place at all, but rather a certain or uncertain
spiritual state. We believe in a
literal city for the people of God, just such a one as that for which Abraham
looked and prayed.
6. Its location.
The location of the city is given so specifically that we may
ascertain it very closely. John
saw it coming down “out of heaven,” that is, out of the upper air.
The record makes it clear that the city comes in close proximity to the
earth; and yet there is no intimation that it ever touches the earth.
In fact, it is evident that this city remains suspended in the air
above the earth. The nations of
the earth shall walk
the light of it. In order for the
nations to do this, it must be suspended in the air above the earth.
It is likely that it will hang just above Jerusalem in Palestine.
It will be near enough to the earth to lighten it, and far enough away
perhaps to brighten at least one half of it at a time.
It will be to the whole earth somewhat like the pillar of fire was to
the children of Israel, as far as light and location are concerned.
7. Its size. The exact size of this city is given in Rev. 21: 16. It is given in furlongs, or Roman “stadia.” A “stadia” is one‑eighth of a Roman mile, or 606 1‑4 English feet. The size of the city is declared to be twelve thousand stadia every way. The wall is said to be one hundred and forty‑four cubits, which measurement I believe refers to the thickness of the wall. Twelve thousand stadia is 1,500 Roman miles, or near 1,378 English miles. The length of a cubit is unsettled. It is supposed to be from 18 to 25 inches. One hundred and forty‑four cubits is at least 212 English feet. So here we have the exact size of the city of New Jerusalem—1337 37‑44 English miles cube, with a wall around it 212 feet thick. It has three gates on each of its sides. Perhaps from each of these gates there is a main street leading through the city. If the streets are thus arranged, and it would hardly be otherwise, these twelve streets alone would divide the first floor into sixteen squares, each containing near 18,000,000 acres. To divide the city up by cross‑streets into blocks the size of the blocks in our American cities, it would have at least 625,000,000 squares. Moreover, it is only reasonable that within such high walls as these there would be floor over floor, street over street, and so on. Suppose we say that the different floors are one Roman mile a part. Then we would have a city 1500 stories high, containing 7,500,000 streets and 937,500,000,000 squares. Of such amplitude it is hard for us to conceive. In such a city there would be ample room for ten million houses, each large enough for 12,500 occupants, if they were on Earth. At this rate the city would afford ample room for one and one
SECOND COMING OF JESUS.
quadrillions of occupants. This
would be more than 1000 times as many people as have ever been born in
Adam’s race up to date. Such a
city then will afford room enough for you, and there will be room left for me.
8. Its splendor.
At this point there are many expressions of its splendor.
Many of our modern cities are very beautiful, but there are none of
them worthy to be compared in splendor with New Jerusalem.
The most beautiful of our cities are dusty and dingy, but there will be
no dust in the streets above. Everything
that God makes is always beautiful, and as God is the Maker of this city, we
could expect nothing else but that it should be the most beautiful city that
will ever greet human eyes.
First, we may know the city is beautiful because it is new. It is new, clean, pure, and polished. John describes it as “having the glory of God.” Glory is brightness, light, splendor. “God is light.” Many Scriptures speak of the brightness of His glory which has often been a terror to sinners, but a joy to God’s people. The glory of this city will ever be a source of joy and pleasure to all of those who shall walk in its light.
“Her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper
stone, clear as crystal.” A
jasper is said to be wavy with the various colors to the rainbow.
However, it is opaque. This
splendor is so pure, so bright, that it is as transparent.
The whole city is arrayed in a divine splendor, so pure, so bright that
it is as transparent as an icicle in the sunshine.
city has “a wall great and high.” This
wall is not simply like jasper, but it is jasper itself.
Jasper is a very precious stone, very scarce here; but there is a city
with a wall of jasper 6,000 miles long, 1,500 miles high, and 212 feet thick.
“The city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.”
Gold is one of the most precious metals on earth, but here is a city
made of pure gold. Perhaps this
means that all of its man-
are made of gold. “The wall of
the city had twelve foundations,” and each of these foundations “were
garnished with all manner of precious stones.”
There are certain substances in the earth that are so scarce, rare,
beautiful, and enduring that they are called gems.
It is with twelve of such stones that the foundations of this city are
garnished. It has twelve gates,
each of which is one solid pearl, another very precious gem.
street in the city is paved with “pure gold, as it were transparent
glass.” On earth men often
build houses of very costly material, but there is one part of the city with
which men are content when built of common material.
I refer to the streets. Here
is a city in which not only the houses are gold, but even its very streets are
paved with gold.
Such are the expressions of the splendor of this city.
On earth such a city has never been seen.
God grant that we all may see that city.
9. Its lack of a temple.
John said: “I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and
the Lamb are the temple of it.” What
a vacuum the lack of a temple would make in any city!
A great deal of the history of any city gathers about her temples.
It is so with Jerusalem. To
John it was a point of special amazement that this city had no temple.
The reason in this case is obvious.
A temple is a place of worship, where man approaches God, but
only through symbols, veils, etc. While
we are on earth in our present state, God must remain covered, behind the
veil. In the New Jerusalem, we
shall dwell in His immediate presence, and hence we shall need temples no
10. Its lights. What is a city without lights! If this city had no system of illumination, it would fall far short of an ideal city. This very important part, however, has not been overlooked. Fortunately no gas trusts nor electric plants are needed. In fact, “the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it.” Yet, it has light all the time; “for
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glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.”
Its light is so bright that the nations of the earth walk in the light
11. A more inward view. The 22nd chapter of Revelation gives us a more inward view of the Holy City. It is due to remark here that we are now dealing with the final touches in the picture of the eternal future. It is interesting to note the resemblance between this chapter and the 2nd chapter of Genesis. This chapter shows us that when Redemption is completed, man will enjoy very much the same blessings as he did before his fall into sin, and it gives us a picture of the eternal future. Here we see again the rivers of Edenic purity, and the tree of life given back to man, after his so long prohibition from it (Gen. 3: 24). We are not to think of one single tree alone, though “tree” is in the singular; but it is used in the same sense as we speak of the “oak” or the “pine.” No doubt, the individual trees will number to millions. The leaves of those trees are for the healing of the nations, that is, to keep the nations from getting sick (Rev. 22: 2). “The kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it” (Rev. 21: 24), and carry back from it those things that are useful to the children of men.
Thus we have given to you a Bible picture of the New Jerusalem.
May God grant all of us to so live that we will find our home in this