Whatever evil the harlot city Babylon represents, exactly the opposite is portrayed by the new and holy city, Jerusalem (21:9-14). The invitation is to behold the bride of the Lamb (21:9), portrayed in normal elements of a city combined with personal elements (21:10). The primary adornment is the glory of God (21:11). The construction models that of an ancient city (21:12). Twelve angelic gatekeepers represent the faithful remnant of Israel. Twelve apostles form the foundations of the holy and faithful city (21:13-14; Ephesians 2:20). Thus, there is continuity between Old Testament faith and New Testament faith.
Ezekiel 40-48 provides background for measuring the city (21:15-22). Verses 22 through 27 point out features of the new Jerusalem. Unlike Ezekiel’s temple, the new and holy city Jerusalem has no temple because God and the Lamb are its temple (21:22). The temple primarily functioned as a meeting place for God and His people. Now that faithful people (the city) and God exist together there is no longer any need for a “place” to meet. There is no need for sunlight because God and the Lamb personify all the light needed (21:23-24; Isaiah 60:1-3; John 1:4-5; 1 John 1:5). That the gates never close means there are no boundaries on bringing glory into the city (21:25-26). Essentially, heaven will be where God is eternally honored. Since all evil and rebellion have been removed, the city’s residents are only those purchased by the Lamb (21:27).
Ezekiel 47:1-12 describes a river much like John’s (22:1-5; John 4:13-14). “Water of life” is water that gives and sustains life (22:1). Leaves of the tree of life provide for healing that will take place (22:2). In eternity, curse is absent (22:3a) because judgment on the unfaithful has been carried out.
God intends the goal of all history is to come into His presence (21:3). The Old Testament says no one could see God’s “face” and live (Exodus 33:20); that is, no one could come near the power displayed by His holy presence and live. However, those made holy through faith in Christ will not only not die in His presence, they will enjoy the bounty of the eternal life God gives His holy people (22:4; Matthew 5:8; 1 John 3:2).
Verse 22:5 echoes 21:23-25. His bond-servants will serve Him as stewards of His grace (22:3), perhaps in a similar way to Adam’s stewardship over the first creation (Genesis 1:28).
Dr. David Moore is a university online instructor in Bible and theology. Email: email@example.com
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