Book of Revelation – a series presented by pastor Michael Walker
Lesson #23 – Revelation, chapters 21, 22
The Bible says: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, . . . the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:10). Our imagination cannot comprehend what it will be like to live in a world that is devoid of evil and free from contamination of any kind. We can only understand from the preview of that glorious future that God has given us in His Word. It will be a pure environment; a completely safe and happy place for all creatures, including the saints; it will be a healthy and joyful life that will be free from illness, suffering and death; and we shall talk with Jesus face to face. Wow – what a magnificent future for us to prepare for and look forward to!
John now beholds in vision a completely different scene; the wicked have gone to their final end in the Second Death and the earth has been cleansed by the fire from heaven and renewed (2 Peter 3:11-13). He views a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness is at home.
The Holy City will descend from Heaven at the close of the Millennium and will be surrounded by the wicked (Revelation 20:9). As it descends, the Mount of Olives will cleave in two and the whole region will be levelled where the city will come to rest: Zechariah 14:3,4,9,10. Concerning this event we read:
“Christ descends upon the Mount of Olives, whence, after His resurrection, He ascended, and where angels repeated the promise of His return … As the New Jerusalem, in its dazzling splendour, comes down out of heaven, it rests upon the place purified and made ready to receive it, and Christ, with His people and the angels, enters the Holy City”E.G. White, The Great Controversy, pp.662,663
God Who was able to protect the three Hebrew worthies in the fiery furnace, will likewise manifest that same power in protecting His saints:
“While the earth was wrapped in the fire of destruction, the righteous abode safely in the Holy City. Upon those that had part in the first resurrection, the second death has no power. While God is to the wicked a consuming fire, He is to His people both a sun and a shield. Revelation 20:6; Psalm 84:11”Ibid, p.673
“Prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” – The Holy City is inhabited by the saints sharing in the glory of Christ and partaking of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in His Father’s house (Revelation 19:9; Matthew 8:11).
That wonderful promise that Jesus gave us on the night of the Last Supper will now be fully realized: John 14:2,3. All will now be peace and happiness. Tears of sorrow will be turned into tears of eternal joy. It will be a world where death and decay will be no more with peace and harmony throughout the universe. Our eternal happiness will be experienced with increasing joy. This earth’s Edenic state will be restored (Acts 3:20,21) and will be more glorious than in its former state as God makes His home amongst us (c.f. Isaiah 64:4; 1 Corinthians 2:9). There will be no more suffering: no one will ever be feeble, fearful, blind, deaf, dumb nor lame; and all the earth will be fertile, fruitful and beautifully adorned: Isaiah 35:1-6. We shall never hunger nor thirst anymore: Revelation 7:16,17.
Never will destruction take place; even the wild animals will be tame and fearless, feeding together; and little children will safely feed them: Isaiah 11:6-9.
Assurance to the Faithful and a Warning to All
At this juncture of the vision, Christ offers words of assurance to the faithful while warning everyone that only those who overcome shall inherit these things but the unrepentant shall not. The latter will be destroyed in the Second Death!
“It is done!” – is a statement that turns our focus to the time when Christ finishes His Ministry of Intercession in the Heavenly Sanctuary. He who is “the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End”, who addressed John at the beginning of the Book of Revelation, (Revelation 1:8) is the One who began His good work in us and is able to bring it to completion (Philippians 11:6), now speaks at the end of the book His words of assurance and warning. When He completed His atoning sacrifice for us at Calvary, our Saviour announced that it was finished: John 19:30. Upon the completion of His intercessory ministry in Heaven, He will once again announce, “It is done!” (Revelation 16:17). Likewise, when the earth is renewed and the salvific plan and purpose of God is completed in the renewing of the earth, Jesus makes that final announcement, “It is done!”.
This decree will be declared in the heavenly assizes when human probation finally closes, sealing the eternal destiny of everyone. Jesus then declares that He will return soon afterwards. It will then be too late to change our minds. In His love, He utters this warning to us living here and now – for
“Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation”2 Corinthians 6:2
This blessing will be realized in its fulness at Christ’s Second Coming. Some translations read, “that wash their robes” and others “that do His commandments”. There is important textual evidence to support both translations. However, both renderings are in harmony with Biblical teaching. The righteousness of Christ is what provides our fitness for Heaven, but the evidence that we are being sanctified in Christ is seen in our obedience to His Commandments. A simple scribal error could explain the difference in the various manuscripts.
“The following transliteration will show the similarity:
hoi poiountes tas entolas autou, ‘that keep his commandments.’
hoi plunontes tas stolas autôn, ‘that wash their robes.’”
– Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol.7, p.897.
This verse echoes Revelation 21:8. “dogs” is a figure of speech that refers to vile and shameless individuals.
Although the apostle John was instructed to write what he saw in the vision and to send it to the 7 Churches in Asia (Revelation 1:11), Christ’s message is to all Christians throughout history [c.f. Lessons 2 and 3, Christ’s Messages to His Church – Parts 1 and2]. The promise echoes Revelation 21:6 (c.f. John 4:10-14; 7:37,38).
Looking down through the historical periods outlined in the Book of Revelation, Jesus knew that religious men would tamper with God’s Word. They would seek to change its teachings so as to give a different meaning, either by diminishing its message or adding to it. Such blasphemy would be inexcusable. Therefore Jesus gives a severe warning to those who would meddle with its contents (c.f. Daniel 7:25).
Revelation 21 The Holy City, The New Jerusalem
It must have been a magnificent sight. Its radiance beyond anything seen by any of us, as its brilliance is reflecting the glory of God.
John can only describe what he saw in human terms that are inadequate to describe the full effulgence of God’s glory. The Greek literally suggests a “flashing or sparkling luminary as clear as crystal”.
The imagery is reminiscent of an ancient city with high walls and secure gates to keep out the enemy. What John is describing here is undoubtedly hyperbole since there will be no enemy to keep out once the wicked have been destroyed. This is highlighted by verse 27 that states nothing unclean nor abominable will enter it (c.f. v.8). In other words: we shall be eternally safe as there will be no more danger! What a relief!
The city is built on 12 foundations which is suggestive of the indestructability of this eternal city. Whereas the 12 gates contain the names of the 12 apostles, the foundations contain the names of the 12 tribes of Israel. In Biblical numerology, 12 is a Kingdom Number. Christ’s Kingdom will be composed of His faithful saints from both periods of history – namely, the OT period represented by the 12 tribes of Israel and the NT period by the 12 apostles. Christ’s Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets: Ephesians 2:20.
The size and shape of the city has been the topic of much discussion as it seems illogical for it to be cube-shaped and such a stupendous size of around 1,380 miles in length and height! It is more probable that John’s hyperbole is more suggestive of unity, conformity, greatness and spaciousness. It will be as Jesus explained, there is plenty of room in His Father’s house: John 14:2.
In the construction of spacesuits, NASA placed a thin layer of translucent, pure gold on the astronauts’ visors to deflect the dangerous effects of solar radiation. It also reflects infrared light while letting in visible light. An extremely thin layer of gold becomes transparent. Considering that our Creator produced a perfect world (c.f. Genesis1:31) where there were no impurities of any kind, surely, He will recreate the new earth to the same standard. There need be no doubt of His ability to produce gold so pure that it will be transparent to a much greater depth. Just imagine the structure being made of the precious gem of jasper instead of concrete or stone, with transparent streets of gold and huge gates of solid pearl, glistening in the brilliant light of God’s glory. It will be a spectacular sight far superior and magnificent than any Disneyland fairy castle created by man!
As we walk those golden streets of the New Jerusalem, glistening with the brilliance of God’s glory, as it reflects and is refracted through the jasper facades beside those golden streets and the 12 foundations of precious jewels, we shall be overwhelmed by the splendour, the beauty and the brilliance of it all!
The structure of a sanctuary (temple) was given through Moses to visibly remind us of God’s presence amongst us: Exodus 25:8. In Eden before the Fall, there was no need of such a structure because God came and communed with Adam and Eve face to face: Genesis 3:8. That is how it will be in the earth made new: Revelation 22:4. Oh, what will it be like to look directly into the face of Jesus and our loving Heavenly Father? That in itself will be a tremendous joy. Just think of it: we shall be able to commune face to face with God throughout eternity!
This text does not say that the Sun and Moon will no longer be in existence; it does however say that the Holy City shall not need them. The reason being, that God’s glory will shed light throughout the city. It should be remembered that God placed the Sun and Moon in our solar system for a purpose when He created them in the first place before sin entered our world. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin but does not erase the Sun and Moon! When the “the first heaven and the first earth” have passed away (Revelation 21:1), God will recreate them anew and the Sun and Moon will still perform their functions as before (Genesis 1:14-16).
In the earth made new, there will be no more darkness as we experience today because everything will be made perfect. In our physical weakness we could not withstand the extreme brightness. In that day, the Sun will be seven times brighter, and likewise the Moon that reflects the sunlight will therefore give more light, so that the night will be as our present day (Isaiah 30:26; 60:19,20; Revelation 22:5).
Revelation 22 The River of Life
Life and eternal life flows from God the Source of life (Genesis 2:7; Actd17:28; John 3:15,16; 10:10,2). From His eternal throne flows the River of Life. The water is pure as in all His new creation. That Tree of Life which our first parents ate from in Eden will once again be available. After the Fall, God had to prevent us eating from the tree because it obviously was the means by which He enabled our continuation of life (c.f. Genesis3:22-24). This is beneficial to our “healing” and bears fruit on a monthly basis. It will produce 12 different kinds of fruit. This will be an interesting fruit tree to feast upon. Its fruit-laden bowers will be abundant as it grows on either side of the River of Life providing its source of nourishment.
We shall have the assurance that righteousness will be at home as we reflect His glory, with our characters bearing Christ’s image (2 Corinthians 3:18). In fact, we shall be clothed once again in those glorious garments which we lost when we became sinful (c.f. Genesis 3:7; Philippians 3:20,21).
The redeemed from all the nations shall inherit Christ’s Kingdom (Daniel 7:27).
John echoes the promise given in Revelation 21:5 offering us that added assurance of His Word. Then Jesus adds that assuring promise He made while on earth that He will soon return; and He encourages us to keep holding on to His message as disclosed in the Book of Revelation. It is so important to do so because it contains His message for these last days so that we may understand what is taking place and what is soon to happen (Revelation 1:1,3).
In His closing message, Jesus repeats the promise once again that His Second Coming would be soon and the apostle John expresses his longing that it will not be long. Do you share that same longing? Then remain faithful to Jesus for it is only by His grace that we shall be found ready to meet Him: Jude 24,25.
The full video presentation is available below: