It is very difficult for us who live in the old heaven and the old earth to understand the new heaven and the new earth. Therefore, John could only describe it by saying that there will be no more sea, no more tears, death, sorrow , crying or pain. Those are the things that we do not want to have in this life, and we won’t have those things then. What will the new heaven and the new earth be like? No one can describe it to us clearly . But we can say that there will not be any evil-doers, bad things, crying, pain or death. Without any of those things, it is already a good thing. There might actually be many more things which we can hardly imagine. That is why when the Bible talks about things in the future, it can only use symbolisms. There is no way to describe those things concretely.
The new Jerusalem is not the city that we already know. We cannot visualize the new Jerusalem by comparing it to today’s city because it represents an entirely new thing that people have never seen before. God uses the old name, a place that we are familiar with, to tell us that the new Jerusalem is a new city of peace. This new city is much better than the old one, it is a new realm, a new life, a new structure. For those of us who live in this world , we have to erase the old world completely from our minds and use our imagination together with all the descriptive words to understand the characteristics of the future kingdom of heaven.
THE WIFE OF THE LAMB
9 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
An angel with a very important position is mentioned here. He is the one who had the seven golden bowls full of the seven last plagues. He is the angel who holds an office in the sanctuary, he is the one who receives orders from God from the Holy of Holies. The angel showed John the bride, which is the new Jerusalem. The one who would become the wife of the Lamb after the wedding banquet, Christ’s spouse.
The New Testament regards the church as a virgin who is pure, as Christ’s fiancee who waits to welcome Him. The marriage customs of the Jewish people is to first get engaged and then wait for the day of the wedding. Today, the church is Christ’s fiancee , it is totally metaphorical, until in the future Christ becomes one body with the church. The marriage date in Jewish tradition is set by the groom, he would just give an approximate date, the fiancee does not know the exact date, when the time of the wedding date approaches, she has to be prepared. It is similar to when the Lord Jesus comes to take the church with Him, the date of the rapture. We only know an approximate date; when we see earthquakes, natural disasters, wars and famines, storms of great magnitude, then we know that the time is near.
The Bible also tells us about the fulfillment of the prophecy to have as reference, like the seventy sevens of Daniel chapter 9. The first sixty nine sevens have been fulfilled accurately, so the last seven years will definitely be seven years.
A 7-year wedding banquet in heaven, 7 years of great tribulation on the earth had already happened; the fiancee has become the wife after a wedding ceremony in heaven. The wife of the Lamb descends from heaven from God, this is symbolized with Christ as the groom of the church. The church has many symbolisms, just as Christ has many names. They all represent something.
JERUSALEM, THE HOLY CITY
10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.
In Revelation there are two cities and two married women. The city of Babylon, a city of chaos, and in contrast , Jerusalem, the city of peace. The ending of both cities is different. Babylon is called a prostitute, she sits on many waters, it possesses many resources all over the world, she is wealthy and esteemed by the people of the world, it has a church that is lustful and has the world’s glory. Babylon sits in the midst of many nations and has dealings with them. The new Jerusalem comes from heaven, from God, she is pure, bright, beautiful, she is wholeheartedly loyal to Christ, it doesn’t say that she has the glory of the people but she definitely has the glory of God.
John was able to see this vision only through the Holy Spirit, which means that it is not a city that everyone can see. At present, many people can see the Jerusalem that is in this world but the new Jerusalem can only be seen with spiritual insight.
This new city that is called “the kingdom of heaven”, is not in heaven but it descends from heaven. The “kingdom of heaven” that is often mentioned in the Bible makes people have the wrong impression that we will be living in “heaven ” in the future, that is why many people say: “If you believe in Jesus, you will go to heaven.” Actually, in the new heaven and the new earth, we will all be living on the earth, because this new city will come down from heaven, God wants to live together with His people, and God’s tent will be among His people.
A RADIANT AND GLORIOUS CITY
11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.
The first characteristic of this city is that is very radiant, very glorious, because God is among it, it does not need any lights or sunshine. In the next section we will see the glory of this city.
THE PERFECT CHURCH
12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.
The number twelve represents the whole church, all the members of the church. The number 12 appears many times in the scriptures describing the new Holy city in these two chapters: 12 gates, 12 angels, 12 tribes, 12 foundations, 12 apostles, 12 precious stones and 12 pearls. The tree of life in the next chapters gives 12 kinds of fruits. Therefore, the number 12 is the most important number of the new Holy City.
She is the perfect church in God’s plan. The 12 apostles and the 12 tribes were not perfect. But the 12 tribes were still present. God Himself and the Holy Spirit make perfect the imperfections of the church. The failures of a person can be overcome with the help of God. David committed sins that people despised: adultery, murder, but he was a saint who was after God’s heart and God was pleased with that and through him God did greats things for the kingdom of heaven, it was so that this kingdom of heaven was the continuation of David’s kingdom. The things that people cannot accomplish, God can. Now she might not be perfect, she might have flaws, thinking that the church is not beautiful enough, but when we look beyond time, God has actually made her perfect and pure, the wife of the Lamb.
THE ETERNAL KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west.
Twelve city gates, three on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west, very easy and convenient to go in and out of the city. Later on we will see that the gates will not need to be shut. Never in the history of the world has this been seen; doors need to be locked, websites need passwords, companies need credentials, customs needs passports, there is no place in this world where people can go in and out freely. This means that the future will be completely different from the present. There the people will not want to commit crimes, because they had already experienced the horrible consequences of sin in this world, there will not be any newborns either. They will all treasure their new life of safety, goodness and freedom.
The four directions will still exist: North, south, east and west. Time and space will still exist. After the people resurrect from the dead and get their new bodies, they will be like Jesus when He resurrected from the dead. His corruptible body changed into a body that shone brightly, He still lived in time and space yet eternally, not like what Buddhists believe that people would exist in nirvana. Only Satan and his followers, those who will be thrown into the lake of fire will be in stillness , inactivity, outside of time and space.
We will not be like angels either. Some people think that we will all become like angels because when the Sadducees were questioning Jesus about the resurrection of the dead, He said to them: “When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” Actually, Jesus just wanted to explain to them that people will not be getting married anymore. In God’s plan, marriage and sexual relations is only for the purpose of procreation. In the future , the population would have been numerous enough; besides, there will not be any death, so there would not be any need to procreate or for marriage. But that doesn’t mean there will not be any love, or things to admire, it is just that there will be no marriages. You will enjoy love but there will not be any lust. It will be a perfect heaven and earth.
THE TWELVE APOSTLES AS FOUNDATIONS
The new Holy City had city gates, city walls with foundations, and different kinds of precious stones. All these things represent something, they represent different people.
14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
根基是12 使徒。聖經說，耶穌基督是房角石，我們的信仰，建立在使徒和先知的根基上( 弗2:20) 。神的啟示透過使徒傳給我們，成為堅固的根基。我們大家的信仰都一致，只接受從使徒傳來的信仰。各時代都有人自稱是神的代言人，全部都信，信仰的根基就亂。
The 12 apostles are the foundations. The Bible says that our belief is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. (Ephesians 2:20). God’s revelation is given to us through the apostles thus being a firm foundation. We all have the same belief, which we received from the apostles. During the different eras, there have always been someone who says that he is God’s spokesman, if everyone believed what those people said, the foundation of our faith would be a mess.
They are not the foundations of the city but of the city walls and their purpose is to maintain and protect the peace of the city. The capital of peace, inside the people have one faith; therefore, there is peace.
After the time of the apostles, after the first century had passed, no new revelation has been added to the Bible. The words of other people, no matter how great they are cannot be included in the Bible. Only that which came from Christ personally is to be considered revelation from God.
THE TALL CITY WALLS
During the beginning of the second century, there arose many great saints who continued to build this strong wall to protect the faith until the end of the world when Christ will come again. Even though they are not the foundation, they are part of the tall city wall. Further on, it said that they will also have glory like jasper.
The names of the twelve tribes of Israel were written on the gates, which indicates that this great gate of salvation originally started from Israel. Today, there are still some theologians who insist that Israel and the church are separate, that they are two separate entities , and that they will have a different ending. From this passage, it seems to be saying that in order to be saved, one has to believe in the Jewish religion. Actually, in the New Jerusalem the names of the twelve tribes are written as well as the names of the twelve apostles. Clearly, the New Testament and the Old Testament church is one. Of course the twelve tribes does not necessarily refer to the corporeal body of Israel, Paul already said, those who have Abraham’s faith are the real Israelites. On the other hand, many descendants of Israelites are not saved, they are not considered to be Israelites.
Later on it says, the city is of pure gold, the streets are also of pure gold, the entire city is made of pure gold. This means that all of us who belong to the Lord, each one of us are like a piece of gold. Peter said, like a living stone, a living gold stone, everyone united closely to each other, being a part of this Holy City, the New Jerusalem, which is our home.