Revelation 21–22. Act III. Scene III. Our Home.
Key Notes: The Sea. The City. What shall we do there?
21:1–5 John introduces his final and glorious conclusion. There is a new heaven and a new earth. There is no more sea. The New Jerusalem is coming down out of Heaven from God. God will dwell with human beings and put away all sorrow.
The disappearance of the sea is a puzzle.
Could it be the Mediterranean that the land-loving Israelites dreaded?
Could it be the symbol of chaos, where Leviathan plays? Job 26:12–13; 38:8–11,16
Or is it the international community, as John implies in Rev.17:15.
Revelation can be interpreted to describe a decimation of the human race living on the earth; the "international community" might cease to exist while individual nation-states survive. Rev.21:26; 22:2
21:5–6 A second paragraph is addressed to the believers. God speaks for the first time in Revelation:
"Behold, I make all things new. Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.... It is done!"
The invitation to be God's child is given to the over-comers. The penalty for those who shrink back, and the polluted, as well as those with gross sin, is the Lake of Fire.
21:9–22:5. John describes our new home--not as a garden--we are not going back to Eden--but as a city. It is glorious, like a rare jewel, clear as crystal, and huge. Pearls, jewels, gold clear as glass are there. (Glass mixed with gold turns brilliant red.) Its 12 gates are named for the twelve patriarchs (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, etc.). The foundations are named for the twelve apostles (Peter, James, John, Matthew, etc.). The City is called The Bride, The Wife of the Lamb.
Who is the Bride? Jesus is the Bridegroom. (Matt.25:1–6; Lk.5:34; Matt.9:15). Paul compares Christ and the Church to the relationship between a husband and wife. (Eph.5:21–33). Paul also says "...I have betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband." (IICor.11:2).
Therefore we conclude that the New Jerusalem is the Church, the Bride of Christ, in its exalted form.
The end of Revelation could be called the tale of two cities.
|Analogous to Rome||Analogous to earthly Jerusalem|
|Harlot for ten kings||Bride of the King of Kings|
|Persecutor of Christians||Comforter of believers|
|Sitting on many waters||No more sea|
|Stronghold of the Beast||Home of the Lamb|
|Supported by seven kings||Founded on Twelve apostles|
|Destined for destruction||Renewed forever|
Heaven does not appear to be our final destination, although that is the common understanding. Revelation says God will dwell with human beings in the New Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven. But there are several references in Revelation to saints in Heaven:
Souls of the martyrs are under the altar praying God's vengeance on the persecutors. Rev.6:9
Multitudes of people from all nations with white robes and palm branches are standing before the throne, shouting praise to God. Rev.7:9–17
The over-comers stand before God singing the song of Moses and the Lamb. Rev.15:2–4
We believe that these events are prior to the First Resurrection, and are part of what is called "the intermediate state" between death and final resurrection. During this time Paul says we will be "at home with the Lord." (IICor.5:8)
The City is an enormous cube, 1500 miles in each dimension. Simple calculations lead us to believe that billions of people could be housed there. Truly as Jesus said, "In my Father's House are many mansions / rooms." (Jn.14:2). Perhaps many billions more will be saved before the end. There is no sun or moon and no night; there is no temple and no locks on the doors. No evil comes there. God and Christ are the Temple, and the Light.
The River of Life flows through the City with the Trees of Life on either side bearing different fruit each month. Ezekiel describes the River as flowing on to give all kinds of sea life including fish for fishermen. (Ezek.47:1–12). Zechariah describes a fountain opened for cleansing the inhabitants of Israel (Zech.13:1). Living waters will flow out of Jerusalem. Zech.14:8
In Gen.3:23 God excluded Adam and Eve from the Garden so that they could not eat of the Tree of Life and live forever. That part of the Garden is restored for all of us. 2:7.
What shall we do there?
be pillars in the house of God 3:12
worship, seeing God's face and ruling. 22:4–5
sit with Him on the throne. 3:21
have power over the nations 2:26
receive the crown of life.Rev.2:10
walk in white garments 3:5
eat with Christ 3:20
Jesus said marriage is not a feature of our final state (Matt.22:30) but more exalted relationships and pleasures are in store.
Rev.22:6–21 is the epilogue, complementary to the prologue. It is palindromic (1 matches 7, etc.) and contains seven last words:
- reassurance: These words are trustworthy and true.
- rebuke: Do not worship angels; worship God.
- warning: I am coming soon (repeated three times in the epilogue).
- promise: Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have a right to the tree of life.
- invitation: The Spirit and the Bride say come.
- admonition: Do not add or subtract from the words of this book.
- benediction: The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints.
In conclusion, our final state is
- a new condition--resurrection life
- living in a new environment--new heaven and earth
- in a place, the New Jerusalem which is also a society--The Church
- in a relationship with God--His servants, His Bride / wife, His people
- God will condescend to live among us, not "in unapproachable light" (ITim.6:16) nor as "the devouring fire". (Isa.33:14)
God is making a way for us to joy and rejoice in His presence. It will be too wonderful for words.
"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." (I Cor. 2:9)