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Revelation; The New Jerusalem

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posted on Feb, 13 2011 @ 04:16 PM
I want to offer some thoughts on Revelation chs 21&22.

These are the last two chapters of Revelation, of course. The story has reached its destination in the "new Jerusalem".

So I'm going to be asking the question; what are these chapters telling us about this new city?

From the beginning of ch 21, we're finding ourselves in a renewed world, a different kind of world. This is fulfilling the promise of "a new heavens and a new earth", which the Lord made in Isaiah ch60 v22.
In the rest of Revelation, we find a three-way division of the world, into "heaven, the earth, and the sea".
In the renewed universe, though, the old heaven and the old earth have "passed away" (APELTHON), while the sea "is not, any longer" (OUK ESTIN ETI).
The difference between these two expressions is very significant.
That phrase "is not" connects the sea with the "Beast from the sea", which "was and is not, and is to come" in ch17 v8.
It marks them both as polar opposites to the God who IS ("and was, and is to come").

In the Creation story of Genesis, the sea is a portion of the great "abyss", the material from which God made an ordered world fit for human habitation. So it represents a "reservoir" of material not suitable for God's world, and becomes, in Revelation, one of the symbols of the source of evil.
That's why the sea is not going to be replaced.

The new Jerusalem then comes down "as a bride adorned for her husband".
This fulfils the promise which the Lord makes about the time when his people have been reconciled;
"I will betroth you to me for ever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy."- Hosea ch2 v19.
And the relation between Christ and the church is described in much the same way.
For Christ loved the church, and sanctified it, "that he might present the church to himself in splendour...that she might be holy and without blemish."- Ephesians ch5 vv25-27
So if Jerusalem is the "bride", "Jerusalem" must represent the coming together of God's people.

The next part of the teaching is about God's presence with his people, and what this means for them.
So the "loud voice" in v3 proclaims the fulfilment of the promise in Ezekiel;
"My dwelling-place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people"- Ezekiel ch37 v37
While the effect of God's presence is the absence of evil things, and this is the fulfilment of other promises;
"He shall swallow up death for ever, and the Lord God shall wipe away tears from all eyes"- Isaiah ch25 v8
And again; "They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and murning shall flee away"- Isaiah ch38 v14

The throne in these chapters is called "the throne of God and of the Lamb", and they do seem to be speaking with the same voice.
The one who sits upon the throne says "Behold, I make all things new"- which could only be possible for the God who made the world in the first place.
He applies to his own words the description "trustworthy and true". But that same phrase- PISTOS KAI ALETHINOS- has been used in this book (in ch3 v14, and ch19 v11), as one of the titles of Christ.
Then he calls himself "the Alpha and the Omega"- like the Lord God Almighty in ch1 v8, but also like that Jesus who is "coming soon" in ch22 v12.
And there's a resemblance in thought between "It is done!" and "It is finished!", the last word that Jesus spoke on the Cross.
This may not be a coincidence, because what happened on the Cross, as we learned in ch5, made possible the "breaking of the seals" and all the subsequent events in Revelation, leading up to this triumphant conclusion.
So what God does for his people is based partly on the his inherent power as the Creator-God-
And partly on the Atonement, the driving-force at the heart of everything that happens in Revelation.

There's the same kind of ambiguity in the content of the promise.
The promise of water, for those who thirst, is partly based on the Lord's offer to Israel ("without price", Isaiah ch51 v1), and partly on the promises made by Jesus ("a spring of water welling up to eternal life"- John ch4 v14)
It was Christ, in the letters to the seven churches, who was making promises "to him who conquers".
But the exact nature of the promised heritage- that "he shall be my son"- shows that the offer comes ultimately from the Father

The other side of the coin is that some characters find themselves excluded.
They've already been thron into the "lake of fire".
At the head of the list come the cowardly and the "faithless" (APISTOI)- perhaps because of the failure to resist the Beast. They certainly sound like the opposite of "faithful and true".
The rest of the list partly resembles Paul's roster of those who will not "inherit the kingdom of God"- 1 Corinthians ch7 v9.
These are all different ways of "failing to conquer"

The next stage in the vision echoes the great "Temple" vision at the end of Ezekiel (from ch40)
The prophet is taken to a very high mountain to see what resembles a city.
He then watches while the Temple is measured, in preparation for the Lord's return to it in ch43.
(Revelation has already given us one version of the "measuring of the Temple", at the beginning of ch11).

In this vision, though, we see a different set of measurements.
In fact the dimensions found in this chapter are much the same as the numbers being quoted in ch7, during the "sealing" of the servants of God.
In ch7, there were 12,000 sealed in each tribe, and this was my interpretation of that number;

"10" has been described as the number of completeness or perfection. I think of it as pointing us towards "the full extent of the world".
"1000" is the cubed version of "10"; "10" is taken three times and multiplied out, and that's the result. I think of it as God's version of "10"; the full extent of God's world.
And all the way through the Bible, "12" is the number which points us towards "God's people".
So I understand this number to represent "God's people occupying the fullness of Gods' world".

Then here in ch21, we find that the basic dimensions of the city are 12.000 stadia in each direction.
And I would understand this number in exactly the same way as in ch7.
It represents God's people occupying the fullness of God's world.

In ch7, there was a list of the "12 tribes".
Since 12,000 were sealed in each tribe, the end-result was the number 144,000.
Then, here in this chapter, each of the tribes has a dedicated gate.
I would understand the "12 tribes" in both chapters to mean, generically "the people of God" (rather than. specifically, "the Jews").
This chapter's version of the "12 x 12" comes in the width of the walls, which is given as 144 cubits.
(And it may be worth noting that the city appears to be in the shape of a cube, which would have 12 edges)
So the message of the dimensions, like the message of the "bride" metaphor, seems to be that "Jerusalem" represents the coming together of God's people.

The construction of the city is very ornate, with streets of gold, gates of pearl, and precious stones of every kind in the foundations.
I can leave it to other people to find symbolism in the individual stones.
The point is that the appearance of the city is overwhelmingly glorious.
And this fulfils the Old Testament promises that the old glories of Jerusalem would be restored.
In particular, the end of the chapter fulfils promises found in Isaiah.
In the backgound of v23, we can find;
"The sun shall be no more your light by day
Nor for brightness shall the moon be your light by night;
But the Lord shall be your everlasting light,
And your God shall be your glory"- Isaiah ch60 vv19-20
The historical experience of Jerusalem was that nations and their kings had been taking wealth away from Jerusalem. Isaiah was also promising that this would be reversed;
"Your gates shall be open continually,
Day and night they shall not be shut;
That men may bring to you the wealth of the nations
With their kings led in procession"- Isaiah ch60 v11.
And the fulfilment of this promise can be rcognised in vv24-26.
The point is evidently that the vision of these last two chapters represents the fulfilment, though in symbolic ways, of everything that God has ever promised to his people.

Finally, the centre of the city is occupied by an image, or a combination of images, relating to Life.
The stream of water echoes the stream that flows in Ezekiel ch47, issuing from the threshold of the Temple. In the prophet's vision it becomes a great river, giving life everywhere it goes, with trees growing on either side.
Then there is the Tree of Life, which is familiar from Genesis as one of the trees found in the Garden.
My understanding of the story is that Adam and Eve would have been eating from the Tree of Life until they were expelled (this fruit had not been forbidden, so what would have stopped them?)
But when they fell into sin, God removed them from the Garden with the express purpose that they should not [continue to] eat from this Tree. Thus denying them access to the source of Life, and fulfilling his warning that they would become vulnerable to death.
In the combined image, it is the Tree of Life that is growing "on either side of the river".
I've seen this illustrated on the assumption that the river is flowing through the base of a single tree, but it is probably better to regard the "Tree of Life" as a species.
Either way, the meaning of the image is that Life is freely acessible.
The tree is giving fruit twelve times a year, so it's never out of season.
(And that "12" is another reminder that the Life is made available to God's people)
And this is not just about Life, but about renewed Life- the final healing of the breach which was made at the beginning of the Bible, and which has been the implicitly central theme of the Bible ever since.

The message of this vision can be briefly summed up in this way;
The new Jerusalem represents the coming together of God's people.
They are living in the presence of God.
As a result, they are removed from any kind of evil, including death.
And they have permanent access to the source of Life.

Or, even more briefly;
With each other.
With God.
Not-with evil.
With Life

edit on 13-2-2011 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 13 2011 @ 05:24 PM

Its gates will never be shut by day-and there shall be no night there; ch21 v25

I meant to add that this is also an indicator of complete security.
Ancient cities would normally shut their gates by night, just as householders lock their doors.
If they closed their gates in the daytime, it was because hostile armies were around.
Therefore "never be shut by day" indirectly makes the point that this Jerusalem can never be threatened by hostile armies.
And of course there will be no night because of the eternal light of God.

posted on Feb, 13 2011 @ 06:34 PM
Now that this series on Revelation has been completed, i would like to advise anyone who may be interested that there will, in due course, be an Index thread, intended to help people navigate their way around the whole collection.

posted on Feb, 13 2011 @ 06:43 PM
hey, cool///.. and this is where "the kingdom of heaven" definition gets involved....the reformed church of god says the kingdom is just this new earth...we don't go to heaven really. any input. ? i was thinking of your threads when i learned this last week....i'm digging deep for all the angles on this. Jesus said the kingdom is in us.....? great reading here

posted on Feb, 13 2011 @ 06:49 PM
reply to post by GBP/JPY

I think I would take all the descriptions in these last two chapters to be symbolic ones.
A new life in a new spiritual world would be so different from our current world that we would not be able to grasp the reality of it with the minds we've got now, so it can only be presented in these symbolic terms.
So my personal opinion is that it would be a mistake to take the descriptions too literally, and to be expecting an "earth" anything like what we've got now.

posted on Feb, 13 2011 @ 06:54 PM

Originally posted by GBP/JPY
. Jesus said the kingdom is in us.....?

And on this point, I would bring in John's teaching in places like John ch11 v26; "whoever lives and believes in me shall never die". In other words, "eternal life" has aleady begun, in one sense, in parallel with our physical lives.

posted on Feb, 13 2011 @ 07:12 PM
ha...exactly what i was thinking in response to the reformed church of god statement...there was one more thing he got overboard on, as he made his sieel as if he was selling his view on an informercial....
and then this:...there is the group that is not allowed in the gates of the descended city.....the lovers of lies and something else...the whole world will have a chance to claim the salvation of Jesus, at some last day...( say if every knee shall bow)...i think that guy from the r'd church of god means that the elite will find the narrow path early, be eligible from an early date, the others might not be eligible to enter the gates but will still be there?....this is what i'm hashing over nowadays...if every knee bows, does that make them eligible?

posted on Feb, 13 2011 @ 07:21 PM
reply to post by GBP/JPY

I get the impression from these chapters that the "excluded" people in ch21 are the same people who were judged and found "not written in the Book of Life" in the previous chapter. In other words, ch21 v8 is just confirming that they won't be around at that stage.
So it seems to come down to- getting yourself written in the Book of Life. Trusting in Christ, not giving in to the Beast. The N.T. makes it clear that not everybody makes it, although there's room for argument about what happens to those who don't.

edit on 13-2-2011 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 13 2011 @ 08:34 PM
Here is a link to the philosophical definition of the Christian God which I once constructed for a thread on the Philosophy forum.
To my mind, the nature of the Biblcal God as a Creator-God is central to the meaning of Revelation.,

Definition of God

edit on 13-2-2011 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 13 2011 @ 10:35 PM
the other item spoken by the r'd church of god broadcaster....david pack is his he stated that the only way to receive the Holy Spirit is by the laying on of hands after baptism.....this not off-topic, i'm rallying around the new city that revelation....i'm on the case about this statement...
Revelation is a scared me for three decades, then my soul wanted to drink it in for the last three decades
edit on 13-2-2011 by GBP/JPY because: Sp

what disraeli wrote ......
"The understanding is that the Incarnation is a more direct presence of God within the created universe.

If this is true, it's the ultimate form of Communication, as the author of Hebrews points out;
"God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets
but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son".

But it's also the ultimate form of "establishing a relationship"; "

do you know that speaks to me deeply somehow.
edit on 13-2-2011 by GBP/JPY because: sp

posted on Feb, 14 2011 @ 09:47 AM

Originally posted by GBP/JPY
.david pack is his he stated that the only way to receive the Holy Spirit is by the laying on of hands after baptism....

It's probably a mistake to try to lay down rules about this kind of thing, because God is not going to be bound by rules.
I would argue, in the fist place, that Christians in general have received the Holy Spirit. "No-one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit"- 1 Corinthians ch12 v3- so anyone who is acknowledging Jesus as Lord must be under that influence. And Ephesians points out that those who have believed in Christ have been "sealed with the promised Holy Spirit"- Ephesians ch1 v13.
Even if David is talking about the "charismatic gifts", it's still true that God is not going to be limited.
The Apostles on the day of Pentecost had not just had hands laid on them.
Cornelius did not have hands laid on him beforehand.
Laying on hands is a way of asking God to do something, but it doesn't really decide whether or when he's going to do it. In fact, if someone is making things dependant on some human action like this, they come round full circle to the Roman Catholic view that the graces of God are effectively controlled by what the priest does.

I think the Incarnation is such a key idea- I'm glad you found my version of it helpful.

posted on Dec, 27 2011 @ 11:32 AM
There is now an Index, covering all these Revelation threads, at this location;

Index of Revelation threads

This thread is numbered as #41 in the "order of chapters" list and Biblical reference index.

posted on Oct, 23 2012 @ 06:25 PM
Just to clarify;
Nothing in the OP is intended to suggest any particular prophetic significance in the year 2012 or the date 21/12/2012

posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 09:41 AM
reply to post by DISRAELI

My response to the claims made about the year 2012 was that I could see no prophetic significance in the date.
This position seems to have been vindicated.

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