15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17 The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick. 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. ~ Revelation 21:15-21
Today, we continue our study of our future home, the New Jerusalem. Today, we will consider the makeup of the New Jerusalem from the outside. Tomorrow, we will look at it from the inside.
Everyone wants to be whole, but who provides the most complete definition of wholeness. Wholeness is a complex issue because it involves all of what makes us human: body, soul and spirit. The biblical word for "wholeness" is holiness. And, when we let God define us, we will be wholly. In fact, when we read wholeness in place of holiness everywhere we find it in the Bible, we will be much closer to what God meant regarding what it means to be holy.
Interestingly, these two cities that are being contrasted at the end of time, Babylon and the New Jerusalem, make the point in a contrasting way. When evil reaches its zenith, it forms a prostitute-city which destroys its inhabitants and itself. When righteousness reaches its highest point, it forms a bride-city that creates wholeness in its inhabitants which will endure forever.
In v.15 we read, "The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls."
When God measures something, He is declaring His ownership of it. The number twelve is used everywhere in today's text. The number twelve is the number for government or rule in Scripture. And, today's text reveals God's fulfillment to the promise in Isaiah 9:6 which reads, "The government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."
The New Jerusalem will be a city of symmetry, just as long as it will be wide and just as tall as it will be long. It will be perfectly proportioned and wholeness will be known by all of its occupants! The New Jerusalem will illustrate there is no blemish in God. He lives in harmony with Himself. His disposition is what we all long for. He is filled with joy, love and peace. He lives in wholeness. And He looks at us in our brokenness and says to us, "You, too, shall be whole."
In v.16 we read, "The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long."
The Apostle uses the Greek word "tetragon" translated "square" in this verse. A tetragon is a four-sided perfect cube. The New Jerusalem will be twelve thousand stadia cubed. That will make the city 1500 miles wide, 1500 miles deep, and 1500 miles tall. The distance from Florida to Maine is 1500 miles. And, as a result the new Jerusalem will be able to house well over 20 billion people if only 25% of the city was given over to residents.
In v.17 we read, "The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick."
This verse gives us the measurement of the thickness of the wall surrounding the New Jerusalem. A cubit is 18 inches, that's 72 yards or 216 feet. The New Jerusalem’s walls will be very thick: 144 cubits thick. The number 144, of course, is 12 times 12. Found 187 times in the Bible, the number 12 appears in Revelation 22 times. The gates and the wall will represent the rule of the redeemed, of both Israel and the church. This was His promise to both, to reign with Him in eternity.
By the way, the angel used human measurement. The wall will not be there for protection. It will be there for adornment, illustration the completeness of the redeemed.
In v.18 we read, "The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass."
Gold is opaque, not transparent or translucent. But, the gold in heaven, we will be able to see through. Radiating from the Lamb, there will be translucent, transparent gold on the streets with clear diamond-like walls. The transparency of the gold speaks of its purity. All things in heaven will be whole or holy or pure.
In v.19-20 we read, "19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst."
In the foundation, there will be a whole lot of colors. And notice, everything will have perfect symmetry, order, balance. The measurements and the materials of the new Jerusalem will describe God who is a God who brings order, symmetry, and balance. The New Jerusalem will be God's answer to humanity. In many ways, it will remind us of His crucified Son.
In v.21 we read, "The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass."
The gates will be made of big pearls. There will be twelve gates, each one will be a gigantic pearl. Pearls speak of beauty out of pain. Beauty comes from pain in an oyster. A pearl is formed when a tiny grain of sand gets inside an oyster's shell and the oyster becomes very uncomfortable. To relieve its discomfort the oyster covers the irritant with a soft lustrous nacre that hardens into a beautiful, glowing pearl.
Each pearl will come from one pearl which describes beautifully how the redeemed come from the pain of the Lord Jesus. The pearls illustrate each believer who came out of the pain that the Lord Jesus suffered as He went through the anguish of the cross. The pearls will be for all of eternity a reminder to the redeemed of His pain and shame that He bore for us.
God determined in eternity past to heal man's brokenness and to make us whole again. And, He will remind us throughout eternity through these great gates that His Son is the whole One, and He has shared His wholeness with all those who willingly choose to be defined by Him.