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.” 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. 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. 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. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. ~ Revelation 21:9-14
Today's passage provides a description of our future home. It's described from the outside in. At this point, the rapture is over, the tribulation is over, the judgments are over, the millennium is over, and a new heaven and a new earth have been created. We are now in eternity, outside of time.
In his book, The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis wrote, "I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now...Come further up, come further in!" We all long for home, we all long for that place of complete comfort and safety. We all long for heaven.
In v.9-10 of today's text we read, '"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.” 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."'
Here, the Apostle uses a metaphor to describe the place where the followers of the Lord Jesus will spend eternity. One of God's favorite names for His children is His bride. Marriage is the closest possible relationship on earth, and it is the metaphor that God chose to describe His relationship with His people. This means God desires intimacy with us. He doesn't want distance between us. He wants meaningful interaction.
Trust is at the heart of intimacy. The more we trust someone, the closer we let them get to us. The degree to which trust is compromised in a relationship is the degree to which intimacy evaporates.
In John 14, the Lord Jesus told us that He was going to prepare a place for us. Now, there had to have been a place already existing for Him to go to and prepare a place for us. It would make sense then that this New Jerusalem is the Father's house and that if we were to die right now, we would go to this place that He went to when He ascended back to the Father. And this, our new home will come down out of heaven as a bride walks down the isle in a wedding.
In v.11 we read, "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 Jasper was the last stone on the breastplate of the High Priest in the Old Testament. Perhaps, God is highlighting the idea that the least will fit in to this magnificent city. Of course, that which will make us all fit in is the precious blood of the Lord Jesus.
The first characteristic highlighted here about our future home will be "the glory of God." This will mean that her brilliance will be like a most precious stone. The Greek word used in this verse translated "brilliance" describes something in which light is concentrated and from which light radiates.
In Revelation 21:23 we read, "The city had no need of the sun or the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light."
Rather than reflecting the rays of the Sun like the moon or rather than the sun generating light by combustion, the source of light in our future home will be the Lamb. It's God Himself and His light will radiate into all of eternity. And, to John, it looked like a crystal clear jasper stone.
In v.12-13 we read, "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. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west."
The high wall of the city speaks of intimacy and separation. Intimacy with the Lord and separation from evil. The wall will shut out all other things and people. No intruders will be able to ever enter. The whole of Scripture with one voice speaks of God's desire to have what he calls "a people for my own possession."
Everything created is his possession. But those bought by the precious blood of His Son will be peculiarly God's own possession. That is because He has made us to correspond to Himself. He can share with us the deepest things in His life and heart. We will satisfy Him and fulfill Him just as a bride satisfies and fulfills her husband.
Our future home will have four sides and it will be laid out like the tabernacle in the Old Testament where there were three tribes on each side with three gates with the names of the tribes of Israel all centering toward God who is in the center on the throne.
The foundations of the gates had the names of the twelve apostles on them. And, angels will be there to welcome us. In Hebrews 1 angels are described as servants of God's children and they'll be standing at the gates.
In John 10:9 we read, " I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture."
This verse portrays the widespread ministry of believers throughout the eternal ages. The new universe will surely be bigger than it is now. Billions of galaxies, far larger than our own galaxy of the Milky Way, will fill the heavens as far as the eye can see by means of the greatest telescopes we have, and still we have not reached the end. That means that there will be new planets to develop, new principles to discover, new joys to experience. Every moment of eternity will be an adventure of discovery. The gates will be named for the tribes of Israel as a perpetual reminder that "salvation is of the Jews." Access to the city will be through Israel. The Messianic age was predicted and promised to Israel. The prophets came from Israel. The Old Testament and the New Testament are so combined, the foundation of the New Testament is the Old, and God had a unique covenant with the twelve tribes of Israel. And to show our spiritual heritage for all of eternity, there will be the tribes of Israel inscribed on the gates of the New Jerusalem.
In v.14 we read, "The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."
Now, this verse celebrates the covenant relationship God has with the church. The covenant is the New Testament. In fact, in Ephesians 2 we read, "Therefore you are no longer strangers and foreigners but fellow citizens with the saints, members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles."
Our faith is built upon the doctrines, the teachings, the eyewitness accounts of the apostles who physically spent more than three years with the Lord Jesus Christ. From a human standpoint, what God provided through them is the foundation of the faith. In Acts 2 they taught the church the apostles' doctrines. And, for all of eternity in our future home, the foundations of the city will have the names of the twelve apostles whom God will honor.