Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Perfect City of God—New Jerusalem

How does one describe the indescribable? How does one picture what seems impossible to imagine? The Spirit shows us how—by the use of picture language and symbols. So one of the great and wondrous messengers,  those mysterious beings who have watched the whole history of mankind on the earth, comes to John to show him the Bride, the wife of the Lamb - Rev. 21:10-27 ESV
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed-- on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 
A reminder about the use of numbers in John's Revelation:
The biblical method of using numbers is not common to the haphazard conjecture of some modern interpreters, who claim that a sort of allegory lies behind the true meaning of the numbers of Revelation. Apocalyptic numerology should not be confused with eccentric interpretation. Apocalyptic literature is highly developed in its symbolism. When one is familiar with this genre of literature, a more historical, less arbitrary interpretation prevails. 
For years this blog has studied the background of the Bible's use of numbers. I refer my readers back to some of these studies as we encounter again this chapter's detailed use of the numbers 3, 4, 10 and 12. For instance, see the following:

Each Hebrew letter has a numerical value - read from right to left
We join John now to look into the wondrous future God has prepared for His people. Three is the number used for God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Four is the number for man as he makes his way and lives his life upon this earth with all four of its directions.

This future is to come from heaven, from God, with all its wonder and glory and radiance, shining like the rarest of jewels, like jasper, a mineral belonging to the quartz family of gemstones.
One of many types of  Jasper
The appeal of Jasper is its interesting color patterns and formations. Though it can be a solid color, it is most often mottled, spotted, ringed, or striped. Each Jasper has a unique color or pattern, lending this gemstone much variety. Jasper is an ancient gemstone, and is mentioned in the bible and other classical sources. Though fairly common and affordable today, Jasper in antiquity was regarded as a very valuable stone.
The twelve gates of Jerusalem, the city of David, refers to the people of God, the twelve tribes, the twelve apostles, in other words all God's people gathered together by the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. These people come from all directions, north, south, east and west. They are many and varied, gathered by the love of God, revealed in Christ.
And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel's measurement. The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 
What an amazing gathering this is and how very immense and absolutely perfect on all sides. It is, in fact, a perfect cube, equal in all aspects. A stadia was an ancient unit of length equal to a bit over 600 feet. So 12,000 stadia would equal about 7,200,000 feet or about 1,400 miles in length, width and height. This description sounds strange, almost ridiculous until you remember again that it is symbolical, pointing to the endless love of God that gathers in His chosen people of all races, places and times.
Jewels of Rev. 21

And what a wondrously beautiful city this is, adorned with every kind of jewel, radiant and sparkling.
The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. 
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day--and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life. - Rev 21:10-27 ESV

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