Sun, Nov 26, 2000

The New Jerusalem: Revelation 21:9-27

Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.

THE NEW JERUSALEM

REVELATION 21:9-27

Please turn in your Bibles to Revelation chapter 21, as we continue our study through the book of Revelation. Several years ago there was a new TV series called "The Starlost." The creation of this show was born from the mind of fiction writer Harland Ellion. And the basic premise of the show is as follows:

Two hundred and fifty years from now, a group of UN scientists predict that the world will be destroyed in a holocaust. To preserve life, they start constructing a giant space ark between earth and the moon; all units are lifted into space by rockets. Then small, representative groups of people are lifted aboard - but isolated to retain their cultural identities.

The scientist’s predictions prove correct: 300 years from now the earth goes boom! But the great ark, safe in space, floats on for 100 years. Then, suddenly, it meets destruction. The different domes are instantly sealed off from one another with a built-in, fail-safe system. Then separate communities, originally intended to colonize various stars and planets, are suddenly locked within their own environments. Another 500 years go by - the Starlost drifts through space, out of control. The end!

Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations, 4894

That is science fiction, and sometimes these shows end on a positive note, and sometimes they don’t, like with this show. It leaves you in a hopeless situation, and really the end of mankind! Now I like science fiction shows, but I recognize they are science fiction, they are not real, even though some of the things within them may come to pass, may be invented in the future.

But for most people today, they are interested in what the future holds, they want to know how this story of life ends. Thus, they look to the scientists who tell us a variety of things that will happen to this earth and to mankind. Some say man will evolve to a state where he will communicate telepathically, he will be a brain-man! Now women, that is not an oxymoron, but it is science fiction. Men and women are not getting better, they are wearing down, falling apart, it is called the second law of thermodynamics. So that is not going to happen.

Other scientist believe that in a few billion years the earth will burn out and this earth will be destroyed, put into a deep freeze! And you have all kinds of scientists, common people, making all kinds of predictions of what is going to happen with man and what is going to happen with this earth, and their ideas are nothing more than science fiction or fairy tales!

In fact, Paul warned Timothy of this very thing, that it would take place in the last days, the days we are living in. He said in II Timothy 4:3-5, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from thetruth, and be turned aside to fables."

People today, instead of believing in the truths found in the Word of God, are believing fables or fairy tales that the world and many times the church is teaching them. Now, do you want to believe some fairy tale that is not true, or do you want to believe what God has said in His Word which has come from the very lips of God? Again, Paul told Timothy, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, forinstruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." II Timothy 3:16-17.

You see, we do know the end of the story. At the end of the seven year tribulation period the Lord will return and put down the rebellion against Him. He then will set-up His kingdom here on this earth for 1,000 years, ruling and reining in righteousness. Then, at the end of the 1,000 years, Satan will be loosed for a time to give people born during the millennial reign a choice to follow Jesus or Satan. And those who follow after Satan will be destroyed. Then Satan will be cast into the lake of fire. There is the great white throne judgment where all those who have rejected Christ throughout the years will be sentenced and cast into the lake of fire. Then, all those who have come to Christ will enter into the eternal state with the Lord where there will be a new heavens and a new earth and a New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven. And here in chapters 21 and 22 of Revelation, the last two chapters, John speaks of the eternal state, expounding on what that will be like. So with that said, let’s begin looking at verse 9 of Revelation chapter 21 and see what the Lord has for us this morning.

REVELATION 21

VERSE 9

One of the seven angel’s that was involved with the pouring out of the bowl judgments spoken of back in Revelation chapter 16, is now going to show John what this New Jerusalem is all about. And this New Jerusalem, this new city, is known by the people who dwell there, the bride of Christ, you and me and all those who have come to know the Lord prior to the start of the tribulation period. In fact, in Revelation 21:2, that is how John describes this city, for he said,"Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."

VERSES 10-11

As John is taken he see’s this city as a gigantic brilliant jewel and I believe this city will be the main focus in the eternal state because it will be the place the Lord dwells. I also believe that this New Jerusalem is not part of the earth or part of heaven, but it comes down out of heaven and hovers above the earth. Kind of like our sun being our focus, so too will be this New Jerusalem, it will be the main focus, for it will be the place that the heavens and the earth will be illuminated by. In fact, in verse 23 we are told that it is the glory of God that shines forth this light, and we will look at that a little closer as we get to verse 23.

VERSES 12-14

Now John gives us some details of this city. First of all it had high walls, but these walls were not used for protection, but for beauty. It also had gates, 12 of them, and as verse 25 tells us, these gates shall be open all the time, they will never be shut.

Now these great high walls had 12 gates, 3 on each side, and by each of these gates was an angel standing by, and on each of the gates was the name of one of the 12 tribes of Israel. The wall of the city also had a foundation that was in 12 layers, and each of these layers bore the name of one of the 12 apostles.

Thus, this city is a place for both the Old Testament saints and the New Testament saints and becomes a heritage for the people of God. I think Paul eludes to this in Ephesians 2:20-22, where he says, "having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, JesusChrist Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being joinedtogether, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built togetherfor a dwelling place of God in the Spirit." You see, all can come to this new city, both Jew and Gentile, because they have become one in Christ!

Turn with me to Hebrews chapter 11 for a minute, as Paul shows us the faith of Abraham as he looked ahead to this time. In Hebrews chapter 11, beginning in verse 8, we read "By faithAbraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as aninheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in theland of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirswith him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whosebuilder and maker is God." Hebrews 11:8-10.

Think about that. Abraham was called by the Lord to leave his homeland and go to a place that he did not know, did not own, and trusted that as God has promised He would provide for them. That they would dwell in the land of Canaan one day. But it also seems that Abraham looked ahead to a future city that God was going to create for us to live in, and very possibly he was thinking of the New Jerusalem!

Let’s continue looking in Hebrews chapter 11 picking up in verse 11, where Paul says "By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude--innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. These all died in faith, not havingreceived the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced themand confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say suchthings declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind thatcountry from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. Butnow they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to becalled their God, for He has prepared a city for them." Hebrews 11:11-16.

I find it fascinating that Abraham only saw himself as a stranger, just passing through this life as he was heading for that city that God had prepared for them, the eternal city. They had a vision of the future which caused them not to hang onto the things of this world, which would cause them to be drawn away from the things of God. They kept a proper focus, they kept a proper perspective, as they saw this life as not their home, but looked forward to a city that God built for them to dwell in, an eternal city!

That lesson should speak volumes to us today. In fact, Peter picks up on this in II Peter 3:11-14, where he says "Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, lookingforward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot andblameless."

Peter is telling us that one day this present world system, this earth will be dissolved with heat, it will burn up. There is nothing in this life that is permanent and yet we hold onto these things like they are. We too are pilgrims, strangers, just passing through. This is not our home, but we are citizens of heaven and in the New Jerusalem, the eternal city, there will be permanence!

I encourage you to do a little soul searching, to examine your life to see if the things of this world are drawing you away from God, if the things of this world are making you feel at home in this world. If you do feel at home in this world, comfortable, you have a spiritual problem. Now don’t get mad at me for saying that, John makes that point even stronger when he says in I John 2:15, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." And think about it like this, do you really want to live for eternity in this world? If you do, something is wrong with you, you lost your focus. You need to look at what is happening in the world, do you want that for eternity? I don’t think so! Yes, we are to be in this world but not of this world and we are to be looking forward to this eternal state with the Lord, the New Jerusalem!

VERSES 15-17

A reed measured around 10 feet and we are told that this new city measured some 12,000 furlongs, and there are 582 feet per furlong, which would make this new city about 1500 miles long, 1500 miles wide and 1500 miles high. It would be in the shape of a cube. The wall was 144 cubits, and a cubit was about 18 inches long, so this wall is about 216 feet thick.

We also need to understand that we will have new bodies, glorified bodies, which means we will be able to live throughout this structure. On the earth we live on the surface of this planet, but in the New Jerusalem we can live on various levels, it is a multidimensional structure. And when you look at it like that, this structure is huge! There is something like 3 billion square miles of living space within this city! Let me give you an example to help put it into perspective. If there were 12 billion people living in this city, the New Jerusalem, each person would have nearly 3/4 of a mile to live in! Plenty of room to live in.

VERSES 18-20

As you look at this city you see that it is primarily made up of stones, gems, not trees and bushes and grass and-so-on. Not at all like the Garden of Eden. The walls of the city were made of Jasper or they were crystal clear and yet over 200 feet thick! And the city itself was made of pure gold, so pure that it appears clear!

Now if you listen to some pastors today, they make it sound like God is broke! He is on welfare or something. And if you don’t give to the Lord, He is going to go out of business for sure. Understand this, God is not broke, He own’s everything. And look at what the Scriptures say here, this new city is made of precious stones and gold! By saying that God is broke or this ministry is going to stop if you don’t give because God can’t supply the need on His own, is a lie and it is a manipulation of the people, trying to make them feel guilty and thus, they will give more money. And many times, these ministries, these programs, if they are that bad, maybe God wants them to die!

Here at Calvary we believe where God guides He will provide, and He has and He will continue to do so. I don’t want to keep some ministry or program on artificial life support. If it is dead, then let’s pull the plug and move on! The great thing is that God allows us to be part of the ministry as we give. What He has given to us we can give back to Him to be used for the building of His kingdom, and we are blessed beyond measure as we do.

But don’t ever feel pressured to give, for if you give and you don’t want to, God won’t honor that. Listen carefully to what Paul said in II Corinthians 9:6-7, "But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." Do you see how God wants you to give. Not out of a heart that is giving grudgingly. Not because you feel there is a need and you have to give. But out of a heart that is cheerful or a hilarious giver! You give because you want to give and not forced to give. And if you give that way, God will honor it. Again, I see no indication that God is broke!

Now decorating these foundations were all kinds of precious stones, covering the whole spectrum of colors of the rainbow. The interesting thing to me is foundations are usually hidden, but not this one, they are fully exposed, bearing the name of the 12 apostles and decorated with these gemstones.

VERSE 21

These 12 gates were each made of one pearl, now a pearl is noting more than a by-product of an irritating grain of sand or a tiny parasite, which is coated by the lustrous nacre of an oyster. What does that mean? In Matthew 13:45-46 we are told, "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it."

In other words, we are that pearl of great price for which the Lord purchased with His life. We are irritating, parasitic and yet God purchased us and has clothed us in His righteousness. And thus, we are put on display for eternity as the angels marvel at the grace of God. How God has taken something as worthless as we were, and made us into a pearl of a great price, something beautiful that He has on display.

Thus, the gates are symbolic of God’s people. And so as you enter through these gates you are reminded of what God has done. Also, the streets of the city are made of pure gold, they are transparent!

Also, compare what is valuable to us to what is valuable to God. For us, gold, silver, precious stones, metal’s, money, is all valuable to us. But not to God. He built the New Jerusalem out of these things like they were asphalt and rocks! Then what is valuable to God? You and I are! Isn’t that incredible! Psalm 149:4 tells us, "For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; he will beautify the humble with salvation." Also, in Psalm 147:11 we are told,

"The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy." And in Revelation 21:3, 6-7 we are told "And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold,the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be Hispeople. God Himself will be with them and be their God.’...And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son." Never forget that fact, that you and I are precious to Him, more precious than all the gold or silver or precious stones that are in this world!

VERSE 22

The temple was the place for man to meet with God, but he had to go through sacrifices for sin to meet with God, but not any longer. There is no need for a temple, for we can go directly before God, just as God desired.

VERSE 23

Notice there is no need for the sun to give us light in the New Jerusalem, for the glory and brilliance of God will illuminate the place. Can you imagine the light of God hitting all those precious stones and the pure gold that filled the city - incredible! How beautiful it will be. It is as I John 1:5 says, "This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all."

And understand this is not the emerald city that Dorothy and her 3 friends went to in The Wizard of Oz, this is the New Jerusalem, not a fairy tale or a story. It is a reality! It is just as Isaiah 60:19-20 tells us, "The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightnessshall the moon give light to you; but the LORD will be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory. Your sun shall no longer go down, nor shall your moon withdraw itself; for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall beended."

VERSES 24-27

Don’t you hate going somewhere and finding out the place is closed! Here in the New Jerusalem you won’t have to worry about that. The gates of the city will always be opened because there will be no darkness in this city. And I think that this is also speaking in a symbolic sense, it is speaking of sin. You see, in the eternal state sin will be gone, thus, the gates of the city will always be opened, no need to fear.

And John closes with a warning. He tells us that if your name is not written in the Lamb’s book of life you will not enter into this eternal state with Him. The only ones who will enter into eternity with the Lord are the one’s found written in the book of life. It is a warning of the need to be sure your name is in the book of life! It is time to get ready. You see, citizenship in eternity is applied for here on the earth by going to the cross! Won’t you come and receive that free gift of life that is found in Christ, for He desires you to join Him in eternity!

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