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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."
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. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 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. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 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 NIV84)
A city in John's day did not bring to mind the same things as a city today. Today we say the word "city," we think of architectural skyline, commerce, and a large population which brings about a large amount of crime. In John's day, the city was the safe place to go and live. In the countryside, one could be attacked with no help nearby but inside the city walls there was protection from robbers and intruders.
The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 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. He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits thick, by man's measurement, which the angel was using. (Revelation 21:15-17 NIV84)
Jerusalem was an even more important city to John and all of God's people ever since the days of David and Solomon. That's because Jerusalm became the place where God dwelled in a special way. A Temple of the LORD was built where the Ark of the Covenant was placed. God was said to be in the room containing the Ark and God's mercy seat. This room in the temple was called the Most Holy Place or the Holy of Holies. In Jerusalem, people could not only be protected from outside invaders but they could also draw near to God.
The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass. (Revelation 21:18-21 NIV84)
The new Jersusalem, then, is the most valuable place in all of the new earth. Everything about it communicated its value and its purity. The gold is even so pure that it is transparent - with no impurities. It is the place where God dwells.
I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. (Revelation 21:22-27 NIV84)
How about you? Do you look forward to drawing near to God in the new Jerusalem?