What does the Bible say that heaven will be like? Men often have their opinions on this subject, yet Scripture tells us accurately what the eternal dwelling place of the saved have to look forward too. In this second part of this topical teaching we look at what life will be like in the city of God, the New Jerusalem.
Look at Revelation 21:9-11 with me. Here, John continues to describe the physical appearance of heaven. "Then one of the seven angels that had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me, and talked with me saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal."
Just as the church redeemed is the "bride of Christ" in 21:1-4, so too, the actual city, the New Jerusalem is also the "bride of the Lamb." Reality is that you can't have one without the other. A redeemed church, given a glorious resurrection body need a glorious city in which to dwell. A glorious city without citizens submitted to Christ is not a suitable bride for the Savior.
Note that this city descends from out of heaven. This heaven from which it descends is the "third heaven" (2 Cor. 12:2) It is the place where God dwells and those who previously died victorious in Christ live as souls with Christ until the Day of His return to earth. (Rev. 20:4) This is also referred to by the Lord as "Paradise" when He promised the repentant thief on the Cross, "This day you will be with Me in Paradise." (Lu. 23:43) This is also the place the Lord called Abraham's bosom in Lu. 16:23. It is a spiritual realm. This makes sense because "God is Spirit." (Jn. 4:24) So on this glorious day the New Jerusalem known to many as heaven will actually descend from the spiritual realm of God down to the New Earth. The earth which God has recreated. The earth that was subjected to futility (cursed) because of man's sin. (Rom. 8:19-21)
Verse 11 tells us she "has the glory of God"; there is nothing defective, carnal or earthly about her glory. Again it is a glorious city made exclusively for a redeemed people given life eternal and glorious incorruptible bodies. The quality of God's city is beyond compare and human comprehension. This "glory" is God, the Lamb Himself is it's light. (Rev. 21:23) The Jasper stone is a diamond. A diamond is translucent, it not only reflects light, it also refracts light. Refraction occurs when light is re-directed. The city is as dazzling as huge diamonds reflecting and refracting the light of Christ Jesus.
Verses 12, 13 tell us that there are four walls. They are "high walls". How high? Verse 16 states, "twelve thousand furlongs are it's length, breadth and height." This measurement in miles would be 1,500 miles. Why would heaven need walls so high? Could it be in the glorious life that exists here that the streets run not only horizontal, but possibly vertical? Each wall has three gates. Again one must ask why? For what purpose? After all, God's enemies including Satan have already been dispatched to Hell. (Rev. 20:10) The most reasonable answer is found in verse 18, "The construction of it's wall was of Jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass." These walls have only one purpose; to reflect and refract the glory of Christ. The glory of Christ Jesus and God the Father are apparent in every detail.
Over each gate there is an angel. He is not there as a sentry, but likely will help us. Perhaps he will greet us as we go in and out of the New Jerusalem. After all there is a "new earth" made by God for our enjoyment. Maybe the angel will recommend beautiful sights and features of this "new earth." Hebrews 1:14 tells us about angels; "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?" Perhaps they might be our tour guides.
Each of these walls is set on a foundation of twelve layers (v. 14). These foundations honor the twelve Apostles of our Lord. In verse 17 we are told these walls have a thickness of 144 cubits. This would be 216 feet thick. These walls and their massive foundations are a reflection of the security we will have knowing this eternal home will never be taken from us.
The twelve foundations are adorned with all manner of jewels. Several different colors. Each has one purpose to reflect and refract the glory of God and the Lamb throughout the city. A glorious Savior deserves a glorious city. God and the Lamb will dwell here with us. (21:4)
The buildings of the city according to verse 18 "was gold, like clear glass." Literally you can see through the walls. To humans this might be a source of anxiety, but clothed in an eternal and incorruptible resurrection body, you won't have any cause for embarrassment. Jesus reminds us in Mt. 22:30 we have no sexual identity in heaven, "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven."
The twelve gates are made of pearl. In fact each gate is one massive pearl. (21:21) With man this would be impossible to fathom. But "with God all things are possible." If you search for a meaning in this marvel, I would remind you of a point made by John MacArthur; the only material used in the construction of the New Jerusalem that is the product of a living creature is pearl. Everything else is either a stone or a metal. A pearl is form by an oyster. It is formed in response to an injury. When an oyster is wounded it secretes the pearlescent substance around the offending object. So maybe we can see a great object lesson here in the New Jerusalem every time we enter or exit. Maybe God wants to remind us that we have this glorious eternal dwelling because of the wounds inflicted on His Son on Calvary's Cross. In Isa. 53:5 we are told of Christ's suffering, "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him. And by His stripes we are healed."
It's certainly a possibility. Until next time, God bless you as you grow in His word- David