Revelation 21:1-27 Part 3

Revelation 21:1-27 Part 3


1)      Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, (the first heaven and the first earth went away, and the sea is no more),

2)      and the new holy city Jerusalem coming out of the heaven from God having been made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.

3)      Then I heard a great sound from the seat saying “Lo, The tabernacle of God with man.”  He will tabernacle with them, they will be His people, God Himself will be with them;

4)      and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, the death will be no more, neither sorrow nor crying nor pain will be any more, for the firsts passed away.

5)      Then the One sitting upon the seat said: “Lo, I make everything new!”  And He says, “write; for these words are sure and true”;

6)      He said to me, “they are come to pass.  I, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, will freely give from the source of the water of life to him who thirsts;

7)      and the one overcoming will inherit these things, and I will be  God to him and he will be My son.

8)      But burning in the lake of fire and brimstone is the allotment of all the fearful and unfaithful and the corrupted and murderers and fornicators and sorcerers and idolaters and all the liars.”

9)      Then one of the seven messengers that had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came and spoke with me saying, “here, I will show you the bride – the wife of The Lamb”.

10)  And it did bear me in spirit upon a great and high mountain and showed me the city – the holy Jerusalem coming down from the God of the heaven

11)  having her God’s glory, her radiance like a precious stone, crystal clear as a jasper stone,

12)  having a great and high wall having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve messengers and names written which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel,

13)  three gates to the east, three gates to the north, three gates to the south, and three gates to the west;

14)  the wall of the city having twelve foundation stones, and on them twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15)  The one speaking with me had a golden measuring reed to measure the city and her gates and her wall,

16)  (the city is shaped square – her length the same as the breadth); and he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand stadia, her length and breadth and height being equal;

17)  and he measured her wall: a hundred and forty four cubits (man’s measurement as is that of a messenger),

18)  the structure of her walls jasper, and the city as pure gold, crystal clear,

19)  the foundations of the wall of the city adorned with every precious stone; the first foundation jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald,

20)  the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst,

21)  the twelve gates twelve pearls (each of the gates were of one pearl), and the city’s street pure gold as transparent crystal.

22)  I saw no temple in her, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb is her temple.

23)  The city has no need for the sun or the moon that they should appear in her, for the glory of God was manifest in her and her light - the Lamb;

24)  the nations will walk by her light, and kings of the earth bear their glory into her

25)  by day (none of her gates will in any way be closed, and there will be no night there),

26)  and they will bear the glory and honor of the nations into her.

27)  By no means would anyone unclean ever enter into her doing abomination or falsehood, but only those written in the Lamb’s book of life.


What John is shown, and what he writes to the Churches here at the beginning of chapter twenty-one, is that which is shortly to come.  And it is the same that was shown to the prophets of old; and it is that which Jesus Himself prophesied in His parables and words and deeds; and it forms the context for all of the apostolic documents of the New Testament.

And it is the same language all through the Scripture.  It is God’s revealed will and purpose prophesied from the beginning.  And as we’re finding out more and more as we go, it would be really hard to understand what God revealed to the prophets of old without hearing what He revealed to the last prophet… the apostle John!  And the opposite is true as well!  It really is the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

John is told that the time is near.  At the Parousia/appearance of The Christ, when every last one of the elect from the tribes of Jacob had been found and marked and sealed and rescued from the wrath to come, the harlot of the nations would be executed.

That nation that God had set apart for Himself, and that great city whose tabernacle God had occupied, would cease to exist.  That separate cosmic paradise that He had called “heaven and earth” would be decreated.  It would disappear, and… no longer be.

And since it would no longer exist, neither would there be a turbulent sea of pagan Gentiles surrounding it.  And no longer would there be a serpent/leviathian deceiving the nations and inciting them; for the satan would be bound and sealed in the abyss!

And John saw a new heaven and a new earth descending from the heaven.  The old is completely replaced by the new.  The old is gone.  John doesn’t see it anymore, for it has disappeared.  What John then sees is that which is “new”.

And it’s now easier to see from God’s perspective, isn’t it?  The “old” cosmos collapses and disappears at the appearance of the Christ; and then John is shown the “new” one!  The first one is decreated; and the new one is created.  And it all would occur at the appearance of the One Who has all authority in the heaven and on the earth!

That’s what John writes to the Churches.  That’s what is about to be.  Don’t be confounded; don’t fear; be comforted and assured, he wrote to them; be confident; anticipate it!  Hold His testimony; keep His Commandments!

Cast out the judaists and the Jezebels and the lying prophets;

the Day of the Lord is near!  The King of Kings and Lord of Lords is about to appear in the glory cloud with the Sword in His mouth; and all things will be made new!

And all of our Lord’s apostles knew these things were about to be.  In all of their letters to the Churches they urged the Lord’s people to love one another, for they were each written in the Lamb’s book of life from the beginning.  Each of them were known and loved from the foundation; each of them were re-birthed into His body by the same Spirit; and, having been born into His humanity, they were to grow up together into full-grown members with gifts to perfect the body, and they would be manifest to the world!  The Lord God of heaven and earth would tabernacle with us, and throughout all the years all the nations would acknowledge Him.

There was about to be a new heaven and a new earth and a new Jerusalem brought to be at the appearance of Jesus Christ; and that’s the context in which the apostolic letters were written!  And without that context, the letters are misread!


Okay… now, there are two completely different Greek words that are translated “new” in English.  Our word “new” doesn’t differentiate between them.  One of them has to do with chronological newness, as in newness of a completely different kind.  And when that Greek word is used, there would be newness that has no basis in, and no continuity with, that which was old.

The second Greek word has to do with newness of the same kind – but of superior quality!

And the word that John writes, translated “new” here in the first verses of our text, is the second of the two.  The new heaven and the new earth is of superior quality to that of the first heaven and earth (which John sees is about to disappear).  And the new Jerusalem is of superior quality to the old one (which John sees is about to disappear).  It does not mean new as in new of a different kind.  There is a basis in, and a continuity with, that which is old.

And while I’m here I’ll just mention another context in which this word appears (because it’s so vital to our understanding of this text).

There are many Churches (even some reformed Churches and denominations that have taken the time to deliberate about the nature of God’s covenant) that have arrived at a two-covenant theology.

As we’ve seen, the “new covenant” is prominent language in the New Testament.  And the “two-covenant” theology says that the covenant made with The Christ is different from the covenant made with Adam.  The “old covenant” is for the “old testament”; and the “new covenant” is for the “new testament”.  The “old covenant” is a covenant of law; but the “new covenant” is a covenant of grace.

These are all errors that lead God’s people astray!  And they come from pre-conceived theological formulas that are imposed upon God’s Word.

The word that New Testament writers use (and is translated by our English word “new”) is the same word that’s used here in the first verse of our text.  It’s a completely different word from the other one.

It’s not the Greek word that means a chronological newness of a different kind, but a newness of the same kind but of superior quality!

The new covenant that’s revealed in the newer Scripture is the same covenant revealed in the older Scripture, but it’s of superior quality in Christ Jesus!  It’s better.  It isn’t an all-new covenant of a different kind! 

Since the advent and Parousia of the Christ, the covenant is made better!  It’s “newness” is based in the appearance of the Christ of God in the fullness of the time!  The Revelation of the covenant in the older Scripture was prophetic of the new… not a covenant of a different kind!!  The covenant that was made with God’s creation is “one”.  And it is perfected at the manifestation of the Christ of God at His advent and Parousia!

And the same is true of the word that John wrote here in our first verse.

The new heaven and earth revealed to John is of vastly superior quality when compared to the decreated heaven and earth (which John sees is about to disappear).  That one was prophetic of the new!  The new heaven and earth isn’t of a different kind; it’s better!  It’s prophesied by the old.  And its newness has its basis in the old; and it rests in the appearance of the Christ!

Just consider these things for a few moments:

The mountain of God in the land (prophetic of the dominion of Jesus Christ over all the mountains of the earth) was to be revered by all the kings and nations of the earth.  It was a mountain that resembled the firmament above the tabernacle in the heaven.  But it was a mountain that could be shaken, and moved, and even cast into the sea; whereas the great mountain of the dominion of Jesus Christ over all the earth could never be shaken.  It’s the new mountain – prophesied in the older one; but it’s better.

The natural springs of fresh water that flowed into the valleys of Israel from under the dome of the rock in Jerusalem were the source of abundance and prosperity in the land.  But those fountains and springs would be turned into rancid blood.

Not so the River of Life that flows from under the mountain of dominion of The Christ!  The mountain at Jerusalem, and the springs of water flowing from below it, were prophetic of that which was to come.  And the waters of the one to come would flow into the sea of humanity and heal wherever they went.  And the whole earth would flourish with abundance!  This new fountain of life was better!

The wall around the mountain and the city of Jerusalem was thick and tall and massive… its construction of such magnitude that would defy the imagination.  Yet it could be sieged; it could be shaken; it could be breached and abominations enter!

However, it was prophetic of that which was to come… an impregnable wall of such perfections that nothing abominable could ever enter.  It is better!

The land of milk and honey, a paradise on earth perceived by God as its own cosmic entity with its own lights (sun, moon and stars).  However, its stars could be made to fall from the sky; its moon turned to blood; the light of its sun turned off.

But that cosmos was prophetic of that which was to come… a new heaven and earth which needs no sun, moon and stars; for its light is better!  Its light would be the Dayspring from on high, the Lamb of God Whose light would brighten the gross darkness of every location on this earth!  It would be a paradise “better” than the former one.

The city of God, in God’s paradise on earth, had a temple on the dome of the rock.  Its holy of holies was the place God would inhabit and dwell with His people.  And it shone glorious with the gold of Egypt and of Seba and of Sheba as an earthly, man-made image of the tabernacle of God in the heaven.  The vestments of its priests bore the gemstones of the world as those priests performed the duties that prophesied the coming of the Anointed One of God in the fullness of the time.

However, that temple was occupied with lying prophets and every abominable thing.  And all of its gold and all of its implements and all of its gemstones were confiscated and taken to a foreign, pagan land, and the temple on the mount was destroyed.

It was prophetic of that which was to come.  And what was to come was “God with us” in His new paradise of unimaginable beauty and glory… no temple; for there was no need for any more sacrifice.  The new would be “better” than that which prophesied it.

So… the two covenant theology that has come about (even in some reformed Churches), is antithetical to all that’s recorded in the newer Scripture.  There are not two covenants – one for the period before Christ, and another one (a different one) for the time after Christ.

There is one covenant of God – Father, Son and Spirit.  All that came before the Christ was prophetic of His appearance and work.  And at His appearance all would be made “new”… a newness which had its basis in all that came before, and which rests on His appearance, which was all prophesied!  And all that prophesied His appearance is made “better”.  It isn’t a newness of a different kind; it’s newness of the same kind – the prophetic Word in all its fullness and perfections.

The Churches received this letter just before it was to occur.  It was a current realty to them… all to happen “shortly”.  And they were to delight in it, prepare for it, anticipate it!  They were the beloved of God, found by the Christ and marked and sealed and rescued in advance of the wrath to come when all that they had ever known would cease to exist!

And although we didn’t know the former heaven and earth and the former Jerusalem, the new is, nonetheless, a present reality for us!  We live in Him.  He tabernacles with us.  It is now a new heaven and a new earth and a new Jerusalem.  It came to be at His Parousia/appearance.  And He will have dominion.  Through all the years decreed, the River of Life will flow unto the farthest reaches; and all the earth will blossom with justice and peace and prosperity!

And at the end of all the years decreed, the light of the Christ will have penetrated the darkest and most obscure places on the earth.  And all the earth will be in the full Light of His glory.

And throughout all the years, those written in the Lamb’s book of life will be resurrected from death unto life in Christ; and He will tabernacle with them.  And no one whose name is absent from the book will ever enter.  The waters of life will increasingly heal the sea of humanity until the knowledge of God covers the earth as the water covers the sea.  And the multitudes of the seed of Abraham will inhabit all the nations.

And at the end of all the years decreed, our Lord will judge all the dead in Adam (the seed of the serpent) and cast them all into the lake of fire, along with the satan, and death and hades.

This is the new heaven and the new earth and the new city that John sees at the coming appearance of Jesus Christ.  At His Parousia the new heaven and the new earth would be created.  And John was shown it coming down out of the heaven from God (verse one).

As the old one was about to pass away, the new would be descending.  As the old was imperfect, the new would be perfect – and better.  And it wasn’t to be all new of a different kind.  The old was prophetic of the new and better heaven and earth – the new, and better, Jerusalem that had been made ready as a bride adorned for her husband!

“Having been made ready as a bride adorned for her husband”!  And what an “adornment” it would be!  And John describes all of that with which she would be adorned as he sees her descending from the heaven.

Let’s consider the perfect continuity of God’s Word and covenant for a few minutes!

As Moses wrote, YAHVEH saw her in the desert and loved her; and He betrothed her to Himself (He “covenanted” with her).  Moses’ language is very clear there.  And so was the language of the prophets who referred back to all of the events in the Sinai.  There was a betrothal.

But at His arrival for the wedding festivities, there was no joy and excitement at all; and there were no feasts and festivities.  His betrothed was a harlot; and she hated Him.

Jesus’ parable of the Son’s arrival had to do with the preparations for that foreordained time in history in which Messiah the King was to arrive!  It had to do with Kingdom preparations!  It is not a marriage parable; it is not a parable about the coming of the “Bridegroom”. 

The word “bridegroom”, in God’s mind, is metaphorically relevant because YAHVEH covenantally betrothed Israel to Himself at Sinai; and He relates His covenant as to a virgin that anxiously awaits the consummation of her betrothal when her beloved was to come and take her to himself.  All of the festivities during the time of betrothal were to be entered into with great joy and excitement among all involved!

During the betrothal, the prophet/servants of God were sent to Israel to require her joyous preparations… to announce the coming Messiah!  But Israel would not repent of her harlotry during her betrothal; and there were no festivities in anticipation of the great prophesied event – His arrival!

The prophets of God that were sent to her all through her history were ignored and abused and murdered!  And when the King’s Son did arrive for the wedding feast and the consummation, she hated Him!

And Jesus, having arrived for the festivities, and finding that no preparations had been made, and seeing that there was no excitement and anticipation of His arrival, then sent His disciples out into all the towns and villages of Israel to find wedding-feast-participants, the lost sheep/remnant of the house of Jacob.  And as they were found, the awful effects of the hypocritical, demonic leadership of Israel were reversed by His mighty Power.  And the remnant of Israel believed Him; and they turned in sorrow and followed Him.


These are some of the preparatory events leading up to the great saving work of Christ on the cross and in His resurrection.  And the parable which He spoke to the elders and priests of Israel had to do with those preparations – events for which the elders were full of hatred and revulsion!  For they did ignore and abuse and murder the prophets; and they did loathe the fact that huge numbers of people had been gathered around Jesus; and they did hate the low-class dregs of society who sorrowed and turned to follow Him (they were the demon-possessed and the sick and the lame and the blind and the destitute.  And there were prostitutes and tax collectors); and the priests and pharisees did abhor the healings that Jesus performed that had so endeared him to the hearts of these “low-lifes”.  And they were so incensed and irritated when, upon questioning him, Jesus turned the Scriptures back on them and humiliated them!

Remember, the parable had to do with the preparations and the guests for the festivities, and the absence of great excitement over the arrival of Messiah!

As we have all heard previously, young people in Israel were not left to themselves to enter into matrimonial arrangements.  An engagement, or betrothal, was taken very seriously; and the finding of suitable parties to a marriage was a family undertaking.  And trusted friends of the family got involved.

But once an engagement was entered into, all of the obligations of marriage came with it except consummation.  They were bound to one another by oath (by covenant), and faithlessness was treated as adultery.

On the day of formal betrothal, oaths were exchanged as in a ceremony, and gifts were given to the bride-to-be and her friends and family; and there were lengthy festive celebrations!  And then the bride-to-be would return to her father’s house and live under his authority until the day of the marriage, which had been set appropriately in the future.  In the meantime all transactions between the two betrothed people were carried on by the bridegroom’s friend (the groomsman).  And there was great excitement and preparations for the coming wedding feast and consummation of the betrothal!

When the day of the marriage arrived, the groom would put on a special wedding garment and proceed with his friend and many other attendants to the house of the bride, who had prepared herself appropriately – ornamentally “adorned” (according to Jeremiah chapter two).

Then that evening, the groom and his entourage and the bride and her entourage would all proceed to the groom’s house accompanied with lights and lanterns and music and dancing.  This is what began the marriage festivities, for during the next days there was to be singing and dancing and games and other festive activities – and great feasting!  Large numbers of relatives and friends and neighbors would be invited by the host – usually the groom’s father – and everybody would indulge themselves in food and drink and joyful merrymaking… all planned well in advance with great anticipation!

And note that the marriage ceremony was composed of the groom going to get his bride and bringing her home.  That’s it!  All the oaths and gifts and formalities were done at the betrothal!  The marriage was the groom taking his bride home to himself at the appointed time.  And all the lengthy festivities seemed to celebrate that.  The consummation – the marriage – the one-flesh union when two become one flesh!  That’s what the festivities and feasting were all about.  It’s all the image of our rebirth as we become one in Christ.

The Kingdom (God’s rule over all things and events) had progressed in history to the foreordained and prophesied work of Messiah – the Son of God.  The betrothal having already occurred (at Sinai) – the oaths and ceremonies having already taken place – that time that God had ordained to be the time of Messiah had arrived.  All the preparations were supposed to have been made, and it was time now for the expectant attendees to arrive!  It was time for the festivities and feasting to begin!

All the preparations had been done – all the Kingdom preparations for the arrival of Messiah had been done!  That’s what’s likened to wedding festivities, you see!  God had sent prophet after prophet after prophet to Israel to call her to prepare for the great festivities associated with the arrival of the King!

The prophets’ words are “likened” to a wedding invitation to Israel to prepare for the festivities of a wedding!  There would be great joy and dancing and eating and drinking and great elation at the arrival of God’s King… “likening” it to wedding festivities!

All Israel was to have observed all the Kingdom preparations with great anticipation; and it was to have prepared for great revelry – dancing in the streets and food and drink and joy and consummation – as God’s King was presented to them (likened to a wedding).  Israel was to adorn herself as a bride!!

The prophets were sent to them with words directly from God to make preparations for His Son!

But nobody came.

What was the case then, rather than being likened to a wedding consummation, it was actually the consummation of apostasy and harlotry.

For 1500 years the judaists didn’t heed God’s preparations for the coming of His Messiah/King.  They didn’t anticipate Him.  The “bethrothed” was a harlot, you see.  And they killed God’s prophets when they brought Word from Him about the necessity for their sorrow and repentance.  And they hated Him.  As Psalm two says, they wished to break all the bonds connecting them to God and His King – Jesus Christ.

The result, of course, was the death penalty for adultery.  God had “betrothed” Israel to Himself, but Israel would not adorn herself as a virgin bride in anticipation of His arrival; but she proceeded to disconnect herself from the betrothal.  And she was divorced and sentenced to death – the death penalty to be carried out in 70 AD.

But the King had come.

The historical moment had arrived – the fullness of the time - when the greatest event of history was taking place – Messiah would assume His Kingdom!

In that parable, the King sent out servant/prophets to call the “called ones” to the event.  For centuries God had sent His prophets to call Israel and its leadership to repentance and to joyfully anticipate the coming of Messiah.  But again and again the prophets had been ignored and mistreated and murdered.  So the king sent out troops and destroyed the murderers and burned their city (as prophesied in Isaiah chapter one).  So the reality of the Kingdom that is included within the historical moment in Jesus’ parable extended all the way to 70AD and the burning of the city.

And remember, Jesus was speaking to the elders and priests of Israel in that parable – just days before His crucifixion.  And that He had with Him a large crowd of the “dregs of society” (as the Jerusalem leaders called them) – the remnant kept by God (also prophesied in Isaiah chapter one) – the ones who had been left with only the tears of hopelessness by the jackals who preyed on them… the blind, deaf, sick, demon-possessed, destitute, broken; and the prostitutes and tax collectors!  Jesus and His disciples had gone all over Israel for two years to find them and let them know that Messiah was here and the Kingdom was at hand.

And for the next forty years the apostles and disciples of Jesus hunted for the rest of them.  And when they were called, they came joyfully and expectantly to the wedding festivities.  And they were all “adorned” with wedding garments.

And here, of course, is the prophesied elect remnant of the tribes of Jacob, the hundred and forty four thousand that God had kept for Himself.  She is the “Daughter of Zion”, birthed from the harlot and bought and paid for by the Lamb of God and rebirthed into Him.  They were made “newborns” in Christ.

And John has already seen them.  He was shown them with the risen and ascended Christ in the heaven.

And it’s unimaginable that one could miss the connection with verse two of our text in which the apostle is shown the new holy city Jerusalem coming down out of the heaven from God, having been made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.

John had been shown the harlot previously… remember?  It was chapter seventeen.  She had adorned herself with scarlet and purple and gold and gems and pearls; and she was sitting on the scarlet beast.  And in her hand was a golden cup filled with all the impurities of her fornication.

And rather than having the “mark” and “seal” of the Christ, on her forehead was written “Babylon, the mother of whores and the earth’s abominations”.

The betrothed of God was the mother of whores.  The betrothed of God caused all the nations of the earth to drink of the wine of her fornications.

And it was all prophesied, wasn’t it?

What John saw next, at the coming parousia of the Christ, was the execution of the harlot, and the consumption of her body by vultures.  And the burning of the holy city – Jerusalem.

The decreation of God’s heaven and earth.  The old Jerusalem passing from existence.

But the daughter had been born!!  The Daughter of Zion had been born; and she was marked with the mark of The Christ and birthed out of Zion into the nations.  And she was adorned with the wedding garment!

And John sees her in the heaven with the Christ.

And then he sees the new heaven and the new earth, and the new Jerusalem descending from God in the heaven, having been made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.

This is God’s will and purpose from the beginning; and it is His perception of it all.  And it was an immediate reality for the Churches of the first century.

For them, having received John’s letter, it was “imminent”.

For us who are re-birthed into Him, there is, now, a new heaven and a new earth.  We live in our Lord’s “New Jerusalem”; for He tabernacles with us!  And it is a perfect tabernacle… not like the old one made with hands.

And it makes all the difference in the world in how we live, doesn’t it?... to be provided, here in John’s Revelation, with God’s will and purpose for us and for His creation.  And the rest of the world needs to get used to it, for all of this belongs to Him; and He sees it as “accomplished”!  The old heaven and earth is “gone”; there is, right now, a new heaven and a new earth brought to be by the Savior of the World – God with us.

And the old Jerusalem is “gone”; there is, right now, a new Jerusalem of such glorious perfections that it can only be the Presence of God the Son – the Lamb of God and those written in His book of life.

That’s all for now.  We have much more to do here… especially from the prophets of old and from Jesus’ apostles.  We’ll continue next time.