When I was sixteen years old I wrote a poem that contained the words, ‘Deep down in the folds of time, hid from the mortal eye, lies a city of light and love that calls us when we die.’
Chapter 21 of Revelation contains a graphic description of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem which comes down from heaven, radiant as a bride. Its dimensions are incomprehensibly big; about 2,200 kilometres wide, long and high, and its walls are thicker than an Olympic sized swimming pool is long! Everything in Revelation is profoundly symbolic, so we should not be expecting a planetoid size city walloping down onto the earth anytime soon. No, in Revelation, the city of Babylon stands for all that is not of God and the city of Jerusalem stands for all that is of God. In a more specific sense, it represents both the Old Testament people of God and the Church that Jesus founded. It is shown as coming down from heaven because the church truly is ‘from above’ born of spirit and fire (Acts 2) and with the ascended Lord Jesus as its head.
The identity of the New Jerusalem as both the Old and New Testament people of God is borne out by the description in Revelation 21:12 of the twelve gates of the city each bearing the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel, and its twelve foundations bearing the names of Jesus’ twelve apostles (21:14). Its dimensions are 12,000 cubits wide and 12,000 cubits long. 12,000 x 12,000 = 144,000 which is the symbolic number of those who bore the name of Jesus and the Father in Revelation 14:1. Do please remember that THESE ARE SYMBOLIC images.
This is what John wrote concerning the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, the City of Light …
‘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 splendour into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honour 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)
Next, John gives us a wonderful insight into the City of Light; he tells us that the Garden of Eden is within the city, but it is greater than the original garden. The river of the water of life flows from the throne of God down the middle of the great street of the city (Revelation 22:1-2). There is not just one Tree of Life but instead, there are 12, with 6 on either side of the river, bearing fruit every month. (22:2). John records that ‘There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light‘ (22:5).
God walked with His people in the Garden of Eden, He met with the representative of His people in the Tabernacle and the Temple, He lives within His church (Ephesians 2:22), and He is soon to dwell for ever with His children in the New HeavenEarth. John writes; ‘And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”’ (Revelation 21:3-4)
The book of Revelation closes with a three-fold promise; “Behold, I am coming soon!” (22:7)… and again, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (22:12-13)… and yet again, “Yes, I am coming soon.” (22:20).