The New Jerusalem
(A Glimpse Of The Kingdom Of God)
Revelation 21:1- 22:21
Key verse: 21:2 Shp Kevin Jesmer NIU UBF 5-28-11 delivered at DuPage UBF
“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.”
Have you even wandered what paradise is like? In this passage we will catch a glimpse of the only true paradise of the Kingdom of God. It is such a beautiful place. We will see the new Jerusalem; the dwelling place of God and his people. Here, God himself will wipe away all tears and there will be no death, sorrow or pain. But the most wonderful thing about it is that God and the Lamb are its temple. There is no need for any light, for God gives it light and the Lamb is its lamp. All nations will walk by its light. We will also see the tree of life which is for the healing of nations. All whose robes are washed in the blood of the Lamb may enter and eat its fruit, and quench their thirst at the river of life. It sounds beautiful doesn’t it? Do you want to be there? Well you can. You can behold the Kingdom of God with the eyes of your hearts, even now. You can get a taste of the Kingdom of God even now! When our robes are washed clean through faith in Jesus’ blood, then we can enter into it. Through our study of this passage may our hearts long to dwell with Jesus in his holy city. May our hearts resound with the prayer, “Come quickly Lord Jesus!”
Part l: The Renewal Of All Things (21:1-3)
In the vision we are told of a new heavens and new earth. Look at verse 1, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.”
There was a need for a replacement. The first heaven and the first earth served a great purpose…to lead us back to God. Originally the Garden of Eden was a perfect paradise where God and people lived in perfect harmony. They were given everything. They had no sin and they had eternal life. There was true hope, meaning and purpose. But because of mankind’s sin, Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden to dwell in a world under a curse. The history of disobedience began and plunged the whole human race into rebellion against God. Living in this old earth, we are subjected to endless sufferings and hardships as we struggle to survive and find meaning in life. Mankind has tried again and again to elevate itself above this fallen world and attain utopia, but we have failed repeatedly.
God understands our suffering and since the creation of the world, God had in mind to make all things new. It was always God’s desire that his wonderful creation once again live in perfect harmony with him forever. That is why he sent Jesus into this world. Jesus came down from heaven to earth as a baby in a manger to start this process of restoring the world back to God. (Ro 8:21) In Jesus, God’s redemptive plan was completed. For those who have accepted Jesus and are born again, this world suddenly seems new. But at the renewal of all things there will be a new heavens and a new earth where sin will never be able to separate us from our God. We will love and worship and praise God while walking with him in perfect paradise, the great and glorious kingdom of God! Let’s think about John’s vision in more detail to discover some of the characteristics of this kingdom of God.
Part ll: The New Jerusalem (21:1-27)
First, it is the “New Jerusalem” Look at verse 2a, “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,...” It was always God’s plan to bring about this new heaven and new earth. It was foretold 800 years before Jesus was born. Isaiah 65:17, reads, “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” Our hearts long for something new. We get stuck in the same ruts, the same routines, the same recurrent sin problems and we wonder if anything is every going to change. But God is oh so eager to bring about something new and fresh into our lives. All we have to do is come to him in humility, repentance and faith and you will become a new creation. Your old life will never be the same. Ultimately he will bring about the new heaven and the new earth in its fullness.
Next, this new Jerusalem came down from God. Look at verse 2a. “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,…” Mankind could never create or discover paradise on earth. The Tibetan Buddhists failed to create Shagri la. The Soviets failed to create a communist utopia. Democracy has failed to make America a Utopia. Young people fail to find paradise in other people. Older people fail to create our own utopias full of comfort, security and a comfortable retirement filled with world travel. Usually our sins scuttle these plans. It is impossible to make paradise on earth on our own. It must come down from God. That is the only way.
In the midst of our helplessness God came down to this world to meet us. God became man, in the form of a tiny baby and lived among us. (Jn 1:14) He took the initiative and dwell among his people. During the 3 ½ years of his earthly ministry Jesus taught about the kingdom of God. Through his suffering, death and resurrection he opened the way to the kingdom of God for all who believe. After his ascension into heaven, he is dwells in believer’s hearts through his spirit. He is among us even now for Jesus said, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matt 18:20) But that is not all. Look at verse 3. “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.’” One day the new Jerusalem will descend from the heavens. There we will see Jesus face to face and walk with him in the streets of shining gold. Only Jesus can make this happen because he is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the eternal God. (5) With God all things are possible. (Matt 19:26)
In the new Jerusalem, the power death will be completely vanquished. Look at verse 4, “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.” We know that wherever Jesus reigns, there is peace, security, comfort and love. Those who are in Christ have tasted this truth, for prior to meeting Jesus our hearts were full of tears and sorrow. We cried, sometimes not knowing why. In June 1986, I cried, “Oh God!” in my pillow over my loneliness and meaninglessness of life. I was suffering unimaginably while living under the old order of things. God heard that pray and saw my tears and started a process to help me accept Jesus into my heart as my own Lord and Savior. After one month of Bible study, and receiving the love and prayers of servants of God, I accepted Jesus. He wiped all my tears from my eyes. Sure there are times when I sucome to tears and sorrow and I feel pain, but these times are temporary. For I can always turn to Jesus and be set free once again to experience newness of life. I have a sure hope that in the Kingdom of God that every tear will be wiped from my eyes and there will be no more mourning, crying or pain at all. Praise God! No matter what we are going through, it is not the end. The great news is that Jesus came to save us from our sins. Come to him and receive his comfort and get a taste of what heaven will be like, even now.
Who gets to dwell in the new Jerusalem? Look at verses 6-8, “He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.’” It is those who overcome this world which is full of sin and temptation. The only way to be an over comer is to drink from the water of life, Jesus Christ. There was once a very thirsty women. She was not overcoming this world very well. In fact this world was dragging her down into the quagmire of sin. She was thirsty for love and in the process of trying to find love, she was divorced five times and had a live in boyfriend. Jesus came to her, in the midst of her thirstiness and offered her living water. He said to her in John 4:13-14, “…Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” This woman accepted Jesus’ invitation. She repented of her sin and believed in Jesus. In doing so, she drank the Springs of living water, Jesus Christ. Her soul was quenched. She left her water jar behind and told her whole village that she had found the Messiah. For the first time in her life, she overcame the world. She became part of the bride of Christ and a citizen in the new Jerusalem. There is more than enough of this living water in the new Jerusalem. Look at 22:1-2a, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city….”. There is more than enough for all to drink and quench our thirsty souls forever and ever.
The new Jerusalem is very beautiful. Look at verses 9-21. The gates are of a giant single pearl. There are twelve of them. There are precious jewels everywhere. The streets are shining gold. The beauty of this celestial city is reflected throughout the Bible. First it is reflected in the beautiful Garden of Eden. It is reflected in the temple worship. The temple was adorned with gold and the diadem worn by Aaron appeared to be a symbol of the new Jerusalem. You can read its description in Exodus 28:15-21. The beauty of the new Jerusalem is reflected in the Christian church itself. God wanted us to know throughout history that the kingdom of God is very beautiful and desirable. It is so beautiful that it makes this world look like we are living in a garbage can in comparison.
The new Jerusalem is huge. Look at verse 15-17, “The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 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[a] in length, and as wide and high as it is long.” Consider it’s dimensions. 1,400 miles in length! That is like from here to Los Angeles. There is room for millions upon millions of believers. This new Jerusalem is the father’s house. Jesus once told his disciples that in the father’s house there are many room and that he is going on ahead to prepare a place for us. (Jn 14:2). Do you have your reservation?
The new Jerusalem is built on a solid foundation. Look at verses 14 and 19. “The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb….and “19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone…” Our faith is a reflection of this foundation. Christians do not believe something with no foundation. Ephesians 2:19-21 reads, “ Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.” Our faith in the Gospel is rooted in history, fulfilled prophecy, the Scriptures and the lives of faith of many great servants of God. You can entrust your lives to Jesus and his Gospel. The New Jerusalem reflects this fact. This city is solid. It is secure. It is everlasting. Nothing can ever bring it down. Ever!
There are many other things about this new Jerusalem. Look at verses 22-27. Verse 22 reads, “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” We will dwell with Jesus intimately, just as he was with us in the Garden of Eden so will he be in heaven. Look at at verse 23, “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 glory of God will shine so brightly that it will even outshine the sun. Millions of people will walk by the light of God, no longer by false ideologies our corrupt political philosophies or false human standards. “The kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. “ and “The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it” This means that even the greatest among people will dedicate all they have and do for the glory of God. How happy it is to take the focus off of ourselves and give all the glory and honor and praise to Jesus. Look at verse 25, “On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.” We lock our doors for security reasons. But in the Kingdom of God there will be everlasting peace and security…24/7 forever.
The new Jerusalem will be a place of healing and eternal life. Listen to verses 22:2b, “…On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” We spend billions on healthcare in this nation and it doesn’t make us live much longer. Health insurance is only a dream for millions of America. We beat our bodies in the gym. We overdose on antioxidants. But in the kingdom of God, there is the fruit of the tree of life which we will eat. We will have imperishable, glorious, powerful and spiritual heavenly bodies. (1 Cor 15:42-43) We will be in the prime of health. All of our weaknesses will disappear. All of our wounds and scars that have been caused by our sins will be healed. All of the world’s conflicts will be resolved. Believing Arabs and believing Jews will love each other. Believing Republicans and Democrats will vote together. Relationships will be healed. All people in the new Jerusalem will co-operate, and love and serve each other. There will be healing in abundance in God’s kingdom and that healing begins the moment we come to Jesus.
But there is only one way to get into this city. Look at verse 27, “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.” People can not just enter into the new Jerusalem illegally. We can not become pure or get into the Lamb’s book of life through our own goodness. At the judgment, the Book of Life will be opened. In these books are recorded the deeds of everyone, good or evil. 2 Corinthians 5:10 reads, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” This simply means, that while you are in the body,…in this life…, if you have done things that invite Christ’s salvation in your life, then you will have your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. You will pass through the judgment, and into the gates of the celestial city. These things are confessing and repenting of your sins. Listening to what Jesus has to say through his word and deciding to believe it from the heart. It means placing all of your hope and trust in Jesus and deciding to live for his glory and serving his purposes alone. These are things that will get you praise from Jesus at the final judgment. 22:14 makes this a little clearer.“ Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.” When you do these things, you are essentially washing your robes and may enter the new Jerusalem.
What will we be doing in the new Jerusalem? Some people think that heaven is like a Club Med, an eternal Caribbean vacation, where we laze around on the beach and sip Tahiti treats. Bt this is not so. Revelation 22:3 reads, “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.” In the past we only worked hard for three meals a day, only to barely survive and then die. But in the new Jerusalem we will be serving Jesus. This work will be joyful and fruitful because there will be no more curse. Look at verse 5, “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. And they will reign for ever and ever.” We will be walking by the light of the Lord and we will reign with him. We will be co-working with Jesus as part of his team. What a great privilege that is!
Part lll: “Behold I Am Coming Soon!” (22:7-21)
We are going to enter the new Jerusalem sooner than we think. Let’s read verse 7, “ ‘Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.” We tend to think that all of this talk about the kingdom of God is about about some far off place in some distant time. But not so. Jesus once said, the kingdom of God is near. (Lk 10:9) It is near to your soul. Also, Jesus Christ could come anytime. We don’t know the time, but the signs of the end of the age are clearly being set into place. But practically speaking, for all of us, the time when we see Jesus is when we take our fleeting breath. We do not know when this time comes. But we need to be ready and live as if Jesus is coming today.. “Behold! I am coming soon!” Jesus says.
Does all of this talk about Jesus and his kingdom move your heart? It sure did move John’s heart. Look at 22:8, “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me.” John felt compelled to worship. This is the right response. So often we are “ho hum” about the kingdom of God, thinking we have heard it all before. For some it is an interesting story. But we need to see what John saw, with the eyes of our hearts and renew our sincere worship of Jesus.
Jesus will bring his reward. Let’s read verses 12 & 14, “ Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done…14 ‘Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.’” There definitely will be a reward for all those who have remained faithful to Jesus. We will be ushered into eternal life where we will see our Savior, Jesus, face to face. We will behold the beautiful and glorious new Jerusalem, the kingdom of God. We will receive praise from Jesus in proportion to how we have lived our lives for him. Hopefully, he will hug us and say, “Well, done my good and faithful servant.” and not, “Wow! You just barely made it through the flames, my child.” Let’s be full of spiritual deeds, like repentance and faith and simple obedience to the words of God and receive Jesus’ reward when he comes.
There are many descriptions of Jesus in this passage. Jesus is the bridegroom. He is the one to whom we, the bride, must give our hearts. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. He is the eternal God who was here in the beginning and who will be with us throughout eternity. He is the Root and the Offspring of David. That is he is the Promised Messiah, who will reign over the Kingdom of God forever. Jesus is the bright Morning Star, meaning he is the brightest star in the sky. The bright morning star always brought hope and direction to lost, seafaring mariners. Likewise Jesus gives hope and direction to wayfaring pilgrims like ourselves who are making our way through this troubled world to the new Jerusalem.
The angel gives John, and all believers a mission. Look at verse 17, “ The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” The word of God, the spirit of God and the Christian church, have one united beckon call to give to the whole world. It is a message for all people of every tribe and nation to come to Jesus and have their robes washed clean through faith in Jesus and receive the right to enter the gates of the new Jerusalem. Jesus himself gives this invitation in Matthew 11:28-29. He says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” When we know who Jesus is we are happy to invite people to come to him.
There are other aspects of placing our hope in the new Jerusalem. We need to trust God. Look at verse 11, “Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.” We can try to do many things for God and change many things but there is a time when we deeply realize that all things are in God’s hands and we simply have to trust God and receive what God gives. Look at verses 18-20. These words show that God is very serious about his word. There are so many unrelenting forces tearing us away from the word of God. But we must uphold the word of God, never changing it, but preaching it as it is. The salvation of millions depend on it. Part of placing your hope in the new Jerusalem is praying for Jesus to come again…soon. Look at verse 20, “ He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” Sometimes we want Jesus to come later on, after we have accomplished all that we want to accomplish in this world. But when we have the vision of the new Jerusalem our spontaneous pray will be, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” We are ready to go anytime.
In this passage we discovered the only true and lasting paradise. It is the new Jerusalem in the eternal kingdom of God. When Jesus began his earthly ministry he proclaimed the words, “The time has come,…the kingdom of God is near, repent and believe the good news.” (Mk 1:15) This kingdom is beautiful beyond description. It is a place where there is healing, love, peace, light and eternal life and so much more. It the place where we will dwell with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for all eternity. It is the place that our hearts yearn for. It is not just a pipe dream. It is real! This new Jerusalem can be our eternal home when we wash our robes through faith in the blood of Jesus…through faith in his Gospel. Let’s take hold of this kingdom. Let us invite the whole world to come to Jesus and receive the right to enter into his glorious celestial city, starting at COD and NIU campus’. May our daily prayer be, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus.”