ISSL Reflections August 14 2022 Revelation 21:9–26 Post 2

While we cannot come to these words with the very same mind-set, world view and understanding those followers of Jesus in the first and second century did, we can come to these words with eyes open to take in the images and note the impression such images give us.

Take your time with this passage so you “see” as much of it as you can and as much as your imagination allows.

Revelation 21:9-21 (New Revised Standard Version)

Then 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 in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. It has a great, high wall with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites; on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

The angel who talked to me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width; and he measured the city with his rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. He also measured its wall, one hundred forty-four cubits by human measurement, which the angel was using. The wall is built of jasper, while the city is pure gold, clear as glass. The foundations of the wall of the city are adorned with every jewel; the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates are twelve pearls, each of the gates is a single pearl, and the street of the city is pure gold, transparent as glass.

I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.

If you want some help with the details in this passage, let me recommend to you William Barclay’s The Revelation of John Volume 2 in his Daily Study Bible Series.

While Barclay counsels “No one can say for certain what much of the symbolism of this chapter stands for” (p 208), he does suggest many of the images are drawn from the Hebrew prophets, some of the Greek philosophers, and there may even be a correspondence of the precious stones and the signs of the Zodiac (p 214).

Then he suggests that in every way and in every image the New City of God, the New Jerusalem, outshines all the former ideas of such glory and wonder, and is “a symbol of unimaginable beauty and unassessable riches.” (p 215)

But, wait – if this brings us to an image of such beauty and richness for the City of God, why is there no temple, no sun, no moon?

Does John’s answer make sense to you?

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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