Week - 36 The Eternal State Revelation 21-22:5
Updated: Dec 15, 2021
Authored by Jerry Marshall The Bible refers to heaven more than five hundred times. The book of Revelation alone mentions heaven about fifty times. Sometimes the word is used to describe the earth’s atmosphere and sometimes the word is used to refer to the interplanetary and interstellar space. And frequently, the Bible uses the word to speak of paradise, the very dwelling place of God. The apostle Paul referred to the throne room of God as the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).
Heaven is an actual place and not simply a state of spiritual consciousness. It is precious to all true believers in Jesus Christ because their heavenly Father is there, the Savior is there and it is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Heaven is the place of citizenship for all true believers (Philippians 3:20-21). It is especially precious to those of us who love the Lord, because many who we love have gone on ahead of us into the presence of the Lord and one day we will be united with them.
What is heaven like? Who will be there, and who won’t? And perhaps more importantly, will you be there? We will begin to get some insight into these questions as we examine five unique features of John’s vision of the eternal state, which is the place of eternal bliss for those who are described as the thirsty, those who overcome and the true sons of God. Following this, we will examine John’s vision of the “Golden City” in which he describes ten features of this eternal city.
All Things Made New (Revelation 21:1-8)
I. A New Heaven and Earth (21:1)
John continues in the chronological progression of the vision that God had given him of things yet to come. He has had the unique privilege of beholding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (Revelation 19). This major event in God’s prophetic design was followed by his vision of the millennial rule of Christ and finally, the White Throne judgment of the all unbelievers (Revelation 20).
At this point, all sinful unbelievers from every age of human history, as well as Satan, the Antichrist and the False Prophet have been sentenced to the Lake of Fire where they will be tormented day and night forever (Revelation 20:10).
According to Matthew 25:41, this place of eternal fire was prepared for the Devil and his demons or fallen angels.
A word about demons:
They are spirit beings (Matthew 8:16; Luke 10:17, 20). They are localized, not omnipresent. They are intelligent, but not omniscient (Mark 1:24; 1 Timothy 4:1;
James 2:19). There are essentially two different categories of demons, free and confined. Those that are free currently have their primary abode in heaven
(Revelation 12:7-9). They also roam the earth for the purpose of extending the authority of Satan by doing his bidding on the earth. Some on occasion have inhabited the bodies of people. Those that are currently confined in the abyss (cf. 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Luke 8:31), are thought by some to refer to those demonic beings who attempted to have sexual relations with human women and God severely judged them for this act (Genesis 6:1-6; Jude 6). Why some are confined, and some are not is explicitly explained in the scriptures. During the time of the Tribulation, some will be released as a part of God’s judgment on the inhabitants on the earth (Revelation 9:1-11).
John now beholds a new heaven and a new earth. The word new is a translation of the Greek word kainos which is not referring to that which is new in time, but new as to form or quality. It speaks of that which is different in nature from what is contrasted as old. It is not something that has been remolded, but now made altogether different. It is brand new, fresh and never before seen. This is in fulfillment of God’s prophetic word (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22).
God creates this new heaven and earth because the first heaven and earth had passed away (Revelation 20:11; 2 Peter 3:10-13; Psalm 102:25-27). It is interesting to note that this new heaven is not referring to the dwelling place of God primarily, but to the surrounding atmosphere of this new world and to planetary space.
One very unique feature of this new world is that there is no longer any sea. This is radically different from the present earth were approximately 70% of it is covered by the sea. The scriptures give no explanation of why there will be no sea. It is just stated factually.
Dr. Henry Morris provides this interesting perspective…
“The present sea is needed…as a basic reservoir for maintenance of the hydrologic cycle and the water-based ecology and physiology of the animal and human inhabitants of the earth. In the new earth, (all who live there) will have glorified bodies with no more need for water.
Their resurrected bodies will be composed, like that of the Lord Jesus, of flesh and bone (Luke 24:39; Philippians 3:21), but apparently with no need of blood to serve as a cleanser and restorer of the body’s flesh as at present.” The absence of the sea is an indication of the transformation of the saint’s bodies which no longer has a need for water in its glorified state (Philippians 3:20-21).
It’s not that there will not be any water on the new earth. Revelation 22:1-2 states that the water of life will flow from the very throne of God and of the Lamb. It is the water of everlasting life.
II. A New Central City (21:2)
When God creates a new heaven and a new earth, this new creation will also have a new central city called “The New Jerusalem.” This city will not be a remolding of the historic city that exists in Israel today. Nor will it be the remolding of the Millennial Jerusalem from which Christ reigned. Those cities have now passed away along with the first heaven and earth. For this city does not have its origin from this earth. It comes from heaven to this earth. The fact that it is described as coming down out of heaven from God implies that it had already existed.
John describes this city as a “Holy City.” The historic city of Jerusalem is often referred to as a holy city in the scriptures, although its occupants frequently conducted themselves in an unholy manner. The word holy means to be set apart or consecrated to God for His purposes. The fact that this city is referred to as “holy” indicates that it is eternally set apart or dedicated to the Lord and His designs.
In the New Jerusalem, its inhabitants will be completely set apart to the service of the Lord unlike the historic city.
Abraham in faith looked forward to the coming of this city while he and his descendants lived in tents in the Promised Land (Hebrews 11:8-10). It is the city prepared by God for those who lived by faith even to death (Hebrews 11:13-16).
It is the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God, the dwelling place of God’s angels and the church (Hebrews 12:22-24). “In John’s enraptured gaze, the city seemed like a radiant bride, beautiful in glistening white garments, ready for her wedding.” Henry M. Morris
We will examine more details of this Golden City as we progress in our study.
III. A New Spiritual Environment (21:3-4)
The Bible gives an interesting record of the dwelling places of God. First God walked with man in the Garden of Eden. Then He dwelt with Israel in the tabernacle and later the temple. When Israel sinned, God had to depart from those dwellings.
Later, Jesus Christ came to the earth and “tabernacled” among us (John 1:14). Today, God does not live-in man-made temples (Acts 7:48-50), but in the bodies of His people
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
But in the future, God will dwell among His people in this new city in the new heaven and earth. It’s not that we go to the third heaven to dwell in His presence. Rather God will come down to this new earth and its new city in order to live among His redeemed people.
Since we have the presence of God, we must have the absence of sin (v.4). When someone comes to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, they are delivered from the past penalty of sin and the present power of sin. In the eternal state, those who are true Disciples of Christ will be delivered from sin altogether. In the eternal state, there will be the elimination of five tragic consequences of sin: tears, death, mourning, crying and pain.
Because sin will not be present in the new heaven and earth, tears shed because of sadness, sickness, disappointment, misfortune, regret or the loss of loved ones, or tears for any other reason related to sin will never flow again. There will be tears of joy, but not tears of sadness.
IV. New Creation (21:5)
The one who sits on the throne is the same one from “whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them” (Revelation 20:11).
The new heaven and the new earth, with its central city which is the New Jerusalem with its new spiritual environment, is a testimony to the Lord’s declaration that He has made all things new. This is not a remolding of the old. It is the construction of that which is altogether new. It is perfect and pristine. It will be forever untouched by sin or the consequence of sin in the world.
The Lord commanded John to write this down, for these words are faithful and true. They bear these characteristics because they are a reflection of the character of God. They are as He is, faithful and true. They are worthy of our unreserved confidence and trust (cf. Psalm 119:160; John 17:17; Proverbs 30:5).
V. A New Population (21:6-8)
Those who have been made new will populate all that has been made new. These citizens of God’s eternal kingdom are described as the thirsty and the overcomers who are the sons of God.
The one who sat upon the throne declared with certainty, “it is done!” This is reminiscent of the words of Jesus on the cross when he stated, “it is finished.” Jesus was speaking of the completion of the work of redemption accomplished by Him on the cross. The divine declaration is referring to the end of redemptive history and the start of something brand new.
“Thirst” is used in this passage, as well as in other places in the scriptures, to describe a deep and earnest sense of one’s spiritual need and hunger which can only be satisfied by the spiritual food and water that only God can supply (cf. Matthew 5:6). Those who thirsts for God (the elect), and the eternal life of God, will have their thirst quenched by God. The “water of life” is both symbolic of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as well as the eternal life He imparts to the souls of those who come to Christ in faith for the salvation of their souls (cf. John 7:37-39).
Thanks to a statement made by the Apostle John in his first letter, we can know for certain those who are described as “overcomers.”
1 John 5:4-5 (NASB) 4 “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
To be a “son” of God is a right granted by God to those who receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and who experience new birth in Christ (John 1:12-13).
Contrary to popular opinion, there will be some who are excluded from the eternal state. They are the unredeemed.
The “cowardly” deilos refers to those who are fearful and timid. In this passage, it refers to those who may have made a profession of faith in Christ, but quickly abandoned their profession because true regeneration was never experienced by them. When the cost of following Jesus became obvious to them, they quickly fell away (see Matthew 13:20-21). In the context of the book of Revelation, it is possible that the cowardly that are spoken of here may be a reference to those who abandoned their professed allegiance to Christ during the time of the Great Tribulation.
The unbelieving refers to those who refuse to trust in Jesus for the salvation of their soul. The abominable refers to those who are vile, detestable and lacking moral restraint. Their gross immorality produces disgust in God.
The murderers are those who violate the sanctity of human life by taking the life of another in a premeditative act of homicide. It can also refer to those who are haters of others and commit murder in their hearts (Matthew 5:21-23; 1 John 3:14-15).
Immoral persons refer to those who as a way of life, seek to satisfy their sexual appetite independent of God’s directives regarding the proper context for sexual intimacy, which is in a committed marriage relationship.
Sorcerers comes from a translation of the Greek word, pharmakos which refers to one who uses magic and sorcery which is the use of power gained from the assistance or control of evil spirits.
Idolaters speak of those who worship anything or anyone other than the true and living God. Here the more direct reference could be to those who worshipped the Antichrist during the Great Tribulation.
Liars refer to all who distort the truth and use deceit to advance themselves and to take advantage of others.
It is essential that you keep in mind that John is speaking of those in this list who characteristically function in life captured by these sinful practices. They are unrepentant and dead spiritually. For a similar list, see 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Ephesians 5:5-7.
It really doesn’t matter who we think should be in heaven or the eternal state. If habitual sin and rebellion characterize the life of a person, they will never enter into eternal glory. They will be occupants of the fiery lake of burning sulfur. It doesn’t matter how good or virtuous a person may be. Without faith in Jesus as your only hope of salvation, your destiny is eternal suffering in the lake of fire.
John’s Vision of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:9-22:5)
I. The Brilliance of the City (21:9-11)
Originally, “bride” and “the wife of the Lamb” was used to describe the church. But now, this title encompasses all the redeemed who will be the privileged occupants of this city. They are the bride of Christ, the wife of the Lamb and the city that they dwell in has taken on the identity of its occupants.
(v.10) The fact that this holy city is coming down out of heaven from God is a testimony of its divine origin. It is not built by human hands. It is no doubt the product of the creative word of God, who in the creation of the universe spoke all things into existence (Genesis 1). The builder and the architect is God
(See Hebrews 11:10).
(v.11) “The glory of God” has appeared in different places throughout history. God’s glory dwelt in the tabernacle and then in the temple. Today, His glory dwells in believers and in His church. For all eternity, the glory of God will be seen in His holy city. It is the only light the city will need, for it is the outshining of the sum total of the perfection of God’s character. John says that the brilliance of this city was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. MacArthur in his study bible states…
(Jasper is) a transliteration, not a translation, of the Greek word. Rather than the modern opaque jasper, the term actually refers to a completely clear diamond, a perfect gem with the brilliant light of God’s glory shining out of it and streaming over the new heaven and the new earth (cf. 4:3). Wow!
II. The Gates and the Foundation Stones (21:12-14)
(v.12) Unlike earthly cities, the wall is not for protection from enemies. Later, it is mentioned that the gates of the city are always open (21:25). Besides, all the enemies are gone. They are now permanent residents of the lake of fire. Most likely, the walls of this city are symbolic of its strength and the eternal security enjoyed by its occupants.
John also notes that this brilliant city has twelve gates with twelve angels stationed at each gate. On the gates are the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, God’s covenant people. The gates are a recognition and celebration of God’s covenant relationship with the people of Israel.
(v. 13) The gates are arranged symmetrically. This is reminiscent of the way the twelve tribes camped around the tabernacle (cf. Numbers 2).
(v. 14) The wall of the city has twelve foundation stones bearing the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. This commemorates God’s relationship with the church, of which the apostles served as the foundation (see Ephesians 2:19-20).
Although the distinction between Israel and the church is maintained by the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles of the church, they are now identified as being together.
III. The Measurements of the City (21:15-17)
(v. 15) This is sort of a curious act, but it is reminiscent of the measuring of the Millennial Temple (Ezekiel 40:3ff), and the tribulation Temple (Revelation 11:1). The angel used a golden measuring rod, which is a rod generally taken from a tree which would be straight and thin. Like so many other things in this city, it is made of gold.
The purpose of measuring the holy city is to impress upon the apostle John and all who would read this of the great majesty and immensity of this golden city. Such measuring also seems to signify that it belongs to God and meets His standard of perfection. Remember, the writer of Hebrews tells us that God is the builder and the architect of this majestic city (Hebrews 11:10).
(v. 16) “Were that city to be superimposed on a present map of the United States, it would extend from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and from Colorado, to the Atlantic Ocean.” Obviously, there will be more than enough room for all of the redeemed.
(v. 17) Surrounding this huge city is a wall 144 cubits or 216 feet thick. The reference to man’s measurement simply means that though an angel is using the rod, he is using human dimensions. That is to say, that a yard is a yard, a foot is a foot, and a mile is a mile, whether humans or angels are doing the measuring.
Did you notice the reoccurring number “twelve” in these verses? Twelve angels, twelve gates, twelve foundations, twelve thousand stadia and a wall that is twelve times twelve equaling 144 cubits or 216 ft.; the number twelve, like the number seven seems to represent the amount of completeness in the new heaven and the new earth.
(v.18) the size of the city is most impressive, but so is the material that this city is made of. The immense walls are made of jasper. As mentioned before, that precious stone was a fine translucent stone, capable of different colors, primarily radiant white, but also flashing fiery red and purple tints.
Even more impressive than the walls of this city, is the city itself. The city is constructed with pure gold. This is the source of the song we have been singing called “The Golden City.” So pure is the gold of this city that it is transparent like glass.
“In this present world, gold is the most precious of metals, the standard of all currencies and the greatest of all objects of human greed and conflict. In the New Jerusalem, the very streets are paved with gold and the buildings are plastered with gold. The most beautiful and valuable of metals is now the most abundant of metals.”
Dr Henry Morris
(vv.19-20) John continues to describe the amazing sight of this magnificent city by describing the decorations that adorned the foundations of the city walls.
Building foundations are usually underground, but these foundations will not only be visible but beautifully garnished with precious stones. Each separate foundation will have its own jewel, and the blending of the colors will be magnificent as God’s light shines through.
No one can be dogmatic about the colors of these gems, and it really does not matter. Jasper, as we have seen, is a clear crystal. Sapphire is a blue stone, and chalcedony is probably greenish blue. The emerald, of course, is green; and the sardonyx is like our onyx, a white stone streaked with brown, though some scholars describe it as red and white.
Sardius is a red stone (sometimes described as “blood red”), and chrysolite a yellow quartz like our modern topaz. Beryl is green and topaz a yellow green. We are not sure about the chrysoprasus; some think it is a golden-tinted stone, others, an apple-green color. The jacinth is probably blue, though some claim it was yellow; and the amethyst is a rich purple, or blue-red.
(v.21) The pearls are the building materials of the twelve gates of the city and they are like no pearl presently produced by an oyster because each one of the gates was a single pearl. That’s enormous! This is one gigantic pearl nearly 1400 miles high. This street material in the Golden City is pure transparent gold. Wow!!
IV. The Divine Temple in the City (21:22)
In the New Jerusalem there would be no centralized place of worship such as existed in the old Jerusalem. There will be no need to go to a cathedral, church, chapel or any other house of worship. For the presence of the Lord almighty and the Lamb is the temple. So everywhere you go in this fourteen hundred square mile city, you will be in the special presence of the Lord. Worship will be everywhere, just as the Lord is everywhere.
V. The Divine Light of the City (21:23-24)
(v.23) The present earth is dependent upon the sun and the moon for the provision of the cycles of light and darkness. The moon causes the ocean tides. However, in the new heaven and earth, there will be no sea. The present function of the moon will not be necessary.
The source of light in the Golden City will be the brilliant, emanating reflective glory of the outshining of God’s perfection. The Lamb is the lamp of this city in the same way. The radiant light of the resurrected, ascended, glorified Lord will be the light of this city (cf. Isaiah 60:19-20).
(v. 24) Redeemed people from every nation and ethnic group will dwell in heaven’s light. In the eternal city, there will be no more divisions, barriers, or exclusions because of race or politics. All kinds of peoples in eternity dissolve into the people of God, and they will move freely in and about the city. Please notice that there will still be nations and leaders of those nations in the eternal state.
VI. The Exclusive Access to Golden City (21:25-27)
(v.25) The gates of this beautiful city serve as entrances not barriers. Earthly cities of bible times had walls and gates to keep out their enemies and to regulate who enters the city. Such modes of protection were especially needed during the night when the city was most susceptible to attack. But that will not be the case for the Golden City. For all of the enemies of God and His children are destroyed and there will be no nighttime. The gates will never close access to the Golden city will be perpetual.
(v.26) Since the Lord is the source of all good things, all power, riches, wisdom and strength rightfully belong to Him.
During the eternal state, all the inhabitants of the new earth will acknowledge this by a continuous procession into the Golden City, in which the nations of the world will bring their glory and honor to lay at the feet of Him who alone deserves all praise.
(v. 27) With all this coming and going through the always open gates, John emphasizes once again, that there is no danger whatever entailed in this right of unlimited access. There is no possibility that the purity of this Golden City will ever be defiled by those who are impure. “All who traffic there have long since been conformed to the image of God’s Son and have purified themselves even as He is pure.”
Unlike the cities of earth which are populated by the saved and the lost, the redeemed and the unredeemed, the sons of God and the children of the devil, only those who have been made pure by the redemptive work of Christ will enter the city. Exclusive access is given to those whose names are found in God’s divine register of His elect.
VII. The Water of Life in the City (22:1)
Thus far, John has described for us the external beauties of the Golden City with the brief exception of its pure gold streets. But now we enter into the city itself and there the angel shows John the river of the water of life flowing from the very throne of God and of the Lamb.
The water of life is the ever-flowing river of eternal life. What was lost in the Garden when Adam and Eve fell into sin is fully and finally restored, never to be interrupted again. This shows that in God's plan of redemption, the Lord intended to restore all things to the Garden of Eden state and to have the redeemed, experience the Creator's original intent for humanity.
Those who have access forever to the tree of life are those who were sinners deserving of the wages of sins which is eternal death. But having believed the glorious gospel message, which is the word of life, and trusting in the one who is the bread of life for the salvation of their souls, they can now drink freely from the river of the water of life.
VIII. The Tree of Life in the City (22:2)
This is the celestial counterpart to the tree of life that was in the Garden of Eden. This tree of life is symbolic of the blessings of eternal life. The overcomers were given the promise in Revelation 2:7 that they would be given the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. The interesting thing about this tree is that its leaves are for the healing of the nations.
The word “healing” (thereapeian) can be understood as “health-giving. The English “therapeutic” is derived from this Greek word, even though there is no sickness in the eternal state, the tree’s fruit and leaves seem to contribute to the physical well-being of those in the Golden City.
The leaves of this tree can be likened then to something like supernatural vitamins that are not given to treat illness but rather to promote health and quality of life. This tree, with its therapeutic leaves is a symbol of abundant life and that which enriches life.
IX. The Inner Life of the City (22:3-5)
(v. 3) What is lifelike in the golden city?
No more curse! This takes us back to Genesis 3:14-19, where the curse of God comes upon mankind because of their sinful disobedience. However, with the removal of the curse, there will be the removal of the byproducts of the curse, which means no more sickness, sorrow, pain and death.
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."
What will we do in the eternal state? Well, we won't spend our time floating on clouds and strumming harps. We will provide service before the throne of God and the Lamb which will be in the city. The Scriptures do not give us any detail about the kind of service we will provide, but I am sure that it is the kind of service that although done for the benefit of the Lord, brings fulfillment to us. I would imagine this service provides the fulfillment of a job well done without the obstacles of work that we currently face in a fallen world.
(v. 4) Who will we see in the golden city?
No more curse! This takes us back to Genesis 3:14-19 where the curse of God comes upon mankind because of their sinful disobedience. However, with the removal of the curse, there will be the removal of the byproducts of the curse which means no more sickness, sorrow, pain and death.
Incredibly, we will see God face to face. Having been transformed into our glorified bodies, we will be able to endure the heavenly level of the blazing glorious light from God's presence without being consumed. Mortal man would die if he saw God in all His glory. In addition, we will bear the name of God on our foreheads.
This would be in opposition to those who bore the mark of the beast on their foreheads, indicating their love, loyalty and devotion to the antichrist. The name of God on the foreheads of the saints indicates that they belong to God and will serve God and reign with God. It is a wonderful moniker to bear!
(v. 5) As mentioned previously, there will be no need for the luminaries that we are accustomed to in our present existence on planet earth. For the emanating glory of the Lord will keep the eternal city well lit.
And not only will the saints of the Lord serve the Lord, but they will also reign with the Lord from this new central city in the eternal state.
1. God has a date certain plan for the end of the problem of pain and human suffering (Revelation 21:4; 22:3).
2. Our Lord promised His disciples that He would go to heaven and prepare a place for them. The Golden City is that place (John 14:1-4).
3. The Lord is the builder, light, and the temple of the Golden City. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the Holy City; and it is there that the saints of God will serve Him and reign with Him forever (Revelation 21:9-22:5).
4. Access into the Golden City requires your name being written in the Lamb's book of life (Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27; 22:19).
5. If you desire to be with the Lord in the Golden City, you must enter on His terms and that is through faith alone, in Christ alone, as the only hope of your salvation.