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THE NEW JERUSALEM

    Bible Symbolism

There are dozens of chapters of prophecy in the Bible about the New Jerusalem. Wordservice.org has many sections of articles devoted to it. As prophecy the easiest to read and the most enlightening is The Bride of Christ. Another article, End Time Prophecy, although a difficult read; has a large section devoted to the subject as prophecy. As prophecy Revelation 20-22 belongs to era that follows the age of the gentiles; the time period measured by four empires named and dated in Bible prophecy that ends with the last part of the Roman empire falling in 1453 AD.  This current era that Revelation 20-22 is speaking to is a time period when all the earthly promises of God made to the saints in ages past; promises that remained generally unfulfilled in their generations begin to come to pass in the world. What one will find in the illustrative prophecies of the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21-22 is that even though they begin to see their fulfillment in the earth in earnest after the end of the age of the gentiles. They clearly had their beginning, or, are part of what began with the New Covenant age that started when the Messiah came, was crucified and was raised from the dead for the sins of the world.

This article is geared toward the symbolic meaning of the verses in the last two chapters of Revelation rather than its prophetic predictions although it seems unavoidable to not include them. It will list the corresponding Old and New Testament verses that show what the symbolism or illustrative language of Revelation 21-22 means in hyperlinks. Please take the time to click on them and read them as that is where you will find the pertinent information. 

 

Revelation 21

1. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

     This first half of this verse is a direct quote from Isaiah 65:17 and the the second half symbolically uses the word sea exactly like Isaiah 60:5.  The entire chapter of  Isaiah 60 is a prophecy about the New Jerusalem. Isaiah 65 & 66 is a prophecy about the judgments against the unfaithful and the promise of a New Jerusalem for the faithful.

 

2. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

      In the first part of the verse John see's the people Isaiah called the City of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel as a "holy city, New Jerusalem."  In the symbolism of his vision its coming down from heaven is consistent with the basic New Testament theme of everything the saints have of God comes down from heaven through Jesus Christ. Lastly, the new Jerusalem is the bride of  Jesus Christ in Revelation 19:7-9 & 21:9-10.   In Ephesians 5:32 the Apostle Paul compared the marriage relationship between men and women to Christ and his people calling it "a great mystery." What he is was most likely referring to as a mystery were the numerous and profound prophecies in the Old Testament about the New Jerusalem as Gods wife.   In the parables of the New Testament the followers of Jesus are the guests of the wedding and he is the bridegroom.  

 

3. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

     The New Testament addresses this as a present reality for all believers rather than a future one. In fact it calls the Old Testament tabernacle and temple, although very real, mere symbolism of the momentous plan of God that through the messiah faithful peoples of all nations would be the temple or tabernacle of God.

 

4.  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

      In the New Testament death is often illustratively used to describe different things.  One can also see the brutalities that cause sorrow and anguish that early believers and past and present pioneering believers face mitigated in the New Testament through the effects of true faith.  The book of Revelation however is prophecy and as such contains a timeline as to when certain things would be fulfilled. In that timeline God's saints, illustrated by the New Jerusalem, would begin to see the earthly promises of God made to the saints of ages past, yet unfulfilled in those past generations begin to come to pass in their generations.  As with the many other prophecies about the same thing this was to begin to occur after the fall of the Roman Empire which occurred in 1453 AD. To those whom believe this cannot be coming to pass because they are good Christians and have sorrow, crying and pain.  The fulfillment of Gods promises are conditional not un-conditional. The way to their fulfillment has been made through the death and resurrection of the Lamb of God.  That does not mean all believers have found their way. Further than this though. Historically this age with its precious promises and prophecies is really just in its beginning stages. We have many centuries with their trials and victories ahead of us.  Hebrews 4: 1-2, 11

 

5.And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

     That all things are new is standard New Testament language to describe the new life one finds in Christ.  Yet this was promised and prophesied in the Old Testament.

 

6.  And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

       The Greek word for done here "means to come into being/manifestation implying motion." (M. Vincent.)  Judging by the previous and following sentences what was set in motion began with the coming of the messiah, his death and resurrection for the sins of mankind.  The next sentence about the water of life verifies this because it started coming to pass immediately following his ascension to heaven because the living water is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.  Before the New Covenant the Holy Spirit was given by Jehovah the Word to his people. However, Jehovah the Word became a man, the descendant of Abraham, and the promise of the Holy Spirit was given to that one descendant, the messiah. It is he who now allots Him, the Water of Life to those of faith of all nations.

 

7.He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

      The connection between inheriting the promises of God and overcoming sin is born of the very laws of our nature and natures Creator.  Individuals, cultures and nations simply cannot obtain the promises without overcoming sin because these promises, for the most part, are the natural effects of righteousness.  In the same way the natural effects of sin\lawlessness are derogation, destruction and death. A simple look at our present world reveals that to the degree that sin is overcome and righteousness is embraced is the degree with which these prophecies are being fulfilled. Jesus overcame the world and in the proper times and seasons by the proper means God's children must also.

 

8. But the cowardly, and faithless, and abominable, and murderers, and sexually immoral, and drug users: (especially drug use as it relates to occult practices;) and idolaters, and all liars,
shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and sulfur: which is the second death.

      This verse lists some of the characteristics of those who do not overcome the world in Christ and what their end is. The lake of fire and the second death illustrate the words of Christ quite well in reference to that prison called hell.

 

9. And there came to me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come here, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife.

      There are dozens of verses listed under verse two of this chapter that cover the subject of the bride, the Lamb's wife. Here are a few more.

 

10.  And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

     This great and high mountain has dozens of chapters of prophecy devoted to it. Its best to allow them to show what this verse in Revelation illustrates and the sense in which it descends out of heaven.

 

11.  Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.

     This verse is from those same Old Testament scriptures already listed that symbolically describe Gods faithful children as the city of Jerusalem who's light and glory is from God .

 

12. And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
13. On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.  AKJV

    This is from Ezekiel's vision of the New Jerusalem and also the layout of the tabernacle in the wilderness that the New Testament says was only a foreshadow of the true that was to come.

 

14.  And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.  

     Since this city of God is interpreted by the Bible to illustrate the people of God; it would follow that its foundation is the ministry and words of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone.

 

 15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. 16 And the city lies foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. 17 And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. AKJV

     The unimaginable numbers of those saved and heaven bound; past, present, and future is reflected in the size and scope of the city.

 

 18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like to clear glass. 19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; 20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. AKJV 

    While scriptures about the jewels and gold can be found  in other prophecies to represent the value of the people of faith, of all nations. It is also possible that this illustrates the great prosperity that was prophesied to come to nations under the influence of the New Jerusalem. 

 

 22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. AKJV

      If the city is an illustration of the people of faith from all nations that has no building called a temple because it's not literal city. It would follow that the temple of that city is God.  To further the argument that all of these visions in Revelation are illustrations of past, present or future realities. John saw a temple building in other parts of his vision written as the Book of Revelation. This would be a discrepancy in Bible prophecy if these were not illustrations of literal things and events as opposed to being the literal things themselves.

 

23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. AKJV

     This is one of the most common refrains in the Bible. That God through the lamb is the light of his people and the whole world.  This is also a direct quote from other prophecies about the New Jerusalem that directly call the people of faith, of all nations, this city of the Lord.

 

24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it. AKJV

     This is another direct quote from other prophecies that use the  New Jerusalem symbolically to illustrate Gods people. More importantly though. This verse spells out how the Bible teaches world was to, and now is being transformed.

 

25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.

     The gates always being open is another direct quote from OT prophecies illustrating the grace of God's open invitation for the sinner to enter into eternal life and to dwell in light of the Son verses the darkness of the night of sin.

 

26 And they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. 27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defiles, neither whatever works abomination, or makes a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life. AKJV

     This is a great illustration of the transformation of the nations, peoples and cultures of the world  and the eternal salvation of multitudes of individuals within them due to the influence of Gods government, the Gospel and the Word of God. This is clearly implied because they are bringing their glory and value into the city where wickedness is not allowed to enter though the gates.

 

Revelation 22

1 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. AKJV

     The pure river of the water of life (for the most part), is an illustration of the Holy Spirit given to believers through the messiah Jesus.

 

2 In the middle of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bore twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. AKJV

     The tree of life watered by the river of life who's fruit, (according to Ezekiel,) is for food and the leaves for the healing of the nations is an amazing prophetic illustration of God healing the nations through his people. How this has been coming to pass is one of the most scientifically observable facts in the history of mankind.

 

 3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:

     We are told in this verse that those who are illustratively living within the walls of this city are no longer subjected to the "curse" mankind has brought upon itself by living contrary to the laws of nature and natures God.  The rest of the verse is an allusion to the invisible Kingdom of God in the earth that God's people serve.

 

4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.

      The  word "face" is often used  idiomatically in Hebrew and Greek and the languages heavy influenced by Biblical . A name or mark in the forehead not really known in the modern western world but apparently common place in the ancient world as a mark of slavery, status, class, criminality and some other things.

 

 5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God gives them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. 6 And he said to me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show to his servants the things which must shortly be done. 7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keeps the sayings of the prophecy of this book. 8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things. 9 Then said he to me, See you do it not: for I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God. 10 And he said to me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. 11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. 12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. 14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and fornicators, and murderers, and idolaters, and whoever loves and makes a lie. 16 I Jesus have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. 17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is thirsty come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely. 18 For I testify to every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add to these things, God shall add to him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. 20 He which testifies these things said, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

© Daniel Martinovich 2002-2017