Destiny Of The Redeemed, 21:1 to 22:5
In contrast to the few verses which describe the destiny of the wicked,
John gives a lengthy passage to describe the destiny of the redeemed.
This was the main thing which the Christians of that day as well as those of subsequent days
desired to know.
This destiny is pictured in three symbols to show the perfect condition of the redeemed.
Heaven is revealed from three different angles.
(1) Fellowship with God, 21:1-8
The tabernacle which is symbolical of perfect fellowship is the first symbol.
Just as God's place of abode with His people in the wilderness was the tabernacle,
so the new heaven and the new earth will be His abode with them throughout eternity.
He will have perfect fellowship with them.
There will be no more separation from them because in the new heaven and new earth
" the sea is no more."
To John on Patmos the sea was the thing which separated him from the things dearest to him,
the churches of Asia.
In his vision of God in chapter 4, a transcendent sea kept the people away from God,
but when all the destiny of man has been worked out, " the sea is no more";
man is in intimate fellowship with God.
John heard a voice proclaiming " the tabernacle of God is with men,
and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his people."
This voice came immediately after the Holy City, New Jerusalem, was seen coming down
glorious and beautiful in appearance.
So, the New Jerusalem is a tabernacle where God dwells with His people.
He wipes away their tears and erases forever crying, mourning, pain, and death.
They have had their share of these things on earth.
Now all things are new.
As a guarantee that they can depend on this, God instructed John to write that these things
were true and dependable because He, the Alpha and Omega, is the power bringing it about.
(2) Protection by God, 21: 9-26
The city which is symbolical of perfect protection is the next figure.
The new heaven and new earth must have a capital city in accordance with their splendor.
The vision which is given to John leaves nothing lacking.
He saw the New Jerusalem glorious as a bride, and with the light of God's favor upon her.
The city has a wall great and high.
Walls of the cities in that ancient day were for protection.
There were 12 gates to the city -- symbolizing an abundant entrance.
The ancient cities had one gate, which was closed at night or when the enemy approached.
If one was caught outside, it meant destruction.
The New Jerusalem has not one gate, but 12 -- a perfect number.
Moreover, these gates are never closed -- there is an abundant entrance.
Each gate is made of one huge pearl -- symbolizing the fact that the entrance to heaven is
by the way of suffering.
The pearl is the only jewel which is produced by suffering and pain in overcoming difficulty.
The city had 12 foundations; so perfect a foundation could not be shaken.
The city is perfectly square; height, breadth, and length measures 12,000 furlongs.
To make this into a literal destroys the symbolism.
Twelve thousand furlongs is equivalent to 1,500 miles in present-day measurements,
but that has no meaning.
The efforts of many to determine the number of people who could live in a city this size
and how much room each would have are futile.
The number " 12,000" is a multiple number from two perfect numbers,
" 12" and " 1,000."
It is used to create the impression of perfection and completeness.
There will be perfect room for all the redeemed; nor can one determine
how populous heaven will be by deciding how much room each person will have to have
and then dividing it into the cube of 1,500 miles reduced to cubic feet.
The entire description is intended to present a strong, spacious, perfect, and beautiful city
where God's redeemed will dwell with Him in perfect fellowship.
To try to make this a literal city does violence to the scheme.
Some have done this and have arrived at absurd conclusions.
They find that the city is 1,500 mile square; and Palestine, where it is to be located,
in their view, is not more than about 150 by 70 miles.
Therefore, they think that the city will stand high above Palestine, and perhaps stationary,
as the earth revolves under it.
This is a symbolical picture of a city with walls of jasper placed on foundations of sapphire,
chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, beryl, topaz, amethyst, etc.
Each of its 12 gates is a huge pearl, and the streets are pure gold.
No lamp is needed because the Lamb is the light of the city.
There is no temple in the city.
The temple was the place where God met His people, where sacrifice for sin was made,
where intercession was made.
It is not needed in the New Jerusalem because there is no sin to be atoned for
and because the people are in the immediate presence of God.
This glorious city is inhabited by people of all nations, and it lends its protection to them all.
(3) Provisions From God, 22: 1-5
The garden, which symbolizes perfect enjoyment and the supply of all needs,
is the third symbol and picturing the destiny of the redeemed.
Here is a garden with a beautiful river the crystal water of which is the water of life
which issues from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
On either side of the river grows the tree of life, which bears its fruit 12 months out of the year
and the leaves of which have healing power.
There are three basic things necessary to the sustaining of life: water, food, and health.
This pictures symbolizes the provision of all three.
The water of life and the perpetual fruit of the tree of life furnish the food and drink.
The leaves with their healing powers furnish health.
Together, they symbolize God's nurture and care for His own.
How can a man live forever?
Here is the answer, and it comes from " the throne of God and of the Lamb"
-- God has all that is needed to sustain eternal life in man.
In this garden, with life divinely sustained, man shall serve God forever.
He tried it on earth, but his efforts were imperfect because there were so many handicaps.
There will be no handicaps in heaven, and " his servants shall serve him."
Another beautiful thought is found in the expression, " they shall see his face."
Often in this world men have had this longing.
It is expressed in poem and song and often in the deep anguish of the heart
when no one else can know about it.
But when this earth is passed, and man finds himself in the eternal presence of God,
then he will look on the face of his Redeemer-God and serve Him forever.
What greater pleasure could one ask?
This is God's answer to the longing of man to know about the future life.
In symbol God says, " Heaven is a place of perfect fellowship, perfect protection,
perfect provision of needs, perfect service to God."
Great contrast is noted here between the destiny of the wicked and the destiny of the redeemed.
Next: Conclusion, Revelation 22: 6-21