Summary: God's glory will be the defining feature of the new heaven and new earth. Therefore we need to make His glory the supreme passion of our life right now.
Right now, if you go outside, there are innumerable stars in the sky. But you can only see one of them – our sun. That is because the light from the sun is so bright that none of those other stars in the sky can be seen during the daytime. But if we wait until the sun sets tonight, we’ll be able to see quite a few stars with our naked eye and many times more if we were to look through a telescope.
But there is a day coming when even the brightness of the sun will be obscured by something that will be infinitely greater – the glory of God. As we cover the last part of Revelation 21 this morning, we’ll get a glimpse of how God’s glory will completely outshine everything else in the new heaven and new earth that we were introduced to last week. So go ahead and take your Bibles and turn to Revelation 21 and follow along as I begin reading in verse 9:
9 Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed - 13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15 And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16 The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. 17 He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel's measurement. 18 The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.
22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day - and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Wow! Perhaps that is all that really needs to be said about this passage. Wow! I don’t think our puny little human minds can even begin to comprehend what God has in store for his children. But we can understand enough to both cause us to long for our eternal home with all of our heart and then do whatever we can right now to prepare for that day.
Last week we were introduced to the New Jerusalem, which will, in effect, be the capital city of the new heaven and earth. In the passage that we’re looking at this morning, we’re given much more detail about what that city will be like. We’re going to review several attributes of the city briefly and then we’ll spend most of our time focusing on what is undoubtedly the defining attribute of the city and the life that will be experienced there.
The New Jerusalem:
• Is a real place
Although some commentators view this description of the New Jerusalem only as a symbol of a state of existence for the believer, we’re going to take the same approach that we have followed throughout our journey and take this passage literally since there is nothing within the passage or surrounding context that would lead us to believe that it should be taken symbolically or figuratively.