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Revelation 21:12-21 “The Walls And Gates Of New Jerusalem”

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THE TEXT:

 

 

Revelation 21:12-21

 

(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.
(14)  And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
(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 lieth 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.
(18)  And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto 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, chrysolite; 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.

 

 

THE INTRODUCTION:

In Revelation 20: John’s attention was placed upon the first phase of the Christian’s eternity with Christ on the New Earth… the period of one thousand years, which has been set aside by the Lord for the judgment and reward of His people.  This was then followed by the event that closes the 1000 year time period, the judgment of Satan and his kingdom (including lost mankind) for their sins and their consignment to the Lake of Fire.

Now, in Revelation 21:-22:, John begins to share with us a wonderful description of new Jerusalem, the eternal dwelling place of the people of God….

  1. Rev 21:1-11 – New Jerusalem on the New Heavens and Earth
  2. Rev 21:12-21 – The Walls and Gates of New Jerusalem
  3. Rev 21:22-22:5 – New Jerusalem, the Glory of Eden restored
  4. Rev 22:6-20 – The Conclusion to the Book of Revelation

 

 

THE EXPOSITORY STUDY:

 

Revelation 21:12-21 

John now begins to share with us a description of the gates and the walls of New Jerusalem… 

(12)  And had a wall great and high, 

John sees a wall large, strong and tall.  They are not used to keep men inside but they are used to control who is given access to the city (Rev 21:27).   These walls separate God’s people from those who are yet in their sins and condemned for an eternity.   They symbolize the security, and sanctity that the Lord’s people will enjoy throughout eternity.

These walls are taken from several passages in the OT, one of which is Isaiah 60:18-21…

Isaiah 60:18-20 – “Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.  The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.  Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.” 

In this passage, we see the walls given the name of “salvation” (or deliverance) and their gates given the name “praise” (or to give tribute, to honor).  Why is this?

For the Christian these walls represent the ultimate deliverance that the Lord will grant His people throughout eternity.  it will be not only deliverance from the penalty of sin, but also deliverance from the results and presence of sin.  This wonderful eternal dwelling for God’s people is the place of ultimate security, peace and holiness for the people of God prepared and kept by the power of God.

For the Christian the gates represent the Christian’s praise and tribute of the Lord.  The Christians understand that by His workings and grace alone they are given entrance to their wonderful, eternal home, He is the One that receives all the credit for their entrance into this city…. He alone deserves all their praise.

 

 

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: 

John now begins to describe these gates named “praise”.  In this section of John’s description the number twelve is very prevalent.  The number 12 is the number of eternal perfection. And is representative of God’s people set apart for His use and will share eternity with Him (12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles).   In this vision, 12 helps us to understand that these gates are reserved for the use of the people of God, the complete number of them, that will make up the citizenship of this eternal city (John 6:39):

  1. There are 12 gates which give God’s people access to the city. These gates give access to all of the people of God.
  1. At each gate an angel is present, guarding the door from intruders… much like the cherubim placed at the entrance to Eden to keep it (Gen 3:24).
  1. Each of the 12 gates had one of the names of the 12 tribes of Israel. God’s spiritual nation of Israel, the Israel of God, (those who have believed in Christ) is represented in its entirety by these twelve names…. This shows us that the citizenship of spiritual Israel is given access to this city.  No one who is a spiritual descendant of Abraham (Gals 3:29) will be left out, nor excluded from entrance into these gates.

 

(13)  On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. 

The twelve gates are evenly distributed… 3 gates on each of the 4 sides of the walls (N,S,E,W).   This helps us to understand that the Lord saves and gives access to this eternal city to people from all parts of the globe.  No nation, race, language or family is excluded.   There can be found saved individuals from every division of mankind.

Keep in mind, Revelation 5:9-10 described the redeemed as being “out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”

 

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

The wall had 12 foundations, each one having the names of one the twelve apostles.  The complete number of New Testament saints is represented by the names of the twelve apostles.

Remember each gate had the name of one of the 12 tribes.  When we see this together, we can see that the inhabitants of this city will include all the saints from both the times of the Old Testament and the times of the New Testament.  Also we can see that the ministry of the OT prophets and NT apostles formed the foundation of the gospel message and opened salvation to all of God’s people…

Through the teachings of the apostles, we find the foundation of the new covenant and the gospel message through which all of God’s people gain access to this city.   Through the ministry of the OT saints, we have the many promises of Christ, the OT symbols of Christ recorded and handed down through the generations.  They both worked in harmony to bring God’s people into His spiritual nation of Israel.

This same principle is brought out in Ephesians 2:19-22…

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:  In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” 

 

(15)  And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.

The angel possesses a “golden reed”.  The gold is symbolic of divinity and royalty.  This reed is owned by, and proceeds from our Lord, the King of Kings.

In Rev 11:1, we saw that measuring things represents ownership and control.  As the angel measures this city with the reed of God, he is symbolizing that this great heavenly city is owned by God and controlled by God.  All those who are citizens are a part of His spiritual nation, purchased by His blood and under the control of the King of Kings.

 

(16)  And the city lieth 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.

John now tells us the measurements of this city.  It is a perfect cube with its length, width and height all the same length, twelve thousand furlongs (which equals 1380 miles).

The measurement of 12,000 (12 x1000) show us that this city is perfect, holy, sinless (12), and complete (1000). It will be sinless, the perfect size for its inhabitants, needing nothing, going far beyond all of our expectations in every direction, in every nook and cranny of it.

 

(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. 

The walls of the city were 144 (12 x 12) cubits thick.  Although these walls were measured by the angel, the measurement was performed using the measuring system of man (cubits, furlongs etc.).

 

(18)  And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. 

The wall was made of “jasper” (symbolic of preciousness and purity).  The city was made of “pure gold” (symbolizing that it was the city of our God and our King).   The gold was so “pure” it was clear like glass emphasizing its sinlessness and holiness)

The walls existed to keep, unite  and protect the saved (21:24-26) while it kept out the lost and sin (21:27). 

 

(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, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.

 

The foundations of the wall were decorated with various precious stones, all of which are found on the breastplate of the priests:

 

Stone Color Symbolism References
Jasper Clear, Brown, Red Purity, Communion Ex 28:20
Sapphire Blue StrengthPurity, Communion Song Of Sol  5:14Ex 28 :18
Chalcedony Green, Red, Blue Purity, Communion Ex 28:17
Emerald Light Green Purity, CommunionValue Ex 28:18Ezek 27:16
Sardonyx White, Blue, Red, Brown Purity, CommunionIsraelWorship Ex 28:26Ex 28:91 Chron 29:2
Sardius Yellow, Brown, Red Purity, CommunionGod’s Glory Ex 28:17Rev 4:3
Chrysolite Gold, Copper Purity, CommunionValue Ex 28:19Job 28:19
Beryl Sea Green Purity, CommunionWork of ChristBody of God Ex 28:20Song of Sol 5:14Dan 10:6
Topaz Yellow Purity, CommunionValue Exo 28:17Job 28:19
Chrysoprasus Light Gold, Light Green Purity, CommunionEternal, Permanence Exo 28:18Jer 17:1
Jacinth Blue, Yellow, Red Purity, Communion Exo 28:19
Amethyst Dark Red, Purple Purity, Communion Exo 28:19

 

This helps us to see many different attributes to this Godly city.  Especially, when we realize all of these stones were found on the breastplate of the OT priest (Exo 28: – mostly listed in reverse order?), we can see this great city of God will provide a place of communion, worship, and purity.    It also helps us to see that the intercessory work of Christ is the foundation of our eternity with Him.  Apart from His constant intervention for us, we would be forever condemned.

Also note the variety of colors.  Almost every major color is represented in this combination of stones.  This reminds us of the rainbow which signifies the Lord’s faithfulness to His promises (Gen 9:10-20).  Our hope of dwelling in this wonderful city, and our entire experience of eternity with Christ, is founded upon His promises to us.  His faithfulness to those promises will be declared as we experience our eternal abode with Him.   

 

(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. 

Each of the twelve gates were made of one pearl.

A pearl is representative of:

  1. wisdom – Job 28:18
  2. Truth of Word – Mat 7:6
  3. Good News of Christ – Matt 13:45-46

The way of access to Christ and this eternal abode is found through the gospel of Christ, the truth of the Word, the wisdom of God.

The street of the city (the path of salvation) is made up of pure gold.  Again, we can see the way of salvation is found in the truths of God, His gospel message.  It is sinless, without deception, without corruption and never changes.  This is why the gospel message is perfectly reliable,  pure, and of immense value to mankind.

 

CHRIST REVEALED:

In this section of John’s vision we come face to face with the absolute need of Christ for our future security and peace.  The walls, gates, and foundation of this wonderful dwelling place for the people of God pointed our attention solely to Christ, His work, His truth and His faithfulness.    Because of Christ’s work and His continuing intercession on behalf of His people, He will keep us secure to, and throughout, eternity….

Hebrews 7:24-25 – “But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.  Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

 

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION (SUMMARY)

This vision not only gives us many principles concerning the wondrous eternity we possess through His work and faithfulness to us.  It also gives us many foundational truths about salvation from sins and the way to that leads to salvation.

Please note a quick basic summary of these teachings:

  1. The City pictures our salvation and the resultant eternal security
  2. The Gates picture the gospel message which gives access to that salvation
  3. The Angels guarding the gates are God’s messengers that possess and proclaim gospel
  4. The Foundation represent the Apostles, OT Prophets and Christ, their teachings which make up God’s Word

Folks, as we are reminded of the wonderful eternity that awaits the people of God, let us also be reminded of the importance of the gospel message and its role in securing the salvation of God’s people.  It is only through this salvation that the eternal blessings of the Lord can be received.

May we all seek to live in such a way that Christ, and His glorious gospel message be revealed in each of our lives.  In doing so, we will be sharing with others around us the only way of salvation and entrance into this wonderful eternity!

1 Timothy 6:11-12 – “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.  Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.”

 

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4 Comments

  1. SLIMJIM says:

    Thank you for this

  2. Citizen Tom says:

    Interesting exposition. We can get sidetracked fairly easily.

    Don’t get me wrong — I think he is great, but I was astonished when J. Vernon McGee (his Thru The Bible Series) went off on what he admitted was his personal explanation of New Jerusalem. He thought it would be a huge satellite. Possible? I suppose so, and it sounded gorgeous, but nobody two thousand years ago would have considered such a thing.

    Was McGee’s speculation interesting? Yes, and perhaps that was enough reason for it. Still, I think it valuable to know what the people at the time John wrote thought he was saying. Thanks.

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Believe me, brother, I am familiar with many of the varied ways that people interpret the Revelation. That was one of my great motivating forces to try to come to a more Biblical understanding of things based upon the context of the Bible. I do appreciate McGee’s ministry as well, like any other teacher (me included), you have to take the wheat and leave the chaff. Lord bless you.

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