John’s vision comes at last to the New Jerusalem:
“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.’ 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, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates names twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed – on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Rev 21:9-14).
This vision given to John underscores that in heaven, perfect unity with God, the Lamb, and the Spirit is born of the number twelve, as in the twelve tribes of Israel; but the New Jerusalem, the Holy City, the church of Jesus, is the bride of the Lamb, to which the twelve tribes of Israel will be drawn and welcomed as family.
“And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 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’” (Rev 21:15-16).
A “stadion” was equivalent to about 600 feet, so the New Jerusalem is about 1,363 mils square!
“He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement” (Rev 21:17).
A cubit is about 1.5 feet, so the wall is 216 feet high. And an angel is also 216 feet tall!
“The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 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, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh Chrysolite, the eight beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 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, like transparent glass” (Rev 21:18-21).
The foundations of the church of the Lamb, the twelve apostles, are represented as jewels of unspeakable beauty. Note that this number includes the disciple Judas, who perhaps has repented at some point after he betrayed Jesus. Has even Judas chosen the good fork in the road, experienced the never-ending love of God, and forgiven and restored in perfect unity with the Godhead?
“And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day – and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 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” (Rev 21:22-27).
As I write this on a day where evil is flourishing against bravery in battle half a world away, I think of those who have stepped into the line of fire to save their families and their liberty. May they – and we – be clearly written in the Lamb’s book of life.
May perfect unity germinate, bud out, and blossom as never before within the temple of God and the Lamb!
Hurry back for the River of Life!