Revelation Chapter 21: New Jerusalem descends to the "New" Heaven and "New" Earth - Life in the millennial Kingdom of Elohiym ("God")
Now, we have another time-sequence dilemma. The vast majority of Bible expositors state that the "new" heaven, the "new" earth, and New Jerusalem of Chapters 21 and 22 appear in eternity, following the Millennium. But, 21:27 seems to indicate the presence on the "new" earth of those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and who are not allowed to enter New Jerusalem. Could it be, in the same way Chapters 17 and 18 are parenthetical chapters giving more details about modern, prophesied Babylon, that Chapters 21 and 22 are also parenthetical chapters giving more details about the millennial kingdom? In fact, Isaiah, prophesying about 800 years before the Revelation was written, indicated exactly that scenario. He foretold that there will be “new heavens and a new earth” (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22) with a newly-created Jerusalem (Isaiah 65:18). And this is in the context of his description of the Millennium, during which,
I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people; The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying. No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, but the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; They shall not plant and another eat; For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, And My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth children for trouble; For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of [Yahuah], And their offspring with them. It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox, And dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain," Says [Yahuah] (Isaiah 65:19-25). “And, it shall come to pass [in the "new" heavens and the "new" earth] that from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me," says [Yahuah]. “And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against me, for their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh. (Isaiah 66:23-24)
All of this - death, the presence of sinners, childbirth, new moons and sabbaths, looking on the corpses of the dead with horror, and so forth - does not sound like the eternal state following the Millennium and the Final Judgment, does it? Let us see if the Lord will further clarify the sequence of events as we go through Chapter 21 verse by verse:
21:1 Now I saw (a) a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was (b) no more sea.
a. “Heaven” in the Bible is not a monolithic term (cf. Genesis 1:1). It may refer to the sky (the earth’s atmosphere), space (beyond the earth’s atmosphere but within Earth’s solar system), outer space (beyond Earth’s solar system where the Oort Cloud of comets, stars other than Earth’s Sun, and other galaxies and celestial objects exist), or the dwelling place of the Most High God (beyond His Creation). “Heaven” in the present context, since it is singular, seems to refer to the sky (the earth’s atmosphere) and all it contains. Also, it is difficult to conceive of Elohim creating a brand new Heaven where He dwells, isn't it? On first impression, it certainly seems that the "new" heaven and "new" earth are “brand new,” having totally replaced the heaven and the earth that were destroyed at the Final Judgment. But have they? The Greek word translated “new” here is kainos, which can mean a renewal, refreshing, or refurbishing of something that already existed. The basic components of Heaven and Earth will not be totally done away with until the Final Judgment but are just greatly altered and radically restored back to their Edenic state during the Millennium so that they are, in effect, “new” (cf. Ezekiel 36:35). The Greek word that is most often translated “brand new” or “recently born” is neos, as in 1 Corinthians 5:7. The difference in the two terms is subtle, and sometimes they are used interchangeably, but the point is that in this verse kainos can, and apparently does, refer to a renewal rather than to a total replacement of the first earth and heaven. All the prophecies of the Day of the Lord and His wrath certainly seem to indicate tremendous changes in the topography of the earth and radical reparations that will have to be made to restore it to its Edenic state during the Millennium (cf. Revelation 16).
Perhaps the 30-day period foretold by Daniel (Daniel 12:11) that immediately follows the 1260 days of the second half of the Final Seven Years is the time period during which the renewed earth and renewed heaven are formed. Then, perhaps, during the next 45 days (cf. Daniel 12:12), New Jerusalem will descend to Earth and the Messianic Kingdom will be established. But that is all conjecture.
b. This verse also, on first impression, makes it seem that the earth and heaven of 20:11 are replaced by the "new" earth and "new" heaven because 20:13 states, “. . . the sea gave up the dead,” but this verse says there is no more sea. However, before the great flood during Noah’s time, the earth was not covered mostly by oceans and seas. During the Millennial Kingdom, it will apparently be the same. Apparently, as was stated in the commentary on 20:13, the term “sea” in that verse is symbolic for the masses of unsaved people, and does not refer to a literal sea.
21:2-4 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from [Yehovah], (a) prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard (b) a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, (c) the tabernacle of [Yahuah] is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. [Yahuah] Himself will be with them and be their God. And [Yahuah] will wipe away every tear from their eyes; (d) there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."
a. New Jerusalem is prepared for a renewed earth - an appropriate marriage.
b. We have learned that a voice from Heaven can be the voice of any heavenly being or group of beings - a living creature, the 24 elders, the multitude of redeemed Saints, or an angel - whereas a voice from the throne in Heaven is the voice of the Lord.
c. The Tabernacle (as opposed to the Temple) was the temporary dwelling place of Yahuah among the tribes of Israel. This may be a clue that the renewed earth will endure during the Millennium, until the Final Judgment, but is not eternal. The ultimate goal of Yahuah is for His Saints to be One in Him, as Yahuah the Father and Yahushua the Son are One, not just for Him to dwell among them (cf. John 17:21).
d. This is a glimpse of Timeless Eternity given personally by the Lord Yahuah. These promises are for those redeemed and glorified Saints who dwell in New Jerusalem, but not for those who, during the Millennium, dwell in the nations surrounding New Jerusalem, where there will still be sin, pain, sorrow, weeping, and death, although even that suffering will be very limited compared to pre-millennial history.
21:5-8 Then (a) He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, (b) I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful." And He said to me, (c) "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. (d) I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. (e) But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
a. Here we have an interruption in John’s vision of the renewed heaven, the renewed earth, and New Jerusalem. The One who sits on the throne, the Alpha and Omega, speaks to John directly.
b. He tells John that He is in the process of making all things new (which is what the Revelation is all about) and tells him to write what he hears, because the words are faithful and true.
c. What is done? . . . perhaps, with the completion of the events of Revelation, the reconciliation of His redeemed People, and the restoration of all that belongs to Him in Heaven and on the Earth to Himself (cf. Colossians 1:21; Ephesians 1:10). When Yahushua finished His work of redemption on the cross, He similarly announced, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The great accomplishment of the Lord at His first coming was to redeem His People and establish the Kingdom of Heaven in the hearts of those who have accepted Him as Savior and Lord since that time. The great accomplishment at His second coming will be to restore His kingdom on Earth and all the people in it to Himself.
d. And the end result will be adoption as Sons of God, eternal life for those who thirst for it, and the inheritance of all "riches of glory . . . in [the Messiah Yahushua]" (Ephesians 1:18; Philippians 4:19) by those who overcome.
e. But "eternal" separation from Yahuah and destruction in the lake of fire (cf. Malachi 4:1-3) is the destiny of those who reject life in the Messiah and continue in the ways of the wicked. By the way, this mention of the lake of fire in the context of the description of the renewed heaven, renewed earth, and New Jerusalem would seem to be another indication that Chapter 21 is a parenthetical description of the millennial, earthly Kingdom of God prior to the Final Judgment.
21:9-27 Then (a) one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife." And he carried me away in the Spirit to (b) a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from [Yahuah], having the glory of Yahuah. Her (c) light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Also she had (d) a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. Now (e) the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he who talked with me had (f) a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: (g) twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. Then he measured (h) its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. (i) The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. (j) But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord [Yehovah] Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. (k) The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of [Yahuah] illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. (l) And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. (m) But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
a. After John’s personal conference with the Lord, one of the angels who poured out the bowls of wrath came to him, beckoning him to accompany the angel to a place where John would be shown “the bride, the Lamb’s wife,” who has been clearly identified in the Bible as Yahuah’s People, the redeemed Saints of the Lord, including the BCE Saints and the Followers of Yahushua (e.g., Isaiah 62:5; Ephesians 5:23; Revelation 19:7-9).
b. Now, the description gets mystical and highly symbolic. The Bride of the Messiah is New Jerusalem. Prophecy seems to indicate that there will be only one huge mountain on the earth (all others will have disappeared – cf. 16:20) during the Millennium, and that will be the mountain of the Lord, Mount Zion (Isaiah 2:3; Ezekiel 17:22-23; 20:40). Apparently, that will be the location to which New Jerusalem descends out of Heaven, for it is from there that the Lord will rule. The description of New Jerusalem is similar to Ezekiel’s prophetic description of the city (cf. Ezekiel 40-48).
c. Because human minds cannot begin to fully comprehend New Jerusalem, it is presented in images of the most fantastic, precious, valuable, beautiful objects known on the earth. Her light, reflecting the glory of God, is like a jasper stone (probably a diamond). Like the jasper stone, the Bride of the Messiah will not be the source of light in New Jerusalem, but will reflect the glory of God.
d. The twelve gates of the city, three on each side, each attended by an angel, each a having the name of a tribe of Israel written on it, were typified by the twelve tribes of Israel camped around the tabernacle (Numbers 2). Perhaps this symbolizes that the only entrance into New Jerusalem and the presence of the Lord is through Israel’s Messiah.
e. The city walls, which keep out intruders and protect the residents, are built on twelve foundation stones - Yahushua’s apostles. Members of the Assembly of Believers in Yahushua, the Bride of the Messiah, are told that they, as “living stones, are being built up [into] a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5), and also that the Messiah is the “chief cornerstone” (1 Peter 2:7). The Assembly of Believers in the Messiah is built on the foundation of the prophecies and doctrines of the prophets and apostles (1 Peter 2:20). In some wonderful, mystical way, New Jerusalem will literally be the Assembly of Believers, the Bride of the Messiah.
f. As was mentioned in the commentary on 11:1, measuring the Temple was symbolic of preserving Israel through the Wrath of God. But that was done with a flimsy cane reed. Now, New Jerusalem is measured with a golden reed, indicating eternal preservation of a highly-valued object - the City or People of God, the Bride of the Messiah.
g. In Scripture, twelve seems to be the number that represents Yahuah’s people: twelve tribes of Israel, twelve apostles; and 1,000 is the number of completion or fullness, as in 144,000 of Israel (12,000 cubed). New Jerusalem, the Bride of the Messiah, is a complete cube, 12,000 furlongs (1,500 miles) in circumference - the perfected, completed City of Elohim. If this distance is literal, the city is approximately 375 miles on each side and in height - plenty of room for millions of glorified individuals who are not limited by gravity. But that incidental observation is not important; the symbolism of perfection and completeness is what is important.
h. The height of the wall (which is identified with the leaders of Yahuah’s People: its gates with the patriarchs and its foundation stones with the apostles) is the perfect height (as is indicated by the fact that its height is the measure both of a man and an angel) to protect and preserve Yahuah’s people. Its height, 144 cubits, is the number of the representatives of ancient Israel and the Assembly of Believers in Yahushua multiplied together, which cubes or perfects the number. In other words, it takes both Yahuah's BCE People Israel and His CE People the Believers in Yahushua perfectly combined to complete the Bride of Christ, New Jerusalem - another indication that the Revelation is written to both Yahudim ("Jews") and followers of Yahushua ("Christians").
i. We will not, for fear of missing the beauty of the forest by focusing on the individual trees, attempt to read meaning into every component of New Jerusalem. If we can just list each component and visualize the incredible combined beauty of those components, perhaps Yahuah will give us an inkling of the awesome, incomprehensible beauty of the actual New Jerusalem: The 144-cubit (216-foot) wall is brilliantly-luminescent, crystal-clear jasper (diamond?); the entire city is gold so pure that it is transparent; the twelve foundations of the wall (the apostles) are adorned with breathtakingly beautiful, precious stones: jasper, sapphire (blue), chalcedony (a greenish emerald), emerald (bright green), sardonyx (red and white), sardius (bright red), chrysolite (golden yellow), beryl (bluish green), topaz (yellowish green), chrysoprasus (apple green), jacinth (blue), and amethyst (violet and purple); each gate is one huge pearl engraved with the name of a tribe of Israel; and the street of the city is pure, transparent gold.
j. This confirms that the renewed heaven and the renewed earth, in which God “tabernacles” with His People, are temporary. Mystically again, there is no temple in New Jerusalem, because God the Father and God the Son are, as One, its Temple. In New Jerusalem, Yehovah no longer dwells in the Saints, who are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), but the Saints are One in Him (cf. Romans 12:5).
k. The glory of the Lord provides perfect light for New Jerusalem; there are no sun, moon and stars, and hence, no night there.
l. In fact, the light of New Jerusalem, in which the people of the earth shall walk, shall provide light for the whole earth. And the “kings” of the earth shall bring their glory into the city. If this is during the Millennium, as it seems to be, the “nations” outside the city gates are not-yet-glorified human beings - the people of the nation of Israel plus those of the Gentile nations who survived the Final Seven Years. And walking in the light probably symbolizes walking in the Spirit, as it does for Believers today (cf. John 8:12; Ephesians 5:8; 1 John 1:7; Galatians 5:25), except on a much grander, more general scale. The ones who do not walk in the light will be the exceptions. During the Millennium, all nations will be ruled by the apostles and other glorified saints who rule with the Messiah from New Jerusalem, and they will glorify Yahuah by coming into His presence in New Jerusalem and worshiping Him. This is a fulfillment of BCE prophecy, for, as the psalmist declared, “All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O [Yahuah], and shall glorify Your name” (Psalm 86:9). What a wonderful world it will be!
m. However, those who are not saved, whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, will not be allowed to enter New Jerusalem. These, apparently, will be those of the nations who, although allowed to enter the millennial kingdom, do not totally submit themselves to the Lordship of the Messiah and are deceived and reject His Lordship after Satan is released at the end of the Millennium. This seems to confirm that the renewed heaven, the renewed earth, and New Jerusalem are the heaven, the earth, and Jerusalem of the millennial Kingdom of Elohim ("God") because, in (true) eternity, there will be none whose names are not written in the Book of Life.
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Common English translations of Hebrew and Messianic terms used in this commentary:
Yehovah - LORD or GOD
Elohim - God
Adonai - Lord
Yeshua - Jesus
Followers of Yeshua -
Messiah - Christ
Assembly of Followers of
Yeshua - Church
Yahudim - Jews
Antimessiah - Antichrist
BBM - Before the Birth of
the Messiah (as
opposed to BC or BCE)
ABM - After the Birth of the
Messiah (as opposed to
AD or CE)
For a complete explanation of Hebrew terms used, go to Important Terms and Concepts.
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