New Jerusalem II

Q. Rev 22 says 14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. Is it not true that all the sinners have gone to hell by that time? Why would they still be outside the city? If outside the city is hell, why would those who wash their robes go in and out of the city?

Also, 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. What will they be reigning? Will everyone be a king?

A. According to Rev 20:15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire, all unbelievers would have been cast into hell by that time.

Let’s dissect v 14-15 to see what it means. First, “wash their robes” is in reference to:
Rev 7:14 I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Washing their robes white in the Lamb’s blood is figurative, not literal.

Second, “tree of life” appears first in Revelation in:
Rev 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’
The overcomers are those who persevere and are victorious. Eating of the tree of life means being granted eternal life. I believe it is more figurative than literal.

Third, “dogs” appears 8 times in the NT, here and in:
Mt 7:6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
• Mt 15:26-27 And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” (See also Mk 7:27-28)
• Lk 16:21 and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.
• Php 3:2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision;

Except in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, all 7 references are figurative of the unholy, the Gentiles, the evil workers, the false people of God, the sinners, not literal.

Therefore I believe “outside” does not mean physically outside the city, but figuratively, barred from entering. Rev 22:14 does not say go in and out of the city, only “enter by the gates into the city” (NASB). Nor does Rev 21.

Next, reign. Besides Rev 22:5, believers reigning is taught in:
2 Tim 2:12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
• Rev 5:10 “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”
• Rev 20:4, 6 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

Rev 5:10 refers to the men and women purchased for God with the Lamb’s blood from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Rev 20:4, 6 refer to those who were martyred, those who had not worshipped the Antichrist and received his mark. They will reign with Christ during the Millennium.

There are degrees of reward. In Lk 19:13 a nobleman gave 10 of his slaves 10 minas to do business. When he returned, he called them to give an account:
Lk 19:16-19 The first appeared, saying, ‘Master, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.’ 18 The second came, saying, ‘Your mina, master, has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him also, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’

Each slave was given 1 mina, and the reward is proportional to the results. The one who earned more was put in authority over more. I do not know what the specific duties of being “in charge” involves, only that they will reign, some with higher rank. I don’t think everyone will be a king. Some will be barely saved:
1 Co 3:14-15 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

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New Jerusalem I

Q. Rev 21 describes the New Jerusalem. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

This seems to imply that not everyone will live inside the city and that ranks (kings) and nations still exist in the new world. If there are gates, there must be people going in and out of the city. Maybe the new Jerusalem is not where all believers will be. Any views on this?

A. Although I favor literal interpretation in general, you need to know the OT background to interpret properly. Rev. 21:24-27 draws upon the imagery in several passages:
Is 60:3 “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
• Is 60:5 “Then you will see and be radiant, and your heart will thrill and rejoice; Because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, the wealth of the nations will come to you.
• Is 60:11 “Your gates will be open continually; They will not be closed day or night, so that men may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession.
• Is 52:1 Awake, awake, clothe yourself in your strength, O Zion; Clothe yourself in your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; For the uncircumcised and the unclean will no longer come into you.
• Joel 3:17 Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, dwelling in Zion, My holy mountain. So Jerusalem will be holy, and strangers will pass through it no more.

First, the nations and kings are those who obey God, not those in rebellion and were destroyed:
Rev 16:19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.
• Rev 19:19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.

Second, the gates will not be shut, but open continually. But notice who can enter:
• Nothing impure.
• Not the shameful or deceitful i.e. sinners.
• Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life i.e. saved. Rev 20:15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
• Not the uncircumcised and the unclean i.e. the unrepentant. Circumcision here refers to the heart, by the Spirit (Rom 2:29).
• Not strangers i.e. not those to whom the Lord declares, “I never knew you”.

The unsaved will be in the lake of fire. So taken together I believe “entering the city” is figurative of “being saved”, and does not mean living outside the city and physically entering it.

New Jerusalem (2 of 2)

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(Continued from yesterday)

The dimensions of the New Jerusalem are given in Rev 21:
Rev 21:16-17 The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.

Commentators are baffled by the size of the city, as 1,500 miles would be more than the flight distance from Toronto to Havana flying south, or to Saskatoon flying west. People can’t imagine the size of one city stretching halfway across the country. This is especially when its length & width & height are equal i.e. like a cube. A square city 1,500 miles in length & width is hard enough to imagine, but 1,500 miles in height too? No building is that tall, as even Mt. Everest is only 29,029 ft. or only 5.5 miles tall, less than 0.4% of 1,500 miles. For that matter, an altitude above 100 km or 62 miles above sea level is commonly used to define outer space, & 1,500 miles is over 24 times that!

Attempts have therefore been made to make the size more “reasonable”, including:
• It is only symbolic. 1,500 miles is literally 12,000 stadia, with 1 stadion equal to approx. 600 ft. These interpreters hold that both the 12,000 witnesses sealed in each tribe & the 12,000 stadia simply mean a complete number, & do not have to be taken literally. But if all it means is a complete number, why not 1,200 stadia?
• The 1,500 miles is the circumference, not each side. This would reduce each side 375 miles, still more than the distance from Toronto to New York City. And of course a height of 375 miles would still be beyond the imagination of anything on earth.
• Some argued that the height refers to the mountain or plateau on which the city sits, not the city itself, as its walls are only 72 yards or 216 ft high. Granting this assumption for the moment, that still requires the mountain to be 1,500 miles (or at least 375 miles) high, which simply does not exist.
Basically none of these options are satisfactory.

Personally I do not find such accommodation necessary, as the current earth will be burned up & we do not need to base the new on the old as reference:
2 Pet 3:10, 12-13 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. … looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
• Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.

The diameter of our moon is 2,159 miles, so 1,500 miles is just under 70% of the moon’s diameter. A cubicle city that size would provide huge mansions for all OT & NT saints that ever lived (Jn 14:2).

Why cubicle? Because the Holy of Holies, where God dwells, was cubicle:
1 Kings 6:20 The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits in length, twenty cubits in width, and twenty cubits in height, and he overlaid it with pure gold. He also overlaid the altar with cedar.
Since God dwells among His people in the New Jerusalem, its dimensions are cubicle to represent perfect symmetry.

New Jerusalem (1 of 2)

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Q. What is the meaning of the foundation stones & dimensions of the New Jerusalem? Is it literal or symbolic?

A. The foundation stones of the New Jerusalem are described in Rev 21:
Rev 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
• Rev 21:19-20 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone 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; the twelfth, amethyst.

The twelve foundation stones represent the twelve apostles, because the Church, God’s household, is built on the foundation of the apostles & prophets:
Eph 2:19-20 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,

Some commentators tried to equate the 12 precious stones with the 12 stones on the breastpiece of the high priest:
Ex 28:17-21 You shall mount on it four rows of stones; the first row shall be a row of ruby, topaz and emerald;
• and the second row a turquoise, a sapphire and a diamond;
• and the third row a jacinth, an agate and an amethyst;
• and the fourth row a beryl and an onyx and a jasper; they shall be set in gold filigree.
• The stones shall be according to the names of the sons of Israel: twelve, according to their names; they shall be like the engravings of a seal, each according to his name for the twelve tribes.(Also Ex 39:10-14)

However, while 7 stones appear on both lists (jasper, sapphire, emerald, beryl, topaz, jacinth & amethyst), the other 5 do not match:
• in Rev: chalcedony, sardonyx, sardius, chrysolite & chrysoprase;
• in Ex: ruby, turquoise, diamond, agate & onyx.
The list in Rev. is in Greek while that in Ex. is in Hebrew, & scholars cannot definitively identify one with the other. More importantly, Rev 21:14 specifically indicates the names on the 12 foundation stones are those of the 12 apostles, not the 12 sons of Israel (12 tribes). I therefore believe that it is counter-productive to equate one with the other. Suffice to say that both are precious and beautiful in God’s sight.

(To be continued)