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“Eschatology” (Part 30: The Glorified Church)

III. The Book of Revelation.

W. The Glorified Church (20:9-27).

1. The invitation to view the bride. “Then one of the seven angels who had the

seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, ‘Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having

the glory of God.” (vv. 9-11).

a. Having brought in the New Creation purified from sin, the world is now a fit place for the Lord to bring His bride.

b. This is our first view of the church since the final judgment where she has come through spotless because of the blood of the Lamb.

c. She appears now from heaven.

(i)

The Bible doesn’t tell us specifically where the final judgment takes place, though it likely takes place in heaven, since the Lord will have raised the dead and translated the living from the earth.

(ii)

Wherever the church was being kept in the interim, she now enters into the blessed home the Lord has prepared for her.

d. Notice that she has now reached her consummate glorified state: “having the glory of God” (v. 11).

e. The Lord desires the angel to show John this glorious sight to encourage him and the saints to whom he writes to endure to the end.

2. The description of the bride.

a.

What follows is a symbolic description of the bride in terms of a glorious city: the New Jerusalem is the bride of Christ – the people of Christ – but also the city in which she dwells.

b.

“Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. 12 It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west” (vv. 11-13).

(i) She shines with the brilliance of God’s glory:

(a)

God’s glory often appears as a shining light: the Shekinah of God.

(b)

Here we see the church has been endued with this glory through the work of Christ.

(c)

As the church was to reflect the glory of God on earth in her life and worship, so she reflects that same glory in the eternal state, only much more so and visibly.

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(ii) This description of the city and the wall would remind John’s readers – who were primarily Jewish – of the glory of the Old Covenant Temple, which was a picture of the true Temple, the body of Christ.

(a)

She is represented as being built from very costly and beautiful materials – as the tabernacle and temple – which show that she is precious to Him.

(b)

She is protected by her Lord, represented by the wall surrounding the city and the twelve angels who guard the twelve gates, even as the angel was placed at the entrance to the Garden of Eden to guard the holiness of God’s sanctuary (Gen. 3:24).

(c)

On the twelve gates are written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, very likely one name on each gate. (1) This represents the elect of the Lord from the nation of Israel, the Old Covenant church – they too are part of the bride of Christ; there are not two separate peoples of God, as Dispensationalism believes, but one. “Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘Uncircumcision’ by the so-called ‘Circumcision,’ which is performed in the flesh by human hands – remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household” (Eph. 2:11-19). (2) The arrangement of the names – with three on each of the four sides of the city – is reminiscent of the arrangement of the camp of Israel in the wilderness (Numbers 2). (3) The tabernacle was in the middle of the camp surrounded by the twelve tribes – three on each of the four sides.

c. And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (v. 14).

(i) The names of the apostles are on the twelve foundation stones. Which twelve?

(a) Judas was rejected for his betrayal of Christ. An apostle was chosen to take his place by the name of Matthias (Acts 1:15-26). “And they

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drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles” (v. 26). It may be that they chose him prematurely through the casting of lots.

(b) The Lord’s choice seems clearly to have been the apostle Paul: ‘And last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed” (1 Cor. 15:8-11).

(ii) The church is rooted in God’s covenant with Abraham (the twelve tribes), and it is founded on Christ and the apostles.

(a)

There are not two churches or two peoples of God, but one. (1) “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, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:19-22). (2) The Gentiles were formerly excluded from God’s people (far off); but in Christ, they have been brought near and now partake of Israel’s blessings. (3) The Abrahamic Covenant was one administration of the Covenant of Grace; the New Covenant is simply its fulfillment.

(b)

It may be that the wall contains these representations of the Old and New Covenant Church because they ultimately possessed the keys to the kingdom of heaven (the heavenly Jerusalem).

d. The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the

city, and its gates and its wall. 16 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” (vv. 15-

16).

(i)

The city is immense in size:

(a)

It measures 1500 miles cubed.

(b)

In the Greek, this is 12,000 stadia, or 12 x 1000, multiplied by three for each dimension (length, width, and height).

(c)

Each number represents perfection or completeness in Scripture, again showing us that the bride of Christ has reached her consummate state.

(ii)

Its size may also represent the esteem the Lord holds for His bride: her preciousness in His sight.

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(iii) It might be an indicator of the number of the elect which are said to be a host which no man can number, “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’” (Rev. 7:9-10).

(iv) Though the number of the elect is vast, they still represent a minority of mankind.

(a)

“And someone said to Him, ‘Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?’ And He said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able’” (Luke

13:23-24).

(b)

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:13-14).

(v) The fact that it is a cube in shape, may be a reference to the holy of holies – the place where God dwelt among His people – which was a cube of 10 cubits.

e. “And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements” (v. 17).

(i)

The wall, as we’ve seen, may represent the covenantal and doctrinal foundations of Christianity, which must be embraced and believed before one can enter the kingdom.

(ii)

Certainly, it also represents the Lord’s protection: He is a wall of safety surrounding His bride.

(ii)

This is another indication that the dimensions of the city are not to be taken literally.

(a)

The city is 1500 miles high, while the wall that surrounds it is only 72 yards high or 144 cubits (12x12).

(b)

What need would the city have of such a wall?

f. “The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 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; 20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; 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 one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass” (vv. 18-21).

(i) This description again reminds us how precious the church is to the Lord:

both His Old and New Covenant Church.

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(ii) This is reminiscent of the breastplate of the priest that was made of gold, encrusted with precious stones.

(a)

“Aaron shall carry the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment over his heart when he enters the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually” ((Ex. 28:29).

(b)

As the high priest was to carry the sons of Israel on his heart when he appeared before the Lord to make atonement for their sins, so the Lord bears His church on His heart.

(c)

In heaven, we will experience the love of God in all its fullness. (1) We will be the apple of His eye. (2) He will be the apple of ours.

g. “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (v. 22).

(i)

Unlike old Jerusalem that contained the house of God (the Temple) on earth, where the Lord would reveal His presence and glory, the New Jerusalem has no need of a Temple, since the city itself – being the bride and body of Christ – is the temple of God.

(ii)

The Lord God and the Lamb who inhabit the church are what make it His temple.

h. “And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (v. 23).

(i)

The Lord, who originally created the light on day one and was very likely the source of that light, again becomes the light of the world.

(ii)

His glory – the Beatific Vision – will be visible for all to see in every place.

i. “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring

their glory into it. 25 In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; 26 and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it” (vv. 24-26).

(i)

The nations and kings referred to may be nations and kings that exist in the New Heavens and Earth (the kings may be those who receive honor for their sacrifice for Christ while living).

(ii)

More likely it refers to what they were while on earth: those of every nation and their kings, as many as received the grace of God, will walk by

the light of God’s glory and come before Him continually to worship Him. (iii) This reminds us of what the saints will be doing in heaven: worshiping God; bringing their glory and honor before Him because of His person, wisdom and grace.

(a)

This is something that will occupy the saints continually: it is always day and there is no night; the gates are always open.

(b)

This gives us a much needed check on our own hearts: do we enjoy worship here? If not, what makes us think we’ll enjoy it there?

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(iv) The fact that the gates are never closed also means there is nothing to threaten her.

(a)

Though there is a wall, there is no need for it.

(b)

There is everlasting peace.

j. “And nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (v. 27).

(i) Here is another warning to John.

(ii) This vision he sees is shown to him prior to 70 AD and is meant to

encourage the saints to persevere and to warn them not to turn back.

(iii) No one who practices sin shall enter into the city, but only those whose

names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

(a)

The encouragement is to repent: if they do, they will gain the right to enter into the holy city.

(b)

The warning is they will perish if they don’t: those who practice sin will have their part in the lake of fire.

(iv) Though the day of God’s judgment on Jerusalem is long past, the warning is still relevant:

(a)

We must repent and trust in Christ, or we will share this same judgment.

(b)

But if we repent and trust in Christ, we will share the same blessing of participation in the holy city.

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