The Unspeakable Glory of Our High Calling: Part 2

Benedict Peters

The Church Has Finally Achieved Its Fullness. The height, length, and depth of the city are the same (Rev 21:16), meaning that it is cube-shaped, like the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s temple (1 Kgs 6:20). The fact that the length, width, and height are the same probably means that the people of God have achieved fullness in every respect. They can now “comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height” of divine salvation, and will have finally been “filled with all the fulness of God” (Eph 3:18-19).

“The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.” The city possesses divine symmetry; everything is flawlessly balanced; everything is in place; everything rests in perfect balance. How different it is here on earth. Each one of us is biased, as is every local congregation. But in the heavenly Jerusalem, everything will be in its place and each will have the weight it deserves. We will one day come to the “measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph 4:13).

The number twelve is the basis for everything. This means that the people of the redeemed are then perfectly ordered by God. As in the ancient twelve-tribe Israel, each one is listed in the genealogy, named, and put in his place (see Num 1—4). The result is consummate harmony; a mutual, unadulterated give and take (Eph 4:16), because everyone will be exactly where God, in His wisdom, has placed him. In our present state, self-interest, envy, and arrogance in the body of Christ constantly disturb this harmony (see 1 Cor 12:12-21). But the glorified church will finally be as God has ordained.

The Church Has a Divine Nature. The wall is built from “jasper” (Rev 21:18). Corresponding to Revelation 4:3 and 21:11, jasper is a reference to the glory of God. It acts as both a protective and a separative wall. The glory of God prohibits and prevents any impure thing from entering the city. If God’s glory were manifested a bit more among us, not so much as a stranger would be able to creep into the churches. If we lived in holiness and love for Him, we wouldn’t need to shut all the gates in fear, as the disciples used to do for fear of the Jews (John 20:19). We could leave them open all the time, as they are in the heavenly Jerusalem, where there is never night, but always light (Rev 21:25).

An incident in Acts clearly illustrates this. For the first few days, divine love and divine sanctity reigned in the church, to the extent that nothing impure could stay in it or enter it. We read in Acts 4:34-35, “Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.” That was a powerful testimony to the love among the disciples.

Then immediately follows the account of Ananias and Sapphira’s lie, and of subsequent divine judgment (Acts 5:1-11). This was a powerful revelation of the holiness which belongs to the house of God (see Ps 93:5). Nobody dared to join this fellowship (Acts 5:13), but this doesn’t mean that no people were saved as a result. On the contrary, “Believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women” (Acts 5:14).

“The city was pure gold” (Rev 21:18). We read in the seventh letter that the Lord of the church in Laodicea advises  to buy gold and white clothes from Him (Rev 3:18). If the white clothes represent divine justice, then the gold must also represent something divine. As an element that cannot be manufactured, gold is probably an indication of the divine nature. In the heavenly Jerusalem, our Adamic nature will no longer stand in the way of the free unfolding of the divine nature, given to us in the rebirth (2 Pet 1:4). We will see our Lord as He is, and as a result we will be like Him (1 John 3:2). But that means that none of the things that afflict us day by day—foolishness, sin, idleness, impurity, lack of knowledge—will tarnish our blissful fellowship with Him and with one another. Everything is pure gold, without blemish, without dross, as clear as glass (v. 21), like the divine nature. This and this alone governs and defines the community of the redeemed among themselves.

“And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper...” (Rev 21:19). First, jasper is named. What can we learn from this? As we have seen, jasper represents God’s essence and glory. God has chosen to redeem sinners and connect them together in perfect communion. The first and highest reason for His actions is to reveal His glory. God created everything “for [His] pleasure” (Rev 4:11), whether the work of creation or the work of salvation. Everything is in praise of His glory: “Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion…” (Ps 103:22).

The Church Is Transparent Like Pure Glass. “And the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass” (Rev 21:21b). The Greek word plateia is used for “street” here, and has the same meaning as the Italian piazza. The piazza is still roughly what the city street was in earlier centuries: a place of encounter, not the fastest possible passage. The saints will cultivate joyful contact, and this will be sustained by divine purity and love. Nothing sinful will cause hindrance or disturbance. Nothing concealed will disfigure the community; it will be like transparent glass. We will walk in the light and have perfect fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7).

Every Gate in the City Is a Single Pearl. “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl” (Rev 21:21a). The pearls remind us of the parable of the pearl of great price (Matt 13:45-46). The pearl is the people of God; the parable teaches us that the Lord gave everything to purchase it for Himself. How He must love His people (Eph 5:25)! And this love will be made known to the whole universe in all directions. That’s why the gates are pearls, because the gates are the first thing you see when approaching a city. And when you enter this city, your first impression will be a sense of the great love that the Lord has for His people. So it is for anyone who converts from darkness to light and is introduced into the church of God. The first thing he receives is a previously unknown awareness that Christ loves His church, and that teaches him to love all who belong to Him (1 John 5:1-2).

God Himself Is the Temple. “And I saw no temple therein” (Rev 21:22a). In the heavenly Jerusalem, the redeemed are brought near to God, so no temple will exist there. The temple was once God’s dwelling place among His people, and it was where the people could approach Him. But at the same time, the temple was a constant reminder that sin separated God and His people, and that sin created distance that had to be overcome by a sacrifice each time. Now there is no longer any sin, and therefore no distance to overcome. God is with His people, and His people are with Him. “The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” There the redeemed will have direct contact with their God and Redeemer.

The Glory of God Is Their Light. “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it” (Rev 21:23a). In the heavenly Jerusalem, God Himself, the origin and source of all light, will give light to the redeemed. This light is sudden, and not fractured by creation. So the redeemed need no indirect sources of light, like the sun and moon. When we read in the creation account that the light was created first, and then the sun and moon, we understand that these are merely secondary sources of light. In the heavenly Jerusalem, nothing is indirect; the perfected saints have direct contact with the Author of life. God Himself is their light, and the Lamb is the lamp. A lamp is light deployed purposefully. In Jesus Christ, this light has taken shape, come into this dark world (John 1:5; 8:12), and sought and saved sinners.

The Nations Walk in Its Light. “And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it” (Rev 21:24a). The nations are the people who will populate the earth in the Millennium. The light they see is the “glory of God” radiating from the city (vv. 11, 23). That is, the nations of God see light and love in His redeemed people, and that is what shows them the way to go.

The gates of the city must never be closed, “for there shall be no night there” (Rev 21:25). There is no longer a change to day or night in the city. But on earth, which is still the original, the order of the first creation will last throughout the Millennium. It won’t be until after the end of the Millennium that the earth will be dissolved and a new heaven and earth will exist where righteousness dwells (2 Pet 3). There will be no sea (Rev 21:1), so there will no longer be night either (22:5).

The people of the earth will “bring their glory and honour into it” (Rev 21:24), saying that everything they can do that is beautiful and sweet and good is owed to God. He gave the will and the capacity to do it (Phil 2:13), and so they give Him all the honor for it.

The Throne of God and the Lamb. Life comes from the throne of God, “a pure river of water of life” (Rev 22:1). There can be no death where God rules, for He is the living God, the source of life and light. “And there shall be no more curse” (Rev 22:3). What a promise! All the misery that has entered this creation since the first God-given curse (Gen 3:17) will disappear. And if we’re asking how this is possible, the answer is given immediately: “The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it.”

The first reason, which encompasses all other reasons, is this: God’s throne is there. When man rose against God, all suffering came into the world. When man is once again subject to God’s will, there will no longer be suffering. The throne of God is also the throne of the Lamb, for God establishes His rule through the Lamb—through the suffering and death of His Son. God put the curse (which came into the world through sin) on Him. Indeed, He Himself became a curse on our behalf (Gal 3:13-14). Without His work of salvation, there would be no servants serving Him; there would be no redeemed souls to see His face; there would be no human beings to receive God’s blessing.

“His servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face” (Rev 22:3b-4a). That’s why they serve Him. God has given us eyes to see His face. As long as we have not seen Him, our eyes will always wander, always unsatisfied with seeing (Eccl 1:8). But as soon as our eyes are opened to His glory, we want to belong to Him, be devoted to Him, and serve Him.

Absalom could return to Jerusalem with unatoned guilt, but he wasn’t allowed to see the king’s face (2 Sam 14:24). We would neither desire nor be able to endure the Lord’s presence under unforgiven guilt. But we long to see His face, and we will see Him, with boldness and joy, because our sins are no more. Truly, “Blessed are they that do his commandments” (Rev 22:14).

In the new creation, there will be no night, only eternal day. God Himself will “shine” over the redeemed. The first creation recognized the change of day and night, showing that all of creation was subject to change. Man, whom God had set as ruler over creation, was therefore also changeable. He could change from good to bad. The redeemed man, by comparison, is immutably good, and will therefore be unable to fall from goodness as Adam did. In the new creation, the eternal day will never be ousted by a single night.

Because God shines on the perfected, righteous ones (Heb 12:23), “they shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev 22:5). His light gives both the knowledge and the comprehension that they need. They will never fail; they will never rebel against Him. Since they can see His face, they are unable to and don’t want to. They will always know who their God is; they will know that He has loved them with an everlasting love, and so they will always love Him with a love that grows steadily, unendingly, just as infinitely wide, just as deep, and just as strong as the love with which God has loved them from eternity (Jer 31:3).

Midnight Call - 10/2019

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