Revelation 21:9-27: The Beautiful City.
9 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia[a] in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17 The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits[b] thick.[c] 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.[d] 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendour into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honour 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.” NIV
Cities can be downright ugly. And even beautiful ones can appear cracked and flawed and faded – looking quite different ‘on the ground’ to how they appeared in the travel brochures. Every traveller, at some time or other, has probably resonated with the saying, ‘It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive.’ But here is a city that will outshine its description. This is the future of the church. Matthew Henry says:
‘And now we have a large description of the church triumphant under the emblem of a city, far exceeding in riches and splendour all the cities of this world…’
However, the presence of God Himself will be the chief glory of this city. The essence of ‘heaven’ is to live in the light of God forever: ‘…there is no need of the sun or moon, any more than we have need to set up candles at noonday, when the sun shine the in its strength.’’
In the light of verses 24 and 26, Matthew Henry again helps us by saying: ‘Whatever is excellent and valuable in the world shall be there enjoyed in a more refined kind, and to a far greater degree…’
Jesus keeps the best wine until last (John 2:10)