A New Place to Dwell
In the past, God dwelled among His people, Israel, in the temple in Jerusalem, but that was destroyed. After the temple’s destruction at the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, God promised that He would build a new temple (Ezekiel 40 – 43). Though a second Jerusalem temple was built, it was a shadow of the first and clearly not a fulfillment of that promise (Haggai 2:2-3)—a promise that was ultimately fulfilled through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus (John 2:19-22).
In the temple, God’s presence was focused in the Most Holy Place, an inner sanctuary that was constructed as a perfect cube. Only one man was permitted to enter, and he, the high priest, could only enter once a year. Then, centuries later, and with that first temple nothing but a distant memory, the apostle John received this vision of the new city of God’s eternal kingdom, and it is portrayed as a perfect cube—but now not one that would fit in a building in one Middle-Eastern city but one with an area as large as the known world of John’s day.
In the new creation there will be no particular place where God’s presence will be concentrated. There will be no special building to visit if we want to meet God, because there will be no distance between God and us. John “saw no temple in the city” (Revelation 21:22) because, in that day, God will be there, fully and spectacularly in a way that we cannot yet comprehend; and so everything will be temple space. This is a radical picture of something that is brand new—a transformation in circumstances so vast, so rich, and so wide that, as the apostle Paul puts it, we cannot imagine “what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
If we are united with Christ, God’s presence is with us through the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, our knowledge of God and our intimacy with Him are still limited. Our present state is certainly not all that we might long for, nor is it all that He intends for us. That is yet to come—but come it will.
Do you live in eager expectation of this unimaginable intimacy with God? If you are sincerely anticipating this permanent dwelling place with God, it will be apparent by the purity of your life and by a passionate concern to see friends, relatives, and neighbors come to know Christ. Knowing we have this great hope, we will be purified, even as Christ is pure (1 John 3:3)—and we won’t be able to help but tell others about Jesus, both by life and by lip.
The New Jerusalem
9Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed— 13on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia.4 Its length and width and height are equal. 17He also measured its wall, 144 cubits5 by human measurement, which is also an angel's measurement. 18The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
22And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.
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