Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why the New Jerusalem Has Streets of Gold

Reading:  Revelation 21     

In Revelation 21 we find a visionary description of the bride of Christ.
2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”...
10And 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. 11It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12It 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. 13There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. ... 18The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.
What a description of the city of God. Indeed God is making everything new. This New Jerusalem is not at all like the old. But, there are some connections... some correlations such that you can recognize what He is talking about.
For instance, a city is made up of people. And the New Jerusalem, like the old, is described as a city... a place of gathered people. And in the Old Jerusalem there was a temple, where God dwelt in the middle of the city. That temple had jewels much like those described in the foundations of this whole city, for here God dwells in the whole city.
And then we get to the fact that the very street itself is of pure gold. People have concluded a lot of things about that. For instance, here we think gold is of supreme worth, where as there it is used for asphalt. And there is truth in the difference of values there, but the point of the text in mentioning gold (for instance it is used throughout the city, not just the street per vs. 18) seems to be that this city is glorious and of great value...even the streets are of gold.
As with most of the book of Revelation, understanding it comes by understanding the Old Testament. Most of the images and symbolism are carried forward from the Old Testament. In the Old Testament we find something else about the temple, which is now true of the whole city.
1 Kings 6:29-30 On the walls all around the temple, in both the inner and outer rooms, he carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers. 30He also covered the floors of both the inner and outer rooms of the temple with gold.
The temple, the dwelling place of God, had gold floors. Now, in the New Jerusalem, God isn't dwelling merely in a temple in the middle of the city, but in the whole city. Therefore the whole city is the temple, so to speak, and so the streets (think floors) are made of gold.
Of course, we know the city, the bride of Christ, built upon the foundation of the apostles is the church of the Living God, the New Jerusalem, the dwelling place of God. What a glorious picture and description of what God is making us to be.
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,