"The Day of the Lord"
THE PEOPLE OF THE NEW EARTH.
B. Chaps. 21:1㬒:5.
This member corresponds with the member B (chaps. 2 and 3). Those chapters are occupied specially with the people who will be on the earth during the Day of the Lord and in the Great Tribulationthe concluding days of the old earth. These chaps. 21:1㬒:5, are occupied with the New Earth and the people who shall dwell therein, after all those judgments are ended.
This large member is divided into three parts:
These again may be divided up and expanded. We will give each, in order:
In this former Vision (A) two things are seen. (1) The New Heavens and Earth, and (2) the New Jerusalem.
In the latter Vision (A. 21:9㬒:5), we have the second Vision enlarged, extended, and more fully described. The two series of Visions are separated by the voices (B. 21:3-8).
Apart from what God is pleased to show us, and tell us, nothing could possibly be known by mortal man.
All imaginations, therefore, are worse than useless; they are misleading. Hence the importance of these significant expressions "And I saw," "And I heard," "And I saw."
The whole of this member (21:1㬒:5) must be taken as coming after the judgment of the Great White Throne.
Some have looked on these two chapters as merely containing further details concerning the Millennium. But the fact of the New Heavens and the New Earth; and the passing away of the former heavens and earth; and of there being "no more sea," quite precludes the possibility of this being a mere recurrence to former things, and the filling in of further details.
This will be seen as we proceed.
a. 21:1. The New Heavens and Earth.
21:1. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the former heaven and the former earth were passed away, and there was no more sea.] Here again we have the same remarks to make as were made with reference to the "first" and "second" resurrections. It is the former earth that had passed away, to give place to that which is not called the second but the "new." As we there said, the first heaven and earth "which then was" (i.e., Gen. 1:1) "perished" (2 Pet. 3:6), or passed away. The second heavens and earth "which are now," are kept in store, reserved unto fire (2 Pet. 3:7). That fire is the means by which they shall "pass away" (2 Pet. 3:10), and the New Heavens and the New Earth come into being. Both these passages are in agreement with Is. 51:6, 16; and 65:17.
Tradition talks about "the end of the world"; and consequently errs, "not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God." There will be an end of this age, but not of the world, as man thinks and speaks. There are other scriptures which speak of this passing away (see Matt. 5:18; 24:34, 25. Mark 13:30, 31. Luke 16:17; 21:33).
All will be "new." The word rendered "new" ((...), kainos) means new, not merely as to time, but as to kind and as to quality.
The heaven will be "new"; the earth "new"; for there will be "no more curse," and therefore no more sin, or suffering, or sorrow.
Among these new things will be
a. 21:2. The Holy City.
21:2. And I* saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.] The name of the city is given in its Hebrew form; not the Grecised name; as though to mark it off from the earthly city. But it is none the less literal. The Heavens are literal. The Earth is literal. The Sea is literal. Why is not the City to be literal? New, of course, it will be. New in its materials, size, shape, location, origin, and everything connected with or relating to it. This city is further described in the later vision, which is deferred so that we may hear the heavenly voices which describe it and its object.
d. (above), 21:3. The Loud Voice, and Things Uttered.
21:3. And I heard a loud voice out of the throne* saying, Behold, the Tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell (or tabernacle) with them, and they shall be His People, and God Himself shall be with them,** and be their God.] No longer is this blessing to be confined to Israel. All men on the new earth (for these are the subjects of this section, B) are the recipients of this wondrous blessing. Even with Israel, this blessing was conditional (Lev. 26:3, 11, 12; 1 Kings 6:11-13; 9:3-9). In the Millennium it will be unconditional (Ezek. 21:42-46; 37:23, 24, 26-28. Ps. 135:21; 68:16, 18. Zech. 2:10; 8:3, &c.), but even then only of Israel. Here it is universal of all earth's inhabitants. At length, as before the Fall, God dwells with men. These "men" are spoken of as "the nations" (ch. 21:24-26).
The blessed condition of the inhabitants of the New Earth is next further described.
4. And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more, neither sorrow nor mourning, nor crying; neither shall there be any more pain: because the former things are passed away.] Every tear, for there are many tears, and many causes for them. Death no longer, no more dying beds, funerals, or graves. Sorrow ceases. Mourning is at an end: and crying shall be hushed and pain unfelt (Isa. 25:7, 8; 35:10. Jer. 31:16).
We have further voices in the next verses, 5-8.
d. 21:5-8. He that sat on the Throne, and Things Uttered.
21:5. And He that sitteth upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all Things new." And He saith,*
(6) And He said to me,
These are the words from the Throne. The command to write these things implies that the others had already been written.
Three times we have the expression "and He said":
John sees first the New Earth, then the Holy City; then he hears of the blessings for the inhabitants of the city; and finally, the causes which shall have contributed to the exclusion of those who have no part in it.
The "fearful" are those who, through fear, apostatise: (the law provides for the cowardly, such as those in Gideon's army, Judges 7:3). The "unbelieving" are like those of Titus 1:15. Matt. 11:20-24. The "abominable" are like those in Lev. 18:22, 26, 27. And "murderers" and "sorcerers," i.e., those that have commerce with unclean and lying spirits. These will abound in Antichrist's day; as will all the others here named.
We now come to the final two visions of the Bride and the City, described in 21:9㬒:5.
g. (see above), 21:9-21. Description. The Holy City.
21:9. And there came* one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the last seven plagues, and talked with me, saying,
Here we are told exactly what was going to be shown to John. It was one of the Seven angels who had already shown John "great Babylon."
In order to see the harlot city (17:1), John is taken into the wilderness (17:3). To see the Holy City he is carried to a great mountain. (21:10).
It was the same with Ezekiel in chap. 40:2.
We are not left to our own imagination as to what this Holy City is. We are distinctly told that it is i.e., represents or contains "the Bride."
In chap. 19 we had the wife, (...) (gune). Here we have the Bride, (...) (numphe). The one was before the Millennium; the other, the latter, is after it.
It does not say that the latter was then and there formed, but only that, at that point of the Vision, John saw it "coming down from heaven," where it had been; but, for how long we are not told.
If the wife (chap. 19) was Israel; then this Bride is not Israel, but "of Israel."
We must remember the three distinct "callings" revealed in Scripture.
(1). We have the earthly calling of Israel, called out from all nations, for blessing in the Land. Israel was the "wife," and is so spoken of all through the Old Testament; and the marriage will be consummated when Rev. 19:8 shall be fulfilled.
(2). We have "the heavenly calling," distinctly spoken of as such in Heb. 3:1, of which a certain class of believing Israelites were "partakers." Among these we may put all those whom we speak of as "the Old Testament Saints."
In spite of the earthly promises to Israel, and in the midst of all those who cherished those earthly promises, there was an elect "heavenly calling" of those whose hopes were not earthly, but heavenly. They looked for no earthly portion, but they looked forward with a heavenly hope to a heavenly blessing. As it is written:
"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims (Gen. 23:4. 1 Pet. 2:11) on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a COUNTRY... a better country , that is, an HEAVENLY, wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a CITY" (Heb. 11:13-16). And of Abraham it is said (verse 10): "He looked for THE CITY which hath FOUNDATIONS, whose builder and maker is God."
When the angel, therefore, says to John (Rev. 21:9), "Come hither, I will show thee the Bride, the Lamb's wife... and he showed me that great CITY, the holy Jerusalem descending out of HEAVEN from God," what can we conclude but that here, we have that "better country," and "the City" for which the Old Testament saints belonging to the "heavenly calling" looked?
It will also be noted that the names "on the GATES" of the city are "the names of the twelve TRIBES of the children of Israel" (Rev. 21:12), while the names "in the FOUNDATIONS" are "the names of the TWELVE APOSTLES of the Lamb" (verse 14).
If this be not "the CITY" for which they and the Elect Remnant looked, then we ask, for what "City" did they look? Certainly not for an earthly city; but for this, of which we now see them, its blessed and happy inhabitants. No other city has these foundations; no other city has apostles and prophets to prophesy concerning God as its builder. God builds one City, His prophets and apostles are all concerned for the building of the City of the eternal ages. Their message concerning this city came from its builder and maker. The builder of it puts their names in the foundations of its walls; and the adornment of its foundations are the names of the twelve apostles. No other city could have such immortal, priceless foundations. Blessed foundations. This was the city; for this alone has foundations, all others will have vanished in smoke; this abides. This, then, is what Abraham, and his seed, by faith, looked for. This is the Holy City.
(3). Then, we have the other "calling," of which we read in Eph. i. 18, 4:1. It is a "holy calling" (2 Tim. 1:9). It is a Divine calling.
If we identify the calling of the Church of God with the other callings we cannot but have confusion.
Here, in Rev. 21., we have the New Heaven and the New Earth; we have the Twelve Tribes of Israel; and Twelve Apostles of the Lamb. We ask, What has all this to do with the Churchthe Body of Christ? Has it not to do only and solely with the Holy City and with the Bride of the Lamb? The promise of Christ to the Twelve Apostles in Matt. 19:28 (though that doubtless has its special fulfilment in the Millennium) has never been abrogated: but, we ask, what are we to do with it, if the Apostles form part of the Body of Christ? The Church is part of Christ, the Bridegroom; but the Apostles, here, form part of the Bride.*
In harmony also with this is the teaching of
Christians, in their selfishness, intrude themselves into the place of others as the Bride, and thus lose the blessed enjoyment of their own place which is theirs as part of the Bridegroom!
The Bride and the Bridegroom, though in a sense one, are yet distinct. And it is clear from all the scriptures relating to the Mystery, that the members of Christ's Body are part of the Bridegroom Himself. Whereas the elect Old Testament saints will form the Bride. See Isaiah 12:6: "Cry out and shout, thou Inhabitress (marg.) of Zion: For great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee." In Rev. 22:3, we read "The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it." Of the glory of this Holy City other scriptures speak. See Is. 60:3, 14, 19, 20. Rev. 21:23, 24, 27. Is. 54:11, 12.
True, the Apostle might address the saints concerning his desire to present them "as a chaste virgin to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:2). But this no more declares that the Church is the Bride of Christ than that the Apostle himself was their father (1 Cor. 4:15); or that he was their mother (Gal. 4:19). In the one case he spoke of the painful anxiety of a mother; in another of the loving care of a father; while, in 2 Cor. 11:2, he spoke of the jealousy of the friend of a bridegroom. The "Mystery" was a totally different thing.
So, in Eph. 6:28, 29, the argument is that husbands "ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself, for no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord, the Church, for we are members of His Body," i.e., AS Christ loves HIS OWN BODY (Himself and the Church); so ought husbands to love their wives. Thus "the great secret" is employed as an argument as to the reciprocal duties of husbands and wives. In neither case is it said that the Church IS the wife, or that Christ IS the husband. But that AS Christ loves His Body (Himself and the Church), SO husbands ought to love their own bodies (i.e., themselves and their wives).
The one thing that is clear, is that the Church is the Body of Christ; and that the members of that Body being "in Christ," are PART OF THE BRIDEGROOM. They cannot possibly, therefore, be the Bride herself as separate and distinct from the Bridegroom.
Another thing that is certain is that the mystery of the Church was not revealed in the Old Testament, but was "hid in God" (Eph. 3:9) and "kept secret" (Rom. 16:25); "hid from ages and from generations" (Col. 1:26).
It is one thing to see an illustration of the Church in the Old Testament; but it is quite another thing to say that this is there revealed, which God distinctly declares was not revealed!
has been, for example, widely taken as typical of Christ and the Church. Isaac is taken as the bridegroom, and Rebekah as the Church or the bride. True, the chapter is illustrative, but not of the Church. The bridegroom and the bride were both "ready" before either was called to the marriage. The bride was found in the house of Abraham's brother. Very special injunctions were given that she was not to be of "the Canaanites." "But," said Abraham to Eliezer, "thou shalt go unto my country and to my kindred and take a wife unto my son Isaac... thou shalt take a wife for my son from thence." Great emphasis is placed on this important condition in verses 3, 4, 7, 37, 38. Abraham and Nahor were brothers, and by Isaac's marriage with Rebekah, and Jacob's marriage with her brother Laban's daughters (Leah and Rachel), the whole house of Nahor was absorbed into the family of Abraham! In direct contrast with this, it is again and again affirmed that the Church is composed of both Jews and Gentiles. These together make up, with Christ the Head, "one new man" (Eph. 2:15). But Gentiles were expressly shut when this typical wife was chosen; and Isaac, on receiving his bride, took her at once "into his mother Sarah's tent," thus forming the ground of the type as expounded in Gal.4:21-31.
Rebekah therefore represents, not the Mystery of Christ and the Church, but that great cloud of witnesses (the Old Testament saints), who, in the old dispensation, sacrificed, as she did, all worldly advantages for the Lord's sake. It is for these He is preparing that "city which hath foundations," and of which He Himself is the Divine Architect. And truly, it is said of these, "if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out (as Rebekah came), they might have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city" (Heb. 11:15, 16).
It seems to us, therefore, quite clear that neither the "wife" in chap. 19 nor the Bride in chap. 21 is the Church of God. The former is clearly referred to in the Parable of the "Ten Virgins" (Matt. 25.), and in the prophecy of Psalm 45. All these Scriptures are clear if we will only leave out the Church; but, all is confusion the moment we introduce it.
But, to return to this "Holy City," we repeat that all in this chapter (as in this whole Book) is intensely real.
It is a real city. Yet Barnes says, "no man can suppose that this is literally true." No! We do not "suppose" it, because we believe it to be true; and we find it easier to believe what God says, than to understand man's interpretation of it. It is strange that while materializing all really spiritual truths, interpreters should protest against the materialisation of those who would understand this of a literal city.
All other cities are shadows, if you like: for they all pass away; consequently, if this city be not real, then there never could have been the idea in God, of a city. We should have a word for which there would be no thought: a shadow without a substance!
Yes, this city is real, and its eternal duration is real also: for "there shall be no more curse" (22:3).
This shows that it cannot refer to Millennial times, for the curse is seen in all its sin and wrath immediately on its close.
"Come and I will show thee the Bride," the angel says.
21:10. "And he carried me away by (the) spirit (or in spirit) to a mountain great and high, and showed me the holy* city Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, (11) having the glory of God: her radiance was like a stone most precious, even as a jasper stone, clear as crystal;] Man says that "the idea of a city literally descending from heaven .... is absurd."** But we ask, Why? True, it is contrary to our experience. But, are we to think everything absurd because we have heard nothing like it before? We suppose it must ever be so with man. It was for this reason that travelling by railway was at first thought absurd! To get from London to New York in a fortnight was once thought absurd! For carriages to go without horses was an "idea" once thought to be absurd! To telegraph without wires was once thought absurd!
For many generations no swans were known other than white ones; and our experience would have lead us to conclude that all swans were white. But now we know that in Australia there are black swans.
The experience of the savage is that wood will float, and iron will sink: hence, he will conclude an iron ship to be an impossibility.
Many things we once thought, when measured by our experience, to be absurd have been proved to be the contrary.
And so it will be with this wondrous city. Absurd! It would be absurd if God had no new and glorious things in store for man in a new Earth. Why is a new Earth less absurd than this Holy City? With man it may be impossible; and it may seem improbable. But "with God all things are possible." And he has prepared us for the revelation of it by saying to John "Write, for these words are faithful and true" (verse 5). In the face of this declaration, Who shall dare to question the reality of this description? Man only exposes his folly and ignorance when he dares to question whether this is a literal city. Great Babylon was a literal city. Herodotus tells us that it was 120 furlongs on each side. Why should not this Holy City be 12000? Babylon had a wall 50 royal cubits wide and 200 in height. Why should not a wall of this Holy City be 144 cubits high? Babylon had 100 gates of bronze. Why should not this have 12 gates of pearl? In other words, why not believe what God says? It is simpler, easier and happier.
There is a striking resemblance here to the earthly city described in Ezek. 40.㬬.
But the two cities are distinct in their origin and source; and therefore not likely to be identical in their dimensions or character. Those who take the earthly city and the heavenly city to be the same, will necessarily be confused in their minds, and with their pens.
As to its light. There will be "no need of the sun." Its light is mysterious. Man once thought he knew all about "light," and raised objections against Gen. 1:3, because it was called into existence before the sun, moon, and stars. But since the discovery of the "X rays," man has found that he really knows very little about light; and Professor Rontgen has himself confessed as much when, asked what light is, he replied that at present no one could venture to come to any conclusions. So it is better to believe God, and to wait till man has discovered some more mistakes in things he once thought he knew.
Let us listen further to God's description of this Holy City:
21:12. And it had a wall great and high, and twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are (the names*) of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel: (13) On the east three gates; and** on the north three gates; and** on the south three gates; and** on the west three gates. (14) And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on*** them twelve*| names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.] Twelve is the number that runs through all the measurements of this city. For twelve is the number of governmental perfection;|| and here, God's government is supreme. All is in harmony, and the very numbers and measurements are used in absolute perfection. The order in the cardinal points is E.N.S.W.; in Numbers it is E.S.W.N.; in Ezek. 42:16-19 it is the same as here; while in Ezek. 48:16, 30-34 it is N.E.S.W.
The woman in chap. 12 had the changeful moon for her foundation. Great Babylon had the Wild Beast. But this city has twelve foundations.
The names inscribed thereon are the names of the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb. The Twelve who followed the Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God, when on earth. These are separated from the other apostles, given after the Ascension of Christ, to the Church of God (Eph. 4:11-15).
All this shows that Israel is in question here, and not the Church of God. The Church is part of the Bridegroom, and will then be "with Christ." This city is separate from Christ, and occupies a distinct and separate position as the Bride.
The Twelve Apostles are associated with the Twelve Tribes, and not with the Church of God. Paul's name is not here, nor are the other subsequent apostles of the Church. Abraham "looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb. 11:10). Here is that city; and here are the foundations. God is its maker and builder.
The Dimensions of the City.
21:15. And he that talked with me had a measuring-rod of gold to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. (16) And the city lieth four square, and its length is as great as its breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, 12,000 stadia (Eng., furlongs). The length and the breadth, and the height of it are equal. (17) And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.] This means that, in the matter of measure, angels and men use the same.
In Ezek. 48:16 we first have the measurement of each side 4,500. In verse 35 we have the total of the circumference 18,000.
When a square is given, it is usual to state the measure of one of the sides definitely, as in Ezek. 45:2; 48:16-20, 30, 32-34.
In this case, the city will be 1,500 miles square. Otherwise the whole measure is first given, and then we have to divide it into four before we can have the measure of the sides, which is the point in question.
The "wall" is quite a different matter. That is 144 cubits high, equal all round.
We have the shadow of it in Exodus 24. Sinai, changed in character (because of the better blood than that of verse 6), to Sion. In Exodus we have Moses and Aaron, his two sons, and seventy Elders of Israel upon the Mount; and we are told that they saw the God of Israel, that they ate and drank there, and that He laid not His hands on the nobles of Israel. We have in verse 4 the twelve pillars, which appear to answer to the Twelve Apostles. Now, all this was preliminary to the Lord dwelling in their midst. The time had not come for the people to dwell about and upon the Mount with God. The people were in a transition stage; therefore, a sanctuary was needful. But the heavenly Jerusalem is a magnificent mountain (Heb. 12:22).
The inhabitants in this glorious dwelling dwell upon the Mount of God, and therefore the measurement belongs to its height, as well as to its length and breadth; and as Mount Sinai was once fenced off, so also is the New Jerusalem. At Sinai, Israel was outside the fence; but inasmuch as Moses, Joshua, and the Elders of Israel were admitted within the bounds, we see foreshadowed this city of the New Jerusalem. Under these conditions, therefore, the measure 12,000 refers to but one side; otherwise, the height of the city is not specified at all, which would be necessary if only the sum total of the four sides had been given.
Some have taken the measure 12,000 furlongs to be that of the circumference. But to this it may be answered that, as only one measurement is given, it must belong to one item of the city; because, otherwise, he gives a measurement which must first be divided by four before we know the length, breadth, and height; whereas, if he gives the measurement in one direction, and then tells us that all the other directions are equal to the one given, we have everything clear, without any roundabout way of getting at the thing intended. And, as we have to do with the Mount of God, which is the throne of God (Rev. 22:1) Gen. 22:14 is fulfilled in Rev. 5:6; 21:22 where is there any difficulty in taking the one measurement as giving the length, breadth, or height? Is 375 miles high easier to believe than 1500?
The Materials of the City.
21:18. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. (19) And the foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was a jasper (dark green, and transparent, with red veins): the second, a sapphire (azure blue, almost transparent): the third, a chalcedony (a kind of agate or onyx, probably bluish-white, and semi-transparent): the fourth, an emerald (a vivid green): (20) the fifth, a sardonyx (a mixture of chalcedony and cornelian, a flesh colour): the sixth, a sardius (probably the cornelian, the red being sometimes vivid): the seventh, a chrysolite (yellow or gold in colour, and transparent): the eighth, a beryl (of a sea-green colour): the ninth, a topaz (to-day a yellow, but among the ancients it was a pale green): the tenth, a chrysoprasus (pale yellow and green, classed by moderns under topaz): the eleventh, a jacinth (a deep red flame colour or violet colour): the twelfth, an amethyst (a violet colour).] It is somewhat difficult to identify these stones with exactness, some of them being of various colours. But if we made a selection from the above, where we have a choice, they may be arranged thus:
It will be observed that the twelve are arranged, according to colour, into sets of four alternating with sets of two; each pair of two differing from the pair of fours by being similar (Red and Violet respectively).
The first pair of four is arranged as an introversion, the second pair is arranged as an alternation.
21:21. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates respectively was of one pearl: and the street (or street material) of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass] The word "street" can scarcely mean that the city had only one thoroughfare; so that it seems better to take the word generally, as denoting the street material of which all the streets were made.
(...) (plateia), however, means any wide, open space, such as the large, central square common to most cities; and this is included, if we take it of all the space not built on; or as the street material, which is gold instead of mud.
The Plateia will doubtless be a broad open space. A place for public gatherings. Not a street, as we know it. For this Plateia has the River of Life flowing through it, and the Tree of Life growing in it. Thoroughfares there will of course be; but there is a reason for this wide, open space. It reproduces Paradise.
The twelve gates imply the thoroughfares; but the gates are not for defence; only for ornament: and therefore constructed with that view.
h., 21:22-27. Privileges.
21:22. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb, are the Temple of it.] No temple or "place of worship" is needed; for the whole city is hallowed and pervaded by the presence of God. This fact separates that part of the book from the former part, where the temple is seen (3:12; 7:15; 11:1, 16-19; 14:15, 17; 15:5, 6, 8; 16:1, 17); and shows that we are here carried far beyond millennial times.
21:23. And the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, that they should shine on her:* for the glory of God illumined her, and the Lamb is her light.] The dwelling-place of God's glory in the Tabernacle and the Temple on Earth had no light of sun or moon; for the Shechinah or glory of God was sufficient. This also marks off the period as being post-millennial; for during the Millennium "the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be seven-fold" (Isa. 30:26). This refers to the Earth, though even then the Holy City in the Land will be independent of the sun and moon (see Isa. 60:19, 20; and 4:5).
24. And the nations* shall walk (or travel) by means of her light: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory** into her. (25) And her gates shall never be shut at all by day: for night shall not exist there (it will be always day). (26) And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations unto it.] So that nations will exist on the new Earth.
What is the origin of these Nations (Rev. 21:24)? Matt. 25:31-46 supplies the clue. When the Lord has put down all earthly oppositions, then those nations which remain are gathered together, and their status for the Millennium is determined: and it is determined by their conduct to the Jew, as shown by the term "My brethren." The result is, there are nations other than Israel, who enter into the earthly kingdom of the Son of man.
Now, as sin broke out in the garden, so also once more, sin breaks out among the nations under the Lord's Sovereignty after the Millennium.
The question is, do the terms "Gog and Magog" (20:8) include every nation (apart from Israel) at the end of the Millennium? The terms Gog and Magog imply that only certain nations are concerned, and their locality also indicates the same thingthey dwell at the "four quarters of the earth." They are those that are fartherest away from the capital of the earththe four corners. "The nations that are in the four corners of the earth." The devil's deceit includes the same idea that Jeroboam acted out 1 Kings 12:27-33. It is to be observed that the "four corners," are distinct from the "breadth" of the earth; that is, that the "four corners" lie beyond the "breadth." These considerations localise Gog and Magog, and show that the rebellion is not universal.
The "four corners" then represent the extreme limits of the earth, which has Jerusalem for its centre; so that the points of the compass, N.S.E.W. are related to Jerusalem, and mean the fartherest habitable parts of the earth in these directions.
Going up "upon the breadth of the earth" suggest a considerable width of territory, practically unoccupied; hence, that the people of Gog had purposely got as far away from the centre of government as they could. As their hearts were far away, so they removed their persons; hence, Satan would easily find entrance to their foolish minds, to set up their own government, and then go en masse armed to throw off the yoke and get possession of the wonderful tree.
This leaves it open, that, at the end of the Millennium, the same experience will obtain as at the beginning: namely, that there will be "nations" for the Lord's right hand, or in other words, there will be nations to introduce to the New Kingdom upon the New Earth, and with this we may connect the Lord's promise to Abraham, Gen. 17:20, in connection with 25:1-4. Rom. 4:16, 17 seems to include all who possess Abraham's faithsee 16, "US all." Now, if the same experience as to the nations, obtains at the end of the Millennium, as at the beginning, we see the "Whence" of the nations of Rev. 21:24. Those nations, during the Millennium, that walk in the Divine light of the earthly Jerusalem, are transferred to the new earth, to walk in the Heavenly light of the New Jerusalem.
We notice also, the same characteristic of the "goats" Matt. 25.; they depart into an abiding fire, with Gog and Magog of Rev. 20:9.
But only "kings" will "enter into" the city. This looks as if these "kings" were something more than individuals selected out of the nations to rule them.
The words, "of the saved," are spurious, being a later addition, arising from the traditional belief that there are only two classes"saved and lost." But, as we have before observed, there are several classes of the saved, as there are several resurrections, differing in glory as star differs from star. Here, then, there are the nations with their kings; there are the citizens of this holy city; there is the Bride; there is the Church of God (occupying the highest place of all). The nations are not the Church; neither are the citizens of this holy city. But the mystery of Christ and the Church has its own peculiar privilege and destiny described in its own Church Epistles. Subordination is the Divine plan of government, for eternity as well as for time. Israel will be subordinate to the Twelve Apostles; the overcomers will have precedence over the nations (Rev. 2:26; 12:5); and the Church will rule angels (1 Cor. 6:3). While the Holy City is independent of created luminaries, the nations are not independent of the light of the city. They need no guide thither, for her light is a constant pillar of cloud and of fire.
21:27. And there shall never enter into her anything unclean, or whosoever worketh abomination, and a lie (or a lying abomination): but only (lit., except) those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.] This does not imply that there will then be any unclean thing that could enter in to defile it. It merely contrasts this with all other cities which have ever existed. It follows from this, that the nations then on the earth, and their kings, are written in the book of life. It also follows that these, being among the saved, there must be different parties of saved ones. All saved from the same eternal doom, but not all saved for the same state in glory. All will be in the eternal glory, but in different positions. The nations will occupy their own place; while Israel and the Church will occupy theirs, respectively.
The "working abomination" refers to idolatry: either to the making of idols* or the worshipping of them.** The contrast is not between these and others then on the earth; but between these dwellers and all former dwellers; between this city and all former cities.
The following first five verses of chap. 22 form part of the last of these Visions. There ought never to have been a chapter division here. Chap. 21. should end at 22:5; and chap. 22 should commence at 22:6; containing, as it does, the Conclusion of the book, and corresponding exactly with the Introduction in chap. i, as we shall see below.
It is the description of Paradise Regained which is the great subject of these five verses. It is not what man would have imagined, for he looks for an unsubstantial, spiritual existence. But here we have substance, and realities far grander than those in the book of Genesis. Here is the complement of Gen. i. and 2., where the beginnings and the endings meet and harmonise, and complete the whole. Gen. i, 2 is the "beginning." Rev. 21:1㬑:5 is the "end."
g. 22:1, 2. Description.
Paradise regained and Eden restored.
22:1. And he showed me a* river of living water, clear as crystal, going forth out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. (2) In the midst of the street of (the city) and of the river, on this side and on that side, was there the tree of life (i.e., trees of that kind), producing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit according to each month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations (which are thus distinguished from the Citizens of the Holy City). (3) And there shall be no longer any curse: and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in her: and His servants shall serve Him; (4) and they shall see His face: and His name shall be on their foreheads. (5) And there shall be no longer** any night: and they have no need of a lamp or (lit., and) light of the sun; because the Lord God will give them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.] There is a similar provision for Millennial days (Ezek. 47:12). But these final Visions of Paradise regained are as far beyond the Millennial City, as that will be beyond the past and present Jerusalem. All are literal and real.
We have the city and its light; and the river and trees; and the relations of the citizens and nations to all. It was promised to the overcomers in Rev. 2:7, and the fulfilment is recorded in 22:14, 17. The overcomers are literal beings: so are the leaves of this tree for their use. Its healing leaves do not imply disease or suffering or pain, but clearly refer to the eating of the "tree of life" (Gen. 2:9; 3:22, 23, 24), and the prolongation of life "for ever."
That "tree of life" was intended to preserve Adam and Eve in life. But the fall entailed the loss of that wondrous gift. The man was driven out of the garden for the special reason that it should not be possible for him to eat of it: for the reason given is, "lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life; and eat and live for ever."
It is clear from this that the "tree of life" was the means by which Adam would have lived on for ever. Hence in the very day of his disobedience he was cut off from it, and his death was certain and sure.
So important was it that he should not "live for ever" in his sin and shame, that Cherubim and a flaming sword were placed to keep and preserve both it and him from this evil.
Eternal life was to be obtained and enjoyed henceforth only in and through Christ. "The Tree of life" was to be preserved; and here it is in Paradise, restored. No mere present "intermediate state" as Tradition teaches; but a future glorious restoration of the Paradise lost. The tree of life will also be restored; and, by its leaves, life will be preserved and prolonged for ever and ever. No created being can stand apart from the Creator. The very mention of the Tree immediately brings to mind the curse, and we are told that it will then be no more.
The Bible begins with the description of man in Eden, the garden of the Lord, the Paradise of God. What God's counsels were with regard to that garden are not revealed; for all was broken by the entrance of the old Serpent: and not until he shall have been cast into the lake of fire, will those counsels, for man, be renewed, restored, and carried out.
Elohim had created man; and, as Jehovah Elohim, He visited man in that garden revealing Himself and His wondrous works to man (Gen. 2:19, 20). After the first sin, Adam and his wife hear the sound of the footsteps coming at the wonted hour of this Divine Communion (Gen. 3:8). But Satan introduced himself, and insinuated doubts into the minds of our first parents as to the truth of God's words (Gen. 3:1). He told them that the consequences of disobedience would not be as God had said. Eve had prepared the way for this by putting as a contingency ("lest ye die," Gen. 3:3), that which God had announced as a certainty ("Ye shall surely die," Gen. 2:17). Satan at once seizes on this and assures them "Ye shall not surely die." They believed Satan's lie instead of God's truth. Here was their sin. They soon discovered which was truth, for the sentence was speedily executed; they were driven out from the Paradise of God; and, cut off from "the tree of life," they began to die the very day they ate of the tree of knowledge.
Students of God's Word have lost sight of all this foundation truth. It lies on the very threshold of the Scriptures, and is of infinite importance if we would understand all that is subsequently revealed.
The one question henceforth is, How shall man get back to that Paradise which he has lost? The very next chapter tells us. In Gen. 4 we have, as the first step revealed, God's way, which Abel took; and man's way, which Cain invented. There never have been other than those two ways "the way of God" on the one hand, and "the way of Cain" (Jude 11) on the other. In the one way, the believing sinner is brought to the confession
"Nothing in my hand I bring."
In the other, independent, rebellious man says the opposite "Something in my hand I bring." This is the one thing common to all systems of religion. They quarrel and fight to the death over the question as to what that "Something" is to be: but they are all at one in agreeing that it must be something. And so the weary conflict has gone on, and will continue to the end.
It is that end which we have before us here. And it is the object of the Apocalypse to tell us how that end will be reached.
"The Jew, and the Gentile, and the Church of God" (1 Cor. 10:32) each has its own destiny
"The Church of God" will have been caught up to meet the Lord in the air, long before this, to enjoy its blessed portion for ever with the Lord.
"Israel" will have been "planted" in its own inheritance.
And now the Gentile, mankind as a whole, will regain the Paradise lost; and, in Eden restored, will have the glories and joys of God's manifested presence, as described in Rev. 22:1-5, 14, 17.
Tradition has made the Word of God of none effect. Paradise is always used in Scripture of a definite place from Genesis to Revelation. It is described in Gen. 2.; it is lost in Gen. 3.; its restoration is spoken of in Luke 23:43; it is seen in vision, in 2 Cor. 12:2, 4; it is promised in Rev. 2:7. And here (Rev. 23:1-5, 14, 17), we see the promise fulfilled, and the lost Paradise become Paradise regained. "The tree of life" and "the water of life" were, and will ever be, its chief distinguishing marks of blessedness.
Man ignores all this, and has turned Paradise into a present place, to which he has given his own name, and calls it "the Intermediate State" a term unknown to Scripture! There is no "tree of life" in it; and no "water of life." It is man's Tradition pure and simple; and is a poor substitute for the substantial glories of Divine revelation.
If Tradition be true, then Rev. 22 is false, and there can be no "Paradise of God" at all.
The "Higher Critics" tell us that the Paradise of Gen. 2., 3., is a myth, and Christians generally treat the Paradise of Rev. 2:7; 22:1-5, 14, 17 as a myth; for having substituted a present Paradise with Abraham's bosom" and "a great gulf" instead of "the tree of life" and "the water of life," they have no place left for the Paradise of God, which is to be restored.
There are not two Paradises in the place of the one that was lost. Hence, by receiving and holding Tradition, they thus practically "take away from the words of this book" (22:19) all that is said about it: for that solemn warning is given in immediate connection with this "water of life," (verse 17), and this "tree of life" (verse 14).*
The word "servants" (verse 3) tells us that the church of God is not here. They shall "see His face" refers back to our first parents, who hid themselves among the trees of the garden. They shall reign in a higher sense than those in Rev. 20:4-6; and that, not for a thousand years, but for ever and ever.
This is the brief summary of the New Heavens and the New Earth; of Paradise regained; of the Holy City, and its inhabitants; and all the people of the New Earth. More is said below.