Revelation 21:1–27

"The city does not need the sun … for the glory of God gives it light and the Lamb is its lamp" (v. 23).

Nowhere in the New Testament are we given a clear, precise description of heaven. We get glimpses of what heaven is like, but we don’t see a detailed picture. Most of what we are given is visionary, highly symbolic, figurative, and full of imagery. This is because of the utter newness of heaven. Heaven is like a glorified version of the good things of this world, so we can have some idea of what it will be like. Because of the transcendent newness of heaven, however, we would not be able to understand a literal description of it.

We get one of these visionary glimpses in Revelation 21–22. We are told that there will be a new heaven and a new earth. While some believe that the present heaven and earth will be destroyed, most believe that they will be redeemed and transformed into the new. Just as we get glorified, resurrection bodies, so this old world will be renewed and transfigured. Revelation 21 also tells us that there will no longer be any sea. In the Old Testament the sea is often an image of death.

The next image is that of a New Jerusalem, replacing the old one that will be destroyed. John saw this city as a bride, an image of God’s people prepared for Him. As she came, John heard a voice saying that God’s tabernacle is with men and He will dwell with them. This is imagery drawn from the Old Testament, where the tabernacle was always pitched at the center of the camp of Israel. John 1:14 says that Jesus is the tabernacle who dwells with us.

John also sees the shekinah glory that shone in the Old Testament around the person of God Himself. He sees the glory manifesting itself as a precious jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal—symbols that focus on the idea of light radiating through transparent and translucent materials. The city is described as huge, 1,400 miles on each side, and as symmetrically balanced, the perfect edifice built by the Ultimate Architect.

We don’t have to wait for the New Jerusalem though. In the Spirit, we are already seated in the heavenlies and must now continue to invite others to come in that they may be healed (Ephesians 2:6; Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 22:2, 17).

Coram Deo

The greatest aspect of heaven is the presence of God. Our worship should serve as a brief tasteof the glories of being in His presence. Remember as you go to public worship this Sunday thatyou are entering the glorious presence of the High King of the universe.

For Further Study