The heavenly bodies that God created in the beginning are not necessary any longer. They were created to provide light in our physical lives, which have now passed away in John’s vision, and the new Holy City has no need for physical lighting. Its light comes from within, from God directly. The Lamb is its lamp indicating to us that Christ’s office as mediator remains even in the Holy City. While his offices as savior and sufferer for the sins of his bride have been fulfilled, the offices that are required to maintain our righteousness and purity before the Father will never pass away. Our imputed righteousness is permanent only in the merits of Christ and we, as such, do not somehow evolve into the source of our own righteousness. Christ remains that source forever.
Isaiah 60:19-21 The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. 20Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end. 21Then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor.
See how the glory and splendor of Christ have been prophesied from the beginning.
II Samuel 22:29 You are my lamp, O LORD; the LORD turns my darkness into light.
I Kings 11:36 I will give one tribe to his son so that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I chose to put my Name.
I Kings 15:4 Nevertheless, for David's sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem by raising up a son to succeed him and by making Jerusalem strong.
II Kings 8:19 Nevertheless, for the sake of his servant David, the LORD was not willing to destroy Judah. He had promised to maintain a lamp for David and his descendants forever.
II Chronicles 21:7 Nevertheless, because of the covenant the LORD had made with David, the LORD was not willing to destroy the house of David. He had promised to maintain a lamp for him and his descendants forever.
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
Psalm 132:17 "Here I will make a horn grow for David and set up a lamp for my anointed one."
Proverbs 20:27 The lamp of the LORD searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being.
John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
John 12:35, 36 Then Jesus told them, "You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. 36Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light." When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.
John 1:4, 9 In him was life, and that life was the light of men.9The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
Revelation 18:1 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor.
Some translations say, “The nations of those who are saved…” putting in better context that the elect are not exclusively the physical descendants of Abraham, the Israelites, but that the elect are from all the nations on the earth, the spiritual descendants of Abraham.
These passages confirm this.
Psalm 22:27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him.
Psalm 72:11 All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him.
Isaiah 2:2 In the last days the mountain of the LORD'S temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.
Isaiah 52:15 So will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.
Isaiah 55:5 Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.
Isaiah 60:3, 6 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. 6Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the LORD.
Isaiah 66:18 "And I, because of their actions and their imaginations, am about to come and gather all nations and tongues, and they will come and see my glory."
Zechariah 2:11 "Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you."
Zechariah 8:22 And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the LORD Almighty and to entreat him.
Romans 15:10-12 Again, it says, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people." 11And again, "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to him, all you peoples." 12And again, Isaiah says, "The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him."
This exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees illuminates the point. Pay particular attention to Jesus’ dual characterization of their ‘father,’ in one instance their physical ancestor Abraham, and in the other their spiritual ancestor, the devil.
John 8:37-45 I know you are Abraham's descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38I am telling you what I have seen in the Father's presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.
39"Abraham is our father," they answered. "If you were Abraham's children," said Jesus, "then you would do the things Abraham did. 40As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41You are doing the things your own father does."
"We are not illegitimate children," they protested. "The only Father we have is God himself."
42Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.
44You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.
John continues to describe to us the circumstances in which this City will operate, confirming that there will be no more night, physically and proverbially. Physically there will be no night, because the glory of God can never be dimmed or will never be absent. Proverbially there will be no night, because night was associated with the works of wickedness and now there will never be night or darkness in that sense in the City.
The gates will never shut, meaning that there is no danger from the evil one influencing the sanctuary of the elect. Only those who belong to the body of Christ are present and they may move freely about as they please, whatever that would mean in the context of our future, eternal lives. As we have said before, the fortifications of the city are our guarantee that we would not be able to sin in spite of our free wills. Our free wills will be purified and sanctified, having been refined by God in the furnace of affliction, to perfectly reflect the image of God. This purification would be as strong and impenetrable as the city’s walls.
Our lives as Christians in this life should reflect the Holy City, being filled with the glory of God, withstanding sin and wickedness, fleeing from it, as if one would hide behind the enormous walls within the City while sin is crouching outside, waiting to drag us away by our evil desires that still lurk within us. If our evil desires grab us and seek to lure us outside the city’s walls, we ought to fight and resist to the point of shedding blood, but we cannot allow wickedness and the lure of this world to drag us outside the City, which Christ revealed to us here in the prophecy of John.
Daniel 11:32 With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.
James 1:12-15 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. 14But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
I Peter 5:9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Hebrews 12:4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
I Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
All the elect from all the nations will bring their honor and glory to God through these gates that never close. They will do so freely and willingly, glorifying and worshipping God forever.
Psalm 86:9 All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name.
Psalm 96:3, 7 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. 7Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Psalm 102:15 The nations will fear the name of the LORD, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.
Isaiah 62:2 The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.
Isaiah 66:18 "And I, because of their actions and their imaginations, am about to come and gather all nations and tongues, and they will come and see my glory."
Daniel 7:14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
Haggai 2:7 I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the LORD Almighty.
Revelation 15:4 Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.
John contrasts those who did wicked deeds with those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life, not to insinuate that wickedness still exists at the time the Holy City descends from heaven, but to assure us that there will be no wickedness present. Wicked people would have been destroyed by the time the New Jerusalem descends from heaven and only those whose names are in the book of life will enter it. Furthermore, John indicates that those whose names are written in the book of life are pure, “Nothing impure will ever enter it…”
This passage is the second time the book of life is referred to as the Lamb’s book of life. The other is in Revelation 13:8. There is, however, no doubt that all the passages that refer to the book of life, acknowledge, in context, that it is always the property and domain of the Lamb.
Jesus confirms ownership of the book of life in Revelation 3:5 as follows, “He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.”
Revelation 13:8 explicitly states that the book of life belongs to the Lamb: “All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain, from the creation of the world.”
Revelation 13:8 is the first of three passages that illustrate the effect of the book of life negatively, which is “not in the book of life = condemnation.” The others are, Revelation 17:8, “…The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast…” and 20:15, “…If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire…”
Then, there is one passage that puts the book of life in a positive context, which is Revelation 21:27. Only those “…whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life…” will enter through the gates.
The other three references to the book of life in Scripture occur in Psalm 69, Philippians 4 and Revelation 20.
Psalm 69:28 May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous.
Philippians 4:3 Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.
Psalm 69’s reference to the book of life raises an interesting question, which is whether God blots names out and adds names back into the book of life throughout our lives. We have dealt with this question in previous lessons and suffice to say that God’s omniscience and omnipotence makes it impossible for Him to have a change of mind since writing the names into the book of life in the first place that required rectification later. So, what God wrote before creation will stand forever. The figure of speech we see in Psalm 69:28 confirms this rather than questions it.
Jesus opened the way for us to eternal life, restoring in us that which we have lost due to the fall of our First Parents.
John 11:25, 26 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Many times throughout Scripture, life is portrayed as water, living water or water of life. Jesus promises water that would cause one never to thirst again. Not only will such a person never thirst, but the water will become a stream of living water, welling up to eternal life. Jesus spoke about the Holy Spirit who does not only satisfy the recipient, but change the recipient into a deliverer.
John 4:10 Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." 14…whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
John 7:37-39 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. 39By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
The prophets also spoke about the Holy Spirit in this respect.
Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.
Isaiah 55:1 "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost."
The devil masquerade as God spewed forth a barrage of lies and deceit and John sees this vision as “water like a river.” It is not a coincidence that Satan counterfeits the gospel to overtake the church of Christ. The symbol of the river of life flows directly from God’s throne. Satan tried to use the same symbols to mislead the church.
Revelation 12:15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent.
John sees that not only does the river of water of life flow from God’s throne, but he also mentions that the throne of God is also the throne “of the Lamb.” This concurs with prophecy, the law and the Psalms that Jesus is the mediator forever from whom the stream of living water flows forth to the elect.
The river of the water of life flows down the middle of the great street indicating that all will have access to it. The tree of life, depicted as a single tree in Genesis 2:9, is shown here as a multitude of trees on each side of the river, bearing twelve crops every month. Once again, one should not try to see these descriptions in the physical sense, but the symbolic. The tree of life bears twelve crops, twelve times a year. It stands on either side of the river of life indicating that all in the Holy City will reap the benefit of the tree of life, which our First Parents forfeited.
After their fall, the entire creation became ill and corrupted: suffering, dying and decaying. The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the corruption, infirmities, and death that the fall brought upon God’s creation. In essence, the leaves of the tree of life symbolize the merits of Christ, which He earned on the cross by laying down his own life so that this prophecy might be fulfilled.
The curse Scripture refers to here, is the curse that God pronounced on man in Genesis 3:14, and on the earth in Genesis 3:17. Christ broke the curse on the cross and it was consummated when God’s judgment was fulfilled when all wicked people, Satan, and all his angels were thrown into the lake of fire. In the Holy City there will no longer be any curse. Man has been reconciled with God through Christ’s sacrifice.
John makes sure that we understand that God’s throne is within the Holy City. John also makes sure that we understand it is the throne of both the Father and the Lamb. There is only one throne of God. John shows us the Father and Christ together on the throne with Christ a perfect representation of the Father, fulfilling his office as mediator: the Father as Spirit and Christ in his glorified body. It is difficult to comprehend with our limited minds, so, let’s turn to Scripture to explain this for us:
Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Hebrews 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
I Chronicles 29:11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.
John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 14:9, 10 Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
Acts 7:56 "Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."
II Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."
Ephesians 1:20-23 Which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
God’s servants will execute his will perfectly forever.
I Corinthians 15:27,28 For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
Some people believe that we will see the Father’s face here, but there is no evidence in Scripture that any man will live after seeing the First Person of the Trinity’s face. Instead, Christ is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being. When we look at Moses’ encounter with God in Exodus 33:18, we see no indication that the impossibility of seeing God’s face, without the mediation of Christ, will be lifted. Let’s read what happened to Moses.
Exodus 33:18-23 Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory." 19And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion 20but," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live."
21Then the LORD said, "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen."
In Matthew 5:8 we read, “Blessed are the pure at heart for they will see God.”
After Jacob wrestled with God through the night and after God changed his name to Israel, he said the following, “…I saw God face to face and yet my life was spared.”
We read of the following accounts regarding God’s presence:
Job 33:26 He prays to God and finds favor with him, he sees God's face and shouts for joy; he is restored by God to his righteous state.
Psalm 4:6 Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?" Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD."
Isaiah 35:2 It will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God.
Isaiah 40:5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
John 17:24 "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world."
Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
I John 3:2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
What are we to make of these passages that seem to indicate that we will one day see the face of the Father? Scripture is consistent that the face of the Father cannot be seen and that Christ’s body is physical, of the same nature as our new bodies would be.
In our passage, John makes sure that he mentions “…and his name will be on their foreheads.” This is clearly the Father’s and Christ’s name he sees on their foreheads making the face we will see that of Christ. Or that of the Father through Christ.
Revelation 3:12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.
Revelation 14:1 Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.