"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea." NIV translation
The apostle John continues to share the vision that he was given by Jesus Christ. In chapter twenty, we saw the marriage banquet and the judgment/removal of everything that does not belong in the presence of God. The next part of the traditional Jewish marriage is when the groom takes the bride to the home he has prepared for her. In this case, God is bringing the home to meet us. The first difference we see between the old earth and the new is the absence of seas. There are those that say the earth is not big enough for everyone that has ever been born and accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They will point to the fact that, even though the earth is large, it is still limited in the amount of available land.
Today, the earth is about 75% covered by the seas and oceans but on this new earth all of that land is no longer covered by water.
"I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband." NIV translation
There is much debate over who owns and controls the city of Jerusalem today as it has been claimed by Muslims as well as Jews & Christians. This verse shows us how God is going to settle the controversy. The simple fact of the matter is that the city has always been set aside by God for His people. While the different groups fight to control the city we see today, God has prepared a new city for His people (those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior). While the city of today has many problems and much conflict, this new city will have the very glory (presence) of God.
"And 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. He will wipe away 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.' He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'" NIV translation
God is good and, now, He is going to dwell in this new Jerusalem with His people. Because He is good and has done away with all of the old things, there is nothing but good in this new city.
Revelation 21:6 & 7
"He said to me: 'It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.'" NIV translation
We have all seen places that charge a fee for admission such as a movie, concert, etc. and we are used to paying that fee. Here, we are reminded that the admission fee to this new heaven and new earth with God was paid for by Jesus. Through that payment, we are sons of God & heirs to all of this new creation. It is a finished work and there is nothing that we have to do or to say as we rest in the grace of God.
"'But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars - their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.'" NIV translation
Those that have not trusted in the work of Jesus on the cross will be thrust into hell and total separation from God (the second death). This verse reminds us that it is all about how God sees you. If you accept His grace through Jesus Christ, He sees you as the righteousness of His Son because Jesus' blood has covered your sins. If you reject that grace, then, God sees you in your sin and as one of those described in this verse.
Revelation 21:9 & 10
"One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, 'Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.' And 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." NIV translation
This passage can be somewhat confusing as, at first glance, you may think that John is saying that Jerusalem is the Bride of Christ but that is not what he is saying. This new Jerusalem is the dwelling place of the church which are those who believe in Jesus. They are the bride and their place is in Jerusalem with God and so that is why the city is introduced as "the bride".
"It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It 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. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west." NIV translation
This new Jerusalem shines brilliantly as the very presence of God is there. We see that it has a very high wall which speaks of security and twelve gates. Throughout the Bible, the number twelve is associated with spiritual perfection and we see here the perfect home for God's people.
We see that there are three gates on each side of the city and remember that the number three is associated with the display of God's will. In this picture of the presence of God, we see that it is God's will for the kingdom to be spiritually complete by the entry of people from every corner of the earth. Above each gate is the name of a tribe of Israel and it is a reminder that salvation came to the world through God's chosen people (the Jews).
"The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." NIV translation
The foundation is the part of a structure that supports the weight of the rest of the structure. As we have seen, the wall speaks of security and that wall is built on foundations that have the names of the twelve apostles on them. This reminds us that our salvation (security) rests on the gospel that the apostles preached which was grace and not works. There are many men (and women) calling themselves apostles today and we must ask them the question: "Is your name written on the foundation of the wall of the new Jerusalem?"
Revelation 21:15 & 16
"The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long." NIV translation
There are people who doubt that all of God's people could fit into a single city but, here, we see just how big the city is. We see that it is not only 1400 miles wide and long (that is pretty close to the size of the United States) but also 1400 miles high. There is adequate room for all who will call upon the name of Jesus Christ to be saved.
"He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits thick, by man's measurement, which the angel was using." NIV translation
The angel continued his measurements by measuring the height of the wall which was about 200 feet. That is a reminder that it is too high to climb and so entry is only through the gates. There are no back doors to heaven and eternal life with God. Today, there is an effort to deceive people into believing that we are all going to heaven and that there is more than one way into the city (God's presence). That is a lie straight out of the depths of hell!
"The wall was made of Jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass." NIV translation
The new Jerusalem is made of the finest materials as it is to be the dwelling place of God. We see that only the purest of materials is used and that is a reminder of the purity that we receive through the blood of Christ. There is no other purification that is complete enough to make us a part of this wonderful place with God.
Revelation 21:19 & 20
"The 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, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst." NIV translation
Although we do not even know what some of these stones are, they demonstrate the preciousness of the foundation of the gospel which is Jesus Christ.
"The 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." NIV translation
Pearls are formed when an oyster covers an impurity that has gotten between it and it's shell. These must be some giant oysters but it reminds us that the gate to God is the blood of Jesus Christ that covers our own impurity with His righteousness. That is true for the tribes of Israel as well as for the rest of us. The street of the city is made of pure gold and gold is a sign of divinity (God) throughout the Bible and it, too, reminds us that the road to God is paved with His work and not our own. The gold is 100% without impurity which reminds all who enter in that our salvation is 100% God's work (grace).
"I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple." NIV translation
In this bridal home (the new Jerusalem), there is not a need for a temple building because God is with us. This brings creation full circle in that, when God created the earth, He dwelt with men in the garden. After sin entered the world through man, God could no longer dwell with sinful man.
Men were allowed to visit with God in the tabernacle and then the temple in Jerusalem but they could not stay continuously in His presence. The answer to this problem was and is Jesus Christ as He restored that relationship and the Holy Spirit was sent to dwell with us in the temple of our bodies. In this new Jerusalem, we are in the presence of God once again and so there is no need for a temple building.
Revelation 21:23 & 24
"The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it." NIV translation
God is light and so, when He is in a place, He is the source of light. We see from this passage that there will still be kings on this new earth as they will journey to Jerusalem. Jesus is the King of Kings and will be in charge of everything but He will evidently give authority to those He has chosen to oversee areas outside the city.
"On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there." NIV translation
The gates of cities were closed at night for protection but there is no night in the new Jerusalem and no need to close the gates.
Revelation 21:26 & 27
"The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life." NIV translation
The people from all nations will have access to the city because of their relationship with Jesus Christ.