One day away from celebrating the Incarnation of Christ we are this morning reading the ultimate future reality of the presence of God coming down to earth where all things are made new. This time it will not be as a baby in a manger in a dirty and noisy stable. This time it will be glorious. We will see the bride of Christ, the people of God, coming down within Jerusalem; we will see this city significant because of the number 12; we will see every jewel imaginable which is reflecting His glory within the city; we will see that this city is big; and importantly we will see why this is significant for us today.
“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.” 10 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. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 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. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 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. 17 The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick. 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.” (Revelation 21: 9-21)
- The number 12 symbolises God’s total authority, power and completeness. It is done. Everything is fulfilled.
- The measurement of the city, 12,000 stadia x 12,000 x 12,000 creates a shape that is like the one found in the most important part of the Temple. “Solomon prepared the inner sanctuary within the temple to set the ark of the covenant of the Lord there. The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty wide and twenty high. He overlaid the inside with pure gold, and he also overlaid the altar of cedar.” (1 Kings 6:19-20) That place of course is the Holy of Holies
- The 12 precious jewels are all reflecting the glory of God.
This city is perfect, it is the presence of God and it refracts the glory of God.
Around this present world we still see the mourning and the tears. The battle to be victorious is ever before us as we live with people who hate God’s world (the liars, idolaters, murderers etc.) But if we listen to the command to ‘look’ and as we do that through our worship and our discipleship we find that in a small way we are already walking the streets of gold.
Babylon boasted of her city and how large and attractive it was. It pales into insignificance to the city of God. Liars tried to build a Tower of Babel to reach the heavens but the city of God fills the heaven and the earth. For those struggling in a persecuted place, feeling insignificant under the spirit of the world the bigness of God would empower them to continue the struggle as it does us today.