Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Holy City is Measured

21:16+18-21  The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal.
   The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 
   The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 
  the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 
   The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

He measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, that is, about 216 feet (65 meters).  This, obviously, is not the length of the wall for the length of the city is 1500 miles each way.  So, was he measuring the thickness or the height of the wall?  Let us compare the opinions of the professionals.  Then he measured the thickness of the walls and found them to be two hundred and sixteen feet across (LB).  He measured its wall, two hundred and sixteen feet (in height). (Wuest).   Of course if (or since) I believe that visitors will visit the Holy City in spaceships it would be meaningless to have walls only two hundred and sixteen feet high, therefore, in this case, I agree with The Living Bible.

Mr. Smith has a different view concerning the size of the city.  According to him, in ancient times, when the size of the city was given, the number referred to the circumference of the city and not to the length of one side.  If that is the way this is to be interpreted, the New Jerusalem will be only three hundred and seventy five miles on any one side.  The reference to the word “equal” concerning the height would not be the actual height but rather it would mean that the height was proportionate to the size of the wall.  This reckoning would, of course, make the Holy City much smaller.

According to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.  Wuest clarifies this by writing, using the measuring system of mankind, which is that used by the angel.  The Living Bible is even more up to date in its translation; the angel called out the measurements to me, using standard units.  

We must notice that John very carefully says the wall was of jasper not that it was “like jasper”.  The city was of gold and not like gold, but then he continues to say that the gold was like clear glass.

The foundations of the wall of the city, not the foundations of the city, were garnished with all manner of precious stones.  There are twelve foundations, 21:14, each foundation had its own gem.  Foster points out that these twelve gems very closely compare to the twelve gems worn by the high priest on his breastplate.

In the statement, the street of the city was pure gold, we see that the word, street, is singular.  Wuest treats it that way, too; the broad avenue of the city was pure gold.  Is it possible that not all the streets of heaven are paved with gold (as we so glibly say)?  Even though it is impossible for us to imagine a city this large with only one street, is it possible that heaven has only one street, as the Bible says.  Dr. McGee suggests that it is one continuous street weaving throughout the city to provide access to any part of the city; from the bottom tier of the city to the very top level.

By reading the last phrase of this chapter we can confirm who these are that are saved: they are the ones who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  We see again, that not all those whose names are not in the Book of Life are in torment, for if they were, who are those kings of the earth who bring their glory and honor into the city? 21:24.  If those who are saved all live in the city, and those who are not saved are in the lake of fire, what is the purpose of a new earth, since it would have no inhabitants?

Quoting Dr. McGee again, The children of Israel will be among the multitudes who come into this city to worship in eternity. They will come from the earth to bring their worship and glory.

The Bible clearly teaches that, at first, in eternity, there will be four categories of humans: The first ones are the martyrs.  They reign with Christ for one thousand years, 20:4, the same one thousand years in which Satan is bound in the bottomless pit.  After that time, they move into the Holy City when it descends. 21:3

The second are those who are saved, 21:24, the blood washed multitudes from all nations of the world.  The term for these, in Christian circles is, “those who are born again”.  Immediately, after the white throne judgment, they will enter the holy city, the place we usually call heaven.  There is no teaching in the Bible of a place out there somewhere, way beyond imagination, that we will go to when we die.  We need to realign our thinking to agree with the teachings of the Bible.  Heaven is a physical realm with dwelling places, a street and a wall to keep out those who may not enter.  The city has food to eat and water to drink.

The third are those who did not accept Christ but they lived good, clean, honest lives.  They will not spend eternity in fiery anguish but they will be the inhabitants of the new earth, 21:1.  These are the people, whose kings will come to visit the holy city. 21:24.

Fourth are those who turn back from following Christ because of fear or because of false doctrines.  It also includes murderers; pimps; drug dealers; it includes those who knew better, but who willfully, deliberately disobeyed the cardinal basic rules of decent humanity.  Those who insisted on living that kind of lifestyle and never in their life repented of their evil actions must, according to the rules of their Creator, pay the price in eternal torment.