Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Holy City

He carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 
having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.    
Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 
three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. 
Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 
And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 
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. 21:10-16 

The Glorious City

   The new perspective of this last section is glorious. “From the smoke and pain and heat it is a relief to pass into the clear, clean atmosphere of the eternal morning where the breath of heaven is sweet and the vast city of God sparkles like a diamond in the radiance of his presence” (Moffatt) 

  In 16:20 we learned that when the seventh angel poured out his bowl of wrath the mountains of earth were not found. Here in v. 10 the writer was "beamed up" to a great and high mountain; I suppose we must assume that this mountain is on the new earth, it was from that mountain that he saw heaven, the holy Jerusalem, our eternal abode.

In its meaning 21:10 is a repeat of verse 21:2. 21:3-8 are simply an interruption in the major thought. In 21:2 the city was noted as being as beautiful as a bride and starting in 21:10 it is described in the same way again. This fact indicates that the two verses are in the same time frame.

This holy city is bathed in the glory of God. It's splendour and radiance as a luminary, a light giving body, was like a stone which is most precious, like a stone of crystal clear jasper. Wuest#.  The basic color of jasper is that of fire. Vine+++.  In fact, it is so bright that the people, living on the new earth, live in the light of this holy city. 21:24

On each of the twelve gates is the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel, and each gate has a guardian angel attending it.  The city wall has twelve foundations and on each one of them is the name of one of the twelve apostles of Christ.  You…having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone. Eph.2:20

   This phrase about the names of the twelve apostles, being on the twelve foundations, has caused some to suggest that, it was not John, the Apostle, who wrote The Apocalypse.  For, they say, it would be an unprecedented display of egotism for the writer, an apostle, to claim that his name is on one of the foundations of the holy city.

On each side of the city are three gates, and we imagine them all on the same level, but a city that is as high as it is long may well have the gates staggered at different levels.  This would be very practical, if those who came to visit the new city came in spaceships.  For anyone who has watched Si Fi movies of this type, this is easy to imagine and certainly easy to believe. 

The Size of the City

He who talked with me, is the angel, which we met in 20:9.  He has a measuring reed made of gold.  The length of a reed is given in Eze. 40:5, as being six times a cubit plus six handbreadths or almost eleven feet long. Unger++

   The city is square; in fact, it is a cube.  In each direction, it is 12,000 furlongs or 1500 miles.  Measuring in a straight line, West to East, that is the distance from Victoria, Canada to the western tip of Lake Superior in Canada and North to South from Tuktoyaktuk in the North-West Territories of Canada straight south to the Canada-US border.

   A rather large city when one considers that it stands as high as it is wide.  Yet we cannot think of it as a small planet because planets, by their very nature are round, but this city is laid out as a square.  

   Dr McGee* explains how this could be possible.  He admits that the city is a cube but that a translucent sphere surrounds the cube.  He says that the people living in heaven would live inside the sphere, not on the surface of the sphere as dwellers on earth live on its surface.

*** has given the calculation of the capacity of the Holy City.  It is 3,375,000,000 cubic miles.  Then he continues by saying, multiply that figure by 64 and you have the number of allotments equaling one quarter of a cubic mile the city would provide.  That gives a total of 216,000,000,000...segments.

   One gets the idea that he is implying that each "block" in heaven will have a cubic area of one-quarter mile and that there will be room for 216,000,000,000 "blocks" in heaven.  Christ said, There are many rooms in my Father's house. I wouldn't tell you this, unless it was true. I am going there to prepare a place for each of you. After I have done this, I will come back and take you with me. Then we will be together. John 14:2-3 CEV 

The present population of the earth is less than 7,000,000,000.  It has been estimated that the total number of people that have ever lived in the world is 107,602,707,791.  Playing around with all this wild speculation would allow for a population of about 15 people per one quarter cubic mile.  If by some weird coincidence, these numbers happened to be true, and if all the people that have ever lived in our world, would be in heaven, heaven would still not be crowded.

   More about the physical structure of heaven in the next post.
# An Expanded Translation, K.W. Wuest.
+++ An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W.E. Vine
++ Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Merrill F. Unger
* Through the Bible with Dr J Vernon McGee.
*** Shadow of the Antichrist, Ivan Foster

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