The New Heaven and New Earth
A Study of Revelation
Revelation Chapter 21
Revelation chapter 21: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away: and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
“And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And He said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.
“And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues”—that is the wrath of God—“and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.” Like a diamond, in other words.
“And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations”—or twelve levels—“and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
“And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and height of it are equal.”—12,000 furlongs, or 1500 miles wide, 1500 miles long, and 1500 miles high!
That is a very big city: 1500 miles in each direction (2400 km), wide, long, and high, with about 5280 feet to the mile. That’s almost beyond comprehension! Such a city would cover half of the United States, all of Europe, or half of Africa, and extend far above the stratosphere, higher than many of the satellites which are fired into space.
“And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits”—that’s 216 feet high (about 75 meters)—“according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.” Two hundred and sixteen feet high, that’s pretty high. That’s higher than most men would be able to climb, a sheer wall or cliff. That’s the equivalent of about a 25-story building. “And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.” This is a sort of golden crystal glass, transparent.
“And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones: The first foundation was jasper.” That’s diamond. “The second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony (sparkling quartz); the fourth, an emerald; the fifth, sardonyx (striped onyx); the sixth, sardius (ruby); the seventh, chrysolite (olivine); the eighth, beryl (magic crystal aquamarine); the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus (green emerald or jade); the eleventh, a jacinth (amber); the twelfth, an amethyst (clear purple quartz)” (Revelation 21:1–20). These are precious jewels of all colors of the rainbow. What a city!
Each level of the foundations of this wall was composed of a different kind of precious stone. Imagine a wall 216 feet high of 12 levels, each about 18 feet or two stories high, each level a solid diamond, a solid emerald, a solid amethyst, etc.—A wall 1500 miles long and 1500 miles wide, a total of 6000 miles long, completely around the city. Six thousand miles of solid diamonds, 6000 miles of solid emeralds, 6000 miles of solid rubies, etc. Man has never seen such beauty, such riches, such luxuries, such wealth of precious stones as you’re going to see in the day of the Heavenly City come down to earthl! Even the wall is gorgeous. The wall alone would be enough to thrill the heart of any connoisseur of precious stones.
But the wall is nothing compared to the city itself, one gigantic beautiful crystal golden city—a huge pyramid 1500 miles wide and long. That’s 1500 miles each direction, and 1500 miles high. Commercial planes fly from 30,000 to 40,000 feet up, from six to seven or eight miles high. The Holy City is going to be not a mere six or seven or eight miles high; it is going to be 1500 miles high and 1500 miles square, covering an area of 2.25 million square miles at the base.
Some critics and skeptics have said, “Well, if heaven is to contain all of the billions of souls who have passed on through 6,000 years of history, even the few billion who were saved, how’s it going to hold so many people?” You can figure it out for yourself if you’re a good mathematician or you have a calculator handy. Figure this pyramid’s volume by squaring the base and multiplying it by one-third the height—1500 miles by 1500 miles by 500 miles—and you’ll find it contains about 1.125 billion cubic miles.
Verse 21: “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several (single) gate was of one pearl.” Can you imagine a gate of such a city with a wall 216 feet high? The gates in any way comparable to the size of the wall would have to be at least large enough to permit a man to pass standing erect, and probably on horseback, which would add at least another four feet, probably 10 or 12 feet high at the least, if not bigger.
Can you imagine a pearl with a diameter of 10 or 12 feet? That’s the size of the gates, each gate a pearl, 12 gates altogether, three gates on each side of the city, north and south, east and west. Being gates, they must be made for the purpose of going in and out of the city.
So we, the rulers of this earth in that day, will be able to pass through these gates of pearl, each gate a single beautiful huge pearl. Think of that! But not those on the outside; they’re excluded from the city because they have a lot to learn. They were unsaved, and they’re still in the process of learning righteousness and being healed of their sins. It’s in the Bible.
Verse 21: “And the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.” The gold of this earth is not transparent and it doesn’t look like glass; it’s very heavy, solid. The gold of the city will be transparent glass like golden crystal.
Verse 22: “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” You say, “Here’s a contradiction in the Scripture, a mistake. John saw a temple in heaven; he even saw the Ark in the temple. He saw the altar in the temple and the souls under it, several glimpses of the temple in heaven.” Yes, he did, but that was before this time—before the new earth, before this holy city came down from God out of heaven to the earth so that God can dwell among men, His temple.
This gigantic, amazing city, 1500 miles square and 1500 miles high, has no temple, no church, no cathedral, no synagogue, no mosque. Before this time John saw a temple in heaven, but now in the final marvelous, eternal city of God there is no temple. Why?
“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” God Himself and His Son are the temple of it; they are the place of worship. You’re going to worship in the Lord without benefit of buildings or temples or synagogues or mosques or cathedrals or churches.
God is against temple worship, and the great temple that He allowed to be built was destroyed. It was only built because David wanted it, Solomon insisted, and so the Lord allowed them to build Him a temple, though they themselves acknowledged that it was ridiculous to think that they could build Him a house that He could dwell in, when not even the whole universe could contain Him (1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6).
He later said, “I want to live in the hearts of men, I want to live in your heart. The Father seeketh such to serve Him. For the kingdom of God cometh not with observation, but the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20–21). For Jesus said, “The time is coming and now is when ye shall neither worship God here nor there, but everyone that worships the Lord shall worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:21–24). That’s the place of worship, in your heart and in His truth, His Word.
If you’re saved, you’ll not spend eternity in heaven. You’ll go up to be in heaven with the Lord until the Rapture and the Resurrection occurs at the end of the Tribulation, but then we’re going to come back to earth.
He’s going to purify and completely purge the surface of the earth with fire and destroy the atmospheric heavens and bring a new heaven and a new earth, where we’re going to be forever. Not up in faraway space, but right here on the earth in this new earth and this new heaven.
That beautiful Holy City, the new Jerusalem, the city of God is going to come down, it says here, “from God out of heaven.” It’s going to come right down here to this earth. Whether it’s going to sit down here on the earth or whether it’s going to float above the surface of the earth, we don’t know, but it sounds like it’s going to be right on the earth, because it has gates for people to come in and go out of. It says “the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it” and that we will go out of it to heal the nations with the leaves of the healing of the tree of life. So it sounds like it’s going to sit right here on the earth.
But there’ll be plenty of room on earth then, because right now only around a third of the earth’s surface is land. Whereas then there will be no more sea; it’ll all be land. The seas are the world’s great septic tanks, its great cesspools where all the waste of the world drains off into. That’s why it has to be salty, or it would stink like a toilet! Some places it does, where they dump their sewage and garbage into the sea, polluting the earth. The Lord says He’s going to destroy those that pollute and destroy the earth (Revelation 11:18).
There will be much more land area then, lots of room for the great Heavenly City to sit down where once was the Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific Ocean or the Arctic or Antarctic Oceans. Maybe it’ll move around, so it can minister to different parts of the world. If it can float down from outer space from God out of heaven to the earth, then it probably can still float around the earth and hover or set down here or there.
Science fiction’s got nothing on the Bible or the future as foretold by the Lord! I have never seen anything in sci-fi movies to compare with this, have you? Nothing so enormous and magnificent as that beautiful city, full of precious stones and jewels, and best of all, full of precious souls. Immortal saved souls that love Jesus. Billions of people will be there because there were millions of faithful witnesses down through man’s history, from the time of Adam and Eve until the Millennium.
Verse 23: “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” It doesn’t say there’ll be no moon and no sun, but it says in the city they won’t need the moon and the sun. It has its own light, the light of God and His Son Jesus. But the sun and moon will still continue on the world outside the city on the planet earth, which still exists with a new Garden of Eden-like surface with the people who are unsaved out there, whom God is giving another chance to learn what they need to learn to be restored, to be reconciled.
I believe in the eternal universal reconciliation of man because Jesus said He died that all might be saved (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9), that the whole world might be saved, and I believe that’s going to happen someday! But only the saved, only those of us who have voluntarily chosen to love Jesus, to receive Him as our Savior now in this life on this earth, are going to walk the streets of that golden city and be able to enter through those gigantic pearly gates.—Unless some are also saved in the Millennium and the world hereafter.
How good is God! How kind, how loving, how merciful. The Bible says there’s no end to His mercy, His mercy is from everlasting unto everlasting (Psalm 103:17). He is forgiving, kind, gracious, and loving, and He’s not going to lose one of His sheep—not one soul! He’s going to save them all in the long run, even those outside the city who will never be able to enter the city. But we will go out into the world to help other people who are still learning how to believe and receive God and to love Him and serve Him.
It’s thrilling to think we’re not just going to be sitting around on clouds playing harps and doing nothing. We are still engaged in the marvelous, soul-satisfying process of the redemption of man, of all men everywhere, the whole world for whom Jesus died. God’s Word says so, that He died for all men. “That all men might be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4), even those who don’t receive Him now but who will believe and receive Him later.
It may be too late for them to enter the Holy City, but not too late to enjoy the mercy and love of God and His forgiveness upon the surface of the earth, healed by the leaves of His tree of life (Revelation 22:2). The sun and moon will still continue. Day and night and seasons will still continue. The very first chapter of the Bible says that as long as the sun and the moon endure, there shall be seasons, summer and winter, spring and fall throughout the world (Genesis 1:14).
Outside the Holy City will live people who were not saved and who are only then learning to love the Lord and appreciate Him and respect and honor Him and worship Him with our help, who live under similar conditions, like it was in the Garden of Eden. It’ll be a pleasure just to live outside on that new heavenly earth that God is going to make for all mankind and all His creatures.
Not one shall be lost, not one of all God’s wonderful creations, immortal souls of man, not one. They’ll all be there either in the city or on the surface of the earth.
“And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it”—in the city—“and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it”—or literally unto it (Revelation 21:24). There will still be nations and kings on the surface of the earth outside the city. Of course, nations ordained by God—righteous kings teaching the people to love and serve the Lord, and they’ll be bringing honor to the city.
“And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there” (Revelation 21:25). The gates will be open night and day, 24 hours a day. What a city! Man thinks some of his cities today are pretty wonderful; they stay open till two, three, or four o’clock in the morning.
But that city’s going to be open day and night, 24 hours a day. Can you imagine what that place is going to look like at night from the earth outside all lit up? The most beautiful city in this whole world! Man has never seen anything like it. This gorgeous pyramid, 1500 miles high and 1500 miles wide, shining with a golden light all night long, glowing almost like the sun. It will no doubt light up the countryside, the surface of the earth for hundreds of miles around.
It’ll be a blessing just to live anywhere within sight of that city, to be able to see it at night and thrill to its splendor, resplendent with golden supernatural light of God. It will vie with the moon and even the sun for beauty and splendor. God’s word says that when He shall build up Zion, even the sun and the moon shall be ashamed in comparison with the glory and the beauty and the light of that Holy City here on the surface of the earth (Isaiah 24:23). It will outshine the sun, outshine the moon. This reminds me of an old song we used to sing:
When we go to be with Jesus
We shall outshine the sun.
When we shall be with Jesus
We will outshine the sun
And walk those streets of gold.
—Adapted from “We Shall Outshine the Sun” by C.F.W.
The saved will enjoy both worlds—the inside world of the beautiful Holy City of the saved, and be able to go out and minister to the poor folks who are lost but being rehabilitated and reconciled.
“And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27). Nothing unclean there: no dirty city streets, no vile vice, no filthy crime, no sin. Not Sin City as today, but the sacred City of God. The Holy City, the pure city, the beautiful city. Everything absolutely clean and perfect and pure and sinless!
The Lord has a city prepared for you and me whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10). It comes down like a bride out of heaven adorned for the husband, out of heaven from God to the earth (Revelation 21:2). He says that the tabernacle of God or the dwelling place of God is now going to be with men (Revelation 21:3).
Are you running the race for Jesus? Or are you in the rat race of the system for the world? If you’re running the race for Jesus, it’ll be worth it all. If you’re running the rat race of this world, you will regret over there that you didn’t run for Jesus and work for Jesus and live for Jesus.
One of the most beautiful verses in the Bible is also one of these last verses of the Bible, when He says: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
It will be worth it all when we see Jesus.
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ.
One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase.
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.
—From “When We See Christ,” by Esther Kerr Rusthoi
Copyright © March 1981 by the Family International