We now come to take a greater look at the eternal city, the kingdom of God of which we will enter. “And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” The text needs little by way of commentary as to its source. One of the seven angels that poured the vials of God’s wrath in the 16th chapter gladly calls for John to step a little closer to the scene of eternity and behold this city that we spoke of in the second verse of this chapter. The connection between the pouring out of God’s wrath by the angel and the displaying of this place of grace by the same angel is not immediately apparent. Maybe it is meant to show us that it is only through the judgement of a Holy God that we are brought to such blessedness and felicity. The same hands that brought judgment at the hands of God are the ones that led our John to see this blessed state. All of it was connected with our happiness. The angels both in judgment and in revelation are minsters to us who are heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14).
Regardless of the significance of the messenger, the message is very simple. The angel desired to show John, “the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” We have spoken of this somewhat already. What follows is a description of the New Jerusalem. There is an intrinsic connection between the city and the bride. As stated earlier it could be a spiritual picture of her (we that are forever united with Christ) or it is meant to show her long home, her eternal dwelling place with her God. The church, in its glorified state, is both a bride and a building of God according to Paul in the book of Ephesians. What we are about to see represents us in reality as our eternal home and spiritually in what we enjoy in God in that great country. This is the great result of the promise, so shall we ever be with the Lord. The eternal end of the Lamb’s wife forever stands in contrast to the end of the harlot of the 17th and 18th chapters. That may be the true reason that one of the angles of the last plagues is also the messenger that shows us the city. Also, it is the whole church in its glorified state is seen. In perfection and glory she is seen. She is the Lamb’s wife and will forever be connected as such to the one that took away her sins (John 1:29). This is the bride adorned for her husband. What follows then is best described by Henry, “The subject of the vision is the church of God in a perfect, triumphant state, shining in its lustre; glorious in relation to Christ; which shows that the happiness of heaven consists in intercourse with God, and in conformity to him. The change of emblems from a bride to a city, shows that we are only to take general ideas from this description. The wall is for security. Heaven is a safe state; those who are there, are separated and secured from all evils and enemies. This city is vast; here is room for all the people of God. The foundation of the wall; the promise and power of God, and the purchase of Christ, are the strong foundations of the safety and happiness of the church.”
John continues, “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God….” For the fourth time in this book we find John in the spirit (1:10, 4:2, and 17:3). It is necessary that such a state exist in our hearts in minds for the things that are prepared for us are only known through and by the Spirit of the living God (I Cor. 2:9-16). He was carried away in the spirit to a great and high mountain and it was there that the great city and holy city was seen descending out of heaven as we have already seen in the second verse of this chapter. There is no further need to comment on these words so we proceed to what follows the truth and dimensions of this holy city prepared for us and coming down from God.
First we see that it has the glory of God. A lot of these thoughts run together and it appears that all of them flow from this singular thought. This city of God, this kingdom if you will, this church and bride has or possesses the glory of God. The glory of God is meant to speak of the very presence of God. It was the appearance of God in the Old Testament (Acts. 7:2). It was some form of visible manifestation of God’s presence (Ezek. 8:4, 9:3, 10:19). At this point it is that which we see afar off (Acts. 7:55). It is the transcendence of God above all and here, in great amazement, we see it with us (Rom. 1:23). It is the perfection of His holiness (Rom. 3:23). The end of faith is to see the glory of God and it is our full hope to so dwell within (John 11:40, Rom. 5:2). It ultimately finds its source in the Son of God, Jesus Christ (I Cor. 11:7). That which filled the temple in heaven to which no man could enter, now is possessed by us (Rev. 15:8). It is forever related to the light and all the glory that follows. The Shechinah glory that abode above the mercy seat within the veil, to which no man could enter, is the very glory of God (Ex. 40:34, I Kings 8:11, Heb. 9:5). God’s glory is the light to which no man can approach. It is the light of the glory of God that we will one day have in our presence. As the hands of the apostles once handled the Word of God so we will one day handle the very glory of God (I John 1:1). As Moses on Sinai saw the face of God and his face shown so shall we be forever. It will be greater than Moses though for He only saw the goodness of God and not the glory of God.
Not only did this city have the glory of God but as a result the church, that is synonymous with the city, will have a light of its own: “and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal….” We learn later that the true light of the city was the light of God (21:23). That however is not the light that is meant here. This light belongs specifically to “her.” It is her light that shines. There is no doubt that it a borrowed light, like the light of the moon but it is still her light. As the face of Moses bore a light that must be veiled so these do shine. This speaks no doubt of the reward of the saints. “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Dan. 12:2, 3). God created the sun and the stars with a light of their own. God was their cause by His grace but they show in the array of their own derived glory (Gen. 1:17). There will be differing levels of glory and reward shown by the saints in eternity. Those who have built upon the foundation of Christ gold, silver, and precious stones will shine brighter than those who built on that foundation wood, hay, and stubble. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you” (I Cor. 3:11-16). That is the exact meaning of another text of Paul: “There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead (I Cor. 15:40-42). We will not all be the same in eternity. We will have our own identity and our own glory or light that is given to us. We will enjoy our own reward. So the church is said to have its own light in our text as we collectively enjoy the fruit our own reward. And what follows is a description of that reward in its appearance and they are made of those precious stones that are built on the foundation of Christ that we just read in Corinthians. Setting aside the reward portion of this sight, that is inherent in the mention of the precious stone, we touch on something amazing right here. We shall shine, even like a jasper stone. Why is that so amazing? Well, as we studied in the fourth chapter, the one that sat upon the throne (who is God) “was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone…” (Rev. 4:3). We saw in our study there that the jasper stone was a transparent stone that showed all the colors of the rainbow that shows all the perfections of God, the fullness of His beauty. We often pray that the beauty of the Lord will be upon us, here is the answer to that prayer (Ps. 90:17). The glory of God will be there and our light will be like unto His light. We will not be in His perfect image and likeness (the absence of the sardine stone likeness –we will never be like God in His in fullness) but John appears to be to be amazed with that word “even.” We shall be like Him (I John 3:1-3). We shall be satisfied when we awake in His likeness (Ps. 17:15). The glory of the church shall also be clear as crystal in its purity. Crystal was likened unto wisdom (Job 28:17). It is also somewhat like the appearance of the angels (Ezek. 1:22). We shall be as the angels and exist in their plane of reality (Matt. 22:30). Words cannot even describe the glory that shall shine forth from the saints. We will be fully at home in the heavenly realm. There is a dual meaning from a passage in Isaiah which spoke of the glory of Christ and the glory that will be shared with us: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (Isa. 60:1-3).
We learn also that it has boundaries with abundant entry ways. “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.” There is no greater security then the glory of those walls. They are great and they are high. We are forever safe in the arms, or rather the presence, of God. This is no city without walls or with broken walls that cannot secure its inhabitants. Eternal security does not just speak of our security on this side of eternity but of all eternity future. We are kept by the power of God. “In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks” (Isa. 26:1). This is not meant to speak of the existence of enemies, for all enemies have been forever put under the foot of Christ and all is now subject to God. But the walls still stand great an impenetrable as an eternal symbol of that salvation that is secured in God by Christ. We will deal later with the great measure and intrinsic value of the walls in coming verses.
Let us continue. And there are twelve gates with twelve angels and twelve names written on those gates, as well, the gates are entering from all directions. To those familiar with the scriptures it is noted that this has been alluded to in shadows of earthly realities. The second chapter of the book of Numbers describes the encampment of Israel with encampments of each individual tribe facing each individual direction with God in His tabernacle at their center. According to the forty-eighth chapter of Ezekiel, during the millennial reign of Christ upon this earth, the twelve tribes of Israel were encamped around the temple both to the east and the west. If the walls are meant to speak of the security of our salvation, then the twelve gates are meant to show the abundant entry into that city. People from all corners of the globe can come to that city. People of every nation, kindred, and tongue. Just as all can drink of the water of life freely so there is a way that all can enter into that city (Heb. 12:22, 23). And how do we come into that city? We come through the promises of Israel. Salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22). We were grafted into their promises (Rom. 11). Just as the names of the twelve tribes Israel were written on the precious stones of the breast plate of the high priest when he entered into the Holy of Holies, so the names of the twelve tribes of Israel are written above these gates. The promises of Israel are promises for the world. They are a blessing for through their seed, which is Christ, all the tribes of the earth shall be blessed. Those who enter therein come though those promises. I can fancy here that the twelve gates speak of the activity of the saints in eternity. There is a city where God dwells with men and we shall go in and out of its gates freely forever. We shall enjoy the fullness of the new heavens and the new earth where righteousness dwells. But, there will always be entrance for us into the very presence of God through the promises of Christ. I fancy that this what Peter meant when he said, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Pet. 2:10, 11). When eternity comes entrance is restricted to those who belong to the promises of Israel and the angels are symbols of those guards. The angel kept man in the original sin from the tree of life with a flaming sword. Here they appear to ministering the entrance constantly for us.
The city also had sure foundations or rather the wall, the symbol of our eternal salvation, the forever icon of our security in God and Christ, was built upon priceless foundations. “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” There are twelve gates which have the names of the twelve tribes of Israel for it is through the promises of Israel that Christ came. “Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen” (Rom. 9:4, 5). They are the prophets who showed and brought us Christ. To them we owe the Revelation of the Old Testament. But now we have the foundations of the walls and they bare names as well; the names of the twelve apostles, the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The Lamb came to the earth one day to die for our sins (John 1:29). He chose twelve to bare His message, the message of the kingdom (Matt. 10:1-5, Mark 3:14). Christ Himself called them apostles (Luke 6:13). For reasons that belong to God alone, of the twelve one was devil (John 6:70). Christ ordained those twelve and promised that those twelve were going to tell us the things of Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26, see also John 15:26, 27 and John 16:13, 14). It is on the foundation of the apostles and prophets that all of our hopes of salvation rest. “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2:19-22). We needed the prophets of the Old Testament to prepare the way for Christ to come with all the promises of Israel. We needed the apostles to tell us who Jesus was. He was the cornerstone of both. It is by apostolic authority that we have the New Testament, either directly or indirectly. The early Christians followed the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2:42). It was upon the rock of their confession of Christ that the church was built (Matt. 16:18). They laid the foundation of Jesus Christ (I Cor. 3:11). It is upon this that we are added to and the end result will be found in that great city: “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy” (I Pet. 2:4-10). We do not imagine that the name Judas Iscariot is on those foundations. “Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take” (Acts 1:16-20). What follows was an attempt for the eleven to replace Judas. The Holy Spirit apparently did not agree for Luke, inspired and moved by the Spirit, continued after that to still refer to the apostles as the eleven (Acts 1:26, 2:14). However, there is another that was chosen to be an apostle and that is Paul who wrote one third of our New Testament (Rom. 1:1, I Cor. 1:1). I always fancied that Paul’s name will be there. Regardless, the eternal symbol of our security and safety in God for eternity is founded on the apostles and the prophets.
Further, the city had inexhaustible measure. The angel that was talking with him in this text also had another distinct purpose, the show us the full measure of revealed grace in that city. “And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.” He was to measure the city as a whole, the gates in particular, and the wall. There is an allusion here to the measuring of the temple in the millennial reign of Christ (Ezek. 40:3). There is a perfection of the measure for it was a golden reed. John was given a reed once to measure the temple but here the job is too exhaustive for him and therefore the reed is now in the hand of the angel (Rev. 11:1). God has always been interested in the measurement of earthly Jerusalem and it is not wonder that He is ready to measure heavenly Jerusalem as well (Zech. 2:1). His instrument was a golden read. One must have a fair and right measure to actually know the extent of something. God, through the angel, offers a perfect measure for us to know the fullness of His grace.
First, the city was measured 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 the height of it are equal.” The thing that immediately sticks out to me in this verse is the largeness of the city. The length of the city is large, according to the text, and the breadth of the city is “as large as” that. God Himself wants us to stand in awe of the largeness of the churches adornment. 12,000 furlongs is the width and length of the city and it is foursquare. 12,000 furlongs is the height of the city as well. Whether or not we are looking a cube or a pyramid, is up for debate for both could fit the description. A furlong is a unit of measure derived from farm life. It is thought that to be about 220 yards in total. A rod was thought to be about 5 and a half yards which is the length of an ox-goad. A furlong was thought to be the amount of space a team of oxen could plow without resting; which was about 40 rods length. 220 yards is one eighth of a mile. So, 12,000 furlongs is approximately 1,500 miles. If the length and width (breadth) is the same than we end up with a space 1,500 miles squared, which is an area of 2,250,000 square miles. To put this in perspective, the mainland United States as a whole is made up of 3,806,000 square miles. So, the square miles of this city would be equivalent to 60% of the landmass of the continental United States. It would take 21.5 hours of non-stop driving at 70 miles per hour to cover the length of the city. When Christ said that there were many mansions in His Father’s house this adds some more perspective. It is said that a mile is conservatively the length of 16 city blocks. Assuming that a each mansion is the size of a city block (which is a lavishly sized mansion) then there would be 24,000 mansions in the width of the city alone. The square mileage of the city would allow for 576 billion mansions. And that is just the ground floor. Because we would then include the height of the city. The volume of the city itself is astronomical. The spiritual lesson of this is easy to ascertain. God sent His servants to fill His marriage feast with guests. “So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:21-23). Brethren, there is room for all to come in to that place. There is a home for a multitude that no man can number. There is room for every whosoever that will come to Christ. There is room for you and there is room for me in the eternal presence of God and among the things that He has prepared for them that love Him. It is also worth noting that the city was perfect in its dimensions; foursquare. There is no natural occurrence that could cause such to occur. We know that what we are reading about is an act of God, a work of art, and a work of pure and perfect grace.
Secondly, we have in inexhaustible measure of the walls. “And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.” Both the measure of the walls and the measure of the city relate to the number of Israel, of whom are the promises that we enjoy. There were 12,000 of each tribe related to the measure of the city and a total of 144,000 related now to the measure of the wall (See chapters 7 & 14). This is the reward of those that God has brought through, those who embrace the promises of Israel. Again, salvation is of the Jews. We know that length of the wall as it surrounds the city is around 60,000 miles. Now we know its height; 144 cubits. That is a 216 foot wall, assuming that the cubit of an angel is not lager than the cubit of a mortal man (man is not the measure of all things and the eternal things will not be reckoned by the measure of a man). The wall is equal to a 22 story high-rise. There is going to be an awe that strikes as we approach our eternal abode. Such is the statement of our security and eternal safety in Christ forever and ever, Amen!
The city is also known by the intrinsic value of its materials. There are five distinct parts of the city that are defined by their riches: the wall, the city itself, the foundations of the wall, the gates, and the streets. First, the walls were made of jasper. I know that I am not very good at interpreting meaning when we reach texts like this. I know that the one that sat upon the throne appeared as jasper and so was the city that was prepared for us (Rev. 4:3 and 21:11). It is divinity that gives us the security of our salvation.
Secondly, the city was pure gold; gold of such purity it appeared as clear glass. The term glass is meant to speak of a mirror (James 1:23, I Cor. 13:12) and the term clear speaks of the perfection of the reflection that we will see. The gold will be pure of all imperfections and the distortions that we know in this world. It is said of gold that it is truly pure when the refiner can see their reflection in it. The gold of the city will show us our perfect reflection. We have heard tales of the conquistadors searching for El Dorado, the City of Gold. Brethren, this is that city of which we seek. Lay up your treasures in heaven. This is the true treasure we should seek. They sought a city whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:11-16). This is not meant to symbolize the love of money or gold. This is not a fleshy fulfilment of the thirst for gold that cankers (James 5:4). It is meant to show us the infinite riches of God’s grace that we will enjoy forever. “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7).
Thirdly, the value of the foundations of the wall are seen. The term garnished is used to speak of purposeful decoration. God has gone out of His way to make this home beautiful for us. We remember that the foundation of the walls is meant to picture the twelve apostles. This is another demonstration that they will have differing glory. There are 12 distinct stones to show us twelve distinct persons used of God. Each bearing a beauty all their own. Which precious stone speaks of which apostle is not known and God in His wisdom knowns best how to beautify His saints, the apostles and all who follow Him. In this way they have the glory of being as their Savior. “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy” (I Pet. 2:4-10). The stones themselves speak of distinct types of glory each belonging to a particular person as indicated by the distinctness of their mention; the first, the second, the third, and so on. The jasper we have already spoken of (4:3) and may indicate one that was like unto their God. The sapphire is a blue color which was seen of Israel under the feet of God at Sinai (Ex. 24:10) and may represent one that was fully submitted to God. The chalcedony is only mentioned here in the Scriptures and is thought to be a green gem or possibly a dark red or even an un-crystalized white type of gem depending on the commentator. The character here is known only by our God reminding us that God alone knowns the hearts of men. The emerald which is a bright green was seen as the sight of the rainbow surrounding the throne which may speak of one that displayed God’s glory to others in various ways (4:3). The sardonyx is a particular variety of onyx (probably spoken of an onyx found or purchased in a specific area like Sardis) which is again spoken of only in this text. Some think it is red and white which would speak of one that is purified and sanctified by the blood of Christ. The sardius was a common stone, one close to the heart of the high priest in the breastplate (Ex. 28). It is said to be a blood red and fleshy color which may indicate one that was martyred for the cause of Christ. Chrysolyte is a type of topaz that contains a translucent yellow or goldish coloring. Maybe this spoke of one that had wisdom which is greater than gold (Prov. 16:16). Beryl is a type of emerald with a deeper blue green color. It is a picture of the hands of Christ (Song 5:14) and the color of the wheels which moved the ministering angels (Ezek. 1:16). Could this be meant to speak of one that did the work of Christ, the evangelist or the missionary? The topaz is another gem compared to wisdom which is a different shade of green like chysolyte (Job 28:19). Chrysoprasus is only mentioned here in the Bible. Even the most obscure that are following Christ will find their reward. Some say it is another of golden green and others say it is aquamarine or even purple. It is known and rewarded of God who alone knew its worth. Jacinth is reddish and related to the fire of judgment (Rev. 9:17). Could it speak of one zealous against sin? And then there is the amethyst. It is purple in color. A stone again found close to the heart of the high priest (Ex. 28). Gill states that it was named after a preservative that prevented drunkenness. Maybe it is meant to speak of one who is sober and watching for Christ.
Fourthly, we see the value of the gates: “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl….” There is of course a picture here that must be brought to light. The gates bore the names of the twelve tribes of Israel because salvation is of the Jews. Those who enter into that kingdom do so because they are partakers of the promises that were given to the nation of Israel. But, the pearl is meant to picture that which is our salvation. There is a singular nature of this way in which we enter the city. Each gate is one in nature. The pearl is a picture of wisdom (Job 28:18). Christ is the wisdom of God (I Cor. 1:24). The kingdom of heaven is compared to that pearl of great price which is worth us selling all and leaving all that we may possess it (Matt. 13:45, 46). There is no doubt that Christ is the picture of the pearls. There may be twelve gates to show us the fullness of the promises given to Israel. But, there is only one way as seen by each gate made of a singular substance and that substance in each case not being made of parts but being whole in and of itself (John 14:6). He is the door (John 10:9). And added to the picture is the fact that the pearl is the product of suffering. It is the oyster or the clam that produces the pearl in order to combat the painful irritant. In order to come through the suffering the organism will secret fluid that coats the irritant forming the pearl. It is through the suffering of Christ that we enter into heaven. The irritant of sin was covered by His shed blood to create the new and living way. We have never seen such pearls. What priceless nature is the gates of that city!
And then there is the great value of the streets: “and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.” As the city so is the streets. The city was pure gold and so are the streets. The city was as clear glass and now we see the streets are as transparent glass. The meaning is the same. We will walk on gold one day as we currently walk on dirt or gravel or asphalt. It will be gold so pure that we will be able to see our perfect reflection in them just as it was a mirror. This speaks again of the riches of God’s grace. I think it is interesting that the text uses the singular definite article; the street, as if there was only one in the city. A city that size will have myriads of streets. I reckon that it speaks of the singular focus of the streets. There are no dead ends there but they lead to the same place. As all roads led to Rome so all roads there will lead to the presence of God. The street leads to the subject that begins in the following verse. So we are now ready to speak of the eternal fellowship with God.