Wk12 new creation revelation 21.1-22.5
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  • 1. New Creation Revelation 21:1-22:5
  • 2.
    • Structurally Rev. 21:1-8 concludes the sixth major section of the book. Verse one could be said to follow thematically the content of 20:11 where, “heaven and earth fled away form the presence of God.” The old order is thus destroyed and the new order is ushered into existence.
    • The purpose of the entire segment, is to exhort believers in the present through temptations not to compromise, so that they may participate in the consummated glory of the church” (Beale, Revelation, 1039).
  • 3. 21:1
    • “ The voice of God announces the descent of the new Jerusalem against the backdrop of total renovation: a new heaven and a new earth. God is the Alpha (see 1:8), the Creator, whose purposes have been expressed from the beginning. Now he shows himself to be the Omega, the Consummator, who brings his purposes to final realization” (Poythress, The Returning King, 184).
    • Many texts described the end time in terms of the beginning, as a renewal of paradise (see comment on 22:1–5); so here the new creation recalls the goodness of the first creation before sin marred it (Gen 1:1).” Keener IVP Background NT.
  • 4.
    • The new order is described by the Greek word kainos which carries the meaning of a new state of quality; not newness in the sense of time.
    • Paul likewise sees in Rom. 8:18-23 the renovation of the corrupted creation as inextricably linked to the resurrection of the ‘children of God.’ Indeed, kainos (‘new’), as we have seen, refers predominantly to a change in quality or essence rather than something new that has never previously been in existence. This usage of kainos is especially found in NT contexts describing eschatological or redemptive-historical transitions” (Beale, Revelation, 1040).
  • 5. 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. Isaiah 65:17 "Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. 66:22 "As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares the LORD, "so will your name and descendants endure. Rev. 21:1 Isaiah. 65:17-18 and 66:22
  • 6.
    • “ As we might have expected, there are seven elements of the old order which he dismisses with the same formula: sea, death, grief, crying, pain, all that is under God’s curse, and night (xxi. 1, 4; xxii. 3, 5). Literally or symbolically this list embraces the whole range of evil, and the first and all inclusive term is the sea” (Caird, The Revelation of St. John, 262).
  • 7.
    • Question: Why does John mention the sea first?
    • The sea in Revelation has been symbolic for several things: (1) cosmic evil (4:6; 12:18; 13:1; 15:2), (2) rebellious and unbelieving nations who oppress God’s people (12:18; 13;1; Isa. 57:20; cf. Rev. 17:2, 6), (3) the realm of the dead (20:13), (4) the location of the world’s evil trade activity (18:10-19), (5) a figure representing the old order of creation (5:13; 7:1-3; 8:8-9; 10:2, 5-6, 8; 14:7; 16:3).
  • 8. 21:2
    • The “Holy city” is titled the “New Jerusalem” because it represents the new and intimate marriage relationship that will take place between the new Israel and God (see Isa. 62:1-2).
    • That the bride is prepared (passive participle) by divine activity is apparent by the fact that “prepare” in Revelation is always a result of God’s decree and not human pioneering action (9:7, 15; 12:6; 16:12; cf. 8:6).
  • 9. 21:3
    • “ God dwelt with human beings in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:7, 16; 3:8), in the tabernacle (Ex. 25:8; 40:34), in the temple (1 Kings 8), and above all in Christ (John 1:14; 2:19-21). Christ sends forth the Spirit in order that the church (1 Cor. 3:16) and its members (1 Cor. 6:19) may be dwellings of God. The new Jerusalem is the consummation of all of these. God will be their God, implying that he will be a faithful and loving supplier of all their needs, with unimaginable fullness. All the commitments and promises of God throughout history find the apex of their fulfillment” (Poythress, The Returning King, 186).
  • 10.
    • The Greek word skene . (“dwelling”) has a rich biblical history. This is the word used for the tabernacle in the OT which represented God’s abiding presence with his people. Thus the idea of God tabernacling with his people has an inaugurated fulfillment and it will be fully consummated at the end of the age. Leviticus 26:11 “I will put my dwelling place { 11 Or my tabernacle} among you, and I will not abhor you.” Note also John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
  • 11. 21:4
    • The things that characterized the old creation such as tears, death, mourning, crying, and pain are done away with.
    • This verse and this promise is the fulfillment of Isaiah 25:8. “He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.”
    • Beale, comments on the larger context of this verse by saying, “The subsequent similar sayings that ‘there will no longer be any curse’ (22:3) or ‘night’ (22:5) also indicate that none of the evils and threats of the old world can hinder the saints from fully enjoying the consummate presence of God…the ‘curse’ of ‘death’ and its associated sufferings, which were introduced in the first Eden, will be removed in the last Eden” (Beale, Revelation, 1049).
  • 12. 21:5
    • There is no doubt that the one sitting on the throne here is God himself. The words that he utters are very similar to Isaiah 43:19, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” Paul sees this same prophecy finding an inaugurated fulfillment in 2 Cor 5:17.
  • 13. 21:6
    • “ The end is not an event but a person…To anyone who shares the biblical faith it goes without saying that he is capable of entering history at any point he chooses, and this is John’s faith also. When he calls God Alpha and Omega, he is no deist, placing God at the beginning and end of a cosmic process which is allowed to run mechanically without intervention. God is the living God; and whenever men find themselves in the presence of the living God, there they confront the beginning and the end, the ground and goal of their being. All that man has and is, but above all man’s salvation, is from start to finish the work of God” (Caird, The Revelation of St. John, 266).
  • 14.
    • This is only the second explicit time in Revelation where God is quoted, the other occurrence was in 1:8 and in both contexts “Alpha and Omega” occur. Furthermore, this title operates like two mountainous bookends whereby God opens and closes history by his sovereign hand.
    • The waters of life that are given to the saints are none other than eternal presence and fellowship with God and Christ. Notice the feast of tabernacles and this notion of God abiding with his people.
  • 15. 21:7
    • This verse offers the promise of inheritance that David was to receive (2 Sam 7:14). The ones who enter the new heaven and earth are those who overcome (note the charge to the church to overcome in chs. 2-3).
    • All of the blessings of the new creation are summed up in the final clause of verse 7, “I will be his God and he will be my son.” This should remind the reader of Paul’s adoption language in Romans 8 and Gal 3-4.
  • 16. 21:8
    • “ Even on the threshold of unimaginable joy John cannot forbear a parting glance over his shoulder into the abyss” (Caird, The Revelation of St. John, 267).
    • John begins this list with the word “coward” and he concludes it with “liars.” This contrasts those who shrink back from persecution and those who conqueror by facing it head on. They have turned back in the holy war against the world agents.
  • 17. The New Jerusalem 21:9-22:5
  • 18.
    • The structure of the city is based on the description of the city in Ezekiel 40-48. John seizes the imagery of the final temple in Ezekiel and applies it to its climaxed completion in Revelation.
    • Some interpreters see this final vision of a temple as an actual literal end-time temple of God; however, this view is problematic since the Bride is described as being the city in 21:9-10. Rather we should understand 21:9-22:5 as a repetition and expansion of what we have already seen in Revelation 21:1-8.
  • 19. The first view and manifestation of the City (21:9-14)
  • 20. 21:9
    • John is repeating the themes that he has already introduced in verse 2. We have already seen the bride and the holy city descending from heaven.
    • “ As in 21:2, the new city is called the bride (v. 9). As a bride, we enjoy personal intimacy and joy in the presence of God; as a city, we enjoy structural organization with other saints in a harmonious worldwide community” (Poythress, The Returning King, 189).
    • Note also that the two cities of Babylon and Jerusalem are dressed in the same type of costly elements (17:4; 18:12, 16; 21:18-21). “The whore’s adornment (17:4) represents worldly economic forces cooperating with the state in persecuting Christians and seducing others to compromises their faith…On the other hand, the bride’s adornment represents, at the least, her faithful works or her vindicated condition as a result of her faithful acts…” (Beale, Revelation, 1064).
  • 21. 21:10
    • The mountain is another way of describing the temple itself. Note the way that Ezekiel 28:12-16 refers to the “holy mountain” as the garden of Eden (see also Isa. 2:2-3; 4:1-5; 25:6-26:2; Mic. 4:1-2; cf. Ps. 48:2; Jub. 4:26; cf. Isa 40:9).
  • 22. 21:11
    • God’s glory in the OT was where his presence resided. In the OT this was limited to the Holy of holies in the Temple of God. In the new creation, the glory of God will not be limited to any one place but it will fill the whole of the new creation.
  • 23. 21:12-13
    • “ The number twelve also has symbolic significance. The twelve tribes of Israel formed the holy people of God in the Old Testament. The church under the teaching and leadership of the twelve apostles forms the holy people of God in the New Testament. The integrity and careful organization of the people is stressed by the use of the number twelve. The foundation is the twelve apostles, because in their teaching and leading functions they point us to Christ (Eph. 2:20; 3:5; 4:11; 1 Cor. 12:28; 3:11!)” (Poythress, The Returning King, 190).
  • 24. 21:14
    • The combination of the twelve foundations and the twelve apostles is the number twenty-four. We have seen this number already in Revelation 4:4; both there and here God’s presence is depicted as a radiant light like a “jasper stone.” This symbolic number could also be representative for the whole covenant community since the NT refers to the church as the new temple (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:21-22; 1 Pet. 2:5).
  • 25. The dimensions of the city (21:15-17)
  • 26. 21:15
    • “ When John himself was given a measuring-rod and told to measure the sanctuary, it was for the purpose of protection; whatever he did not measure was left exposed to heathen attack. The purpose of the angel’s gold measuring-rod is to convey information about the city which could not be imparted by direct vision. Just as John formerly heard the number 144,000, but saw a vast throng beyond human computation, so now he tries by means of the reported measurements to give the impression of a city which in magnitude, symmetry, solidity, and splendour transcends the power of man to envisage” (Caird, The Revelation of St. John, 272).
  • 27. 21:16
    • The city is cubic in its form, and this description must be understood as a figurative drawing of the elevated temple which represents the presence of God the stretches out over the expanse of the universe.
    • “ The figurative nature of the perimeter is apparent from the fact that, if it were taken literally, it would be 5,454.4 miles, a calculation made by using 200 yards as one Greek stadion) . Surprisingly, the size of the city is apparently the approximate size of the then known Hellenistic world. This suggests further that the temple-city represents not merely the glorified saints of Israel but the redeemed from all nations, who are considered to be true, spiritual Israelites ” (Beale, Revelation, 1074).
  • 28. 21:17
    • If we will recall the number 144 from chapter 7 (7:4-9) and the interpretive association of the universal people of God, we will begin to be able to understand why John uses the number to describe the walls of the city. The thickness of the walls then are symbolic for the full number of the people of God.
  • 29. The material of the City (21:18-21)
  • 30. 21:18-20
    • “ The city represents the fellowship of God’s people with the everlasting presence of God (see on 3:12; 11:1-2; and 21:2-7, 9-16; note Isa. 52:1ff.; 62:1-5; Ezek. 48:35; Zech. 1:16; 2:2-5)” (Beale, Revelation, 1079).
    • That the city is “pure as gold, as pure as glass” reiterates the point that it reflects the glory of God. Note also that the last time that we saw “jasper” in Revelation was in the description of God in 4:3.
    • The twelve precious stones accords with the twelve stones that were worn on the breastplate of the High Priest. Each one of the stones symbolically represented each of the twelve tribes of Israel (Ex. 28:17ff and 39:10ff.).
  • 31. 21:21
    • The pearl gates are in line with the allusion to Isaiah 54:11-12. "O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, { 11 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.} your foundations with sapphires. { 11 Or lapis lazuli} 12 I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones.”
    • That the streets are “pure gold, like transparent glass” illustrates again the luminous glory of God.
    • The point that we have been trying to make concerning the city is that it is reflective of its creator. This city is much like an escalated mirror that reflects the glory of God. Thus the main point of Scripture and of the culmination of new creation is the glory of God.
  • 32. The internal features of the city (21:22-27)
  • 33. 21:22
    • John does not see a literal physical temple, but this does not mean that he does not see a temple. The reason he does not see a literal temple is because (purpose clause) “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”
  • 34. 21:23
    • This verse could indicate that the new creation will not need the created luminaries to give it light since God and the Lamb are its light. However, it is probably better to understand this as a comparison between the things created and the creator. God’s glory is exceedingly superior to anything in the created order and thus nothing is in comparison to it even the light of the sun doesn’t hold a candle to the glory of God.
    • God in his glory is able to make the city glorious without the help of the created elements.
  • 35. 21:24-26
    • The nations are not bringing literal riches into the presence of God; rather they are bringing themselves in worship before God’s end-time presence. “Glory and honor” only occur four other places in Revelation (4:9, 11; 5:12, 13) and in each of these places the phrase refers to praise to the Lamb and God.
    • As Bauckham would say, “the nations no longer claim glory for themselves independently from God, as they formerly did in idolatrous allegiance to the beast, but acknowledge that all honor and glory belong only to God” (Bauckham, Climax of Prophecy, 315).
  • 36. 21:27
    • Notice that there will be no impurities in the new Jerusalem. Those who do not submit to God are not allowed to enter into his intimate presence.
    • Note that the unbelievers mentioned in this verse are synonymous to the group mentioned in 21:8. Just as the physically unclean could not enter the temple of the OT so also the spiritually unclean will not be able to enter into God’s presence.
  • 37. The symbols of God’s presence (22:1-5) Chapter 22:1-5 is the climax of chapter 21; furthermore, it continues the description of the New Jerusalem described in 21:1-8.
  • 38. 22:1
    • The opening verses of this chapter begin with a picture of a spring or river made of “living water” flowing out of Jerusalem. This imagery can be found in Ezekiel 47:1-9 and Zech. 14:8.
    • Most commentators see also an allusion to the Garden of Eden in this text. “The final description of the new Jerusalem contains many elements that allude to the Garden of Eden. The intimacy of God with his people (22:3-4) and the abundance of his blessing (22:1-2, 5) are stressed even more than in the preceding passage. The final state restores the unbroken, idyllic communion between God and man” (Poythress, The Returning King, 192).
  • 39.
    • God will make the end like the beginning. This should remind us of the divine name: Alpha and Omega.
    • What is the water of Life (“living waters”)?
    • We should understand this from John 7:38 and Rev 22:17 as the Holy Spirit. Beale, Revelation, , Revelation, comments, “The ‘living waters’ are a portrayal of eternal life (so 22:17) and have their origin in God and the Lamb, as the concluding clause of 22:1b bears out…If the waters symbolize the Spirit, as in the similar portrayal in John 7:37-39, then Rev. 22:1 is an early picture of the later Christian confession that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (water also symbolizes the Spirit in the OT, Jewish writings, and elsewhere in the NT…)” (Beale, Revelation, 1104).
    • The main point of the water allusions is that God will save his people at the consummation of the age and they will receive the promised rest of God. (See also Heb 4).
  • 40. 21:2
    • This verse finds its background in Ezek. 47:12 “Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing."
    • The healing and life giving nature of the trees in the New Creation are modeled after the tree of life in Genesis 3:22. If Adam had been able to eat of this tree in the original garden, he would have been able to live forever.
    • The healing effect of the leaves is best pictured along side of the redemption accomplished by Christ which is finally consummated at the end of the age
  • 41. God’s presence depicted in Temple imagery in the Bible
  • 42.
    • Isa. 54:2-3 pictures an escalated Jerusalem temple.
    • No uncleanness is allowed into the New Creation in the same way that uncleanness was not allowed in the temple (21:27).
    • The vision of the New heaven and Earth (21:1) is probably equated with the Temple of 21:9-22:5.
    • The OT temple was a microcosmic model of the heavens (Psa. 78:69).
    • The veil of the temple had sown into its fabric of dark blue the sun, moon and stars.
    • Adam’s activity in the garden of Eden were described as “guarding and keeping”, which are the exact same terms used for describing the activity of the priests in the Temple.
    • The tree of life was probably an early model for the lampstand (menorah) in the Temple.
    • Solomon was an expert botanist, and his carvings on the walls of the temple made it look like a garden.
    • Eden was entered from the east and the tabernacle and temple was to be entered from the same direction.
    • It is possible to say that Adam’s job was to spread the garden (God’s presence) throughout the whole earth. When he fails, the mission is given to Israel as a light to the nations, and when Israel fails the task is given to Jesus who accomplishes what Adam and Israel could not do.
  • 43. 21:3
    • “ God’s curse, pronounced over the whole creation because of Adam’s disobedience, is now abrogated (Gen. iii. 17; cf. Zech. xiv. 11), for the whole creation has been renewed by the re-creating hand of God; and no flaming sword bars the way to the tree of life” (Caird, The Revelation of St. John, 280).
    • Note also Paul’s discussion of the creation being subjected to frustration (Rom. 8:19-21) and its final liberation that is synonymous with resurrection and new creational bodies.
    • This verse further describes the healing of the nations mentioned in verse 2. Now finally, the curse is lifted. “The curse of physical and spiritual death set on humanity was expelled from the garden sanctuary, and its entrance was thereafter closed to sinful humanity. At the end time the redeemed will be ushered into that sanctuary again on the coattails of the Lamb’s work” (Beale, Revelation, 1112).
  • 44. There will no longer be…
    • John uses the phrase ouvk e;stai e;ti “there will no longer be” three times in chapters 21 and 22. He says that there will no longer be any sea, death, mourning, crying, pain, and curse.
    • The conclusion to this verse brings us back to the great throne room vision of Chapters 4-5. All who overcome (3:21) have access to God and his presence. The natural response to this presence is service. In 7:15 the saints were depicted as those who serve God in his heavenly temple. The Greek word for serve is latreu,w and it is very similar to the word that Jesus uses to describe his ministry in Mark 10:45 (not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom lu,tron for many).
  • 45. 22:4
    • Verse 4 paints the picture of intimate fellowship with God. In the OT, no one was able to see God’s face (Exod. 19:21; 33:20). Now the doors of fellowship and intimacy are thrown off their hinges and the saints are allowed to experience everlasting glory.
    • The fact that God’s name is on their forehead points back to the priesthood of the OT, because God’s name was written on the forehead of the High Priest. However, we should not locate the meaning of this name as a literal physical marker in the new order, because “new name” was also symbolic of the end-time Zion (Isa. 62 and 65). The new name is synonymous with the “seal” (7:2-3) and the new name in 2:17 and 3:12.
  • 46. 22:5
    • This verse is a reiteration of 21:25 “On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.”
    • Poythress, The Returning King, comments on the light that is the glory of God, “Light is a symbol of ethical purity, and is closely associated with God (1 John 1:5-7; 2:8-11; John 1:4; 3:19-21). It is fitting, therefore, that the final vision is characterized by pervasive light, without darkness (Rev. 22:5). All evil is gone, and the splendor of God’s presence fills the universe” (Poythress, The Returning King, 193).