LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

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THE NEW JERUSALEM PART 3

 

 

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. Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. 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. Revelation 21:15–21

 

John has just seen the vision of the Lamb’s wife, the bride of Christ as depicted by the New Jerusalem. The angel that shows the vision to John also carries a gold reed that is specifically used to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. We have seen this reed previously in the Revelation. We find it in Revelation 11:1 under the sounding of the Sixth Trumpet, “Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there.” We learned that the temple of God is simply any person that is saved from sin and filled with the Holy Spirit as seen in 1 Corinthians 3:16–17, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” There we found that the reed is the standard of God’s righteousness as seen in Psalm 45:6, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.”

The image of the temple of God under the Sixth Trumpet and the church as represented by the New Jerusalem are the same thing; they are the people that respond to the everlasting gospel in the end-time revival. It was necessary to lift up the standard of God’s righteousness under the sounding of the Sixth Trumpet and now during the end-time revival it is even more necessary to lift up that same standard. All aspects of the New Jerusalem have to be measured against the standard of God’s righteousness.

This city itself; that is, every person that accepts the gospel is to be brought into the very image of Christ as shown us in Romans 8:29, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

The gates are to be measured by the righteousness of God. While the city has twelve gates, there really is only one avenue of entrance into the church as Jesus built it as we see in 1 Corinthians 12:12–13, “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”

And, the wall is to be measured by the same standard of God’s righteousness. We see this wall in Ezekiel’s vision of the temple in Ezekiel 42:20, “He measured it on the four sides; it had a wall all around, five hundred cubits long and five hundred wide, to separate the holy areas from the common.”  The righteousness of God given us in salvation is a wall that separates us from all sin and ungodliness.

 

THE CITY IS MEASURED

 

First, we notice that the city is laid out in a square and this is emphasized by the fact that “its length is a great as its breadth.” This is one hallmark of God’s righteousness, it is exact and there is no room for any personal interpretation. God sets the standard and He makes no exceptions under any circumstances. How can God be so exacting when we know that we humans are imperfect? When God sets a standard for us, God enables us to live according to that standard. It is not a matter of our ability or inability. Remember what John wrote in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We are cleansed from all our unrighteousness but, according to Philippians 1:11, we are also “filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”  And according to verse ten it is Christ’s righteousness that keeps us “sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.”

John watches the angel measure the city with the reed and it is found to measure twelve thousand furlongs. We are told that the length, breadth, and height are equal. This signifies that each wall is 12,000 furlongs in length. Some commentators believe that the total circumference is 12,000 furlongs, which would make each wall only 3,000 furlongs in length. More commentators believe that specifically mentioning the length and breadth as being equal indicates that each wall was 12,000 furlongs in length.

We are told in verse two that the holy city comes down out of heaven from God. If millennialists believe in a literal one thousand year reign of Christ in the New Jerusalem, they also must believe that the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven is a literal happening. One fact alone prohibits the literal descent of the New Jerusalem from heaven to earth and that is the enormous size of the city. The length of each wall is 12,000 furlongs. A furlong is equal to 660 feet, which makes each side 1500 miles long. The circumference of the city, all four sides combined, is 6,000 miles. The circumference of the earth is 24,901 miles, which means that the New Jerusalem is one-fourth the size of planet earth. The circumference of the moon is 6,783 miles, making the New Jerusalem about the same size as the moon. We are told that the height of the city is the same as the length and breadth, which makes the city to be 1500 miles tall—the space station orbits the earth at 200 miles, so the New Jerusalem would extent 1300 miles further into space than the space station. The point is that this object as large as the moon crashing into the earth would completely destroy the planet. If it had a soft landing, its projection into space would make the rotation of the earth so unstable that it would spin out of control and more than likely drop out of its orbit and crash into the sun. Evolutionists believe that 65 million years ago a 14-kilometer-wide asteroid crashed into the earth causing a one-and-a-half-mile tsunami in the Gulf of Mexico that killed all the dinosaurs on the planet. A kilometer is just over 6-tenths of a mile. It is miniscule compared to the size of the New Jerusalem. If that asteroid caused a world-wide catastrophe, how much more would the New Jerusalem do if it were to impact the earth?

The size of the New Jerusalem would basically cover the entire Middle East. If it is centered on Jerusalem, which is logical because millennialists believe Christ will reign on the earth in Jerusalem, The north side of the city would be across the middle of Turkey from the Meditation Sea to Iraq. On the west it would be in the Mediterranean Sea and take in the western borders of Egypt and Sudan. On the south it would take in Sudan, the Red Sea and extend to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. And on the east it would take in Saudi Arabia and Iraq out to the border with Iran. It is most obvious that the New Jerusalem is symbolic and cannot possibly be literal as described.

Verse seventeen presents what seems to be a contradiction concerning the size of the wall. In verse sixteen it has the same dimensions as the length and breadth, but in verse seventeen we are told the wall is one hundred and forty-four cubits, which is only 216 feet. How can the wall be 1500 miles high and only 216 feet high at the same time? To be consistent with previous symbolism, spatial dimensions must be symbolic rather than literal. The 12,000 furlongs of the wall can be reduced to 12, which is consistent with the number of gates and the number of foundations. The 144 cubits of the wall can be reduced to 144, which is 12 squared or 12x12. The 12 and the 12 can be understood to represent the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles. We have just seen that the wall represents the righteousness of God. We find the righteousness of God revealed in the Old Testament to the twelve tribes of Israel and in the New Testament to the twelve apostles, showing us that the righteousness of God is consistent throughout the entire Bible and in both the Old Testament and New Testament dispensations of the kingdom of God. It is this righteousness that is manifest in the lives of those who are the bride of Christ, the holy city, the New Jerusalem as expressed in the church as Jesus built it.

The final part of verse seventeen says that the measurement of the wall is “according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.” At first this sounds odd because it sounds as if the measurements are determined by a man, or according to some standard set by a man. Many churches have handbooks or books of discipline that set out what those churches expect of their members. This is absolutely not the meaning here. We are reminded that the angel represents a ministry ordained by God and the fact that it is said to be a man indicates that the ministry of the end-time revival are simply real humans who have been born again of the Holy Spirit and called by God to this work. The measure they use is not of their invention; it is nothing other than the righteousness of God—the golden reed of verse fifteen. God will use real people to carry on His work of the end-time revival who will lead honest people into a true salvation experience that unites them with Christ in the body of Christ, the church as He builds it.