Exegetical look into Revelation 21:15-27

• Measuring rod. This referred to a surveyor’s tool, usually made from the cane plant, a type of bamboo that grew beside the Jordan River, and grew to a consistent 20 feet, hence why it was used in this way. Here, it is gold, referring to the eminence and awe of God and His promises to us (Ezek. 40:2-4; 43:10-11; Zech. 2:1-2).

• Measure the city. This term refers to God’s omniscience (He is all knowing)—that He cares and is active and involved in our lives, both personally and collectively as a Church. This also refers to God’s power and ability, and that all things are under His control; thus, it also meant hope and staying power so we and John’s people can have endurance for the future. This meant a lot to a persecuted people (Isa. 54:2-3; Ezek. 41:7; 48:35).

• Laid out like a square/furlongs means “symmetry,” and that God’s presence is always with us! God’s intimate dwelling place is absolute perfection; our Heaven is too! These dimensions are obviously not literal; rather it is a depiction of perfection, total excellence. The Temple’s inner sanctum—the holy of holies—was a perfect cube, which was a mere refection thereof (1 Kings 6:20; Ezek. chaps 40-41; 48:16, 32-34; Rev. 22:4).

• Each gate made of a single pearl. Here is a much-heard expression, the “pearly Gates,” which means “absolutely pure.”

• The city of pure gold… as glass. The Jewish mindset then believed that saying how vast and magnificent was the Temple was a way of praising God. This also refers to how the glory of God reflects through and through, and how people praise God. (Psalm 48:12-13; Ezek. 40:3-42:20; Zech 2:1-5).
 
• Precious stone also alludes to the twelve tribes, represented by the twelve jewels on Aaron’s breastplate; here it means God’s people. This is very astounding and elaborate in human terms, perhaps referring to His Throne; our heaven to be is more precious and elaborate than we could ever imagine. The twelve signifies the twelve tribes and God’s people. This also referred to righteousness and holiness displaying God’s glory (Ex. 28:17-21; Josh. 4:2-3; Isa. 54:11-12; Rev. 17:4).

• Street of the city was of pure gold. The language suggests that being well planned out is the theme of the great Roman cites. This also means holy and that nothing can mock God. This is also a character statement suggesting that godly character comes from endurance, as a path in our walk with God, and our way of life for the here and now too. It is interesting to note that if all impurities were remove from gold, it would be translucent (Prov. 4:18; Isa. 35:8; 54:11-12; Acts 14:22; Rev. 11:8; a similar description is found in Tobit 13).

• Temple. The Temple of God represented God’s presence on Earth and hope for His people. This is not where He lives, as He is omnipresent and thus cannot be confined; rather, it is His representative and a place where people God’s chosen people, can go for worship. The restoration of the Temple after the exile was extremely important and many confuse that with the Temple that needs to be restored now before Christ comes back. However, because He is our Temple, this is not the case now. Now we are in God’s home; there is no need for a temple as we are His temple now; when we die, we’ll be in the real thing (Zech. 14:21; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:21; Heb. 10:11; Rev. 4:1-5:14). 

• Sun or moon. This is a fulfillment of Isaiah 60:19-20 that so much of this passage draws from. Possibly means in context, the light of the world (Gen. 1:3; John 8:12; 2 Cor. 4:6).

• Glory. God’s is unchanged, always perfect. His light lights the world and universe. The city itself reflects God’s splendor and glory, and it both spiritually and physically illuminates, along with Temple, the wording signifying where the presence of God does dwell. This also denotes how the Church is supposed to be—glorifying God (Lev 26:11-13; Isa. 60:1-22; 66:12; Jer. 3:17; Zech. 14:16-19; Hag. 2:7-9; I Tim. 3:15; Heb. 3:6; Rev. 3:9; 4:6-8).

• The Nations refers to the cultural diversity of those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. God is inclusive; He loves all people (Isa. 60:3-12; Luke 13:29; Eph. 2:20).

• Bring their splendor. Refers to tribute—possibly praise and worship to God (Isa. 66:12; Jer. 3:17; Zech. 14:16-19).

• Gates will never be shut. This is also a depiction of God’s protection because gates were closed at night. There is no night or darkness either figuratively or literally. Instead of attackers, these gates receive the faithful, tributes, and blessings (Isa. 60:11, 19-20; Ezek. 46:1; Matt. 25:31-46).

• No night is associated not just with physical darkness, but with such darkness as sin, demons, thieves, sorcery, and wickedness that God shuts out and away from Him and His faithful, for He is Holy (Rev. 18:11-19).

• Nothing impure/defileth/unclean. There will be no abominations before God or His people. This refers back to that only those who purified themselves and sacrificed could enter God’s Temple, and only the High Priest—once a year—could enter the inner sanctum. Now, the real one is open to all who are His, as the whole city is His and in Him (Zech. 14:21; Joel 3:17; Matt. 7:2-5; Rom. 14:14; Heb. 10:29)!

• What is shameful refers to sin and the punishment of no entrance into Heaven. This is His divine judgment, and possibly refers to Sodom and Gomorrah (Deut. 32:22; Isa. 65:17; 66:15-22; Mal. 4:1; 1 Cor. 3:13; 2 Thess. 1:7-8; 2 Pet. 2:6; 3:7-13).

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