“The holy blessed G-d will renew His world a thousand years, and in the seventh millennium there will be new heavens and a new earth.” –Zohar in Gen. fol. 35. 3
An examination of Revelation 21.
21:1 Then I saw new heavens and a new earth; for the first heavens and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer sea.
This chapter begins with waters, the waters of the sky. The Hebrew, “Shamayim Chadashah (waters of the sky that are new)”, translates as, “heavens”. This is significant in the sense that it shows the origin of the life giving waters offered to all that are thirsty.
At the time of Yochanan’s recording of the Revelation of Yeshua, the Jewish people had been awaiting new heavens and a new earth for hundreds of years. In approximately 740 BCE, the prophet Isaiah recorded these words of HaShem:
“Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered nor come into mind.” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 65:17
This ancient Hebrew prophecy also promises the redemption of ethnic Israel and her perpetual standing before G-d.
“’For just as the new heavens and the new earth which I make will endure before Me,’ declares HaShem, ‘So your offspring and your name will endure.’” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 66:22
The apostle Shimon-Kefa/Peter, reminds us of the ancient hope of the Jewish people when he writes:
“But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” –2 Peter 3:13
The Greek kaheenos, “new”, means new in kind as opposed to just another heaven and earth.
“And there is no longer sea”
The Greek thalassah can be translated sea or lake (body of water), however the English reader must remember that the gospels frequently use this same Greek word to name the Sea of Galilee (Lake Keneret).
While most English translations insert the word, “any” so that the text reads, “there is no longer any sea”, this is not an accurate reading of the Greek text. Therefore, what may seem to infer that the new earth has no oceans whatsoever must be more closely examined.
Yochanan, a Jew and a prophet with a strong connection to the land of Israel, may well be writing “sea” in relation to the land of Israel, meaning that the sea or seas (although the Greek is not plural) in question refer to the lake waters of Israel. In particular, the largest body of water, that being the Dead Sea (Also a lake, and the only salt water lake in Israel). Given its salt content, the Dead Sea is a good match for the Greek thalassah, which is a prolonged form of the primary Greek word, “halce (salt)”. This in turn lends itself well to the metaphorical use of the noun, “sea” as representing death and sheol.
The sea then is seen as both literally missing from the new land of Israel and at the same time it is used as a metaphor for the fact that death no longer exists. As explained in previous chapters, the sea is a Biblical metaphor for sheol and death, both of which no longer exist. Hence, “there is no longer sea.”
In my opinion the text is not saying that there will be no oceans on the new earth but rather that there will be no lake or lakes in the new land of Israel, and that metaphorically speaking, there will be no death on the new earth, as affirmed later in this same chapter of Revelation.
2 And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of the heavens from G-d, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
The New Jerusalem (City flooded with peace) has been the Jewish hope from ancient days. It is noteworthy that the city is seen coming down from the heavens. This is not said of the temple which Yochanan is commanded to measure in Revelation 11:1. The differences are important because the former measurement took place on earth and uses a measure to record accurate literal dimensions, whereas the present city will be measured by an angelic messenger (not Yochanan) who will communicate the measurements in human terms, as metaphorical representations of the heavenly perfection of the New Jerusalem.
The earthly Jerusalem and its temple (Rev.11) are the work of human hands but the heavenly New Jerusalem is the work of G-d alone. This is the city that Avraham looked forward to in faith:
“By faith he (Avraham) lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is G-d.” –Hebrews 11:9-10
The prophet Isaiah speaks of the New Jerusalem saying:
“Afflicted city, tossed in the storm and not comforted,
I will set your stones in antimony (brittle silvery-white semimetal)
your foundations will be laid in Lapis lazuli
I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of sparkling jewels,
and all your walls of precious stones.” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 54:11-12
The prophet Ezekiel dreams of the rebuilt Jerusalem describing it as having twelve gates named for the tribes of Israel (Ezekiel 48:30-35).
The observant Jew recites 19 benedictions each day called Shemoneh Esreh (eighteen). These statements of faith remain central to Judaism and act as essential tenants of Jewish belief. The 14th of these tephillot (prayers) reads as follows:
“Return in compassion and mercy to Jerusalem Your city and dwell therein as You have promised; speedily establish therein the throne of David Your servant, and rebuild it, speedily in our days, as an everlasting edifice. Blessed are You HaShem, who rebuilds Jerusalem…”
The Zohar says that the third rebuilding of Jerusalem will happen, “in the days of the King Messiah” (Zohar in Gen. fol. 126. 4)
The Jewish writers of Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT) continued in this hope:
“This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.” –Galatians 4:24-26
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living G-d, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,” –Hebrews 12:22
“For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.”—Hebrews 13:14
The bride imagery here is an allusion to the fact that the bride of Messiah, both Jew and Gentile, will dwell within the walls of the New Jerusalem. A city is the sum of its inhabitants.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the Mishkhan (Tent of Meeting, dwelling: from shakhan, to dwell) of G-d is among humanity, and He will (shakhan) dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and G-d Himself will be among them and be their G-d,
This is the last of twenty occasions where Yochanan hears a loud voice speaking, in this case as in several others the voice is coming from the throne itself and is therefore the voice of G-d’s Spirit, proclaiming the wonderful consummation of G-d’s promise to dwell with redeemed humanity. The voice is loud because its sound waves reach every corner of creation.
The text says, “G-d Himself” because while in the past both Yeshua and the Ruach (Holy Spirit) have been among the people of G-d and G-d the Father has been seen to temporarily manifest His K’vod (glory) among His people, now He is causing His K’vod (glory) to shakhan (dwell) with redeemed humanity permanently, hence, “G-d (the father) Himself”. This is a picture of a renewed Eden, a place where the footsteps of G-d will once again be heard (Genesis 3:8).
This verse is best understood by making a connection to its foreshadowing in Numbers 2, where the tribes of Israel are encamped around the dwelling place of G-d’s presence, His K’vod, glory; that is the tent of meeting or Mishkhan. The Hebrew word Mishkhan comes from the root shakhan, meaning, “to dwell”. Hence the majority English translation, “Behold, the dwelling place of G-d is among men.” The text follows a Hebrew literary formula, making a play on words by
Using the noun Mishkhan followed by the root shakhan. We can read, “The dwelling tent of G-d is among humanity, and He will dwell among them.”
This entire verse is essentially a requoted composite of numerous passages from the Tanakh (OT) which reiterate one of the most frequent promises of G-d to His covenant people ethnic Israel. G-d’s promise to dwell with us and be our G-d, is first stated in Genesis 17:7 and is a common theme throughout the Biblical narrative (Exodus 6:7, 29:45; Leviticus 26:11-12; Numbers 15:41; Deuteronomy 29:13; 2 Samuel 7:24; Jeremiah 7:23, 11:4, 24:7, 30:22, 31:34, 32:38; Ezekiel 11:20, 34:24, 36:28, 37:23, 27: Zechariah 8:8).
“I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their Elohim (G-d).” –Exodus 29:45
“And I set my Mishkhan (dwelling place) among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your Elohim (G-d), and you shall be my people.” –Leviticus 26:11-12
The Jewish New Testament writer of Hebrews records the following:
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says HaShem; I will put my instructions into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a Elohim (G-d), and they shall be to me a people:” –Hebrews 8:10
Due to variation in Greek manuscripts there has been an argument over whether the text should read, “They shall be His people” or, “they shall be His peoples”. I see no reason to argue. Both are correct. Redeemed ethnic Israel is intended according to the Tanakh texts, therefore, “His people”, and the redeemed of the nations are also intended, that is, they have become part of the commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:12), hence, “His peoples”.
This is our first taste of a new Eden. Chapter 22 will expound upon this idea but it is seeded here as a redemption of that which was lost to humanity. G-d walked (dwelled) in the first Eden in the person of the reincarnate Yeshua the Word/Voice/Sound:
“They heard the voice (Kol) of HaShem Elohim walking in the garden.” –Genesis 3:8
In the centre of earth’s history Yeshua (G-d with us) was born into the world of the womb of a woman and walked the earth for 33 years. G-d was with us as the Word again.
Finally, at the end of the age and following the renewing of all things, G-d will dwell with us, Father, Son and Spirit and we will once more hear the footsteps of the Messiah Yeshua in the new Garden of Eden.
“For I know my redeemer lives, and at the latter day He will stand upon the earth:”
4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
G-d is the wonderful counsellor and consoler of His people. With sin, death and sheol banished to eternal fire, He now illuminates the new reality of an eternal dwelling devoid of the by-products of sin. All mourning, sorrow and pain are stripped away. The phrasing, “wipe away every tear… no more… crying” is a metaphor for the elimination of all sorrow. If our transformed bodies have the capacity to weep we will only weep tears of joy.
Rabbinical Judaism says:
"There is no death in the Olam Habah (world to come); good is laid up for the righteous in the world to come, and with them is no death.” –Maimon. Teshuva, c. 8. sect. 1.
“After the resurrection the body is perfect, and shall never after taste the taste of death.” –Midrash Hanneelam in Zohar in Gen. fol. 70. 1.
5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”
He Who sits on the throne is the Father G-d. This is one of the few times in Revelation where G-d is said to speak (1:8 7 possibly 16:1, 17). Usually it is a messenger or an unnamed voice who speaks on G-d’s behalf. We should take special note of the importance of the subsequent verses. This is further emphasized by the familiar phrase, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”
“Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing;” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 43:18-19
“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 65:17
“Therefore if any person be in Messiah, that person is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” –2 Corinthians 5:17
Rabbinical tradition teaches:
“The holy blessed G-d will make ten things new in the Olam Habah (world to come); the first is, He will enlighten the world; (See Rev 21:11) the second is, He will bring living water out of Jerusalem; (see Rev. 21:6) the third is, He will make trees to bring forth their fruit every month; (see Rev 22:2) and the fourth is, all the waste places shall be built, even Sodom and Gomorrah; the fifth is, Jerusalem shall be built with sapphire stone; (see Rev 21:19) the sixth is, the cow and the bear shall feed; the seventh is, a covenant shall be made between Israel, and the beasts, fowls, and creeping things; the eighth is, there shall be no more weeping and howling in the world (See Rev 21:4); the ninth is, there shall be no more death in the world(See Rev 21:4); the tenth is, there shall no more be sighing, and groaning, and sorrow in the world; (see Rev 21:4).” –Shemot Rabba, sect. 15. fol. 101. 3.
6 Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Aleph and the Tav, the source and the goal. I will give water without cost to the one who thirsts, from the spring of the water of life (Mayim Chayim).
The phrase, “It is done” is plural in the Greek, “They are done”: in other words all the events that were to lead up to this consummation have been completed.
The Greek text reads, “I am the Alpha and the Omega” the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet. This is an allusion to the Word of G-d Yeshua, Who, as the D’var/logos of the universe, holds all things together. This metaphor is explained in most English translations by the phrase, “the beginning and the end”. However, G-d has no beginning or end, He is the uncreated Creator, therefore the Greek text affords us a better translation, “the source and the goal”.
“Water without cost” is a familiar Hebrew idiom. We began the chapter with the revelation of the source of this living water, the heavens, “Shamayim” and are now show that the source has come to earth and is offered to the thirsty as, “Mayim Chayim” (waters of life eternal). Our present Jewish Shabbat practise reminds us of our spiritual thirst, when we chant on the eve of Shabbat:
“Ushavtem mayim b'sason mimainei ha-yeshua”
“Joyfully shall you draw water from the fountains of salvation”
This water we sing about is of course HaShem’s, “Mayim chayim” water of life eternal. We draw it as a result of yeshua (salvation). We drink without cost, not because the water has no value but because we are unable to afford the price necessary to purchase it. Instead G-d has purchased this living water on our behalf through the sacrifice of His Son Yeshua (Salvation).
We note that only those who thirst for this water will drink of it. This is an expression of humility, we recognize our need and humbly acknowledge our spiritual thirst. In return G-d invites us to drink from His abundant supply of living water.
It is through the Lamb (Yeshua: Salvation) that our names have been sealed in the Sefer Chayim (Scroll of Life eternal) and it is also through Yeshua that we are able to drink the Mayim Chayim (Waters of life eternal).
“For with You (G-d) is the Mayim Chayim (fountain of life): in Your light shall we see light.” –Psalm 36:9
“The fear of HaShem is a Mayim Chayim (fountain of life), enabling us to depart from the snares of death.” –Proverbs 14:27
7 He who conquers will inherit all things, and I will be his G-d and he will be My son.
The phrase, “He who conquers” occurs seven times in Chapters 2-3. It refers to every individual who, in Messiah, overcomes sin, death and Satan.
“They defeated him (the dragon) because of the blood of the Lamb and because of their testimony (the testimony of Yeshua) and witness (of Yeshua).” –Revelation 12:11
8 But for the cowardly and unbelieving and detestable and murderers and sexually immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.”
We must be careful here to properly understand the terms used. I’ve often heard believers foolishly misuse these terms, the result being condemnation and defeat.
“Cowardly”, doesn’t (as some English translations foolishly state) mean, fearful. Nor does it apply to those who are frozen with fear in any given situation pertaining to faith. A soldier who hides in a trench, too afraid to climb the trench wall under a barrage of cannon fire is not a coward, he is a man with a G-d given sense of danger that ignites a G-dly resistance to death. To the contrary, a coward is a man who gets into a car and intentionally drives into civilians in order to murder them. A coward is a woman who hides a knife in her handbag waiting for an opportunity to stab an unarmed civilian in order to murder them. Cowardice is seeded by evil intention, fear is a response to perceived danger. The fear of G-d delivers us from cowardice.
“Unbelieving”, is the choice not to believe. “Detestable”, is the choice to continually commit vile acts without any remorse or repentance. “Murderers”, are not those who kill but rather those who kill unjustly. “Sexual immoral persons”, are those who continually commit sexual sin without any remorse or repentance. “Sorcerers”, are those who practise witchcraft in rebellion toward G-d, without remorse or repentance. “Idolaters”, are those who perpetually worship anyone or thing other than G-d without remorse or repentance. “Liars”, are not people who lie, or it would include you and I, rather, liars are those who intentionally and perpetually live a lifestyle of lying without remorse or repentance. All of these titles reflect individuals who have chosen to allow their consciousness to be seared and have perpetually resisted G-d’s offer of loving redemption. If you are a follower of Messiah, you may sin in these areas but the Spirit of G-d in you will convict you of that sin and return you to G-d in Messiah so that while you may have lied, you do not become a liar, though you may have committed sexual sin, you do not become a serial sexual sinner etc.
As seen in the previous chapter, those who in resisting G-d have become the epitome of evil, will suffer eternal death and torment.
Rabbinical Judaism once held the belief that there are several distinct places in Gehinom, each reserved for specific sorts of sinners, in particular, for Sabbath breakers, adulterers, and liars. –Raya Mehimna in Zohar in Lev. fol. 7. 2.
“When the wicked man is condemned he shall take his part in Gehinom.” –T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 15. 1.
9 Then one of the seven messengers (angels) who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
The opening phrase is identical to that of Revelation 17:1. It seems that the same angel is intended here and that a comparison is being made between the fallen city, the whore Babylon and the New Jerusalem, the bride of Messiah. This same angel (whose title is unknown), once an angel of judgement, is now ministering as an angel of revelation. His former role was to expose the harlot Babylon, his present role is to direct Yochanan to view the pure bride and wife of the Lamb.
10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from G-d,11 having the k’vod (glory) of G-d.
Yochanan is carried away in the Spirit (not physically). He shares this experience with the prophet Ezekiel:
“In the visions of G-d he brought me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain.”—Ezekiel 40:2
Jerusalem is seen coming down from the heavens, an affirmation of the origin of the New Jerusalem, which has already been described in verse 2. This description is repeated in order to make clear the distinction between the New Jerusalem whose architect and builder is G-d alone and the present Jerusalem built by human hands.
The city is said to have the, “K’vod” rather than the “Shekhinah” of G-d. Both Hebrew words convey the feminine presence of G-d’s glory but the former is a Biblical word whereas the latter is a rabbinical word derived from the root Shakhan (to dwell). While both are technically correct, the former reflects the ancient glory, whereas the latter conveys a developed understanding that is more difficult to connect to the Tanakh. One rarely hears the Shekhinah spoken of in traditional Jewish circles or in synagogue services, in fact it is more widely used by Christian scholars than it is by rabbis and Jewish scholars. The more familiar term for the Jew is, “K’vod”, glory. Having said this, K’vod and Shekhinah are synonymous terms.
Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper (red). 12 It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve messengers (angels); and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.
The description of the city’s brilliance is a reflection of the light of G-d and the clear jasper (red) is an allusion to the price of its purity.
The wall, while usually a symbol of protection as in Revelation 11, is to be understood here as conveying a sense of the secure nature of the city. There is no longer a need for defensive walls because all the enemies of G-d and His people have been defeated.
The twelve gates symbolize the placement of the twelve tribes of Israel as they surround the Mishkhan (Tent of Meeting), which was a foreshadowing of the New Jerusalem. The city itself has become the holy of holies, the dwelling place (Mishkhan) of G-d’s presence. Over each gate is a messenger with the name of the appropriate tribe written (katuv, engraved) upon him. It may be that each of these messengers has been a guardian of a specific tribe of ethnic Israel from time immemorial.
Rabbinical Judaism speaks of princes being appointed over the gates of heaven, east, west, north, and south, with the keys in their hands. –Raziel, fol. 35. 2.
The Zohar describes the New Jerusalem this way:
"which has twelve gates, according to the computation of the tribes of Israel; on one gate is written Reuben, on another is written Simeon; and so all the tribes of Israel are written on those gates; in the time they go up to appear before the Lord of the world, whoever goes up to this gate, (on which the tribe of Reuben is written,) if he is of the tribe of Reuben they open to him, (and receive him,) if not they cast him without; and so of all whom they do not receive; they open to none but to him who is of that tribe, or whose name is written on the gate.'' –Zohar in Numb. fol. 70. 4.
13 There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
We notice the unusual order of the gate description, “East, North, West and South” (Ezekiel 48:31-34). While we can only conjecture as to the meaning, if we acknowledge the encampment of Israel around the city as seen in the foundation stones named with the Shiliachim (Apostles of the Lamb); we’re able to make a correlation with the breastplate of the high priest where the tribes at the east side make up the top row of stones, the tribes from the north make up the bottom row of stones and the tribes from the south and west make up the centre rows, top and bottom respectively.
The twelve Shiliachim (Apostles) are representatives of the twelve tribes, in the same way that the seventy sent out by Yeshua during His earthly ministry were representatives of Israel, acting in the calling of a redeemed Sanhedrin. We note that the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb are on the foundations, meaning that the foundations themselves are the tribes of Israel redeemed through the witness of the Apostles. Thus they are the firm root of the city through Messiah.
15 The one who spoke with me (one of the seven messengers who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues) had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. 16 The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, 12,000 stadia (2415 kilometres); its length and width and height are equal. 17 And he measured its wall, 144 cubits (66 meters), according to human measurements, which are measurements the messenger (angel) used.
While Yochanan was given the job of measuring the earthly temple in Revelation 11, the heavenly city is to be measured by an angelic messenger. This shows the origin of each subject. The temple made by human hands was measured by a human being whereas the heavenly city of Jerusalem whose architect and builder are G-d, is measured by a heavenly being. This is also an indication of the fact that the measurements of Revelation 11 are essentially literal whereas the measurements of the New Jerusalem are intended to be understood as metaphor.
The city is in the shape of a cube. This is a common Biblical shape that relates directly to Holiness: the altar of burnt offering, the altar of incense (Exodus 27:1; 30:2; 28:16) and the Holy of Holies of Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6:20) were all cubes. Ezekiel’s vision of the New Jerusalem repeatedly refers to cubes (Ezekiel 41:21; 43:16; 45:2; 48:20). The symbolism could not be clearer: the correlation between the Holy of Holies (Solomon’s temple) and the New Jerusalem is affirmed by the manifest presence of G-d dwelling in the city.
The 12,000 stadia speaks of the complete redemption of the 12 tribes of Israel (12 x 1000) and the 144 cubits speak of the 12 tribes multiplied by the ministry of the twelve Apostles.
The phrase, “Human measurements” is used to remind the reader that these are metaphorical numbers, written in human measurements to convey a heavenly measurement beyond the reader’s understanding. Therefore the measurements are to be understood as metaphor.
Rabbinical Judaism says of Jerusalem, “In the Olam Habah (world to come) it (Jerusalem) shall be so enlarged, as to reach to the gates of Damascus, yea, to the throne of glory.” --Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 24. 1.
18 The material of the wall was jasper (red); and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper (purple: Gad); the second, sapphire (blue: Simeon); the third, Carnelian (translucent multi-coloured: Reuben); the fourth, emerald (deep green: Zebulun); 20 the fifth, sardonyx (red laced black: Issachar); the sixth, sardius (red: Judah); the seventh, chrysolite (yellow: Dan); the eighth, beryl (light green multi-coloured: Asher); the ninth, topaz (greyish blue: Naphtali); the tenth, chrysoprase (greenish yellow: Ephraim); the eleventh, jacinth (deep blue: Manasseh); the twelfth, amethyst (violet: Benjamin).
Each of the jewels listed here represent the jewels embedded on the High Priests breastplate. They each represent a tribe of Israel but are listed in an unusual way.
The traditional birth order of the tribes of Israel is:
Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher,Ephraim and
The order of the tribes as they appear on the priestly breastplate is:
Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Reuben, Simeon, Gad, Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin, Dan, Asher, Naphtali.
We’re told that the foundation stones have the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb on them. In other words the foundations of the apostolic ministry, the tribes of Israel, have the apostles’ names written on them in the same way that the messengers of the twelve gates have the names of the twelve tribes written on them.
The purpose of these patterns is to illuminate the meaning of G-d’s dwelling with humanity based on the premise that He gave a pattern of foreshadowing in the encampment of Israel during her desert wandering.
Shiliyachim (Apostles) Shevetim (Tribes)
So why are the jewels representing the tribes listed contrary to the birth order? The answer is in the connection between the priesthood (breastplate), the encampment (tribes/jewels) and the Mishkan, dwelling of G-d with His people (Rev. 21:3).
The order of the jewels corresponds to the order of the tribes as per their encampment around the Mishkan (Tent of meeting) in the desert, beginning with Gad at the south west corner of the camp, followed by the remaining tribes in an anti-clockwise direction, circling the tent of meeting and ending with Benjamin alongside Gad on the opposite side of the south west corner.
All of this is a beautiful and elaborate way of connecting G-d’s temporal dwelling with Israel in the desert to His eternal dwelling (New Jerusalem, new heavens and new earth) with humanity in the Olam Habah (world to come). The names of the apostles combine with the tribes of Israel to unite the people of G-d in an eternal priesthood born of the redemptive work of G-d through His Son, our Messiah Yeshua.
21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. 22 I saw no Sanctuary in it, for HaShem (Merciful) G-d (Judge) the Almighty (Shaddai) and the Lamb are its temple.
The Rabbis agree with Yochanan’s vision of a New Jerusalem with gates made from pearls:
“The Holy One, Blessed is He, will in the Olam Habah (World to come), bring prescious stones and pearls which are 30 cubits by 30 cubits and will cut out from them openings which are 10 cubits by 20 cubits, and will set them up in the gates of Jerusalem.” –Baba Bathra 75a
The transparent gold/glass streets emphasize the flawless state of the city.
The reason for there being no Sanctuary (holy place) in the city is that the city itself is the Holy of Holies (cube, foreshadowed by the Holy of Holies of Solomon’s temple). G-d Himself and the Lamb are its temple, and the redeemed are the bricks of the temple:
“Don’t you realize that all of you together are G-d’s temple and that the Spirit of G-d lives in you (both corporately and individually)?” –1 Corinthians 3:16
The trifold title of G-d, “HaShem (Merciful) G-d (Judge) the Almighty (Shaddai)” emphasizes His primary attributes: He is merciful, just and all powerful.
23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the k’vod (glory) of G-d has illuminated it, and its light is the Lamb.
The city has no need of other light sources (keeping in mind that the sun and moon have G-d as their source). The fact that the city has no need of the light of the sun, moon or stars, doesn’t mean that those entities will not exist (Isaiah 60:20), it simply means that G-d’s light is all in all. The glory of G-d and the illumination of His Son the Lamb is all sufficient.
This is yet another great hope of the Jewish people, a cry from ancient times. The present passage recalls the words of the prophet Isaiah:
“Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see.
For the glory of HaShem rises to shine on you.
2 Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth,
but the glory of Hashem rises and appears over you.
3 All nations will come to your light;
mighty kings will come to see your radiance.
4 “Look and see, for everyone is coming home!
Your sons are coming from distant lands;
your little daughters will be carried home.
5 Your eyes will shine,
and your heart will thrill with joy,” –Isaiah 60:1-5
The Rabbinical writings regarding the Maor (Great lights) of the heavens in the Olam Habah (world to come) is very similar to that of Revelation:
“The orb of the sun is in this world; and the gloss adds, but not in the Olam Habah (world to come), for the lights shall be renewed.” –T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 101. 1.
"In the Olam Habah (world to come), Israel will have no need of the light of the sun, nor of the light of the moon, neither by day nor by night,'' --Raziel, fol. 17. 2.
"Thy days shall cease, but thy light shall not cease; for thou shall have no need for ever of the light of the sun, nor of the light of the moon, and of the stars.'' –Petirat Moseh, fol. 23. 2.
24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their riches and honour into it.
All who inhabit the new earth are redeemed. This section of the text tells us that whole nations, redeemed and prosperous will inhabit the wider earth and will bring up to Jerusalem the prosperity, honour, wealth and glory that G-d has given to them. This means that in the Olam habah there will be positions of honour (Kings) for those who have built on the foundation of salvation with right action, service, faithfulness and devotion.
“Your eyes will shine,
and your heart will thrill with joy,
for merchants from around the world will come to you.
They will bring you the wealth of many lands…
16 Powerful kings and mighty nations
will satisfy your every need,
as though you were a child
nursing at the breast of a queen.
You will know at last that I, HaShem,
am your Saviour and your Redeemer,
the Mighty One of Israel…
19 “No longer will you need the sun to shine by day,
nor the moon to give its light by night,
for HaShem your G-d will be your everlasting light,
and your G-d will be your k’vod (glory).
20 Your sun will never set;
your moon will not go down.
For Hashem will be your everlasting light.
Your days of mourning will come to an end.” –Isaiah 60:5, 16, 19-20
25 In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed;
This is a literary device denoting eternal light. Darkness, which is often seen as a metaphor for evil, will no longer exist.
The Rabbis teach that:
“Jerusalem, in the Olam Habah (world to come), will be made a lamp to the nations of the world, and they shall walk in its light." --Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 56. 3.
26 and they will bring the glory and the honour of the nations into it; 27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s (sefer chayim) book of life.
The redeemed among the nations will return to HaShem the glory and honour He has given to them. The motivations and practices of sin that had resulted from rebellion and idolatry in the first heavens and earth will never come in to the New Jerusalem because they have already met their eternal fate and are no longer present. The New creation is devoid of all evil.
Those whose names have been secured by the Lambs blood in the Lamb’s Sefer Chayim (Scroll of life eternal) may come and go as they please because all of the new creation has been made known to them. In Messiah they have become eternal sons and daughters of life in G-d.
The Rabbis understood that only those who are prepared and appointed for it may go up into the New Jerusalem in the Olam Habah (world to come):
"the Jerusalem of the Olam Habah (world to come) is not as the Jerusalem of this world; In the case of the Jerusalem of this world, whoever would go up to it (or enter into it) might; but in the case of the Olam Habah (world to come), none may go up to it (or enter into it) but those who are prepared and appointed for it.''
This chapter began with, “Shamayim” (sky waters) and progressed to “Mayim Chayim” (Waters of Life eternal), finishing with “Sefer Chayim” (Scroll of life eternal). From the heavens, Messiah came to give us life eternal, life which has been recorded in His book of life since before the foundation of the world.
“Our Father who is in the sky waters,
May Your name be kept holy.
‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done,
On earth as it is in the sky waters.” –Matthew 6:9-10
“Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” –John 4:13
“Written in the book of life from the foundation of the world.” –Revelation 13:8; 17:18
© 2015 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.