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21 November 2019

New Jerusalem Inhabited - (Revelation 21:24-22:5)

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In the preceding section, the city of New Jerusalem was unveiled with its massive proportions. It would take more than a tiny remnant of saints to populate it. In his continuing vision, John now sees the city populated with an innumerable multitude of redeemed men and women from all nations, even from among the “kings of the earth.”
New Jerusalem is coterminous with the New Creation and equated with the “paradise of God.” All that was lost as a result of Adam’s sin is recovered and restored but, also, infinitely enhanced and expanded. The “curse” is no more, not even the possibility of its return; therefore, the saints with the Lamb will reign “forever and ever.”
The description of New Jerusalem inhabited by redeemed humanity includes allusions to the Old Testament stories of Adam, Abraham, and Israel. What God intended in the first creation is not abandoned but fulfilled in the new one. Likewise, the covenant promises to Abraham of land, kings, and blessing to the nations are achieved in New Jerusalem, as well as the prophecies of restoration to Israel.
All this is accomplished through the sacrificial Lamb. In New Jerusalem, Jesus reigns but does so as the “Lamb.” The “tree of life” in this paradise that gives life to the nations is none other than the cross of Calvary.
(Revelation 21:24-22:5) – “And the nations shall walk through her light; and the kings of the earth do bring their glory into it, and the gates thereof shall in nowise be shut by day, — night, in fact, shall not be there, — and they shall bring the glory and the honour of the nations into it. And in nowise shall there enter into it anything common or he that doeth abomination and falsehood, — but only they who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. And he pointed out to me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, issuing forth out of the throne of God and of the Lamb in the midst of the broadway thereof. And on this side of the river and on that was a tree of life bearing twelve crops of fruit every several month, yielding its fruit; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations, And no curse shall there be, any more; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be therein, — and his servants will render divine service unto him, and they shall see his face and his name [shall be] upon their foreheads. And night shall be no more; and they have no need of the light of a lamp or the light of a sun, because the Lord God will give them light, — and they shall reign unto the ages of ages.” (Source: The Emphasized Bible).
The nations will walk through her light.” The “nations” are portrayed positively and negatively in the book of Revelation, depending on how they respond to the Lamb. Overcoming Christians are promised authority over nations and summoned to preach to them, which suggests nations in submission to the Lamb, not rebellion against him (Revelation 2:26, 10:11, 14:6).
The company of the redeemed includes men and women from every “nation,” and the Lamb is assigned to “shepherd the nations” with his “rod,” not to smash them (Revelation 5:9, 7:9, 12:5, 15:4, 19:15).
But the nations can appear in a negative light.  They rejoice at the deaths of the two witnesses (Revelation 11:9). The nations suffer loss at the final judgment when the seventh trumpet sounds (Revelation 11:15-19).  The nations come under the authority of the Beast from the sea (13:7). The “cities of the nations” fall when the seventh bowl of wrath is emptied (16:19). And the nations are deceived by the Great Harlot and the Dragon (Revelation 17:5, 18:3, 18:23, 20:8).
Likewise, Jesus is declared the ruler of the “kings of the earth,” yet this group is listed among those who flee from his wrath on the Day of the Lord (Revelation 1:4-6, 6:15). The “kings of the earth” are deceived by demons and gathered to the war against the Lamb (Revelation 16:14, 19:17-21). They are made drunk by the wine of Babylon’s fornication (17:2, 17:18, 18:3-9).
But in New Jerusalem, the kings of the earth will bring “their glory into the city and the glory and the honor of the nations.” In contrast, all men and women who do “abominations and falsehoods” will be excluded from the city; only individuals whose names are “written in the Lamb’s book of life” are allowed entrance. This means that some of the kings of the earth and members of the nations will find their names in the Lamb’s book of life; they are not without the possibility of redemption.
The inclusion of the two groups is a fulfillment of the covenant promises of Yahweh to Abraham.  God promised that in Abraham “all the nations of the earth would be blessed” (Genesis 12:3, 22:8). Yahweh promised to make “nations” of Abraham and that “kings” would come from him (Genesis 17:6, 35:11).
Noteworthy are the two groups from the book that are excluded from New Jerusalem and never portrayed in a positive light, the same two groups that are destined for the “second death” in the Lake of Fire:  the “inhabitants of the earth” and all men who take the mark of the Beast (Revelation 3:10, 6:10, 8:13, 11:10, 12:12, 13:8, 13:12-15, 14:6, 14:9-11, 16:2, 17:2, 17:8).
He showed me a river of water of life… And on this side of the river and on that was the tree of life, yielding its fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” This is a verbal link to Ezekiel’s vision in which he saw a river flowing out from “under the threshold of the house” to provide healing and life, as follows:
(Ezekiel 47:1-12) – “Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar…And when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other…These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed…And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.”
The tree of life” (xulon zōés). This was promised by Jesus to all overcomers from the church at Ephesus; “To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life (xulon zōés) in the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7). The Greek noun rendered “tree” or xulon was commonly applied to “wood”; to something constructed of wood as opposed to a living tree. The clause, xulon zōés, is the same one used in the Septuagint rendering of Genesis 2:9 for the original “tree of life.”
This Greek noun xulon is applied elsewhere in the New Testament to the cross on which Jesus was hanged and the book of Revelation very likely wants the reader to make this connection; that is, that Christ crucified is the “tree of life.” Note the following passages:
(Acts 5:30) – “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.”
(Acts 10:39) – “And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree.”
(Acts 13:29) – “And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a sepulcher.”
(Galatians 3:13) – “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree.”
(1 Peter 2:24) – “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness.”
In Revelation 2:7, the overcomer will eat of this tree in the “paradise of God,” which in the context of this book can only refer to the New Creation; that is, “paradise” refers not to someplace where the dead reside until the resurrection but to the final state realized in New Jerusalem, the “new heaven and new earth.”
Unlike the first Paradise, in this one “there will be no curse any more.” In a context that refers to “paradise,” fruitful trees, and the “tree of life,” “curse” must echo the Genesis story in which the earth was cursed for Adam’s disobedience, a curse that is reversed by the Lamb in the New Creation:
(Genesis 3:17-19) – “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in toil shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life…for dust you are, and unto dust shall you return.”
The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it and his servants shall serve him.” As before, since the enthronement of the sacrificial Lamb in Chapter 5, God and the Lamb have ruled in concert.  When John saw the innumerable multitude exiting the great tribulation, an angel informed him that those men and women would be before the “throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sits on the throne shall dwell among them…For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall shepherd them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters.” That image now becomes reality in the New Creation (Revelation 7:14-15. Cp. Ezekiel 48:35).
His name will be on their foreheads.” This, also, is according to earlier visions that anticipated this reality for believers in the New Creation, as follows:
(Revelation 3:12) – “Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.”
(Revelation 14:1) – “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.”
There shall be night no more…for the Lord God shall give them light.” This verse alludes to Isaiah 60:19-22, originally, a promise of restoration to Israel including its possession of the land promised to Abraham. Darkness would cover the earth, but Yahweh would rise upon Israel and display His glory over her, so much so, that “nations shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (Isaiah 60:1-3).
(Isaiah 60:19-22) – “The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but Yahweh will be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; for Yahweh will be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. Thy people also shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. The little one shall become a thousand, and the small one a strong nation; I, Yahweh, will hasten it in its time.”
They shall reign forever and ever.” This is in fulfillment of a promise to overcoming saints threaded throughout the book of Revelation; it finds fulfillment in the New Creation. Note the following passages, some of which allude to Exodus 19:6:
(Revelation 1:6) – “He made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father; to him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
(Revelation 3:21) – “He that overcomes, I will give to him to sit down with me in my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne.”
(Revelation 5:10 – “He made them to be unto our God a kingdom and priests; and they reign upon earth.”
(Revelation 20:4-6) – “And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years…but they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years.”
(Exodus 19:3-6) – “Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now, therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be mine own possession from among all peoples: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”
The book of Revelation has come full circle. The Lamb has reversed the curse and redeemed all creation; all God’s promises have found their fulfillment in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God’s plan was not to abandon His original creation for some nonphysical reality, but to redeem it and to place humanity at its center from which men and women reign with the Lamb forever.

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