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09 November 2019

The Descent of New Jerusalem - (Revelation 21:1-8)


John sees New Jerusalem
The following paragraph brings the third literary division of the book to its conclusion (Revelation 17:1 – 21:8). Having witnessed the destruction of Babylon, the False Prophet, the Beast from the Sea and the Dragon, as well as the final judgment, John is shown a vision of what awaits the faithful at the end of the present age – New Jerusalem descending from heaven to the earth.
Promises made to overcomers in the seven letters to the churches of Asia now find their fulfillment in the New Creation with its “holy city, “Jerusalem.” The pictures presented incorporate language from several Old Testament promises given originally to national Israel. However, the company that receives them is comprised of “peoples,” plural; faithful saints from every nation, tongue, nation, and people.
Note well that the original promise of land made to Abraham by Yahweh finds its fulfillment in the “new heavens and new earth.”
(Revelation 21:1-8) – “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away, and, the sea is no more. And the holy city, new Jerusalem, saw I coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice out of the throne, saying — Lo! the tent of God is with men, and he will tabernacle with them, and they shall be his peoples, and he shall be God with them; And he will wipe away every tear out of their eyes, — and death shall be no more, and grief and outcry and pain shall be no more: the first things have passed away. And he that was sitting upon the throne said — Lo! I make all things new. And he saith — Write! because these words are faithful and true. And he said unto me — Accomplished! I am the A and the Z, the Beginning and the End: I, unto him that is thirsting, will give of the fountain of the water of life freely: He that overcometh shall inherit these things, — And I will be to him a God, and he shall be to me a son; But, as for the timid and disbelieving and abominable and murderers and fornicators and sorcerers and idolaters, and all the false, their part is in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, — which is the second death.” (Source: The Emphasized Bible).
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth.” This declaration draws on language from Isaiah; Yahweh’s promise to Israel of a day when He will create a new heaven and earth:
(Isaiah 65:17-19) – “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.”
(Isaiah 66:22) – “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith Yahweh, so shall your seed and your name remain.”
The sea is no more.” The Greek verb is in the present tense or “is.” This what John saw in “real-time.” The elimination of the “sea” is prominent because in the book it is a source of malevolent forces and a place of the dead, along with the synonymous “Abyss” (cp. Revelation 9:1-10, 11:7, 13:1, 15:1-2, 20:8, 20:13. Daniel 7:1-2). The point is not the disappearance of oceans or other bodies of water from the new earth, but the removal of all evil.
And I saw a hoy city descending from heaven.” This description contrasts the image of New Jerusalem descending from heaven with that of the start of the thousand-year period when John saw “an angel descending from heaven, having the key of the Abyss.”
Descending out of heaven from God.” In the Greek text, the verb is a present tense participle, which signifies action-in-progress. John saw the “city” in the process of descending from heaven. Already, with the first advent of Jesus, the process has begun though it awaits completion at the end of the age. The arrival of New Jerusalem is in fulfillment of Christ’s promise to overcoming saints, “I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, New Jerusalem, which is descending out of heaven from my God” (Revelation 3:12).
Prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.” This “marriage” of the bride was anticipated at the heavenly celebration after the destruction of the Great Harlot (Revelation 19:7-8). What John sees is compared to a “city” and a “bride” (note the use of simile or “like”). This is not to be taken literally; “New Jerusalem” is both a “holy city” and a “bride”; different aspects of the final glory that awaits the saints.
The tabernacle of God is with men…and they will be his peoples.” This description echoes several Old Testament passages, beginning with the covenant promise to Abraham. That promise finds its ultimate fulfillment in the New Creation. This includes the fulfillment of the promise of land to Abraham. Note well that “peoples” is plural (laoi). The promise is now applied to a group that is far more inclusive than the people of Israel.
(Genesis 17:7-8) – “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
(Leviticus 26:11-12) – “And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people.”
(Jeremiah 31:33) – “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel…and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
(Ezekiel 37:27) – “My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
(Zechariah 13:9) – “I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, Yahweh is my God.”
He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more.” This was promised previously to the innumerable multitude that John saw exiting the “great tribulation” between the sixth and seven seal openings (Revelation 7:9-17). The description echoes Isaiah 25:8, a promise to Yahweh’s faithful remnant of Israel at the conclusion of a judicial pronouncement against Tyre, which was alluded to in Chapter 18 of Revelation for “playing the harlot” with the nations of the earth with her commerce and merchandise (cp. Isaiah 23:1 – 25:8):
(Isaiah 23:1-25:8) – “Yahweh will swallow up death in victory; and Yahweh will wipe away tears from off all faces.”
The former things have passed away…Behold, I make all things new.” This echoes another promise to the remnant of Israel from Isaiah: “Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare” (Isaiah 42:9).
Write, because these words are faithful and true.” This command reiterates one heard twice at the beginning of the book. The description, “faithful and true,” was applied to Jesus and his “witness” or death:
(Revelation 1:11, 1:19) “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: What you sees, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches in Asia…Write the things which you saw, what they are, and the things which shall be hereafter.”
(Revelation 1:4) -Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead.”
(Revelation 19:9) “Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb…These are the true sayings of God.
It is done” (ginomai). The same declaration occurred at the beginning and the end of the seven bowls of wrath, “I saw another sign in heaven, seven angels having seven plagues, the last ones, for in them is completed [teleō] the wrath of GodAnd the seventh poured out his bowl upon the air; and there came forth a great voice out of the temple, from the throne, saying, It is done” (Revelation 15:1, 16:17).
John is guided in this section by one of the seven angels that had the bowls of wrath. The literary connection is deliberate; the third literary division is an expansion and explanation of the seven bowls of wrath. At this point, the book shows what the completion of God’s wrath means for the faithful.
I am the Beginning and the End.” This description was heard at the outset of the book and will be again in the epilogue (Revelation 1:8, 1:11, 1:17, 22:13). It is applied to God, the one “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” The appellation, the “first and the last,” is applied to Jesus but not the “alpha and omega” (Revelation 1:17, 2:8). Jesus is called the “first and last” because he died then lived (Revelation 1:17-18). Apparently, only God is called the “beginning and end, the Alpha and Omega” in Revelation, although it is not clear in the epilogue whether these words are uttered by Jesus or God (22:13).
They will have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone; the second death.” This description parallels the conclusion to the final judgment scene in the preceding paragraph (Revelation 20:11-15). Note how the positions of “second death” and “lake of fire” are reversed in the sentence from the end of the previous paragraph; the present statement forms an inclusio with it and brings the third division its end:
(Revelation 20:14-15) -This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.
The fourth and final division will begin the next paragraph – the description of the holy city that encompasses the entire creation.

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