City of Abraham

New Jerusalem will be populated in fulfillment of the promise to Abraham to bless all nations – Revelation 21:24-22:5. 

The book of Revelation concludes with an image of the immense and glorious city of “New Jerusalempopulated by the “innumerable multitude” of men redeemed from every nation. It represents the fulfillment of the covenant promises to Abraham of “land” and “blessings to all the nations.” All this is accomplished by the shed “blood of the Lamb.”

In the book of Genesis, God promises Abraham that “in you, will all the clans of the earth be blessed.” Kings will come from him, and he will become the “father of a multitude of nations.”

And the vast extent of the promise is illustrated when the Creator of all things challenges the Patriarch to number the stars - for “so shall your seed be”:

  • North and south, east and west, for all the land that you see will I give to you, and to your seed, for an everlasting possession.”

The covenant always foresaw something larger than the territory of Palestine. Thus, “by faith,” Abraham - “became a sojourner in the land of promise… For he looked for the city which has the foundations, whose builder and maker is God” – (Hebrews 11:9-10).

THE CITY


In chapter 21 of Revelation, the dimensions of the city make it coterminous with the “new heavens and new earth.” It is the “paradise of God” where the “tree of life” stands, giving life to the “nations.”

And the “tree” is none other than the cross of Calvary. As the Risen Christ promised to all who overcome - “to him will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” – (Revelation 2:7).

In “New Jerusalem,” all that was lost due to the disobedience of Adam is restored, but also infinitely enhanced and enlarged. The “curse” is no more, and even its return is no longer a possibility. Therefore, the saints will reign with the “Lamb… forever and ever” over the New Creation.

The description of the “city” includes verbal allusions to the Old Testament stories of Adam, Abraham, and Israel. What God intended in the first creation is not abandoned. It is now fulfilled in the new heaven and earth.

Likewise, the covenant promises to Abraham of land, kings, and “blessings to the nations” are consummated in the city of “New Jerusalem,” including the promise to regather the tribes of Israel.

NATIONS AND KINGS


The “nations” of the earth are portrayed positively and negatively in Revelation, likewise the “kings of the earth.” It all depends on how they respond to the “Lamb.” Those that submit to him are found in “New Jerusalem” - (Revelation 21:24-27).

The company of the redeemed includes an “innumerable” multitude of men and women “purchased by the Lamb” from every “nation.”

In his current “reign,” Jesus “shepherds the nations” with his “rod,” but he does not use it to pulverize them into dust. Instead, he “shepherds” them so that, in the end, his glorious city is fully populated - (Revelation 5:9, 7:9, 12:5, 15:4, 19:15).

Likewise, he is the “ruler of the kings of the earth.” Yet this very group is included among those who flee from his “wrath” when the “sixth seal is opened.” So, also, the “kings of the earth” are gathered to the “war” against the “Rider on a White Horse” - (Revelation 1:4-6, 6:15, 17:2, 17:18).

Nevertheless, in “New Jerusalem,” the “kings of the earth” bring “their glory into the city, and the glory and the honor of the nations,” and only individuals whose names are “written in the Lamb’s book of life” gain entrance.

Logically, this means that some, at least, of the “kings of the earth” find their names in the “Lamb’s book of life.” The present reign of Jesus over them is not simply about manipulating and destroying them.

The inclusion of both groups fulfills the covenant promise to Abraham. In him, “all the nations of the earth are blessed.” The group that is excluded from the city is the “inhabitants of the earth,” the men who give their allegiance to the “Beast from the sea” - (Genesis 12:3, 17:6, 22:8).

And He showed me a river of water of life.” This clause echoes the final vision of the prophet Ezekiel when he saw a river flowing out from “under the threshold of the house” to provide healing and life, only now, it is healing for all the nations - (Ezekiel 47:1-12, Revelation 22:1-5).

TREE OF LIFE


In the clause “tree of life” (xulon zōés), the Greek noun rendered “tree” or xulon is commonly applied to “wood” used in construction; that is, dead wood as opposed to living trees.

The same Greek clause is found in the Septuagint rendering in Genesis 2:9 for the original “tree of life.” And elsewhere in the New Testament, the term xulon is applied to the cross on which Jesus was hanged.

And in the book of Revelation, John wants the reader to make this connection - Christ crucified is the tree of life - (Acts 5:30, 10:39, 13:29, Galatians 3:13, 1 Peter 2:24).

Unlike the first “Paradise,” “there will be no curse any longer.” The term “curse” echoes the Genesis story when the earth was “cursed” on account of Adam’s disobedience, the same “curse” that has been reversed by the “slain Lamb” - (Genesis 3:17-19).

There shall be night no more… for the Lord God shall give them light.” The clause alludes to the promise of restoration to Israel found in the book of Isaiah that includes the regathering of the nation to the land.

Darkness may cover the earth, but Yahweh will display His glory over Israel so that the “nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” - (Isaiah 60:1-3, 60:19-22).

Thus, Revelation “squares” the “biblical circle.” The “Lamb” reverses the “curse” and redeems God’s “good” creation. All His promises find their fulfillment in Jesus. In him, the call for Adam to “take dominion over the earth” and the covenant promise of land to Abraham and “his seed” are completed and gloriously fulfilled.

The plan was never to abandon the original creation, but to redeem it and place humanity at its center under the sovereign rule of Jesus of Nazareth. There, righteous men and women will dwell securely and reign with the “Lamb” forevermore in the “city of New Jerusalem.”


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