Revelation 21:1 (NIV) 1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
On verse 1: To me Revelation 21 is one of the most beautiful passages in all the Bible. As much as I like the song “What a Wonderful World” made famous by Louis Armstrong, and as beautiful and wonderful as our world is, there is no denying that there is much brokenness and hurt that affects our world as well. Here we see God, who specializes in making all things new (v5), creating a new heaven and a new earth that are not beset by the problems we have in our world.
Revelation 21:2 (NIV) 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
On verse 2: In the Bible and in life we see how flawed, ugly and broken we as God’s people can be. Yet here in one of the final visions of the Bible, we see God’s people, called “the Holy City” and “the new Jerusalem”, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. Radiant, flawless, and beautiful – that’s the way Jesus sees you and me in heaven.
Revelation 21:3 (NIV) 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
On verse 3: In heaven we get to live with God, belong to God, and enjoy God’s presence forever.
Revelation 21:4 (NIV) 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
On verse 4: In heaven there is no more crying, pain, death or shame. Every way that you’ve ever been ever hurt, grieved, abandoned or ashamed – none of it will affect you anymore in heaven. Any physical, emotional or relational pain you’ve ever experienced will be healed when you’re in heaven.
Revelation 21:5 (NIV) 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
On verse 5: In heaven all the things that we were thought were old, dry and stale are made new again. God is in the business of making all things new. His words are trustworthy and true.
Revelation 21:6a (NIV) 6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End…
On verse 6a: “It is done”. When God says this, it means that in heaven the story God set out to write from the beginning of creation is now complete, and all the work that God had set out to do is now done (Philippians 1:6). When He calls Himself the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, part of what that means is that God finishes what He starts.
Revelation 21:6b (NIV) 6 He said…To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 He who overcomes will inherit all this…
On verse 6b: In John 7:37-38 Jesus says something really similar: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
In heaven, God makes living water that satisfies our soul available to us to drink without cost. Heaven is a place of amazing grace and complete satisfaction. You won’t lack a thing in heaven.
Revelation 21:7 (NIV) 7 …and I will be his God and he will be my son.
On verse 7: In heaven there are no more orphans. Heaven is a family where God is the Father and we are His children forever.
Revelation 21:8 (NIV) 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
On verse 8: Notice that being cowardly, unbelieving, thinking or speaking vile thoughts, holding anger and bitterness, not respecting God’s design for sex, engaging in witchcraft or idolatry and lying – if we’ve engaged in any of these sins the Bible says we are disqualified from heaven and deserving of a place in the lake of fire, a place of eternal torment, “the second death”. In other words, there is no human being who can earn their place in heaven. Only by the blood of Jesus can we be forgiven of our sins and enter heaven. Heaven is a place of perfect purity and complete holiness.
Revelation 21:9-14 (NIV) 9 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
On verses 9-14: In verse 2 the church, consisting of God’s people from all across history from the beginning of creation till the end, is pictured as a beautiful bride. Starting in verse 10 we see a second picture of Jesus’ church, this time as a beautiful, brilliant and glorious city. It’s a city that pays homage to the history of the people of God, such as the 12 tribes of Israel (v12) and 12 apostles (v14).
Revelation 21:15-17 (NIV) 15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17 He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits thick, by man’s measurement, which the angel was using.
On verses 15-17: What is the significance of the measurements here? Perhaps these are the actual dimensions of heaven. Based on these verses, some commentators suggest that heaven might not in the shape of a cube but a pyramid. Alternatively, are these numbers, being multiples of 12 (which often symbolizes perfection in the Bible), an indication of how perfect and beyond measure heaven is? You’ll just have to see it for yourself to find out the answers to these questions.
Revelation 21:18-21 (NIV) 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.
On verses 18-21: Heaven’s protecting walls are made of jasper and the city itself is made of pure gold (v18). Its 12-part foundation is made of 12 kinds of precious stones (v19-20). Each of its gates is made of a single pearl (v21), thus the term “the pearly gates”. What can we learn from this? Heaven is not a place of poverty but of riches beyond anything you can imagine. The wealth of Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos or any king alive today cannot compare to the material wealth you’ll see in heaven. Revelation 21:22 (NIV) 22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
On verse 22: What does it mean that heaven has no physical temple to worship in because the Lord God Almighty and Jesus the Lamb are its temple? In part I believe it means that the physical presence of God will be with you wherever you go in heaven.
Revelation 21:23-25 (NIV) 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.
On verses 23-25: In heaven you don’t need to be afraid of the dark because there is no darkness in heaven. Heaven is a place full of light, where there is no darkness or night. God is the source of all the light in heaven.
Revelation 21:26 (NIV) 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.
On verse 26: What does it mean that “the glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it” and that “the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it” (v24)? Somehow in heaven the best of what the nations had to offer will be brought into heaven and incorporated into it. This tells me that heaven will be a place of great variety, taking the best of every different culture and language on earth.
Revelation 21:27 (NIV) 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
On verse 27: Since all of us have sinned, none of us can enter heaven on our own merit. The only way to heaven is to have your name written in the Lamb’s book of life. Is your name written there? How does one go about having their name written in that book? It’s by knowing Jesus personally, by believing that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins and receiving Him as your Saviour. If you’ve never received Jesus as your Saviour, it’s as simple as this prayer from your heart:
Lord Jesus, I realize today that there is no way I could ever make it heaven on my own. Thank You for dying on the cross to pay for my sins and for rising again to give me life. Please forgive me of my sins and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Today I receive You into my life. Thank You that because of You I am forgiven, I am a child of God and I am a citizen of heaven, and that one day I get to be with You in heaven forever. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!