New Jerusalem Inhabited

New Jerusalem is populated, and fully so, in fulfillment of the covenant promise to Abraham to “bless all nations”Revelation 21:24-22:5

Paradise - Photo by Iginio Biagio Nanni on Unsplash
In the preceding section, the “city of New Jerusalem” was
unveiled in all its massive dimensions. It would take far more than a tiny remnant of “saints” to populate it. Next, John saw the “city” populated with the innumerable multitude of redeemed men and women from every nation and ethnic group, including many from among the “kings of the earth.” - [Paradise - Photo by Iginio Biagio Nanni on Unsplash].

The dimensions of the city make clear that it is coterminous with the New Creation, and “New Jerusalem” is identified with the “paradise of God.” All that was lost through the disobedience of Adam is restored, but also infinitely enhanced and expanded. The “curse” is no more, even its return is no longer a possibility. Therefore, the saints, together with the “Lamb,” reign “forever and ever.”

The description of the “city” inhabited by a redeemed humanity includes allusions to the Old Testament stories of Adam, Abraham, and Israel. What God intended in the first creation was not abandoned; it is fulfilled in the new one.

Likewise, the covenant promises to Abraham of land, kings, and “blessing to the nations” are achieved in the New Creation, as well as the promise of regathering to the tribes of Israel.

All this is accomplished by the sacrificial “Lamb.” In “New Jerusalem,” Jesus reigns, but he does so as the “Lamb.” The “tree of life” in the middle of the “paradise of God” that gives life to the nations is none other than the cross of Calvary - (“Unto him that overcomes, I will give to him to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” – Revelation 2:7).

Nations and Kings. The “nations” of the earth are portrayed positively and negatively in Revelation, depending on how they respond to the Lamb.”
  • (Revelation 21:24-27) – “And the nations shall walk through her light; and the kings of the earth do bring their glory into it… And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. And in nowise shall there enter it anything common or he that does abomination and falsehood, but only they who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
The company of the redeemed includes men and women from every “nation.” In his present “reign,” the “Lamb shepherds the nations” with his “rod” - He does not smash and pulverize them into dust. It was his “shepherding” of the nations between his resurrection and return that has populated the glorious city - (Revelation 5:9, 7:9, 12:5, 15:4, 19:15).

Similarly, Jesus was declared the “ruler of the kings of the earth” in the present age, yet the same group was included among those who fled from his “wrath” when the “sixth seal was opened.” And even before that day, the “kings of the earth” were gathered to the “war” against the Rider on a White Horse” - (Revelation 1:4-6, 6:15, 17:2, 17:18).

However, 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, in the end, some “kings of the earth” found their names in the “Lamb’s book of life.” The present reign of Jesus over the “kings of the earth” is not simply to manipulate or destroy them.

The inclusion of both groups is in fulfillment of the covenant promises to Abraham.  God promised that, in him, “all the nations of the earth would be blessed.” Yahweh would make “nations” from Abraham, and “kings” would come from him - (Genesis 12:3, 17:6, 22:8).

Two groups are excluded from the city - The “inhabitants of the earth” and all men who give allegiance to the “Beast.”

The “Healing of the Nations. “He showed me a river of water of life” is a verbal link to the final vision from Ezekiel, when the prophet saw a river flowing out from “under the threshold of the house” to provide healing and life - (Ezekiel 47:1-12).
  • (Revelation 22:1-5) – “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 broad-way thereof. And on this side of the river and on that was a tree of life bearing twelve crops of fruit every several months yielding its fruit; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations, and no curse shall there be, any longer. And the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be therein, and his servants will render divine service to him, and they shall see his face and his name 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.”
  • (Ezekiel 47:1-12) – “Afterward he brought me again to 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). Previously, access to this “tree” was promised to all “overcomers” at 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.” The Greek noun rendered “tree” or xulon was commonly applied to “wood”; something constructed from dead wood, as opposed to a living tree. The same Greek clause is found in the Septuagint rendering of Genesis 2:9 for the original “tree of life” - (Revelation 2:1-7).

The noun xulon is applied elsewhere to the cross on which Jesus was hanged and, very likely, Revelation wants the reader to make that connection - Christ crucified is the tree of life - (Acts 5:30, 10:39, 13:29, Galatians 3:13, 1 Peter 2:24).

In the letter to Ephesus, the “overcoming” believer was promised access to the fruit of the “tree of life” in the “paradise of God.” In the context, “paradise” can only refer to the New Creation, the final state of the righteous that is actualized in “New Jerusalem,” the “new heaven and new earth.”

Earth and Cosmos - Photo by Tbel Abuseridze on Unsplash
Photo by Tbel Abuseridze on Unsplash

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 is reversed by the
slain Lamb” - (Genesis 3:17-19).

When John saw the “innumerable multitudeexiting the “great tribulation,” he was informed that those men “from every nation” would:
  • Stand 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 middle of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters.”
That vision and promise become reality in the “New Creation,” the city of “New Jerusalem” - (Revelation 7:14-15).

His name will be on their foreheads” is another promise from the letters to the churches of Asia that is fulfilled in the New Creation - (Revelation 3:12, 14:1).

There shall be night no more…for the Lord God shall give them light.” The clause alludes to the promise of restoration to Israel   the book of Isaiah, one that included the regathering to the land promised to Abraham. Darkness would cover the earth, but Yahweh would display His glory over Israel, so that the “nations will 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 your God your glory. Thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; for Yahweh will be your everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. Thy people also shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land forever.”
They shall reign for ever and ever.” The promise that the “saints” will reign is threaded throughout Revelation, and it now finds its ultimate fulfillment in the “New Creation” - (Revelation 1:6, 3:21, 5:10, 20:4-6).

Thus, the book of Revelation has “squared” the “biblical circle.” The “Lamb” has reversed the “curse” and redeemed all creation, and all God’s promises have found their fulfillment in him. The plan was never to abandon the original creation, but to redeem it and place humanity at its center, where righteous men and women dwell securely and rule with the Lamb forevermore.

In him, and therefore in the New Creation, the call for Adam to “take dominion over the earth,” and the covenant promises to Abraham and Israel, are all fulfilled.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Redemption of the Nations

Victory of the Saints over the Dragon