21] The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
22] But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23] The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. 24] And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. 25] Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). 26] And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. 27] But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. (NKJV)
We went over much of this in our last post; there are just a few things we want to look at again in this post.
Verse 21 describes the gates, or “portals,” into the city,. “Each and every gate” is a single pearl. An average pearl is less than the size of a marble.
Walls of gold and precious stones; gates of pearl. All this beauty and glory teach us the poverty of this old world. We don’t use gold or gems in construction. They are much too expensive! We have to use much cheaper materials! Gold is at the top of standards of wealth and luxury. No one would look on cement or asphalt as being “treasures”. Though they, too, may be expensive, they aren’t really “worth” anything. No young man goes out and buys a ring of cement for his beloved! Yet God’s list of “treasures” shows gold at the bottom of the list, as it were. As man’s wisdom is counted foolish to God, so his wealth is counted worthless.
But the pearl may have something to say to us, as well. It might serve as a something of a picture of salvation. A pearl is the result of a grain of sand or some other object working its way into the shell of an oyster. Not being able to get rid of it, the oyster begins to secrete a substance which coats the object, evidently making it less burdensome to the oyster, but a thing of value to us.
So it is spiritually. We may be very “attractive” on the outside, but on the inside is only corruption and sin, as Paul discovered, according to Romans 7. The “coating” we have is “the robe of righteousness” given to us by the Lord Jesus. It is this which makes us “accepted in the Beloved,” even as a grain of sand is “accepted” in the pearl. So, in Christ alone are we worth anything. The day is coming, praise God, when there will no “sand,” only perfect righteousness, inside and out.
The word translated “street” refers to “a broad place,” such as a park or an “avenue.” It might have reference to a “town square”. Perhaps it is the place where God’s throne will be.
V. 22 indicates that there will not be any temple in the city. On this earth, there have been several temples and there will yet be a temple, both during the Tribulation and during the Millennium. They symbolize that man is a sinner and that there is a barrier between God and man which can be broken down only by a blood sacrifice. There is no temple in the New Jerusalem because Jesus has died, sin has been dealt with and sinners have been made righteous through Him. There will be no need for such a place so that men can be restored to fellowship with God because that fellowship will never, nor indeed can ever, be broken in eternity. Everything the redeemed ever need will be found in God and in the Lamb. There will be no need for an intermediary, whether person or place.
Perhaps there is a lesson for us in this. I know the Lord instructed Israel about both the Tabernacle and the Temple, so there’s nothing wrong with a building, as such. It’s just that it’s so easy for us to get all wrapped up in ornate or fancy surroundings and forget that it’s supposed to be about worship and service of the Lord.
Verses 24-26 gives us a taste of what life will be like in this new place. It seems that “life” will be somewhat like we know today, with “nations” and such, but without sin and its effects. Perhaps it will be similar to what it would have been like had Adam and Eve never sinned. Even in an unfallen world, there were things for Adam to do, and surely as they had children and families, there would have been some sort of “organization” of family or tribe or something. Granted, it would have been far different than anything we’ve ever known, but it wouldn’t just be disorganized and every man for himself. God is a God of order. And He will recognized and worshiped in that future world. He will have no “competition” and there will be no barrier between Him and His creation.
Once again, though, John closes this portion with a warning: But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a life, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, v. 26.
This isn’t a popular message today, when it’s believed that everyone is on their way to “a better place,” that there are many roads to that place, in fact, they all lead there, and that hell is just a fabrication of Bible-thumping fundamentalists.
But our Lord warned, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it,” Matthew 7:13, 14. Elsewhere, He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me,” John 14:6, emphases added.
In agreement with this, Peter told the leaders of the nation, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved,” Acts 4:12.
“No other name….”
“A narrow gate….”
“Wide is the way that leads to destruction….”
Oh, that we might understand the significance of these phrases. Apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no hope for the future. There is nothing good to look forward to, only that our sins will have caught up with us.
He came to redeem sinners. That’s the only folks He’s interested in. He said, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance,” Matthew 9:13; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32. Those who think they’re good enough or that they can make it to heaven on their own, well, they’re on their own.
There’s only “one name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved,” Acts 4:12.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.”