Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

The New Jerusalem
Pastor Steve Schell
Revelation 21:9-21
The book of Revelation is designed to help people “overcome” when faced with severe persecution or temptation. It is filled with warnings and promises, but ultimately they boil down to this simple question: which do you want, the treasures of this world or the next? And to help us choose, we’re given God’s perspective of both. We’re shown the tragic end of this world, and finally its complete annihilation. Then, against this backdrop we’re shown the incredible glories God has prepared for those who love Him. If we actually believe John, it doesn’t take long to realize that the passing pleasures of this world are nothing compared to the eternal pleasure of being with God forever. And that realization needs to become a resolve—not to hate this world, but to live in the midst of it in such a way that we please God and do everything possible to help as many as possible join us when we inherit the “surpassing riches of His grace” (Eph 2:7).

A. The Bride
The angel who was sent to assist John carries him in the Spirit to a high mountain from which he can watch as a great city descends from heaven. The angel tells him he will show him “the bride, the wife of the Lamb” meaning, of course, the enormous host of people Jesus has saved by His death and resurrection. Yet in this vision, John does not see the people, but rather the city where they will live. I suppose it’s uninhabited because no one is there yet, but as John describes the architecture, we discover who its future citizens will be.

1) The treasures of heaven are so far above the treasures of this earth John can barely find words to describe them (v 11).
• Everything is made of new materials and radiates with the uninhibited glory of God.

2) Surprisingly, the city has a “great and high wall” with twelve gates and twelve angels to guard them (vs 12, 13).
• Why is there a wall? Walls either keep people (or things) in or out.
• Twelve gates (Rev 22:14, 15)
• Never closed (v 25)
• Twelve angels (v 27; 22:14, 15)
• Garden of Eden (Ge 3:22-24)

3) Twelve tribes of the sons of Israel (vs 12, 13).
• The “remnant” (Elijah, 1Ki 19:13-18)
• Abraham’s descendants (Ro 9:6, 7, 31, 32)
• We’re grafted in (Ro 11:24)
• Salvation did not begin with the Christian church. God used “shadows” (Col 2:16, 17) and “types” (He 8:5; 10:1) to teach the essential truths of the gospel, leading people to repentance and saving faith. Does He still do this today?

4) Twelve foundation stones (v 14).
• The church is founded on the apostle’s teaching (“upon this rock” Mt 16:18). These were the ones He trusted to teach His church the true gospel.

5) The city is prepared for an enormous number of people (vs 15, 16).
• 1,400 miles per side (Ryrie, 20 billion)
• West coast to Chicago
• Texas panhandle to the Canadian border
• When Jesus established His church, barren Israel began to explode with evangelism (Is 54:1-3).
• Jesus called Spirit-empowered people to carry His ministry to all the nations (Mt 28:19, 20; Ac 1:8).

6) “No, it really is that big!” (v 17)
• Don’t spiritualize this

7) New materials that can endure the “fire” of God’s glory (v 18).

8) Twelve foundation stones (vs 19, 20).
• Like those on the high priest’s “breastpiece” which he wore over his heart (Ex 28:15-29). The name of a different tribe was engraved on each.
• The church is filled with beautiful diversity, like gems in God’s sight (v 24).

B. The Pearly Gates (v 21)
1) “Each of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold like transparent glass.” Here’s the “pearl of great price.”
2) “And he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
3) The great choice: Which treasure will I pursue? The treasure of this world or the next? (Mt 6:19-24)

C. Application
1) “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints…” (Eph 1:18).
2) “So that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness towards us in Christ” (Eph 2:7).

D. Questions
1) Try to picture yourself living in the new Jerusalem. What might a typical “day” look like?

2) When we let go of the “treasures of this world” some things are easy and some are hard. Name one that’s hard for you to let go of (be careful not to be too “personal” in describing these).

3) Name something you’re doing to lay up treasure in heaven. (Remember, our salvation is a gift we can’t earn or deserve.)

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