Revelation 21: 1; 15-25
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....
...The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 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. The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick. The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.
I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 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. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendour into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.
Last week we started thinking about what Heaven is like and the first thing we discovered is that it is stunning in its beauty. The second thing is this:
WE WILL BE SAFE AND SECURE
Look again at verse 1: “…there was no longer any sea.”
I have to say, I was a bit disappointed when I first read this. I love the sea, I live on the coast and walking on the beach by the ocean is one of my favourite things.
However, remember this is symbolism and in Jewish thinking the sea represented danger and chaos. They had stories about a sea beast called Leviathan, the monster of the sea which terrified people. Even just a few chapters earlier in Revelation we read this:
“The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea.” (Rev 13: 1)
The sea was a place of great fear, it was unpredictable, uncontainable, uncontrollable, terrifying, destructive - it took lives, it brought forth tornadoes and storms.
So when it says – there was no sea on the new earth – what it’s trying to say is there will be no danger, no chaos, nothing to fear. Creation will be brought back under control. You’ll be completely safe.
Then 21:17 says:
“The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick.”
And verse 25:
“On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there…”
In those days every city had walls and gates for protection. Remember the book of Nehemiah – the walls and gates of Jerusalem were broken down, it was defenceless.
So here we have this mixing of images to show how protected and safe we are in the new creation.
It was considered that the thicker the walls of the city – the safer you felt. Nothing could get over them or through them if they were high enough, strong enough and thick enough. The walls in the new Jerusalem are described as 144 cubits thick. That’s the equivalent of 40 grown men lying head to foot. In other words, you’re safe and secure.
But look, even though the walls are thick, the gates are always open. Isn't that strange?
Again in those days, the city gates were locked at night to protect the city from foreign invaders. So locked gates were a constant reminder to the residents that there were people who wanted to come in and do them harm.
So why here do we have wide walls and leave the doors open? Both pictures are telling us the same thing in opposite ways. You’re safe. You’re secure.
Even when I was growing up, older people used to tell me that they used to leave their front door open all day, neighbours would come and go. They never thought about locking their door at night – they felt safe.
It’s a bit like that in God’s new Jerusalem, no gates are needed. The doors are left open. There’s no danger. You can sleep soundly at night.
So Heaven is not only stunning - it is a place of perfect safety and security. I'm starting to look forward to getting there.....