from the garden to the city
It is interesting to put scriptures next to each other. On thing to notice is that Revelation 21 and 22 portray a New Jerusalem that is a sort of restoration of the condition of Eden. There is there a river that flows through it, as a river flowed through and watered Eden. There is a Tree of Life by that river, just as there was a tree of life in Eden, to which the exiled couple were not allowed to return. There is no curse in this city, which has not been the case for humanity since the curse was laid down in Genesis 3.
The bible starts in a garden and ends in a city.
It is also interesting to put the discussion of the walls and foundations of the city together with the Psalms of Zion. One such is Psalm 48. But I find the international flavor of Psalm 87 interesting.
There are three gates on each side – North, South, East and West. These gates are formed of a single pearl. Yes, these are the pearly gates from the old Gospel song – “He the pearly gates will open.” Each of these gates bears the name of one of the 12 tribes of Israel. This is to say that the full number of Spiritual Israel will be there. The New Testament says that we Gentiles also become descendants of Abraham when we have faith in Christ.
There are 12 layers of foundation. These are made of precious stones. Each of these layers is named for one of the 12 Apostles. This means that this city is built upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no other name by which Salvation is given. But Salvation is given freely through the preaching of the Gospel.
Psalm 87 talks about the gates and the foundations of Zion – the other name for Jerusalem.
1 He has set his foundation on the holy mountain;
2 the Lord loves the gates of Zion
more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
3 Glorious things are said of you,
O city of God: Selah
4 “I will record Rahab and Babylon
among those who acknowledge me—
Philistia too, and Tyre, along with Cush—
and will say, ‘This one was born in Zion. ’”
5 Indeed, of Zion it will be said,
“This one and that one were born in her,
and the Most High himself will establish her.”
6 The Lord will write in the register of the peoples:
“This one was born in Zion.” Selah
7 As they make music they will sing,
“All my fountains are in you.”
It says that the Lord loves the gates of Zion ( a synonym for Jerusalem). It says that God has established the foundation – as we see the foundation of the New Jerusalem is the word of the 12 apostles. He loves the gates because it is through the pearly gates that the redeemed enter the city. It says who gets to go – those who are born in Zion. The word we use, “Born Again” can also be translated, “Born from above.” When we receive the gospel are born again and made citizens of Zion, the New Jerusalem. Psalm 87 lists surrounding nations (Rahab is Egypt) and some of them were the enemies of Israel. The Lord writes their names in the register of the citizens of that city. In Revelation 20: 12, 15 and 21:27 there are references to the Book of Life. This city has everything we need, but it does not have some things. It has no Seas, no Temple, no Son, no Moon, no Night, no uncleanliness and no remnants of the curse of sin.
Revelation 18 and 19 record the fall of Babylon. Babylon there represents human civilization based on self love and materialism along with injustice and false worship. We can never find our meaning in pleasure and rebellion. Materialism is not the fountain of happiness. Instead we need to find, like the saints in Psalm 87, that “all our fountains are him you.”