We have probably all heard a joke or two about the “pearly gates” of heaven. You might even remember how St. Peter is said to be standing there as the gatekeeper. Now you know where this picture comes from and how totally off base the description truly is. There are actually twelve gates, not one, and all of the apostles have a place in the foundation, not just Peter. But at least people are talking about heaven, even if only in “jest.”
God is preparing a beautiful place for us. The magnificence defies description. While the dimensions were meant to be symbolic, they are given in great detail. What we do see may have been lost in the translation. Each measurement represents a multiple of 12. You will recall that in the Bible the number 12 represents God’s people. First there are the 12 tribes, then the 12 apostles of the Lamb. The Holy City of God beautifully represents the people who have stayed true. There are even 12 precious gems adorning the city. It is a magnificent place for God’s people to dwell, and the size will be just perfect.
“It shone with the glory of God and sparkled like a precious stone—like jasper as clear as crystal.” Because God’s glory shines with such intensity, there is no day or night separation in this city. We read, “And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light.” Imagine that much brightness. We will be speechless at the splendor.
There will be no need for a temple building either. Why? Because you will always be in the presence of God. Our lives will be one praise song after another. For me, loving to sing praise music this sounds glorious! I can get lost for hours sitting at my piano playing music and singing. I know how strongly I feel connected to God when I do that. He has given me the gift, and I love to use it for his glory.
It’s not about the building anyway, right? So many times we as church goers get caught up in the building thinking that it’s the church. We are the church as God’s people. Where we gather together doesn’t matter. What matters is being in the presence of God. When we let our faith guide and inspire us, we can see God in many places. God is not contained in a building. This is a beautiful reminder that God is with us and meets us where we are.
Some people have struggled with this statement. “The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory.” For those literalists who expected that all kings would perish during the final battle, they can’t resolve that there may be some who escaped into heaven. For me, I know that not all leadership is corrupt and evil. For those who stand faithful, there is just as much room for them in heaven as there is for anyone. Seeing the reference to “nations” in the plural is also a beautiful display that God wants for all of us, every nation, to be included and welcome in the city he is preparing.
It is clear, “nothing evil will be allowed to enter.” The Holy City is a safe haven for all of God’s people. After struggling through our lives, we will have peace and joy that never end. We will no longer have to look over our shoulders or wonder when the next shoe is going to drop. That sounds like quite the reward to me. If you start to lose hope or confidence, remember the words from Philippians 4:13: “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
Let’s pray. Lord, I thank you for the brilliant future you are preparing for me. Your words of assurance and promise have brought peace to my troubled heart. Help me to hold on tight to you and seek to do your will every day of my life. I know that you are giving me the strength I need each day. I give you the glory for that. Let’s shine together and make this world a brighter place as I await your glorious return. In Jesus’ name. Amen.