Genesis tells us that creation begins with Adam and Eve in a garden. Revelation tells us that all things are brought to fulfillment with a city. I have lived in several cities and they are amazing places. They provide the opportunity for the enjoyment of the arts, culture and entertainment. They are also places where the poor are held in the prison of their poverty. The wealthy are imprisoned literally behind gates caused by the fear of others. The dividing line may be a simple street but it might as well be a wall thirty feet high. There are sections that are still called the Polish or German or Italian or etc. part of the city. This continues even if the designation hasn’t been true for decades. Cities are amazing places but from Revelation we read of a city that is like no other.
This city is the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God to us. It is described as a place where there is no more crying or pain or mourning or death. These former ways of life are gone. The city has been measured and found to be solid to its foundation. The city is beauty having been constructed out of precious gems. What stands out is the way life is lived out under the light and guidance from the throne of God in the center.
There are walls and gates but they are never closed for fear and need of protection. The nations are no longer relegated to their “section.” Rather the nations are free to bring their honor and glory to the city. A garden like feel is described with a river that is the water of life. The tree of life covers both sides of the river and the leaves bring healing to the nations. Life is no longer guided by the sun and moon marking the seasons but by the Lord God who is the light. This really is a city like no other. This is a city where life is sustained and flourishes.
John wrote down Revelation to give encouragement for Christians to remain faithful. Rome is called the “Eternal City” because it is believed that it will continue forever. The city of Rome was an amazing city in John’s day. However John describes a city far greater where life and healing are brought to this world of crying, pain and death. This is the new Jerusalem where we will finally see the Lord face to face.
So what do we do with a vision like this today? Well, instead of continuing the ways of division, fear mongering, us against them, that dominate the world today we choose a different way to live. We work to bring healing to the polarization. We dismantle the walls that propagate fear. We look to the honor and glory of what other nations can give for the whole. In other words, we prepare for what life will be like in the new Jerusalem.