Most of us have a natural interest in the future. We are intrigued by what will happen, when it will happen, and with what consequences. In the Book of Revelation, John deals with these crucial matters. This is why it always will be interesting to us.
In our text the unfolding story of the future is nearing its consummation. An angel invites John to come and to see the bride, the wife of the Lamb. Then, the angel carries John away "in the Spirit" to a great and high mountain where he saw his vision of the holy city, Jerusalem. The entire vision is encompassed in 21:1-22:5, but we will deal especially with 21:9-11. Several observations capture our attention.
One, we as believers are the bride of Christ. We should rejoice over this relationship.
Throughout the New Testament, the body of Christ is called His bride. Now, an angel tells John that he will show him the bride. The heart of John must have leaped for joy. Undoubtedly, John had long understood the marriage relationship of believers with Christ. He had walked with Christ, heard His teaching, believed in Him, and faced all the difficulties of the time. At this moment, he was about to see the bride!
We, too, can rejoice that we are the bride of Christ. Because we are the bride, we have all the benefits that this relationship provides. To begin with we have eternal life. That life is fully and completely blessed by our Lord. We who are in Christ have forgiveness of sins, joy in living, and a future of ruling with Christ over the universe.
Two, John was carried away in the Spirit to see the New Jerusalem. We, too, can have unusual experiences in the Spirit.
Whether or not the body of John was transported into heaven or just his spirit is sometimes discussed. The text does not answer the question. Because of this, we cannot know the answer with certainty. We do know that at least in a spiritual sense, he was carried away to a great and high mountain. There, he sees the New Jerusalem.
As many scholars have noted, the language in Revelation is similar to Ezekiels experience in Ezekiel 8:3 and 11:23. He was lifted up by the Spirit to see Jerusalem in all its idolatry and corruption. This was a different Jerusalem than the one John sees, but the experience of being taken up by the Spirit is similar.
As believers, we are eligible for wonderful experiences in the Spirit such as this. Just what those experiences might be is entirely up to our Lord and the Spirit. However, we must be ready to be used of God in any way He sees fit. How, when, and in what way He uses us is up to Him.
Three, the New Jerusalem represents the church. In other words, the city stands for all of us who believe.
The angel promises to show John the bride of Christ. Then, he shows John a city rather than a person. The angel treats the city as a person. So the city is personified by the angel. The New Jerusalem is a literal city, but it represents the church. The church, or the bride of Christ, includes all the redeemed of all the ages. Both Old Testament and New Testament saints will all be there for all eternity.
The New Jerusalem will be a glorious city. According to one writer, "John sees it having the brilliant 'glory of God, a radiance like a scintillating gem. Its light could only be compared to the most precious stone John knew. He calls it (as the people of that day did) 'a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Today we would identify it as a giant blue-white diamond, a most beautiful gem."
Both the city and the church are glorious. All of the believers who make up the bride of Christ can rejoice in the beauty of the bride. In Gods eyes, we are the beautiful bride of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Many people despise the church today, but in eternity, the full beauty of the bride will be on display.
Four, we will see God in the New Jerusalem. Even now, with spiritual eyes, we can see Him.
In the New Jerusalem we shall see God! The throne of God and the Lamb is in the New Jerusalem. According to Revelation 22:3-4, the bond-servants of God will "see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads." This passage may refer to God the Father, to God the Son, or to both. The Father and the Son are together on the Throne. In any case, we shall see God!
Even now, we can have a strong relationship with God. With the eyes of our spirit, we can see God. We can know Him who has revealed Himself to us. Our spirits soar with the sense of His presence. That presence is with us all the time. Not only shall we see Him, but we shall be like Him (I John 3:2). It will be a glorious day!
Johns description of the New Jerusalem in 21:1-22:5 is amazing! The Spirit carried John up to a high mountain to see the New Jerusalem which represents the bride of Christ. The beauty of the city stands out for all to see.
My message today is that (1) we are a part of the bride of Christ, (2) we can have great experiences in the Spirit, (3) the New Jerusalem represents the church, and (4) as believers we will see God. Our glorious future should guide us now in every step of our journey through life.