The Holiness Capital
In Chapter 18 we were given a description of the fall of Babylon, the bride of the Antichrist. In this chapter we behold the New Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb, the great holiness capital city of the new earth. It is beautiful and glorious beyond human language to portray. One moment in it will doubtless repay for all the endurances of earth. The following characteristics of this city are especially named in this chapter: It is a Real City. — Not simply an illustration of great spiritual truths, but it is composed of real citizens, who live in real houses, governed by real laws, and receive blissful and real blessings, glorious beyond human conception. The Bride on earth had “no communing city,” but sought one to come, and was continually looking for this city, “whose Builder and Maker is God.” Even if the language used to describe this city were figurative, it would only prove that the reality is beyond language to paint.
It is a Holy City. — The first characteristic named of it is holiness. It is doubtless called a holy city because it is holy, and it is prepared for a holy people, and only they can enter. Holy people in all ages have been vexed and oppressed by the unholiness of the cities of the earth; but here all their dreams of entire holiness are more than realized. As earth’s great capital, Babylon, was a center and climax of all unholiness, so this city is the climax and embodiment of the entire holiness which sanctified people possess on earth, and the fruits of which they are to enjoy in this wonderful city for evermore. It is as clean as the clean hearts that are to inherit it; and its atmosphere is fragrant with a spirit of perfect love. It is the eternal fruitage of the true holiness which God has planted on earth, and which characterizes His real Church. All to whom holiness is repugnant here are so morally unclean that this city, with all its beauties, would be repugnant to them then. All who resist the purifying process upon which citizenship in this city is conditioned, thus debar themselves from its pearly portals. God commands, “Be ye holy;” explicitly forewarns, “Follow peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord,” and that no unclean thing can enter this place. It is prepared expressly for a holy people. It is the final, glorious, holiness home of all who are purified through the blood of the Lamb. It is the eternal holiness temple, which only those can inherit who have here become temples of the Holy Ghost. It is the eternal holiness bounty which the great Commander-in-chief of the holiness armies confers upon all His soldiers who overcame down here in the holiness war. It is a celestial holiness monument, beautiful and amazing, doubtless conspicuous throughout the entire universe, signalizing holiness eternally triumphant. As the lake of fire, with its burning victims, signalizes the defeat and doom of all of the anti-holiness forces of earth and hell, so this city is monumental of the complete and everlasting victory of the Son of God and His holy people. Listen, all ye who have refused Bible holiness, and ye who have opposed it! Yonder, in the everlasting darkness, see your final and eternal defeat blazoned in letters of fire, and hear it echoing in the moans and groans and the gnashing of teeth of your doomed associates, and then lift up your eyes and see the dazzling beauty of this celestial monument of the everlasting victory with which God has crowned the truth that you misrepresented, opposed, and even derided.
It is a Heavenly City. — It is not made by man, nor on earth, but “comes down out of heaven from God,” its Builder and its Maker. The material is of His own selection and creation. It is the place that Jesus went to prepare for His Bride, and which evidently has been in course of preparation, possibly, from the foundation of the world. This being true, all of its mansions and fountains and fashions and laws will be in harmony with the heavenlies, and worthy of the God and government of the celestial world.
It is a Glorious City. — It is described as “having the glory of God.” This doubtless embraces the glory that Jesus mentioned as possessing before the world was. The glory that gleamed from the pillar of fire which went before the children of Israel, that shone from the Shekinah in the Holy of Holies, which dazzled human eyes at the transfiguration of Jesus, prostrated Saul on his way to Damascus, and bursts of which have flooded John as described in preceding chapters — all of these were but sparks of the “glory of God,” which is here revealed in all of its dazzling, ineffable, infinite splendor.
It is a Walled City. — “And the building of the wall thereof was jasper.” The object of this wall we are not told, but it evidently adds to the holy seclusion of the shining multitudes whose home is in this happy place.
It is an Accessible City. — It has twelve portals, three upon each side, through which the celestial throngs from earth, and doubtless from many other worlds, pass to and fro, each gate or portal of one solid pearl.
It is a Welcoming City. — At each of the portals of this wonderful city stands an angel, who doubtless, with smiling welcome, greets all who wend their way to its shining courts, possibly examining passports and giving needed information.
It is a Memorial City. — Upon each of the gates is written the name of one of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel, and upon the foundation-walls of the city are engraven the names of the twelve apostles, thus advertising to all worlds that this wonderful city is none other than the eternal home of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bride of the Lamb.
It is a Spacious City. — It “lieth foursquare, and the length thereof is as great as the breadth.” The length and height and breadth are 12,000 furlongs; namely, 1,500 miles. This surpasses an area greater than from New York to the Mississippi River and from Maine to Florida. The height being equal to the breadth of it, allowing one-half mile of height to every compartment, this would give a surface area in the city of 6,650,842,000 miles more than the entire earth’s surface. This gives us some idea of the multitudes of people who are finally to be saved, and of the overwhelming victory of Prince Immanuel, over Satan and the hosts of hell. While comparatively few may be saved through the preaching of the gospel prior to the millennium, yet all infants, and many of the heathen who walk in all the light they have, will be saved, and added to this number will be the throngs who are saved in the glorious revivals during the millennium, so that the inhabitants of the new earth and its capital city will be, as promised to Abraham, as “numberless as the stars of heaven.” There is a popular opinion that the city here described will be too small to accommodate the people entitled to it. These facts show that there is not a lingering doubt but what there is “room for all” who will prepare to enter.
It is a Golden City. — While its light is like crystal, its foundations of twelve different kinds of shining diamonds, its portals of different pearls, yet the mansions of the city itself, with all of its streets, are of “pure gold, like unto pure glass.” It would seem from this that the city is one stupendous transparency of gold, through which the glory of God and of His redeemed Bride will shine for ever and ever.
It is a Prohibition City. — While various classes of people are enumerated who are prohibited from the new earth, one general statement is made Of the city, that “there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or he that maketh an abomination and a lie.” In the light of its transparency, with every floor and wall and ceiling and street a reflecting mirror, on the face off which anything unclean will appear in the horrible blackness of its iniquity, all the unsaved will find themselves prohibited, not only by the prohibition laws which govern the place, and the will of Him who sitteth upon its throne, but from their own feeling of unfitness for such a pure place they will shrink from having the hidden blackness of their characters thus reflected.
It is an Adorned City. — Even the outer wall of the city is composed of jasper; each foundation is a precious stone of value inexpressible, and each portal a pearl of celestial worth and beauty. A little idea of the magnitude of these adornments is seen when we remember that each of the four foundations is fifteen hundred miles long, and that these foundations are each divided into three sections, so that every gem in the wall is five hundred miles long. All of the parks and art galleries and gardens of all the cities of all time bear no comparison whatever to even the foundation of this city, the everlasting dwelling-place of a holy God and His holy people.
It is an Illuminated City. — “And the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine upon it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp thereof is the Lamb.” Not that the sun and moon may not then exist, but that their light will be eclipsed by the more beautiful light which emanates directly from the throne of God.
It is a Light-giving City. — It is not only gloriously illuminated within, but the light which gleams from it doubtlessly effulgently overflows, and blesses other worlds. As the sun now illuminates this world, so shall the radiance of this wonderful city gloriously illuminate the new earth, so that “the nations shall walk amidst the light thereof; and the kings of the earth do bring their glory into it.” Thus the new earth shall be lighted, not as now by sun or moon, but by the light which overflows from this city of the saints, in the presence of which all other lights grow dim.
It is an Enriched City. — It is enriched by the abiding presence of God Himself, and by that of the saints of all the ages, and there is also evidence that, as the ceaseless cycles of eternity roll, those who reach certain degrees of sainthood on the new earth will be promoted from it to places in this city, as “the kings of the earth do bring their glory into it.”
It is a Well-watered City. — A perfect city must have a perfect water supply. This is provided there by the “River of Water of Life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the midst of the street thereof.” From this river the citizens of this favored place will find constant refreshment.
River is Paradise Restored. — “And on this side of the river, and on that, was the Tree of Life, bearing twelve manner of fruits, yielding its fruit every month.” Man forfeited the Tree of Life by sin. The covenant of redemption restores it fully and forever in this city, Its fruits, instead of being prohibited as in Eden, are continually yielded, evidently for the delight of the citizens who rejoice beneath its shades. All of the inhabitants of the new earth, as really as the favored class who make their home in this city, will have access to the Tree of Life; for it is written that “the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” As there will be no sickness there, this can not mean for healing in the sense that we now use the word, but for refreshment and invigoration. Thus we see that every demand of the being for light and food and drink will be abundantly supplied.
It is a Busy City. — There is no intimation that the citizens of this city spend their time in idleness. To the contrary, it is written that “His servants shall do Him service” who incumbers its glorious throne. A service of which we here are on probation, and to which the Bride of the Lamb shall be promoted then.
It is a Royal City. — The nature of the employment of the citizens of this city is further explained by the statement that “they shall reign for ever and ever.” The promise which Jesus made to make them “rulers over many things,” now finds complete fulfillment, as in close proximity to the throne they serve in governmental capacity in the “new heaven and earth,” and probably through the infinite empire of Omnipotence. The favored citizens of this great city have not passed through the probationary experiences of the present period and the higher ministries of the millennial kingdom for naught. All of this has been simply preparatory schooling to these places of higher trust and employment. It is said that the telescope has discovered over one billion one hundred millions of worlds which God has made, and which have a place in the great universe over which His government extends. These doubtless are peopled by angels, who are subject to the royal Bridegroom, who, with His redeemed Bride, is at the head of all the celestial governments. The official duties which devolve over so vast a field will give the fullest scope for the development of the citizens of this celestial capital, as they serve Him continually as kings and priests in His presence.
It is a Worshipping City. — As Babylon and its depraved people worshipped the Antichrist, so the citizens of this city worship the real Christ. All the types, shadows, and worship of a holy people in all ages will find final culmination and communion and joy in the eternal worship of this celestial city, where there is “no temple therein; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple thereof,” and where a holy people will officiate, not only as kings, but as priests, for ever and ever.
It is a Capital City. — It is evidently the center of the government of the new earth, and presumably of the entire universe; for it is written that “the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be therein,” and where the throne of God is, there is the seat of His government, and from thence all outgoings from Him spring. It is not unreasonable to suppose, in view of these revelations, that, during the vast fiery changes which occur at the inauguration of this period, the new earth, having been purified by fire, with this its glorious celestial capital, slips into the center of the universe, and, as some have supposed, becomes the great seat of universal gravitation and of all celestial government, around which all other universes will revolve for evermore. The description of the city, the character of its inhabitants, and its designation as the abiding-place of the throne of God, all indicate such a change. What infinite condescension! What marvelous transformation!
” How can it be, Thou heavenly King,
That Thou shouldst us to glory bring —
Make slaves the partners of Thy throne,
Decked with a never-fading crown?”
It is a Bridal City. — This city is Divinely named, and the name given is, “The Bride, the Wife of the Lamb.” It is thus designated, not because of its gates of pearl and streets of gold and walls of shining diamonds, as these are but the outer building, but because of her who dwells therein, and for whom the city was Divinely built. There is much evidence that the class of believers who are represented by those who had the oil in their vessels with their lamps when Jesus came, and by those who partook of the first resurrection and reigned with Him during His millennial kingdom prior to the final judgment, constitute the Bride, who, with her royal Bridegroom, is to possess this place forever. Not but that others may have access to the city, but that the building is hers, over which she presides, and in which she finds her eternal home. Here, co-associated with God and the Lamb in the government of the new earth and of the universe, she may do Him service and reign for ever and ever.
It is a Redeemed City. — The Son of God is referred to no less than five times in the description of this city as “the Lamb.” The Bride is the “Lamb’s wife,” the “Lamb is the temple thereof,” and the light thereof is “the Lamb.” None are permitted to enter this city but those that are written in the “Lamb’s Book of Life.” “And the throne of the Lamb,” it is declared, “shall be therein.” Hence this bridal city will stand throughout the ages of eternity as a monument of God’s redeeming love and of a Savior’s atoning mercy, and the sweetness and depth of its deepest communion flows from the relation of the redeemed to the Redeemer.
God’s Covenants Verified. — In the establishment of the new earth and the New Jerusalem, its capital city, we find that every covenant which God has made to man has been verified. The Seed of the woman has indeed “bruised the serpent’s head,” and given complete victory over him.
The many promises given for the glorification of redeemed humanity are all verified, and if there shall be a rainbow spanning the new earth and the New Jerusalem which shines above it, there may be emblazoned upon its triumphant arch,
“EVERY PROMISE IS FULFILLED.”