Revelation 21:9a, 10b, 11-14 - Then came one of the seven angels ... and spoke to me, saying, "Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb." And he ... showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed—on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
John is describing the new, holy city of Jerusalem—which stands for God's people, God's kingdom, all of us who will live forever united to Jesus, our Savior. The description is very interesting. In particular, that of the walls and the gates of the city.
In ancient times, important cities in the Middle East normally had a wall around them. The wall was very thick and very tall. It was supposed to protect the people against raiders and foreign armies. At night and during times of war, the gates would be shut. There were guards on the gates, who would raise the alarm if they saw trouble coming.
But why is there a wall around this city? Why are there gates, and gatekeepers, too? Surely none of that is necessary in God's new heaven and earth, where everything evil has been destroyed!
If you look back at the garden of Eden, it never says anywhere that that garden has walls or gates. There is no guard, either, until after human beings rebel and have to leave. At that point, security is necessary. Sin has come into the world, and the time of innocence is over.
The holy city of Jerusalem is like Eden because there is no evil in it. It is a place where God lives with people, and there is peace, love, and joy. But it is different from Eden because it comes after humanity's experience with evil, not before it. The people who live in this city have already experienced evil and everything that goes along with it: shame, guilt, trouble, sadness, and death. Their innocence and holiness come as a gift from Jesus Christ, who lay down His life to rescue them from the power of evil and to re-create them as pure, holy citizens of His kingdom.
So it makes sense that they live in the city which has thick, thick walls—walls that no enemy could ever get through. Those walls are a reminder of God's protection—the protection He provided to the human race through the suffering, death, and resurrection of His own Son. Who could ever wish that memory away?
And yet, there are gates—twelve of them, gates everywhere, so that people can flow freely in and out of the city any time they like. The gates are never shut. The angels who stand near them appear to be honor guards; they aren't expecting an attack. By His own power, God has destroyed evil and saved His people forevermore. That's reason to celebrate!
WE PRAY: Heavenly Father, thank You for keeping us safe in Your holy city. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Would you like to live in a city with walls and gates? Why or why not?
2. What other similarities do you see between Eden and God's city?
3. What differences do you see?
To Download Devotion MP3 to your computer, right click here and select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File As"