The City of God
“And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.” Rev 21:15-17
It is curious that the angel had a reed to measure the city, which was 12,000 furlongs, or approximately 1500 miles long, 1500 miles wide and 1500 miles high. Why is it curious? Because a reed in ancient days was like a staff one held in the hand, usually no longer than 12 feet; it would seem impractical to measure something so large with something so small.
Even in our day, a city so large staggers the imagination, but in John’s day, when there were no cities as large as Los Angeles or London, this size was really mind boggling. Indeed, the size was so great that the real message is that the city is unlimited – that there is space for all the sons and daughters of God no matter how many they may be or how much space they might desire.
The reed given to make the measurement was golden, or of great value. This is a symbol of the measurement allotted to one person and tells us that each individual is precious in the eyes of God.
Because the city is said to be 1500 miles long, wide and high, most students see it as a square; but they overlook the fact that a pyramid lies foursquare at its base and could have a height equal to its length at the base.
It is interesting that both a pyramid and a cube can fit this description, for they both are rich in symbolic meaning.
The height of the side of a pyramid would not be the distance from the ground, but the distance of one of the triangular sides going to the top point. If a side were 12,000 stadia (furlongs) in length, the distance from the ground would be approximately 8400 stadia.
The fact that all sides were equal is symbolic of the equality possessed by the inhabitants. One person cannot possess that which is above another, because abundance and complete fulfillment is available to all.
The word “furlong” is an old English word and is not the word used in the original text. The original word for the measurement was STADION, which was a Greek measurement of around 660 feet and was called a “stadia” or a “stade.”
In ancient Greece, this was the length of the stadium where spectators stood as they watched sprinting matches. The track for running was the same as the length of the standing area. 660 feet was picked because it was calculated that a runner could only keep his sprinting ability for this length, after which he would lose much of his wind.
So, why was this unit of measurement used in connection with the number 12,000? Twelve thousand was the number of the individuals in each tribe of Israel. Altogether, there were 12 tribes, making a grand total of 144,000.
There are four triangles in a pyramid with three sides each, making 12 sides; each side measures 12,000 stadia, creating the symbolic number of 144,000.
This tells us that those who follow the Christ “whithersoever he goeth” and reach the New Jerusalem are those who run the race of life with all the energy they have until they obtain the prize of eternal life.
“And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.” Verse 17
The wall was 144 cubits, or about 266 feet. This is an odd height for the wall because the height of the city is approximately 30,000 times as great. What does this tell us?
It tells us that the obstacles in the path to the New Jerusalem are very insignificant compared to the reward we receive once it is obtained. To us here on earth a wall 266 feet high seems like a great difficulty to surmount, but it is nothing compared to the 1500 miles that make up the sides of the city.
The measurement of the wall was in cubits and the number was 144. A cubit is the length of an arm from the elbow to the fingers. The arm is symbolic of labor.
This tells us that the disciple must master 144 different labors or skills over a series of lifetimes before he enters the New Jerusalem and goes “no more out.”
One hundred forty-four is also a number associated with Christ and those who follow him. In performing his various labors the disciple must, in the end, dedicate them to the service of others, as is the way of the Christ. When he follows the inner Christ whithersoever it leads, he will be on a path that ends in the New Jerusalem.
“And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.” Rev 21:18
Most scholars think the jasper here is the equivalent of the modern diamond. If so, the city is made of two of the most precious materials on the earth – gold and diamonds, or a diamond-like material.
It is interesting that the words “pure” and “clear” both come from the same Greek word KATHAROS. This tells us the substance is purified. It could be clear, or it could not be, but it would have no impurities. The idea that the word “clear” is an appropriate translation is evidenced in verse 21, which says: “the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.” The walls are made of translucent diamond and the city is made of a see-through gold.
This tells us that there are no secrets in the city, but all will be made known as taught by Jesus:
“For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.” Luke 12:2
The surroundings of the New Jerusalem are not only made of the finest substance, but the spiritual essence or the feelings enjoyed there are of the finest spiritual nature. The core of this spiritual substance are the pure in heart who are the inhabitants thereof.
“And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.” Rev 21:19-20
The twelve precious stones at the foundation repeat, in different words, that there are numerous precious characteristics that disciples must possess to pass through the gates.
It is interesting that some old texts associate these stones with the twelve signs of the Zodiac. It is also interesting that the essence of each sign can be reduced to a characteristic that a disciple must possess to obtain the kingdom of God.
Here are the signs that correspond to the stones with the divine quality:
(1) Jasper: Pisces – Sacrifice
(2) Sapphire: Aquarius – Service
(3) Chalcedony: Capricorn – Perseverance
(4) Emerald: Sagittarius – Expansion
(5) Sardonyx: Scorpio – Acceptance
(6) Sardius (or Carnelian): Libra – Judgment
(7) Chrysolite: Virgo – Nurturing
(8) Beryl: Leo – Courage
(9) Topaz : Cancer – Security
(10) Chrysoprasus: Gemini – Progressive
(11) Jacinth: Taurus – Stability
(12) Amethyst: Aries – Initiative
The curious thing about the order of the stones as associated with the zodiac is that its order is exactly reversed.
Why is this?
Students of esoteric astrology will realize the answer to this. As the pilgrim goes through a long series of lives, he follows the path of least resistance and generally progresses clockwise through the zodiac as he is reborn on the earth again and again. When he finally becomes a disciple, he takes the path less traveled and changes course. He then progresses counterclockwise through the zodiac and performs the twelve Labors of Hercules, or a great labor in each of the signs through a series of twelve lives.
“And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.” Verse 21
What is the symbolism of the pearls? Some pearls were of great value in that age as illustrated in the parable of Christ:
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” Matt 13:45-46
The pearls at the gates are thus symbolic of the fact that the disciple must be willing to sacrifice all he has to enter the kingdom of God.
Always be ready to speak your mind and a base man will avoid you. William Blake (1757 – 1827)
Oct 29, 2006
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