This is part 5 of our series looking at Revelation 21-22
5) It is a Place of Wealth and Beauty:
It is not insignificant to notice the size and the beauty of the city, its walls and its gates. The city was 2200 kilometres long, and, as high and as wide as it was long. It was made out of pure gold (21v18). The city walls were 65 metres thick, made of jasper and clear as crystal (21v18). The foundations of the city were decorated with every kind of precious stone (21v19-20). And the twelve gates were each made out of a single pearl (21v21).
It is important to remember that much of this imagery is figurative. And so while we cannot say for sure what the city of the new creation will look like, the imagery of the city is mean to take our breath away with its size, wealth and beauty. The language John uses is meant to fill us with wonder and awe. And captivate us with its immensity and beauty. The new creation will not be a place of mere function or sterile uniformity, it will be a place of wonder, of beauty, creativity, awe and splendour. Life in the city of God will be good and rich and free and beautiful!
The Kings of the earth will bring their splendour: (v24)
Twice it is mentioned that the treasures of the nations of the nations will be brought into the city. “The Kings of the earth will bring their splendour” (21v24) and “The glory and honour of the nations will be brought into it (21v26).
John seems to suggest that all the wonder of song and story, of artefact and design, of art and architecture of imagination and engineering, of function and beauty, of wealth and engineering will somehow be brought in and incorporated into the new creation. The new creation will be a place of staggering diversity.
This life will somehow count for something in God’s restoring of all things. German engineering, Italian art, French cooking, Brazilian football, Xhosa singing will not have all been amusements to keep us busy and then burnt up and forgotten. The genius of Jimmy Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis and Lauryn Hill will perhaps somehow not be in vain… I don’t know where they all stand with Jesus but somehow our world and our lives have been enriched by their music, their legacy. Perhaps it will not all have just been a meaningless distraction from the march to be rid of this life?
And what of us? Is it perhaps true that what we do now somehow echoes into eternity? It seems that perhaps despite our sin and rebellion God chooses to ennoble our efforts, our work, our art and our lives. He chooses not to simply wipe away all our fallen, weak and imperfect attempts at taking up and shaping his creation. Is it perhaps possible that the creation mandate though deeply marred and broken, is not altogether forgotten? Is it possible that God in his grace and mercy, when he finally wipes away sin and rebellion and restores all things, somehow still chooses to include and redeem our work and make it new along with the rest of creation?
The Tree of Life:
Finally notice in 22v2 that occupying a central place in the city of God is the Tree of Life. And it will always be in season, bearing fruit every month. Firstly note it is the Tree of LIFE not of duty, of necessity, or of drudgery. It is the Tree of LIFE! In the New Creation there will an unlimited access to life – full and free.
Secondly note that there is an abundance of fruit from the tree of life. The new creation is a place of abundance and of provision. In a world of scarcity, of fighting for survival, of starving children and economic oppression this is good news! One day there will be a world where there will be an abundance. Where children will not go hungry, where you will not look the other way at the traffic lights, a world where there will be no more sweat shops or workaholics or the dehumanizing drudgery of factory workers, working long hours for minimum wage.
The New Creation will be a place of wealth and provision, of beauty, freedom and joy. It will be a place of life and of wonder.