By Horatius Bonar
"That great city--the holy Jerusalem."--Revelation 21:10.
This city is not earthly, but heavenly, and is among the heavenly things said by the apostle to be purified by the 'better sacrifices' (Hebrews 4:23). Why did such a city need 'purifying?' Not because unclean, but because sinners were to dwell in it; and they would have defiled it, had it not been for the great sacrifice. For the blood does two things--it makes the unclean clean, and it keeps the clean from being defiled. Its use in the holy of holies was not to cleanse that place, but to prevent its being defiled by the entrance of the sinner. Our possession of this heavenly city, then, we owe to the blood of the Lamb; and hence He stands on Mount Zion, and sits on the throne, as the Lamb slain (Revelation 5:6, 14:1).
The earthly Jerusalem is to be cleansed from its impurity by the blood of the Lamb; and the heavenly Jerusalem is to be preserved from impurity by the same blood. The inhabitants of both will find that they owe all to this blood. It is the blood which opens the entrance--and it is the blood which secures the everlasting possession for sinners. This double efficacy of the blood we see also in the case of the elect angels. It is this that keeps them from falling, just as it is this that raises man out of his fall. Let us prize that blood which works such wonders. It is 'precious blood.' O man, do not trample on it!
But let us mediate on the city as described in these two chapters. It contains in it everything that is excellent and lovely, perfect and enduring.
1. It is a great city. 'That great city,' said John, gazing on it. Its province is vast, beyond Babylon, or Nineveh, or Paris, or London. That 'mighty city,' says John, speaking of Babylon the Great (Revelation 18:10); but this is mightier far. There has been no city like it. It is the city, the one city--the great metropolis of the mighty universe--the mighty city of the mighty God.
2. It is a well-built city. Its builder and maker is God. Its foundations are eternal; its walls are jasper; it gates pearls; its streets paved with gold. It is 'compactly built together,' a perfect cube, and complete in all its parts, without a break or flaw, or weakness or deformity.
3. It is a well-lighted city. Something brighter than sun and moon is given to fill its heaven. The glory of God lights it; the Lamb is its 'light' or 'lamp,' so that it needs no candle, no sunlight. There is no night there.
4. It is a well-watered city. A pure river of the water of life flows through its streets, proceeding from the throne of God and the Lamb. What must its waters be! What must be the rivers of pleasure there! Who in it can ever thirst? Its inhabitants shall thirst no more.
5. It is a well-provisioned city. The tree of life is there, with its twelve variety of fruits and its health-giving leaves. It has more than Eden had. It is paradise restored; Paradise and Jerusalem in one; Jerusalem in Paradise, and Paradise in Jerusalem.
6. It is a well-guarded city. Not only has it gates, and walls, and towers, which no enemy could scale or force; but at the gates are twelve angels, keeping perpetual watch.
7. It is a well-governed city. Its king is the Son of God, the King of kings, Immanuel, the King eternal, whose scepter is righteousness who loves righteousness and hates iniquity. No misrule is there, no disorder, no lawlessness, no rebellion.
8. It is a well-peopled city. It has gathered within its walls all generations of the redeemed. Its population is as the sands or the stars; the multitude that no man can number; the millions of the risen and glorified.
9. It is a holy city. Its origin is heavenly, and it is perfect as its builder. Nothing that defiles shall enter; no spot or speck or shadow of evil. All is perfection there, divine perfection.
10. It is a glorious city. The glory that fills it, and encircles it, is the glory of God. All precious stones are there; no marble nor granite such as we boast of now--all of it is gold, and pearls, and gems. Everything resplendent is there. It shines like the sun.
11. It is a blessed city. It is truly 'the joyous city.' It is the throne of the blessed One, and all in it is like Him. Its name is Jerusalem--the city of peace. Its King's name is Solomon--the Prince of peace. There is no enemy there; no sickness, no curse, no death, no weeping, no pain, no sorrow, no change forever. Those who dwell in it shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more (ch. 7:16, 17).
Blessed city! City of peace, and love, and song! Fit accompaniment of the new heavens! Fit metropolis of the new earth, wherein dwells righteousness! How eagerly should we look for it! How worthy of it should we live! It has not yet arrived. Eye has not seen it. But God points to it above, and assures us that it shall come. The right of citizenship is to be had now; and those who are to dwell in it are not angels, but men; not the unfallen, but the fallen. It is as such that we apply for the 'freedom of the city.' He who is its Builder and Maker gives it freely. He who is its Prince, whose blood has bought and opened it, gives it freely. He waits to receive applications--no, He entreats men to apply. He announces that whoever will only take Him at His word, and trust Him for entrance into it, shall have it. He specially proclaims to us His own sacrifice, His infinite propitiation, His divine blood-shedding on the cross, and gives us to know that whoever will receive the testimony to this great work of atonement shall enter in through the gates into the city. It is the blood that brings us to the mercy seat--it is the blood that brings us into the city. It will be a joy to enter that joyous city. By this joy we beseech you now to make sure of your citizenship, by making sure of your connection with the King. He who has the King--has the city.
It will be a sorrow to be shut out. By that sorrow we entreat you to make sure. Believing the good news, become citizens of this great and holy city. Then all shall be well with you forever!