I remember the first time I drove down the streets of Chicago. I was on a trip with the youth group I did a summer internship with. We drove a school bus and I had my window down. It was all I could do to keep my head in the window and my mouth shut. I was so stunned by the beauty and tall buildings that my mouth was hanging wide open. I kept saying, “Wow. Wow. Wow.”

I realize that cities have their downfalls such as being hotbeds for all kinds of sin. However, we cannot let what the world has done to culture, or to our cities, control our view of it. From Genesis 1:26-29 we see that God intended for cultural development to occur and that He commanded man to make it happen as part of his imaging God to the world.

Fast forward to Revelation 21:9-27 and the New Jerusalem. The picture we get here is simply stunning. Previously in verses 1-8 we see the return of heaven on earth. Then in verse 10 we see “the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.” But the text does not stop there. What comes next is a beautiful description, as best as John can convey it, of what this new city of Jerusalem is like – the city of all cities:

[11] having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. [12] 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—[13] on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. [14] And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
[15] And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. [16] The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. [17] He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement. [18] The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. [19] The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, [20] the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. [21] And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.
But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Isn’t that just beautiful! But notice something else that people tend to miss. Jumping from Gen. 1 to Rev. 21 we go from a garden to a city. The next few verses tell us something about what is in this city:

[22] And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. [23] And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. [24] By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, [25] and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. [26] They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.

Verse 24 and 26 tell us that “the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it” and “they will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.” This bringing in of glory by kings and the nations happens after the renewal of all things. Culture has been renewed and the kings and nations will bring into the new city the glory of their work.

Cities are the pinnacle of cultural development and grandeur. For all of their faults, they will be renewed and their redeemed glory will enter the new city of Jerusalem.

I say all of this to show you the video below. I am not trying to interpret Rev. 21 literalistically or make exact one-to-one comparisons. What I do want to do is read Rev. 21 and look at our cities today and allow them to give us a hint at the future glory of what redeemed man will bring from his redeemed cities into the city – the new Jerusalem. There is something about our cities here and now that will be brought into the new city there and then – the new Jerusalem.

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