The Capital City of Heaven Part 2
At the top of each gate was the name of one of the tribes of Israel; at the bottom of each gate was the name of one of the apostles. Thus, the layout of the city’s gates pictures God’s favor on all His redeemed people, both those under the old covenant, and those under the new covenant.
The new Jerusalem’s walls and buildings must be clear for the city to radiate the glory of God. Some may be concerned that the city’s translucence will preclude any privacy. There will be nothing in heaven, however, that calls for privacy.
They were adorned with every kind of precious stone, twelve of which the apostle names. The names of some of the stones have changed through the centuries, making their identification uncertain. Eight of these stones were mounted on the high priest’s breastpiece (Ex. 28:17–20; 39:10–13). The first foundation stone was jasper which, as previously noted, is best identified as a diamond; the second was sapphire, a brilliant blue stone; the third was chalcedony, an agate stone from the Chalcedon region of what is now modern Turkey, sky blue in color with colored stripes; the fourth was emerald, a bright green stone; the fifth was sardonyx, a red and white striped stone; the sixth was sardius, a common quartz stone found in various shades of red; the seventh was chrysolite, a transparent gold or yellow-hued stone; the eighth was beryl, a stone found in various colors, including shades of green, yellow, and blue; the ninth was topaz, a yellow-green stone; the tenth was chrysoprase, a gold-tinted green stone; the eleventh was jacinth, a blue or violet-colored stone in John’s day, though the modern equivalent is a red or reddish-brown zircon; the twelfth was amethyst, a purple stone. These brightly-colored stones refract the shining brilliance of God’s glory into a panoply of beautiful colors. The scene was one of breathtaking beauty, a spectrum of dazzling colors flashing from the New Jerusalem throughout the re-created universe.
The next facet of the heavenly city that caught John’s eye was the twelve gates, which were twelve pearls. Pearls were highly prized and of great value in John’s day. But these pearls were like no pearl ever produced by an oyster, because each one of the gates was a single gigantic pearl nearly 1,400 miles high. There is a spiritual truth illustrated by the fact that the gates were made of pearls, as John Phillips explains:
How appropriate! All other precious gems are metals or stones, but a pearl is a gem formed within the oyster—the only one formed by living flesh. The humble oyster receives an irritation or a wound, and around the offending article that has penetrated and hurt it, the oyster builds a pearl. The pearl, we might say, is the answer of the oyster to that which injured it. The glory land is God’s answer, in Christ, to wicked men who crucified heaven’s beloved and put Him to open shame. How like God it is to make the gates of the new Jerusalem of pearl. The saints as they come and go will be forever reminded, as they pass the gates of glory, that access to God’s home is only because of Calvary. Think of the size of those gates! Think of the supernatural pearls from which they are made! What gigantic suffering is symbolized by those gates of pearl! Throughout the endless ages we shall be reminded by those pearly gates of the immensity of the sufferings of Christ. Those pearls, hung eternally at the access routes to glory, will remind us forever of One who hung upon a tree and whose answer to those who injured Him was to invite them to share His home.