The Wall and the Gates
Sep 08, 2016
The layout of the new Jerusalem is prophetic, as are all of its features. Revelation 21:15, 16 reads this way in The Concordant Version:
15 And he who is speaking with me had a measure, a golden reed, that he should be measuring the city, and its portals, and its wall. 16 And the city is lying four square: and its length is as much as the breadth. And he measures the city with the reed to twelve thousand stadia. Its length and breadth and height are equal.
I quote this version because the NASB converts the biblical measurements into modern terms, which destroys the prophetic element in the verse. The “twelve thousand stadia” they convert to “fifteen hundred miles,” which is an entirely different number.
A stadia was about one-eighth of a mile. This measurement was not of Hebrew origin, though it was commonly used throughout Judea. So in this case we have no choice but to use its Greek definition, which fixed the length of a stadia at 600 podes. A pode was roughly the length of a man’s foot and corresponds generally to what is called one “foot.” We may think of a single stadion, then, as being 600 feet (or 184.9 meters).
12,000 stadia, then, is 7,200,000 feet, which (by dividing by 5,280 feet per mile) converts to 1,363.6 miles for the perimeter of the city. Since it is “four square,” the city would be 341 miles on each side. These numbers give us some perspective in visualizing the stated size of the city. But for prophetic purposes, these numbers are quite meaningless.
The Glory of God
The prophecy rests in the number 12,000, which means divine government. Essentially, each of the 12 gates, 12 tribes, and 12 apostles are represented by a thousand. The number 1000 means the glory of God, so this suggests that the 12 tribes and apostles are showing forth the glory of God.
Paul tells us in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The original sinner was Adam, who died at the age of 930 (Genesis 5:5). He fell short of the glory of God by 70 years, and so also 70 is the number of Restoration (to the glory of God). How are we to be restored to God’s glory? We must enter one of the 12 gates; we must become Israelites (“join” a tribe) through one of the tribes of Israel represented by the gates; and we must have faith in the word that was preached by the apostles.
Of course, becoming an Israelite is not about genealogy, for even Jacob himself was not born an Israelite. He was given the name Israel after wrestling with the angel Peniel, “the face of God.” He had been a believer all of his life, but when he encountered Peniel, the Angel of the Feast of Tabernacles, he became a new creature, prophetically speaking. Years later, Moses manifested the presence (“face”) of God when he came off the mount with his face glowing (Exodus 34:29).
Hence, the prophetic picture implied by the 12 gates and the perimeter of the walls is that the city itself contains the glory of God, that it is governed by the law of God—which David said was “perfect, restoring the soul” in Psalm 19:7—and that all who enter are restored to the glory of God.
The Concordant Version of Revelation 21:17 reads,
17 And he measures its wall of a hundred forty-four cubits of a human measure, which is that of the messenger [angel].
The NASB tells us that the wall was “seventy-two yards,” hiding again the underlying prophecy in the biblical numbers. The number 144 is what Scripture sets forth as being important, though in this case even 72 can be seen as part of the revelation, because it is half of 144. Yet John set forth the number 144 in order to identify the walls with the 144,000—the resurrected overcomers having the glory of God. We have shown the significance of 144 and 144,000 and even 288,000 earlier in our study of Revelation 7 and 14.
Revelation 21:18 (CV) continues,
18 And the building material in its wall is jasper, and the city is clear gold, like clear glass.
The wall is not made of ordinary rock, but of jasper. Isaiah prophesies of the New Jerusalem, telling us in Isaiah 60:18, 19 (NASB),
18 Violence will not be heard again in your land, nor devastation or destruction within your borders; but you will call your walls salvation [Yeshua], and your gates praise [tehilla]. 19 No longer will you have the sun for light by day, nor for brightness will the moon give you light; but you will have the Lord for an everlasting light, and your God for your glory.
I have included verse 19 above in order to show that Isaiah was speaking of the New Jerusalem, because, as we will see shortly, John refers to this characteristic of “Jerusalem” a few verses later. Isaiah’s entire chapter was a description, not of the old Jerusalem, but of the new. He speaks prophetically, telling us that “you will call your walls salvation and your gates praise.”
This is one of many prophecies concerning Yeshua (Jesus) and His body. Jasper represents the character of Yeshua. It relates to the city’s “wall of fire” (Zechariah 2:5) and to the “fiery law” (Deuteronomy 33:2 KJV) that establishes its moral boundary. As we have already shown, the fiery law is in God’s right hand, and so are the saints. In fact, Jesus Himself spoke of these, saying in John 10:27-29,
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish, and no man shall snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
So we understand that the 144-cubit wall represents the overcomers, who are in God’s hand (as His own possession, or peculiar treasure), manifesting the nature of God (“fire”) and having the law written upon their hearts. Collectively, they represent the body of Christ in the New Creation Man that is being formed as part of the new heaven and the new earth.
Isaiah 60:18, quoted earlier, also tells us that the gates were called “praise.” The Hebrew word translated “praise” here is tehilla. It carries the same basic meaning as Judah, which also means “praise,” and no doubt both Isaiah and John intended for us to make that connection. Tehilla is from the root word halal, “to shine, praise, boast, glory.” This is also the word from which we derive Hallelujah, or “praise Yahweh.”
The name Judah differs in that it is built upon the letter yood, which means “a hand.” The name Judah depicts a man with raised hands in worship and praise. Perhaps this did not fit Isaiah’s word picture describing the gates of the city, so he used tehilla, which is more of a testimony of praise as a man glorifies God.
Regardless of this, however, since Yeshua came through Judah in His first appearance, the new Jerusalem is surrounded by the character of Yeshua and the testimony of praise. No one has access to the New Jerusalem without going through a gate of praise.
True praise is not merely a kind of spiritual password, but is an expression of one’s being. Even now, true praise is not telling God what a wonderful God He is—for He already knows Himself and needs no one to make Him feel good about Himself. God is not so concerned about our words of praise as He is about our actions that spring from our hearts. The highest form of praise is to manifest His glory, to be like Him, and to be in full agreement with Him.
This is part 177 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Revelation." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones