City of Abraham

New Jerusalem will be populated in fulfillment of the promise to Abraham to “bless all nations” – Revelation 21:24-22:5

Vancouver, BC - Photo by Daniel Seifried on Unsplash
The book of
 Revelation concludes with a picture of the immense and glorious city of “New Jerusalem” populated by the “innumerable multitude” of men redeemed by Jesus from every nation. It represents the fulfillment of the covenant promises to Abraham of “land” and “blessings to all the nations,” and all “redeemed by the blood of the Lamb” - [Vancouver, BC - Photo by Daniel Seifried on Unsplash].

In Genesis, God promised Abraham that “in you, will all the clans of the earth be blessed.” Kings would come from him, and he would become the “father of a multitude of nations.” The vast extent of the promise was illustrated when the Creator of all things challenged the Patriarch to number the stars, for “so shall your seed be.”

While standing in Canaan, Yahweh commanded Abraham to look in all directions, “north and south, east and west, for all the land that you see will I give to you, and to your seed, for an everlasting possession.” The covenant always envisioned something larger than the territory of Palestine. Thus, “by faith,” Abraham “became a sojourner in the land of promise… For he looked for the city which has the foundations, whose builder and maker is God” – (Hebrews 11:9-10).

In Revelation, the dimensions of the city make it coterminous with the “new heavens and new earth,” and it is the “paradise of God” where the “tree of life” stands, giving life to the “nations.” And the “tree” is none other than the cross of Calvary. As the Risen Christ promised to all who overcome, “to him will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” – (Revelation 2:7).

In the “city,” all that was lost through the disobedience of Adam is restored, but also infinitely enhanced and enlarged. The “curse” is no more, and even its return is no longer a possibility. Therefore, the saints will reign with the “Lamb… forever and ever” over the New Creation.

The description of the “city” includes verbal allusions to the Old Testament stories of Adam, Abraham, and of Israel. What God intended in the first creation was not abandoned, and it is now fulfilled in the new heaven and earth. Likewise, the covenant promises to Abraham of land, kings, and “blessings to the nations” are achieved in “New Jerusalem,” and the promise to regather the tribes of Israel.

NATIONS AND KINGS. The “nations” of the earth are portrayed positively and negatively in Revelation, likewise the “kings of the earth,” depending on how they respond to the “Lamb.” Those that submit to him are found in “New Jerusalem.”
  • (Revelation 21:24-27) – “And the nations shall walk through her light, and the kings of the earth do bring their glory into it… And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. And in nowise shall there enter it anything common or he that does abomination and falsehood, but only they who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
The company of the redeemed includes an “innumerable” multitude of men and women from every “nation.” In his present “reign,” the “Lamb shepherds the nations” with his “rod,” but he does not pulverize them into dust, but instead, he “shepherds” them so that his glorious city will be fully populated - (Revelation 5:9, 7:9, 12:5, 15:4, 19:15).

Likewise, Jesus is the “ruler of the kings of the earth.” Yet this very group was included among those who fled from his “wrath” when the “sixth seal was opened”; so, also, the “kings of the earth” were gathered to the “war” against the “Rider on a White Horse” - (Revelation 1:4-6, 6:15, 17:2, 17:18).

Nevertheless, in “New Jerusalem,” the “kings of the earth” bring “their glory into the city, and the glory and the honor of the nations,” and only individuals whose names are “written in the Lamb’s book of life” gain entrance. Logically, this means that some of the “kings of the earth” found their names in the “Lamb’s book of life.” The present reign of Jesus over them is not simply to manipulate or destroy them.

The inclusion of both groups fulfills the covenant promise to Abraham. In him, “all the nations of the earth are blessed.” The group that is excluded from the city is the “inhabitants of the earth,” the men who gave their allegiance to the “beast from the sea” - (Genesis 12:3, 17:6, 22:8).

THE “HEALING OF THE NATIONS. “And He showed me a river of water of life.” This clause echoes the final vision of Ezekiel when the prophet saw a river flowing out from “under the threshold of the house” to provide healing and life, only now, it is healing for all the nations - (Ezekiel 47:1-12, Revelation 22:1-5).

The tree of life” (xulon zōés). The Greek noun rendered “tree” or xulon was commonly applied to “wood” used in construction; that is, dead wood, not living trees. The same Greek clause is found in the Septuagint rendering of Genesis 2:9 for the original “tree of life. Xulon is applied elsewhere to the cross on which Jesus was hanged, and Revelation wants the reader to make that connection - Christ crucified is the tree of life - (Acts 5:30, 10:39, 13:29, Galatians 3:13, 1 Peter 2:24).

Unlike the first “Paradise,” “there will be no curse any longer.” The term “curse” echoes the Genesis story when the earth was “cursed” on account of Adam’s disobedience, the same “curse” that was reversed by the “slain Lamb” - (Genesis 3:17-19).

There shall be night no more… for the Lord God shall give them light.” The clause alludes to the promise of restoration to Israel found in Isaiah that included the regathering of the nation to the land. Darkness would cover the earth, but Yahweh would display His glory over Israel so that the “nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” - (Isaiah 60:1-3):
  • (Isaiah 60:19-22) – “The sun shall be no more your light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light to you. But Yahweh will be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory. Your sun shall go down no more, neither shall your moon withdraw itself; for Yahweh will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended. Your people also shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land forever.”
Thus, Revelation has “squared” the “biblical circle.” The “Lamb” has reversed the “curse” and redeemed all of the creation. All God’s promises have found their fulfillment in Jesus. In him, the call for Adam to “take dominion over the earth” and the covenant promise to Abraham and to “his seed” are completely and gloriously fulfilled.

The plan was never to abandon the original creation, but to redeem it and to place humanity at its center, where righteous men and women will dwell securely and rule with the “Lamb” forevermore.



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