Through the gate of the eternal
(REV. 21:21-27 and REV. 22:1-6)
Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992
Click here to visit her "Revelation Illustrated" site
Chapters 21 & 22
A Bible Study
"The Bible does not speak of a 'heavenly destiny' for God's people. The redeemed find their destiny here on earth - but on a new earth radically different from what we know now. Men do go to heaven upon their death till the great resurrection, but will return to earth at the final consummation following the great resurrection at the end of time."  "God originally created the earth and the heavenly atmosphere which surrounds it to be man's permanent home. He declared it 'good' and delegated His rule over planet earth to man. But when man fell from his place of relationship with God he also forfeited his right to rule the earth. Since that time 'the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs...until now' (Rom. 8:22) as Satan's destructive designs were multiplied. In
Revelation 21, with Satan removed, God's redemption reaches even to His creation as He renovates both heaven and earth.....Not
only has God planned a new environment for His people, but also a new experience of intimacy. Previously, Paul explained that 'we see in a mirror, dimly,' but after 'that which is perfect has come' we will see and relate 'face to face' (1 Cor. 13:12).
John explains (Rev. 21:3) that in the new earth God has chosen to 'tabernacle' with us; to dwell with His creation in a new and intimate way."  In the study of Chapter 20, we presented one view of what the millennial reign of Christ might be like. Marvin J. Rosenthal  has another interesting viewpoint. He maintains that Rev. 21-22 continues the description of the millennial rule of Christ from Rev. 20. He describes it as the "Kingdom Age on Earth.," saying that most commentators state that Rev. 21-22 signals the end of the Millennium and the beginning of the "eternal state." Mr. Rosenthal replies to this with a resounding "No!" Consider 2 Peter 3:1-13: -
Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days ("the last days" refers essentially to the time between the ascension of Christ and His return), walking according to their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? ("...coming" From the Greek word "parousia" which appears 24 times in the New Testament, 16 of them referring directly to the second coming of Christ. In all these cases it is used in connection with the rapture, the second coming and the deliverance the righteous and judgment of the wicked.) For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world ("world" - Greek: "kosmos" referring to the "world system" including the inhabitants as distinguished from "earth" - Greek: "ge" designating the physical earth. Remember that the Flood caused the inhabitants of the earth to perish - with the exception of course of the inhabitants of the ark, Noah and his family. But the physical earth itself was not actually destroyed.) that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. ( The "day of the Lord" does not involve actual destruction of the physical earth and heavns anymore than did the Flood. It does involve cleansing, purification, purging.)
Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,(i.e. - things that now exist will no longer have any value) looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Isa. 65:17-25 -
17 "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people; the voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying. No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; for the child shall die one hundred years old, but the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, and My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth children for trouble; for they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain," says the LORD.
Consider 2 Peter 3:1-13: -
Compare: Isa. 65:17 with Rev. 21:1; Isa. 65:18-19 with Rev. 21:2-5; Isa. 65:20-25 belongs in the time period of Rev. 20-22. 
Isa. 2:1-5 - The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.Now in the light of the above, let us consider Rev. 21 and 22.
Now it will come about that In the last days, the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways, and that we may walk in His paths." For the law will go forth from Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war. Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the LORD. (Also Mic. 4:1-7)
Rev 21:1-8 - Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful." And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."The "new heaven" and "new earth" - are the result of the cleansing by the Trumpets and the Bowls. "...no longer any sea." Remember Rev. 13:1? "The Jews were not sea-faring, but primarily pastoral - agriculture, livestock, etc. The sea was a place of great mystery and treachery and represented everything that was mysterious and impossible to understand. But in the new order of things there will no longer be this condition."  But what about the "sea" referred to in Rev. 13? "It (the beast) comes up out of the sea
Rev 21:9-27 - Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.What John is shown now is almost "beyond description." The angel showed John "The great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God." What a cause for rejoicing that will be for all believers! In his description of this incredible sight - again contrast the true beauty of the New Jerusalem with the artificial gaudiness of Babylon (Rev. 17:4) - John makes mention of the twelve tribes of the Old Testament and the twelve apostles of the New Testament. The city is "measured" and is found to be 1500 miles in length, width and height. The wall was measured also and found to be "72 yeards," which seems to be an anomaly considering the incredible size of the rest of the City. Are these measurements symbolic rather thatn literal, as seems possible? There is no need for a temple as God Himself pervades the City in its entirety. "And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.... And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life." This could only pertain to the Millennium.
Rev 22:1-6 - And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever. Then he said to me, "These words are faithful and true." And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place.The Bible begins with a scene set in a garden and ends with a garden set in a City. Gen. 2:10 states "a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden." In the New Jerusalem there is "a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb." The "tree of life" was set in the midst of the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:9); here in the City "on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." Again, the reference to "the healing of the nations" could only have meaning during the Millennium. "And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads." That should be good for another hearty "Hallelujah!" chorus from the multitudes of the redeemed. (1) No more curse, (2) the intimate relationship Adam had with God before the Fall has been restored, (3) we as His bond-servants shall serve Him gladly, (4) for we see Him face-to-face and that must be the loveliest sight of all (Matt. 5:8; Hebr. 12:14; 1 John 3:2; Ps. 17:15; 11:7; 1 Cor. 13:12-13; Rom. 8:24-25), (5) we are His possessions for His name is on our foreheads and we worship Him. (Rev. 3:12) In order to be in His presence to behold Him we must be like Him in His holiness. (1 John 3:2-3; John 17:19; 2 Cor. 7:1) Being His "possession" indicates that what He is we are also - in His likeness. (Gen. 1:27; Rom. 8:29) "And they shall reign forever and ever." This refers to the redeemed. (Rev. 5:10; 20:4, 6) The visions John receives ends in the same way they began - compare Rev. 22:6 and Rev. 1:1.
Rev 22:7-21 - "Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book." Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, "See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God." And he said to me, "Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still."At this point, everyone is now forever whatever their present charcteristics are - "unjust, filthy, righteous, or holy."
"And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last."
Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.
"I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star."
And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
§ For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
§ "This arresting warning must refer to any willful perversion and distortion of the great truths which Revelation contains. This applies to anyone who would take the content of this book and deliberately distort it and change it it to suit their own purposes. One cannot fail however to find in it a certain implied caution to all who however honestly seek to set forth its meaning and interpret its mysterious symbols. All dogmatism must be put aside. All unkind insinuations as to those who differ and all self-confident assumption of infallibility amd omniscience. Much of the book will probably never be understood fully until reviewed in the glory of the coming age. Revelation must not however be neglected. But grave responsibility rests on all who undertake to teach its precious and inspiring truths. Even though sincere, to allow the book to form the basis for unbridled fancy or a ground for bitter dispute and controversy cannot be excused from serious fault and blame. We know in part and we prophecy in part, however we do know it is beyond question that this book was written to encourage all believers to be patient in persecution, steadfast in days of trial and tribulation, assured that to be loyal to Christ is to be on the side of right, of truth, of ultimate triumph and eternal joy." 
 R. C. Sproul (Tim Couch) - Ligonier Ministries
 "Until the End of Time" - ed. Jack W. Hayford
© 1994 - Thomas Nelson Publishers - p.155
 Marvin J Rosenthal - Zion's Hope
 from Barnes' Notes
 Dr. Eerdman - Princeton Seminary