I saw the holy city . . . prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (21:2)
In AD 410, St. Augustine received the news that Rome had been sacked by barbarians. Augustine found comfort in thoughts of another city. The cities of man rise and fall, he wrote, but the City of God is everlasting.
The earthly Jerusalem was merely a symbol of that eternal city–the heavenly Jerusalem where God will dwell with redeemed humanity forever and ever. God’s salvation mission will culminate in a new creation, “a new heaven and a new earth” (21:1), where he will be eternally with his people and where all sin, sorrow, and suffering will be forever gone.
As John describes it in his vision, he offers images that can barely begin to suggest the joys of our eternal inheritance–the garden of Eden inside the City of God . . . trees with healing leaves and the river of life . . . the perpetual light of God . . . riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing to Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, forever and ever.
I can’t imagine it: beauty that never fades, strength that never diminishes, blooms that never wither, music that never stops, pleasures that never cloy, bodies that never grow old or die, relationships that never are broken. This is how the story ends for all who love the Lord Jesus Christ.
Only it isn’t really the end; it’s just the beginning.
To Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be praise, now and forever.