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Revelation 21:21-22 • Streets of Pure Gold

<     —div class="scripture">“And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”
    —Revelation 21:21-22 (NASB)

Even in the course of the book of Revelation, much less the whole of the Bible, there has been significant focus on the temple. Chapter 11 opened with John having to measure the earthly temple — something God does when He claims possession of something, and ends with the reappearance of the ark of the covenant in the parallel version of the temple in heaven. And yet this is something which is not found in eternity in the New Heaven and New Earth. This is because the greater spiritual meaning of biblical temples is literally fulfilled. They represent how to access and come into God’s presence.

It’s important to pay attention to all the materials used to describe the New Jerusalem, those used to describe the temples which were built in the Bible, and the original tabernacle which was origninally a kind of transportable temple. There’s greater spiritual meanings especially to the metals which were used. If we look at the earthly examples of temples, they had bronze on the outside (the altar of sacrifice and the laver), silver artifacts dominated the Holy Place coming from the outside going inward, and the Holy of Holies was nothing but gold. Bronze represents the means of salvation (the sacrifices necessary at the bronze altar), silver represents the price of salvation (that’s why Judas was paid in silver), and gold being a non-corrosive metal which cannot rust represents the result of salvation.

So when we finally get to the end of things, there is no more bronze or silver, there’s only gold. It’s symbolic of the unfettered access we have to God in eternity, that the means and price have been fulfilled and paid so that there’s nothing left but being perpetually in His presence. What served as an earthly pattern for how to properly come into the presence of God, what only the high priest could do once a year in the Old Testament but Jesus provided on behalf of all believers in the New Testament when He ripped the veil to the Holy of Holies, is 100% unneccessary in eternity.

Now besides this all being sort of “cool” and “neat” from an eternal perspective, I just can’t help wondering what changes would come about in each of us individually and the church in general if we took as seriously as possible the fact that we’re supposed to behave and do the things which bring us into direct fellowship with Christ. It wouldn’t be something we’d simply talk about as eventually coming about in the future, but would significantly change how we act and do things in the here and now. We’re supposed to appreciate the bronze representing the cross/the means of salvation, the silver representing the price Christ paid for it, and the gold representing the result not just for eternity, but for this life. We’re not supposed to be living like visitors looking from the outside in.