9) Rev 21:10–11: Most of the book of Revelation consists of the apostle John’s vision of the end of this age and the inauguration of the age to come. In the final two chapters, he depicted the restoration of the conditions of Eden.

This renewal shall include the restoration of perfect fellowship between God and his people (Gen 3:6–12; Rev 21:6–7; Rev 22:3–5).[1]

The first paradise covered only a small portion of the earth (Gen 2:8–14). However, the future garden temple shall encompass all of the new creation (Rev 21:1–5).[2]

John wrote, “And he carried me in the Spirit to a mountain great and high.”

Appropriately, this sentence resembles the Greek translation of Ezek 43:5 and of Ezek 40:1–2. In fact, all of Ezek 40–48 concerns the end-time temple. Other important texts which describe the new Jerusalem upon a high mountain include Isa 2:2–3; Isa 4:4–5; Isa 25:6–9; and Mic 4:1–2.[3]

Significantly, Ezek 28:14 calls Eden “the holy mountain of God.”[4]

Throughout Jewish theological history, mountains have held a prominent place. The Lord first appeared to Moses at “the mountain of God” (Exod 3:1–2). Later, Moses received the Ten Commandments and the book of the covenant on Mount Sinai (Exod 19:20; Exod 20–24).[5]

Just before his death. Moses viewed all of the promised land from Mount Nebo (Deut 34:1–3). Solomon built the temple on Mount Moriah (2 Chron 3:1).

The book of 1 Enoch (2nd century BC–1st century AD) reports that the angel Michael said, “This high mountain which thou hast seen, whose summit is like the throne of God, is his throne, where the Holy Great One, the Lord of Glory, the Eternal King, will sit, when he shall come down to visit the earth with goodness.”[6]

According to John, “And he (the angel) showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down from the heaven of God.”

That event will inaugurate the age to come, an eternity of blessing.[7]

A close parallel to this prophecy occurs in an apocryphal text,[8] which appears to have been written during the same era as Revelation.[9]

Concerning the Son of Man, it says, “But he shall stand on the top of Mount Zion. And Zion will come and be made manifest to all people, prepared and built, as you saw the mountain carved out without hands” (4 Ezra 13:35–36, RSV).

The author of Hebrews wrote that Abraham had been “expectantly waiting for…the city whose architect and builder [is] God” (Heb 10:11). As believers, we too seek that city (Heb 13:14).

Jewish people of John’s era also had this expectation:

And so when ye return to the Lord ye shall obtain mercy, and he shall bring you into his sanctuary, and he shall give you peace…And the saints shall rest in Eden, and in the new Jerusalem shall the righteous rejoice, and it shall be unto the glory of God forever.

And no longer shall Jerusalem endure desolation, nor Israel be led captive; for the Lord shall be in the midst of it [living among men], and the Holy One of Israel shall reign over it.[10]

Even John’s Greco-Roman readers would have been familiar with this concept.

The fourth century BC philosopher Plato recorded this conversation regarding the ideal city:[11]

“I understand,” he said; “you mean the city whose establishment we have described, the city whose home is in the ideal; for I think that it can be found nowhere on earth.”

“Well,” said I, “perhaps there is a pattern of it laid up in heaven for him who wishes to contemplate it and so beholding to constitute himself its citizen.”[12]

The new Jerusalem shall descend with a shimmering radiance, reflecting the glorious habitation of the Lord (Isa 60:1–3).[13] Elsewhere in Revelation, John described God as “like jasper” (Rev 4:3).[14]

In the first Jerusalem, God limited his presence to the temple, where a barrier prevented full access to him (Exod 25:21–22; Exod 26:21–34; 1 Ki 8:6–13; Heb 9:1–10).

However, this shall not occur in the new Jerusalem (Heb 9:11–28; Heb 10:19–25). When the Lord’s people enter that city, God will envelop us  in his dazzling presence (Rev 21:22–27).[15]

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

a) Read Rev 21:10–11. How does the depiction here hint at a return to the conditions of Eden? What hope does this give you?

 

 

 

 

Go to A Return to Paradise

 

[Related posts include A Return to Paradise (Rev 22:1–5, 20); The Holy Mountain of God (Rev 21:18–22:3); God Evaluates His Creation (Gen 1:31); A Well-Watered Garden (Gen 2:8–14); God Rends the Barrier (Matt 27:50–51); Citizens of Heaven (Phil 3:20); Greek Translation of the Old Testament; and Ancient Literature]

 

[Click here to go to Chapter 10: The Tree of Life (Genesis 3:22–24)]

 

[1]Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 379.

[2]G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (NIGTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 1106.

[3]G. K. Beale and Sean M. McDonough, “Revelation,” Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 1151.

[4]Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, 1065.

[5]Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 389.

[6]Charles, trans., “Book of Enoch,” 25.3, 53, https://archive.org/stream/cu31924067146773#page/n167/mode/2up.

[7]Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 390.

[8]David E. Aune, Revelation 17–22 (WBC; Dallas: Word, 1998), 1153.

[9]Michael E. Stone and Matthias Henze, 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch: Translations, Introductions, and Notes (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2013), 1, Http://www.augsburgfortress.org/media/downloads/9780800699680Intro.pdf. An alternate name for 4 Ezra is 2 Esdras.

[10]R. H. Charles, trans., “The Testament of Dan,” in The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, vol.2 (APOT; Oxford: Clarendon, 1913), 130–1, https://archive.org/stream/testamentsoftwel08char#page/130/mode/2up.

[11]Aune, Revelation 17–22, 1153.

[12]Plato, Republic (vol. 5 and 6 of Plato in Twelve Volumes; trans. Paul Shorey; LCL; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969), 413–7, https://archive.org/stream/republicshorey02platuoft#page/414/mode/2up.

[13]Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 390.

[14]Aune, Revelation 17–22, 1153–4.

[15]Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, 1066.