Those who are familiar with the Bible and who have read it extensively, realize that the book of Revelation contains an enormous amount of symbolic language and is difficult to fully grasp the meanings. At the time of its being written, however, the Jewish people understood much more of the symbolism than most of us today. It was written specifically for the Christians advising them of the forthcoming trials and tribulations, even death, that man would suffer for their faith in Jesus Christ, with the embedded encouragement that they would be assured of victory in the end, even if they were killed. Read these little verses which sum up the meaning:
“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10 KJV)
“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.” (Revelation 3:12 KJV)
No other verses in the Revelation explains the contents more thoroughly than these. But after going through all of the subtle symbolic warnings, John was shown a vision of the conditions awaiting the faithful church. The two final chapters, again in highly symbolic language, shows the Lord's church. It speaks of a new heaven and a new earth. But keep in mind that it will not be physical matter in any sense, totally unlike the present earth and the outer space heavens which is our universe. It will be a spiritual heaven and spiritual earth. It can be recognized as such if each phrase is considered with that in mind.
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” (Revelation 21:1-3 KJV)
And after the first three verses, quoted above, John's vision reminds him of those who are faithful as opposed to those who are not and their respective conditions in the hereafter.
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 20:4-8 KJV)
Following that promise and warning, beginning with verse nine, John was given a view of the heavenly city by one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls of wrath. The angel took him to what is referred to as a great and high mountain where he saw the great city, the new Jerusalem. Read the following description as written in the King James Version of the Bible:
"...the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.” (Revelation 21:10-27 KJV)
The last chapter, 22, of Revelation is also the last chapter in the Bible. It only has 21 verses and each reader is encouraged to read it in its entirety. It continues to give symbolic descriptions of the great city, followed by a dire warning not to add to the book or take from it. (Chapter 22)
As stated in the beginning of this article, the book of Revelation has a very high percentage of symbolic language and in many places, it is virtually impossible to grasp the true meaning, however the message to be conveyed by this vision which John received is quite obvious when one studies it carefully. The young church was suffering severe persecutions at the time and the destruction of Jerusalem was imminent. So the message was simply to encourage and strengthen those who had accepted Jesus as the Son of God, had obeyed the gospel taught them by the apostles and were baptized into the body of Christ. Read again the two scripture passages near the top of this article, Revelation 2;10 and 3:12.