The City the Holy
30th July 2008, hej
This Article: (7 Pages)
1) New Jerusalem
The following is an architectural discourse. Over the eighteen years the author has been immersed in architecture she has gained an ever deeper appreciation, and awe, of the absolute brilliance of the buildings and objects the Creator has designed. This knowledge, a gift of God, will be used to investigate the construction of the future.
The Revelation to John concludes with a picture of a future time when a holy city is to come down from God out of heaven, which is called “New Jerusalem”.
I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. (Rev. 21:2)
The first thing to notice about this city is that it is likened to a “bride”. Architects make extensive use of analogy. Buildings are like anything from 'ribbons' to 'onions'. Also buildings are personified and are often described as having 'skins'. The analogy describes a characteristic that can be seen in the real building. For example, the 'ribbon' will be seen as a thin bit of steel that looks like a huge ribbon, or the 'onion' will relate to real layers of wall. The 'skin' is cladding.
In what way will this city be like a bride? We are told that it is “adorned”, meaning dressed or covered. But this city has more characteristics that relate to a bride than the adornment. An angel came and told John the following:
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls, who were loaded with the seven last plagues came, and he spoke with me, saying, "Come here. I will show you the wife, the Lamb's bride." He carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. (Revelation 21:9 WEB)
Here it says that the city is an analogy for the Lamb's bride. First we are told the city is like a bride. Now we are told the bride is like a city! In what way is the bride like a city? The verse says that it “has the glory of God”. We will return to this point.
2) The City in Detail
Let us look closely at this city.
Her light was like a most precious stone, as if it was a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
The city is personified as being female with the use of 'her'. This is consistent with the city being “like a bride”. The most prominent feature of this city is the light. Many architects have said that architecture is made evident in light, one of the most quoted says architecture is “a magnificent play of forms in light” (Le. Corbusier, 1927, p. 202). But this light is not like the light that makes architecture evident, as it is a clear stone: A jasper stone. If this is a real city, a vision of something real, how can the light that shines on it be a stone? It must be that the light that comes from it is like that of a clear crystal. We could see this city from outside as shining like a huge crystal lamp.
But the city's light is surrounded. It has a
a great and high wall;
How can we see it from outside as 'clear' if it is surrounded by high walls? These walls, it turns out, are Jasper.
The construction of its wall was jasper.
So the city's walls glow like a clear crystal. Crystals are all solids. In some crystals light passes through the atomic structure, these include quartz (which is SiO2 with a hexagonal structure), Calcite and Fluorite. Jasper is a quartz. Thickness affects diaphenity, or transparency, where thicker specimens may become translucent.
Its wall is one hundred forty-four cubits, by the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.
All sources consulted indicated a cubit is approximately half a metre (18 to 21 inches), with the Roman cubit being a little less and the Hebrew and Babylonian a bit more. At 144 cubits the wall would be at least 75m thick. This is an incredibly thick wall. Also jasper has a red colour, due to impurities including Hematite which is opaque. At 75m thick, jasper would appear, at best, translucent. If the walls are jasper they can only be clear if they are thin. The surface may be shiny, but it would not be transparent, or 'clear'.
The wall is 75m thick. This is very thick, possibly due to its height.
He who spoke with me had for a measure, a golden reed, to measure the city, its gates, and its walls...The city lies foursquare, and its length is as great as its breadth. He measured the city with the reed, Twelve thousand twelve stadia. Its length, breadth, and height are equal.
Sully (1929), based on the work of Hebrew scholars, concludes this reed is somewhere between 3.2m (10ft6inches) and 3.65m (12ft) Another source (www.eifiles.cn/ic.htm) says the reed length is 3.125 metres. This source, however, points out that the cube in Revelation is 12,000 stadia. They state a stadia is 60 reeds. This equates to a wall of 720,000 reeds square, or 2250 km. It is only 50km from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This cube would dwarf Israel. The shortest this wall of Jasper could be would make it extend well beyond the stratosphere at 50km. The total limit of the earth's atmosphere does not go much beyond 800km!
The huge size cannot be reduced. The reference to stadia cannot be ignored as we have a comparison.
Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about fifteen stadia away. (John 11:18 WEB)
We know how far this is- both Bethany and Jerusalem exist today and we know their ancient extents. This passage uses the same word and was penned also by John. There would be no reason to doubt the word 'stadia' refers to the same distance in both occurrences. Bethany was located approximately 2.8km (1 3/4 miles) East of Jerusalem. Therefore about 15 stadia is 2.8km and 12,000 stadia is 2240km. This confirms the finding above using the measurement of the reed.
It also allows us to pace out the city on the earth. It is 800 times the distance from Bethany to Jerusalem. Walking pace is for a fit person about 5km/h. Bethany to Jerusalem is a bit over half an hour at a very fast walk. But for a city 2240km wide it would take 448 hours or 2.6 weeks to walk across non stop. According to Peloubet (1952) there were three measures for a stadia, the Olympic at 192m, the Roman at 185m and the Attic at 177m. Even the shortest stadia makes this wall 2,130km square. If something this big is to come down as new Jerusalem it's going to cover an appreciable portion of the Earth's surface. The walls of this cube would extend from Istanbul to Tehran to Riyad in Saudi Arabia to the Egyptian border with Libya. The diameter of the whole earth is only 12,756.3 km. The site needed is actually more than the territory promised to the fathers of Israel, which was from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean.
Every place whereon the sole of your foot shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness, and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even to the hinder sea shall be your border. (Deut. 11:24)
This new Jerusalem is so big, the whole territory promised to the Fathers is lost in the centre. Israel is only about 700km long. And it is so high, over half of it is outside the earth's atmosphere.
At even the smallest wall length we have a curvature problem. The earth curves 0.078m over 1km. The cube at 2250km long would not be perfect. It's base would have a 100km bow upwards. There is to be a flat plain made at Jerusalem. Zechariah is quite specific.
And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. (Zechariah 14:4-5)
The valley is to reach to a place called Azal. As this is the only mention of this place, we do not know the extent. However, Zechariah adds some more detail.
All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king's winepresses. (Zechariah 14:8-10)
This detailed description tells us the extent of the plain. Geba has been located and is 10km North of Jerusalem. There are two Rimmons. One was a priestly city in Zebulun (1Chron.6:77) and could not be the one referred to as it must be to the South of Jerusalem. The other was in the inheritance of Judah (Joshua 15:32). At the furtherest this is 40km away from Jerusalem. A great area of the earth is levelled by Zechariah's earthquake and a huge flat plain is made, but it is not big enough! What effects would there be if the earth is flattened by over 100km in depth over an area of 2250km square? The largest known crater in the solar system is South Pole-Aitken on the moon, which is 2250 km in diameter but it is only 12 km deep (Guinness).
If the curve of the base is a problem, the possible bending of the wall vertically is even more of an issue. Assuming the atmosphere exists and still has winds to ensure air circulation, there will be considerable horizontal load on this structure. The higher a wall is above the earth the greater the wind forces. This wall presents a large area and the wind will apply pressure on the face of the wall. A general thumb rule is that its thickness should be 1/40th of its height. If the wall is 2250 km high, the necessary thickness is 66 odd kilometres. The 75m wall thickness given in the vision is too thin! A building projecting out of the atmosphere, which is non existent at 1000km, has forces that cannot yet be appreciated in built form. The tallest tower yet to be built on earth is just over 500m, which is well and truly still in the troposphere. A cubic structure may help, but these walls are so long and thin a good 1000km length is liable to wobble at the top. There would need to be very deep buttresses. John does not mention he saw buttressing.
There is one more structural problem. Jasper has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale (diamond is 10), making it very hard. Glass is 5.5 on that scale. It would be difficult to make a building of it, but let's say it's specially made. It also is brittle. This means that a sudden force applied can shatter it. The impurities in glass make it a problem material to build with. Quartz is even worse. To build from large panels of quartz could lead to sudden and unpredictable collapse. To change its atomic properties is to change the material, the very atomic structure that makes it crystalline also makes it brittle. Diamond and glass are also brittle.
A section. A cube intersecting a sphere curves two ways. The radius at the walls is 6278km. A second iteration of the calculation shows the bow in the base due to the curvature of the earth is just over 101km.
If the walls are too big and too thin, the gates may be too small. It has 12 gates.
having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. On the east were three gates; and on the north three gates; and on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
And the gates are pearls
The twelve gates were twelve pearls. Each one of the gates was made of one pearl.
Each gate is a single pearl. If this is the case some extraordinary oyster, clam or mollusk made it. The largest found to date is 6.4kg 9 1/2 inches long and 5 1/2 inches in diameter (tourism.gov.ph). And this was from a clam that is large enough to use as a human bath. It does not say the gates are like pearl, it says they are a pearl. If the pearl was big enough it would be a huge sphere. It is a poor choice of material for a gate as it is so heavy. It would be possible to make a gate with a very heavy sphere, like a stone that would roll to one side into a spherical cavity, but controlling it from rolling the wrong way would be a big problem.
The foundations of this wall, by implication carrying a load on the earth, are precious stones. There are 12 of them.
The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them twelve names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb. The foundations of the city's wall 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, chrysoprasus; the eleventh, jacinth; and the twelfth, amethyst.
Either they are huge or there are not enough of them. Somehow twelve stones have to distribute the load of a 75m wide wall that is about 2250 km high and 2250 km long. Quartz is 2643 kg/m3 (simetric.co.uk). Every square metre of wall would push down with a weight of 5,946,750 tonnes on the earth. To give an idea of the scale of this, most small cottages weigh 20 tonnes including the bricks. This is like stacking 360 thousand houses up on one metre by one metre. This would push deep into the earth.
We are told that once inside the city everything is of gold.
The city was pure gold, like pure glass.
The street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
It is true that pure gold when flat and polished will reflect like glass. Gold is a poor material to chose for construction, it is prized precisely because it is rare and unsuitable for practical construction applications. It is rare being only 2.5 parts per billion of the earth's crust. Interestingly it is often found in quartz. It is very malleable with very little structural strength. It is easily scratched (which is good for engraving). This would make it hard to keep polished. So to make streets of it that look polished would mean that you would need a thick plate or apply it to a very solid substrate. You would then have to keep people off it, otherwise it would get scratched. Actually you'd want to keep people off it anyway. Anything polished is very slippery, glass being a distinct problem as a flooring material, as even without water it is slippery, with water on the smooth surface it is deadly. It says there will be no night there, but it would be better to say it would not rain there. However, Joel is specific. It will rain.
"Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in Yahweh, your God; for he gives you the former rain in just measure, and he causes the rain to come down for you, the former rain and the latter rain, as before. ..You will know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am Yahweh, your God, and there is no one else.. (Joel 2:23-27 WEB)
Rain and a glass-like finish to gold paving, make this a poor design for a real city for people.
The following completes the description we have:
I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple. The city has no need for the sun, neither of the moon, to shine, for the very glory of God illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk in its light.
The kings of the earth bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. Its gates will in no way be shut by day (for there will be no night there), and they shall bring the glory and the honour of the nations into it so that they may enter. (Rev 21:9-26 WEB)
So, the nations do walk to it. Though, thankfully as it is so slippery it does not say they go into the city, it does say that they may enter it. This is a distinction that will be returned to.
A most interesting fact is that by its light the nations walk. If it's an illuminated cubic crystal of 2250 km, chances are that not only is there is no night there, but there is no night on half the earth. It would shed light so far it would prevent the stars from being seen for thousands of kilometres around. Sydney's brightness lights the sky 100 km away and the tallest building there is only 230m high.
We are not given much information, really, regarding this city. It is fully described in a few paragraphs. The information we are given describes a building that is impossible to build on this earth. The dimensions given establish that the holy city is approximately 2250km cube, give or take a few kilometres. It goes out of the atmosphere entirely. Knowing the wall is as high as the city is wide, the 75m thick wall is far too thin. But, it is too thick for jasper to be transparent as a crystal. The gates of one pearl will be too small, and if they were large enough for a person to enter they would be too heavy. The foundations must be huge precious stones, either very wide or very deep as the load on the earth's surface is huge. To top it all off, the city is made from the most pure but structurally useless material there is, and the city's streets of polished gold are a slip disaster waiting to happen. And though its light spillage at night would be horrendous, it is not enough to be a light for all the nations.
But this is a beautiful analogy.
3) The Beauty of the Holy City
But notwithstanding the fact it is unbuildable, the holy city is beautiful. Since plate glass was made possible as a building material, architects have striven for an all glass crystalline building. The crystal palace of 1851 by Joseph Paxton opened the possibility of the all glass building. Many German Expressionist painters at the turn of the 20th century, had trained as architects and engineers including Bruno and Max Taut and Erich Mendelsohn. They created designs for an idealised glass-based architectural style, uniting technology and feeling. None were actually built, except Mendelsohn's 1919 Potsdam Einstein Tower and Taut's Glashaus pavilion at the 1924 Werkbund exhibition in Cologne. Erich Kettelhut's sets for Fritz Lang's 1927 silent movie Metropolis were visions for a vast steel and glass skyscraper dominated cityscape, which is still globally accepted as the future look of the ideal city. The German Mies Van Der Rohe, came closest to the ideal totally glass building with the Farnsworth house. Libeskind called his recent building for the Royal Ontario Museum “a crystal”. But glass, like jasper needs structure- and the structure makes it look less than a crystal.
Then we found that light and heat pass through the structure of glass, or crystal, but not back out, so the heat load is terrible and you need air conditioning to make it possible to exist in glass buildings. This is one reason why Mrs Farnsworth sued Mies Van Der Rohe. And then they found all methods of powering air conditioning put CO2 into the air and that is not good for the planet. So glass or transparent buildings are still a beautiful unachievable ideal, but recognised as just that, an ideal. It's impractical and even if we could do it, we wouldn't now.
Since before the time when Plato assigned the cube to the element of Earth, architects have loved the cube. In fact it is the perfect architectural shape. Brunelleschi (1337–1446) the first Renaissance architect designed the Ospedale degli Innocenti (Florence, 1419) with a modular cube. Indigo Jones inspired by Palladio created a great hall that was almost a 12m x 12m cube in 1619. Palladio's houses used squares, but he wanted his churches to contain spheres, as this was considered Divine. The sphere fits in a cube and Boullee a French architect 1778-88 proposed a cenotaph for the English scientist Isaac Newton which was an 150m sphere on a circular base. A recent building in France designed by the Danish architect Sprekelsen defines a 110m cube, almost: its depth is 108m. In fact, we know Yahweh likes the cube as His dwelling place in the most holy in both the tabernacle and the temple of Solomon's era was a perfect cube.
It should be pointed out that despite its ideal nature, not many buildings contain cubes. Even Sprekelsen's arch is not quite a cube. It so happens that rectangles are more usable. Wall area is desirable and the rectangle delivers more wall area per square metre of floor than a square. Also a decent sized room would produce a very high wall if it was a cube. And, actually, if you wish to orientate a building it helps that one side is longer. Design advice for temperate climates, such as from Sydney to Melbourne and Israel, now says that buildings should be equator facing, or rectangles, with a long side that faces the equator. Even if we wanted to make perfect cubes, there are so many practical reasons why a rectangular form would be preferred.
A more useful proportion than the cube is the 'Golden rectangle', and it is better to have something in addition to glass or crystal as the walls. So a crystalline cube is revered as it is unobtainable on earth. Buildings have practical functions. They must serve client and occupant needs. A good designer is able to both satisfy those needs and design well proportioned spaces. The crystalline cube is so beautifully and perfectly useless that it is a desired ideal. To a non-architect this sounds odd. However, the architect spends so much effort compromising between all the conflicting functional requirements, client wishes and site constraints, that it is a real struggle in many cases to retain anything like a well proportioned space, let alone a primary geometric shape. When the Pharaohs made themselves gods, their architect designed pyramids. The pyramid form was seen as so perfect and the achievement so extraordinary, the architect of one pyramid, Imhotep, was deified. The situation of imperfection was (and is) seen as earthly, as creation is marred also, and imperfect. Therefore, primary geometric forms are seen as heavenly, something that architects could make if we weren't constrained by earthly reality.
The holy city that John saw is the embodiment of all the most beautiful and pure architectural concepts: a perfect un-compromised form, sublimely transparent made from precious material not subject to corrosion or decay and impossible to build. A conceptual city or in other words, an analogy.
Let us compare this holy city to Ezekiel's vision.
4) Ezekiel's Vision
Firstly, one is struck by the fact that John saw something that could be described in a few paragraphs. Concepts are often very simple. Ezekiel, who does not waste words, needed some 8,250 words and nine chapters to describe the building he was shown. This can be compared to the 11,400 words used in the whole of the Revelation to John.
Then we notice that whereas John saw a vision at a distance from a mountain, where the angel using reeds somehow managed to measure stadia, Ezekiel walks in his vision with the angel through the various spaces and around the building. Ezekiel 40 starts with the record of the measurements of the gates of the 'house'. Like an architect does when they measure a building, he starts with a significant small part. Little chambers of 6 cubits (this is a reasonably human scale as Goliath was six cubits high). Widths of 25 cubits and distance across of 50 cubits are measured. The chambers are about the size of Solomon's temple
The house which king Solomon built for Yahweh, the length thereof was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty cubits, and the height thereof thirty cubits. And the porch before the temple of the house, twenty cubits was the length thereof, according to the breadth of the house; and ten cubits was the breadth thereof before the house. (1Kings 6:2-3)
Ezekiel sees many of these chambers and gates, to the North, South, East and West and each side had a forecourt of 100 cubits by 100 cubits. Then in front of that is another building 100 cubits long with walls 5 cubits thick. He keeps walking and seeing the measuring of the building. He sees it is three stories. When he is taken outside, the whole is measured as 500 reeds by 500 reeds. Sully concludes the reed is somewhere between 10ft6 inches and 12ft (Sully, 1929). This would make the building between 1.54 and 1.76 kilometres square. The height of one section of the foundation is a “full reed of six great cubits”. The altar is 12 cubits by 12 cubits (6m x 6m).
The record of these measurements and the functions take up three chapters. The following are some excerpts
Then he measured the wall of the house, six cubits;.. The side chambers were in three stories, one over another, and thirty in order; and they entered into the wall which belonged to the house for the side chambers all around, that they might..not have hold in the wall of the house. ..
I saw also that the house had a raised base all around: the foundations of the side chambers were a full reed of six great cubits. The thickness of the wall, which was for the side chambers, on the outside, was five cubits: ... The building that was before the separate place at the side toward the west was seventy cubits broad; and the wall of the building was five cubits thick all around, and its length ninety cubits.
So he measured the house, one hundred cubits long; and the separate place, and the building, with its walls, one hundred cubits long; also the breadth of the face of the house, and of the separate place toward the east, one hundred cubits. He measured the length of the building before the separate place which was at its back, and its galleries on the one side and on the other side, one hundred cubits;
It is made of sensible and durable materials
and the inner temple, and the porches of the court; the thresholds, and the closed windows, and the galleries around on their three stories, over against the threshold, with wood ceilings all around, and from the ground up to the windows, (now the windows were covered), to the space above the door, even to the inner house, and outside, and by all the wall all around inside and outside, by measure. ..
The altar was of wood, three cubits high, and its length two cubits;..This is the table that is before Yahweh. The temple and the sanctuary had two doors. The doors had two leaves apiece, two turning leaves: two leaves for the one door, and two leaves for the other. .. and there was a threshold of wood on the face of the porch outside. (Ezekiel 41:1-26 WEB)
This is a building that could be built. The materials mentioned are wood and stone. There is a good structural system with pillars, walls and buttresses to take the load from beams. Not only that it is a building that responds well to the temperate Mediterranean climate as the windows, though a significant proportion of the facade, are covered with lattice. The doors are large and have two leaves that when open sit against the wall, which is ideal where there is high pedestrian traffic. This is an excellent design.
The remainder of the nine chapters record the details of the form of worship including its ordinances, the clothing and even the design of utensils to be used. Many architects like to design fittings and furniture, and quite a few have designed clothes that match their architecture (Van De Veld in the 1930's and Libeskind in the 1990's), and even more have designed the furniture (Frank Lloyd Wright, Mackintosh, Arne Jacobsen, Mies Van der Rohe, and Utzon who in one church designed everything except the roof window, including the vestments). If one designer designs all parts there is co-ordination in style. In the case of Yahweh's design, the role of the Priests is prescribed and co-ordinated also. This has a lesson in that all aspects of worship are to be as Yahweh has appointed.
Ezekiel shows us a timber and stone building that is buildable, with columns and windows with lattice. The dimensions are architectural numbers: they vary in size between a door and an opening, they make sense and they add up. The building is to be a square of 500 reeds, approximately 1.5km. This is a reasonable dimension. And it is not a cube. This building often uses multiples of 10. As architects or builders know who have converted from the imperial to the metric system, it is so much easier to work with 10. Modern Israel uses the metric system. Ezekiel's vision is of a building of a reasonable size that fits on a real site. It easily fits the plain made by Zechariah's earthquake. It is huge but possible.
By contrast the building John saw in Revelation uses dimensions based on the symbolic number 12. It is 144 cubits thick and has 12 gates. It has a height, width and breadth of 12,000 stadia. It has little constructional detail, is made of rare and unsuitable materials and is so huge as to be unbuildable. It is not and could never be a real building anywhere even in space. It is a conceptual city or in other words, an analogy.
And actully a very powerful analogy.
5) The Analogy of the City
If we go back to see how John is introduced to the vision of the holy city, we are told actually, that the holy city is the Lamb's Bride. The Lamb's Bride is a title of a group of people. It is an analogy to help us understand the relationship. The bride refers to the saints. The saints as 'a bride' are likened to a holy city.
Before we go further we should explore what is meant by a city. A city is a political entity, embodied in its government. A city is defined by its political boundaries, or the limits of its governance. Good examples are Sparta and Athens, which were city states. Ezekiel's city, attached to 'the house' that he saw, was defined by the Hebrew word 'ar' (עיר), from the word for 'a watch'. It is a word that describes waking and watching over the defence of a physical place. However, John's vision was of a 'polis'. The Greek word 'polis' is from 'polus' or 'polos', which means 'many' or pelomai, which means 'bustle', as in the movement of people. In Greek 'polites' means a citizen and 'politeuma' means citizenship and community. These words have been imported into English directly as 'polity' meaning a political entity, and 'politics'. All these words are about the people. They are not about buildings. For the people living at the time of John, a city referred to the political entity.
John confirms that the city refers to a political entity. Unfortunately it is a little lost in the translation of the Greek. The interlined Diaglott translation of Revelation 21:2 reads:
And the city the holy, Jerusalem new I saw coming down out of the heaven from the Diety..
Why “the city the holy”? This sounds very odd. Elsewhere when Holy 'something' is used it reads as it would in English. In Revelation 14:10 the Greek text literally reads “the holy angels”. It does not read “the angel, the holy”. And in the Greek in Matthew 27:53 it says literally that many people go into “the holy city”. Again it does not say they go to “the city, the holy”. Why does John do this? Why place the word city first? Let us put what he says in long hand. John says he saw a 'political entity of a multitude of people' (a polis), which are 'sanctified' (the holy).
We can confirm this understanding as it seems John is quoting a Hebraism from Isaiah. Isaiah Chapter one introduces the whole purpose of Isaiah and a key verse contains an unconditional promise by Yahweh:
Therefore saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, “Ah, I will ..avenge me of mine enemies: And I will turn my hand upon thee,
and purely purge away your dross, and take away all your tin: And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counsellors as at the beginning: afterward you shall be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city”. (Isaiah 1:24-26 KJV).
By restoring judges the 'city' is made righteous. This is not about stones, this is about the city politic, the rulers of people. This is the city John sees. The analogy in Isaiah compares the people to gold. The text says that this city is 'purged of dross and tin', the two things removed to make pure gold. But the key link to John's vision is that this purged gold entity is called in literal Hebrew “the city, the Holy”! The underlined section above literally translated reads “the city, the Holy true-building”. The word for 'city' is not repeated in Hebrew, rather it says a 'true or sure foundation' or 'flooring' also 'building'. So the vision that John sees is of the people that Yahweh promises to Isaiah that he will make holy as a 'building' built up on a firm or true foundation. And these will constitute Zion which is Jerusalem renewed or purged. This political entity of the saints, or this 'city' sanctified, was likened to a bride.
So was this city like a bride? Or was the bride like this city? Which is the real entity? The bride! What characteristics of 'the city the holy' that John saw are like the bride?
6) The detail of the City Analogy
The walls are of clear Jasper, a quartz coloured by red impurity. For it to be clear the impurity must be a minimum. To the biblical student this is clear, mankind is 'adam', of the red earth. The holy, or separated, people are transformed to become clear as crystal.
These walls have a dimension of 144 cubits. This is the number or dimension of the redeemed. A cubit is the length of the forearm of an average man. It is with our hands we do things. The cubit is the measurement of a human. The form of the walls is a perfected cube. This a shape that encloses a sphere and suggests completeness and unity. Out of this shines the light of Yahweh. It shows or is 'adorned' with the glory of Yahweh. It is from actions or 'out of' people that the characteristics of Yahweh are shown or manifested.
There is more, as John is told directly that the polis is like “a bride having been adorned for her husband”. This analogy of adornment is further explained when a great voice proclaims, (from the interlined Diaglott) “Lo the tabernacle of the Deity with the men, and he will tabernacle with them, and they a people of him shall be, and himself the Deity with them will be.” So the brides adornment “is the tabernacle of the Deity with men”, or a covering.
The death and resurrection of Yeshua is a covering of sins (Romans 4:7). This covering allows Deity to be at one, or atoned, or with mankind. This then allows mankind to be “a people” of Deity. Therefore the light of Deity is within the polis or political entity of sanctified mankind, represented by the jasper, shining forth through them, to the nations. This idea is represented in the form John sees. The dimension of the whole is not in reeds, but in the first measure of a city, the stadia. The government is 12 fold, or Israeli in nature, called Jerusalem and is represented in thousands, the number of a multitude. It extends to heaven. This is Yahweh in Mighty Ones manifested politically in glory.
In the wall there are gates that belong to the twelve tribes of Israel. A gate is where people enter. The covenant of the separated people is a Jewish one. Both Yeshua and the apostles agree that we become fellow heirs to the Hope of Israel. The saints' separation is achieved by entering through Israel's 'doors'. Being in Christ is being an heir of Abraham. And these doors are singular pearls. Yeshua used this image before. It is the pearl of great price. A pearl is appropriate as it is made through irritation of a foreign particle which is coated and separated from the world ('the world's your oyster' is a saying). The Israelite in the nations is an irritant that makes people aware of their hope. The world either loves and responds to this hope of becoming one with them or hates them.
Illustration: The territory of John's vision of the-City-the-Holy.
The whole structure is built on the work of the 12 apostles of Yeshua, who are precious stones. Yeshua used this image when speaking to Peter. He was a 'stone'. Of all the characteristics of the stone there is only one Yeshua was referring to, the foundation. Without the 12 apostles' work during the ministry of Yeshua there would be no large following. But their work was greater than that, as after the resurrection their eye witness account was the basis for others accepting the work of the resurrection, and it is this work of covering others' sin that allows the holy city to be 'clear' not red.
The buildings or structures inside are gold. Gold, when pure, does not corrupt, or rust. It is an element made of only one atom and is therefore unmixed. To separate, or form it, a fire is used. Gold is never found pure on earth, it must be separated. Fire speaks of trial. A structure refers to people's work or labour, the street to their walk or way or life. This separate people have been made pure in the things they make and do (1Corinthians 3:13-15). The gold is like glass, which is smooth or calm and at peace.
There is no temple or altar in this city. As the separated people have taken on the characteristics of Yeshua and Yahweh, there is no need of the rituals of separation of the altar and temple. The temple at the time of Solomon had an inaccessible most holy, separating Yahweh from his people. Once Yeshua entered into this symbolically through his death (the curtain to the Most Holy was rent) those who become associated with Yeshua also have in effect entered the Most Holy. And the Most Holy place in the temple was a cube. The most holy that John sees has become a complete polis at one with Deity.
In John's vision other nations come to, but not into, this most holy city. This is a fascinating distinction that John made. It is not irrelevant. The holy city that comes down at Jerusalem is complete and is not entered by the nations. Ezekiel's is a temple that the nations enter, go through and leave in the opposite direction they arrived. No-one walks the gold streets like glass, that John sees, they exist only. The walk of the sanctified, or separated, or holy people is perfected gold at the time when the city comes down.
It “has the Glory of God”
The last characteristic of 'the-city the-holy', Jerusalem-the-new, is that it comes down complete. Psalm 133 says that our hope is something that 'comes down' in brethren in unity. Yahweh's governance, now in heaven, will once again be brought down and directly manifested in the saints' rule as kings and priests on the earth.
And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:10).
The polis, the saints, do not rule to their own glory, they are Yahweh's rule and show Yahweh's glory, and make His judgements. Of interest is that though the polis comes down, the materials it is made of are found on earth. John's vision shows us, in another way, that the future of the redeemed is on earth.
The real thing in this image of a polis is the characteristics of the form and materials. It illustrates, in analogy, aspects of the multitude of people that make up the redeemed, called the 'Lamb's Bride'. All the materials are illustrations of aspects of perfection. They are characteristics of the saints when they have become perfected in unity and made the government of Yahweh on earth.
7) The Purpose of the two Temples
The detail of a physical temple was given to Ezekiel at that time, as the dwelling place of Yahweh on earth had been destroyed by the Babylonians. Ezekiel was shown the future so that Israel could look, with hope, to a time when Yahweh would again dwell with people on earth. The concept or analogy of 'the city the holy' was given soon after the destruction of Herod's temple in CE 70. This vision was a conceptual form that referred to characteristics of the people who make up the body politic, not the physical structure of the city. The detail of the physical structure that these people would rule over was given 600 or so years before to Ezekiel.
The Promise to Ezekiel
When we read Ezekiel's book it is easy to miss a very vital section. It is so astounding an investigation of the Hebrew text was carried out to make sure that the translation was accurate.
The book is a personal communication to Ezekiel
The word of Yahweh came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; (Ezekiel 1:3 WEB)
He is sent to speakto people who will not hear.
Son of man, I send you to the children of Israel, to nations that are rebellious, which have rebelled against me: ..;and you shall tell them, Thus says the Lord Yahweh. They, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house), yet shall know that there has been a prophet among them. (Ezekiel 2:3-5 WEB)
It is expressly said that some will not hear, but still they will know he was a prophet. He is then shown a House in a vision.
Son of man, see with your eyes, and hear with your ears, and set your heart on all that I shall show you; for, to the intent that I may show them to you, are you brought here: declare all that you see to the house of Israel. (Eze 40:4 WEB)
Here note that Ezekiel is special. He is addressed directly as “you” and the vision is for him. This is easy to understand. He is in addition, as if an afterthought to declare things he sees to Israel.
Then in chapter 43 Ezekiel is addressed again. Ezekiel is to show those in captivity the Temple and its measurement, or its size, to make them ashamed of their sins. (my translation word for word, please note that this is not easy to read)
teach them and engrave/write in-sight-theirs and guard/keep the-all-forms and the-all-customs and do them.
Ezekiel then is to show them the shape of the Temple, specifically its physical form and circulation pattern and the customs and laws. This is why they must be ashamed. They would never appreciate the laws if they are not obedient to the Mosaic laws. Ezekiel is to teach, or make known, and write them in the sight of those of the captivity. But note the end. Ezekiel, not Israel , is to guard and keep the forms and make, or do, them. This passage is an instruction to Ezekiel, only. Israel is “them” and “theirs”, and Ezekiel is to teach them.
Ezekiel is told of the dimensions and shape of the altar and then he is addressed directly again,
And said to-me son-adam like-this say Adonai Yahweh these ordinances the altar in-day make-they to-the-offering on-it burnt-offering and to-sprinkle on-it blood:
And give unto-the-priests the-Levites which are of-seed Zadok the-approaching unto-me saith Adonai Yahweh to minister-to-me bullock son-bull to-sin-offering.
If we read this a number of times. It makes sense. It says Ezekiel, on the day they make the offering on the altar (the one described to him in the temple),you are to give the sin offering to the sons of Zadok.
Could this command have related to the day he wrote this? After all, Ezekiel is a Priest. No, for there was no altar and no place to make a sacrifice. Ezekiel was in Babylon. It was the twenty fifth year of the exile and the fourteenth after the temple had be destroyed. The Babylonians had all the equipment from the Temple (Belshazzar brings it out much later from storage). Also there seems to have been some sons of Zadok around, for Ezra, who later goes back to Israel, is a descendant of one of them, but the passage does not identify any individuals of them, indicating that the individuals names are not known. This is consistent with Ezekiel's actions being yet to occur in the future and the sons of Zadok being a group made up of all the family through the ages.
Ezekiel is instructed that he is to take the blood and put in on the four horns on the altar. This clarifies that Ezekiel's actions are to take place in the future on the altar he saw in the vision of the Temple. There was no altar at all anywhere when he recorded this. Also Ezekiel is not the High Priest, so he wouldn't sprinkle the blood as described. Not only that, he is to burn the sacrifice in the appointed place of the Temple in the outdoors of the Holy. In the Temple built by Solomon there was no outdoor space of the Holy. In Ezekiel's vision there is an outdoor place in the Holy.
On the second day he is to take a goat to purge the altar. Then he is instructed to
in end your sin-offering offer bullock son-ox complete....
It is clear Ezekiel is making the sin-offerings. In fact he is instructed to do all these things. Why would Ezekiel write it, if he could not do it? He must believe that he could.
When would he be doing it? When the altar he had seen would be built. Yahweh had shown all through his life what he must suffer for revealing the true but often unpopular future to Israel. Now Yahweh was declaring emphatically to Ezekiel that he would do all these things, on a specific day, one day in the future.
That means Ezekiel, who has long been dead, must stand alive in the future on the earth and be able to lay his hand on the son of a bull and to place blood on the horns of the altar. He must be resurrected to do this. This is a personal promise by Yahweh to Ezekiel. Actually it's a command, but in essence a promise. You will do this, therefore you will be alive in the future to do this. Amazing!
The simplest way to read this as is if it is an ordinary communication by one person to another. Yahweh said Ezekiel is to do a number of things on two specific days, the days they consecrate the new altar in the House Ezekiel is shown. As assuredly as other things Ezekiel wrote of have come to pass, he will do in the future what Yahweh has commanded.
Comparing Ezekiel and John
Whereas Ezekiel is a record of vision given to one person to give to those of his nation who would listen, the Revelation to John is not to him personally, rather it is to all the servants of Yahweh.
A revelation of Yeshua Anointed which God gave to him to point out to the bond-servants of himself the things that it behoves to have done with speed. (Diaglott Rev.1:1).
Therefore Revelation is addressed to a group of people Yeshua calls his “bond-servants” and it is about what will happen to this group of people. John is given no personal vision. He is “the fellow servant”. He is one among many equals.
Autos and the City the Holy
The Greek word 'Auto' (αὐτός) means 'self' and it also is translated from the Greek as: herself, himself, yourself, themselves, itself. This is the Diaglot word for word translation of Chapter 21:15-16
The one talking with me, had a measure a reed golden, so that he might measure the city, and the gates of her. And the city four-angled is placed, and the length of her as much as even the breadth....the length and the breadth and the height of her equal is.
The translator used the word 'her' for autos αὐτός as the context indicates the “self” referred to here is female. John is told:
I will show to thee the bride of the lamb the wife (Rev 21:9)
This political entity is personified as a female but it is anthrōpos (ἄνθρωπος), or human. This female is both male and female. The voice from heaven John hears says,
Lo the tabernacle the God with the human (anthrōpos, ἄνθρωπος), and he will tabernacle with themself (auton, αὐτῶν) and they (autoi αὐτοὶ) a people of him (autou, αὑτοῦ) shall be, and himself (autos, αὐτός) the God with themself (auton, αὐτῶν) will be. Diaglott Rev. 21:3
This group of humans in the future will be “himself the Diety with them”. This 'city', or group of humans, exemplifies the meaning of the Hebrew name for Diety, Yahweh Elohim, which means 'He who will be Mighty Ones', or put another way, “God with us”. Yeshua put it like this to his disciples.
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:20-21)References:
Corbusier, 1927, Towards a New Architecture. p. 202
F.N. 1952 Treasury Of Biblical Information in The Practical
Bible Dictionary and Concordance. Barbour and Co. New Jersey.
(properties of crystals)
(review of Expressionist architecture).
Corbusier, 1927, Towards a New Architecture. p. 202
F.N. 1952 Treasury Of Biblical Information in The Practical
Bible Dictionary and Concordance. Barbour and Co. New Jersey.
(properties of crystals)
(review of Expressionist architecture).
F.N. 1952 Treasury Of Biblical Information in The Practical
Bible Dictionary and Concordance. Barbour and Co. New Jersey.
(properties of crystals)
(review of Expressionist architecture).