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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 21

 

 

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Verses 1-27

HEAVENLY STATE OF THIS WORLD

I saw a new firmament and a new earth; for the first firmament and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.” The millennial state of Edenic beauty and glory has come and gone, populating heaven with multiplied millions. Subsequently a great change has been wrought. Not only the sanctifying fires have done their work, but creative Omnipotence has supervened, transforming this world, with its atmospheric environments, into a heaven. Time, that noted parenthesis in boundless eternity, has come and gone. The mediatorial kingdom, reconciling man to God, restoring order in the celestial universe, expurgating all sin, and eternally banishing Satan and his votaries into outer darkness, has come and gone. The period of mortality and human probation is now numbered with the ages of bygone eternity. The grand restitutionary work of Christ, for which He evacuated the effulgent throne of His Father’s ineffable glory, and came down to suffer and to die, is now complete; therefore, like a proconsul sent out from Rome to restore a revolted province, He now surrenders up His mediatorial kingdom to the Father, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:28.)

There is no more sea.” At present the sea occupies about three-fourths of the surface of the earth, the icy poles and burning deserts about another eighth, leaving but one-eighth for the occupancy of earth’s teeming millions. We readily account for the absence of the sea in the celestial earth. Water is composed of oxygen and hydrogen. The latter is the most combustible element, and the former the great supporter of combustion. A sufficient intensity of heat will decompose the oceanic waters, and utterly consume them. Thus the cremation of the earth will remove oceans, seas, icy poles, and transform burning deserts into fruitful fields.

Behold, I make all things new.” John certifies to the complete renovation of the earth, with its environments. In the creation of all worlds, the heavenly state is the ultimatum. This earth has had a most wonderful history as the battle-field of God’s universe. Through all the flight of eternal ages, Earth will be celebrated in the history, poetry, and romance of all worlds as the battle-ground where the sons of light fought the powers of darkness under the heroic leadership of Prince Immanuel. While Earth will be the peculiar possession of Immanuel ‘s soldiers (Matthew 5:4) you must not regard it as a prison in any sense whatever. Mortality and probation will exist only in the memory of the past. This world will be ours as a soldier’s bounty, conferred as a memento of our fidelity and valor during that terrible exterminating war which the Son of God waged against sin and Satan. We will enjoy our transfigured bodies, with facilities of lightning locomotion (Luke 10:18), while it will be our delectable privilege to wing our flight from world to world, exploring with enthusiasm the wonders of Omnipotence, eternally contemplating His ineffable glory, making wonderful proficiency in the universities of heaven, under the leadership of Adam, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Paul, and all the apostles, mighty hosts of martyrs, unfallen angels and archangels, Gabriel and Michael. We will doubtless receive, to our delight, many solicitations to serve as angelic escorts back to this world, so celebrated in the literature of heaven. Evidently the inhabitable earth will be ten times as capacious as at present. As we shall wing our flight around the globe, accompanied by angel bands, the whole earth will be radiant with celestial glory inconceivable in our mortal and probationary investiture. In this bright celestial state, this earth will shine and shout forever. The popular impression that this world will cease to exist has simply originated from a wrong translation of aioon in the New Testament. It does not mean world, cosmos having that meaning. It simply means time, or age. Hence it should read, “end of the age,” or, “end of time.” The last two chapters in the Bible come in after time has flown, and forever been superseded by eternity. But you see this world not only continues, but is sanctified, made new, and transformed into a heavenly sphere.

I saw the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having been prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” We find (Revelation 19:7-11) the marriage of our Lord and His bride at the beginning of the millennial reign. During the millennium and post-millennial ages, constituting the Paradisian state of this world, the members of the bridehood were all at their posts, bearing their part in Immanuel’s administration. Of course, they all accompany their glorious King on His great white throne in the ethereal firmament during the final judgment, rendering valuable and important service. During the period of earth’s cremation, sanctification, and celestialization, of course they are absent, up in heaven. Now we see them coming down to take possession and forever enjoy this world in its heavenly state. We find here a double signification of “New Jerusalem.” It means the substantial, real city. It also means the members of the bridehood, who inhabit the city. Hence the New Jerusalem is the bride of Christ and the mother of God’s children. (Galatians 4:25.)

3. These verses clearly and unmistakably reveal and vividly describe the heavenly state of this world. How people have read their Bibles over and over, and still believe that this earth will be burned up and blotted out of existence, is paradoxical in the extreme; because you have here a positive revelation that God will remake this earth, transforming it into a heavenly world, in which there will be no sorrow, pain, nor tears. Hence you see mortality and probation are out of the question, and heaven’s ineffable glory will shine and shout forever.

7. He that conquereth shall inherit these things, and I will be God unto Him, and he shall be a son unto Me.” In this verse, the Holy Spirit unequivocally and irrevocably confirms the glorious and consolatory doctrine of the saints’ everlasting inheritance of this glorified earth throughout the flight of the heavenly ages. The saints possess very little of this world at the present day, but rest assured, they will have it all in the good time coming. They will soon possess the millennial world, and in God’s good time, this earth, re-created and transformed into a glorious heaven, to shine and shout throughout all eternity. Oh, who would not forsake all to follow Jesus!

8. But to the cowardly, the unbelieving, the abominable, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their part is in the lake burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” You see this long, black catalogue, exhibitory of all the crimes that ever blackened earth and crowded hell. Don’t forget that cowardice heads the list. Why is this? Because cowardice sends more people to hell than any other sin in the category of pandemonium. Were it not for cowardice, people could get rid of all their dark iniquities, though hideous enough to make a demon blush. Why don’t you come to the altar and seek the Lord till you find Him in a sky-blue conversion? Cowardice, is the answer. Why don’t you seek entire sanctification with all your heart till it comes on you like a sunburst from the throne? Cowardice solves the whole problem. If you are not brave enough to fight a regiment of devils, and brook the contempt of earth and hell, you will never get to heaven. Is it possible you are going to make your bed in hell-fire for sheer cowardice?

9-27. THE CELESTIAL CAPITAL

We now reach the closing scene of this wonderful prophetical panorama. One of the seven angels having the seven last vials of wrath serves as John’s escort to the summit of a lofty mountain, from whose dizzy apex the illuminated eye takes in a view of this wonderful metropolis descending out of heaven from God. John’s description, which is doubtless veritable and real, sounds like the wildest hyperbole. The material of the city consists of the most valuable gems that ever decked a monarch’s crown — golden streets, pearly gates, and jasper walls. This wonderful city is a perfect cube, fifteen hundred miles long, wide, and high The material is transparent, so immortal eyes interpenetrate this mighty emporium, unobstructed by intervening streets. We find the apostles and prophets, representative of both dispensations, exceedingly prominent in this city. All this is in glorious harmony with its bridehood identity. We have here the blessed assurance that all whose names are superscribed in the Lamb’s book of life shall have a welcome in this wonderful city. I have seen the important cities of America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. God, in mercy, grant that my feet shall one day tread the golden streets of the New Jerusalem! John calls it the Holy City. Hence you must be holy, if you ever enter it. It is very consolatory to us to know that the city of God will come within the range of distinct visibility from this world. Will it not be on this earth? I do not so understand the revelation. An object fifteen hundred miles long, wide, and high, consisting of the most radiant gems, diamonds, rubies, and all manner of precious stones, radiating and flashing their glorious light through the ethereal void, would certainly be visible at a great distance. Remember, John found it necessary to ascend that lofty mountain in order to see it. What is this city? It is the glorious capital of the heavenly universe, and, of course, the residence of our blessed Heavenly Father. On what does it stand? It does not stand on anything. It is itself the center of universal gravitation. Hence it does not need anything on which to rest. During the reign of sin and Satan, it is withdrawn far away from this poor, dark world. After the grand and glorious restitutionary work of Christ is fully consummated, sin and sinners forever removed, earth and atmosphere gloriously sanctified, and all renovated in the beauty of heavenly investiture, and committed to saints and angels, then the very metropolis of the glory-world comes very nigh, and brightens earth and sky with her unwaning effulgence. Of course, the cremation of the earth will destroy the cities, with all other works of human art. This glorious ethereal metropolis is called the New Jerusalem, in contradistinction to old Jerusalem, which now stands on Mts. Zion, Moriah, Bezetha, and Acra, and is destined to be so magnitudinous, conspicuous, and influential during the millennial ages. Hypothetically, this newly-created celestial world, densely populated with saints and angels, will not build cities; but the countless millions, basking in the glory of unadulterated bliss, amid the grand effulgence of this the real Jerusalem, will enjoy and patronize it as the metropolis of the whole earth.

24. The nations shall walk through its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it.

26. They shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.” In the glorious and triumphant restitution of God’s saints back to this world, after it shall have been transferred into a beautiful celestial sphere, doubtless the nations will reconstruct their former identities in their reoccupancy of the earth. We see from these Scriptures the beautiful conservatism of all nations to the New Jerusalem, through the onward flight of eternal ages. For “night shall not be there.” This city is the metropolis of the great King, the center of universal gravitation, and the capital of the boundless celestial empire. Of course there will be no night, for God Himself will be there, and He is original light. All other luminaries shine by His command. Not only will this wonderful city, fifteen hundred miles long, wide, and high, be ineffably glorious with the divine illumination, but the unutterable effulgence will irradiate this and all other celestial worlds with light and glory, forever expelling darkness, and verifying the promise, “Night shall not be here”

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Revelation 21:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/revelation-21.html.

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