The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. Revelation 21:23
Describing the glory of New Jerusalem, John had just noted that there was no temple in it, explaining why. Now, he continues by saying, “The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it.”
The words are reflective of those of Isaiah 60 –
“Violence shall no longer be heard in your land,
Neither wasting nor destruction within your borders;
But you shall call your walls Salvation,
And your gates Praise.
19 “The sun shall no longer be your light by day,
Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you;
But the Lord will be to you an everlasting light,
And your God your glory.
20 Your sun shall no longer go down,
Nor shall your moon withdraw itself;
For the Lord will be your everlasting light,
And the days of your mourning shall be ended.” Isaiah 60:18-20
This does not say that these heavenly orbs will not exist, but that there is no need for them. The idea takes the reader back to the very beginnings of creation –
“Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth’; and it was so. 16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.” Genesis 1:14-19
These luminaries were set in the heavens to “rule the day” and to “rule the night.” In the state of the New Jerusalem, there will be no need for such rule because a new order of things will exist. The idea of light has various meanings including spiritual revelation and understanding, knowledge, comfort, holiness, goodness, hope, grace, and so on. None of these things will be lacking, as John notes, “for the glory of God illuminated it.”
The Greek word is phótizó. It is a verb signifying to illuminate, bring to light, make evident, and so on. It is from the noun phós, meaning light, a source of light, or radiance. God’s glory is what brings forth the eternal light that shines in New Jerusalem. Daniel speaks of such things –
“And He changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise
And knowledge to those who have understanding.
22 He reveals deep and secret things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
And light dwells with Him.” Daniel 2:21, 22
Jesus, speaking to the disciples, makes this comment concerning light and dark –
“Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” John 11:9, 10
And John conveys this note concerning light in his first epistle –
“This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:5-7
These are but a few of the many verses that refer to the nature of light and darkness. There will be no time or place in New Jerusalem where the things that light signifies will be lacking. God’s transcendent glory will shine forth throughout the city, and it will dispel all darkness. This is because God’s glory will illuminate the city and, as John says, “The Lamb is its light.”
Rather, the translation should say, “The Lamb is its lamp.” The Greek word is luchnos. It signifies a lamp or an “illuminator.” It is Christ, the God/Man, through whom the light of God is transmitted. All of the attributes of light described above, and any that have been overlooked, are revealed in and through the light of God as it is revealed through Christ. As in the previous verse, the description of Jesus as the Lamb is given. It is through His sacrificial work that this is revealed:
Christ died for the sins of the people, purifying all hint of darkness from them.
Christ was buried, taking away all sin and darkness from them.
Christ rose again, victorious over death, demonstrating that He is God and in Him there is no darkness at all.
Understanding this, there is no distinction to be made between “God” and “the Lamb” in this verse. Because Christ is God, He is the light –
“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:4, 5
The same word, phós, is used by John to indicate both the illumination of God and the illumination of Christ Jesus. It is His deity that is being referred to.
Life application: The New Jerusalem will have a completely different order for the existence of the people of God. In our current order, we have set needs that can only be met by the existence of the sun and by the revolution of the earth, moon, etc. Everything is carefully balanced so that the sun shines a certain amount of time, and it is hidden at others. The heating of the sun causes the water to evaporate, and its light produces photosynthesis in plants. The way the earth is designed now and the way it interacts with the heavenly bodies is what keeps life going.
However, in New Jerusalem the city will have no need of such things. Those living in this city will have a completely different source of life-giving energy and it will be far more glorious than what we currently have.
Our present order works for our benefit, but it also works against us. The sun’s rays can cause skin cancer. Sunbursts, which come sporadically, can affect our electric and communications infrastructure, etc. These things will no longer occur because in New Jerusalem the glory of God will be the Source of light.
As God is the Source and Creator of all things, nothing in the creation can compare to Him. Billions of constellations and billions of stars in each constellation all came from the wisdom of His mind and the power of His word. If the universe were to run down to the state of a cold dead battery a thousand times over, the power of God would still be as strong and glorious as it was at the original creation.
It is this Light and Life-sustaining Source that will illuminate New Jerusalem, with Jesus Christ as the lamp of that light. He is the One who is ever revealing the glory of the unseen God. We will see Him in all His fullness, and we will be eternally refreshed. It may be that there will be no need for sleep or eating, but eating will still be possible as there will be trees with fruit there (see verse 22:2).
In this beautiful city, we will be like the Lord in that we will be eternal, and we will be in a glorified state. There will be no sinful nature in us, and we will be eternally filled with His glory. What is coming simply can’t be grasped because we now get tired, we get old, and we die. None of these things will occur and there will be existence that isn’t concerned with time, haste, or stress.
This all awaits the redeemed of the Lord, and it is this glory that you too can participate in, if you will just reach out and receive God’s offer of reconciliation. Reach out today for the Lamb. Reach out for JESUS!
Wonderful Lord Jesus! How we look with anticipation to the glories that lie ahead. Now, even in our most joyous moments, we know that there is an end to them and that we will again come down from the fleeting peak of exhilaration we feel. But such won’t be the case when we are in Your presence. The state of awe and wonder will never end. May this day be soon! Amen.