Friday, 27 August 2021
And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Revelation 21:24
Having noted the state of the New Jerusalem, being without the need of sun or moon, John next states, “And the nations of those who are saved.” Some manuscripts omit the words “of those who are saved.” Also, the Greek word en reads dia. Thus, it reads, “And the nations will walk by its light” (BLB).
Either way, stated explicitly or not, the implication is clear. All of those who are not saved have already been chucked into the Lake of Fire. As such, only the saved will be a part of this new, eternal economy. How they are divided into nations goes unstated, but we are given the sense that there will be an order and structure to society, just as there is today. However, it will be one that is without sin. Because of this, it will be a perfectly functioning society.
Of those groups of peoples, we are told that they will walk by (amidst) the light just described in the previous verse. The light of the glory of God will illuminate the city as it is conveyed by the Lamb, who is its lamp. With that noted, John next says, “and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.”
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown takes this to mean, “who once had regard only to their glory.” In other words, these were kings during their earthly rule. The Pulpit Commentary says, “Not that there are literal kings and earth. The language is intended to convey an idea of God’s supreme glory and unquestioned authority. There are now no kings to dispute his sway.”
There is nothing that says that there is not a literal earth. As noted in the commentary of verse 20:13, if there are directions (east, north, south, and west), there must be something by which to mark out those directions. It implies that there is still a sunrise and a sunset and that the earth is still marked according to the directions by which that occurs.
There would also be no reason to note that there are kings if there are not to be kings. Nothing in this diminishes the glory of the King of kings. As such, there is as much reason to consider these words as literal as to take them symbolically. However, it cannot be denied that they may – in fact – be symbolic.
It may simply mean (and it even seems likely) that all of the great people of past ages will be no different than the common people. The greatest king will bring the honor he had into the city just as the common man. The honor which was in the past is brought into this city, and it will be inconsequential to the glory of the city and especially the glory of God and the light of the Lamb.
In the end, whichever is correct, everything will be perfectly arranged and structured. We need not worry that things will be awkward, unfair, or confused. All of the redeemed will see the wisdom and harmony of God in the structure of the society.
The idea conveyed in the words of this verse are found to be originally detailed in Isaiah 60:1-14. Reading them will give insights into the millennial reign of Christ and how that will anticipate the final state of things in the eternal state. Psalm 72 also carries hints of this coming glory –
“Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him;
All nations shall serve Him.” Psalm 72:11
“His name shall endure forever;
His name shall continue as long as the sun.
And men shall be blessed in Him;
All nations shall call Him blessed.” Psalm 72:17
Each step of the redemptive narrative logically follows after and builds upon the previous step. Someday, the perfection of that which has been anticipated will be fully realized for the redeemed of the Lord.
Life application: In this verse, the term “nations” is the Greek word ethne. This word is also translated from the Old Testament word goyim, and it generally means non-Israelites, or “Gentiles.” However, this isn’t always the case. A good example of this is Acts 17:26 which is speaking of all people groups, Jew and Gentile alike –
“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings…”
The same is true with the term goyim from the Old Testament; it is not always exclusively used when referring to non-Jewish nations. This verse in Revelation is certainly speaking in the broader sense. It includes all people groups of the redeemed of the ages united into one salvation and one access to the presence of God.
If you are like most, you are a common man or woman who is living your life without pomp and celebrity. But you are treasured and as precious to God as the greatest king who ever walked the earth. Royal robes and the jewels of a crown don’t make the person. Rather, what is inside – and that which reflects God’s glory – is what is of the highest value.
A person with deep and enduring faith, though poor, is far more pleasing to God than a king who questions what God has stated in His word. Have faith in what He has presented, stand fast in times of trouble, and give God the glory at all times. In this, you will be ushered into the New Jerusalem ahead of the nobles whose faith is small. God’s glorious light will shine on you for all eternity.
How to be a true royal now while living out this life? Be saved by Christ, live for Christ, honor God through the giving of His Son – Christ our Lord – and at every chance you have, hail the great and exalted name of Christ. Hail the name of JESUS!
Lord, by the world’s standards I am common and without fame or great fortune, but I love and cherish Your word. I stand fast on its promises, and I hold fast to how it presents You – the Creator, Redeemer, Savior, and Sustainer. I hold fast to my Lord Jesus, and I pray for continued filling of your Holy Spirit all the days of my life. Amen.