Saturday, 28 August 2021
Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). Revelation 21:25
Of New Jerusalem, the previous verse said that those who enter will walk in its light and that the kings of the earth will bring their glory and honor into it. This is now further explained by the words of this verse. First, John says, “Its gates shall not be shut at all by day.”
The idea of shutting a gate is for protection from harm, or the shutting out of that which is defiled or unacceptable. When Adam was cast out of Eden, cherubim were placed at the east of the garden, protected by a flaming sword “which turned every way.” This was after the sixth day of creation, signifying that the intended place of rest (for worshiping and serving the Lord) was taken from the man. Instead, he would toil until he returned to the dust.
Gates are normally kept open during the day unless there is a battle going on or for some other reason. A battle has raged among humanity since his expulsion from Eden. That battle ended with the casting of Satan and those who belong to him into the Lake of Fire.
New Jerusalem will have no enemies and therefore there will never be a need to close the gates to the city to protect its inhabitants. As noted, in ancient times, this would occur during the day if enemies were spotted, but the gates were closed during the nights as a precaution because the darkness hid those who may attack.
In New Jerusalem, there will only be the realization of absolute peace and harmony within the city, and there will only be constant light within. As such, there will be permanent access to this city of God. However, as noted above, enemy attacks aren’t the only reason why the gates were closed to the earthly Jerusalem. Two other reasons which are important to note will be reviewed.
First, in the time of Nehemiah, people were coming to the city on the Sabbath and trying to sell to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Nehemiah took control of the situation and mandated that the gates were to be closed throughout the Sabbath. This would preclude violations of this day of rest, symbolically taking man back to Genesis 2 where Adam was placed (rested) in the Garden –
“So it was, at the gates of Jerusalem, as it began to be dark before the Sabbath, that I commanded the gates to be shut, and charged that they must not be opened till after the Sabbath. Then I posted some of my servants at the gates, so that no burdens would be brought in on the Sabbath day.” Nehemiah 13:19
However, the eternal state in the New Jerusalem is God’s “Day of Rest” for His redeemed. The eternal seventh day of Genesis 2:3 is realized for God’s people in the work of Jesus Christ. What was removed from Adam because of his transgression is restored through the work of Christ.
This is the reason why Christians don’t have a “Sabbath” day (despite what various cults proclaim). Hebrews 4:3 explains this to us –
“For we who have believed do enter that rest…”
In other words, faith in Christ’s work is what ushers His people into God’s eternal rest. We are now free from a Sabbath observance, an observance that only anticipated the coming of Christ and His restoration of our entrance into the rest Adam had lost. This eternal day will be fully realized in New Jerusalem where the gates of the city are never closed. We will be living in an eternal state of rest from the labors of this life.
A second reason for the closure of one of the gates of Jerusalem is found in Ezekiel 44, and it takes the reader symbolically back to Genesis 3 where man was expelled from the Garden –
“Then He brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary which faces toward the east, but it was shut. 2 And the Lord said to me, ‘This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut. 3 As for the prince, because he is the prince, he may sit in it to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gateway, and go out the same way.’” Ezekiel 44:1-3
Fallen man could not enter the gate which the Lord entered. It was sanctified as holy and therefore it was sealed up. In New Jerusalem, there will be no restrictions on the people concerning the gate(s) which the Lord enters. The Apostle John explains why –
“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:2
Because of the work of Christ, we shall be like Him. We will be pure, spotless, and undefiled. Our nature will no longer bear the stain of sin; we will have moved completely from Adam to Christ. Because of this, there will be no gate that is sealed up to the believer. We will have free and complete access into this glorious city.
In seeing this, John finishes the verse with, “(there shall be no night there).” The thought is set off as parenthetical. Of this, the Pulpit Commentary says, “The gates shall never be shut, either by day or night; but it is superfluous to say, “by night,” for there is no night there.”
Nothing is superfluous in the word of God. The meaning is that in the city there shall be no night there. It doesn’t mean that there is no night at all. If the city is descended from heaven to sit upon the earth, as is stated in the text (see verse 21:2), and if there are points on the compass by which the city is situated (see verse 21:14), and as the Greek meaning of two of those points is “dayspring” (the east), and “a setting” (the west), then there will be a sun. As there will be the rising and setting of the sun, then there will be day and night – but not in the city itself. Inside the city, which is a cubed edifice, there will never be day and night. It is the place of the eternal Day of God’s rest where the light of God will be illuminated by the Lamb, who is the lamp, for all eternity.
The symbolism is what is to be highlighted. Albert Barnes does a good job of explaining it –
“It shall be all day; all unclouded splendor. When, therefore, it is said that the gates should not be ‘shut by day,’ it means that they would never be shut. When it is said that there would be no night there, it is, undoubtedly, to be taken as meaning that there would be no literal darkness, and nothing of which night is the emblem: no calamity, no sorrow, no bereavement, no darkened windows on account of the loss of friends and kindred.”
New Jerusalem is the return to the presence of God. It is restoration to the Garden of Eden. No longer will the cherubim’s flaming sword turn in all directions to keep man out. Rather, after he has spent ten billion times ten billion years traveling the universe and searching out the wonders of God’s mysteries, he can freely enter through the gates, into the very presence of God, and there experience the rest that is granted to all who simply come to Him by faith in the work of Christ Jesus.
Life application: Isaiah had a glimpse of the glorious time ahead during his ministry, and he must have wondered how it could be. He was under the Sabbath rules of the law, and he dwelt among a “people of unclean lips.” He must have wondered and contemplated the glory which lay ahead for God’s people.
“Therefore your gates shall be open continually;
They shall not be shut day or night,
That men may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles,
And their kings in procession.” Isaiah 60:11
Isaiah wanted to know, but Peter explains that the words he wrote would only be revealed after Christ’s work –
“Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.” 1 Peter 1:10-12
Now, we have the honor of knowing these things. What a blessed day we live in as we anticipate the fullness of what has been revealed to us! Thank God for what He has done. Thank God for the giving of His Son! Thank God for JESUS!
Lord God, how wonderful it is to know the glories of what lies ahead because of the work which was accomplished before in Christ Jesus. Thank You, Lord, for the cross which has granted us access to the beautiful promises of the future! May the day be soon when You come for Your people, and we behold Your glory forever and ever. Amen.