“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11).
“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:22-27).
Remember that the New Jerusalem is the Christian Church. This new city contains no temple because the Father and Son are the Temple, and the entire city is the body of the Son. The Christian Church is the Holy of Holies, and so the city is the Temple. No sun is necessary, and no moon, because it is lit by the glory of God. As the Israelites had the Shekinah glory to accompany them by night and day, so also the saints of God have the glory of God that lightens their way. The Lamb Himself is the light of the city—“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). The Lamb is the light of the city, and the nations that are saved shall walk in the light provided by Him. The kings of the earth—distinct from the city—bring their glory and honor into the city. In other words, the nations of men do homage to the church. The city is unthreatened, with the gates never shut. The gates are not shut during the day, and it is always day, never night. John then repeats the fact that the glory and honor of the nations is brought into the church. Nothing enters the church that would defiled her—no one who does abominable things, or who fashions a lie. The only ones who enter are those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life, meaning the elect.
Throughout this passage, John is riffing off the Isaianic vision. The New Jerusalem is illuminated by the glory of God alone (v. 23). And Isaiah says this: “The sun shall be no more thy light by day; Neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: But the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory” (Is. 60:19).
This city shall be a light of the world; the nations of men will stream to it. The nations of the saved will walk in the light provided by the city. And Isaiah says this same thing: “And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (Is. 60:3).
The kings of the earth bring their glory and honor to her; the nations of men bring their honor and glory to the city of God. And Isaiah says the same thing. “And their kings shall minister unto thee . . .” (Is. 60:10). “And that their kings may be brought . . .” (Is. 60:11) “The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee . . .” (Is. 60:13).
The gates of the New Jerusalem shall not be shut during the day, and it is always day. This is basically what Isaiah foretold: “Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night . . .” (Is. 60:11).
John repeats himself when he says that the Gentile nations will bring their glory to the church. Isaiah repeats the point as well. “Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; Because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee” (Is. 60:5).
No one is permitted to track in anything that defiles. No sin will be scraped off on the golden streets. Isaiah had a vision for this kind of holiness as well. “Thy people also shall be all righteous: They shall inherit the land for ever, The branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified” (Is. 60:21). Note it well. The people will all be righteous.
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And gross darkness the people: But the Lord shall arise upon thee, And his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, And kings to the brightness of thy rising” (Is. 60:1–3).