Why does the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 need a wall?
An important article that describes what believers will experience after death is “What will we see in heaven? – What happens after death?” The article teaches that believers will live for eternity in the new heaven and new earth described in Revelation 21-22. This new heaven and a new earth includes a city called the new Jerusalem. The question we are concerned with is why does the new Jerusalem described in Revelation 21:10-21 have a wall?
Walls In Ancient Cities
Extra-biblical documents and biblical statements teach that ancient cities were surrounded with walls for protection against thieves and invading armies. For example, the city of Jericho is described as having a wall in Joshua 6. The major impediment that prevented the Israelites from conquering the city was its wall. Consequently, when God told the Israelites how to conquer the city, the obstacle was to destroy its wall.
The LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors. You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead.” Joshua 6:2-5 (NASB)
2 Chronicles 32:1-8 reveals that the walls of Jerusalem, the city of David, provided protection against the Assyrian army led by Sennacherib. Verse 1 refers to fortified cities and verse 2 states that Sennacherib planned to make war against Jerusalem. Consequently, the Jews stopped all of the springs (verse 4) and rebuilt the broken portions of the wall of Jerusalem, erected towers and made weapons (verse 6).
These two passages illustrate the purpose of walls that surrounded cities. Today, walls are used for protection and safety, just as in ancient times.
Walls In The Millennial Kingdom
God has promised that at death every believer will immediately go to heaven (1 Corinthians 5:3; 2 Corinthians 5:6, 8). Revelation 19:7-16 also teaches that every believer will return to earth at the second coming of Christ. Consequently, Old Testament believers (Revelation 20:4) and New Testament believers will enter the future earthly 1,000 year-kingdom after the Sheep and Goat Judgment.
During the future earthly 1,000 year-kingdom, Zechariah 2:4-5 indicates that the population of Jerusalem will be so great that it will extend beyond the walls of the city. As a result, God will provide “a wall of fire” in order to protect the city. That is, the divine wall will serve the purpose of protection.
Walls In The Eternal State
During the eternal state, the city of the New Jerusalem will also have walls according to Revelation 21:9-14, 17-18.
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements. The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. Revelation 21:9-14, 17-18 (NASB)
The wall is described as being made of costly stones. It contains gates and the dimensions of the walls are given in verses 17-18. Verse 12 refers to the wall as “great and high” revealing that the wall of the New Jerusalem is for protection too!
Why would the New Jerusalem have a wall for protection? The answer is that the new Jerusalem does not need a wall since believers will no longer suffer (Revelation 21:4) and no wicked persons will be allowed in the eternal state (Revelation 21:7-8, 27). The wall is provided for symbolic reasons. It communicates that every believer in the eternal state will be protected. Every believer will be safe. So, will the New Jerusalem have a wall? The answer is yes. But it is not necessary in the eternal state. It will be symbolic of peace and safety.
Revelation 22:3-5 describes what every true believer will experience.
There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever. Revelation 22:3-5 (NASB)
Believers look forward to seeing God.
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