It is important to see a link or theme within chapters 19:20, 20:10 & 21:8, the lake of eternal destruction shows the contrast between Christ’s victory for us, and Christ’s punishment for our enemies. There is no room in these chapters for a separate theology of millennialism, pre or post, to cloud our view of reigning with Christ now!
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth” v1, The new Jerusalem was a reality and existing many years before Revelation was written. What this passage reveals is God’s description of the glorious replacement of the Roman world authority, with a new Godly world authority in Christ. The old Jerusalem was for Judaism but the new Jerusalem is for the whole world!
“A Bride adorned for her Husband” v2, The woman, or church is now finished with her trial, being chased and persecuted. How does she look after the battle? Not worn & blood-stained, but beautiful, faithful and new. “The Tabernacle of God is with men” v3, God lives with “anthropos” in the Greek, correctly translated, “humanity”. The word tabernacle is used to show God’s mobility amongst us in the world. The new Jerusalem is truly global. 1st Cor. 3:16, Eph. 2:20ff, 1st Pet. 2:5. “He will shall wipe away every tear” v4, God’s comforting strength and indwelling presence is an effectual reality for his children who are facing persecution. Isaiah talks of God wiping away tears for his children on earth, Isa. 25:8, so we have no reason to think this divine act is strictly or literally limited to the future, but rather it’s possible here and now. We do not weep as those with no hope, but rather continually have reason to rejoice. Isaiah repeatedly remarks on God’s present care in comforting his suffering children, Isa. 14:3, 30:19, 35:9, 65:13-19. As there will no longer be any old world order (Rome) there will be no more death from Rome.
“I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life” v6, Herein is the root cause for the effect of comfort in wiping our tears in His dwelling with us. We are made to drink of Him, 1st Cor. 12:13. Jesus spoke of this water to the Samaritan woman and the Jews at the Feast, Jn. 4:14 & 7:38-39.
“The Second Death” v8, Death itself is personified and it is finished in the lake that destroyed the Beast, false-prophet & the devil, 19:20-20:10. There is a day when the Roman Empire will no longer use martyrdom against the church, Rev. 20:14. Jesus spoke of death as something we will not even “see”, Jon. 8:51. But cowards, the faithless and perverts will see it along with murderers and all liars.
“The Glory of God” v11, The church in God’s view is splendid and secure with high walls. Precious costly jewels surround it as a Bride, after all, his Son paid for it with his blood, 1st Pet. 1:18-19. “12 gates…12 angels…12 foundation stones” v13-14, The gates never close, v25 because it’s growing! Angels are messengers much like each of the 7 churches have, 2:1-3:14, The authoritative care and security for the holiness given to all who enter, becoming a part of the body of the bride of Christ, this City. 12 names on the gates represent the family nature of all citizens. The foundation stones with 12 apostle’s names show us their authority from Jesus being the chief corner stone, Eph. 2:20. Our apostles & prophets are living in this word we grow from, called the New Testament.
“A golden reed to measure the City” v15 The One who did the measuring is known in 4:2 as God Himself, measuring like Ezekiel measured, Ezk. 40-43. Why? To emphasize the glorious Holiness of those who live in this City. The several 12s in the size of the City tell of our divine and powerful protection of the city and it’s citizens. Never would any enemy even dent the wall, much less gain entry through the open gates. 1500 mile high walls, jeweled and thick as 72 yards, forming a big cube, v16. This speaks of the City as secure as a nation with eternal guards, 1st Pet. 2:9.
“Nations will walk by it’s light…Kings of the earth will bring their glory into it” v24, The Lamb in the center is the light as the sun shining through glass-like jeweled walls. How would this affect the Nations outside? Blinding brilliance! Jesus is the light of the world, Jn 8:12. Jesus is King of kings and we see Isaiah talk about old Jerusalem becoming victorious with the worlds strength flowing into it, Isa. 60:1-20. This City is the triumphant church of our history and we are now in it. The persecuted church John wrote to needs this glorious identity, which Isaiah prophesied about and the old Jerusalem can’t see with it’s veil of Moses’ law being read, 2nd Cor. 3:13-16. The darkness outside the City reminds us of the darkness of the plague before the last plague in Egypt, when they gave gifts to the Hebrews leaving for freedom, Ex. 10:21-11:4. We leave our old self for a new life in this City NOW, Jn. 10:10. Peter spoke of God’s glory in our hearts, 1st Peter 1:8-10, promising us reception of the crown of glory, 1st Pet. 5:4.