After crossing the River of Death in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian and Hopeful continue on to Mount Zion and the Celestial City. The King’s trumpeters welcome them with joy. Approaching the gate, the two pilgrims find “written over it, in letters of gold, ‘Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the Tree of Life; and may enter in through the gates into the city’ [Rev. 22:14].”
After the Fall, the door to Eden had been closed (Gen. 3:23–24). But one day the gates of heaven and of the New Jerusalem will open for us, not because of our own merit but because of the shed blood of the Lamb of God.
The Book of Revelation describes the New Jerusalem as a city brilliantly lit with the glory of God (v. 11). It has twelve gates—the tribes of Israel (v. 12)—and twelve foundations— the apostles (v. 14). It is called “the bride, the wife of the Lamb” because God’s people live there (v. 9), that is, “those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (v. 27). The foundations are decorated with a colorful variety of precious and beautiful gems (vv. 19–20). The streets are paved with pure gold, and each of the twelve gates is a single pearl (v. 21). The city gates will always be open, for this place is absolutely secure (v. 25; Isa. 60:11). According to the angel’s measurements, the city is perfectly symmetrical (vv. 15–17)—a cube, just like the Most Holy Place in the temple.
Notice that no temple is needed here! The entire city is a Most Holy Place, for the Lord is actually present here at all times (v. 22). His glory lights the city (v. 23). All the world will kneel before Him (vv. 24–26)!
>> Pearls have historically symbolized purity, humility, wisdom, and other virtues. Jesus used a valuable pearl as a symbol of the worth of the kingdom of God (Matt. 13:45–46). Rejoice today that one day we, like Christian and Hopeful, will walk through those “pearly gates”!