“I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light.”
Revelation 21:22-23 NLT
There will be three things missing from the New Jerusalem. No temple, no sun and no moon. As we think about the implications of this, our minds start to struggle a bit. To Western Christians, the lack of the Temple, or even any churches, would not seem to be too much of a big deal. But to the Jews, the Temple was the focal point of their experience of God. So for there not to be one, in theory it could be a great disappointment for them.
The lack of a sun and moon would be a problem for everyone. We look at the sun as a celestial body that has always been there, a fundamental object providing us with light and warmth, and the presence of the moon a reassuring constancy during the dark and sun-less hours. But we have to remember that earlier in this chapter John “ … saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone.” (Revelation 21:1 NLT). We don’t know if all the celestial objects that fill the universe disappeared as well. But we do know that there will be a new Heaven and a new earth. There will be a New Jerusalem there and “the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light”.
So what does the glory of God look like? If we are thinking of a sun or moon replacement, then we have fallen far short of what the glory of God is. It’s not a natural light and heat source that will be illuminating the Holy City. Our perception of the sun is bounded by our human senses – our eyes for the light and our nerves within our skin to detect heat. If we look in the Bible we can get a glimpse of what the glory of God is. It’s His beauty, and His character, for starters. It says in Isaiah 43:7, that we are His glory – “Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them”. Hebrews 1:3a tells us about the glory of God’s Son, Jesus. We read, “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, … ”. And in a sense, His glory is within us. We read in 2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” There was an intriguing dialogue between Jesus and His Father, that John recorded in his Gospel. Jesus said, “Father, bring glory to Your name.” Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to My name, and I will do so again.”” (John 12:28). But all of this hardly scratches the surface of what God’s glory is. We may be able to have a go at listing all the attributes and adjectives that describe God’s glory, but what will be lacking from our words is that complete experience of what it means to see at first hand the glory of God.
When we pilgrims consider the glory of God I’m sure we agree that it is something far beyond anything we can get our minds around. The Apostle Paul perceptively summed up our limited God-experience, as we read in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely“.
But we pray that we will get to know God better. One day we will find out what His glory is really like and I suspect we will be saying “Wow!” for all eternity.
Father God. What can we say or do other than fall on our knees in worship to You. words cannot describe Your wonder, Your glory. Amen.