Jerusalem itself, and its streets, will be composed of the purest gold that will appear as transparent as glass. Each of the twelve gates of the city, which will always be open, will be made of a single pearl and have a powerful angel stationed over them.
Why, however, does God create a NEW Jerusalem even though one already exists (see Revelation 20:9), a holy city through which Christ ruled the world in the Millennium? When will he create it? Who will be in it? How big will the city be? What will be its shape? What purpose will it serve? Will it exist for a short period or for something much longer?
Why will God create not only a unique version of Jerusalem, but also a new universe AND earth? In the next to the last chapter of the entire Bible, after Christ's millennial reign, the death of the devil and most of his demons, God's final judgment on all humans and the purging of all evil in existence (see Revelation 20), the following will occur.
2. And I, John, saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven . . . and they shall be His people; and GOD HIMSELF SHALL BE WITH THEM . . . (Revelation 21:2, HBFV).
The Almighty is recreating Jerusalem, the earth, and the ENTIRE universe so that he can live, in a close face-to-face relationship, with all those he has resurrected and changed into spirit beings! This is the culmination of his great plan to instill his perfect, righteous character into all those who choose to repent of their own ways and take on his.
God and Jesus Christ will place their thrones within the new city so that they can directly interact with, and enjoy the company of, their spiritual children for all eternity. This awesome fact is further reinforced towards the end of chapter 21, where it states the Godhead's throne will be in the city and ALL people will be able to see and interact with them (Revelation 21:22).
How big is it?
How big will God make this newly constructed headquarters of all creation?
The Jerusalem created by God will be a perfect cube, with its length, width and height being 12,000 furlongs (Revelation 21:16). Since a Biblical furlong is about 1/8th of a mile long, the city's dimensions will be 1,500 miles by 1,500 miles by 1,500 miles (2,414 x 2,414 x 2,414 kilometers). This means the city's total area will be 3.375 BILLION cubic miles (14.067 billion cubic kilometers). Comparing this to the total area on the earth's surface (land and sea) of roughly 197 million square miles (510 million square kilometers per the CIA World Factbook), the city's total area will be far bigger than the total surface area of the planet!
The city's wall is 144 cubits thick (verse 17). Bible commentaries vary regarding the length of a cubit, primarily because it was traditionally the distance between a man's elbow and the tip of his middle finger (which, of course, can vary from man to man). Given a range of between 17 to 21 inches (43 to 53 centimeters), the walls will be anywhere from 204 to 252 feet thick (or 62 to 77 meters)!
A symbol of perfection
The number twelve, in Scripture, symbolizes not only God's authority but also completeness and the foundation of a perfect governing group or structure. Not surprisingly, given the city will become the capital and ruling center of the entire universe, this number appears many times in the newly made Jerusalem.
Revelation 21 tells us the city will contain twelve gates, with each of its four sides having three gates each. Each gate, which is made of pearl, will have the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel inscribe on it and an angel manning each one (for twelve angelic beings total). The city's wall will be supported by twelve massive stone blocks (each block will be a unique precious stone - verses 19 and 20), with each one inscribed with the name of one of the twelve apostles. Even the two trees of life (one on each side of the river coming from God's and Christ's throne - see Revelation 22:1 - 2), which will exist within the city limits, will be made to bear fruit for each of the twelve months within a year!
How could gold be CLEAR?
The Bible makes a rather amazing statement regarding the use of gold within the newly made Jerusalem.
The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass . . . And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass (Revelation 21:18, 21, NKJV)
How could such a rare and dense metal like gold appear as clear and transparent as GLASS in this unique version of Jerusalem? Is this an error in Scripture? On the other hand, is it a part of John's vision that is merely symbolic?
It is only in modern times that man has had the science and technology to prove the validity of what God granted John to see almost two thousand years ago! Gold is the most malleable and ductile of all metals. Under tremendous pressure, a single pure U.S. ounce (28 grams) of the metal can now be beaten and stretched into a 300 square foot (28 square meters) sheet! This amazing sheet can be produced so thin that is appears TRANSPARENT. In fact, because gold (unlike silver) can be stretched to appear like clear glass, some aircraft cockpit windows have a thin layer of it applied on top of them in order to retard icing!