“and he…showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel…on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed…the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (a portion of Revelation 21:10-14 – you can read the full text).”
A nephew of mine who sadly died when he was 11 came to a sudden surprising revelation when he was reading a story from the Bible with his parents when he was much younger. Something that his parents said made the proverbial lightbulb go off in his mind. With a note of surprise in his voice he said: “Wait a minute! You mean we aren’t Jewish?” If we know the great story of the Bible and understand it as one story, as opposed to a collection of unrelated stories, then we can surely understand his reaction.
In the text of scripture listed above, I have only listed a portion of Revelation 21:10-14; however, if you read that whole text you will see that it is the beginning of a description of the New Jerusalem. While there is still more of the description to come, what is found in this section surely sounds glorious. The specific portion listed above makes a point concerning our story if we are in Christ Jesus. The New Jerusalem is a symbol of God’s people dwelling together in eternity. As the city is described we hear of gates that have the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel inscribed on them, and twelve foundations that have on them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. These are all a part of the same city.
What is the relevance of this detail? Well, these things are to point out that what we call the Old and the New Testaments are part of one plan of God, not two. In times like our day, when things seem to change so rapidly and the future seems so uncertain, it is good to know that we are a part of a great story over which God stands sovereign. That is especially true when we know that for all who belong to Him, both Jew and Gentile alike, it ends in such a glorious reality.