Does heaven really have pearly gates?
Ever wonder what heaven will be like? If we were to believe the culture, we’d be wearing bath robes, floating on clouds, and strumming harps. With lots of chubby babies around – for what reason, I’m not sure.
However, God does give us a description of His holy city. God reveals this description to the Apostle John, who (fortunately for us) recorded what he saw. In this part of John’s description, he details what he sees as the angel measures New Jerusalem:
Then he measured its wall, 144 cubits according to human measurement, which the angel used. The building material of its wall was jasper, and the city was pure gold clear as glass. The foundations of the city wall were adorned with every kind of jewel:
the first foundation is jasper,
the second sapphire,
the third chalcedony,
the fourth emerald,
the fifth sardonyx,
the sixth carnelian,
the seventh chrysolite,
the eighth beryl,
the ninth topaz,
the tenth chrysoprase,
the eleventh jacinth,
the twelfth amethyst.
Some of these stones we recognize, others we may not. Remember, John is describing what he sees as best he can – relating his observations to things he is familiar with. Interestingly enough, many of these precious “foundational” stones listed here were also in the breastplate of Israel’s High Priest.
What we do know for sure is that the city is prepared like a bride adorned for her husband (21:2), and after unveiling the city, when God said “I am making everything new.” (21:5)…and He means it. These descriptions of Heaven aren’t like the sleepy, harp-strumming, so-boring-I’m-going-to-gouge-my-eyes-out portrayals we get from modern culture.
Just imagine seeing this as you walk into New Jerusalem:
The twelve gates are twelve pearls; each individual gate was made of a single pearl. The main street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.
The largest pearl found on earth is about 1 foot in diameter and is estimated to be worth about $130 million USD. What kind of artistry goes into making entire city gates out of individual pearls? Do they shine, do they glimmer? How would these gates feel to the touch?
The magnificence of New Jerusalem certainly overwhelms John. When I let my imagination play with his descriptions, I can’t help but be filled with awe and wonder at the thought of just being there…
And then I remember what God previously announced to John, that the one who conquers will inherit these things (21:7)…being there, in the New Jerusalem, will be wonderful; however, we are invited to inherit it. Since inheritance is conditional, our choices now determine if we are an conqueror or not.
What, exactly, can we inherit in the New Jerusalem? We’re not told “exactly” what that will entail…however, given the overwhelming descriptions of New Jerusalem’s beauty, and God’s promises to those who are conquerors – it would be safe to say that living for Christ now, no matter what cost we pay in this life, has an eternal reward far beyond what we would call “good” or “worth it”.