We measure things to make sure that they reach the proper standard. Here, the angel (special servant of God) measures the city to prove that it is perfect. The standard that the angel uses is a gold rod (stick). Gold is a pure metal and therefore the standard itself is perfect.
Like the temple (house of God) that Ezekiel saw (Ezekiel 42:16-20), the New Jerusalem is a perfect square. Its size astonishes us. 12000 stadia is 1400 miles or 2200 kilometres. No city on the present earth has ever been so great and vast. There is room for all Godís people here (John 14:2) and they are very many (7:9). This is just the area that the walls surround; the New Jerusalem also rules the whole of Godís new earth (21:24).
If the length and width of the New Jerusalem astonish us, its height astonishes us even more. Its height is also 1400 miles or 2200 kilometres. In Babel, people tried to build a city that reached heaven (Genesis 11:4). Perhaps the people in Babylon proudly imagined that their city could achieve it (Jeremiah 51:53). Of course they were unsuccessful. Only the New Jerusalem, Godís city, can unite heaven and earth.
A great city like Babylon had a thick wall, because that made the city strong (Jeremiah 51:58). The New Jerusalemís walls are very thick: 144 cubits is 200 feet or 65 metres.
The number 144, of course, is 12 times 12. The number 12 constantly appears in Johnís description of the New Jerusalem (21:12-21). The number 12 is the number that we associate with Godís people - both the people from Israel (21:12) and the Christians (21:14). In the New Jerusalem they join together as one nation, the people of God (Romans 11:11-32). Rulers build great cities in order to impress people, to show their power or to add to their wealth (Daniel 4:30). However, God will make the New Jerusalem in order to provide a home for his people (Hebrews 11:16; Hebrews 13:14). They matter to him more than anything else (22:3-5).
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© 2016, Keith Simons.