THE CITY FOURSQUARE – Hebrews 11+ 13

For we have not here an abiding city, but we seek after the city which is to come.

Hebrews 13:14 ASV

The temporary and ephemeral nature of all earthly possessions is in view here, focusing the mind of Christians upon the eternal city that cometh down from God out of heaven.

The tendency of all people to view their earthly life, dwelling, and possessions as all there is in life, is materialism.

It is the vision of the eternal things that provides the only safe antidote for the prevailing virus of materialism; and the spread of Communist ideology during the current century may be accounted for only upon the basis that people have a lack of faith in God and the things “unseen as yet.”

Communism is primarily a manifestation of that blind materialism which is the philosophical heart of their system, which reduces man to the level of a turnip, or a pig, makes him as expendable as a sack of potatoes, or a shovel full of coal, and which grants to the individual the right of life itself, only upon sufferance of the godless and fickle state.

They have rejected the destiny of man as being a home with God beyond the stars and have anchored their dreams in the mud-flats of earth.

Which should a man choose, the stars with God, or the mud-flats with Marx, and all of the modern equivalents in countries across the Earth? (A growing number run the United States right now)

for he looked for the city which hath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Hebrews 11:10 ASV

In Genesis 22:7, God promised Abraham that his seed should possess the gates of their enemies, meaning that their cities should be taken over by Israel; but this was only a metaphor of a still more important city that shall be possessed by the redeemed, the spiritual seed of Abraham; and this verse indicates that Abraham fully understood the spiritual reality of the Eternal City that cometh down from God out of heaven (Revelation 21:2), also called the heavenly Jerusalem.

Regarding that city:

Believers, after the judgment, shall all be joined in one society or community with the angels.

It is called a city which has firm foundations, because it is a community which is never to be dissolved.

THE CITY FOURSQUARE

The city that comes down from God out of heaven, called the City Foursquare, is beautifully described in Revelation 21-22, a truly magnificent passage, brimming with metaphor, and richly embellished with brilliant symbols.

It appears that the very science of language as a vehicle of communication breaks down under the weight of the joys and glories there described.

The city is represented as walled, strong, impregnable, eternal, protected, and safe. Only happiness, serenity, and superlative joy are found therein.

God’s presence is the light of it; his throne is the center of it; his worship is the occupation of it; and his people are the citizens of it.

There is no death, no pain, no tears, no mourning, no suffering, and no sorrow.

The tree of life grows there on either side of the river of life that flows out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

The tree bears its fruit twelve seasons in the year; and its leaves are for the healing of the nations. Each of the twelve gates is a single pearl; its twelve foundations, inscribed with the names of the twelve apostles, are each a precious stone.

Its streets are pure gold. The king and rulers of the earth bring their riches and glory into it; and its gates shall never close.

Nothing impure or offensive shall ever enter it. “And there shall be night no more; and they need no light of lamp, neither light of sun; for the Lord God shall give them light; and they shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 22:5).

The gross literalization of this masterpiece would be a mistake; however, it should never be forgotten that the eternal dwelling place of the soul is real, genuine, and certain. It is not a mere poetic abstraction; but it is undergirded with eternal stability, for God is the maker of it.

Yet, after all this is understood, it should be plain to all that any true comprehension of ALL THAT CITY IS must await man’s final entry into it.

Much of the descriptive language is related more to principles of spiritual reality than to material objects.

For example, when each gate of the city is described as a single pearl, it is quickly apparent that a pearl, caused by an annoyance to an oyster, is the most beautiful illustration in all the natural world of changing a hardship or obstacle into a blessing.

Further, the street of gold absolutely compels the student to seek a spiritual explanation, that is, a metaphorical explanation.

Does the inspired writer intend to convey the thought that such things as the urban traffic problems of our earthly cities shall be resolved eternally by such a device as gold metal streets in the place of asphalt and concrete?

Indeed, is it intended that we shall understand any traffic at all in such a place as heaven?

Is it not rather far more likely that the inspired author wishes that we shall understand that the base yellow metal which people worship in this age, and for the possession of which every crime ever known is daily perpetrated – that in THAT CITY, wealth, even pure gold, shall at last have found its proper place, not as an idol god to be sought and worshipped at any cost of sin or shame, but as something UNDERFOOT, gold no longer supreme, but beneath everything?

It has long been the conviction of this writer that the spiritual implications of Biblical descriptions of such things as the City Foursquare are indeed profound, and that what they symbolize is a million times more wonderful than any strictly literal meaning could ever be.

The scriptures plainly say that “It is not yet made manifest what we shall be” (1 John 3:2), and there is far more than a hint that man’s imagination itself is incapable of projecting any adequate concept of such a thing as heaven.

Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, And which entered not into the heart of man, Whatosever things God prepared for them that love him (1 Corinthians 2:9).

And he who talked to me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its breadth; and he measured the city with his rod, twelve thousand stadia; its length and breadth and height are equal. He also measured its wall, a hundred and forty-four cubits by a man’s measure, that is, an angel’s. The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every jewel; the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.
Revelation 21:15‭-‬21 RSV

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