Imagine the splendor of heaven… a place so beautiful, so wonderful as to be beyond compare. A place where the Almighty God and the Lamb sit enthroned in all their glory. A place of radiant brilliance, dazzling with precious gems and noble metals. Our finite minds can barely fathom its resplendence.

Our glimpses of heaven in Scripture come from visions of prophets and apostles… anointed men of God. These men had never before seen anything of such magnificence. Their inspired words attempt to describe the incredible sights they were seeing, interspersed with the phrases… “something like”, “the likeness of”, “the appearance of”. Words could not adequately describe the absolute awesomeness of their visions.

“I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” – Revelation 21:2

The apostle John experiences a most extraordinary vision while in exile on the island of Patmos. In the Book of Revelation, he shares a preview of the prophesied end times when God will dwell with His people. A time when heaven will come to earth in the New Jerusalem, the Holy City… a city so glorious, it is illuminated by the radiance of God and the pure light of Christ.

Let us take a closer look at this Holy City…

“The Holy City, Jerusalem… shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.” – Revelation 21:10-12

“The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass… The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.” – Revelation 21:18, 21

Imagine this city so wondrous, so luminous… gleaming like a jewel! Gold so pure as to be transparent like glass. Gates of flawless pearl… walls of clear jasper… streets of glistening gold. This will be the eternal home of all Christians… a place of unfathomable beauty. A place that reflects the grandeur of God and the majesty of Christ.

“The city wall had twelve foundations, and the twelve names of the Lamb’s twelve apostles were on the foundations.” – Revelation 21:14

“The foundations of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone: the first foundation 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.” – Revelation 21:19-20

All twelve city wall foundations are adorned with precious gemstones, sparkling in regal wonder… mirroring the absolute, awesome glory of God. Precious stones, so rare on earth, will be displayed in abundance in heaven. Gemstones so lovely on earth are but a shadow of what their stunning purity and beauty will be in heaven.

Interestingly, all twelve jewels have been discovered to share a unique optical quality… anisotropism. When cross-polarized light passes through anisotropic gems, a rainbow of radiant colors appears. In contrast, isotropic gems will not allow this light to pass, making such jewels appear dark.

Cross-polarized light is closest to pure light… the light of heaven. Thus, when heaven’s light shines on these heavenly gems, a rainbow effect bursts forth. Only our creative God could have chosen just the right jewels to bathe His Holy City with shimmering color.

John shares His vision of the throne room of heaven where this rainbow iridescence is again seen…

“At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the One who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.” – Revelation 4:2-3

The prophet Ezekiel has a very similar vision by the Kebar River while in exile in Babylon… 

“On the throne high above was a figure like that of a Man… a throne with the appearance of sapphire… and brilliant light surrounded Him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around Him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” – Ezekiel 1:26-28

In Exodus, gemstones also play a key and prophetic role…

“Make holy garments for your brother Aaron, for glory and beauty… Make an embroidered breastpiece… Place a setting of gemstones on it, four rows of stones: The first row should be a row of carnelian, topaz, and emerald; the second row, a turquoise, a sapphire, and a diamond; the third row, a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; and the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper.” – Exodus 28:2, 15, 17-20

Twelve gemstones adorned the holy breastplate of Aaron, brother of Moses. Aaron served as the first high priest of the Israelites. Each gem was engraved with the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel… thus keeping God’s chosen people close to the priest’s heart as he ministered before God.

Many of the twelve jewels on the breastplate appear to be identical to the twelve jewels decorating the foundation walls of the New Jerusalem. The gems of Aaron’s breastplate point to the heavenly gemstones. The sanctity of the earthly Tabernacle was but a preview of the absolute holiness that will reign in the future Holy City.

“I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple… Nothing impure will ever enter it… but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” – Revelation 21:22, 27

God chose precious jewels and noble metals to beautify His future dwelling place… the New Jerusalem. These adornments reflect His absolute holiness and purity. Nothing impure will be allowed into this blessed place… only those made pure by the Lamb and recorded in His Book of Life. The Almighty God and the Lord Jesus Christ will rule here for all eternity in the midst of their kingdom people.