November 13, 2020
Revelation 21:3 describes the greatest aspect of New Earth: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’” We see the entire point of redemptive history revealed: that one day we will have complete access to God.
Let’s look at each phrase of this verse, beginning with “And I heard a loud voice from the throne.” This is the final “loud voice” of Revelation. We get our word “megaphone” from these two Greek words, indicating what is being said is important and needs to be heard. Though it is an announcement from the vicinity of the throne, this is not the voice of God, but about God. Every time the angel Gabriel is mentioned in Scripture, he proclaims an announcement that God is coming to the earth, so it is quite possible that Gabriel was the one who made this announcement.
The next phrase “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man” refers literally to the tabernacle of God. This alludes to the tabernacle from Israel’s wilderness wanderings, but the presence of God will be closer and more intimate than ever before in the New Jerusalem. This will be the focal point of New Earth: God’s immediate presence with men. “He will dwell with them” literally translates as “He will tabernacle with them” (emphasis added).
The word “people” is more clearly translated as the plural “peoples.” In John 10:16 Jesus told the Jews, “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” In Revelation 5:9, heaven bursts into a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
This fulfills the promises of Zechariah 2:11, “And many nations shall join themselves to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.” This is shown in the blessings of Isaiah 19:25, “whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.’” Revelation 21:3 ends with “and God himself will be with them as their God.” The name and meaning of Immanuel, or “God with us,” now reaches its full potential of significance and redemptive purpose. This access to God has been a major theme of Scripture, and it is beneficial and edifying to examine the history of access to God.