Why the walls and gates?
Here’s the full question:
“In Revelation [Rev. 21:9-18] it says that the new Jerusalem will have walls and gates. What is the purpose of walls and gates? To me walls are for protection; why will the new city need protection?”
You’re right in thinking city walls typically served as a defense against enemy attack. In scripture we read of the walls of Jericho miraculously coming down after the Hebrews obediently marched around them (Joshua 6:2-5). We read how the walls of Jerusalem protected the people against the Assyrian army led by Sennacherib (2 Chronicles 32:1-8). And we have the thrilling story of Nehemiah as he and a ragtag team of faithful few rebuilt the ravaged walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 3-4).
But the walls described in Revelation are not for defense. We know this from reading further…
“On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Rev. 21:25-27).
Normally the gates of a walled city are closed at night, but in the new Jerusalem there will be no night, no evil, no need to close the gates. No locks, no keys, no security systems or police force! Here we have a city where free and open travel is always possible. One reason for the new Jerusalem having gates may be to portray to us this truth that they will always be open.
These walls speak to us of God’s strength and protection. They tell us that we will be surrounded with God’s might and security. It is beautiful wall, a costly wall, and a wall commemorating and uniting both old and new covenants of God with mankind (see Rev. 21:12–14). The enormity of the walls display the greatness of the Lord and reminder us this city is only for the redeemed of the Lord. The unredeemed cannot gain access (v15-21). The gems of the walls portray the riches of the Lord. (v18-20). The names of the 12 tribes and 12 apostles represent the foundational faithful of the two covenants.
In Matthew 16:18 Jesus declares that against God’s Kingdom “the gates of hell” — all the opposing or resisting might the devil has to offer — “will not prevail” – will not be able to defeat or withstand the purposes and judgment of God. In Christ we are on the winning team! The eternal city will be our ultimate home! Let us remember our true citizenship and so live as its ambassadors while we yet remain in this dying world.
Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.