Below is the introduction to one of my booklets, The New Jerusalem.
Revelation chapters 21 and 22 contain descriptions of God’s Holy City, the New Jerusalem. This city is called “the bride, the wife of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:9). When she appears, John hears a loud voice saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them” (Rev. 21:3). We also find the names of the 12 apostles written on the twelve foundations of the city, and the names of the tribes of Israel written on the city’s 12 gates (Rev. 21:12-14). Rather than a literal place where Christians will spend the afterlife with God, the New Jerusalem seems to be people of all times and places, of both testaments, who have given themselves to the Lord in marriage.
Marriage has made us one flesh with Jesus (Eph. 5:31, 32). Because of this, it is even truer to say that the New Jerusalem is one Person, Christ. We are no longer called by our own names or known by our individual selves. We are called by the name of our Husband, we are known only by Him. In His Son, God created one New Man, and that Man is Christ.
Israel was set apart by God to typify the New Man. We can see this intimated when God refers to the Israelites collectively as “my son,” and “anointed one,” (Ex. 4:22; Hosea 11:1; Psalm 28:8; Hab. 3:13). Similarly, the names of Jacob’s 12 sons do not only identify the tribes which God forged into the nation of Israel. They describe the Person whom Israel was called to prophetically represent. This is why the names of the tribes are inscribed on the pearl gates which adorn the walls of the New Jerusalem—John is having a vision of the New Man, the true Israel, in whom God forged everlasting peace and union with mankind.
The purpose of this booklet is to present Christ as He is revealed through the names of the 12 tribes of Israel. [Just as an example, consider Benjamin, which means, “Son of my right hand.” Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father]. What is offered here just scratches the surface of the unsearchable riches in Christ (Eph. 3:8). But that is the greatness of the New Man. Any study of this Man, no matter how exhaustive, is necessarily limited when compared with His limitlessness glory. By grace, He has made us a city on a hill—those out of whom that glory will shine forever (Matt. 5:14; Rev. 21:11).