In this chapter we shall be looking mainly at the dimensions of the City as depicted in Revelation 21, rather than the People who constitute the City.
“He who talked to me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates, and its walls. The City lies foursquare, its length the same as its breadth; and he measured the City with his rod, 12,000 stadia; its length, breadth and height are equal.” Rev.21:15-16.
According to the Lexicon, the Stadion (from which word we get “stadium”) was 600 Greek feet, equivalent to 625 Roman feet, or 607 English feet. Hence, the length and breadth of the City was 12,000 × 607 English feet, which works out at 1380 miles. Some of earth’s biggest cities have diameters of 10 – 15 miles, which is diminutive compared with this. In fact, if the Holy City were a real city, it would completely cover the continent of Australia.
But this is only the beginning of our troubles, because we are told that the height is the same as the length and breadth. How can we possibly visualise a city with a height of 1380 miles!? Clearly we are not meant to. The measurements given by the attendant angel are in code. Let us forget about stadia, feet, yards, and miles, and concentrate only on the number 12,000. Here we have the number of perfect government, 12, connected with 1,000, which is 10 × 10 × 10, and 10 is the number of perfect order. And because the number 10 is cubed, we have a threefold evaluation of order. This City is the symbol of God’s perfect government, and everything within it abounds with His order. It could not be improved. God has set His seal upon the workmanship of His City, and if this is reflected in the measurements of the symbol, then it must also reflect the perfection of the Bride of the Lamb.
Some expositors have likened the shape of the City to the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle. This would make the City cubic in shape. They refer to the fact that the City does not need the light of the sun, as with the tabernacle model, in which there was no earthly light at all, just the Shekinah glory of God. There is much to be said for this suggestion, and no doubt the tabernacle design has something to teach us about the Holy City.
However, we have reason to think that the design of the City was not cubic but pyramidal. Frederick Tatford was more or less of this persuasion when he wrote, “The city was probably pyramidical in shape, the lowest foundations being larger than those above it.” But perhaps the most compelling reason comes from H. A. Baker, who describes his work amongst the street beggars and orphans in the Yunan Province of China in the years before the Second World War. He set up the “Adullam Rescue Mission”, and had taken in a number of these vagrant boys, giving them the necessary provisions for life, but also teaching them about the Lord Jesus. The boys had come to accept the Lord, and in the process of time were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and had visions and dreams, which they recounted to Baker. Sometimes the boys would all have the same vision at the same time, and Baker would sit watching them as they behaved as though they were in some heavenly environment, enjoying the scenery and the angels. On one of these occasions, they were taken in vision to the Holy City. Baker tells us about their visit. “The children described the City in the sky as three cities in one; one suspended above another, with the largest at the bottom and the smallest at the top, forming a pyramid.”
Diagram taken from H. A. Baker’s book “The Three Worlds”.
The caption reads “The heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, the capstone of the pyramid of the universe, the crown of all creation, is in the third heaven above all.”
A pyramid has a top stone that is in all respects a smaller version of the whole. It is called the pyramidion. Then by adding layers beneath the top stone will only magnify the shape of the top stone. No matter how many layers are added, the shape will always betray the shape of the pyramidion. We can use the word magnify in both senses, that of making the shape larger, and that of magnifying the Son of God. And that is a precious thought. When the whole pyramid is complete, then if one were able to view it, the impression would be that of the Lord Himself, the Bride being hidden, so to speak, within the Bridegroom. Perhaps that is what the Lord intended, and perhaps that is one of the greatest lessons to learn about the married state. No wonder these days the enemy has done all he can to sully the marriage relationship, and prosper alternative arrangements that besmirch the image God intended.
I believe there is evidence of the pyramidal structure in the Scriptures. See Psalm 118:22 “The stone which the builders rejected has become the capstone.” The importance of this verse is so great that we find it quoted no less than five times in the New Testament. Isaiah also speaks about this stone. “Behold, I am laying in Zion for a foundation a Stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation.” (Isa.28:16) We may ask ourselves why it is that the “builders” rejected this stone. Imagine a pyramid made of wooden blocks, of the type that children play with, to build a structure. Most of the blocks will be cubic in shape. A smaller number will have one side slanted, and just a few will have two sides slanted. But there will be just one stone that is different to all the rest, in the shape of a pyramidion. Give the blocks to some children, and see whether they can use them all to make a structure. The chances are that they will reject the pyramidion, because it doesn’t seem to fit anywhere, unless they were to hit upon the pyramidal shape. But if the city were cubic, then all the blocks would have been the same shape. You cannot envisage a “capstone” to a cube.
The pyramid is an exact description of our Lord’s ministry. He was the “odd man out,” He was a conundrum to the Scribes and Pharisees. His lifestyle, teachings, and miracles didn’t add up with what they were expecting of the Messiah, according to their misguided interpretation of the O.T. Scriptures. Hence they rejected Him. But in accordance with Psalm 118, He became the capstone, the pyramidion, that governs the shape of the whole City. The Adullam children saw this capstone shining with a brilliant light at the summit of the City.
This City represents the whole thrust of God’s work from Adam until now. See Hebrews 4:3. “The works came into being from the foundation of the world.” (I cannot imagine why the A.V. translators said that the works were “finished”, rather than begun.) God has had a plan, to take out from amongst humankind, a chosen company of people who will form His Pyramidal City. When it is complete, He will use it (them) to govern the world throughout the days of His Kingdom rule. At present we still await that moment when He will say, “It is finished”. The Lord speaks of Himself as “The Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” (Rev.22:13) The beginning of this work, right through to the completion is in His hands.
One night, whilst in bed contemplating the writing of this chapter, the Lord showed me a vision of the pyramid. It was completely dark in the room at the time, but then I gradually became aware of the pyramid like a skeleton structure composed of faintly luminous wires. I realised that this was at the beginning of God’s work, when as yet there was no one placed within the City. As I continued to watch, I saw tiny lights of different colours, as incandescent jewels, appear within the framework, as it began to fill up through the ages. These must have been the “spirits of just men made perfect” that we read about in Hebrews 12:22-23, and the “assembly of the first-born enrolled in heaven.”
I was reminded of that beautiful verse in Malachi 3:17. “They shall be mine, says the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels, on the day when I act, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.”
Straightway this brought to mind a children’s hymn which has been a favourite in our family as our own children have grown up. Here are the words, written by William Orcutt Cushing, American Hymn writer, 1823 – 1902.
When He cometh, when He cometh, to make up His jewels,
All His jewels, precious jewels, His loved and His own.
Like the stars of the morning His bright crown adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty, bright gems for His crown.
He will gather, He will gather, the gems for His kingdom,
All the pure ones, all the bright ones, His loved and His own.
Little children, little children, who love their Redeemer,
Are the jewels, precious jewels, His loved and His own.
 Frederick Tatford. Prophecy’s Last Word. Page 236
 H. A. Baker. Visions Beyond the Veil.
Matt.21:42, Mk.12:10-11, Luke.20:17. Acts 4:11, 1 Peter 2:7