The heavenly city of Jerusalem came down “like a bride prepared for her husband” “gleamed with the splendor of God.” The appearance of the city is compared to a semi-precious stone, jasper. A little background to jasper is in order here. Since early ancient times, it was a highly valued gemstone in its own right, but was also used as a touchstone.” Jasper, cut flat, was used to verify whether or not something was gold and the quality of that gold. Gold etched on the flat jasper surface left a distinct mark, which meant that it was authentically gold. The visionary’s choice of jasper for the comparison was used for these two reasons: it was a valued gemstone and it proved authenticity and genuineness.

It was more likely a very translucent green form of jasper (the red variety is more prized today) that suggested the verdancy of the heavenly city, much like the Temple in the earthly Jerusalem was covered on the interior with plants of every kind, suggesting in turn Eden. All this is included to portray heaven as habitable and desirable.

The multiple sets of twelve (angels, gates, walls, tribes) suggest order, deep roots in history, and security. The sun and moon being no more, the light is from God’s own self and from Lamb. The two are both temple and light. The vision is in preparation for the great wedding feast of heaven and earth.

Our encounter and accompaniment of the Lamb is our touchstone of the authenticity of our discipleship. Not from within ourselves, but from the Lamb do we have our own order, roots, and security. We have a vision of the goal and we are encourage to keep our fixed on it.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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