In Revelation 21:21, heavenly Jerusalem is described to us. The description is unimaginably beautiful. There are twelve gates. Each gate is a single pearl. The streets of the city are pure gold. No doubt, these are comparisons meant to elevate our eyes to something higher than we can imagine, something spiritual. As a child I would hear folks talk about walking the streets of gold. I would wonder in amazement what that must be like: not just gold, but gold as transparent glass!
On earth, gold is a scarce commodity. Scarcity of anything precious increases its value. Diamonds are both beautiful and scarce. They are therefore very costly. But think what would it be like to walk on streets of gold? Will the abundance of that gold make it commonplace? I don’t think so. Especially if we understand the spiritual significance.
I have often wondered what the pure gold that is as transparent glass refers to in Revelation 21:21. I believe it is revealed to us In 1 Peter 1:7. Faith is much more precious than gold that perishes. Faith, like gold, is tried in fire. When gold is tried in fire, it is purified. When faith is tried, it too is purified. In heaven, we will receive the substance on which faith now stands. It will be complete. On earth, we walk by faith. In heaven, we will walk on the substance that faith held while on earth. In heaven, we will walk in and on the fulfillment of all that God purposed, all that Christ purchased, and all that the Spirit of God persuaded and comforted us with us from His word: all that He caused us to embrace and confess and hold as true. Faith’s object will be realized. We will enjoy fully Christ with all that our glorified bodies will be enabled to receive. That which is most precious on earth will be ours in abundance. And it will be pure without mixture, without unbelief, without any trace of sin. This is another way of saying that we will then know the full meaning of what it is to be saved by grace! “It is of faith, that it might be by grace, to the end, the promise might be sure to all the seed” (Romans 4:16).
I hope that you are not disappointed to learn that you will not walk on streets made of physical transparent gold in heaven. Remember, what is available in abundance loses its value. For this believing sinner, there is one thing I desire. And I desire it in abundance. If I have it constantly, I will never lose delight in it. We who believe shall soon have what we most desire. I don’t want gold. I don’t need it. I don’t need it in this life, and I certainly don’t need it in heaven. Physical gold “perishes”. Spiritual gold does not. There is one thing that I desire, and it is this: to see my Savior’s face. Let others walk on golden streets. “As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness; I will be satisfied when I awake in His likeness” (Psalm 17:15). “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple” (Psalms 27:4).
You see, when I see His face, I will have the fulfillment of being saved by grace! All my fears of facing judgment in my sins will be taken away. “When I stand before Thy throne, dressed in beauty not my own; when I see Thee as Thou art, love Thee with unsinning heart,” then shall I fully know, that I was saved by grace. In company with all of God’s saints, I will look upon His face, and I will sing with unspeakable joy, but enabled then to fully express it in praise to my Savior, “Unto Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood!” (Revelation 1:5). And I will look at the garment that He has worked out for me, and with which He has covered me. And I will say, “O! Bless His holy name! It is perfect! It is complete! It is pure and holy and it is mine! (Jeremiah 23:6; 33:16)” And the LORD Himself shall look. He shall see me. He who searches the hearts and tries the reins will examine me to see if there is any iniquity, any sin, any spot in me. And He will say, “There is none!” (Jeremiah 50:20). And He shall receive me. He will be glad that it is me. He will take me to His bosom. He will look into my face. And I shall look into His face, clothed in the very righteousness of the Son of God. Washed in His blood!. And with Fanny I will say, “Saved by grace! Saved by grace! O, my soul, He saved me by His grace! Washed me in His blood! Clothed me in His righteousness! I have been loved eternally! He has worked everything in time and eternity and heaven and earth together according to His eternal purpose to bring me to glory! O, my dear and blessed Savior! You have saved me to yourself all by your grace!!” And I shall stay there and be satisfied to stay there, to look upon Him who loved me and gave Himself for me. I shall know Him then even as I am known now (1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2; Revelation 22:4).