21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. 22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. 23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
In the ancient world, starting with the city named after Cain’s son, Enoch, in Genesis 4:17 the city was a religious entity, a type of church, started all at once with invited families who would share in the same worship and the same gods, although the individual family would have its own singular worship and gods which represented their lars familiaris or familiar spirits (see Leviticus 20:27), the guiding divinities of ancestors dead. (21) It is likely that Cain’s false religion was carried on through his city.
In addition, each home in the ancient world was to have a sacred flame which was the religious center of the home and must not be permitted to go out. (22) This eternal flame, like the lamp in the tabernacle in Exodus 27:20, must never go out. This was a counterfeit city in the ancient world, a city of man’s creation, man’s poor attempt to replace what God intended. In God’s city, though, He is the light and the glory of it and there is no need for any other. In this passage we can see the religious significance of the sun and the stars as evidence of God’s sacred handiwork, placing in our temporal tabernacle lights that reflect on earth that never go out.
(21) Numa Denis Fustel De Coulanges, The Ancient City: A Study of the Religion, Laws, and Institutions of Greece and Rome (1864, repr. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2006), 134.
(22) Ibid., 25.
24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. 25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. 26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. 27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Now, clearly, here in eternity, there will be people inhabiting the earth. Some commentators believe the Jews will inherit the earth and grow to a great number as mankind was originally intended to populate the universe. Although we don’t have enough evidence to declare this as being the case it is clear that there will be people on earth and their leadership will have to bring glory and honor to the heavenly city. Only those persons whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life will have a presence apart from the Lake of Fire.