The symbolism of the pearly gates

man finds a precious pearl

Bible verse and the Spirit of Prophecy insight

Revelation 21:21

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.

The parable of the merchantman seeking goodly pearls has a double significance: it applies not only to men as seeking the kingdom of heaven, but to Christ as seeking His lost inheritance. Christ, the heavenly merchantman seeking goodly pearls, saw in lost humanity the pearl of price. In man, defiled and ruined by sin, He saw the possibilities of redemption. Hearts that have been the battleground of the conflict with Satan, and that have been rescued by the power of love, are more precious to the Redeemer than are those who have never fallen. God looked upon humanity, not as vile and worthless; He looked upon it in Christ, saw it as it might become through redeeming love. He collected all the riches of the universe, and laid them down in order to buy the pearl.

Ellen G. White – Christ’s Object Lessons p.118.2

Present day application

The fact that each out of the twelve gates of the New Jerusalem is made out of one massive pearl has always fascinated me. There is a deep symbolism there. Allow me to explain. According to Wikipedia, It is thought that natural pearls form under a set of accidental conditions when a microscopic intruder or parasite enters a bivalve mollusk and settles inside the shell. The mollusk, irritated by the intruder, forms a pearl sac of external mantle tissue cells and secretes the calcium carbonate and conchiolin to cover the irritant. This secretion process is repeated many times, thus producing a pearl.

Mollusks are classed as unclean, according to the book of Leviticus. This creates a strange situation: a pearl is ‘born’ and spends most of its ‘life’ inside an unclean creature. Yet the pearl itself is not classed as unclean but is considered a precious and sought after jewel. Think about the beautiful analogy God has prepared for us here… Those who will be allowed to enter the pearly gates of the New Jerusalem are clean which came out of the unclean, saints who have been bought at a great price – the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.

While speaking about his life’s woes, Job states: “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one!” Since every human being is born with a fallen nature, the unfallen inhabitants of the universe consider us unclean. Thankfully, we have been given an opportunity to be born again. The second birth is a spiritual one as opposed to the carnal one. If we are ‘in Christ’, we are considered ‘clean’ because God sees His Son when He looks at us. The pearly gates will remind us of that every time we enter that Heavenly City.

Image courtesy of Good News Productions International and College Press Publishing

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