Precious Materials in the Garden and in the City

There are many parallels between the garden of Eden and New Jerusalem, including the presence of God and of man, the tree of life, the river of life, and precious materials. Genesis 2:10-12 tell us,

And a river went forth from Eden to water the garden, and from there it divided and became four branches. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one that goes around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there.

Jesus Christ is LifeThe picture here is that the flow of the river brings forth precious materials. In the New Testament we see that “the Spirit” (portrayed by the river) “gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). This life grows and the growth is from God Himself (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). This growth is for God’s building (v. 9), and the building requires precious materials (v. 12).

Genesis 2:11-12 present three precious materials. In contrast, 1 Corinthians 3:12 presents three precious materials and three ordinary materials. The three ordinary materials—wood, grass, stubble—represent natural and fallen men and their efforts (for example, 1 Peter 1:24 tells us “all flesh is like grass”). The three ordinary materials are clearly those which will be tested and consumed by fire (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).

In New Jerusalem, as in the garden, only precious materials (Revelation 21:15-18) are seen. These materials represent the Triune God and God’s operation in His people. The ordinary materials, representing the efforts of natural and fallen men, have been swept away and are not present in the new creation. The garden had the flowing river and the materials; New Jerusalem has the flowing river of water of life and these materials built together as the conclusion of all God’s building work.

Photo of Helix Nebula, courtesy of NASA.

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  1. When we arrive at the end of the Bible, we can see the New Jerusalem as the eternal building of God with humanity. The city and its street are of pure gold (Rev. 21:18, 21). Its twelve gates are of twelve pearls (v. 21) and its walls and twelve foundations are of twelve precious stones (v. 14, 18-20). Here the precious materials are forever built into the glorious expression of God (v.11). In the midst of this built up city is the river of water of life (22:1) ever flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb as the eternal supply to satisfy the thirst of God’s redeemed people.


    • God is working toward a city which matches Himself and expresses Himself. As God in Christ is formed in us (Gal. 4:19), we become precious. Lord, add Yourself to us and form Yourself more in us every day.


  2. Two categories of materials. And the first category, the materials are mineral, very precious and enduring gold, silver and precious stones. In the second category however the materials are all perishable and natural wood, grass and stubble. The significant of these two categories becomes very relevant for us and the Christian work in the very next verses.


    • Yes, there is the contrast between what is precious and what is natural. In 1 Peter 2:4 Jesus Christ is “a living stone, rejected by men but with God chosen and precious.” And in v. 7 to us “who believe is the preciousness.” May we live and work solely with what is precious.


    • David Kan

       /  May 30, 2013

      This indicates something very liberating: God’s building is not by our effort, but by the elements of God worked into our being through the Spirit. This is indicated by the famous verse, Zechariah 4:6: “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit…” This was spoken to a man who was to rebuild the temple. Hallelujah!


      • David, thanks for the Zechariah verse. May we all be men involved with the building not by our own strength but by the Spirit. More on the building being of God is in this post.


  1. The Garden of Eden and New Jerusalem | New Jerusalem – A Biblical View
  2. New Jerusalem is Built with the Triune God | New Jerusalem – A Biblical View
  3. May the Glorious City Appear on the Earth ! | New Jerusalem - A Biblical View

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