By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
It’s very popular for people to say when I get to heaven, I am going to walk the streets of gold. Have you ever wondered does heaven literally have streets of gold? I want to spend some time talking about heaven which is our eternal home. Every now and then, probably more now than then, it is good to think about where we will spend eternity. Heaven is an awesome place and eternity is a long time so if you are going to be anywhere for that length of time you should know something about it.
Where Does the Saying About Heaven's Streets of Gold Come From?
The idea of streets of gold actually comes from the Bible, from everyone’s favorite book of the Bible, Revelation (forgive my sarcasm). Let’s read the Scripture first and then we can break it down.
"The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass." – Revelation 21:19-21
In this chapter, John is describing a city, which is the New Jerusalem. This city is adorned with the most beautiful types of precious stones and jewels. Within this city, there is a great street that is made of gold. The word for gold in the Greek is the word “chrusion” which means gold or piece of gold. When you look at this in context then it is safe to say that heaven literally has a street of gold. The Bible does not mention streets of gold, it mentions the great street of that city as being of gold. There is something else you can point to that helps you understand why heaven literally has a street of gold. You find that in verse 18: "The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass." – Revelation 21:18
Not only was the street of this city made of gold, but the entire city was also made of gold. What makes this gold unique is the level of purity that is associated with it. This gold is as pure as transparent glass. When gold is mined or prospected, it is never found in this condition. To get to a level of purity the gold is required to go through the refiner’s fire. In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul talks about how our works will be tested with fire, and the works built on the foundation of gold, silver, and precious metals will be revealed for their quality. In this city, this gold has already been refined and it presents as gold that no one has ever seen before.
What Else Do We Know about the Street in This City?
"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations." – Revelation 22:1-2
According to John’s revelation, not only is the street made of gold but there is a river of the water of life running through this city. Notice the description of the water, clear as crystal. In the Bible, water is symbolic of life, refreshment, and fertility. It is also symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Remember Jesus said out of your belly shall flow rivers of living water (John 7:38). I also find the contrast between the opening chapter of Genesis 1 and the closing chapter of Revelation 22 to be startling. Genesis 1:2 gives us a picture of void empty darkness with the Spirit of God flowing over the waters. Revelation 22 gives us a picture of life-giving water that produces nourishment for the inhabitants of that city. Imagery in my opinion of death to life and darkness to light.
The Consistent Theme that Runs through This City
When you consider the quality of the design of this city, aside from its beauty there is one thing that is evident. That is the purity of this city.
- "It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal." – Revelation 21:11
- "The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass." – Revelation 21:18
- "The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp." – Revelation 21:23
- "Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life." – Revelation 21:27
The beauty of this city is exactly the opposite of what the challenge of living in our present day is. This city is pure and will never be contaminated with the impurity of sin. We have never lived one day without feeling the impact of sin in our lives. I can’t even imagine what it will be like to live forever and never have to deal with sin ever again. That will truly be a glorious day.
Your Future Home, Your Present Reality
For those who put their trust in Christ, heaven is our future home. You should look forward to that day when your faith will be sight and you can see Jesus face to face. However, as you live in this body you must make heaven your present reality. What do I mean by that? You live here in preparation for living there. Consider these verses in Philippians.
"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." – Philippians 3:20-21
Though in this body we fight with our sinful nature, we strive to live a life that is holy and filled with righteousness. One of the reasons we do that is because we are preparing for our eternal home. Notice what John says.
"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city." – Revelation 22:14
You don’t wait to get there to start living for heaven. You start living for it now. To love Jesus, to honor him with your life and please him, to go to heaven and literally walk the street of gold that doesn’t start then that all starts now.
"Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure." – 1 John 3:2-3
The street of gold. The river of life with crystal clear water. The light of God filling the city. The ability to see Jesus face to face. This is heaven. We have seen that heaven literally has a street of gold but you should also see that heaven is so much more than that. So often in writing for Christian websites you can take for granted that everyone reading is a Christian. I don’t want to do that. As we have talked about heaven there is only one way to get there. You must accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. He is the door and the only way you will ever enter that city. If you have not accepted him then do it today because God loves you dearly and he wants you to be with him for all eternity. Here is a simple prayer you can pray.
I confess my sins today and ask you to forgive me and come into my heart. I trust in you completely for my salvation. Thank you for making me part of your family.
If you prayed that prayer with all sincerity, then welcome to the family and know that one day we will see each other in heaven.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/MatsSilvan
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, teacher, author, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He has spent more than 30 years serving the body of Christ in various capacities and is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose. If you have ever struggled to try to find God’s will, this book will help you discover the different ways God leads you into his perfect will. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.
This article is part of our larger resource library of Christian questions important to the Christian faith. From core beliefs to what the Bible says about angels, we want to provide easy to read and understand articles that answer your questions about Christian living.