The Golden Reed (6)
God has His own
standard for measuring,
one very different
from our own
In this Note we return to our study of the golden reed. (You can see the first Note in this series here: “The Golden Reed” (1)).
The Bible speaks of the golden reed in two places, both of which are in Revelation. In Revelation 11:1-2, during the Great Tribulation, the Apostle John in his vision was given “a golden reed like a rod” to measure the temple and those who worship in it; all that was not measured was “cast out.” Later in Revelation, John tells us that the angel who spoke with him had
“…a golden reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall.”
— Revelation 21:15
The angel then measured the entire structure of the New Jerusalem with this golden reed (vv. 16-17).
This picture shows us, then, that God has His own standard for measuring, one very different from anything we might use: a golden reed.
That is, the New Jerusalem, the ultimate result of all God’s work throughout the Bible, indeed throughout all of human history, is not measured by the standard of right and wrong, or of good and evil, or by any other standard of human judgment. Rather, it is measured by the standard of the golden reed.
So we need to ask, what does this golden reed signify? Why does God measure the city by such a standard? Moreover, whereas gold is weighty, solid, and incorruptible, a reed is so fragile and impermanent; it dies and withers away after just a short time. Why would the Bible put two such very different things together to comprise God’s standard?
Throughout the Bible, gold signifies God’s divine nature. Perhaps the clearest example of this is the ark of the covenant, a type of Christ, which was made of wood overlaid with gold (Exo. 25:10-11). In contrast, a reed signifies the human nature, such as when the Lord Jesus asked the people regarding John the Baptist:
“What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?”
— Matthew 11:7; cf. Matthew 12:20; Isaiah 42:5
The “golden reed,” then, signifies the combination of these two natures, the divine nature and the human nature. And thus, as God’s standard for measuring the result of all His work, it shows us that His desire is to have His divine nature expressed through our human nature. What a marvelous purpose!
But if that is what God desires to have in the future, then surely our living today should be according to that same standard. That is, in terms of our spiritual experience, the golden reed shows us that even today God is after a living that is both divine and human; that is what He desires from us.
It is not only something divine, nor is it something merely human. Rather, our living should be one in which God’s eternal, divine nature—the gold—is expressed through our fragile, human nature—the reed. In fact, such a living reproduces the kind of life that Jesus Himself lived when He was on the earth. That is the standard by which, in the future, God will measure not only the New Jerusalem, but our own lives as well.
It is a glorious fact that, when we believed in Christ, we fragile human beings were made partakers of God’s divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). What a blessing this is to us! Now, as the very children of God (John 1:12-13), those who posses the divine life and nature of our heavenly Father, and who will ultimately be fully conformed to the image of Christ, the Firstborn Son of God (Rom. 8:29), we should learn to live by our new, divine, “golden” nature, rather than by the old nature we had when we were simply fallen human beings apart from Christ.
In our upcoming Notes we will consider further the significance of the golden reed in terms of our experience.
Sent to our mailing list on
— 23 February 2022 —