John was not the first to see the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, though he saw it best.
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob confessed “that they were strangers and exiles on the earth” (Heb. 11:13)? Why is that? Because they desired “a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them” (Heb. 11:16).
Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees and lived as an alien in a foreign land, dwelling in tents because “he was looking for a city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10).
Moses considered “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward” (Heb. 11:26).
Some unnamed saints of old “were stoned, sawn in two, tempted, put to death with the sword, went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated… wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground” (Heb. 11:37-38). Why would men suffer such tragedies and endure such afflictions. Because they were looking for a city.
We see so much more than they did, and have paid so little for the view. God help us not to lay up our treasure in this land. This world is not our home either. We’re just passing through.