When we are presented with this view of the new earth, a representative manifestation of heavenly beauty, we cannot help but be in awe. Pearly gates. Streets of gold. A sea like crystal glass (described in Revelation 4:6). It is stupefying, as majestic a scene as we can imagine.
The new earth will be a place full of beauty, extravagance, and wealth beyond measure. All we can imagine. But that is just the beginning.
One of the reasons a street of gold seems so majestic to us is because we have streets of gravel. The material is greater by degree, because of its rarity (or absence) in our current existence. But, at the end of the day, it is still a street. Perhaps one of the things this vision of the new earth is telling us is that gold is like gravel in Heaven. After a million years in the new earth, you will be as used to it as you are to gravel streets.
The real point behind all this imagery is that the new earth will be more glorious than we can imagine. The best we can imagine is the gravel of heaven, the base coat of Eternity.
The true riches are the presence of God. So bright there is no need for a sun. No need for a temple because His presence fills the place. The streets and the river are decor. It is the unfiltered glory of God that is the true magnificence of the new earth.
Another way of saying this is that Heaven’s measure of richness far surpasses any worldly measure. And that matters not just in our understanding of the afterlife, but in how we live our life on the earth. We can choose to see past the worldly riches to the spiritual ones. Past our imperfect and flesh-centered understanding of what is valuable into the truth of what makes us “wealthy”.
The Kingdom of God is about the presence of Jesus. Fellowship with Him is the true treasure.