We Have Oil in our Vessels, We are Burning

New JerusalemWhen the Lord Jesus returns, there will be a wedding feast! This feast will carry us on to the eternal marriage of New Jerusalem. All who believe in the Lord Jesus are invited to this feast, but only those whose lamps are brightly shining will be admitted.

“The spirit of man is the lamp of Jehovah” (Proverbs 20:27). Our human spirit is the lamp and the divine Spirit is the oil for our burning and shining. Yet, like the prudent virgins, we need to take oil in our vessels with our lamps.

Man is a vessel made for God (Rom. 9:21, 23-24), and man’s personality is in his soul. Hence, vessels here signifies the souls of the believers. The five prudent virgins not only have oil in their lamps but also take oil in their vessels. That they have oil in their lamps signifies that they have the Spirit of God dwelling in their spirit (Rom. 8:9, 16), and that they take oil in their vessels signifies that they have the Spirit of God filling and saturating their souls. (Matthew 25:4, footnote 1 in the Recovery Version New Testament)

Ephesians 5:18 exhorts us, “do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissoluteness, but be filled in spirit.” Here it seems that “wine” is not only actual wine but also the whole range of worldly pleasures and pursuits. Rather than being drunk with these things, we can be filled with the Spirit in our spirit and this filling will spread to our entire being.

Not being drunk with worldly things cannot be accomplished by our resolution. Rather, not being conformed to this age is a result of the renewing of our mind, which is the transforming action of the Spirit in us.

We can pray, Lord, fill me with the Spirit, make me a vessel full of You. Lord, prepare me now for the wedding feast and for New Jerusalem.
We can also sing Fill us, Jesus! Fill us, Jesus! Every moment give us more of Thee!

Photo of Boston Harbor, courtesy of David Kan.

A Parable with a Warning

New JerusalemRevelation 21:2 and 21:9 show us New Jerusalem as the eternal marriage. In the gospels the Lord Jesus spoke about Himself as the Bridegroom for this marriage.

In Matthew 25:1-13 the Lord spoke a parable about Himself (the Bridegroom), ten virgins, and the wedding feast. He tells us that when He comes, the virgins who are ready for Him with their lamps brightly burning will go with Him into the wedding feast.

Some people hold the interpretation that the five wise/prudent virgins are believers and the five foolish virgins are unbelievers. But this strong separation pushes aside the common characteristics of these ten virgins:
• all ten are virgins, signifying our purity by believing into Jesus Christ (v. 1)
• all ten took their lamps and all ten went forth to meet the Bridegroom (v. 1)
• while the Bridegroom delayed they all slept (v. 5)
• in response to the midnight cry, all ten arose and all ten trimmed their lamps (v. 6-7)

In verse 8, the lamps of the foolish virgins were “going out,” which indicates that they were lit but short of oil. “The spirit of man is the lamp of Jehovah” (Proverbs 20:27). The spirits/the lamps of the foolish virgins being lit indicates that they were born again of the Spirit in their spirit.

The foolish virgins were shut out of the wedding feast. What then? They need to take the admonishing from the prudent virgins, “go to those who sell, and buy for yourselves” (v. 9). Eventually, although they will miss the wedding feast, they will be in New Jerusalem.

The characteristics of New Jerusalem include life, light, holiness, newness, and glory. We need more oil, more of the Spirit saturating our being so that we match the city. Let us open to the Lord and pray, Lord, fill me, touching the desire expressed in the song which begins, We have oil in our lamps—we are burning!

For more about this parable, look at the footnotes in the online Recovery Version.

New Jerusalem is the Eternal Marriage (6)

New Jerusalem as the eternal marriage is portrayed by Adam and Eve in Genesis 2. This marriage is touched by words in Exodus 20, Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Hosea. In the New Testament we begin in the gospels.

New JerusalemJohn the Baptist testified that he was the friend of the Bridegroom and that he rejoiced to hear the Bridegroom’s voice (John 3:29). Then John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (v. 30). This increase is all who, by believing into Jesus, receive eternal life (v. 14-16) and thereby become members of His bride. Eventually His bride, His increase, will be New Jerusalem.

In Matthew 9:15 the Lord said that He was the Bridegroom with His disciples. Because He was with them, the disciples were not mourning. He also said that He would be taken away from them (in ascension) until He comes again in visible glory for the wedding.

In Matthew 9, Mark 2, and Luke 5 the Lord spoke about the Bridegroom, the new garment, and the new wine. To prepare us to be His bride, we need Him as our new garment, to be our righteousness before God. We also need Him as our new wine to enliven and energize us that we may love Him and live Him daily.

In Matthew 25 the Lord spoke a parable about the wedding feast. He tells us that when He, the Bridegroom comes, all who are ready for Him will go with Him into the wedding feast. The coming of Jesus Christ as the Bridegroom will be His coming at the close of this age to receive all His believers to Himself (as in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

This wedding feast will bring us onward to the full reality of New Jerusalem in eternity.


New Jerusalem is the Eternal Marriage (5)

New Jerusalem as the eternal marriage is implied in both the giving of the first covenant in Exodus 20 and the prophecy of the new covenant in Jeremiah 31.

New JerusalemHosea speaks to and condemns Israel’s departure from God to go after other gods. Nevertheless he also has some encouraging words about the future:
• “she will say, I will go and return to my first husband” (v. 2:7)
• “in that day, declares Jehovah, you will call Me my Husband” (v. 2:16)
• “I will betroth you to Myself forever” (v. 2:19a)
• “I will betroth you to Myself in right-eousness and justice and in loving-kindness and compassions” (v. 2:19b)
• “I will betroth you to Myself in faithfulness, and you will know Jehovah” (v. 2:20).

The last three of these five phrases show that the eternal marriage is of God. He (not we) planned, He (not we) initiated, He (not we) betrothed, and He (not we) supplies the righteousness, lovingkindness, and faithfulness.

Our response is to love Him and to call Him our Husband. Our response is also to “go and return” to Him from all other “husbands/lovers/idols/distractions.” Our responses will be repeated multiple times in our experience. This is our path to the eternal marriage, to New Jerusalem.

The seeker in Song of Songs said, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine….Draw me; we will run after you.” We can pray with her, Lord kiss me! Lord Jesus, may I realize that Your love is better! Draw me so that we can run after You! 

New Jerusalem is the Eternal Marriage (4)

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the eternal marriage. The Lord’s word in Exodus 20:6, “those who love Me,” links this marriage with the first covenant, the covenant of law. Despite Israel’s failures, the Lord is unchanging in His intention, so in Jeremiah 31:3 He says, “Indeed I have loved you with an eternal love, therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.” Lord, thank You for Your love. Draw me today!

Verses 31-34 of the same chapter foretell the new covenant, and speak of Israel’s breaking of the first covenant, the Lord being their Husband, and the inward nature of the new covenant.

The change of covenant did not change God’s desire and plan to be married to His people. Rather, the change of covenant supplied a way to fulfill this desire, a way to bring us onward to New Jerusalem.

The first covenant had a law written on stone tablets outside of us. The Lord describes His new covenant in this way—“I will put My law within them and write it upon their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33). The law is no longer outside us but is written within us. Romans 2:28-29 comments on this change, saying, not outwardly…but inwardly…of the heart, in spirit, not in letter.

In New Testament words, the Spirit dwells in us and the law of this Spirit of life frees us (Romans 8:2, 9-11). First John 3:10–4:21 speaks often of the Spirit dwelling in us and of our loving God and one another with the love of God. This is the fulfillment of the requirement for love in Exodus 20:6.

The Spirit who dwells in us supplies us with the life which fulfills God’s desire. This Spirit is with us now and will continue to flow eternally in New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:1).

New Jerusalem is the Eternal Marriage (3)

“Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come” (Revelation 19:7). This eternal marriage was first portrayed by Adam and Eve. In Exodus 20 the Lord’s word “those who love Me” points toward this marriage, which reaches its ultimate conclusion in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemIsaiah 54:5 is so clear: “For your Maker is your Husband; Jehovah of hosts is His name. And the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth.” Here the Lord is saying to the Old Testament part of His people that He is the Husband. And they are the wife.

In this verse “Husband” is first, then “Redeemer.” As here, there are other examples in the Bible where words are not in time order but arranged to place God’s purpose first. To be our Husband, God must first (in time) be our Redeemer. But, Husband is first in Isaiah 54 because that is what God desires.

For Israel, redemption was in Exodus 12–14, followed by engagement in Exodus 20. For the New Testament believers, redemption was through the death of Jesus, followed by engagement in resurrection. The marriage will be when the Lord returns and continue in New Jerusalem.

Despite the engagement, the majority of Israel strayed from their Husband. Nevertheless, He does not change. After hundreds of years, in Jeremiah 3:14 He says, “Return, O apostate children, declares Jehovah, for I am a Husband to you; and I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and will bring you to Zion.”

His mercies are new every day. Let us return to Him, whether from a long absence or from a short distraction. “Let us therefore come forward with boldness to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace for timely help” (Hebrews 4:16). By His mercy, let us come forward all the way to New Jerusalem.

Photo by J. R. Douglass, courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem is the Eternal Marriage (2)

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the eternal wife of the Lamb Jesus Christ. This marriage was first pictured by Adam and Eve in Genesis 2. Eve came out of Adam’s side during his deep sleep just as the church came out of Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection.

Exodus 20 has the ten commandments. Verse 6 says that God shows “lovingkind-ness to thousands of generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

The mentioning of love here indicates that God’s intention in giving His law to His chosen people was that they become His lovers (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:35-38; Mark 12:28-30). In bringing His people out of Egypt and giving His law to them, God was courting them, wooing them, and seeking to win their affection. Jeremiah 2:2; 31:32; and Ezekiel 16:8 indicate that the covenant enacted at the mountain of God through the giving of the law (24:7-8; 34:27-28) was an engagement covenant in which God betrothed the children of Israel to Himself (cf. 2 Cor. 11:2).*

Deuteronomy 6:5, referenced in this quote, says, “You shall love Jehovah your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” And Jeremiah 2:2, also referenced in this quote, speaks of the engagement, “Thus says Jehovah: I remember concerning you the kindness of your youth, the love of your bridal days, when you followed after Me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.”

The Old Testament verses, understood in the light of New Testament verses, clearly point to the marriage between God and His people. This is the marriage which generates the praises in Revelation 19:7 and is completed with New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:2, 9.

* This is the first part of footnote 2, Exodus 20:6, in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, published and © by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim CA, 2003.

New Jerusalem is the Eternal Marriage

New JerusalemRevelation 19:7 encourages all God’s people, “Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And in Revelation 21:2 John said, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

These two verses show Jesus Christ, the Lamb, and New Jerusalem as the ultimate couple in the Bible, married for eternity. There are many other couples in the Bible which portray and point us toward this eternal couple.

The first couple in the Bible, Adam and Eve, is a picture of Christ and the church. We see this in Ephesians 5:31 which quotes Genesis 2:24. Eve was formed out of Adam as a picture of the church being produced through the death and resurrection of Christ.

In Adam’s case, without the complication of sin, his bride was presented to him immediately after his sleep. In Christ’s case, due to sin, there is a long period of sanctifying and washing away all the blemishes (Ephesians 5:26-27) before the church is presented as His bride.

The picture of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2:18-24 matches the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This picture shows God’s desire from creation, before and apart from any consideration of sin and death. This desire was to have someone as a helper/ counterpart/complement/match* for Adam.

Genesis 2 was the picture. The reality is gradually unfolded through the Bible and seen fully in Revelation 19–22. Eventually New Jerusalem is the counterpart, the complement, the wife of the Lamb Jesus Christ.

 Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service.

* Some words used in translations of Genesis 2:18.

New Jerusalem: Eternal Golden Lampstand

New JerusalemThe Lord’s work throughout the Bible points toward the new creation with New Jerusalem as its center. One aspect of the Lord’s work is His care for the churches in this age.

In Revelation 1:10-13 John tells us, “I was in spirit on the Lord’s Day and heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, saying, What you see write in a scroll and send it to the seven churches….And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me; and when I turned, I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands One like the Son of Man.”

The seven* churches in verse 11 are the seven lampstands in verse 12. “The seven lampstands are the seven churches” (v. 20).  The lampstands portray the churches as the shining testimony of Jesus Christ. And He is in their midst, caring for them.

The lampstands are golden. Their nature is divine, symbolized by the gold. Their nature is not natural; rather, they are composed of believers who have put off the old man, have put on the new man, and are being renewed by the Spirit’s operation in them.

At the beginning of Revelation we see seven golden lampstands; at the end we see New Jerusalem. Like the lampstands, New Jerusalem is golden:

“The city was pure gold, like clear glass.” (Revelation 21:18)

And, like the lampstands, New Jerusalem has a lamp:

“The glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:23)

Furthermore, like the lampstands, our Lord cares for New Jerusalem. He is the Lamb who redeemed us, He is the lamp bringing us God’s shining, and He is on the throne from which the river of life and tree of life proceed to refresh and nourish the whole city.

Today we live in the churches on the way to New Jerusalem. Lord, daily take us onward!

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

* Seven here is symbolic, representing all the churches raised up by the Lord, including but not limited to the seven named in Revelation 1:11.

New Jerusalem is the Consummate Glory (6)

New JerusalemThis post concludes the series on New Jerusalem as the consummation of glory. It is also the consummation of everything positive in the Bible.

In Revelation there are many verses which express glory to God and to the Lamb; examples are 4:9, 11; 5:12-13; 7:12; 19:1, 7. Where does this glory to God originate? From God! Glory is an attribute of God, so the Bible has phrases such as “glory of the Father” (Romans 6:4), “glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4), “glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:14), “His glory” (1 Peter 4:13; 5:10), and “glory of God” (Revelation 15:8; 19:1).

God is the source of glory. When unbelievers see His mighty acts, some will glorify Him (Revelation 11:13) but others will not (16:9). As believers, we should not only respond to His mighty acts but even more have His glory wrought into us, as in 2 Corinthians 3:18 and 2 Thessalonians 1:12. This inwrought glory, although not physically visible until the Lord returns, should rebound through us with much glory to our God and our Savior.

Revelation 1:5-6 speaks of the Jesus Christ who “released us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be the glory and the might forever and ever.” Here His redemption, the kingdom, priests, and glory are tied together; all will remain together in New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:3; 21:11; 22:5, 3).

Revelation 19:7 says, “Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” The glory to God here is directly tied to the completed preparation of the wife of the Lamb, and this wife is New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:9).

Today the wife is not quite ready, but we can give glory to God that the wife is making herself ready and that New Jerusalem will soon become visible.


New Jerusalem is the Consummate Glory (5)

New Jerusalem is the consummation of everything positive in the Bible. Recent posts have looked at New Jerusalem as the consummation of glory from the Old Testament through Hebrews. Continuing…

New Jerusalem

Peter speaks of our relationship with Jesus Christ thus: “Whom having not seen, you love; into whom though not seeing Him at present, yet believing, you exult with joy that is unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). Although the glory is largely hidden now, at times it is seen on the smiling, shining faces of a group of joyous Christians.

Here are a few lines from a song based on this verse:
__We have found the Christ who’s all in all;
____He is everything to us…
__It is joy unspeakable and full of glory,
____Full of glory, full of glory…

First Peter 4:14 tells us that if we “are reproached in the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” Although the glory is rarely visible before the Lord’s return, yet we can partake of the Spirit of this glory. Surely this Spirit will remain with us unto New Jerusalem.

Peter, in 1 Peter 5:1 tells us that he is “a partaker of the glory to be revealed.” On one hand the glory has not yet been revealed; on the other hand we can partake of it now because the God of all grace “has called you into His eternal glory” (v. 5:10).

Peter’s concluding word is “To Him [our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ] be the glory both now and unto the day of eternity.” The glory we partake of now is the same in quality, but lesser in quantity, than the glory of New Jerusalem.

Lord Jesus, lead me into living as a partaker of glory and an enjoyer of glory spoken of through Peter. Lord, give me a foretaste now of the glory of New Jerusalem.


New Jerusalem is the Consummate Glory (4)

New Jerusalem is the consummation of everything positive in the Bible, including glory in the Old Testament; in the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus; and in our Christian life. This post continues a series, starting from Thessalonians.

First Thessalonians 2:12 asks us to “walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” New Jerusalem is the consummation of both God’s kingdom and God’s glory. We cooperate with God’s calling by our walk in the divine nature.

New JerusalemGlory is not only something external into which we enter. Glory is also Jesus Christ in us. During this age may our walk be such that “the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in us” (2 Thessalonians 1:12). At the end of this age “He comes to be glorified in His saints” (v. 1:10).

In 2 Timothy 2:10 Paul says, “I endure all things for the sake of the chosen ones, that they themselves also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” The salvation we receive includes glory, and this glory is eternal; it is the glory of our eternal Savior and of New Jerusalem.

In Hebrews 2:9-11 the resurrected Jesus is crowned with glory and the Father is leading many sons into glory. This leading is related to our sanctification, which transpires through our being one with God’s Firstborn Son.

James 2:1 names Jesus Christ the Lord of glory. The more we live one with Him, the more we are in glory and the more glory spreads in us. In New Jerusalem we will be 100 percent one with Him and 100 percent in and full of glory.

These verses speak of glory in eternity and in the believers now. This glory is not a thing but a Person—God in Christ Jesus. Revelation 21:23: “the glory of God illumined it [New Jerusalem], and its lamp is the Lamb.”

Bible verses quoted in these posts are from The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, published and © by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim CA, 2003. The New Testament of this Bible, with its outlines, footnotes, and cross-references, may be viewed at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

Unlike most Fridays, I will not have a new post July 4.

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