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.

New Jerusalem is the Consummate Glory (3)

New Jerusalem is the consummation of everything positive in the Bible. Recent posts are on the consummation of glory. Here is a sampling of some verses on glory in epistles through Colossians; more in the next post.

New JerusalemIn Romans 3:23 we were sinners having no share in the glory. But we were justified through the redemption in Christ Jesus (v. 24). Now we can “boast because of the hope of the glory of God” (v. 5:2). This hope is solid; it is Christ in us, our hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). Our hope will be fully fulfilled in New Jerusalem, the city having the glory of God.

In 2 Corinthians 3:18 we are beholding (spiritually, not physically) the glory of the Lord. While we behold, the Spirit transforms us “from glory to glory,” developing in us the glory which will be manifested when the Lord returns and manifested even stronger in New Jerusalem.

In Ephesians 1:6, 12 what God is doing in us is to the praise of His glory. What He does is eternal and the praise will continue eternally. This is Ephesians 3:21—praise to God in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever.

In Philippians 3:21 Christ Jesus “will transfigure the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of His glory.” Transfiguration will complete and manifest the hidden transformation being carried out now. Thus we will match Christ Jesus for a harmonious display of glory in New Jerusalem.

Transfiguration is a matter of life, as in Colossians 3:4, “when Christ our life is manifested, then you also will be manifested with Him in glory.” Transformation and transfiguration are a life process corresponding with New Jerusalem as a city of life (Revelation 22:1-2), a city in resurrection.

Glorification = Resurrection

New Jerusalem is the consummation of every positive thing in the Bible. In the gospels, glory is related to the Lord’s incarnation, human living, death, and resurrection. Jesus spoke much about glorification in John 12–16 and prayed in John 17.

In John 12:23 Jesus said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” In 17:1 He prayed, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You.”

New JerusalemThis glorification is explained in Luke 24:
Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and enter into His glory? (v. 26)
It is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise up from the dead on the third day. (v. 46)
Together these verses show that resurrection is glorification.

The pairing of resurrection and glorification is also in John 11. Jesus said about Lazarus, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, in order that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (v. 4). He declared, “I am the resurrection” (v. 25). He said to Martha, “your brother will rise again” and “if you believe you will see the glory of God” (v. 23, 40). Immediately after this He called Lazarus out of the grave.

Revelation 21:10-11 tells us that New Jerusalem has the glory of God and verse 21:23 says that New Jerusalem has no need of sun or moon for the glory of God illuminates it. New Jerusalem is a city not in the old creation, but in and of the new creation; it is a city in resurrection.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem is the Consummate Glory (2)

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem has the Bible’s consummate glory. The prior post touched glory in the Old Testament; this one looks at glory in the gospels. What the Lord passed through in the gospels—incarnation, death, and resurrection—was to redeem us and bring us into God so that we could be in New Jerusalem.

The glory in the gospels is foretold in Isaiah 40: “the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it.” Then John 1:1, 14 says, “the Word was God…the Word became flesh…we beheld His glory.” According to 2 Peter 1:16-18, the disciples beheld His glory on the mount of transfiguration. That beholding was for a short time, but the glory in New Jerusalem is eternal.

Luke 5:25-26, 7:17, 13:13, 17:15, and 18:43 are examples of people glorifying God as a result of seeing acts which they knew were of Him. Let us expect more in the kingdom and in New Jerusalem.

In John 12:23 Jesus said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” In the next verse He speaks about His death. And at His death, a centurion glorified God (Luke 23:47). In John 17 the Lord prayed, asking the Father to glorify Him so that He could glorify the Father. This prayer was answered in His resurrection. This death and resurrection are our entrance into the glory of New Jerusalem.

In Matthew 16:27 and 24:30 the Lord told us that He will come visibly in glory. This glorious coming will bring His kingdom openly to earth and bring the manifestation of New Jerusalem closer.

Posts about the Lord’s death and resurrection as our entrance into New Jerusalem:
Enter New Jerusalem Now____Jesus Opened the Pearl Gates, Let’s Enter!

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem is the Consummate Glory

New Jerusalem is the living conclusion of everything positive in the Bible. Four recent posts identified some key elements in this conclusion, then three posts focused on New Jerusalem as the conclusion of all the newness in the Bible.

New JerusalemIn reading John 17, I was stirred to look at New Jerusalem as the consummate glory in the Bible. Historically, the first clear reference to glory seems to be in Acts 7:2—the God of glory appeared to Abraham. Lord, appear to us and attract us to follow You as Abraham did.

God’s glory is praised in Exodus 15, after Israel crossed the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army was drowned. This indicates that the redemption of the Passover, along with our exodus from the world and its power, releases the glory of God. In New Jerusalem we will still celebrate redemption, praising the Lamb on the throne. And we will be separated from the world and its power which are in the lake of fire. Lord, thank You for Your redemption and for bringing us out of the world.

God’s glory appears several times in Exodus. At the end of Exodus, when the tabernacle was completed, the glory filled it. When Solomon’s temple was inaugurated (1 Kings 8), the glory filled it. The glory also filled the restored house in Ezekiel 43. In Haggai 2 it is prophesied that the latter glory will exceed the former. How much more will the glory fill New Jerusalem! Lord, operate in us to complete Your New Testament building work.

God’s glory appeared to all the people when the priestly service was initiated in Leviticus 9. How much more when all God’s people serve as priests in New Jerusalem!

Psalm 8 is a praise and a prophecy about Jesus; both involve God’s glory. Psalm 24 also praises the Lord as the King of glory. Other verses also mention the glory.

The visions in Ezekiel 1 conclude with an open heaven, a throne, and a man on the throne. He tells us that this is the appearance of the glory of the Lord. Eternally, in New Jerusalem, we will see an open heaven, the throne of God and of the Lamb, and the glory of God.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

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