Seeking and Longing for New Jerusalem

New JerusalemAbraham eagerly waited for, sought, and longed for the city of foundations, New Jerusalem, in the new creation, the better country (Hebrews 11:10, 14, 16). May we have the same focus in our walk of faith on Abraham’s path (Romans 4:12).

Within the record of Abraham’s walk of faith, the whole of Genesis 23 records the death and burial of Sarah. Although many aspects of Abraham’s life are not recorded at all, God chose to record in detail the site and purchase of the burying place of Sarah. Later Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Leah were buried there too. Why?

Genesis 23 is a window through which we can see the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem is not found in this chapter, but it can be seen through it.*

Abraham and Sarah were living at Beersheba. Here was a well obtained in a covenant for the price of seven lambs, and also a tamarisk tree (Genesis 21:25-34). These are a picture of the water of life and tree of life we obtain in the new covenant through the redemption of Christ, the real Lamb of God.

Sarah lived in Beersheba but died and was buried in Hebron, a place of fellowship on the way from Beersheba to Jerusalem.

The cave of Machpelah in Hebron is the gateway to the New Jerusalem….Sarah was not simply buried in the cave of Machpelah; she is now sleeping there, waiting for the day when she will wake up and find herself in the New Jerusalem.

Sarah’s death did not disappoint Abraham in his search for a better country and for a city with foundations. On the contrary, it stirred up his expectation of the coming day. Therefore, he devoted much attention and spent a large amount of money to purchase the burying place for Sarah, himself, and his descendants. If we have the light from the New Testament, we shall realize that this indicates the expectation of resurrection. Once again I say that the sepulcher is the passageway, the gateway, into the expected city, the New Jerusalem.

Our “tent” is our dwelling place in this age. If we die before the Lord returns, our tomb is our resting place, where we are asleep in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:18) until the time of resurrection.

[Genesis 23:6] speaks of the “choice” sepulcher, referring to the best sepulcher. When the Lord Jesus was on earth, He did not have a good dwelling place [Matthew 8:20]. But after He died, He was put into a very good burying place (Matt. 27:57-60). He lived in a poor home, but He was buried in a rich tomb. In the Bible, this is a principle. Abraham paid more attention to the sepulcher than to the tent.

Abraham gave, and the record in the Bible gives, more attention to the tomb than to the tent, because Abraham’s being was fixed on the coming city and the better country. May we be those who follow Abraham’s pattern, giving more attention to the new creation and New Jerusalem than to our current city and country.

 * All quotes in this post are from Life-study of Genesis (online reading here), message 59, by Witness Lee, © Living Stream Ministry.

We Come Forward by Faith

New Jerusalem

Hebrews declares a fact to us and encourages our action:

We have come forward to New Jerusalem

We are coming forward to God and to His throne

Both the completed fact and the daily experience are through Jesus Christ. Both are spiritual realities but are not yet manifest in the physical realm. They are substantiated by faith (Hebrews 11:1) and we walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

By faith Abraham eagerly waited for the city which has foundations, New Jerusalem (Hebrews 11:10). Now we should “walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham” (Romans 4:12).

While Abraham was eagerly awaiting New Jerusalem, “he dwelt as a foreigner in the land of promise as in a foreign land” (Hebrews 11:9). He confessed that he was a stranger in that land (11:13). His focus was not on the current situation around him but on the better, heavenly country (11:16). Sometimes too much attention to the situation around us prevents us from coming forward to God and His throne. Lord, cause us to turn our eyes to the heavenly city and country.

Abraham was also “making his home in tents with Isaac and Jacob” (11:9). He confessed that he was a sojourner (11:13). This indicates that he regarded his living in the physical realm as temporary and moveable. Sometimes we have too many roots, too many attachments, to our current living place and its surroundings. This too can prevent us from coming forward to God and His throne.

Abraham eagerly waited for, sought (11:14), and longed for New Jerusalem. If our attention is elsewhere, we again have difficulty coming forward.

Lord Jesus, save us from all our attachments and release us from all our misplaced attention. Focus us on Yourself, Your throne, and Your city.

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.

New Jerusalem is a City of Jasper

Jasper is an important part of the appearance of New Jerusalem. In Revelation 21:10b-11 John tells us that an angel “showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, as clear as crystal.” Verses 14 and 19 say that “the wall of the city had twelve foundations… the first foundation was jasper…” and verse 18 says “the building work of its wall was jasper.”

Jasper is the expression of God, for we read in Revelation 4:2-3 “there was a throne set in heaven, and upon the throne there was One sitting; and He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance.” God and the city have the same appearance, indicating that the city is the expression of God. This is the fulfillment of God’s intention in Genesis 1, where God created man “in His image” so that man could express God.

New Jerusalem

Here is something about jasper and New Jerusalem from Experiencing, Enjoying, and Expressing Christ by Witness Lee, © LSM (details). See message 429 in online reading.

The wall and its foundations of precious stones signify the transforming and building work of the Holy Spirit. The foundations of the wall of the city are of twelve layers. The number twelve shows the completion in God’s eternal administration. The first layer is jasper, indicating that the likeness of God is the predominant appearance. The first layer of the wall’s foundation, as well as the entire wall of the New Jerusalem, is built with jasper. This indicates that the main material in the building of the holy city is jasper. Since jasper signifies God expressed in His communicable glory, the main function of the holy city is to express God in bearing His glory (v. 11).

Although the entire wall is jasper, the twelve foundations are different stones with various colors….The reason for this is that the apostles had different ministries….However, these twelve foundations are not laid side by side; rather, they are laid one on top of another….All the work of the apostles issued in the same appearance, jasper. All twelve layers lead to and support the unique testimony in the unique expression.

Let us rejoice in this wonderful expression of God in New Jerusalem!

Photo courtesy of U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

New Jerusalem is Built with the Triune God

Here is a short quote about the Triune God and New Jerusalem from Experiencing, Enjoying, and Expressing Christ by Witness Lee, © LSM (details). See message 429 in online reading.

New Jerusalem

The New Jerusalem is built of three kinds of precious materials, signifying that she is built with the Triune God. First, the city proper, with its street, is of pure gold (Rev. 21:18, 21). Gold, the symbol of the nature of God, signifies the Father as the source, from whom the element for the substantial existence of the city is produced. Second, the twelve gates of the city are pearls, which signify the Son’s overcoming death and life-imparting resurrection, through which entrance to the city is gained. Third, the wall of the city and its foundation are built of precious stones, signifying the Spirit’s work of transforming the redeemed and regenerated saints into precious stones for the building of God’s eternal habitation that they may express God corporately in His all-permeating glory. In the garden of Eden these three kinds of treasures merely existed as materials (Gen. 2:11-12), whereas in the city of New Jerusalem these precious materials become a builded city for the fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose, which is to have a corporate expression.

God is infinitely wise and infinitely capable. What He purposed in eternity past, He will accomplish. Satan, sin, death, worldliness, and other negatives cannot deter or stop Him. What was portrayed in the garden of Eden will be fulfilled in New Jerusalem.

The infinite wisdom of God will be “made known through the church, according to the eternal purpose which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:10-11). Today God is operating in all His believers who together constitute the church. His operation is in time but it is of eternity; it includes His work in us but it is His work, not ours. What He accomplishes now is manifest to some extent in this age and to a greater extent in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

We Are Regenerated and Transformed for God’s Eternal Building

New Jerusalem is solidly built, not with physical materials, but with the Triune God. Here is another excerpt about the city from Experiencing, Enjoying, and Expressing Christ (online reading, message 429 in volume 26) by Witness Lee, © LSM.

New Jerusalem

The New Jerusalem is a city of foundations (Heb. 11:10). These are the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Rev. 21:14), each of whom is signified by a precious stone. Peter, the first of the twelve apostles, was originally named Simon. When Simon was brought to the Lord, the Lord changed his name to Peter, meaning “a stone” (John 1:42). Later the Lord called him by that name when He spoke concerning the building of His church (Matt. 16:18). Precious stones are not created but are produced by the transforming of things created. All the apostles were created as clay, but they were regenerated and were transformed into precious stones for God’s eternal building. Every believer needs to be regenerated and transformed so that he may be a part of the New Jerusalem.

Both regeneration and transformation are accomplished by the Spirit’s operation in us. John 3:5 speaks about being regenerated, born of the Spirit, and 3:6 says, “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The first Spirit in this verse is the Holy Spirit; the second is our human spirit, the deepest part of our being, the part created by God for His purpose (Zechariah 12:1).

Transformation is “from the Lord Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18). This transformation proceeds as we turn our heart to the Lord to behold His glory (2 Corinthians 3:16-18) and as we present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2).

Our path to New Jerusalem includes regeneration and transformation. May we practice turning and presenting as we look forward to that glorious city.

God’s Faithfulness Constitutes Us

The wall of New Jerusalem has twelve foundations and on them are names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Revelation 21:14). These foundations are also adorned with precious stones (Revelation 21:19).

New Jerusalem

Here is another portion about the wall from Experiencing, Enjoying, and Expressing Christ (online reading) by Witness Lee, © LSM (details).

 It is through God’s faithfulness that the apostles have become the city’s foundation stones….The layer upon layer of precious stones, which compose the foundation of the city, show forth the colors of the rainbow. This indicates that the faithfulness of God [Genesis 9:8-17] is the foundation of the city. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all looked for “the city which has the foundations” (Heb. 11:10). They looked for such a city because that city is built upon the faithfulness of God. Psalm 89:2 says that the faithfulness of God is established in the heavens. Strictly speaking, the twelve stones alone do not compose the foundations of this holy city; rather, the faithfulness of God bestowed upon the twelve stones makes up the foundations.

Genesis 9:8-9, 12-13  says, “Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, and I Myself now establish My covenant with you and with your seed after you….And God said, This is the sign of the covenant…I set My bow in the clouds, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.” 

The apostles in themselves, apart from Jesus Christ, can never be the foundation. Look at their foolish talk and contention in the gospels.  Yet, after the resurrection of Jesus the faithful God worked in them to constitute them as foundations.

Likewise, in our natural makeup we are not qualified for God’s building. However, God in Christ has redeemed and regenerated us. “God is faithful” (1 Corinthians 1:9). He is faithful to complete His work in us. A verse which encouraged me recently is Romans 6:5, “if we have grown together with Him in the likeness of His death, indeed we will also be in the likeness of His resurrection.” God is resurrecting each part of our being and we will be full partakers of His resurrection in New Jerusalem.

Photo by Douglas Barnum, courtesy of U. S. Geological Survey.

Ministry of Life for the Wall of the City

Here is more about the foundation of the wall of New Jerusalem from Experiencing, Enjoying, and Expressing Christ by Witness Lee, © LSM (details). To read this online select the last volume here.

New Jerusalem

Revelation 21:14 tells us, “the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”

That the wall is built upon the foundations of the apostles of the Lamb also means that the wall is built upon the Christ who is brought to us by the apostles. The apostles of the Lamb are the bearers of Christ. They are the transformed transmitting agents of Christ. This simply means that the wall is built upon the Christ who is brought to us through the apostles as the transmitting agents. The children of Israel are the entrances, but the apostles of the Lamb are the foundations because they have Christ, and they brought Christ to us. This is a picture of the church. The church is built upon nothing other than the Christ brought and taught to us by the apostles.

The apostles as “transmitting agents of Christ” minister Christ to us, as in 1 Corinthians 3:5—“What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Ministers through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to each one of them.” What the Lord gave to them and what they minister to us is of life because the next verse speaks of planting, watering, and growth.

The transmission by the apostles, which is their ministry, is of the Spirit, of life, of righteousness, and abounds in glory (2 Corinthians 3:6-9). The apostles also train us for this same ministry, which we all should carry out with the same essence as the apostles although not to the same extent as they. This ministry by all the members of Christ results in the building up of the Body of Christ which is the path to the building up of New Jerusalem (Ephesians 4:11-12).

Photo of aspen trees in Yellowstone National Park by Jim Peaco, courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Justified to Stand in Grace

Here is another excerpt about New Jerusalem from Experiencing, Enjoying, and Expressing Christ by Witness Lee, © LSM (details here). This is available for online reading—select the last volume here.

New Jerusalem

Revelation 21:12-14 says about New Jerusalem, “It had a great and high wall and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names inscribed, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel: on the east three gates, and on the north three gates, and on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”

The twelve names of the twelve tribes being inscribed on the twelve gates of the city indicates that the twelve gates are there to fulfill the requirement of the law and to satisfy the law’s demand upon sinners. The twelve foundations bearing the twelve names of the apostles, who are the representatives of the grace of the New Testament, signify that the New Jerusalem is built upon the grace of God according to the New Testament. The entrance of the city answers the requirements of the Old Testament law, and the foundations of the city show us the grace of the New Testament. The law is for the entry, and the grace is for the foundation. We enter into the New Jerusalem according to the requirement of the law, and we are in the New Jerusalem according to and based on the grace of the New Testament.

To enter the city we must satisfy the requirements of the law. We cannot do this ourselves but we are justified by faith in Christ (Galatians 2:16). Now He is the grace with us (2 Corinthians 13:14; Galatians 6:18; Philemon 25) for our daily satisfaction and joy, and for us to share with others.

Romans 5:1b-2 puts the entrance and foundation together: “our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand and boast because of the hope of the glory of God.” This access and grace are our present experience of the gates and foundation of New Jerusalem. The result is that we boast because of our hope concerning the glory of New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Related posts: The Law’s Requirements at the Gates
The Twelve Gates are Twelve Pearls
A Living that Fulfills the Law’s Requirements
The Names of the Apostles
Christ as Life in the Apostles is the Foundation
We All Participate in the Ministry of Life for Building

Transformation Produces Precious Stones

Transformation from the spirit produces precious stonesRevelation 21:19-20 says, “The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every precious stone: the first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire…the twelfth, amethyst.”

In 1 Corinthians 3:6-12 we see planting, watering, farming, and growth. The result is material of the plant life. Yet in the same verses we see that the proper building materials are gold, silver, and precious stones. The change from life to the precious materials implies transformation. The same thought is in Matthew 13 with the sowing of the seed eventually leading to precious materials, and in 1 Peter 2:2-5 with nourishing milk for growth and then living stones for building up.

Transformation is presented directly in Romans 12:2—“transformed by the renewing of the mind” and 2 Corinthians 3:18—we ,“beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed.” The transformation in Romans 12 is detailed in Ephesians 4:23 where the renewing of our mind is by the Spirit with our spirit. (The Spirit with our spirit is seen in John 3:6 and Romans 8:16.) The transformation in 2 Corinthians is by turning our heart to the Lord so that every veil is taken away thereby allowing us to behold Him clearly. His glory shines into us to transform us “into the same image” (His image) “from glory to glory” and He is also reflected for others to see Him. This proceeds “from the Lord Spirit.” The result of this transformation is New Jerusalem with its precious stones expressing the glory of the Lord.

Christ Received, Experienced, and Ministered

Receiving, Experiencing, Ministering ChristRevelation 21:14 declares, “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” Because these foundations are multiple, they are not Christ alone, yet they are not separate from Christ. They are the Christ received, experienced, and ministered by all New Testament believers following the pattern of the apostles.

The simplest expression about receiving for ministering to others is in Ephesians 3:2  “…the grace of God which was given to me for you.” To me for you is an important aspect of our New Testament life. Here it is in other verses:
__It pleased God…to reveal His Son in me that I might announce Him as the gospel among the Gentiles. (Galatians 1:15-16)
__That which we have seen and heard we report also to you that you also may have fellowship with us. (1 John 1:3a)
__We have received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit which is from God, that we may know the things which have been graciously given to us by God; which things also we speak. (1 Corinthians 2:12-13a)
__The things which you have heard from me through many witnesses, these commit to faithful men, who will be competent to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2)

Although the first two verses are testimonies of Paul and John, we must remember that the apostles are patterns to us. Our receiving, experiencing, and ministering of the Lord is part of the process by which “His wife has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7). Lord, grant us more revelation, grace, and spiritual understanding, and rise up in us to share with others what we have experienced of You.

 

The Foundations are Christ Received, Experienced, and Ministered

 

In Revelation 21:14, “the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” In 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, Paul says, “According to the grace of God given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid a foundation….another foundation no one is able to lay besides that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

Christ Himself is the foundation for the church, but New Jerusalem has 12 foundations. Because of the plurality, those foundations cannot be the unique Christ. On the other hand, those foundations cannot be apart from the Christ who “is all and in all” (Colossians 3:11). The key to this apparent dilemma is the names of the twelve apostles on the foundations of New Jerusalem. The apostles have been constituted with Christ and minister Christ to others. Christ, constituted into and ministered by men, forms the foundations.

In Ephesians 3 Paul says that the grace of God was given to him for us (v.2) and that the mystery of Christ was made known to him (v.3-5). He briefly describes the mystery (v.6), then he says, “Of which [the gospel] I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God….To me…was this grace given to announce to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel” (v.7-8). Revelation and grace were given to Paul so that he could minister the unsearchable riches of Christ to all of us. The apostles are patterns for us all (Philippians 3:17). We too receive revelation and grace, and we too minister to others the Christ we have seen and experienced, thereby following the apostles in preparing the foundations of New Jerusalem.

Precious Stones on the Foundations

Precious Stones on the Wall of New JErusalemRevelation 21:19-20 tells us that, “The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every precious stone: the first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst.

The wall of New Jerusalem has twelve foundations (v. 21:14), declaring the eternal perfection and fullness of the wall. The names of the apostles are on the foundations because they take the lead, and all believers participate, in the New Testament building up in life. Because the wall is built in and with eternal life, the wall expresses the Triune God who is life to us.

The foundations of the wall of New Jerusalem are adorned with twelve precious stones. Each foundation is associated with a different type of precious stone. People have written much about the colors of these stones. Although there are different views about the colors, many agree that the overall appearance is like a rainbow. This corresponds with Revelation 4:2-3, “there was a throne set in heaven, and upon the throne there was One sitting; and He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance, and there was a rainbow around the throne like an emerald in appearance.” In chapter 4 the city had not yet been revealed to John but in chapters 21-22 the city is revealed with throne in it (v. 22:1-3) surrounded by the rainbow composed of the precious stones on the foundations of the wall. These stones do not have light in themselves but they shine with the glory of God and of the Lamb on the throne. This is a picture of our shining with the God who lives in us; more on this in the next post.

Bible verses quoted in these posts are from The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, published and copyrighted 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 copyrighted by Living Stream Ministry.

%d bloggers like this: