May the Glorious City Appear on the Earth !

A few days ago I was singing a song (words music) which begins
__Freed from self and Adam’s nature,
____Lord, I would be built by Thee
__With the saints into Thy temple,
____Where Thy glory we shall see.
In Jesus Christ we can experience the freedom from self and we can be built together with other Christians into God’s house, the temple. The more we are built together, the more His glory will be expressed. The ultimate stage of being freed from Adam, the ultimate stage of being built together, and the ultimate stage of glory is New Jerusalem. New Jerusalem “has the glory of God” (Revelation 21:11). The city is not merely in the glory but rather glory is a characteristic of the city.

New JerusalemVerse 2 of this song speaks of the Lord’s life and its flowing. This life is the source of the building, even as the building materials came out of the river of life in Genesis 2. Verse 3 touches Ephesians 4:15-16—we grow and are knit/built together by holding Christ the Head.

Verse 4 touches Ephesians 3:16-19—Paul prayed (and we too can daily pray) for strengthening by the Spirit into our inner man. Thus Christ makes home in us, we know His surpassing love and His immeasurable riches, and we are filled unto all the fulness of God. The utmost of all these experiences is New Jerusalem.

Verse 5 helps us to express our longing in simple prayer to the Lord: in God’s house and in Your Body I long to be builded. The result is that God’s glory will be seen by all. May the conclusion of this song become our longing:
__That Thy Bride, the glorious city,
____May appear upon the earth,
__As a lampstand brightly beaming
____To express to all Thy worth.

New Jerusalem is the Bride of Christ (Revelation 21:2), it is the glorious city (21:11), and it is the brightly beaming lampstand (21:23). Lord, fill us with the longing for New Jerusalem to appear on the earth!

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.

What is the First Commandment?

eat the tree of lifeFrom the garden of Eden to New Jerusalem, eating the tree of life is significant. Genesis 2:9 tells us, “out of the ground Jehovah God caused to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, as well as the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Many people are familiar with the ten commandments in Exodus 20. However, the first command that God gave to man was about man’s eating. Genesis 2:16-17 says,

“And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may eat freely, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, of it you shall not eat; for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

God’s desire is that we of the tree of life and His command is that we not eat of the alternative. As seen in the prior post, Jesus is the reality of the tree of life. He is the real life and life supply in the universe. God’s desire is that we take Jesus as our daily food.

What keeps us from the tree of life might be our idea that the Christian life is a life of doing good. According to this idea, I obey the teachings of Jesus and follow His example to be kind and to help people. However, this is not the central revelation of the Bible. Jesus Himself said “He who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me” (John 6:57). His desire is that we eat Him to live Him. “Christ lives in me”—to live out through me all the good He wants to accomplish, and “to me to live is Christ”—my life is Him, not my doing good in my self and by my own effort (Galatians 2:20 and Philippians 1:21).

We are not against good, but we are against good that originates in our human self. “No one is good except One—God” (Mark 10:18). Our aspiration is the good that is Christ living in us and through us. For this we need to eat Him every day. This eating is portrayed by the tree of life in the garden of Eden and in New Jerusalem.

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

Take Freely the Water of Life

New JerusalemRecent posts have looked at the river of life through the Old Testament, with support from a few New Testament verses. This series included more than I expected when it began. Thank the Lord for the riches in His Word.

Here are the posts in order, each with one Bible phrase that was a highlight to me. The first word of each line has a link to that post.

❉  Genesis 2:10 “a river went forth from Eden to water the garden.”
  Exodus 17:6 “strike the rock, and water will come out of it so that the people may drink.”
  Numbers 20:8 “speak to the rock before their eyes, so that it yields its water.”
  Psalm 78:15-16 God “split rocks in the wilderness and gave them abundant drink, as from the depths.”
  Psalm 36:8-9 “You [God] cause them [sons of men] to drink of the river of Your pleasures.”
  Psalm 46:4 “There is a river whose streams gladden the city of God.”
❉  One drink, many streams
  Isaiah 12:2-4 “draw water with rejoicing from the springs of salvation.”
  Isaiah 55:1 “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters.”
  Jeremiah 2:13 Our God “is the fountain of living waters.”
  Avoid broken cisterns
  Ezekiel 47:1 “water flowed down below the south side of the house, on the south of the altar.”
  Ezekiel 47:3-5 “the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be crossed.”
❉  Ezekiel 47:9 “everything shall live wherever the river comes.”
  Zechariah 14:8 “in that day living waters will go forth from Jerusalem.”

The reality of all these verses today is the Spirit (John 7:37-39; 1 Cor. 12:13). Heed the invitation in Revelation 22:17, “let him who wills take the water of life freely.” There will be more flowing in the coming age and the most abundant flow from the throne in New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:1-2), but come to Jesus and drink now. Here is a song in which Revelation 22:17 is the chorus; sing and draw water with rejoicing (Isaiah 12).

Related posts by Tom at Holding To Truth:
Come and Drink the Living Waters
Speak to Christ the Rock to Drink the Spirit as the Water of Life
Have You Applied the Blood, Are You Drinking the Water of Life
Plus a related post by Stefan at A God-Man in Christ:
The River of Water of Life: God Reaching Man

Photo by Dr. James P. McVey, courtesy of U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA Sea Grant Program.

Don’t Forsake the Fountain of Living Waters

New JerusalemThe Triune God flows the rich supply of eternal life to all who receive. This flow was first portrayed by the river in the garden of Eden. It continues through both the Old Testament and the New Testament to consummate in the river of water of life flowing from the throne in New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:1-2). This post continues looking at this flow in the Old Testament.

Jeremiah 2:13 says, “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, which hold no water.” Jeremiah 17:13 tells us again that Jehovah is “the fountain of living waters.”

The Old Testament is often considered a shadow of the New Testament realities. Yet in Jeremiah we do not find a picture, but the Triune God is the fountain. This fountain flows out living waters for us to drink. The Lord warns us that to forsake Him as the fountain is an evil act. Dear Lord, keep us drinking of Yourself every day so that Your living waters may flow through us.

The other evil in Jeremiah 2 is hewing out cisterns. These cisterns are whatever or wherever we seek satisfaction apart from the Lord. Our cisterns could be entertainment, a nice home, video games, advancing in a career, winning an award, or so many other goals. If our source is anything other than the Triune God, it is a cistern.

We are warned that whatever we hew out for ourselves are broken cisterns which do not hold water (representing satisfaction, assurance, supply). These cisterns are the product of human effort in contrast to the Triune God Himself as fountain, the source of eternal supply. May we turn from our own efforts and cry out with thanksgiving to the Lord so that we may drink of the living waters and rejoice.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Related post: Enjoying God as the Fountain of Living Waters and Helping Others to also Drink Him

The Garden of Eden and New Jerusalem

New JerusalemOn April 19 I began a series looking at similarities between the garden of Eden and New Jerusalem. Since then this comparison, of Genesis 2–3 with Revelation 21–22, has grown. Thank the Lord for how His word unfolds as we dig into it. Here is a summary of this series; each ❖ symbol links to a specific post.

God was present in the garden as the Creator and is present in New Jerusalem as the redeeming and life-imparting Lamb-God.

Man was created in God’s image in Genesis and is one with God in life in Revelation.

Redemption is portrayed in the garden; completed redemption is seen in the city.

God and man, although speaking face to face in the garden, were separate; in the New Testament, including New Jerusalem, God in Christ lives in His believers and they live in Him.

The tree of life is in both the garden and the city; Jesus Christ is the reality of this tree and is available to us now.

A choice between life and death is shown by the tree of life and tree of knowledge in the garden; man faces this choice through the Bible although not in the new creation.

The river of life is in both the garden and the city; the Spirit is the reality of this flow of life reaching us today.

Three kinds of precious materials were in the garden; three kinds of precious materials are built together in the city.

Eve, the bride of Adam, who came out of Adam, is a picture of the church and New Jerusalem coming out of Christ and returning to Him as His bride.

God’s building of the rib from Adam’s side into Eve is a picture of building the church and New Jerusalem with the unbroken life which flows out from Christ.

God’s glory, holiness, and righteousness are seen in the garden, in the redemption of Christ, in our Christian life, and in New Jerusalem.

A photo of Ireland from space, courtesy of European Space Agency.

A related post: The Central Thought of God, by Stefan at aGod-man.com

In the Garden of Eden but not in New Jerusalem

New JerusalemMany recent posts have looked at similarities or parallels between the garden of Eden and New Jerusalem. This post is about four things seen in the garden in Genesis 2–3 but is not seen in the city nor in the new creation in Revelation 21–22.

✦  Genesis 2:9 tells us that in the garden were “every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, as well as the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” This tree of knowledge is not in New Jerusalem, but the tree of life is there on both sides of the river of life which flows from the throne (Revelation 22:1-2).

✦  In Genesis 2:17 God commanded Adam: “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, of it you shall not eat; for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” This is first spiritual death followed by physical death. In contrast, no death is in New Jerusalem, for Revelation 20:14 records that “death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire.”

✦  In Genesis 3:1-13 the serpent deceived Eve so that she and Adam ate of the tree of knowledge. The serpent is a symbol of Satan. In Revelation 12:9 the Devil, Satan, is “he who deceives the whole inhabited earth.” However, his end will come. In John 16:11 the Lord Jesus tells us that “the ruler of this world has been judged.” The final enactment of this judgement is recorded in Revelation 20:10: “the Devil, who deceived them [the nations], was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone.” Hence, no Devil in New Jerusalem.

✦  In Genesis 3:16-19 the curse came upon mankind, including pain, toil, sweat, and death. Instead of this bleak outlook, Revelation 22:3 says of New Jerusalem, “there will no longer be a curse” and verse 21:4 says of the whole new creation, “He [God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death will be no more, nor will there be sorrow or crying or pain anymore.”

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has saved us from death, Satan, and the curse. Now He is living within us, gradually making us wholly new, blameless, and shining to match the blessed condition of New Jerusalem. Praise Him!

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

God’s Glory, Holiness, and Righteousness in New Jerusalem

New JerusalemThe prior posts touched the glory, holiness, and righteousness of God depicted in the garden of Eden and their reality in the redemption of Jesus Christ. These three divine attributes are also seen in New Jerusalem.

Revelation 21:23 tells us that “the city has no need of the sun or of the moon that they should shine in it, for the glory of God illumined it.” Not only does the glory of God illuminate the city, but this glory has become a feature of the city itself. In Revelation 21:10-11 John says that the angel, “showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.” The glory of God has infused the entire city.

Revelation 21:2 speaks of “the holy city, New Jerusalem” and verse 10 speaks likewise of “the holy city, Jerusalem.” First Peter 1:16 quotes from Leviticus, “You shall be holy because I am holy.” This command from God is completely fulfilled in New Jerusalem—the entire city is holy by being saturated with the holy God.

Revelation 22:1 presents “a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Verse 3 says that “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [the city]”. In Psalm 89:8 the psalmist begins speaking to God about His greatness. Verse 14a says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne.” Romans 14:17 tells us that righteousness is an attribute of the kingdom of God; where His throne is, there is the kingdom, and where the kingdom is, there is righteousness.

After the fall of man (Genesis 3), God’s glory, holiness, and righteousness excluded man from the garden of Eden. The redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ removed that exclusion and opened a “new and living way” (Hebrews 10:20) for us to come forward to the holy of holies to be in God’s presence. The consummation of our coming forward is to have these divine attributes in New Jerusalem.

Photo by Dave Bieri, courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

God’s Glory, Holiness, and Righteousness in the Garden

New JerusalemThe garden of Eden and New Jerusalem correspond in many ways. This is the first of three posts looking at God’s glory, holiness, and righteousness in the garden, in Christ’s salvation, and in New Jerusalem.

In Genesis 2 man was pure but in Genesis 3 man ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 3:24 tells us that God “drove the man out, and at the east of the garden of Eden He placed the cherubim and a flaming sword which turned in every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.” The cherubim, the flame, and the sword signify God’s glory, holiness, and righteousness.

If we read Ezekiel 9 and 10 [v. 4, 18-19] and Hebrews 9, we will see that the cherubim are symbols of God’s glory. Ezekiel 9:3 reveals that glory of God was with the cherub, and Hebrews 9:5 even speaks of “the cherubim of glory,” because they were used by God to signify, express, and indicate His glory.

The flame means fire, and fire in typology signifies the holiness of God. God is a consuming fire (Deut. 4:24; 9:3; Heb. 12:29). Anything common, unclean, or sinful is consumed by Him. This consuming fire signifies God’s holiness, and without holiness no man shall see Him (Heb. 12:14).

The sword signifies killing. In Genesis 3 the killing of the sword indicates God’s righteousness (cf. Lam. 3:42-43; Rom. 2:5)….Since sin was involved, there is, according to the righteous God, the need for killing. Hence, the sword for killing signifies the requirements of God’s righteousness.*

Adam and Eve sinned in partaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Thus sin entered and “death through sin” (Romans 5:12). Therefore, God’s glory, holiness, and righteousness closed the way to the tree of life because sinful man was not allowed to contact God as the tree of life. Thank God that the redemption of Christ re-opened the way to the tree of life and keeps it open eternally in New Jerusalem.

* Excerpts from Witness Lee, Life-Study of Genesis, chapter 21, sections 6 to 8. This is published and © by Living Stream Ministry and available for online reading here.

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.

The Unbroken Life of Christ

Douglas fir forest, OR, Dr. David Goodrich, NOAAGenesis 2:21-22 says, “Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in its place. And Jehovah God built the rib, which He had taken from the man, into a woman and brought her to the man.”

A series of posts beginning here have considered the garden of Eden as a foretelling of what is in New Jerusalem. The garden and the city have many parallels. My previous post was about the God’s building of the rib of Adam into his bride Eve. Since Genesis 2 is full of spiritual pictures, what is the significance of the rib?

The rib taken from Adam’s opened side typifies the unbreakable, indestructible eternal life of Christ (Heb. 7:16), which flowed out of His pierced side (John 19:34) to impart life to His believers for the producing and building up of the church as His complement.*

The rib as a picture of the unbreakable life of Christ is also seen in Exodus 12:46 where Israel was instructed not to break any bone of the Passover lamb, which was a picture of Jesus as the real Lamb of God (John 1:29). The instruction in Exodus was fulfilled in John 19:32-36 when the soldiers broke the legs of the two men being crucified with Jesus but did not break any one of His bones.

In resurrection our Lord was appointed a priest according to the order of Melchisedec. This appointment was “according to the power of an indestructible life” (Hebrews 7:16). This is the life signified by the rib taken from Adam’s side.

This is the divine and eternal life by which the church is constituted and being built up today. This life, is portrayed by tree of life and river of life in New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:1-2), will sustain New Jerusalem eternally.

* A note on Genesis 2:21 in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, www.recoveryversion.org,  published and © 2003 by Living Stream Ministry.

Photo by Dr. David Goodrich, courtesy of NOAA/U.S. Department of Commerce.

Building in the Garden and in the City

Christ builds the churchGenesis 2:21-22 says, “Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in its place. And Jehovah God built the rib, which He had taken from the man, into a woman and brought her to the man.”

The word “built” seems unusual in the context of these verses, and is not found in most translations. Nevertheless, The Concise Dictionary of the Hebrew Bible at the end of Strong’s Concordance gives “build” as the primary meaning for the Hebrew word. Another reference* also gives “build” as the primary meaning and specifically mentions its metaphorical use in Genesis 2:22.

The use of “build” with respect to the bride matches the revelation through the Bible. Multiple verses in Ephesians 2 and 4 speak about building, followed by verses 5:23-32 about husband and wife as a picture of Christ and the church.  The building up of the Body of Christ and the preparation of the bride of Christ are two aspects of the Triune God’s work among Christians today.

New Jerusalem as a city is surely something built and Revelation 21:18 specifically speaks of “the building work of its wall.” This builded city is the bride, the wife of the Lamb, as we see in Revelation 21:

“I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (v. 2)

“I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he carried me away in spirit onto a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.” (v. 9-10)

*R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr., and B. K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Moody Press, Chicago, © 1980 by The Moody Bible Institute.

Christ is the Source

There are many similarities seen in the garden of Eden and New Jerusalem. One of these similarities is husband and wife. Adam and Eve were in the garden. New Jerusalem is the wife of the Lamb, Christ (Revelation 21:9-10).

Christ and New Jerusalem

Genesis 2:21-23 says, “Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in its place. And Jehovah God built the rib, which He had taken from the man, into a woman and brought her to the man. And the man said, This time this is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman because out of Man this one was taken.”

The fact that Eve was made from Adam signifies that the church is made from Christ. Eve was made with Adam’s rib. Since Eve came out from Adam, she was still Adam. Then what is the church? The church is another form of Christ, just as Eve was another form of Adam.*

Genesis 2:7 tells us that God formed Adam from the dust of the ground. In contrast, verses 21-22 tell us that God took a rib from Adam and built it into a woman. Therefore Adam declared that Eve was bone of his bones and that she was taken out from him.

The church is composed of that which is out of Christ. Man’s talent, ability, thought, strength, and all that he has are outside the church….Eve was not made from clay, but from Adam, the one who typified Christ [Romans 5:14]. The preciousness is that God took a rib from Adam and made Eve. Only that which came out from Adam, not from clay, can be called “Eve,” and only that which comes from Christ can be called the church.*

As Eve came out of Adam and the church comes out of Christ through His death and resurrection, so also New Jerusalem comes out of Christ as the fulfillment of the picture of Eve and the consummation of the church.

*From Watchman Nee, The Glorious Church, chapter 2, section 3 of the online reading here, © 1997-2013 Living Stream Ministry.

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