Twelves in the New Testament

The number twelve appears frequently in the description of New Jerusalem. Twelve indicates what is eternally perfect in quality, eternally complete in quantity, and eternally rich in composition; this is God’s perfection, God’s abundance, and God’s richness.

All the twelves in the Bible point to New Jerusalem in some way. In the OT Israel was composed of twelve tribes. The city has “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
New Jerusalemthe sons of Israel” (Rev. 21:12).

The focus in this post is the NT. A well-known twelve is the twelve apostles appointed by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 10. The wall of New Jerusalem has “twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names* of the twelve apostles  the Lamb” (Rev. 21:14).

The Lord Jesus blessed five loaves of bread and fed 5000 people. Afterwards, upon the Lord’s instruction, the disciples “took up twelve full handbaskets of the broken pieces of bread and of the fish.” And all four gospels include full. This portrays the Lord’s eternal, bountiful supply for us in New Jerusalem.

In John 6:9, 13 the five loaves are specifically barley loaves. Barley is the first-ripe grain in the Bible’s record, signifying resurrection. The bountiful supply in New Jerusalem is (and must be) resurrection because the entire New Jerusalem is a city in resurrection.


Numbers in the Bible (1,2,3,4) (7,8,10,12,144)

*In 2016 I was asked, Who are the apostles named on the foundations of New Jerusalem? The Bible does not say and I will not speculate. But Revelation 21:14 specifically says twelves names and twelve apostles indicating eternal perfection, which is a characteristic of the Triune God and of New Jerusalem. A quote from New Jerusalem’s Wall has 12 Foundations.

Revelation 21: Where is Everyone?

New JerusalemRevelation 21–22:5 describes the new creation and New Jerusalem. Since New Jerusalem includes all God’s people from all the ages, where are they in Revelation 21–22? Why don’t we read about huge numbers of people moving about in the city?

We all are in New Jerusalem but we are there as members of a corporate person greater than ourselves. In Genesis 1 God said, “Let Us make man [singular] in Our image…and let them [plural] have dominion.” God’s goal in creation was to have a corporate man for His purpose. But, from Genesis 3 man fell and became many separate individuals.

In crucifixion Christ created “one new man” (Eph. 2:15), a new corporate man, not many new individuals. All believers are part of this new man, Christ’s spiritual Body. “We who are many are one Body in Christ” (Rom. 12:5). We are not like members of a human organization, but like members of our physical body. We are joined together in the life of Christ.

The Body is the new man and the new man becomes the bride of Christ. The Body, the new man, and the bride are all aspects of our corporate life in Christ.

Christ will come back to earth in glory to be seen by all mankind. He will present His bride to Himself glorious (Eph. 5:27) and we will rejoice because the marriage of the Lamb has come (Rev. 19:7). Then we see Christ the Lamb with His wife, New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2). All the believers are there as the one corporate wife, not as many individuals. When we see New Jerusalem, we see all God’s people.

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, is at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by LSM.

Jeremiah Points to New Jerusalem

I saw a new heaven and a new earth….And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem…” (Rev. 21:1-2)

The Bible consummates with the revelation of the city of New Jerusalem….All the books of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, are related in some way to the New Jerusalem as God’s goal….In His wisdom, God….reveals this matter by using the Bible with its plain words, stories, histories, types, figures, and shadows. By all these different means, He reveals His thought concerning the New Jerusalem and depicts the various aspects of the New Jerusalem.*

New JerusalemThe bulk of Jeremiah’s writing is about Israel’s failures and God’s judgement. However, within Jeremiah there are many positive highlights pointing to New Jerusalem.

God is “the fountain of living waters” (2:13). This is part of the wonderful bridge** from the river of life in Genesis 2 to the river of life in Revelation 22.

Jehovah declares, “I will raise up to David a righteous Shoot; / And He will reign as King and act prudently” (23:5). This Shoot is Jesus Christ. He reigns in us now and will reign over the whole earth. His reign brings forth complete righteousness (2 Peter 3:13). God also speaks of Himself as the Husband (3:14; 31:32). This points to New Jerusalem, “the wife of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:9).

These are three examples of the multitude of instances in the Bible that directly or indirectly point to God’s goal, New Jerusalem. 

* Life-Study of Jeremiah and Lamentations by Witness Lee, chap. 12
** Here are many other Old Testament verses which are part of this bridge.

 

Our Spirit, God’s Kingdom, New Jerusalem

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens
(Matt. 5:3). 

God created the heavens, the earth, and the spirit of man (Zech. 12:1). This human spirit, the center of our being, is made alive by the Spirit in regeneration (John 3:6). Our spirit is also the receptor of the Lord’s grace, as in Galatians 6:18, Philippians 4:23, and Philemon 25.

To be poor in spirit is not only to be humble, but also to be emptied in our spirit, in the depth of our being, not holding on to the old things….We need to be poor, emptied, unloaded, in this part of our being so that we may realize and possess the kingdom of the heavens. This implies that the kingdom of the heavens is a spiritual matter, not a material one.*

New JerusalemThe opposite of being “poor in spirit” is seen in the Lord’s warning to the church in Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22). They said they were rich and had need of nothing but the Lord told them they were wretched, poor, and blind.

How does this relate to New Jerusalem? As stated above, in Matthew 5 the kingdom is a spiritual matter. Thus the ultimate stage of the kingdom, New Jerusalem, is also spiritual, not physical.

Therefore we must be poor/humble/ emptied in spirit to see more of God’s kingdom both today and with New Jerusalem.

* Life-Study of Matthew by Witness Lee, chap. 13

God’s Move from Eternity to Eternity

Peter’s two epistles present God’s move from eternity to eternity. Here is a brief look.

In eternity, before creation, God had purposed something in Himself. In His infinite wisdom God knew us before creation and chose us for Himself (1 P 1:2). Something of God’s purpose and our salvation was unveiled through the prophets (1 P 1:10-12).

Jesus Christ was manifested (1 P 1:20), transfigured (2 P 1:16-18), shed His blood for our redemption (1 P 1:18-19, 2:24), and resurrected (1 P 1:3). He is the cornerstone for God’s eternal building (1 P 2:6), and He will come again as the rising Sun (2 P 1:19).

Peter writes about our receiving God’s forgiveness (1 P 1:2), regeneration (1 P 1:3, 23), and baptism (1 P 3:21). He speaks of God’s grace to us (1 P 1:2, 5:12) and our manner of life as Christians including relationships with one another, rejecting worldly and fleshly living to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16), being subject to the government of God while we suffer in this time, and God’s judgement beginning with His household (1 P 4:17).

New JerusalemPeter unveils the day of judgement with the change from the old creation to the new
(2 P 3:10-13). He does not mention New Jerusalem but many phrases point to it.

We have been regenerated “unto a living hope,” and “unto an inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled and unfading, kept in the heavens for you” (1 P 1:3-4). Our ultimate inheritance is to be part of New Jerusalem.

Second Peter 1:1-4 present many blessings from God to us. By these we exercise to develop a life full of Christian virtues (1:5-11). Eventually, “the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly and bountifully supplied to you” (1:11). New Jerusalem is the consummate realization of this eternal kingdom.

Finally, to God “be the glory and the might forever and ever” (1 P 5:11) and to Jesus Christ “be the glory both now and unto the day of eternity” (2 P 3:18). Both point to New Jerusalem, the city “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11).

 

 

 

New Jerusalem is the Expression of God

Many recent posts are about growing and being built together in Christ to be God’s living building, the city New Jerusalem. New Jerusalem is brought forth in God’s life and is the mutual indwelling of God and His people. Because of this New Jerusalem expresses God.

Revelation 4:3, describing God on His heavenly throne, says, “He who was sitting was like a jasper stone.”

According to Revelation 21: 11, the jasper is “a most precious stone… as clear as crystal.” Its color must be dark green, which signifies life in its richness.*

New JerusalemThis life came to us through the redemption of Christ and is Christ Himself. This life makes New Jerusalem a city of life. By this life New Jerusalem is a city “having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, as clear as crystal” (Rev. 21:11).

In Revelation 22:1, God’s throne is at the center of the city. And both God on the throne and the whole New Jerusalem have the appearance of jasper. New Jerusalem is the duplication of God’s life and nature in His people to be His enlarged expression. This fulfills the Triune God’s purpose in creating man, as stated in Genesis 1:26, “Let Us make man in Our image.”

* Part of footnote 1 on Rev. 4:3 in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, published and © by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim CA

Built Together in Christ for New Jerusalem

God’s New Testament building is a living temple built together in Christ Jesus by God’s life in us. The culmination of this building is a living city, New Jerusalem.

Revelation 3:12 includes the promise, “He who overcomes, him I will make a pillar in the temple of My God.” A person as a pillar in the temple is a further indication that God’s New Testament building is living. The overcomer was not merely born again but has grown from an infant in Christ (1 Cor. 3:1) to a mature and solid member in the Body of Christ.

Finally, in Revelation 21:22 John tells us, “I saw no temple in it [New Jerusalem], for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” Thus, to be built into God’s building, God’s temple, is to be built into God Himself

To be built into God may seem a strange expression but consider these Bible phrases:
Rom. 12:5: we “are one Body in Christ
Eph. 2:21: “in whom [Christ Jesus] all the building…is growing into a holy temple in the Lord
Col. 2:7: “having been rooted and being built up in Him
plus other verses in the prior three blog posts.

New Jerusalem, as the conclusion of all God’s work through the ages, is a living city, a living temple in the Lord. The whole city is a living building composed of God’s people built into God. New Jerusalem is the ultimate issue of the Lord’s word in John 14:20, “you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”

God’s Living Temple, Now to New Jerusalem

New JerusalemGod’s New Testament temple is living.
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16). God had only a symbolic physical temple in Old Testament times because the Spirit was not yet able to dwell in the believers.

Through Christ’s redemption and the Spirit’s regeneration, the Spirit now dwells in us. Thus, “we are the temple of the living God” (2 Cor. 6:16).

At the time of our believing in Jesus Christ we are immediately brought into this living temple. However, we still need to grow into the reality of this temple. This can be illustrated by a civilian who takes an oath to enter military service. Instantly this person’s status changes from civilian to military. But much training and practice is needed for this person to develop as a properly functioning member of the military.

In Christ we are growing and we all as His building “being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord” (Eph. 2:20-21). The fact that we are “growing into a holy temple” is further proof that the temple is living.

After all His building work through the New Testament, God will not go back to a physical temple in eternity. New Jerusalem will be the ultimate living temple built together in life with God and all His people. By God’s life spreading within us we are being built into New Jerusalem.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

God’s Living Temple, Now to New Jerusalem

Recent posts are on growing and being built into New Jerusalem as God’s eternal habitation and expression. Revelation 3:12 says, “He who overcomes, him I will make a pillar in the temple of My God.”

The overcoming believers are built into God’s temple. What is the temple? In John 2 Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Destroy refers to His death and raise it up refers to His resurrection. Jesus Himself is the replacement for the physical temple of the Old Testament!

New JerusalemGod’s intention is to have a living temple. Acts 17:24, “The God who made the world and all things in it, this One, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.” New Jerusalem is the ultimate living temple.

In Old Testament times, prior to the redemption Jesus accomplished by His death, God could not enter man to be man’s life. In those days a temporary, symbolic, physical temple was present.

In the New Testament firstly Jesus Himself was the temple. Through death and resurrection He was enlarged to have all His believers as the many members of His spiritual Body. “We who are many are one Body in Christ” (Rom. 12:5). The one Body of Christ is the enlarged living temple. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16).

New Jerusalem is the final step of the enlargement of this living temple.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem is a Living Building

Growth in the divine life and building bring us into New Jerusalem. In the Old Testament God had physical symbols of His building but in the New Testament He becomes life in His believers and gains a living building.

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is th consummation of God’s living building. Because the building is living, growth in life and the building work are not separate but two aspects of one process. Here are verses about the coupling of these two.

“You are God’s cultivated land, God’s building.” This is 1 Corinthians 3:9, a transition from nourishment and growth (v. 1-8) to matters of building (v. 10-16). The growth on God’s cultivated land is for God’s building.

Ephesians 4:12 speaks of “the building up of the Body of Christ.” Verse 13 says this building work is “until we all arrive…at a full-grown man.” For us corporately (man is singular) to be full grown is the completion of God’s building work, preparing the way for New Jerusalem to appear.

Ephesians 4:15 is about our growing up into Christ our Head in all things. Then in verse 16 a rich supply flows out from Him through all His members. This flow “causes the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love.” Again, growth and building are inseparably linked.

We walk in Christ Jesus, “having been rooted and being built up in Him” (Col. 2:6-7). Roots bring us the life supply for the building up.

New Jerusalem is the conclusion of the Bible and is the final and fullest step in the development of God’s living building.

Growth, Transformation for New Jerusalem

The prior posts are about our growth and transformation to bring us into New Jerusalem. The garden of Eden has many parallels with New Jerusalem, but man in the garden was merely a created being without God’s life. Now we have Christ’s redemption, Christ as our life within (Col. 3:4), and we cooperate with this life for growth, transformation, and maturity to manifest God as members of New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem

These posts are from The Way for a Christian to Mature in Life, chapter 3, by Witness Lee, © LSM. Here is a highlight from each post, in the order published, with one significant verse (or more) and a link to the post.

New Jerusalem: Dwelling Place of God The garden of Eden and New Jerusalem are a paradise. The tree of life is in each one (Gen. 2:9, Rev. 22:2) as the divine life supply.

New Jerusalem: Dwelling Place of God (2) Both the garden and the city have the tree of life, the river of life (Rev. 22:1), and precious materials. What God did in the beginning is related to His ultimate goal.

New Jerusalem: God Manifest in Glory God reaches His goal by imparting Himself as life into man. “When Christ our life is manifested, then you also will be manifested with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4)

New Jerusalem: Dwelling Place and Bride New Jerusalem is both a glorious city and a prepared bride (Rev. 21:2, 9-11). To reach this goal, the Lord is sanctifying the church to be glorious, without any spot or wrinkle (Eph. 5:26-27).

New Jerusalem: God and Man Mingled In the garden man and God were separate. In the city we are mingled through God’s regenerating and transforming work (2 Cor. 3:18).

We Are Being Built into New Jerusalem God builds us into the city by His work in us which conforms us the the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29) so that the city expresses Him.

We Are Being Built into New Jerusalem (2) We do not enter the city as beings separate from it. Rather, God is building us into the city now. Ephesians 2:22—we “are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit.”

We Are Being Renewed into New Jerusalem Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23, Colossians 3:10, and Titus 3:5 all speak of the on-going renewing work within us to make us thoroughly new for New Jerusalem.

Built Up to Become New Jerusalem After regeneration, God’s renewing and transforming work in us builds us into the city. Acts 20:32 and Romans 14:19 are two of many verses about this building work.

Growth and Maturity for New Jerusalem For the reality of New Jerusalem we need not only Christ as life but more to grow until we arrive “at a full-grown man” (Eph. 4:12-13).

Growth and Maturity for New Jerusalem (2) For our maturity we need to see more of Christ, count all else as loss, know Him experientially, and pursue Him daily (Phil. 3:7-15).

Growing in God’s Life unto New Jerusalem Our initial salvation brings Christ as life into us. Now our need is to grow in this life, a growth which transforms us into His glorious image (2 Cor. 3:18)

Growing in God’s Life unto New Jerusalem

The forgiveness of our sins by accepting the redemption accomplished by Christ on the cross is the first step in our Christian life. But this is not the goal. God cleanses us so that the way to the tree of life, closed in Genesis 3, can be reopened to us. This life, Christ Himself in us, grows to maturity to prepare us for New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemRomans 5:10 declares, “If we, being enemies, were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more we will be saved in His life.” Reconciliation was the base for receiving the eternal life. Now this life wants to grow in us.

This growth is a salvation; not our initial, eternal salvation, but a practical, experiential salvation from many things, attitudes, and behaviors which do not match God’s heart. This daily salvation is our growth in the eternal life we received. This growth brings us to New Jerusalem.

The cleansing of the precious blood delivers us from sins so that we do not perish. However, whether we can be transformed to become building material for the New Jerusalem depends on the extent to which the life of God grows in us and transforms us. Everyone in the New Jerusalem is a precious stone, not a piece of clay. Thus, the goal of our salvation is not merely to believe but to grow. The goal is not to go to heaven but to grow in life.*

* This is the last of a series of posts from The Way for a Christian to Mature in Life, chapter 3, Witness Lee, © LSM.

%d bloggers like this: