We Have a Merciful and Faithful High Priest

New JErusalemIn New Jerusalem all God’s slaves will serve Him as priests and all will reign with Him (Revelation 22:3, 5). We are now, and will be then, a kingdom of priests.

Melchizedek in Genesis 14 was the first royal priest and He is a picture of Jesus Christ. We see more in Hebrews:
• God declares to Christ, “You are a Priest forever according to the order of Melchisedec.” (v. 5:6, 7:17)
• “The Forerunner, Jesus, has entered for us [within the veil], having become forever a High Priest according to the order of Melchisedec.” (v. 6:20)
• The name Melchisedec means “king of righteousness” and He is “also king of Salem, which is king of peace.” (v. 7:2)
• This Melchisedec “having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but likened to the Son of God, abides a priest perpetually.” (v. 7:3)

Hebrews 2:17 declares that Jesus Christ, the real Melchisedec, was “made like His brothers in all things that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in the things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

As our High Priest, His propitiatory death released us from our sins. This release, this redemption, this forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7) is wonderful. Thank Him! However, this release is not God’s goal.

Revelation 1:5b-6 praises Him saying, “To Him who loves us and has 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.” The release from sins is so that He could make us a kingdom of priests, which points toward New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

We Serve God as Priests

In Revelation 21:2, 9-11 John saw the city New Jerusalem and he describes what was revealed to him. One aspect of his description is in Revelation 22:3, 5:

…the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [New Jerusalem], and His slaves will serve Him….and they have no need of the light of a lamp and of the light of the sun, for the Lord God will shine upon them; and they will reign forever and ever.

New JerusalemThe Greek word translated “serve” in verse 3 means to serve as priests. All God’s people are His slaves and all will be one corporate priesthood serving Him. Simultaneously they all will reign with Him. They will be the consummate, eternal, royal priesthood.

This royal priesthood was first portrayed by Melchizedek in Genesis 14. Verse 18 says, “Melchizedek the king of Salem brought out bread and wine. Now he was priest of God the Most High.”

The only other Old Testament word about Melchizedek is Psalm 110:4, “Jehovah has sworn, and He will not change: You are a Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” In Matthew 22:41-46 the Lord quotes Psalm 110:1 and tells us that it is a prophecy about Himself. He is the real Melchizedek, the real King-Priest.

Hebrews 5–7 has much to say about Melchisedec. The next post will look at these verses. Later posts will look at all the believers as a kingdom of priests culminating in New Jerusalem.

Photo by Gregory Heath, courtesy of CSIRO Australia.

A Personal Testimony

New JerusalemIn April of last year my wife, Karen, died. However, as I shared in last year’s Personal Testimony, that event was not primarily a physical death. Rather, it was the Lord calling her to be with Him in paradise. Because of the Lord’s speaking then, we both accepted His call without fear and without regret.

How thankful I am for His speaking which took so much potential turmoil out of the events last year. However, I realize that not every Christian couple has such an experience and I am sympathetic with those who go through a time of distress and sadness. He is the Lord and we cannot say why He gives one couple one experience and another couple a very different experience. Neither should we make judgements about these differences.

Since a year ago I have gone on with the Lord. The peace of a year ago has remained. She is asleep in Christ, awaiting the resurrection at the Lord’s visible return, as presented in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16. She is also awaiting the better country, New Jerusalem, the city God has prepared for His people of faith (Hebrews 11:16).

The Lord has brought me on since then, keeping me in Christian fellowship and touching me on aspects of my living so that my reality may become a little more “to me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21). Regarding Karen, I am at rest in Him. Regarding my future,

Come, Lord Jesus! 

Jesus is Our Lovely Bridegroom

Jesus Christ is the Lamb, the Bridegroom

New Jerusalem is the bride, the wife of the Lamb
Revelation 21:2, 9-10

New Jerusalem

The prior post concluded a series on the preparation of New Jerusalem as the bride, the wife of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Here is verse 1 and the chorus of a song extolling Him as our Bridegroom.

Jesus is our lovely Bridegroom,
And our Bridegroom is with us!
Now our praying’s turned to praising
In His Presence glorious.

____O our Bridegroom! O our Bridegroom!
____Lord, Thou art our Bridegroom sweet!
____How we treasure Thy dear presence—
____O what bliss and joy complete!

The remainder of the song is derived from various New Testament verses about the Bridegroom and bride. The last verse of the song has this chorus:

____Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
____Lord, Thou art our Bridegroom sweet!
____Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
____O what bliss and joy complete!

Lord Jesus, You are our sweet Bridegroom!

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

New Jerusalem is Prepared as a Bride

The apostle John declares “I saw a new heaven and a new earth….And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalemprepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:1-2). This post concludes a lengthy series on the preparation of the bride.

New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is the bride and the wife of the Lamb, Jesus Christ (Revelation 21:9-10). The preparation of this city-bride has two sides:
God’s side—God “has prepared a city” for His people of faith who turn their back on the fallen world and “long after a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16).
Our side—we must cooperate with God’s operation to get ready. “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” (Revelation 19:7).

Here is a summary statement, a key Bible verse, and a link to each post in this series on the preparation of the bride of the Lamb. Some posts also link to a coordinating song.

✦ The first step in the preparation was God’s sending of John the Baptist to “prepare the way of the Lord” as prophesied in Isaiah 40:3-4 and quoted in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

✦ To prepare the way is by exhorting people to repent, to have a change of heart (Matthew 3:3). This is followed by many other words in Matthew concerning our heart.

✦ Jesus was declared to be God’s salvation, “prepared before the face of all the peoples” (Luke 2:30-32). Without Him as our salvation, we cannot come to New Jerusalem.

✦ In Hebrews 10:5-10 we see the preparation of a human body for the Lord Jesus, that He could be the unique sacrifice for sins, a step in God’s preparation of New Jerusalem.

✦ In John 14:2-3 the Lord Jesus tells us, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again.” He went through His death and came again in resurrection.

✦ Romans 9:23 calls us vessels of mercy, saying that God “might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory.” New Jerusalem will be the consummation of this glory.

✦ In 1 Corinthians 2:9 are “things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” Verses 6-14 show that these things have spiritual characteristics related to New Jerusalem.

✦ In Matthew 24:32-44 the Lord Jesus warns us about His coming, “be ready, because at an hour when you do not expect it, the Son of Man is coming.” He also said, “My words shall by no means pass away.” His words are important for our getting ready.

✦ In Matthew 25:1-13, “those who were ready went in.” This is to be with Jesus Christ our Bridegroom. For this we need the extra supply of oil.

✦ In Luke 22 Peter said to Jesus, “I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death.” Peter’s failure that night shows that we cannot get ready by ourselves. Rather, we must “come forward to the throne that we may receive mercy and find grace.”

✦ We should get ready and by ourselves we cannot. But “the word of God is living and operative” (Hebrews 4:12). We receive this word by faith (4:2) to get ready for the Lord.

✦ Our receiving the living word of God by faith is our cooperation with the Lord. We also “pursue…with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).

✦ To call on the Lord out of a pure heart is needed, but in ourselves we are not pure. Nevertheless, we can “be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). He is our Father and we have His perfect and pure life.

✦ The “things which God has prepared for those who love Him” are “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard and which have not come up in man’s heart” (1 Cor. 2:9).

✦ God prepared the city New Jerusalem (Hebrews 11:16), the city is the bride (Revelation 21:2), the bride made herself ready (Revelation 19:7). Did God do the preparation or do we get ourselves ready?

God operates and we cooperate. We are those engaged to Christ, to become New Jerusalem as the bride of Christ, and we should maintain our simplicity and purity toward Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2-3). More about God operates and we cooperate.

✦ God has prepared the city but we do not see it. Why? God is eternal but we are stuck in time. So, we turn our hearts to the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:16-18) and exercise our spirit of faith to care for the unseen, eternal things (2 Corinthians 4:13, 18).

✦ God has prepared the city and we have come forward by faith. We continue to pursue, to stretch forward to what God will manifest (Philippians 3:12-14).

✦ We pursue toward the goal and “we are not of those who shrink back” (Hebrews 10:39). What are we pursuing? Christ Jesus. We pursue that we “may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8).

✦ God prepared and we are pursuing to gain Christ and be found in Him. Yet, there are tribulations while we strive to enter into what God has prepared. Nevertheless, Hebrews 9:15 assures us that we will receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

✦ God has prepared New Jerusalem. We do not see the city with our eyes but “faith is the substantiation of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

✦ New Jerusalem is the bride of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Revelation 19:7 proclaims, “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.” Love is the critical factor for a bride’s preparation.

✦ Love is the critical factor and Ephesians 5:2 encourages us to “walk in love, even as Christ also loved us and gave Himself up for us.” To walk in love is to have our daily life governed by and filled with love from the Lord to us and reflected from us to Him.

✦ New Jerusalem is the consummation of all the things God has prepared for His lovers.  The crucial factor in our preparation is that our hearts be filled with love for our Lord.

Lord Jesus, we love You!

God’s Preparation for Those Who Love Him

New Jerusalem is the bride of Jesus Christ (Revelation 21:2). On one side God “has prepared a city” (Hebrews 11:16) and on the other side, the bride “has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7). The two previous posts were on getting ready by loving our Bridegroom (one  two)

New JerusalemFirst Corinthians 2:9 speaks of “things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” New Jerusalem is the consummation of all the things God has prepared for His lovers.

These God-prepared things “eye has not seen and ear has not heard and which have not come up in man’s heart” (1 Corinthians 2:9); hence they are not natural or physical things which can be seen, heard, or imagined.

These things “God has revealed through the Spirit” (v. 10), whom we have received that we may know these things (v. 12). In this spiritual realm, the key to knowing is loving God.

To realize and participate in the deep and hidden things God has ordained and prepared for us requires us not only to believe in Him but also to love Him. To fear God, to worship God, and to believe in God (that is, to receive God) are all inadequate; to love Him is the indispensable requirement. To love God means to set our entire being — spirit, soul, and body, with the heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30) — absolutely on Him, that is, to let our entire being be occupied by Him and lost in Him, so that He becomes everything to us and we are one with Him practically in our daily life. In this way we have the closest and most intimate fellowship with God, and we are able to enter into His heart and apprehend all its secrets (Psa. 73:25; 25:14). Thus, we not only realize but also experience, enjoy, and fully participate in these deep and hidden things of God.*

Lord, draw me to love You supremely, to have my whole being occupied by You and lost in You.

Photo by Willem van Aken, courtesy of CSIRO Australia.

* Note 3 on 1 Cor. 2:9 in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, published and © 2003 by LSM.

Grace be with Those Who Love Jesus Christ

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the bride of Jesus Christ (Revelation 21:2). Love is the critical factor for the bride to be prepared so that we may rejoice with all our Lord’s lovers that “the marriage of the Lamb has come” (Revelation 19:7).

Ephesians 5:2 encourages us to “walk in love, even as Christ also loved us and gave Himself up for us.” To walk in love is to have our daily life governed by and filled with love from the Lord to us and reflected from us to Him. Lord, fill us with Your love!

Ephesians 6:24 says “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruptibility.” Regarding this verse:

The enjoyment of the Lord as grace is with those who love Him. In this book [Ephesians] the phrase in love, which is rich in feeling, is used repeatedly (1:4; 3:17; 4:2, 15-16; 5:2). Later, the church in Ephesus was rebuked by the Lord because she had lost her first love toward Him (Rev. 2:4)….The church, which is the Body of Christ, is also the bride of Christ, Christ’s wife. With the Body, the emphasis is on taking Christ as life; with the wife, the emphasis is on loving Christ. Therefore, this book emphasizes and also concludes with our love toward the Lord.*

Here is another verse of the song introduced in the prior post:
___Lord, keep my love burning brightly for You,
___A love never dwindling always hot for You,
___A love, shining brighter all the way for You,
___A love, so fresh like the day I first touched You

Lord Jesus, keep my love for You fresh, burning, and shining every day from here to New Jerusalem.

* Part of note 2 on Ephesians 6:24 in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, published and © 2003 by LSM.

Love the Lord Jesus, Rejoice and Exult

New JerusalemWe are in a series of posts on preparation of New Jerusalem. An outstanding characteristic of New Jerusalem is that this city is the bride of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.

Revelation 19:7 proclaims, “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.”

Love is the critical factor for a bride preparing to be married.

In John 14:23 the Lord Jesus says to us, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make an abode with him.” The making of this abode, in response to our loving the Lord, is part of the preparation of New Jerusalem as the eternal mutual abode of God and man.

Romans 8:28 tells us that “all things work together for good to those who love God.” The “good” here is neither outward blessings nor human success, but the accomplishing of God’s purpose as revealed in verses 29-30. Our loving of God causes us to care for His desire regardless of our human situation. And New Jerusalem is the consummation of all the “good” which God is accomplishing in those who love Him.

Second Timothy 4:8 speaks of “all those who have loved our Lord’s appearing.” This is a stark contrast to those who “loved the present age” (v. 10). If we love Him, certainly we will love His appearing. Lord, cause us to love You every day.

A song echoes this prayer:
___Lord, keep my heart always true to You,
___Never backsliding, always viewing You,
___A heart that is pure that sees only You,
___A heart that loves You and treasures only You.

Lord, keep my heart in this wonderful condition from now until New Jerusalem appears.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

We Enter New Jerusalem by Faith

New JerusalemGod has prepared a city for His people (Hebrews 11:16), who are people of faith (the subject of Hebrews 11). This city is New Jerusalem. And, by faith we  “have come forward to…the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22).

God has prepared New Jerusalem. We do not see the city with our eyes but “faith is the substantiation of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

This faith does not come from our determination. This faith does not come from convincing ourselves. Faith comes from God:

Acts 14:27  “God opened a door of faith.”
Romans 10:17  “Faith comes out of hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
2 Peter 1:1  “Simon Peter…to those who have been allotted faith equally precious as ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

We have faith because God has allotted it to us. In 2 Peter 1:1 many English translations say that we have received/obtained like precious faith. It does not originate in us; God allotted faith to us and we received it from God.

Other verses speak of our faith and indicate that we do need to exercise faith. True! But we must remember that “our faith” does not originate with us.

By this faith we give attention to the unseen, eternal things. By faith come forward to and substantiate New Jerusalem.

Enter into What God Has Prepared

God has prepared New Jerusalem for all the people of faith (Hebrews 11:16). Spiritually, we have come forward to this heavenly city (Hebrews 12:22). However, God must do a work in us before we can fully enter into this marvelous city.

New JerusalemGod’s work in us, after our initial salvation, includes growing (1 Corin-thians 3:6), renewing (Ephesians 4:23), sanctifying (Hebrews 2:11), transforming (2 Corinthians 3:18), and building (Ephesians 2:21-22).

God desires to work in us and we need to cooperate with Him. By cooperating, we enter into what He has prepared, including New Jerusalem.

Acts 14:22 tells us that “through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God.” God arranges whichever tribulations are necessary. His intention is not our suffering but our entering.

Likewise, 1 Peter 1:3-9 tells us that we have been regenerated unto a living hope, unto an inheritance kept in the heavens and unto a salvation ready to be revealed at the last time. These verses also say that we might be sorrowful under trials but that these are for the proving of our faith.

And, Hebrews 9:15 assures us that we will receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Similarly, 2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “our momentary lightness of affliction works out for us, more and more surpassingly, an eternal weight of glory.” Verse 18 then encourages us not to focus on the temporary, visible things but on the eternal, invisible things.

Let us go on by faith, not dragged down by the environment, keeping our spiritual eyes on the eternal glory of New Jerusalem.

We Pursue toward the Goal to Gain Christ

New JerusalemGod has already prepared a city for His people (Hebrews 11:16). This is New Jerusalem. At present we can have a spiritual foretaste of New Jerusalem but we do not have a full realization of it.

The foretaste combined with the lack of full realization should motivate us to rise up and pursue. “We are not of those who shrink back” (Hebrews 10:39). Rather, as Paul said, “I pursue, if even I may lay hold of that for which I also have been laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12).

What then should we pursue? Jesus Christ!!  Paul’s pursuing in Philippians 3:12 is defined in prior verses: “that I may gain Christ” (v. 8) and “to know Him” (v. 10).

We have Jesus Christ as our Redeemer and our Life. Yet we still should pursue to have increasing realization and experience of Him. A song based on Philippians 3:10-14 begins,

__Press on, press on toward the goal—
____The all-inclusive Christ.
__To gain the prize of God’s high call,
____Press on, press on to Christ!

May the words of this song be our attitude, our aspiration. The fuller our realization of Jesus Christ, the more we will taste the reality of New Jerusalem. Let us be encouraged by the Lord’s word in Philippians and by its expression in this song.

__Press on, press on, this one thing do,
____Forget the things behind;
__Press onward to the Christ before,
____Press onward with this mind!

Let us pursue, let us press on, to the fullest gaining and knowing of Jesus Christ. This is our path to New Jerusalem.

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.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

Forgetting, Stretching, Pursuing

New JerusalemGod has already prepared a city for His people—“He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16). This is New Jerusalem.

Hebrews 12:22 says further that we “have come forward to…the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” Our coming forward is by faith.

God has prepared and we have come forward. So why don’t we see New Jerusalem? Why aren’t we fully conscious of it? Prior posts (one two) responded to this question.

Although God has prepared the city, it has not been manifested. This absence should motivate us to pursue, to come forward, not to relax, not to be passive. This is Paul’s attitude in Philippians 3:12-14:

“Not that I have already obtained or am already perfected, but I pursue, if even I may lay hold of that for which I also have been laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not account of myself to have laid hold; but one thing I do: Forgetting the things which are behind and stretching forward to the things which are before, I pursue toward the goal…”

Paul received much revelation and grace from the Lord. Yet, he did not boast in that. Nor did he count that as sufficient. Rather, he pursued. The Lord is ever new, ever fresh, ever unfolding His riches. We need not fear dropping the past because there will always be something more of Him before us.

May the attitude and desire expressed in Philippians 3 be infused into us! May we all be saved from passivity. Let us pursue more of the Lord daily. This is our path to New Jerusalem.

Photo by Willem van Aken, courtesy of CSIRO Australia

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