Purified by the Lord for New Jerusalem

In a recent Bible reading I was touched by a parallel between Matthew 5:8 and New Jerusalem. In Matthew the Lord says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Revelation 21:18 says, “the city was pure gold, like clear* glass” and 22:4a says, “they will see His face.”

New JerusalemMatthew has a wonderful promise and New Jerusalem completes the fulfillment. However, in ourselves we are not pure, so what should we do? We let the Lord purify us!

Hebrews 1:3 says that the Son, “having made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” By His death He accomplished purification and the success of this purification is testified by His resurrection and ascension.

Acts 15:9 says that the Lord cleanses/ purifies** our hearts by faith. When we believe into the Lord Jesus Christ, we become a new creation; our old things are cleansed away. That is the first step of cleansing; a change in position. This is a first step unto the purity of New Jerusalem.

First John 1:7 says, “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from every sin,” and 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The blood He shed in His death has cleansed us from every sin before we believed. As we are enlightened by walking in the light and if we confess, His blood cleanses us from every sin after we believe. This is the second step of cleansing, purifying us from unrighteous acts in our present living.

A third step toward the purity of New Jerusalem is in the next post.

* The same Greek word as for “pure” earlier in this verse.
** The verb form of the same Greek word in Matthew 5 and Revelation 21; here and in 1 John 1.

Spiritual Blessings for New Jerusalem (7)

Ephesians 1:3 tells us that God the Father “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ.” Verses 4 to 14 describe these blessings. Because they all result in the praise of God’s glory, and because God’s glory is manifested in New Jerusalem, these blessings point toward and prepare the way for New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 1:14 says that the Holy Spirit “is the pledge of our inheritance unto the redemption of the acquired possession.” The pledge is the guarantee, keeping us for God “unto the redemption.” The redemption here is not the forgiveness of sins in verse 7 but is the redemption of our mortal body, as in Romans 8:23.

Philippians 3:21 says that our Lord Jesus Christ “will transfigure the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of His glory.” Here also the blessings in Ephesians 1 (in this case the redemption of the acquired possession) conclude with glory, thus corresponding with New Jerusalem.

The blessings in Ephesians 1 are in three sections, the doings of the three of the Triune God. The first, verses 4 to 6, is of God the Father, and concludes

to the praise of the glory of His grace

The second section, verses 7 to 12, begins with the Son’s redemption and concludes

to the praise of His glory

The third section, verses 13 to 14, is about the Spirit’s work in us and concludes

to the praise of His glory

These spiritual blessings of the Triune God go from eternity before creation, through the present age, to eternity of the new creation with New Jerusalem, the city

having the glory of God

Praise our wonderful God, “who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”

New Jerusalem

Prior posts focused on Ephesians 1:3-41:5-61:7-9a1:9b-101:11-12, and 1:13-14a.

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Spiritual Blessings for New Jerusalem (6)

Ephesians 1:3-14 presents God’s spiritual blessings to us in Christ. Three times we are told that these blessings are to the praise of His glory. This goal links Ephesians 1 with New Jerusalem, the city of glory.

New JerusalemEphesians 1:13 says, “In whom [Christ] you also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation, in Him also believing, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of the promise.” Like many prior phrases, the actions here are “in Christ.”

We heard the word of the truth, the gospel of our salvation. We heard because God is “the One who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11). Our hearing generated faith within us (Rom. 10:17). This faith brought us salvation. This salvation includes the sealing of the Holy Spirit.

The seal indicates that we belong to God. It is like a name tag on an object, except that it is living and inward. We belong to God for His purpose which ultimately is New Jerusalem.

We are sealed with “the Holy Spirit of the promise.” This promise includes all of God’s blessings in Christ. The concluding portions are “the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15) and “new heavens and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:13) both of which point to New Jerusalem.

The Holy Spirit of the promise is also “the pledge of our inheritance” (Eph. 1:14). First Peter 1:4 tells us that this inheritance is “incorruptible and undefiled and unfading, kept in the heavens for you.” Like the promise in verse 13, the inheritance in verse 14 ( ) points to New Jerusalem.

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Spiritual Blessings for New Jerusalem (5)

God’s blessings to us are for the accomplishing of His goal, His good pleasure, to head up all things in Christ. Today Christ is heading up the members of His Body; later we will see His heading up of all things. In eternity He will be on the throne in New Jerusalem at the center of a fully headed-up new creation.

Ephesians 1:11 begins, “In whom [Christ] also we were designated as an inheritance” or “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance.” Today God is our inheritance and we are His inheritance. Although this may not seem obvious now, in the coming age and in New Jerusalem it will be very clear.

New JerusalemVerse 1:11 continues, we have “been predestinated according to the purpose of the One who works all things according to the counsel of His will.” Again predestination is mentioned. Our predestination is for God’s purpose, not for any human goal we might have. Ultimately we are predestinated for New Jerusalem with God’s glory.

Today it seems that the world is in turmoil, but the infinite God works all things to reach His goal. We should have this realization in our lives—everything is according to God’s will, even if we don’t understand how it is.

The goal of working all things according to His will is “that we would be to the praise of His glory who have first hoped in Christ” (Eph. 1:12). God’s glory will be expressed through us, resulting in praise from all creation to God. Although the praise is limited now, it will be much greater in the coming age and tremendous in New Jerusalem in the new creation.

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Spiritual Blessings for New Jerusalem (4)

God’s spiritual blessings to us are all in Christ. We are in Him and He is in us. This mutual indwelling characterizes New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemGod’s blessings in Ephesians 1:4-9a include His choosing, holiness, love, predestination, sonship, and grace. Verses 9b-10 speak of, “His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself, unto the economy of the fullness of the times, to head up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth, in Him.”

We are on earth for God’s good pleasure. Eternally He has a purpose in Himself which He has now revealed (Eph. 3:3-5). We are here because of Him and for Him. He cares for us, but we should never think that this is the goal of life.

God’s good pleasure is not just for now. His economy (His way of working out His plan and achieving His goal) is for the fullness of the times, the ages. The Bible reveals that New Jerusalem is the consummation of these ages. For New Jerusalem, and for the righteousness and peace which will distinguish the new heaven and new earth, God will head up all things in Christ.

The heading up eventually will include not only New Jerusalem but also everything in the heavens and on earth. Right now, Christ is “Head over all things to the church, which is His Body” (Eph. 1:22-23). Right now He is working to head us up, to be the practical Head in our daily living.

Ephesians 4:15 charges us to hold onto Him as the reality that “we may grow up into Him in all things, who is the Head, Christ.” Lord, train me to take You as my Head in daily life. This is our participation in the unseen new creation now leading to the visible new creation with New Jerusalem as its center.

Spiritual Blessings for New Jerusalem (3)

God’s spiritual blessings to us in Ephesians 1:3-14 are unto the praise of His glory, both in this age and eternally with New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 1:7 says, “In whom [the Beloved, v. 6] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of offenses, according to the riches of His grace.” Because all men were constituted sinners, Jesus Christ died, shedding His blood to accomplish redemption. When we respond by faith we receive forgiveness. “Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22). With the shedding of Jesus’ blood, there is forgiveness.

New JerusalemEverything of God’s plan is in Christ. We are blessed “in Christ” (Eph. 1:3), chosen “in Him” (v. 4), “in whom” we have redemption (v. 7); we are being headed up “in Christ” (v. 10) “in whom” we were designated as God’s inheritance (v. 11), and “in whom” we were sealed (v. 13). All of these “in” facts are consistent with New Jerusalem in the Triune God.

The redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ, and the forgiveness we receive, is not according to our need. Rather, it is “according to the riches of His grace.” The measure of redemption and forgiveness is God’s measure, because this step was taken as part of the fulfillment of His eternal plan to bring forth New Jerusalem.

God caused His grace “to abound to us in all wisdom and prudence” (Eph. 1:8). Everything happens within the scope of God’s wisdom and everything works together toward His goal.

Ephesians 1:9 continues, “Making known to us the mystery of His will.” While God’s grace is abounding to us, He is making known the mystery of His will. This mystery was hidden in prior ages but now God willed to reveal it to us through His word; the riches of this mystery is Christ in us! (Col. 1:25-27).

New Jerusalem is the conclusion of all the spiritual blessings, the essence which are Christ is us and us in Christ.

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Spiritual Blessings for New Jerusalem (2)

Ephesians 1:3-14 presents our God and Father’s spiritual blessings to us. These blessings all point toward His glory which ultimately is manifested in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemEphesians 1:5 speaks of, “Predestinating us unto sonship through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” God predestinated us in eternity past according to His eternal purpose for His eternal consummation.

Our predestination is “unto sonship”—we become sons of God with His eternal life (John 6:47) and His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). This life brings us partici-pation in the city of life, New Jerusalem, a composition of all God’s sons. This is the good pleasure of God’s will.

Ephesians 1:6 tells us that God’s blessings in verses 4 and 5 are, “To the praise of the glory of His grace, with which He graced us in the Beloved.” We benefit from all these blessings, but their goal is praise to God.

The praise is not directly to God but praise to the glory of His grace. Glory is God expressed. God’s desire is to express Himself through man. Thus He created man in His image (Gen. 1:26) so that man could be His vessel to contain Him for His expression. God’s desire is to “make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory” (Rom. 9:23).

Grace is God in Christ enjoyed by man. The result of this enjoyment is visible. Barnabas came from Jerusalem to Antioch and “saw the grace of God” (Acts 11:23). What he saw is being multiplied in many believers in many cities to produce the ultimate expression of God’s grace in New Jerusalem. Grace, God enjoyed by all His people, is expressed in New Jerusalem’s glory (Rev. 21:11), resulting in eternal praise to the glory of His grace.

Spiritual Blessings for New Jerusalem

New JerusalemEphesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ.” The spiritual blessings all lead to God’s glory (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14). Hence, they point towards New Jerusalem, God’s city of glory.

What God gives us are “spiritual blessings” (not physical) and they are “in the heavenlies” (not earthly) and they are “in Christ” (not in the old creation). All these characteristics of God’s blessings—spiritual, heavenly, in Christ—are for His eternal purpose and match characteristics of New Jerusalem. (God also promises to take care of our earthly needs but we should not long for or seek material blessings.)

These blessings are in three portions, each ending with the praise of His glory (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14). These blessings are “according to the good pleasure of His will” (v. 5) and “according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself” (v. 9) and “according to the counsel of His will” (v. 11). These blessings relate to New Jerusalem because this city is the consummation all that God is doing according to the good pleasure of His will.

Ephesians 1:4 says, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish before Him in love.” God’s choosing of us was in eternity and it is for eternity, including the eternal city New Jerusalem. God chose us to be holy before Him. This is for the “holy city” (Rev. 21:2) where we will “see His face” (22:4).

God’s choosing is also in love, for the eternal marriage of Christ and His bride, New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2, 9). How wonderful that this one verse of blessings in Ephesians has so many pointers toward New Jerusalem. Lord Jesus, we love You!

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New Jerusalem Foreshadowed in Exodus

All the positive things in the Old Testament are symbols, pictures, or prophecies of the New Testament realities. Some fo these pictures correspond with characteristics of New Jerusalem. Here is a list of posts showing parallels between Exodus and New Jerusalem.

We are on a journey to the mountain of God to see a vision, as John saw New Jerusalem from a high mountain. The stages of this journey:
Exodus 12—14: we are redeemed and nourished by the Lamb to leave Egypt
Exodus 15: we sing and praise the Lord on our journey to the mountain
Exodus 16: we eat the manna, a picture of Christ as our heavenly nourishment
Exodus 17: we drink the water which flows out of the smitten rock
Exodus 17: we fight against the flesh by walking in spirit

After we reach the mountain, more steps are needed to see God’s revelation of the building of the tabernacle, a type of New Jerusalem:
Exodus 19—23: God’s commands show that apart from Christ we cannot make the journey
Exodus 23: God promised that His Angel would lead us onward
Exodus 24: we take Christ’s redemption
Exodus 24: we take Christ’s absoluteness for God

When we go up the mountain, we have undivided time with the Lord to see a full vision.
Exodus 24—25: on the mountain we are in a cloud to cut our view of other things
Exodus 24—25: Moses’ time in the cloud prefigures many NT experiences
Exodus 24, 33, 34: Moses had many times of fellowship with God

The holy of holies in the tabernacle depicts New Jerusalem as the eternal holy of holies.
Exodus 25-26: the ark, expiation cover, and cherubim of glory portray Christ and the city
Exodus 26: the veil has been rent by the death of Christ, so we can enter New Jerusalem
Exodus 26: the veil portrays the Lord Jesus, who is the reality in New Jerusalem
Exodus 28: the breastplate with gold and precious stones represents aspects of the city

Exodus 40: glory fills the tabernacle, portraying New Jerusalem, a city of glory

All the events that happened with Israel are an example written for us (1 Cor. 10).
The journey in Exodus
has many symbols of our experiences of Christ and the Spirit.

New Jerusalem

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Pictures of New Jerusalem in Exodus (4)

New JerusalemThe holy of holies described in Exodus is a portrait of New Jerusalem as the eternal holy of holies. Another picture of New Jerusalem is the breastplate worn by the high priest (Ex. 28:15-21).

The breastplate is “of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet strands, and of fine twined linen” (Ex. 28:15). The gold signifies the divinity of Jesus Christ. The linen signifies His humanity with heavenliness (blue), royalty (purple), and redemption (scarlet, signifying His shed blood). All of these are seen in New Jerusalem.

The breastplate had four rows of precious stones, three in each row (Ex. 28:17-20). Likewise, the foundation of New Jerusalem has twelve precious stones (Rev. 21:19-20). The stones were “set in gold;” similarly, gold is mentioned in the description of New Jerusalem both before and after the precious stones (Rev. 21:18, 21).

Exodus 28:21 says, “the stones shall be according to the names of the sons of Israel, twelve, according to their names; they shall be like the engravings of a signet, each according to its name, for the twelve tribes.” In parallel, Revelation 21:12b tells us that New Jerusalem has “names inscribed [at the gates], which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.”

Furthermore, the gates of the city, with the inscribed names, are three each on four sides of the city, matching the breastplate with three inscribed stones in each of four rows.

The picture of the breastplate and the reality of New Jerusalem are all God’s people built together in the divine nature. The twelve names, plus the twelve names of the apostles on the foundations of the city, indicate that New Jerusalem includes all God’s people, and is eternal.

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Pictures of New Jerusalem in Exodus (3)

New JerusalemThe holy of holies described in Exodus is a portrait of New Jerusalem as the eternal holy of holies. The entrance to the holy of holies was  a veil. Hebrews 10:20 tells us is that the veil portrays the flesh of Jesus.

Exodus 26:31 describes the veil: “You shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet strands and fine twined linen; it shall be made with cherubim, the work of a skillful workman.”

Because the veil depicts the flesh of Jesus, it relates to His humanity. The linen is His perfect humanity, with heavenliness (blue), royalty (purple), redemption (scarlet, signifying His shed blood), and glory (cherubim).

All of these features are seen in New Jerusalem. The man Jesus is the Lamb of God (John 1:29) who is on the throne in the city (Rev. 22:1); this includes the humanity, royalty, and redemption depicted by the veil. New Jerusalem is heavenly. It comes down out of heaven (Rev. 21:2) but retains the heavenly nature; this too is related to the humanity of Jesus. Also, New Jerusalem has the glory of God (Rev. 21:11).

In Exodus the veil was whole, keeping us out of the holy of holies. This was because men were fallen flesh (Gen. 6:3). In the death of Jesus the old man was crucified and the body of sin was annulled (Rom. 6:6). First Peter 3:18 tells us that He died “that He might bring you to God.”

To be brought to God is to be brought into the holy of holies. We have this access by the blood shed in His death (Heb. 10:19-22). Now we come forward to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16), to Jesus (Heb. 7:25), and to the holy of holies (Heb. 10). The throne, Jesus, the holy of holies, and our coming forward are all for today and for New Jerusalem. Let us come forward with boldness!

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Pictures of New Jerusalem in Exodus (2)

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem, a cube (Rev. 21:16), is the eternal holy of holies. The holy of holies described in Exodus portrays something of New Jerusalem.

The veil (Ex. 26:31-33) separated the holy of holies from the holy place. Entering the holy of holies was extremely restricted (Lev. 16:2, 29-30). Hebrews 9:7-8 speaks of this, “…only the high priest enters [the holy of holies], once a year and not without blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of ignorance of the people, the Holy Spirit thus making this clear, that the way of the Holy of Holies has not yet been manifested…”

However, we are not in that age! Hebrew 9:11 has a great turn: “But Christ, having come…”! When Jesus died, “the veil of the temple was split in two from top to bottom” (Matt. 27:51). As a result, “Having therefore, brothers, boldness for entering the Holy of Holies in the blood of Jesus, which entrance He initiated for us as a new and living away through the veil, that is, His flesh…” (Heb. 10:19-20).

Through the death of Jesus Christ the veil has been rent! We can enter the spiritual holy of holies now and our entrance to New Jerusalem is guaranteed. Having the new and living way, “and having a great Priest over the house of God, let us come forward to the Holy of Holies with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:21-22a).

Although the pictures in Exodus convey something about New Jerusalem to us, they do not show us the way to enter. Thank God that we are in this age, after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We exercise our faith to receive His redemption and thereby have boldness to enter the holy of holies now on our way 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, is at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry. Besides this New Testament, many books published by Living Stream may be read online.

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