New Creation, Now and New Jerusalem

Revelation 21:1 speaks about “a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away.” Recent posts looked at the path from the created earth to this new earth. This new earth, the site of New Jerusalem, combined with the new heaven, is a new creation.

We eagerly await to this new creation but should realize that it is already present spiritually. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). This new creation is the result of the death and resurrection of Christ (5:14-15). We do not make ourselves new, but by faith God has put us into Christ. In Him we partake of the accomplishments of His death and resurrection.

New JerusalemIn Christ, our old man has been crucified (Rom. 6:6) and our spirit has been regenerated in resurrection (1 Peter 1:3). This makes us a new creation inwardly, even though we still need much renewing throughout our Christian life, as presented in Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 4:16, Ephesians 4:23, and Titus 3:5.

The new creation in the center of our being and our daily renewing are a foretaste of the full new creation with New Jerusalem. First the Lord wants to make us new in every way. Then He will carry out His promise “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5).

On one hand, we expect the new creation and New Jerusalem revealed in Revelation 21 to be a very big change. On the other hand, we need to realize that the new creation and New Jerusalem is already present in a limited way in everyone who believes in Jesus Christ. We can pray, Lord, thank You for the renewing of the Holy Spirit in me; grant me more cooperation!

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Earth to New Earth with New Jerusalem (7)

New JerusalemWe are on the path from the created earth in Genesis 1 to the new earth with New Jerusalem in Revelation 21. Psalm 102, the Lord’s speaking in the gospels, Hebrews 1, and 2 Peter 3 all declare a transition from the old, corrupted earth to the new earth.

The prior post focused on 2 Peter 3:10-12. Then verse 13, “according to His promise we are expecting new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” This is the new creation which appears in Revelation 21:1 as the setting for New Jerusalem in 21:2.

Like Peter, we should live according to God’s promise, God’s unchanging word. The Lord told us “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall by no means pass away.” Our stand is His eternal word.

The promise of a new creation is fulfilled in two steps—at the Lord’s second coming and then by New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven. The first step is trumpeted in Revelation 11:15, “the seventh angel trumpeted; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever.”

The final preparation for the new earth with New Jerusalem is Revelation 20:11, “I [the apostle John] saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose face earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.” After the judgments in 20:12-15, 21:1-2 tell us, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and the sea is no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.”

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Earth to New Earth with New Jerusalem (6)

Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Because of the fall of man the entire old creation was corrupted and is awaiting the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Even the heavenly things needed to be purified by the blood shed on the cross.

Psalm 102 foretold the passing away of the old heavens and old earth, and Hebrews 1 quotes this. Peter also speaks about this: “The heavens will pass away with a roar, and the elements, burning with intense heat, will be dissolved, and the earth and the works in it will be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10)

New JerusalemPeter also presents our responsibility: “Since all these things are to be thus dissolved, what kind of persons ought you to be in holy manner of life and godliness, expecting and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens, being on fire, will be dissolved, and the elements, burning with intense heat, are to be melted away?” (3:11-12)

This holy manner of life and this godliness are not outward behaviors nor something of our effort nor by our determination. Peter tells us that “His divine power has granted to us all things which relate to life and godliness.” (1:3) This grant enables us to live a life preparatory to the new earth, a foretaste of New Jerusalem life.

By living such a life, we are not only looking forward to the new earth and New Jerusalem, but we are “hastening” their coming. This hastening occurs because the Lord is looking for a people ready for His coming. Lord, work in us for the preparation of Your bride.

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Earth to New Earth with New Jerusalem (5)

We are on the path from the original created earth to the new earth. This involves the reconciliation of all things by the death of Jesus Christ, the freeing of all creation, and the recognition and confession by all that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. New JerusalemThis glorification points toward New Jerusalem as the ultimate glorification of God.

Despite all that was accomplished by Christ in His death and resurrection, all that He is doing now in the believers, and all that will happen at His return, there will still be a new heaven and a new earth to replace the original heaven and earth. The Lord first mentioned this in Matthew 5:18, “Until heaven and earth pass away…”

This passing away was prophesied in Psalm 102, which is quoted in Hebrews 1:10-12:

You in the beginning, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands; they will perish, but You remain perpetually; and they all will become old like a garment, and like a mantle You will roll them up; like a garment they will also be changed; but You are the same, and Your years will not fail.

The book of Hebrews emphasizes the superiority of Christ and His new covenant. Our part is to look away to Him, hold to Him, come forward to Him on the throne, and let His living word operate in us. He must have priority in our lives over everything of the old creation; the old, perishing things are not our focus.

The Lord is perpetual and New Jerusalem will be perpetual by being saturated with Him. Lord, draw us every day to give You first place in our living!

Earth to New Earth with New Jerusalem (4)

God’s path from the creation of earth to new earth and New Jerusalem is through the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then through His work in the church and with the church’s cooperation. An example of our cooperation is the prayer in Matthew 6, “Your kingdom come; Your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth.”

New JerusalemWhen man was deceived and corrupted in Genesis 3, the entire creation was corrupted. Even the heavenly things need purifying (Heb. 9:23). But “the creation itself will also be freed from the slavery of corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:20).

The “glory of the children of God” will first be when the Lord comes “to be glorified in His saints” (2 Thes. 1:10) and ultimately in New Jerusalem. Thus the ultimate freeing of creation will be the new creation.

This freeing of the corrupted creation has its base in the work of Christ. Colossians 1:20 says that God was pleased “through Him [Christ] to reconcile all things to Himself.” Here “all things” includes not only humans but also all creatures. After His reconciling death,

God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should openly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Phil. 2:9-11

This universal confessing will began from the Lord’s visible return to earth and will continue in the new earth with New Jerusalem for eternity.

Earth to New Earth with New Jerusalem (3)

New JerusalemThe path from the creation of earth to new earth and New Jerusalem has many ups and downs, but God is never defeated. God’s path is through the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ then through His work in the church.

Psalm 2 foretells the resurrection, ascension, and enthronement of Christ. This also shows God’s path to His rule over all the nations on the way to eternal peace on the new earth.

Psalm 24 begins, “The earth is Jehovah’s, and its fullness, the habitable land and those who dwell in it.” The earth is Jehovah’s today, whether man realizes this or not. Yet, for the full manifestation of His reign, there is the need of those who will seek His face (v. 6), those who will care for God and His purpose above earthly, human things. This matches the Lord’s call in Matthew 6 to seek first (above all) the kingdom of God.

Seeking God and His purpose correspond with our call in Matthew 6:10 to pray, “Your kingdom come; Your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth.” God wants to exercise dominion over the whole earth. He could do this immediately by His direct authority, but has chosen not to. Rather, He intends to operate through His people, which is why we need to pray.

The answer to our seeking and our prayer is the repeated declaration in the second half of Psalm 24, “The King of glory will come in.” This was echoed by the Lord Jesus in His words to the disciples about seeing “the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” This coming will usher in the kingdom age leading to the new earth with 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.

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Earth to New Earth with New Jerusalem (2)

Genesis 1:1 records the creation of the earth and Revelation 21:1 records the coming of the new earth. Between these two milestones are many downward turns from Satan’s and man’s rejection of God, but God is not defeated. He will gain the new heaven and new earth with New Jerusalem to fulfill His desire.

Psalm 8 begins and ends, “O Jehovah our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth.” Humanly we don’t yet see this. However,New Jerusalem the psalmist, inspired by the Spirit, looked forward to the outcome of all that Christ would accomplish. Verses 4-6 of the Psalm are quoted in Hebrews 2:6-8 in regard to Jesus Christ.

“We do not yet see all things subjected to Him, but we see Jesus.” Although we do not yet see all things subjected to God, we do see the incarnated, crucified, and resurrected Jesus (Heb. 2:8-10). He is now one with all His believers, His brothers, and is sanctifying us inwardly to match Him (v. 11).

He is also singing praise to God our Father in the church (v. 12). The path to new earth and New Jerusalem is not only through incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection, but is also through the church.

The path in Psalm 8 and Hebrews 2 corresponds with Ephesians 3:8-11: God created all things so that, according to His eternal purpose, through grace the multifarious wisdom of God might be made known to the heavenly rulers. This requires that Christ make home in our hearts through faith, resulting in further growth in us (3:16-19). This is His heading up of the church, which is the first step of heading up all things in the heavens and on earth in Christ (1:10).

By heading us up, God will gain glory in the church (3:20-21). The further heading up of all things will bring us to the new earth and New Jerusalem.

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Earth to New Earth with New Jerusalem

Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth“. Revelation 21 begins, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth.” Let’s look briefly at the path from the original earth to the new earth with New Jerusalem.

Genesis 1:2a says, “the earth became waste and emptiness, and darkness was on the surface of the deep.” This “becoming” was not God’s intention. Isaiah 45:18 tells us “He is the God Who formed the earth and made it; He established it; He did not create it waste.” How did the earth become waste? This was due to Satan’s rebellion*.

New JerusalemGenesis 1:2 continues with “the Spirit of God was brooding upon the surface of the waters.” Then, in a process of restoration, there was light, dry land appearing, more definite lights, many forms of life, and finally man. During the restoration God said “good” six times and then “very good” after man was created.

However, the “very good” earth with man as its focus was corrupted in Genesis 3. But God is not defeated! Before Jesus Christ came as the reality, God did something through Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, Solomon, and many others. Through David and Solomon the city of Jerusalem was gained and the temple was built.

Four hundred years later degradation resulted in the captivity to Babylon, but again, God was not defeated. A return to Jerusalem was made and the temple and city rebuilt. This provided the setting in which Jesus was born. The next posts will look at the path to bring the earth from Jesus’ incarnation to New Jerusalem.

* Isaiah 14:12-15. For more, please read Life-study of Genesis, message 2.

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Glory: the Lord’s Presence Manifested

In recent reading*, I was touched by the question, What is glory of the Lord? The next sentence of my reading gave this answer, It is the presence of the Lord manifested before the eyes of humanity. The glory will be manifested by New Jerusalem, but it was also manifested to people in the past.

Acts 7:2 says, “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was in Mesopotamia.” This appearing motivated Abraham to leave his fatherland and follow the Lord to a new place. Lord, motivate us to follow You daily.

The glory also appeared to Israel, when the tabernacle was completed (Exo. 40:35) and at other times (e.g. Exo. 16:10, Lev. 9:23, Num. 14:10). However, many in Israel were obstinate and the manifested glory was sometimes a rebuke to them. Lord, keep our hearts soft toward You.

New JerusalemLater, the glory of the Lord appeared at the dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:11). In the New Testament the glory was briefly manifested on the mountain (Mark 9:2-3), to Stephen (Acts 7:55), and to Saul (Acts 26:13-15). And the Lord promised that people “will see the Son of Man becoming in the clouds with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26).

Since Saul’s time, the glory is hidden but we do have the presence of the Lord. The Lord is with our spirit (2 Tim. 4:22). He in us is our hope of glory (Col. 1:27). In spirit we behold and reflect His glory (2 Cor. 3:18).

He will come to fulfill the hope of glory and to manifest His glory in us (2 Thes. 1:10), in the coming kingdom, and in New Jerusalem.

* Witness LeeThe All-Inclusive Christ, chap. 9, Living Stream Ministry

Posts will resume, Monday, November 27.

The Light of the World, A City (3)

The light and the city in Matthew 5:14 are linked to New Jerusalem. This verse also speaks of a city “upon a mountain.” This indicates a high position. We always put lights in high rather than low positions, so that light may reach everywhere. Our high position is in Christ. Ephesians 2:6 tells us that God “raised us up together with Him and seated us together with Him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.”

New JerusalemHebrews 12:18-24 contrasts attributes of the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament attributes are earthly but the New Testament attributes (both Heb. 12 and Eph. 2) are heavenly.

The first ‘New’ attribute is that we “have come forward to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” The heavenly Jerusalem is firstly associated with a mountain, which also is heavenly in nature. Our being the light of the world is not derived from any earthly position; it is a consequence of being in Christ and living one with Him.

The New Testament does not say that New Jerusalem is a city upon a mountain. Instead, by the time New Jerusalem comes down out of heave, the city and the mountain have become one, and New Jerusalem is itself the mountain. The angel “measured the city with the reed to a length of twelve thousand stadia; the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.”

In summary, the light, the city, and the mountain all come out of the divine life in God’s people. The Lord spoke all of Matthew 5, including verse 14, to His disciples, and three times spoke of “our Father” (v. 16, 45, 48). As sons of the heavenly Father we are the light of the world and the city on a mountain. All of this culminates in New Jerusalem.

Photo by R. Robinson, courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Light of the World, A City (2)

The Lord Jesus told His disciples, “You are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14). “You” (plural) are “the light” (singular). All of us, as His disciples, are a corporate light to the world. Eventually Jesus Christ, the Lamb, shines within New Jerusalem to be light to the universe.

New JerusalemJesus continued, saying, “It is impossible for a city situated upon a mountain to be hidden.” We, the corporate light, with Him shining within and through us, are the unhidden city. Ultimately we are New Jerusalem, His expression to the universe.

All who have believed into Jesus Christ are today His body (Rom. 12:5). We are all the one new man (Eph. 2:15. We are all God’s spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5). We are all the city of Matthew 5. And we will all be the eternal city, New Jerusalem. Matthew 5:14 is a foretaste of New Jerusalem. The body, new man, house, and city are God’s eternal purpose—a living, corporate expression of Himself in a corporate humanity filled with Himself.

In position, we are in this corporate entity, but we need care to keep our living according to it. The Lord told us, “let your light shine before men,” not hiding it under a bushel (Matt. 5:15-16). A bushel is for measuring grain, food. We should not hide our light by being overly occupied with our jobs, anxious to earn a living to take care of our eating (Matt. 6:25, 31).

Since we are “light in the Lord,” Ephesians 5 charges us to “walk as children of light.” In position we are light but we need to walk in the Lord, loving Him, musing on His word, and opening ourselves to Him in prayer. The shining that results from walking in light is a precursor of New Jerusalem as the unhidden city on a mountain.

Photo by Allan Shimada, courtesy of U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Light of the World, A City

New JerusalemIn Matthew 5:14 the Lord Jesus told His disciples, ” You are the light of the world. It is impossible for a city situated upon a mountain to be hidden.” But how dies this relate to New Jerusalem? We will use a few posts to consider this, but one obvious link is the word “city.”

Here the Lord tells His disciples “You are the light of the world.” In John 8:12 and 9:5 He says, “I am the light of the world.” How can we be what He is? It is because when we can receive Him into our being, He becomes both life and light within us.

He is “the light of life” and we are born again with this life. Now we have Christ as our life and our light. We become “children of God” who can “walk as children of light” and “shine as luminaries in the world” (Phil. 2:15).

The Greek word φωστηρ translated “luminaries” in Philippians is used only one other place in the New Testament—”Her [New Jerusalem’s] light was like a most precious stone” (Rev. 21:11). New Jerusalem shines because Jesus Christ is the light infusing the entire city.

Revelation 21:23 tells us, “the glory of God illumined it [New Jerusalem], and its lamp is the Lamb.” Because the city is transparent (21:21), clear as crystal (21:11), the glory of God in the Lamb radiates through the city to the entire universe. In this way, New Jerusalem is the fulfillment of the Lord’s word in Matthew 5:14.

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