The Merciful and Faithful High Priest  Brings Us Forward to New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is the consummation of all God’s work and the eternal outcome of His mercy toward us.

God’s New Testament mercy began with the sending of John the Baptist, followed by the appearing of Jesus Christ. He became “a merciful and faithful High Priest in the things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17)

New JerusalemHebrews 2:5-18 speaks first of the prophecy in Psalm 8 and then about the fulfillment in His becoming such a High Priest. In this fulfillment He destroyed the devil and released us from death. God also subjected all things under His feet. We do not yet see this subjection but we do see Jesus, who was crucified and passed through death, crowned with glory and honor.

Furthermore, Hebrews 2 tells us that as our High Priest, He imparted Himself as life into us to make us individually His brothers and corporately His church. He also sings hymns of praise in our midst to the Father, who is leading many sons into glory. It is very likely that such singing will continue into the next age and into New Jerusalem.

This passage about our High Priest also tells us that God is “leading many sons into glory.” The merciful care for us opened the door for God’s leading us into glory, which ultimately is New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

God’s Mercy Points toward New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is the consummation of all God’s work. His plan in eternity past and His doings through the ages all conclude with this wonderful city shining with His glory.

New JerusalemBecause all men are in sin, there is a big chasm between us and God. Despite this separation, God’s mercy reaches us. Mercy brings us to a place where we can receive what we are not qualified for and what we do not deserve.

Mercy reaches us not only because of God’s love but also because God’s eternal intention is to involve man in the accomplishing of His plan. This intention was first stated at the creation of man in Genesis 1:26-28. This post is the first in a short look at mercy as an element of the pathway to New Jerusalem.

The coming of John the Baptist opened the New Testament. When it was time for him to be born, “her [his mother’s] neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had magnified His mercy with her, and they rejoiced with her” (Luke 1:58).

John’s father Zachariah, full of the Holy Spirit, said about John “you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the merciful compassions of our God, in which the rising sun will visit us from on high” (Luke 1:76-78).

Zachariah’s words show us that both John’s preparing of the way of the Lord and the coming of the Lord Jesus (the rising sun) are “because of the merciful compassions of our God.” Thank God for this merciful beginning on the New Testament road to New Jerusalem.

The Multifarious Wisdom of God Manifested thru the Church then thru New Jerusalem

New JerusalemChrist as the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24, 30) is manifested through His believers, through the church, and eventually through New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 3:8-10 says, “To me, less than the least of all saints, was this grace given to announce to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel and to enlighten all that they may see what the economy of the mystery is…in order that now to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenlies the multifarious wisdom of God might be made known through the church, according to the eternal purpose which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Here grace is given for announcing the unsearchable riches of Christ. As we receive this bountiful supply, we are enlightened to see God’s purpose, God’s economy, for both this age and eternity. The issue of our seeing is the manifesting of God’s multifarious/multi-faceted/manifold/all-various/infinite* wisdom through the church to subdue the negative powers in the universe. Eventually, all the negative powers will be in the lake of fire but God’s infinite wisdom will eternally be manifested through New Jerusalem.

• In John 1:14-17 grace comes in Jesus Christ,
• in Ephesians 3:8 the unsearchable riches are of Christ,
• in Ephesians 1:17-18 our being enlightened is to see our Lord Jesus Christ,
• in Colossians 2:3 Christ is the embodiment of all the treasures of God’s wisdom,
• in Ephesians 3:10 this Christ, God’s wisdom, is manifested through the church,
• and in Ephesians 3:11 God’s eternal purpose is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Apart from Him we have nothing and in Him we have everything.

Today in the new man Christ is all and in all (Colossians 3:11). In eternity Christ will be all and in all in New Jerusalem.

* Various translations in Ephesians 3:10, thanks to Bible Hub.

Springtime photo from space, courtesy of ESA and Flemish Institute for Technological Research.

A Journey from the Clay of Creation to the Glory of New Jerusalem (3)

New JerusalemWe humans were created from dust but we can be filled and saturated with Christ as our life. This life resurrects us and brings us into glory. This saturating/ resurrecting/glorifying is our journey into New Jerusalem.

In New Jerusalem the apostles represent the New Testament believers. The apostles’ names are on the foundations of the city (Rev. 21:14), foundations adorned with precious stones (21:19). These are not physical stones, but represent the apostles themselves, transformed and made precious by Christ as their life.

The New Jerusalem is a city of foundations (Heb. 11:10). These are the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Rev. 21:14), each of whom is signified by a precious stone. Peter, the first of the twelve apostles, was originally named Simon. When Simon was brought to the Lord, the Lord changed his name to Peter, meaning a stone (John 1:42). Later, the Lord called him by that name when He spoke concerning the building of His church (Matt. 16:18). Precious stones are not created but are produced by the transforming of things created. All the apostles were created as clay, but they were regenerated and were transformed into precious stones for God’s eternal building. Every believer needs to be thus regenerated and transformed that he may be a part of the New Jerusalem.*

Not only the apostles but also all believers are stones. First Peter 2:5 speaks about all of us saying “you yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house.” The consummation of this house is New Jerusalem.

We have the dust and clay nature from our natural birth and we have the stone nature from our regeneration (1 Peter 1:23). Now we are being transformed “from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18) that our entire being may become precious stone to match New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

* Part of note 1 on Revelation 21:19 in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version published and © by Living Stream Ministry.

A Journey from the Clay of Creation to the Glory of New Jerusalem (2)

New JerusalemThe Bible begins with human beings created by God as vessels of clay. The Bible ends with New Jerusalem built with precious materials and “having the glory of God” (Revelation 21:11).

In ourselves, we do not match the city, so we cannot be part of it. But God has His plan. We are called vessels because we were created by God to contain God. When we receive Jesus Christ as our life, He enters into us. The result is “we have this treasure [Jesus Christ] in earthen vessels [us] that the excellency of the power may be of God and not out of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

With coffee mugs, suitcases, flower vases, and other physical containers, the contents and the container remain separate. In contrast, God’s plan is that the contents mingle with the container.

Jesus Christ, “the life” (John 14:6), is the contents. We, a tripartite vessel (1 Thessalonians 5:23), are the container. When He enters into us, our spirit, our innermost part, becomes life (Romans 8:10). When our mind is “of the spirit” then our mind also becomes life (Romans 8:6). Finally, to the extent that the Spirit dwells/lives in us, life is imparted to our mortal body (Romans 8:11).

Eventually our entire being is full of life. This life is resurrection life, in contrast to the death which characterizes our “dusty” created being. This life, the life of New Jerusalem, brings us into resurrection and into glory to match New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

More about Christ as life filling our being is in two short tracts, The Purpose of Man and The Mystery of Human Life.

A Journey from the Clay of Creation to the Glory of New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is a city “having the glory of God” (Revelation 21:11).

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 (vv. 18, 21). Gold, the symbol of the divine 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.*

New JerusalemIn Genesis 2:7 God “formed man with the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul” and Romans 9:21 describes man as vessels of clay.

We are on an amazing journey from vessels of clay to a constitution with the precious materials of New Jerusalem. This journey is dependent on God’s mercy, making us “vessels of mercy” upon whom God will “make known the riches of His glory” (Romans 9:23), a glory ultimately displayed by New Jerusalem.

Although the glory will be made known through us, it is not of us and we cannot boast. Rather, “we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not out of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Christ is the treasure and we are the earthen vessels. He is the excellent One!

The next two posts will be a brief look at the journey from clay to the precious materials of New Jerusalem.

Photo by Commander John Bortniak, NOAA Corps, courtesy of NOAA (U.S. Dept. of Commerce).

* Part of note 1 on Revelation 21:21 in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version published and © by Living Stream Ministry.

Come Forward, See God’s Face, Serve Him

A review of recent posts on the priesthood:
• In Exodus 19 God stated His intention to make Israel a kingdom of priests;
• Hebrews 5–7 speak about Jesus Christ as the kingly High Priest;
• Revelation 1:5-6 and 5:9-10 tell us that Jesus Christ, through His propitiatory death, made us a kingdom of priests;
• 1 Peter 1–2 presents a process through which we are built together as a priesthood;
• 1 Peter 2 also says we are a royal priesthood telling out the virtues of the Lord;
• Revelation 20:6 speaks of priests of God and of Christ and reigning with Him.

Finally, 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 will reign forever and ever.” Here the word “serve” means to serve as a priest.

New JerusalemTo serve as priests is to be in the presence of God in the holy of holies. Hebrews 9:8 tells us that the way into the holy of holies was not manifested in Old Testament times. But Hebrews 9–10 go on to speak of what Jesus Christ accomplished as our High Priest so that now we can come forward to the holy of holies (10:19). Ultimately, the entire city of New Jerusalem is the holy of holies. Here we see God’s face (Revelation 22:4).

By coming to the holy of holies, the priests are infused with God’s shining and thereby express Him. This matches two lines of a song in an earlier post: Saturated with His beauty, Radiate His excellence. This should be our experience today and will be our fuller experience in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Be Priests and Reign with God and Christ

New JerusalemRevelation 20:6 declares, “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”

An outcome of the Lord’s redemption is that we became a kingdom of priests (Revelation 1:5-6). Gradually we grow in Him and are built together into the reality of the priesthood to be saturated with Him and to radiate His excellence.

When the Lord returns, those believers who are living in the reality of the priesthood will be brought onward to be priests and to reign with Him for a thousand years.

There are many conflicting teachings about the thousand years. Without getting into this morass, we see that the kingdom of priests was intended by God with Israel, is founded on Jesus Christ Himself as the kingly High Priest, was brought forth and is built up in this age, will exist (no doubt stronger) in the thousand years, and will reach its high point in New Jerusalem.

This kingly priesthood is not many separate individual priests, but is the corporate body of priests, the priesthood, built together one spiritual house. It is progressing now, will be fuller in the thousand years, and will consummate in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Saturated with Him, Radiate His Excellence

New JerusalemWe are a kingdom of priests in position and we are becoming such in reality. The fullness of this priesthood will be New Jerusalem.

For this priesthood we have been redeemed and regenerated and we are being nourished. We cooperate by putting away the negative things and coming to the Lord together. By this we are built into a holy priesthood (1 Peter 1:20–2:5).

In contrast to those who rejected the Lord and disobeyed His word, by His mercy we believe and hence He is precious to us and we are His royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:6-10).

As the holy priesthood, our orientation is “coming to Him.” As the royal priesthood, our  orientation is to “tell out the virtues of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” This combination is expressed in the last verse of a song by Witness Lee (words music)

__Pray to fellowship with Jesus,
___Bathing in His countenance;
__Saturated with His beauty,
___Radiate His excellence.

As the holy priesthood we come to the Lord to be saturated with Him and as the royal priesthood we go forth to radiate His excellence. These two facets of the life of the priesthood are seen in Moses, whose face shone as a result of spending forty days with the Lord and absorbing His speaking (Exodus 34:28-29).

These two facets of the priesthood will continue eternally in New Jerusalem. We will be the priests seeing His face and absorbing the water of the river of life (Revelation 22:3-4, 1). We will also be the constituents of New Jerusalem which will shine with the glory of God (Revelation 21:10-11).

We Are Built up into a Holy Priesthood

Revelation 1:5-6 and 5:9-10 tell us that the redemption of Jesus Christ has made us a kingdom of priests, a kingdom which will consummate in New Jerusalem. This is our position, our status. First Peter 2:4-5 speaks of our reality, our experience:

Coming to Him…you yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house into a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

New JerusalemBy redemption we have the position of the priesthood but we still need to come to the Lord regularly for the process of “being built up into a holy priesthood.” By this building process we grow into the reality of functioning as the priesthood.

An illustration of these two steps is a young man who joins the army. When he takes an oath he gains a position in the army. Yet he still needs much training to become a member of the army in reality and to learn how to participate in the life of the army.

Some steps in 1 Peter which precede or support our “being built up into a holy priesthood.”
• We received the Lord’s redemption (1:18-19);
• We were regenerated by the living and abiding word of God (1:23);
• As newborn babes we drink the milk of the word that we may grow (2:2);
• We obey the Lord so that He may fill us with brotherly love (1:22);
• We put away negative things of the old creation (2:1);
• We come to the Lord together with others (2:4-5).

Lord, grant us more experiences of these steps so that we can be built together into Your priesthood. Lord, build us toward New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

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.

Jesus Christ, the Originator and the Finisher

New JerusalemRevelation 1:5-6 says that Jesus Christ, through His redemption, “made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.” Revelation 22:3-5 says that we will serve Him as priests and will reign with Him in New Jerusalem. Thus, the kingdom of priests extends from the Lord’s resurrection to eternity.

Revelation 5:9-10 says the same. In a praise to the Lamb, we read, “You were slain and have purchased for God by Your blood men out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made them a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign on the earth.”

These verses make it clear that we are a kingdom of priests not by our choice nor by our accomplishments nor by our efforts nor due to anything else of ourselves. The Lamb has made us a kingdom of priests.

Since we are priests, we should live as priests. But learning to live as a priest is also not by our own determination nor by our own energy. The key is “looking away unto Jesus, the Author [Originator, Inaugurator] and Perfecter [Finisher, Completer] of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

The “looking away” to Him is also our “coming to Him” (1 Peter 2:4) by which we “are being built up as a spiritual house into a holy priesthood” (2:5). Our coming to Him is by prayer, singing, declaring His word, thanking Him, calling on His name (Romans 10:12-13), and praising.

He is the initiation of the kingdom of priests and He will bring us to the consummation in New Jerusalem.

A song begins_-_Take time to behold Him,
______________Speak oft with Thy Lord,
____________Abide in Him always,
______________And feed on His Word.

Photo by Gregory Heath, courtesy of CSIRO Australia.

A Kingdom of Priests, Both Now and In New Jerusalem

Revelation 1:5-6 and 5:9-10 tell us that the redemption of Jesus Christ has made us a kingdom of priests. This status will continue unto eternity in New Jerusalem.

Even in the Old Testament it was God’s intention to have a kingdom of priests. In Exodus 12-14 was the redemption of the Passover, followed by the departure from Egypt. Based on this, God’s word to Israel in Exodus 19 was,

You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My personal treasure from among all peoples, for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

New JerusalemLater, Israel turned away from obeying the Lord’s voice and worshipped a golden calf. As a result of this failure, and due to the positive reaction of the tribe of Levi, the priesthood was restricted to Aaron and his descendants.

This restriction of the priesthood to a small fraction of God’s people was not God’s intention. This temporary restriction was removed by the redemption of Christ.

Today we could turn away from the Lord’s word. This does not take us out of the priesthood but it annuls our function. However, we can confess our sins and be forgiven and cleansed (1 John 1:7, 9). Then we will be back in the light and able to resume participation in the priesthood.

May we confess so that we may live in the light and participate in the priesthood now while awaiting the fuller and unvarying priesthood in New Jerusalem.

___Pray to fellowship with Jesus,
_____In the spirit seek His face;
___Ask and listen in His presence,
_____Waiting in the secret place.____words_music

Photo by Scott Bauer, courtesy of U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

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