New Jerusalem: Living Temple and Eternal Holy of Holies

The Old Testament temple was physical and earthly. The New Testament temple is living and heavenly. It is the incarnated Jesus and the resurrected Jesus in His believers. Hebrews 8:5 tells us that the Old Testament priests “serve the example and shadow of the heavenly things.” Verse 2 says that our Lord, the real High Priest, is a Minister “of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.”

Here are a posts which compare the shadow and the true, and use the shadow to show characteristics of the true, including New Jerusalem as the eternal holy of holies. Each summary begins with a link to that post and ends with one key verse reference.

New Jerusalem

The Lord told the Jews that if they destroyed the temple (of His body), He would raise it up in resurrection. This shows that the New Testament temple is living, not physical. (John 2:19-22)

In resurrection, the Spirit is dwelling in every believer. This makes us “the temple of God.” (1 Cor. 3:16)

The overcomers, who hold fast to the Lord’s word, will be pillars in the living temple. (Rev. 3:11-12).

John tells us, “I saw no temple in it [New Jerusalem], for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” (Rev. 21:22)

Jesus Christ “made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.” As priests, we are qualified to serve in the temple and will serve eternally in New Jerusalem. (Rev. 1:5-6).

God is not only our living temple but also our dwelling place now and in New Jerusalem. (Psalm 90:1)

We have been cleansed in the blood of the Lamb. We serve God day and night in His temple, which is God Himself. (Rev. 7:14-15).

Colossians 2, speaking about Old Testament things, says they “are a shadow of the things to come, but the body [the reality which casts the shadow] is of Christ.” (Heb. 8:5)

The Old Testament things are shadows because “grace and reality came through Jesus Christ,” in His incarnation. (John 1:17)

The shadows in the Bible illuminate us concerning the reality. The Old Testament holy of holies had the ark of the covenant with its contents, all pictures of the reality. (Hebrews 9:4)

The ark contains manna in a golden pot, the budding rod, and the tablets of the covenant. All portray something about New Jerusalem. (Hebrews 9:4).

The lid of the ark is the propitiation place, testifying of the forgiveness and cleansing of sins. (Heb. 9:5, 14)

The cherubim of glory are above the propitiation place, symbolizing New Jerusalem which has the glory of God. (Heb. 9:5)

Above the propitiation place and between the cherubim is where God meets with us and speaks with us. (Exo. 25:21-22)

In New Jerusalem we have been brought into the holy of holies to have full fellowship with the Triune God, there is no more need of the outer court nor the holy place. (Rev. 22:1-5)

We come forward with boldness, with full assurance of faith, to the holy of holies, to New Jerusalem. (Heb. 10:19-22)

To come forward to the holy of holies is also to come to the throne of grace. (Heb. 4:16)

To come forward to the holy of holies is to enter through the veil, which was torn when the Lord was crucified (Heb. 9:3, 10:19-20). Here is a hymn about entering through the veil:
Enter the Veil and Go Without the Camp
Taste Heaven’s Sweetness
Enter the Veil, Come Forward to the Throne

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New Jerusalem: Eternal Holy of Holies (6)

The Old Testament temple is a picture of the New Testament reality. The picture is composed of three sections—the outer court, the holy place, and the holy of holies. in contrast, New Jerusalem is solely the holy of holies without an outer court or holy place. What changed?

The outer court is the location of the bronze altar and the laver. The bronze altar is for sacrifices. In New Jerusalem there will be neither sin nor sins, so we will have no need of those sacrifices. We will be absolute with God, fully at peace with Him, and nourished by Him in the holy of holies, so no need of the other offerings.

New JerusalemThe laver is for the priests to wash away worldly and earthly defilement. Before New Jerusalem appears the world will have been judged and the old earth will be replaced by the new earth. Hence, the sources of defilement are gone and there will be no defilements for the laver to wash away.

The holy place contains the bread table, the lampstand, and the golden altar. In New Jerusalem we have the tree of life for nourishment. In New Jerusalem the Lord God as the light in the Lamb as the lamp will shine upon us (Rev. 22:5, 21:23). Therefore, there is no need of any other lamp.

In the holy of holies the budding rod shows our acceptance by God, which is more profound and inward than the satisfying fragrance from the bronze and golden altars. Again, this shows New Jerusalem has no need for what is outside the holy of holies.

In New Jerusalem we will be fully one with the Triune God in life and reality so we will have no need for anything outside this eternal holy of holies.

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New Jerusalem: Eternal Holy of Holies (5)

The Old Testament holy of holies and New Jerusalem are the only cubes in the Bible.This shows that the old holy of holies depicts New Jerusalem as the eternal holy of holies. Prior posts touched the materials and contents of the holy of holies and their relation to New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemExodus 25:21-22 is about the ark, the expiation cover (propitiation place in Heb. 9), and the cherubim. God told Moses, “there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you.”

The Lord meets and speaks with us today in the holy of holies. In a personal way, this is our human spirit, where the Lord dwells—”the Lord be with your spirit” (2 Tim. 4:22). In a corporate way, this is the Body of Christ in its reality today and New Jerusalem in the future.

The corporate aspect of God meeting and speaking with us climaxes in New Jerusalem, matching the promise that God’s slaves, who serve Him as priests “will see His face” (Rev. 22:3-4).

Today the Lord’s speaking to us is irregular because our spiritual condition is erratic. But, in New Jerusalem there will be no sin, no death, no flesh, no self life, no distractions. We will continually and eternally have the experience of the Lord’s meeting us and speaking with us face to face in glory.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

New Jerusalem: Eternal Holy of Holies (4)

The Old Testament temple is a picture of the reality of the New Testament temple. The Old Testament holy of holies also depicts New Jerusalem as the eternal holy of holies. In that holy of holies was the ark with its contents “and above it [the ark] cherubim of glory overshadowing the propitiation place” (Heb. 9:4-5).

New JerusalemPropitiation is the base for the glory. New Jerusalem has both the Lamb as the New Testament propitiatory sacrifice and the glory of God illuminating the city (Rev. 21:23).

Romans 3:23 says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Jesus Christ, through His redemption, is the way to be freed from sins and to come up to the level of God’s glory. Both solutions are seen in the propitiation cover with the cherubim of glory. New Jerusalem will declare both eternally.

The propitiation place is in the holy of holies. Therefore, this experience of redemption is deeper (more inward) than that of the trespass offering at the altar in the outer court of the temple. Although we might not understand the difference, we should seek to advance in our Christian life. The trespass offering and the propitiation place both take care of our sins, but only the latter is intimately tied to God’s glory.

Do not be satisfied to remain in the outer court. New Jerusalem is the holy of holies; there will be no more outer court. Don’t wait; advance now. Lord, I want to have a deeper experience of Your forgiveness. Bring me to the propitiation place so that Your glory may come forth.

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New Jerusalem: Eternal Holy of Holies (3)

#NewJerusalemIn the New Testament we no longer have a physical temple. Rather, the living temple is both Jesus (John 2) and His believers (2 Cor. 6:16). But, the Bible’s description of the old, physical temple depicts many spiritual realities today and in New Jerusalem.

The prior two posts are about the ark and its contents, described in Hebrews 9:4. Then 9:5 says, “And above it [the ark] cherubim of glory overshadowing the propitiation place.” The lid of the ark, with the propitiatory blood on it, frees us from the condemnation of falling short of the requirements of the law in the ark.

Today we certainly need forgiveness and cleansing of our sins by the blood of Jesus Christ. Before our initial repentance we were dead spiritually and were sinners condemned by God’s righteous requirement. We repented and believed, thus “though dead in your offenses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our offenses” (Col. 2:13).

That action took care of all offenses before our regeneration. Afterwards, 1 John 1:9 applies, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Thank Him!

In New Jerusalem there is no sin nature and we will never do sinful deeds. Nevertheless, in New Jerusalem God and the redeeming Lamb are on the throne (Rev. 22:3) and they are the temple (Rev. 21:22). This is a memorial of what is portrayed by the blood on the lid of the ark in the old holy of holies.

Hebrews 9:14 declares that “the blood of Christ…[will] purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” In New Jerusalem the Lamb is present as an eternal memorial, and in New Jerusalem we will “serve the living God” (Rev. 22:3).

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New Jerusalem: Eternal Holy of Holies (2)

The New Testament temple is spiritual, not physical. We do not need the Old Testament’s physical temple; nevertheless, the record about it in the Bible depicts many spiritual realities today and in New Jerusalem.

The ark in the holy of holies contains the manna, the budding rod, and the tablets of the covenant (Heb. 9:4). The budding rod (Num. 17) started as a rod, a stick, lifeless and cut off. During a night before the Lord it “put forth buds and produced blossoms and bore ripe almonds.” This is a picture of resurrection, and is related to having authority in the divine life.

Colossians 2:12 says we were “Buried together with Him in baptism, in which also you were raised together with Him through the faith of the operation of God.” This is our initial experience of being one with Christ in His death and resurrection. The budding rod signifies a much deeper experience of the same resurrection.

New JerusalemIt is desirable that we all enter the holy of holies to experience this in our current Christian life. Since New Jerusalem is the eternal holy of holies, at that time we will all have this deepest experience of Christ in resurrection.

The tablets of the covenant point to the Old Testament law. This has been replaced by the inner “law of the Spirit of life” (Rom. 8:2). To experience the controlling, leading, restricting, and guiding of the eternal life within is the experience portrayed by the tablets in the ark.

Today, when we live by this inner law, “the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit” (Rom. 8:4). Today this is an exercise but in New Jerusalem it will be spontaneous and continuous.

New Jerusalem: Eternal Holy of Holies

The Old Testament shadows were necessary until the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Reality came in His incarnation and reality was made available to us in His resurrection. In this reality we have no need of a physical temple but He and we together are the living temple. And New Jerusalem is the ultimate temple in the Bible.

We have no need for a physical temple, but that temple, the shadow, shows us much about the present living temple. In addition to the materials and shape, the contents of the physical temple are important. Since the entire New Jerusalem is the holy of holies, we will look only at the physical holy of holies to get a picture of New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemHebrews 9:4 says the Holy of Holies contains “the ark of the covenant covered about everywhere with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna and Aaron’s rod that budded and the tablets of the covenant.”

The ark was made of wood, overlayed inside and outside with gold. This portrays Jesus Christ as the man (wood) mingled with God (gold). Everything is in Him.

This ark is “of the covenant.” This covenant is a definite promise, a commitment by God. Everything portrayed by the ark is guaranteed by God. Thank Him!

The golden pot with manna is the eternal life supply in New Jerusalem. This is the same manna that fell around Israel’s camp, but its location indicates a much deeper, inner experience* of this life supply.This corresponds to eating the fruit of the tree of life in New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:2).

*This footnote, from the ministry of Witness Lee, presents the experiences of Christ as seen in all three parts of the tabernacle.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Shadow of the Living Temple (2)

Jesus alone (John 2), then all His believers (2 Cor. 6:16), consummating in New Jerusalem, is the living temple. The Bible also has a material, physical temple, a shadow, a portrait of this reality. This shadow shows us the good, heavenly things to come in Christ. But what need was there for that shadow?

Because of the fall of man, in Genesis 3 man was shut out from the reality. As a result, before Christ came, there was a need of shadows. Then, through incarnation, the reality came to man. John 1:17 speaks of this contrast: “the law was given through Moses; grace and reality came [literally become, came into existence] through Jesus Christ.”

#NewJerusalemThe reality came, and through His redeeming death and life-imparting resurrection we can participate in this reality. We have no more need for shadows!

The shadows came because of the fall, but we can receive some spiritual vision from them. This is somewhat like the saying, a picture is worth a thousand words. The physical tabernacle and temple, the shadows, show us something about the living temple including New Jerusalem.

One thing we see is that the Old Testament temple was constructed with gold, wood, and stone. This is a picture of God’s New Testament building, including New Jerusalem, built with the divine nature, the humanity of Jesus, and the transformed members of His Body.

The dimensions of the tabernacle and temple show us that the Holy of Holies, their innermost chamber, is a cube. These cubes demonstrate that New Jerusalem, a cube (Rev. 21:16), is the eternal holy of holies. Furthermore, the fact that the whole of New Jerusalem is the holy of holies tells us that we all have been fully brought into God’s presence. Wonderful!

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The Shadow of the Living Temple

#NewJerusalemThe previous posts are about the living temple, first Jesus alone (John 2) and then all His believers (1 Cor. 3:16, 2 Cor. 6:16), consummating in New Jerusalem.

This living temple is the reality. But in the Old Testament, and lingering into New Testament times, there was a material, physical temple, a shadow, a figure, a portrait of the reality.

Hebrews 10:1 says that the law has “a shadow of the good things to come.” The physical tabernacle came with the law in Exodus. But it was only a shadow, indicating that something “good” was to follow.

Hebrews 8:5  says that the Old Testament priests “serve the example and shadow of the heavenly things.” “The good things to come”—in this case the living temple—is heavenly. Hence it is spiritual, not earthly and physicaL We are too accustomed to seeing and living among earthly things, but in God’s eyes only the heavenly, spiritual things are really “good.” This of course includes New Jerusalem, which is heavenly even though it comes down out of heaven from God.

More specifically, Colossians 2:16-17, speaking about Old Testament things, says they “are a shadow of the things to come, but the body is of Christ.” The “body” which casts the shadow is Christ Himself. All the positive people, things, and activities in the Old Testament are shadows of Christ Himself or Christ enlarged in His Body, composed of all His believers.

In light of Colossians 2, let us turn away from all the shadows, instead (2:19) “holding the Head” Christ, “out from whom all the Body, being richly supplied…grows with the growth of God.” His rich supply causes us to grow in Him and in His Body, growing unto New Jerusalem.

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Our God, Our Dwelling, is the Living Temple

New JerusalemThe prior five posts look at the living New Testament temple. This began with the Lord Jesus in John 2, with His body, the real temple of God, “destroyed” by the Jews in crucifixion but raised up in resurrection. The living temple concludes with God and the Lamb as the temple of New Jerusalem in Revelation 21.

This living temple was typified by the physical tabernacle and temple in the Old Testament, but this physical structure was not God’s eternal intention.

Moses, who oversaw the building of the tabernacle, realized this. In Psalm 90:1 he declared, “O Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.” In eternity, in New Jerusalem, the Lord will still be our dwelling place.

Isaiah speaks similarly, “You shall sanctify Jehovah of hosts; He shall be the One to fear and He shall be the One to be awed by. Then He will become a sanctuary” (8:13-14a). When our heart pursues sanctification, the Lord becomes our sanctuary, our dwelling place, our temple. The ultimate stage of this is the holy (sanctified) city New Jerusalem.

We have been sanctified positionally at our initial salvation. Now we need to pursue experiential sanctification, that is, being separated unto God from everything else by being saturated with His holy nature. In this way He becomes our sanctuary, our temple.

Both Moses and Isaiah saw beyond the outward pictures of the tabernacle and temple. They saw that the real temple is the living God Himself. Lord, bring us to the same realization that they had; We want to experience dwelling in You as our living temple not only in New Jerusalem but also in this age.

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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.

Exodus, Ezekiel, Revelation

There are similarities in the presentation of God’s move on earth in the books of Exodus, Ezekiel, and Revelation.

Exodus 2 has some human history of Moses. Exodus 3 begins to unveil God’s revelation and speaking to Moses and God’s instruction for him to speak to Israel, God’s people. Through the book of Exodus, although Israel often was not faithful, God accomplished what he had promised. The second half of Exodus is primarily the revelation of the plan for the tabernacle, the work of preparing it, and its completion. The conclusion of Exodus is ” the glory of Jehovah filled the tabernacle” (40:34).

#NewJerusalemEzekiel 1 begins with one man, Ezekiel. It quickly progresses to God’s revelation and speaking to him (Ezek. 1), and then God’s instruction for him to speak to Israel (Ezek. 2–3). Thereafter is a long section with God’s judgment on Israel (again showing their unfaithfulness) and the nations.

Beginning in Ezekiel 33 God comes to recover His people inwardly, giving them a new heart and a new spirit and putting His Spirit within them (36:26-27) and accomplishing other things for His purpose. Then, from chapter 40, God reveals His house and the river of living water in the good land. In this revelation, the glory of God fills His house (43:4, 44:4).

Revelation begins with God’s revelation and speaking to John, and then God’s instruction for him to write to the churches (1:11, 19). Revelation 2–3 speak about the churches, both their strong points and their unfaithfulness. Following this are many judgments. Finally, it unveils God’s building, the city New Jerusalem, “having the glory of God” (21:11).

The parallels in these three books are simple even though the details have spiritual depth. God speaks to one man, tells him to speak to God’s people, judges both God’s people and the nations, and ultimately gains a building He fills with glory. Thus we can see that Exodus and Ezekiel show us in typology the path from God’s revelation to New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem Foreshadowed in Exodus

All the positive things in the Old Testament are symbols, pictures, or prophecies of the New Testament realities. Some of 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

 Photo courtesy of NASA.

 

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