We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (2)

#NewJerusalemThe perfection of New Jerusalem is shown by the multiple “twelves” in its description. Earlier in the New Testament there are many verses about our perfection/completion/maturity so that we will match New Jerusalem.

As believers in Christ, we have eternal life. Isn’t this enough? Yes, this life is sufficient for everything. But, this life must grow in us. We cannot remain infants (1 Cor. 3:1). Every kind of life in God’s creation has growth; they are here to portray the normality of our spiritual growth. We grow so that the maturity of New Jerusalem may shine forth.

In 2 Corinthians 13:9 Paul said, “this also we pray for, your perfecting.” To grow and be perfected in the divine life is normal but does not happen in passivity. Our growth requires our cooperation and our prayer for one another.

Two verses later Paul says, “Finally, brothers, rejoice, be perfected, be comforted, think the same thing, be at peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” Here are some helps for our growth and perfecting. First, rejoice in the Lord. Second, open needs to Him that He may be comfort and peace (Phil 4:6-7) to us. Third, ask Him to tune us into the same mind, into His thinking (1 Cor. 1:10).

The importance of our growth is seen in Colossians 1. In verse 27 Paul announces Christ in us as our hope of glory, our hope for the glory of New Jerusalem. In verse 28 he says that this announcing includes “admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom that we may present every man full-grown in Christ.” He was not satisfied to present saved sinners; his longing was to present full-grown believers, believers who match the perfection of New Jerusalem.

We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem

In the New Testament there are several dozen verses which include Greek words translated complete/completion, perfect/perfection, or mature/maturity/full grown. These words all point toward New Jerusalem because every believer will mature in their Christian life to participate in this wonderful/complete/perfect city.

#NewJerusalemThe perfection of New Jerusalem is shown by the multiple “twelves” in its description.
See: Numbers in the Bible
New Jerusalem is the Eternal Perfection
New Jerusalem is the Eternal Perfection (2)

This post begins a look at some verses containing these words, including their relationship to New Jerusalem.

Matthew 5:48 is a good beginning, “You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Our Christian perfection comes not from ourselves but from the Father’s life within us. His life is perfect and when it matures in us, we will be perfect.

Our Christian life begins with our new birth, as in John 3:5-6 and 1 Peter 1:23. A birth is the beginning. Now we need to grow for a considerable period of time. The beginning of this growth is by the milk of God’s word, just as newborn babies drink milk to grow (1 Peter 2:2-3). But New Jerusalem is not a city of babies; it is mature and complete.

We should heed the words in Hebrews: “everyone who partakes of milk is inexperienced in the word of righteousness, for he is an infant; but solid food is for the full-grown” (5:13-14). This requires spiritual exercise (5:14). So, “let us be brought on to maturity” (6:1). Lord, I am willing; bring me and my Christian companions on to maturity. Give us solid food so that we can grow!

Photo courtesy of pexels.com.

New Jerusalem Like a Precious Jasper Stone

In God’s New Testament building, including New Jerusalem, stones are living persons. Jesus Christ is a living and precious Stone. By coming to Him, we too are living stones for God’s building.

New Jerusalem has the glory of God and “Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, as clear as crystal.” (Rev. 21:11). We know that this precious jasper stone is not physical because John saw “a throne set in heaven, and upon the throne there was One sitting; and He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance” (Rev. 4:2-3).

New JerusalemGod on the throne is like a jasper stone and a sardius stone. The light of New Jerusalem is like a jasper stone because God Himself is the light of the city. “The city has no need of the sun or of the moon that they should shine in it, for the glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev. 21:23).

“The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every precious stone” (Rev. 21:18). Because these foundations are plural, they are not Christ Himself. Rather, they are the apostles because, “the wall of the city had twelve founda-tions, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:14).

A recent inquiry asked who are the apostles named on the foundations of New Jerusalem. The Bible does not say and I will not speculate. But we do know that there are twelve foundations and that twelve signifies eternal completion and perfection. The ministry of the apostles in this age is for our transformation from clay to living stones and for our being built together now, to prepare the bride, New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2).

 

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.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Precious Stones Adorn New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is adorned as a bride prepared for her Husband, Jesus Christ (Rev. 21:2). This adorning is not outward. Rather, it is accomplished by the Spirit working within us and Christ living through us.

New Jerusalem

Revelation 21:19 tells us, “The foundations of the wall of the city [New Jerusalem] were adorned with every precious stone.” Twelve stones are named. To understand this, we need to consider what is precious to God, not what is precious to society.

In 2 Peter 1:1 the faith allotted to us by God is precious and in 1 Peter 1:7 the proving of our faith is “much more precious than of gold which perishes.” This faith does not originate with us but is from God (Rom. 3:22). This faith is precious when it becomes our initial ability to believe into Jesus Christ. It is also precious as it holds us through trials in our Christian life.

In 1 Peter 1:19 the blood Jesus shed to redeem us is precious. In 1 Peter 2 the Lord is a living Stone (v. 4) and the Cornerstone (v. 6); both are “with God chosen and precious.” Peter shows us that Christ, what He did for us, and what He is to us, are precious to God.

Christ is the precious Stone. He is uniquely one, but the stones adorning New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 are many, not one. They signify various aspects of the unique Christ experienced by His many members, so that we, as living stones (1 Peter 2:5), become preciously constituted with Christ.

The twelve stones on the foundations of New Jerusalem are not literally twelve in number but are the unsearchably rich Christ formed into many believers. This process displays in New Jerusalem the eternal richness and perfection of Jesus Christ in His believers.

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.

Photo courtesy of NASA Johnson Space Center.

New Jerusalem is the Eternal Perfection (2)

New JerusalemIn the Bible twelve indicates what is eternally perfect in quality, eternally complete in quantity, and eternally rich in composition. New Jerusalem is full of twelves and is the consummation of all the twelves in the Bible.

The prior post focused on the consum-mation of Old Testament twelves. In the beginning of the New Testament there are twelve apostles (Matt. 10:1-2, 5). Paul was also an apostle and laid a foundation by proclaiming Christ (1 Cor. 3:10-12). Ultimately, on the foundations of New Jerusalem are “the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:14).

The raising up the dead twelve-year-old girl in Mark 5 foretells that eternally there will be no death in new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21:4), the site of New Jerusalem.

The twelve handbaskets of bread in Mark 6, portray the abundant richness of the tree of life with its twelve fruits in New Jerusalem.

The church began with 120 (ten times twelve) people praying (Acts 1:12-15). The universal church grew from them to include all God’s New Testament people, all of whom will be in New Jerusalem.

The “hundred and forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel” (Rev. 7:4-8) and the hundred and forty-four thousand firstfruits (Rev. 14:1-5) also point toward New Jerusalem since one hundred forty-four is twelve times twelve.

New Jerusalem, characterized by twelves, is eternally perfect, eternally complete, and eternally rich. New Jerusalem is the ultimate manifestation of “the unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel” (Eph. 3:8) and “the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:19). Lord, perfect us with Yourself for New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem is the Eternal Perfection

In the Bible the number seven indicates something complete done by God in this age or past ages. Examples are victory by encircling Jericho for seven days (Hebrews 11:30) , the seven Spirits for the seven churches (Revelation 1:4), and seven churches to bear the testimony of Jesus (Rev. 1:10-12,20).

New JerusalemIn the Bible twelve indicates what is eternally perfect in quality, eternally complete in quantity, and eternally rich in composition. New Jerusalem is full of twelves and is the consummation of all the twelves in the Bible.

New Jerusalem has twelve gates, its wall has twelve foundations, it measures twelve thousand stadia, and the tree of life produces twelve fruits. Furthermore, the measure of the wall is one hundred forty-four, which is twelve times twelve.

New Jerusalem is the consummation and reality of all the twelves in the Old Testament.  The obvious “twelve” are the tribes of Israel (Gen. 49:28), the sons of Jacob (Gen. 35:22). On the twelve gates of New Jerusalem are inscribed “the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel” (Rev. 21:12). These names show that New Jerusalem includes God’s Old Testament people.

In the Old Testament there were twelve loaves of bread on the table in the tabernacle (Lev. 24:5). Their eternal enlargement is the twelve fruits of the tree of life in New Jerusalem.

In addition, there were twelve precious stones set in gold on the breastplate attached to the ephod of the robe of the high priest. Their eternal reality is the twelve precious stones and golden nature of New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:18-20).

Christ Himself is eternally perfect, complete, and rich. He desires to live in us and be formed in us (Gal. 2:20, 4:29). Lord, live in me today and form Yourself more into me today to bring me onward to the reality of New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem: Eternal Golden Lampstand

New JerusalemThe Lord’s work throughout the Bible points toward the new creation with New Jerusalem as its center. One aspect of the Lord’s work is His care for the churches in this age.

In Revelation 1:10-13 John tells us, “I was in spirit on the Lord’s Day and heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, saying, What you see write in a scroll and send it to the seven churches….And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me; and when I turned, I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands One like the Son of Man.”

The seven* churches in verse 11 are the seven lampstands in verse 12. “The seven lampstands are the seven churches” (v. 20).  The lampstands portray the churches as the shining testimony of Jesus Christ. And He is in their midst, caring for them.

The lampstands are golden. Their nature is divine, symbolized by the gold. Their nature is not natural; rather, they are composed of believers who have put off the old man, have put on the new man, and are being renewed by the Spirit’s operation in them.

At the beginning of Revelation we see seven golden lampstands; at the end we see New Jerusalem. Like the lampstands, New Jerusalem is golden:

“The city was pure gold, like clear glass.” (Revelation 21:18)

And, like the lampstands, New Jerusalem has a lamp:

“The glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:23)

Furthermore, like the lampstands, our Lord cares for New Jerusalem. He is the Lamb who redeemed us, He is the lamp bringing us God’s shining, and He is on the throne from which the river of life and tree of life proceed to refresh and nourish the whole city.

Today we live in the churches on the way to New Jerusalem. Lord, daily take us onward!

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

* Seven here is symbolic, representing all the churches raised up by the Lord, including but not limited to the seven named in Revelation 1:11.

New Jerusalem is a City of Jasper

Jasper is an important part of the appearance of New Jerusalem. In Revelation 21:10b-11 John tells us that an angel “showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, as clear as crystal.” Verses 14 and 19 say that “the wall of the city had twelve foundations… the first foundation was jasper…” and verse 18 says “the building work of its wall was jasper.”

Jasper is the expression of God, for we read in Revelation 4:2-3 “there was a throne set in heaven, and upon the throne there was One sitting; and He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance.” God and the city have the same appearance, indicating that the city is the expression of God. This is the fulfillment of God’s intention in Genesis 1, where God created man “in His image” so that man could express God.

New Jerusalem

Here is something about jasper and New Jerusalem from Experiencing, Enjoying, and Expressing Christ by Witness Lee, © LSM (details). See message 429 in online reading.

The wall and its foundations of precious stones signify the transforming and building work of the Holy Spirit. The foundations of the wall of the city are of twelve layers. The number twelve shows the completion in God’s eternal administration. The first layer is jasper, indicating that the likeness of God is the predominant appearance. The first layer of the wall’s foundation, as well as the entire wall of the New Jerusalem, is built with jasper. This indicates that the main material in the building of the holy city is jasper. Since jasper signifies God expressed in His communicable glory, the main function of the holy city is to express God in bearing His glory (v. 11).

Although the entire wall is jasper, the twelve foundations are different stones with various colors….The reason for this is that the apostles had different ministries….However, these twelve foundations are not laid side by side; rather, they are laid one on top of another….All the work of the apostles issued in the same appearance, jasper. All twelve layers lead to and support the unique testimony in the unique expression.

Let us rejoice in this wonderful expression of God in New Jerusalem!

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

Shine Corporately with the Triune God

New JerusalemIn the first chapter of Revelation the seven churches in Asia are portrayed as seven golden lampstands. John tells us,

I was in spirit on the Lord’s Day and heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, saying, What you see write in a scroll and send it to the seven churches….And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me; and when I turned, I saw seven golden lampstands.  (Revelation 1:10-12)

The Lord Jesus clearly says, “the seven lampstands are the seven churches” (v. 1:20). And in the gospels He told us that a lamp should be placed on a lampstand (e.g. Luke 8:16)

God is light (1 John 1:5) and Jesus is the light of life (John 8:12) and the seven lamps burning before the throne of God are the seven Spirits of God (Revelation 4:5). These verses lead us to say that the churches, the lampstands in Revelation 1, uphold the Triune God as the lamp giving light on the earth.

In Revelation 21:23 we read, “And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon that they should shine in it, for the glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” Here the lampstand is not identified. But, because the city has a lamp and because the city is pure gold (Revelation 21:18), I infer that the city itself is the lampstand.

The picture in Revelation 1 includes seven churches, seven lampstands. This is because the number seven is related to God’s work in this age. (In contrast, twelve is related to eternal matters.)  Each of the churches have a number of believers who are shining with the indwelling Christ. When this age is closed, the believers in the churches will be in the manifestation of the kingdom which will consummate in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service.

The Unsearchable, Exhaustless Life Supply

New JerusalemThe “bread of God’s presence” was twelve cakes/loaves on the table in the tabernacle. Later the tabernacle was replaced by the temple. For the temple, “Solomon made all the vessels that were in the house of Jehovah…the golden table upon which the bread of the Presence was put” (1 Kings 7:48).

Although 1 Kings mentions one table, 2 Chronicles 4:8 says Solomon “made ten tables and placed them in the temple, five on the right and five on the left” and verse 19 speaks of “the tables upon which the bread of the Presence was put.” The one table with its nourishing bread has been multiplied tenfold!

The life supply from the bread brings us the light. Jesus, as the “light of life” (John 8:12) is both our life and our light. Similarly, in the tabernacle and temple the table for the bread is closely related to the lampstand with its shining. Therefore, in the temple the lampstand is also multiplied tenfold (2 Chronicles 4:7, 20).

The multiplication of the table and the lampstand parallels the expanding holy of holies. Its dimensions are 10 cubits in the tabernacle and 20 cubits in the temple. Ultimately, the entire New Jerusalem is the eternal holy of holies of an immensely greater size.

Three facts:
• There are twelve loaves, and twelve is a number related to New Jerusalem.
• The multiplication of both the table and lampstand from tabernacle to temple.
• The enlargement of the holy of holies from tabernacle to New Jerusalem.
Together these suggest that the life supply signified by the loaves will be tremendously increased in New Jerusalem.

This marvelous increase shows that we will fully partake of the unsearchable/exhaustless/ untraceable/incalculable/unfathomable* riches of Jesus Christ as our eternal life supply in New Jerusalem.

* These five words are from various translations of Ephesians 3:8, “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Thanks to Bible Hub.

Photo courtesy of NASA GSFC-METI-ERSDAC-JAROS and U.S.-Japan ASTER Science Team.

Eat the Bread

New JerusalemWe are on a journey through the Old Testament, looking at physical pictures of our spiritual eating. In 1 Corinthians 10:3, Paul, speaking about Israel eating manna, said, “all ate the same spiritual food.” Today we New Testament believers should daily eat our spiritual food.

In my sequence of posts I forgot to include the table in the tabernacle on which the “bread of the presence” (or “showbread”) was placed. The table is described in Exodus 25:23-30. The designation of this bread (v. 30) indicates that it is related to God’s presence with us.

Leviticus 24:5-9 speaks about preparation of the bread and placement of twelve cakes/loaves on the table. Twelve is a sign of eternal fullness; the twelve loaves signify the Triune God as our eternal nourishment and satisfaction.

Leviticus 24:9 says that the priests should eat this bread. In this age, Jesus Christ has made us priests (Revelation 1:5-6) and we will be priests both in the kingdom age (20:6) and in New Jerusalem (22:3 + God’s Slaves Serve in New Jerusalem). Therefore, we are qualified to eat and we should eat this bread. The best way is to take the Lord’s word as food for our life supply.

In the tabernacle the table and the lampstand are closely related (Exodus 40:22-25; Leviticus 24:2-9). The more we eat the word of God as our bread of the presence, the more we have His presence and the more we have the divine light portrayed by the lampstand in the tabernacle. The reality is in John 1:1, 4 – “In the beginning was the Word…In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” The Word is a living Person whom we contact through the Bible. He gives us life, nourishes us and enlightens us. Let us be people Eating the Word of God.

More about the lampstand and the bread in Leviticus 24 may be read online in Life-Study of Leviticus chapter 55.

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