Twelves in the New Testament (2)

The number twelve appears in the Bible pointing to the eternal perfection, eternal completion, and eternal abundance of the Triune God in New Jerusalem.

In Mark 5 (and Matt. 9 and Luke 8) we read about a woman whose life blood was leaking out for twelve years, for whom there was no human cure, and a girl dying at the age of twelve. These are not two separate accounts; their stories are woven together. The spiritual significance is:

When the woman’s death-sickness was healed by the Savior, the dead girl rose up from death. This signifies that every fallen person is born in the death-sickness of sin and is dead in sin (Eph. 2:1). When his death-sickness of sin is dealt with by the Savior’s redeeming death (1 Pet. 2:24), he rises up out of death into life (John 5:24-25).*

New JerusalemThe Lord Jesus is both our Redeemer and our Life. He died to release us from sin and He rose to become our life. As our life, He is our resurrection (John 11:25) out of every kind of death. This resurrection constitutes us part of New Jerusalem, the city of resurrection.

In Acts 6:2-4 the twelve apostles spoke about being devoted to the Word of God and prayer. Although most of us have jobs and/or families and homes to care for, the Word and prayer are also our path to the reality of New Jerusalem. May the Lord be merciful to keep us developing on this path.

* This is part of footnote 1 on Mark 5:21 in the Recovery Version Bible, © LSM.

Twelves in the New Testament

The number twelve appears frequently in the description of New Jerusalem. Twelve indicates what is eternally perfect in quality, eternally complete in quantity, and eternally rich in composition; this is God’s perfection, God’s abundance, and God’s richness.

All the twelves in the Bible point to New Jerusalem in some way. In the OT Israel was composed of twelve tribes. The city has “a great and high wall and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names inscribed, which are the names of the twelve tribes of
New Jerusalemthe sons of Israel” (Rev. 21:12).

The focus in this post is the NT. A well-known twelve is the twelve apostles appointed by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 10. The wall of New Jerusalem has “twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names* of the twelve apostles  the Lamb” (Rev. 21:14).

The Lord Jesus blessed five loaves of bread and fed 5000 people. Afterwards, upon the Lord’s instruction, the disciples “took up twelve full handbaskets of the broken pieces of bread and of the fish.” And all four gospels include full. This portrays the Lord’s eternal, bountiful supply for us in New Jerusalem.

In John 6:9, 13 the five loaves are specifically barley loaves. Barley is the first-ripe grain in the Bible’s record, signifying resurrection. The bountiful supply in New Jerusalem is (and must be) resurrection because the entire New Jerusalem is a city in resurrection.


Numbers in the Bible (1,2,3,4) (7,8,10,12,144)

*In 2016 I was asked, Who are the apostles named on the foundations of New Jerusalem? The Bible does not say and I will not speculate. But Revelation 21:14 specifically says twelves names and twelve apostles indicating eternal perfection, which is a characteristic of the Triune God and of New Jerusalem. A quote from New Jerusalem’s Wall has 12 Foundations.

The Triune God, our Entrance to New Jerusalem

Revelation 21:12-13 tells us that New Jerusalem has “twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names inscribed, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel: on the east three gates, and on the north three gates, and on the south three gates, and on the west three gates.”

The three gates on each side signify that the Triune God—the Father, Son, and Spirit—works together to bring people into the holy city. This is indicated by the three parables in Luke 15….In order for a sinner to be brought to the Father’s house, there is the need of the Son, the Shepherd, to bring back the lost sheep; there is the need of the Spirit to enlighten people’s hearts that they may repent; and there is the need of the Father to receive the returned and repentant prodigal son. Hence the Triune God is the entrance to the New Jerusalem.*

New JerusalemWe were all sinners. Romans 5:19 says “through the disobedience of one man the many were constituted sinners.” We were also dead. In Luke 15:24 the Father said “this son of mine was dead and lives again.” But through the operation of the Triune God we have come back to life and to the Father’s house!

The Father’s house develops and enlarges through the Bible in many stages. Luke 15 is a portrait of one stage of this development. New Jerusalem is the ultimate stage of this development. We have been brought back to life and to the Father’s house to be in New Jerusalem.

* The Triune God—The Triune God and the Person and Work of Christ, chapter 11, by Witness Lee

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem, a Golden Mountain

New JerusalemRevelation 21 describes many aspects of New Jerusalem, including its materials and its dimensions. Because Revelation is a book of spiritual signs, many descriptors in it signify spiritual facts.

‘Twelve’ is a frequent number in the dimensions of New Jerusalem. In the Bible ‘seven’ indicates completeness in temporal matters and ‘twelve’ indicates completeness in eternal matters. ‘One thousand’ is a sign of fullness, plentifulness.

The New Jerusalem, the holy city, is a golden mountain (Rev. 21:16, 18). This mountain is twelve thousand stadia in length, breadth, and height (v. 16).…Such a high mountain has only one street which goes down spirally from the top of the mountain to reach all the twelve gates on the four sides of the city.

If this is a real [physical] city to lodge in, we must ask how all God’s redeemed through all the centuries will be able to lodge there….How could these people travel in a city with only one main street? For a physical city with only one main street to contain billions of people is impossible. The holy city is not a physical heavenly mansion, but a sign signifying the totality of all God’s chosen people.*

New Jerusalem is God dwelling with all His people. God is unlimited; in Him there is space for all His people. The one street of New Jerusalem is a picture of Jesus Christ as our way (John 14:6). He is “the Author and Perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). He has brought us into Himself as our spiritual street and He will bring us to completion, to New Jerusalem.

* The Divine Economy, chapter 15, by Witness Lee

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, is at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by LSM.

The Three Materials of New Jerusalem Signify the Triune God.

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the eternal dwelling of the Triune God with His people. New Jerusalem is constructed with gold, pearls, and precious stones. These signify the Triune God and His operation for and in His people.

Revelation has many other aspects such as beasts, fightings, and judgements. However, none of these are the focus of God’s revelation. Rather, they show what God does to clear away the old creation, the creation corrupted by Satan, in order to bring forth the new heavens and new earth with New Jerusalem at their center.

The three sections of the New Jerusalem are constructed with three kinds of materials, or three kinds of elements. The number three is a particular number in the universe, signifying the Triune God. The Triune God is the number three. Every number in the Bible has its meaning, and three signifies the Triune God. Therefore, the three kinds of materials in the New Jerusalem no doubt signify the Triune God.*

The gold signifies the Father’s divine nature, the pearls signify the Son’s work through death and resurrection, and the precious stones signify the Spirit’s transformation of the believers. The Triune God and His operation for and in the believers is the intrinsic essence of New Jerusalem, and New Jerusalem is an eternal display of the Triune God.

* The Organic Union in God’s Relationship with Man, chapter 6, by Witness Lee.

New Jerusalem is the Eternal Holy of Holies

Revelation 21:16 says about New Jerusalem, “The city lies square, and its length is as great as the breadth. And he 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.”

The size of the city is twelve thousand stadia. Twelve in the Bible indicates eternal perfection. Thousand in the Bible indicates fullness or bountifulness. New Jerusalem is eternally perfect and bountiful, even unlimited, in the perfection of its characteristics.

New Jerusalem is a cube; its length, breadth, and height are equal. Only two other cubes are described in the Bible. These are the holy of holies (or holiest place) in the tabernacle (Exo. 26) and in the temple (1 Kings 6). The holy of holies in the tabernacle was not large; the dimensions doubled in the temple, and New Jerusalem is immensely greater. Our realization, appreciation, and experience of all that God is in Christ should have such an enlargement to New Jerusalem’s eternal fullness.

Both the tabernacle and the temple had the holy of holies, their innermost part, and a holy place, and an outer court. In Revelation 21–22 there is no outer court nor a holy place with New Jerusalem because we all have been brought fully into the holy of holies where God dwells.

Today we still need the experiences portrayed by the outer court and holy place; for example, the forgiveness of sins by Christ as the reality of the offerings on the bronze altar in the outer court. But in eternity all God’s operation will be completed and we all will be matured, so the holy of holies will be our constant dwelling place.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

A Christian Life of Maturing and Perfecting

Christ in us is the essence, the center, the focus of our Christian life. Yet, although He is mature and perfect in Himself, He needs to grow to maturity and be perfected in us, otherwise we remain “infants in Christ” (1 Cor. 3:1). Here are a few verses about our Christian growth and perfection, plus links to posts about this subject and its relation to New Jerusalem.

Matthew 5:48: You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Colossians 1:27b-28: Christ in you, the hope of glory, whom we announce…that we may present every man full-grown in Christ.
Colossians 2:19: holding the Head, out from whom all the Body, being richly supplied and knit together by means of the joints and sinews, grows with the growth of God.
Hebrews 6:1: …let us be brought on to maturity

#NewJerusalemNew Jerusalem is Eternal Perfection
New Jerusalem is the Eternal Perfection
New Jerusalem is the Eternal Perfection (2)

We Can Be Perfect in our Father’s Life
Perfected into One unto New Jerusalem
Full Grown in Christ our Life
Let’s Go On to Maturity for God’s Building

We Mature in Christian Life to Match
New Jerusalem

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

We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (3)
We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (4)
We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (5)

Growing with the Growth of God
New Jerusalem is the Consummation of the Spiritual Growth of God’s People

Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem
Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (2)
Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (3)
Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (4)
Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (5)
Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (6)

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

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.

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