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!

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

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.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

No Devil In or Near New Jerusalem

The devil is not in New Jerusalem and has no way to bother us in New Jerusalem nor to bother the nations around New Jerusalem.

First John 3:8 tells us “the devil has sinned from the beginning.” The devil is the source of sin which brought in death. John 8:44 tells us that the devil is a murderer from the beginning and that he is the father, the source, of lies.  The nature of the devil is a lie because truth is not in him. This is the exact opposite of New Jerusalem in which Christ is the life and reality and where there is no lie.

New JerusalemJesus has overcome the devil. In John 14:30 He told us that the ruler of this world (the devil) “has nothing in Me.” Hebrews 2:14 says, “Since therefore the children have shared in blood and flesh, He also Himself in like manner partook of the same, that through death He might destroy him who has the might of death, that is, the devil.”

It seems to us today that the devil is still active. The reason is that the judgment accomplished on the cross has not fully been carried out. Therefore, Ephesians 4:25-27 warns us to put away lies and anger so that we give no place to the devil. We wage this battle continually by applying the law of the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2) to overcome the law of sin in our flesh (Rom. 7:20).

In Revelation 12:9 the devil is cast down and in 20:2 he is bound for a thousand years, and in 20:10 he is cast into the lake of fire. This is the final step of the judgment accomplished on the cross. As a result, the devil will never bother New Jerusalem nor the entire new creation.

And, since the devil is Satan, New Jerusalem has Neither Sin nor Satan.
Here is a summary of all posts about what is NOT in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of NASA and JPL.

New Jerusalem Prepared, Adorned

New JerusalemRevelation 21:2, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

What is the adorning of New Jerusalem? Let us ask the Bible, putting aside any natural ideas. The first use of adorn in the New Testament is Matthew 23:29, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build up the graves of the prophets and adorn the tombs of the righteous.” Any outward adornment without inner reality is hypocrisy; surely this is not New Jerusalem.

Next, Luke 21:5 says that “the temple…was adorned with beautiful stones and consecrated offerings.” In the following verse the Lord says this will be torn down; clearly this outward adorning was not precious to God.

Thirdly, 1 Timothy 2:9 instructs “that women adorn themselves in proper clothing with modesty and sobriety, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly clothing.” Again, adorning (both in this age and for New Jerusalem) is not something outward but rather inward virtues. First Peter 3:3 is the same.

Titus 2:9-10 exhorts “slaves to be subject to their own masters in all things, to be well pleasing, not contradicting, not pilfering, but showing all good faithfulness that they may adorn the teaching of our Savior God in all things.” This teaching, which is with grace (v. 11), should soak into our inner being to become our pleasantness and faithfulness and wash us from arguments and greed. This is an adorning for which the Lord looks. First Peter 3:5 is comparable.

These verses tell us that the adorning of New Jerusalem is inward, not outward. The next post will look more specifically at what constitutes the adorning of New Jerusalem.

Image courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem, the Growth of God’s House

New Jerusalem

The church is the living house of the living God and is God manifested in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:15-16). New Jerusalem is the enlargement, the expansion of the church with God’s Old Testament people.

The prior post focused on Colossians 2:19—the church’s growth (increase) to New Jerusalem is by the growth (increase) of God—God in Christ spreading and increasing in us. In Colossians 2:16–3:4 this growth is by our experiencing Christ as the reality of every positive thing, by holding Him as our Head, by our mind being set on things of Christ above, by being governed by Christ Himself rather than by outward ordinances, and by letting Christ our life live in us.

All of these contributors to growth characterize New Jerusalem. In New Jerusalem we will be full grown with Christ as the reality of everything, we will be fully occupied with the things of Christ, we will be governed by God and the Lamb on the throne, and He will be our life and our living.

Lord, keep us with Yourself every day that You may grow in us unto New Jerusalem!

New Jerusalem, City of the Living God

New JerusalemFirst Timothy 3:15 tells us “the house of God is the church of the living God.” This house will be enlarged to be the city of God, New Jerusalem.

At Timothy’s time, the word church did not denote a physical building. The word referred to God’s people. The believers in Timothy’s time were the house of God. Today we are the house of God. In eternity all God’s people will be His city, New Jerusalem.

The word church in the New Testament refers not to a physical building, but to the corporate people who believe in Jesus Christ. Examples:
• Matthew 16:18, “I will build My church”
• Matthew 18:17, “tell it to the church”
• Acts 11:22, “the ears of the church”
• Acts 12:5, “prayer was being made fervently by the church”
• Acts 20:28, “shepherd the church of God”
• Romans 16:5, “greet the church”
Many more examples can be seen in the following books of the New Testament.

The tabernacle and temple as the house of God in the Old Testament were pictures of what God desires. Jesus Christ is the reality (John 2:19, 21). Through death and resurrection we have been brought into Him to be the enlarged reality of the temple (1 Cor. 3:16).

This house, this temple, grows with “the growth of God” (Col. 2:19) through the New Testament. The full growth of this “house-temple” will be the “city-temple” New Jerusalem. The characteristics of New Jerusalem will be the same as the house of the living God except much greater in quantity, much richer in expression, and without the present distractions of our fallen nature.

Related post: The Living House Becomes the Living City

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.

Things Written in the Old Testament Point to Christ and to New Jerusalem

New JerusalemIsrael’s journey to Mt. Sinai depicts our Christian journey to a point where we are “carried away in spirit onto a great and high mountain” to see New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-10).

This paralleling of Israel and Christian life is seen in 1 Corinthians 10:11, “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our admonition.” Thank the Lord for the Old Testament examples and for the fact that “they were written” for our sake.

The same is seen in Romans 15:4, “For the things that were written previously were written for our instruction, in order that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Again, thank the Lord! The Bible gives us instruction and encouragement and with these we take the Lord as our endurance.

Israel journeyed to Mt. Sinai, received the vision of the tabernacle, built it, and brought it into the good land. Later the tabernacle was enlarged and made more solid with the building of the temple in Jerusalem. All of this history is for our instruction, admonition, and encouragement. And all this history points toward New Jerusalem.

All this history was a shadow of Jesus Christ, the reality (Col. 2:16-19). Our job today is to hold Him that He may grow in us to fill us with reality (2:19). Today this reality is in the Body of Christ as God’s and our dwelling which will be enlarged to become New Jerusalem as God’s and our eternal dwelling.

I Saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem

The Fall 2012 issue of Affirmation & Critique* focuses on New Jerusalem. Beginning with this post, I will present an excerpt from each article in this publication. What I present is only a brief nugget, not a summary of the article; the whole can be read online.

The title of the first article includes John’s words from Revelation 21:2, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.” “I Saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem”—the Vision of the New Jerusalem as a Corporate God-man (by Ron Kangas).

Just as Christ the Redeemer is not literally a lamb with seven physical eyes (5:6), the New Jerusalem is not a literal city but a sign of the glorious fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose, according to the desire of His heart, to have a corporate expression of Himself in Christ as the firstborn Son and the believers in Christ as the many sons.

New JerusalemJohn the Baptist “saw Jesus coming to him and said, Behold, the Lamb of God” (John 1:29). This is a reference to the Old Testament sacrifices. Those physical lambs served as a figure, a portrait, of Jesus Christ as the real Lamb of God.

John the apostle saw “a Lamb standing as having just been slain.” Here, as in John 1, the Lamb is not a literal animal, but a symbol of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, this Lamb has “seven eyes” which are not literal but “are the seven Spirits of God” (Revelation 5:6).

Spiritual symbolism permeates Revelation. New Jerusalem is a symbol. New Jerusalem is not a physical city because it is “the bride, the wife of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:9-10). The Lamb is God, who put on humanity. The Lamb’s wife is humanity who has received divine life. May the Lord give us such a revelation of New Jerusalem.

* Affirmation & Critique is a Christian Journal published twice a year and available online. It presents Bible truths in a scholarly manner, with references to and citations from a variety of publications by authors over the entire Christian era. Affirmation & Critique exhibits much appreciation for the person and work of Jesus Christ and our life with Him. The Fall 2012 issue (Vol. XVII, No. 2) focuses on 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.

The Lamb from Exodus to New Jerusalem

Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God is intimately connected to New Jerusalem:
• Revelation 19:7 announces the marriage of the Lamb and 21:9-10 says New Jerusalem is “the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
• John saw no temple in the city because “the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (21:22).
• New Jerusalem “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” (21:23).
• The center of New Jerusalem is “the throne of God and of the Lamb” from which flows the river of water of life with the tree of life (22:1-3).

New JerusalemJesus is the reality of all the Old Testament lambs. John the Baptist “saw Jesus coming to him and said, Behold, the Lamb of God” (John 1:29). Further-more, 1 Corinthians 5:7 tells us that Christ is our Passover. He is not only the reality of the passover lamb but also the reality of every part of the passover.

Exodus 12 describes the passover. Each house took a lamb, kept it four days, killed it, put its blood outside, roasted it with fire, and ate it. Exodus 12:14 says, “this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall keep it as a feast to Jehovah; throughout your generations as a perpetual statute you shall keep it as a feast.”

In New Jerusalem we will have the eternal feast and the eternal memorial of Jesus Christ as our Lamb who redeemed us and forever nourishes us.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

More about the lamb and passover is in Life-Study of Exodus, chapters 23-25.

The New Testament Tabernacle is Alive

New JerusalemThe first tabernacle in the New Testament age is in John 1. Verses 1 and 14 say, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word became flesh and tabernacled* among us.” The ultimate tabernacle is New Jerusalem.

The Old Testament tabernacle was a physical building but the New Testament tabernacle is God dwelling in man. This is a big change. The Old Testament things were pictures but in the New Testament Jesus declared “I am the reality” (John 14:6).

In the Old Testament picture, the high priest, after coming to the altar and laver then partaking of the bread on the table and being in the light of the lampstand, could enter the holy of holies to be in God’s presence.

Today all the New Testament believers are priests (Revelation 1:6) and all of us come to the presence of God by coming to Jesus Christ. He is the embodiment of God—“in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).

Now God in Christ dwells/tabernacles in all His believers. Christ in us is the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). Christ lives in us and is being formed in us (Galatians 2:20, 4:19).

The New Testament tabernacle with God dwelling in man will continue for eternity. In Revelation 21:2-3 John saw New Jerusalem and “heard a loud voice out of the throne, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will tabernacle with them…”

How we thank the Lord for the New Testament tabernacle. Lord, bring us fully into the experience of the tabernacle and bring us onward to New Jerusalem.

Many English versions say “lived” or “dwelt” but the Greek word is clearly “tabernacled,” a verb form of the noun used in speaking about the Old Testament tabernacle (e.g. Acts 7:44, Hebrews 8:5, 9:2). The translation “tabernacled” is used by Young, Amplified, and King James II, and appears in footnotes in Darby, ERV, and ASV.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Spirit and the Bride Say Come

New JerusalemIn Revelation 22 the Lord Jesus says three times, “I come quickly” (verses 7, 12, 20). In 22:17 we read the response: “the Spirit and the bride say, Come!” This cry, Come, is in the present age; it is a cry for the visible coming of the Lord Jesus, which will end this age.

The bride here is New Jerusalem, as clearly stated in Revelation 21:2, 9-10. In verse 22:17 the Spirit and the bride speak together, showing that they are one. The Spirit has not only regenerated the members of this corporate bride (John 3:6) but has also transformed them (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Now the members of the bride live in the reality of one spirit with the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:17). This oneness in living is demonstrated by the oneness in speaking with the Spirit.

In [Revelation] chs. 2 and 3 it was the Spirit speaking to the churches; here, at the end of the book, it is the Spirit and the bride, the church, speaking together as one. This indicates that the church’s experience of the Spirit has improved to the extent that she has become one with the Spirit, who is the ultimate consummation of the Triune God.*

Reaching such oneness with the Spirit is the completion of preparation of the bride for the marriage of the Lamb. This oneness will be a characteristic of New Jerusalem. To grow into this living oneness, we need the rich supply from our Head, Jesus Christ. This supply comes through our dropping all distracting involvements and holding Him as our reality, as in Colossians 2:16–3:4.

We can pray, Lord, I love You and I open to You. Save me from my outward formalities so that I may experience You as my reality and receive Your rich supply for me to live one with You. This is the preparation of the bride and the path to New Jerusalem.

* See Revelation 22:17 in this online NT (© LSM).

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