New Jerusalem, not in the Natural Realm (2)

New Jerusalem is the consummation of the Lord’s redeeming work on the cross, the Lord’s sanctifying/purifying work now, and His glorifying work at His return.  We see New Jerusalem by being carried away in spirit (out of the natural realm) onto a great and high mountain (above the level of our ordinary living).

To consider Revelation 21–22 as something natural is to miss the reality presented here. This is to repeat the error common in John’s gospel—interpreting or trying to grasp the Lord’s spiritual presentation by natural understanding. Here are more examples of this.

New Jerusalem• In 6:51-55 no one understood how the Lord could give us His flesh to eat for eternal life. But He spoke of the Spirit who gives life (v. 63).
• In 8:32-34 He spoke about being free from the slavery of sin but the hearers thought only about human slavery.
• In 8:51-53 the Lord spoke about keeping His word to overcome eternal death but the hearers could only think of physical death.
• In 11:11-14 the Lord used sleep as a picture of death; the disciples thought of physical sleep and could not comprehend His word.
• In 14:7-11 the Lord told the disciples that they had seen the Father manifested in His living and doing, but they only thought of physical seeing.

New Jerusalem is the consummation of the church as the Body of Christ, His fullness (Eph. 1:22-23). New Jerusalem is also the consummation of the new man created by Christ in Himself (Eph 2:15), the holy temple growing in Him (2:21), and the dwelling place of God in spirit (2:22). Surely this is not in the natural realm. Lord, carry me away in spirit to see New Jerusalem!

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The Testimony of Jesus in Revelation

New JerusalemFive chapters in Revelation include the phrase “the testimony of Jesus.” In verse 19:10 an angel tells John, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of the prophecy.”

Revelation 1:3 and 22:7, 10, 18-19 make clear that “the prophecy” is the book of Revelation. The spirit—the heart, the focus, the emphasis, the essence—of Revelation is the testimony of Jesus.

This testimony is not only of the Jesus seen clearly in the gospels. It is also the testimony of Jesus living in and through all His believers. The consummation of this corporate testimony of Jesus is New Jerusalem.

John “testified the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, even all that he saw” (Rev. 1:2). All that John saw included New Jerusalem. John paid a price for his seeing.

“I John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (1:9). John was exiled to the Patmos. Because his situation involved tribulation and endurance, he took it “in Jesus,” in the man who suffered and endured in His life on earth.

In this outward suffering John saw four visions “in spirit,” the last of which was New Jerusalem. John wrote not an outward story nor a merely human history. Rather, he presented the testimony of Jesus, including New Jerusalem, seen “in spirit.” We too need to be In Spirit to See and Enter New Jerusalem.

The spirit, the focus, of Revelation is the testimony of Jesus. This includes the seven churches (Rev. ch. 2–3), the multitude (ch. 7), the bright woman (ch. 12), the firstfruits (ch. 14), the overcomers (ch. 15, 20), the bride (ch. 19), and New Jerusalem (ch. 21–22). These should be our focus in Revelation, and like John, we should be in spirit.
See New Jerusalem with a Spirit of Faith.

The Mystery of God Revealed in Spirit to Those Who Love God

This is the era of the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 2:1), of the kingdom of God (Mark 4:11), of God’s will according to His good pleasure (Eph. 1:9), of Christ (Eph. 3:4), of the gospel (Eph. 6:19), and of godliness (1 Tim. 3:16). These are not separate mysteries but multiple facets of one mystery.

New JerusalemThe mystery will reach a conclusion (Rev. 10:7), and everything of God will, pleasure, and purpose will be manifested. Nevertheless, the contents of the mystery—God, Christ, the kingdom, God’s will, the gospel, and godliness—will continue eternally in New Jerusalem.

How can we see and enter into this mystery? Revelation in spirit and grace are necessary. For our sake, the apostles received a revelation in spirit (Eph. 3:3, 5) and received grace to minister it to enlighten us (3:7-9). This is according to God’s eternal purpose (3:11) so it surely includes New Jerusalem.

The mystery of God proclaimed in 1 Corinthians 2 was not according to human wisdom. To grasp God’s wisdom, our first key is “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard and which have not come up in man’s heart; things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (2:9). Natural senses (eye, ear, etc.) cannot touch the things God has hidden. Our need is to love Him. O God, we love You.

Our second key is “We have received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit which is from God, that we may know the things which have been graciously given to us by God” (2:12). We have received the Spirit and, the things which God has prepared, “God has revealed them through the Spirit” (2:10). O God, grant me a spirit of revelation to see the things You have revealed by Your Spirit.

To see more of New Jerusalem, which is mysterious to the natural man, we love God and receive the Spirit’s revelation.

Love the Lord to see New Jerusalem

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Great is the Mystery: God in Christ in Us

New JerusalemThe mystery proclaimed by the apostles includes New Jerusalem. Colossians 2:2 tells us that the mystery of God is Christ. The mystery of God is God embodied in Christ to become a God-man who lived among men, died to redeem all men, and rose to impart eternal life into His believers.

However, the mystery of God is not only Christ Himself, but also Christ in us, as in Colossians 1:27, “the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” This Christ is our hope of glory, the glory that will be fully manifested in New Jerusalem.

God made this mystery known to Paul (Eph. 3:3) because God’s good pleasure is that we all see and enter into this mystery (Eph. 1:9). Therefore, Paul’s ministry was “to enlighten all that they may see what the economy of the mystery is, which throughout the ages has been hidden in God” (Eph. 3:9).

First Timothy 3:15 says, “great is the mystery of godliness.” This is God incarnated in Christ. It is also Christ entering into us to be our life, to be manifested through us now and much more in eternity.

Ephesians 3:4 and Colossians 4:3 speak of the mystery of Christ. And Ephesians 5, presenting husband and wife as a portrait of Christ and the church, says, “This mystery is great, but I speak with regard to Christ and the church” (v. 32).

The mystery of God is Christ, God manifested in flesh. It is also Christ in us, people who were merely flesh until we believed into Him and received His eternal life. This life produces the mystery of Christ, all His believers as members of His one Body. So, God in Christ in the believers to form His mystical Body is the great mystery. Eventually His Body consummates in New Jerusalem.

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God in Christ Shines via New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is pure: “the city was pure gold, like clear glass” (Rev. 21:18); “the street of the city was pure gold” (21:21); “bright and pure” (Rev. 19:8). These are the four occurrences of one Greek word in the description of New Jerusalem.

Revelation 21:21 has the unique New Testament occurrence of a Greek word with related meaning. “The street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.” New Jerusalem is not only pure; the city is transparent.

We can grasp the sense of this transparency by looking at four related Greek words*, each of which occurs only once in the New Testament.
• We give heed to the Lord’s word, “as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19). The sense is light breaking through the darkness.
• Satan has blinded people, “that the illumination of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine on them” (2 Cor. 4:4). God wants to shine into people to save them from Satanic darkness.
• In Troas, Paul spoke, “until daybreak” (Acts 20:11). Again, light shining to replace darkness.
• The Son of God is “the effulgence of His glory” (Heb. 1:3). The effulgence/radiance/ brightness/brilliance° is not a thing, it is the Person.

My summary: New Jerusalem is pure and transparent so that God’s glory in Christ may brilliantly shine through the city to testify that all darkness has been displaced. Revelation 21:23: “the glory of God illumined New Jerusalem, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

*The main Greek word is διαυγής; others, in order shown, are διαυγάζω, αυγάζω, απαύγασμα, αυγή
°Various translations, thanks to biblehub.com
Image courtesy of pixabay.com.

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 LSM. Besides this New Testament, many books published by Living Stream may be read online.

Shadows of New Jerusalem in Psalms 87-98

We are looking at prophecies of Christ in the Psalms, and the psalmists’ descriptions of God’s house, city, and reign over the earth, all as shadows of New Jerusalem at the center of the new earth.

New JerusalemPsalm 87:3, “Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God.” How much more than earthly Jerusalem will glorious things be said about New Jerusalem!

Psalm 90:1, “O Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.” Moses had the sense he was dwelling in God. How much more his word is true now and will be in eternity.

Psalm 91:1, 9, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” “For You have made Jehovah, who is my refuge, even the Most High, Your habitation.” This psalm is a prophecy about Christ, quoted in Matthew and Luke. Yet, since we are in Christ, His dwelling in God is ours also (John 14:20). This is true now and will extend into New Jerusalem.

Psalm 92:12-13, “The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree….Planted in the house of Jehovah, they will flourish…” Both today and in eternity, Christ is our righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30). We are planted in God’s house today and will flourish in New Jerusalem.

Psalm 97:1, “Jehovah reigns! Let the earth be glad; Let the many islands rejoice.”
Psalm 97:6b, “All the peoples see His glory.” (Rev. 21:23-24)
Psalm 97:8a, “For You, O Jehovah, are most high over all the earth.”
All these declarations will be fully fulfilled in new earth and New Jerusalem.

Psalm 98:2, “Jehovah has made His salvation known; in the sight of the nations He has revealed His righteousness.” When Jesus began His earthly ministry, this was true to those whose eyes were opened (e.g. Luke 2:30). In the new creation everyone will see His salvation and righteousness. Psalm 98:3b, “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.”

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem: the Glory to be Revealed

New Jerusalem is the consummation of the Bible. It is the high point of everything God has done through the ages, especially what the Spirit has wrought within redeemed humanity. This is why we need to be in spirit and on a high mountain to see New Jerusalem.

When John saw New Jerusalem, he was both in spirit and also carried away onto a great and high mountain [Rev. 21:9-10]….New JerusalemWe need to be uplifted to a high mountain that we may see God’s dwelling place for the fulfillment of His eternal purpose. In order for John to see the churches, it was sufficient to be on the island of Patmos [Rev. 1:9-12]. But the New Jerusalem is vastly higher than the churches, and in order to see it, John had to be carried to a high mountain. The New Jerusalem is a mountain city, and we must be on a mountain in order to see it. We need to be in the spirit and to get to a high mountain. This is the way to see the vision of the New Jerusalem.*

New Jerusalem is God’s eternal goal. It is also the eternal goal of every one of God’s people. Would you like to know where you are going? In spirit and on a high mountain, we can see the goal.

Remember Romans 8:18, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed upon us.” And 1 Peter 4:13, “inasmuch as you share in the sufferings of Christ, rejoice, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice exultingly.”

The present sufferings seem large when we focus on them. But we should look at the coming glory of New Jerusalem and rejoice!

*from Life-Study of Revelation by Witness Lee, © LSM, online reading (chap. 59, sec. 2)

Born Anew to See and Enter New Jerusalem

New JerusalemIsrael journeyed to Mt. Sinai where Moses saw and presented to them the heavenly pattern of the tabernacle. We are on a Christian journey to see New Jerusalem.

After the vision of the tabernacle, Israel offered themselves for it, built it, and journeyed with it. Likewise, we see New Jerusalem, we offer ourselves to the Lord for New Jerusalem, we participate in building the Body of Christ as the forerunner of New Jerusalem, and we continue our Christian life in God’s New Testament building.

The past dozen or so posts have been about seeing New Jerusalem. After we see, how do we enter into the present reality of New Jerusalem? The Lord Jesus gave us the answer in John 3:3, 5. “Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you,

Unless one is born anew,
__he cannot see the kingdom of God. (v. 3)
Unless one is born of water and the Spirit,
__he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (v. 5)

To be born again, or born anew, is to be born of water and of the Spirit in our human spirit (v. 6). The result of this spiritual birth is both the seeing and the entering into the kingdom of God. To the extent that we see, we enter.

Our seeing of spiritual things is not once for all. Rather, our seeing gradually increases with our loving the Lord and giving ourselves to Him. It increases as we seek and pursue the Lord and respond to Him. It increases through our contact with the Lord in the Bible, through time with other Christians, through prayer, and through gospel preaching.

Since our seeing of New Jerusalem is not once for all, our entering into it is not once for all but gradually. Lord, I am willing and available to You; bring me more into the vision of New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

In Spirit on a Mountain for New Jerusalem

A recent post mentions being “carried away in spirit onto a great and high mountain” to see New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-10). Another looks at Moses’ experience with God on Mt. Sinai as a pre-figure of New Jerusalem. Here are other Old Testament mountain experiences, to be followed by New Testament mountain experiences.

Isaiah 2:1-4 and 65:25 speak of the mountain of the Lord’s house in the millennial kingdom with wonderful characteristics which we expect to be better in eternity.

New JerusalemIsaiah 52:7 says, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, of him who announces peace…” All God’s good news, including New Jerusalem as His consummate news, is announced by people who are “on the mountains” no matter what their physical location.

Like John’s vision from a great and high mountain, Ezekiel 40:2 tells us that to see the millennial Jerusalem “In the visions of God He brought me into the land of Israel and set me down upon a very high mountain, and on it to the south there was a structure like a city.”

The visions need a spiritual mountain experience because we have to be out of our environment and away from our daily cares to see the wonderful things God has prepared. Lord, I am open to You; carry me away in spirit onto a great and high mountain to see New Jerusalem!

Photo courtesy of Nathan Ofsthun.

In Spirit on a Mountain, see New Jerusalem

New JerusalemWe are looking at an issue of Affirmation & Critique* on New Jerusalem. The prior post includes this sentence from The Divine and Mystical in Figurative Language: God and the writers of the Bible employ figurative language, using literary devices such as symbols, types, figures, metaphors, similes, and allegories to communicate the realities of the divine and mystical realm.

We must recognize that the Bible uses such figurative language. We must also recognize that the reality of all these pictures are God, Christ Jesus, His offices and accomplishments, His believers and their Christian experiences, and His Body.

We are familiar with parables in the gospels. Parables are not merely nice stories, they all have spiritual significances, such as the sower and seed being the Lord Himself and the word of God (Matthew 13:3-23).

Revelation is a books of signs, as stated in verse 1:1. For example, the seven lampstands in Revelation 1 are symbols of the seven churches, and the woman and the dragon in Revelation 12:1-9 portray the people of God and Satan.

The consummation of Revelation is New Jerusalem, which is also presented by the Bible in figurative language. This is why we need the Lord to carry us away in spirit to a high mountain to see New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:10-11). All the natural elements (e.g. gold, pearls, wall, precious stones, tree of life) in Revelation 21–22 have spiritual significance.

We should not use our human imagination to create images of these figures in a natural way. Rather, we should open our heart to the Lord and ask Him to give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation that we may see the reality of these figures. Lord, show me 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.

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.

Unsearchable, Immeasurable, Exhaustless

Recently in reading Ephesians two phrases about our present Christian life touched me as also being descriptive of New Jerusalem. The two phrases are

the unsearchable riches of Christ
the multifarious wisdom of God

In Ephesians 3:8 the unsearchable riches of Christ are announced as good news today. We should also look forward to such riches in New Jerusalem.

“Unsearchable” is a frequent translation in Ephesians 3:8 but boundless, endless, unfathomable, incalculable, immeasurable, exhaustless are used by other translators. All these words should impress us. How wonderful and bountiful are the riches of Christ! Even in eternity we will not exhaust these riches. We will never get tired or become bored with all that Christ is and has.

New JerusalemIn Ephesians 3:10 the multifarious wisdom of God is made known through the church today. We should also expect this wisdom to manifested by New Jerusalem.

Synonyms of “multifarious” in Ephesians 3:10 include manifold, multifaceted, infinite variety, innumerable aspects. God’s wisdom is beyond our comprehension! Nevertheless, in this age He is willing to enlighten us that we may see the economy (or household administration) of the mystery which has been hidden within Him and which was the reason for all of creation (3:9).

The riches of Christ and the wisdom of God far exceed our little needs and situations because these riches and this wisdom are for accomplishing God’s eternal purpose. Our problems will get solved while we participate in God’s purpose, which is much grander, much more marvelous than what we can conceive.

Praise Him for these unsearchable and unlimited riches. Praise Him for His infinite variety of wisdom. Both the riches and the wisdom will be fully manifested in New Jerusalem for our delight and to be appreciated by the whole universe.

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