New Jerusalem: God and Man Mingled

The garden of Eden and New Jerusalem mirror each other. The garden unfolds God’s purpose and the city shows the completion. God and man are present in the garden but are separate. In New Jerusalem God and man are present in a merged, mingled way.

In the garden of Eden in Genesis, we see man, pure gold, and precious stones. The man, the pure gold, and the precious stones are separate from each other. When we come to the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21, we see pure gold and precious stones but no man. Where is man? Can anyone find man in the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21? In Genesis we can see man in the garden of Eden, but in Revelation we cannot see man in the New Jerusalem. Why is this? This is because the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 is the issue of God’s work in man throughout the ages. The city, the place itself, is man. In the New Jerusalem, man, the pure gold, and the precious stones are one and cannot be separated.*

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the mingling of God and man, accomplished by man’s willing cooperation with God’s work in man. God’s work begins with His Spirit regenerating our human spirit (John 3:6), making us alive with God’s life. This is the beginning of God’s work in man.

God continues with the Spirit’s transforming work in us and concludes with the transfiguration of our mortal bodies when the Lord Jesus returns visibly. The goal of this work is to conform us to His image, as clearly presented in Romans 8:29, 2 Corinthians 3:18, and Philippians 3:21.

Because God’s work in us conforms us to His image, New Jerusalem is not only the manifestation of God but even more the manifestation of God in man.

* The Way for a Christian to Mature in Life, chapter 3, Witness Lee, © LSM.

New Jerusalem: God Manifest in Glory

The tree of life and river of life in the garden of Eden and in New Jerusalem show that God will reach His goal by imparting Himself as life into man.

The two paradises in Genesis and Revelation are both dwelling places for man. They show the purpose and reason why God prepared them for man….God’s unique purpose in this universe is to work Himself into man so that man may have His life and nature and that through His life and nature man may be transformed inwardly (2 Pet. 1:3-4; 2 Cor. 3:18). Ultimately, God and man will be mingled together, and man will have the image of God (Rom. 8:29). The inward being of God will be the inward being of man, and God’s glorious, outward appearance will be man’s glorious appearance (cf. Rev. 4:3; 21:11).*

New JerusalemJesus Christ is the reality of the tree of life. He came to man as “the life” (John 14:6) and we may know today that we have this life (1 John 5:11-13). By our holding onto Christ, this life will increase in us day by day, as in Colossians 2:19.

As this life develops, Christ is formed in us, as Galatians 4 mentions, so that we may be conformed to the image of God’s firstborn Son. Eventually, “When Christ our life is manifested, then you also will be manifested with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4). New Jerusalem is the ultimate stage of this glorious manifestation.

* The Way for a Christian to Mature in Life, chapter 3, Witness Lee, © LSM.

New Jerusalem: Dwelling Place of God

Genesis 2:9 – “out of the ground Jehovah God caused to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, as well as the tree of life in the middle of the garden.”

Revelation 22:2 –  “on this side and on that side of the river was the tree of life, producing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit each month.”

The dwelling place God prepared for man in the beginning was called the garden of Eden, and the one at the end is called the New Jerusalem. Eden means “pleasure.” Therefore, the garden of Eden was a paradise. The dwelling place at the end of the Bible—the New Jerusalem—is also a paradise. The paradise in Genesis 2 has the tree of life in it. Revelation 22 shows that the New Jerusalem also has the tree of life in it. Thus, the paradise in Genesis 2 is the New Jerusalem in Revelation 22.*

New JerusalemThere are many commonalities between the garden of Eden and New Jerusalem. The garden was and New Jerusalem will be the mutual dwelling place of God and His people. Today the reality of these two is our human spirit enlivened by the Spirit. In Christ Jesus we “are being built together into a dwell-ing place of God in spirit” (Eph. 2:22).

New Jerusalem will be the consummation of the building work in this age.

* This is the first of a series of posts with excerpts from The Way for a Christian to Mature in Life, chapter 3, Witness Lee, © LSM.

Conformed to the Image of God’s Son

New JerusalemIn Genesis 1:26 “God said, Let Us make man in Our image.” God’s goal is to have a corporate man as a expression of Himself. This is fully accomplished with New Jerusalem, which, identical to God, has an appearance “like a jasper stone” (God: Rev. 4:3, the city: 21:11).

Man was created in God’s image to be able to express God. This expression is not a theatrical performance; it requires man to receive God’s life. Adam failed to do this but today we have the redemption of Christ and the life-giving Spirit.

Romans 8:28 declares, “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God.” What is the good here? Verse 29 answers: “Because those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son.” All things work together not for our human profit or pleasure but for us to be conformed, by God’s Spirit operating in us, to the image of His Son.

The Spirit’s operation is clear in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit.” But the Spirit requires our cooperation, to turn our heart to the Lord for our unveiling (3:16) and to behold the glory of the Lord (3:18).

This conforming work of the Spirit, with our cooperation, is the present development of New Jerusalem, the full and eternal corporate expression of God.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

God’s Corporate Expression

New JerusalemGenesis 1:26— “God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them have dominion…” From eternity God’s purpose is to express Himself through a corporate man.

This mystery is unveiled beginning with the creation of man. In Genesis 1:26 God made “man” (singular) and gave “them” (plural) dominion, indicating a corporate man.

This corporate man is revealed much more in the New Testament. “We who are many are one Body in Christ” (Rom. 12:5). We “have put on the new man” out of many nations, social classes, and other human distinctions (Col. 3:10-11). Eventually the new man becomes the New Jerusalem.

Verse 1 [in Rev. 21] says, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and the sea is no more.” In eternity past God purposed to have a corporate expression that He might be fully expressed and glorified, and for this purpose He created the heavens, the earth, and mankind. After the millennium, the old heaven and old earth will pass away through fire and be renewed into the new heaven and new earth (2 Pet. 3:10-13), into which the New Jerusalem will come for God’s eternal expression.*

In Revelation 21–22 New Jerusalem is a corporate composition of God and all His redeemed people. God’s expression through this corporate entity is the glory of God.

John saw New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven “having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, as clear as crystal.” New Jerusalem’s light “like a jasper stone” is the eternal expression of God on the throne, who also is “like a jasper stone” (Rev. 4:3).

* The Conclusion of the New Testament, vol. 16, chapter 11, by Witness Lee, © LSM

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Redeeming and Life-Dispensing God

In Revelation 22:1 an angel showed the apostle John “a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.”

The river of water of life proceeds out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. For the water of life to flow out of the throne means that it flows out of God Himself. In the New Jerusalem, we have God in the Lamb, and out of the redeeming God flows the river of life, the life-giving Spirit. This is the dispensing of the Triune God. Before God could dispense Himself into us, He had to redeem us. Thus, the picture in Revelation 22 reveals that the redeeming God is the life-dispensing God. The Lamb signifies redemption, and the river of life signifies the dispensing of life. For eternity, our God will be the redeeming and life-dispensing God.*

New JerusalemIn the Bible redemption is for life. in Genesis 2 God desired that man would eat of the tree of life. At that time redemption was not needed. But since Genesis 3 there has been redemption to bring us back to life. In John 19:34 “one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.”

The water which flowed out of the Lord’s side is a picture of the Triune God dispensing Himself as life to us. In Revelation 22:14 we read, “Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have right to the tree of life and may enter by the gates into the city.” Redemption is for life and life brings us into New Jerusalem.

The Conclusion of the New Testament, chapter 20, by Witness Lee, © LSM.


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.

No Dust in New Jerusalem

Genesis 2:7—”Jehovah God formed man with the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.”

New Jerusalem“Dust of the ground” was the material used in the creation of Adam at the beginning of the Bible. But at the end of the Bible we see New Jerusalem composed of pure gold, like clear glass (Rev. 21:18), pearls (21:21), and precious stones (21:11, 18-20).

It is by the divine life, the eternal life, that man is transferred from dust of the ground to the precious city. In Genesis 2 this life is portrayed by the tree of life. In the New Testament this life is Jesus Christ (John 11:25, 14:6).

In eternity past we were foreknown and predestinated by God to this life (but we still need to cooperate in time to receive it). On the cross Jesus Christ accomplished redemption to solve all the problems which shut us out from the tree of life because of the fall of man (Gen. 3:22-24).

Now man can be regenerated, born in spirit with this life (John 3:6) to possess this life. Then, throughout our Christian life on earth, this life transforms us, renews us. This is clearly presented in Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 3:16-18, and Ephesians 4:23. This transformation changes our constitution from dust to precious material so that we match New Jerusalem.

When the Lord Jesus returns He will transfigure “the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of His glory” (Phil. 3:21). The is our final step from dust to precious material for New Jerusalem.

More: Five Steps to New Jerusalem (1)  (2)  (3)

 

Death and Resurrection for New Jerusalem

In Revelation 21–22 New Jerusalem is at the center of the new creation. This is the conclusion and goal of the Bible. Everything positive in the Bible points directly to this conclusion, and the negatives are fully removed by Revelation 20.

Firstly, the Bible shows us that the Triune God was signified by the tree of life. Then He came in incarnation to be the one grain in the flesh, who died and resurrected to produce the many grains. Through incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection God became the many grains which are we. As the many grains we are ground into flour to make one bread, and this bread is the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is the new man as the organism of the Triune God, which eventually consummates in the New Jerusalem.*

New JerusalemGenesis 1 speaks of the creation of man. In Genesis 2 man was in the garden of Eden with the tree of life. This portrayed God wanting to impart His life into man.

However, due to Satan’s corruption of man in Genesis 3, man was shut out from the tree of life. Then God came in the man Jesus, both to save, to cleanse, us from corruption and to be available to us as the reality of the tree of life.

In John 12:24 Jesus said “Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” He came and died (He fell into the ground) and in resurrection brought forth us as many grains sharing His life. Together we, as many grains, are one bread, one Body in Christ (1 Cor. 10:17). The issue of this one bread, one Body, is New Jerusalem.

* The Constitution and the Building Up of the Body of Christ, chapter 1, by Witness Lee

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

 

God’s Eternal Purpose in Song (2)

God is eternal. He created time and the universe because He has a plan and a goal. The center of His goal, in Revelation 21–22, is New Jerusalem, His eternal expression.

New JerusalemA song (musicwords by Witness Lee) presents highlights of God’s actions to accomplish His purpose, to arrive at New Jerusalem. Here are the second part of verses 1 and 2:

He to man is everything
That He might fulfill His plan.

God as life that he may take
And with Him have oneness true.

In the first verse God wants to be everything to man, but how? The second verse answers—God wants to be life to man. This is symbolized by the tree of life shown to Adam in Genesis 2 and plainly spoken by the Lord Jesus in John 3:15-16 and many verses in John 6. By His resurrection life, we can be in Him and He in us (John 14:20); this is God being one with man as the song states.

To believe into Jesus Christ is to receive Him as our eternal life and to become one with Him. “When Christ our life is manifested, then you also will be manifested with Him in glory.” (Col. 3:4) Christ is our life today and He will appear in glory. Then we will be glorified with Him.

He and we will be a corporate expression of God’s glory. This is New Jerusalem, “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11).

Photo in Germany by Jenny Grosh.

God’s Eternal Purpose in Song (1)

The Bible concludes with the new heaven and new earth and New Jerusalem at their center. This is God’s desire and God’s goal. Humanly we do not always reach our goals but God is fully capable and He will reach exactly what He desires.

God’s purpose and goal is portrayed in the creation of man in Genesis 1 and the garden of Eden in Genesis 2, as described in posts on The Garden of Eden and New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemWe begin review of a song with highlights of God’s actions to accomplish His purpose, to arrive at New Jerusalem: the music (composer unknown) and the words (Witness Lee). Verse 1 begins:

Lo, the central thought of God
Is that He be one with man;

God created all the plants and animals “according to their own kind.” But in Genesis 1:26 God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” This shows man’s special place in God’s creation. Man was created for God, so that God could work in and through man to reach His goal. Verse 2 begins:

Earthen vessel man was made-
Body, soul, and spirit too.

This is Genesis 2:7, “God formed man with the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” The three parts of man are also clearly in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete.” God uses all three parts of man as He brings forth New Jerusalem for His eternal exhibition.

The Garden of Eden and New Jerusalem      in Song (8.2)

We looked at eight verses of a song which couples the garden of Eden with New Jerusalem. Eve in the garden as the wife of Adam is a picture of New Jerusalem as the wife of the Lamb, Jesus Christ (Rev. 21:9-10).

A line in that song, about Christ’s deep long for His bride led us to another song (words and music) which amplifies this longing. This inserted song emphasizes God’s eternal purpose hidden in His heart through the ages, creation, Satan’s deception of man, and Christ’s continued seeking of His bride.

New JerusalemNext: “His life laid down, an offering whose fragrance yet ascends.” He died to gain His bride. Ephesians 5:25, “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”

More: “And now in resurrection to her He draws most near.” On one hand Christ is in heaven and not visible to our eyes. On the other hand, He is in us and enlivens us (Rom. 8:10). Soon, Christ “In glory does appear.” He will return to earth visibly in glory.

The inserted song concludes, “As she beholds her Bridegroom, His glory floods her heart, ’til she, His Bride, is raptured, His longed-for counterpart.” We look away to Jesus now and will behold Him in glory at His return.

“He comes to be glorified in His saints” (2 Thes. 1:10) and He will be further glorified in and through His bride, New Jerusalem, the city “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11).

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Garden of Eden and New Jerusalem      in Song (8.1)

Many characteristics in the garden of Eden are like prophecies pointing to New Jerusalem. The prior post is about the bride, which is Eve in Genesis 2 as a picture of the eternal bride, New Jerusalem, in Revelation 21.

New JerusalemWe have been looking at Genesis 1–2 and Revelation 21–22 with a song about the two. Verse 8 of this song speaks of the bride being precious to Christ. Before we conclude the current song, we will go to another, which is about this preciousness.

This inserted song (words and music) begins, “The church is Christ’s deep longing and His good pleasure too.” It also says, “Before the earth’s foundation His thoughts were filled with her.” New Jerusalem as the bride is not a late addition; it is part of God’s eternal plan which existed before creation.

More: “Creation sprang to being, but deep in Him did hide a heart of depth unfathomed fixed on a glorious Bride.” God’s plan was not revealed until the New Testament time (Col. 1:26) but all was firm in His heart from the beginning.

Then it speaks of sin beguiling and mocking man but Christ never forsaking His bride. Next, “Then mercy richly flourished, and love was, oh, so vast, as graciously He sought her with wisdom unsurpassed.” All the problems in the universe, including the fall of man, serve only to manifest the unsurpassed wisdom of Christ. Eternally New Jerusalem will be a complete manifestation of this wisdom triumphing over every obstacle.

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