“And…And” Points to New Jerusalem

Many verses in Revelation 19—20 begin “And” linking praises, judgments, the marriage of the Lamb, His victories, and the kingdom with “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth….And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem” at the start of chapter 21.

New JerusalemThe way to see New Jerusalem is in 21:10: “And he [an angel] carried me away in spirit onto a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem.” And couples this with the angels having the last plagues (v. 9), indicating that the plagues are a base for brining in New Jerusalem.

The description of the city in 21:11-23 has multiple ands because the city is one whole entity. Verses 21:24-26 each begin And, showing that the nations around New Jerusalem are coupled to it although not integral parts of it.

But Revelation 21 is not complete; 22 begins ” And he showed me a river of water of life…” Then 22:2: “And on this side and on that side of the river was the tree of life…” The description of the city in 21:11-23 is not complete without the life supply flowing from the throne brining us the tree of life with its fruits. The outcome of this life supply is described in 22:3-5, each of which begins “And.”

After the description of life in New Jerusalem we read, “And he [the angel] said to me, These words are faithful and true…” (v. 6). Then the Lord speaks “And behold, I come quickly.” (v. 7). The Lord’s second coming is not separate from New Jerusalem but rather is tied to it.

A few more verses begin with And, then Revelation concludes, ” The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.”

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Light of the World, A City (3)

The light and the city in Matthew 5:14 are linked to New Jerusalem. This verse also speaks of a city “upon a mountain.” This indicates a high position. We always put lights in high rather than low positions, so that light may reach everywhere. Our high position is in Christ. Ephesians 2:6 tells us that God “raised us up together with Him and seated us together with Him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.”

New JerusalemHebrews 12:18-24 contrasts attributes of the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament attributes are earthly but the New Testament attributes (both Heb. 12 and Eph. 2) are heavenly.

The first ‘New’ attribute is that we “have come forward to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” The heavenly Jerusalem is firstly associated with a mountain, which also is heavenly in nature. Our being the light of the world is not derived from any earthly position; it is a consequence of being in Christ and living one with Him.

The New Testament does not say that New Jerusalem is a city upon a mountain. Instead, by the time New Jerusalem comes down out of heave, the city and the mountain have become one, and New Jerusalem is itself the mountain. The angel “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.”

In summary, the light, the city, and the mountain all come out of the divine life in God’s people. The Lord spoke all of Matthew 5, including verse 14, to His disciples, and three times spoke of “our Father” (v. 16, 45, 48). As sons of the heavenly Father we are the light of the world and the city on a mountain. All of this culminates in New Jerusalem.

Photo by R. Robinson, courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Light of the World, A City

New JerusalemIn Matthew 5:14 the Lord Jesus told His disciples, ” You are the light of the world. It is impossible for a city situated upon a mountain to be hidden.” But how dies this relate to New Jerusalem? We will use a few posts to consider this, but one obvious link is the word “city.”

Here the Lord tells His disciples “You are the light of the world.” In John 8:12 and 9:5 He says, “I am the light of the world.” How can we be what He is? It is because when we can receive Him into our being, He becomes both life and light within us.

He is “the light of life” and we are born again with this life. Now we have Christ as our life and our light. We become “children of God” who can “walk as children of light” and “shine as luminaries in the world” (Phil. 2:15).

The Greek word φωστηρ translated “luminaries” in Philippians is used only one other place in the New Testament—”Her [New Jerusalem’s] light was like a most precious stone” (Rev. 21:11). New Jerusalem shines because Jesus Christ is the light infusing the entire city.

Revelation 21:23 tells us, “the glory of God illumined it [New Jerusalem], and its lamp is the Lamb.” Because the city is transparent (21:21), clear as crystal (21:11), the glory of God in the Lamb radiates through the city to the entire universe. In this way, New Jerusalem is the fulfillment of the Lord’s word in Matthew 5:14.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem, not in the Natural Realm

New JerusalemJohn saw New Jerusalem when an angel showed it to him and carried him away “in spirit onto a great and high mountain” (Rev. 21:9-10). The angel’s showing, in spirit, and on a high mountain, indicate that seeing New Jerusalem is not based on human capability, is not in the natural realm, and is not on an ordinary level.

New Jerusalem is the bride of Christ, the consummation of His work of redeeming, sanctifying, and glorifying all His believers (Eph. 5:25-27). Thus, we should not think of New Jerusalem as a physical city. To think about the Lord’s words in the physical realm is to repeat a recurring error. Here are examples of this error from John’s gospel.

• In 2:19 Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews were in the natural realm, thinking He spoke about the physical temple. But, He spoke about His body in resurrection.
• In 3:3-6 Jesus spoke about being born anew, being born of the Spirit. Nicodemus misunderstood, thinking about natural birth.
• In 4:10-14 Jesus spoke about living water but the Samaritan woman only could conceive of physical water.
• In 4:32-34 the Lord spoke about being nourished by doing the Father’s will but the disciples only thought about physical food.
• In 6:38, 42 the Lord spoke about coming out of heaven but the Jews could not get beyond their knowledge of His human family.

These examples (and more in the next post) show the futility of depending on our own knowledge and comprehension with divine things. To see and understand New Jerusalem we need to be out of our natural understanding. We need to ask the Lord to carry us away,to keep us in spirit, and to bring us the high mountain so that we may receive a revelation of New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

New Jerusalem Foreshadowed in Exodus

All the positive things in the Old Testament are symbols, pictures, or prophecies of the New Testament realities. Some of these pictures correspond with characteristics of New Jerusalem. Here is a list of posts showing parallels between Exodus and New Jerusalem.

We are on a journey to the mountain of God to see a vision, as John saw New Jerusalem from a high mountain. The stages of this journey:
Exodus 12—14: we are redeemed and nourished by the Lamb to leave Egypt
Exodus 15: we sing and praise the Lord on our journey to the mountain
Exodus 16: we eat the manna, a picture of Christ as our heavenly nourishment
Exodus 17: we drink the water which flows out of the smitten rock
Exodus 17: we fight against the flesh by walking in spirit

After we reach the mountain, more steps are needed to see God’s revelation of the building of the tabernacle, a type of New Jerusalem:
Exodus 19—23: God’s commands show that apart from Christ we cannot make the journey
Exodus 23: God promised that His Angel would lead us onward
Exodus 24: we take Christ’s redemption
Exodus 24: we take Christ’s absoluteness for God

When we go up the mountain, we have undivided time with the Lord to see a full vision.
Exodus 24—25: on the mountain we are in a cloud to cut our view of other things
Exodus 24—25: Moses’ time in the cloud prefigures many NT experiences
Exodus 24, 33, 34: Moses had many times of fellowship with God

The holy of holies in the tabernacle depicts New Jerusalem as the eternal holy of holies.
Exodus 25-26: the ark, expiation cover, and cherubim of glory portray Christ and the city
Exodus 26: the veil has been rent by the death of Christ, so we can enter New Jerusalem
Exodus 26: the veil portrays the Lord Jesus, who is the reality in New Jerusalem
Exodus 28: the breastplate with gold and precious stones represents aspects of the city

Exodus 40: glory fills the tabernacle, portraying New Jerusalem, a city of glory

All the events that happened with Israel are an example written for us (1 Cor. 10).
The journey in Exodus
has many symbols of our experiences of Christ and the Spirit.

New Jerusalem

 Photo courtesy of NASA.

 

The Son is the Brightness of God’s Glory, Both Now and in New Jerusalem

Hebrews 1:3 tells us that the Son of God, who is God (v. 8), is “the effulgence of His [God’s] glory.” This effulgence/radiance/brightness/brilliance° ‘is like the shining or the brightness of the light of the sun. The Son is the shining, the brightness, of the Father’s glory.’* This is true today and will be visible to all in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemRevelation 21:11 says that New Jerusalem came down “having the glory of God” and verse 23 says “the glory of God illumined” the city New Jerusalem.

With Hebrews and Revelation together, we realize that New Jerusalem has the glory of God because the Son is in New Jerusalem, and that the glory of God illuminates the city because God in the Son shines in it.

God’s glory radiating through Jesus was seen when He took three disciples up the mountain. Matthew 17:2, “He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as the light.” This was a foretaste of the glory of New Jerusalem.

The brilliance on the mountain was temporary but the Lord told us people “will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30). This will be His visible return to earth, preparing the way to New Jerusalem.

In Matthew 24:30, as well as 16:27 and 25:31, Jesus speaks of the Son of Man coming in glory. Hebrews speaks of the effulgence of the Son of God. Both are true because Jesus Christ is both Man and God.

The mountain, the Lord’s coming on the clouds, and New Jerusalem descending introduce three stages of the Son as the brightness of God’s glory.

° various translations, thanks to biblehub.com.
* from footnote on Heb. 1:3 in NT Recovery Version Online.
Photo via Good Free Photos.

 

A Cloud + God’s Voice: Heavenly Revelation

Moses went up to the top of the mountain, heard God’s call, entered into the cloud, and remained there. As a result he received a vision of the tabernacle, a precursor of New Jerusalem.

There are some New Testament records which to me have the same flavor. In Matthew 17 the Lord Jesus took Peter and James and John up to a high mountain privately (v. 1). “He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun” (v. 2). At that time there was a transient appearance of His glory but in New Jerusalem the glory will eternally illuminate the city (Rev. 21:23).

New JerusalemWhile Jesus shone with glory, Moses and Elijah also appeared to the three disciples (v. 3). Peter’s response was to make Moses and Elijah equal to Jesus (v. 4). But, “While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is My Son, the Beloved, in whom I have found My delight. Hear Him!” (v. 5).

Even on the mountain, privately, far from all earthly activities, Peter still needed a cloud to cut off his attention to Moses and Elijah. Are we any different?

After the word, “Hear Him!” the disciples fell down (v. 6). Jesus said “Arise, and do not be afraid. And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.” The cloud plus God’s speaking were effective!

We all need experiences equivalent to those of Moses and the three disciples so that we can see New Jerusalem. The temporal and physical circumstances will be different but the outcome will be a heavenly vision.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

On a Mountain, In a Cloud, New Jerusalem

Last month we concluded the posts on our spiritual journey to a high mountain to see New Jerusalem. This series touched both the Old Testament picture and the New Testament reality.

In the picture, both Exodus 24 and Exodus 34 speak of Moses being in a cloud. To be on a mountain in clear weather affords a great view. But God preferred a cloud. Exodus 24:15 to 25:1:

“Moses went up to the top of the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. And the glory of Jehovah settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud….And Moses entered into the midst of the cloud and went up on the mountain; and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights. Then Jehovah spoke to Moses…”

Exodus 24-25In recent days I have been wondering if one purpose of the cloud is to block our view of things below so that all we can see are the heavenly things on the mountain.

The goal of going up is time in the presence of God. With Him it does not matter if we think the earthly scene is lovely or ugly, encouraging or depressing. The goal of going up is time with Him. For this, it is better to have no distractions—no list of daily chores, no work obligations, no internet, etc.*

Moses was in the cloud forty days—a period of testing. After this test, God began to speak with Him about offering materials for building the tabernacle, the forerunner of New Jerusalem as the eternal tabernacle (Rev. 21:3).

Moses heard the call and entered into the cloud. May we all hear the call to be with God and may we all be willing to enter a cloud, so that we can see nothing but Him. This is the route to the vision of New Jerusalem.

*We do need to care for our daily chores and human obligations but not during our time with the Lord.

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.

God’s Flow Brings Us to New Jerusalem

New JerusalemRecent posts were about our Christian journey to be in spirit on a mountain to see New Jerusalem. One post mentioned John 19:34: when Jesus died on the cross, “one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.”

God’s flowing is unto eternity, unto New Jerusalem. This flowing, including John 19:34, is the subject of a song, which begins,
___A mighty flowing-out is God,
_____He flows throughout the ages.

This flow is to impart God into man so that man may have God’s life and become God’s expression which ultimately is New Jerusalem. We first see this flow in the garden of Eden. The song says,
___In the beginning we can see, God as a flowing river,
___The river to convey the tree, Himself as life deliver.

Although man sinned and was separated from God’s life, God came in Jesus to redeem and to impart His life.
___God flowed Himself into a man, The man we call Christ Jesus.
___He gave up His own life for man And God’s own life releases.
In John 10:10-11 He told us that in death He laid down His soul life for us that we may have eternal life abundantly.

Satan’s opposition backfired; Satan’s scheme failed:
___He [Satan] had Him crucified And cruelly pierced His side—
___But out came blood and water!
___The blood and water flowed from Him, In streams of pure salvation.
___The blood brings cleansing from all sin; Water, regeneration.

In resurrection the Spirit flowed, as promised in John 7:37-39.
___And now the Spirit flows, Brings God where’er He goes.
This flow enlivens all who receive and builds us together in the Body of Christ.

Ultimately, in New Jerusalem is the river of water of life and the tree of life (Rev. 22:1-2).
___And at the end the same, The river doth remain,
___God in the Lamb doth flow, The tree prevails to grow,
___And God flows on forever.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

In Spirit to See and Enter New Jerusalem

New JerusalemThis concludes a series of posts about seeing and entering New Jerusalem. The key is “carried away in spirit onto a great and high mountain” to see this wonderful eternal city (Rev. 21:9-10). Here is a one sentence highlight, a verse reference, and a link for each post.

❖ The consummation of Revelation is New Jerusalem, presented by the Bible in figurative language. We need the Lord to carry us away in spirit to a high mountain to see New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:10-11) and to understand the spiritual significance of all its elements.

In Exodus 24 and 34 Moses was at the top of a mountain, in God’s presence, in glory, and received God’s speaking, including the vision of the tabernacle, a forerunner of New Jerusalem.

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

Israel’s journey to Mt. Sinai portrays our Christian journey to the mountain to see New Jerusalem. The first steps in their journey were redemption, eating the passover lamb and unleavened bread, and crossing the Red Sea.

❖ The next step in Israel’s (and our) journey is to sing and praise the Lord for His victory and His kingdom. This brings us onward to the wonderful experience of the springs of living water.

 Eating the manna (a picture of Christ—John 6) daily and drinking the water (a picture of the Spirit—John 7) out of the rock are essential nourishment for our Christian journey.

❖ On our journey we also need to fight against the flesh but not in our own strength. Rather, “Walk by the Spirit and you shall by no means fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).

❖ In Exodus 19 to 23 God spoke the ten commandments and many supporting ordinances. All God’s words show our shortages apart from Christ. Nevertheless, “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from every sin” (1 John 1:7).

❖ On our Christian journey we need Jesus Christ as our burnt offering, as the person absolute for God. He is our replacement and we are identified with Him. This is portrayed in Leviticus 1:3-4.

 Christ as the burnt offering replaces us by coming into us to live in us and through us. It is by Christ our life and by our walk according to the spirit (Rom. 8:4) that we can see the vision of New Jerusalem.

 When Moses went up the mountain he entered into the cloud (which cut off his view of everything earthly) and was there forty days in the glory of the Lord (Exo. 24:15-16, 18). When we give time to the Lord, He will reveal His heart to us.

 We journey from death and slavery in the world to a spiritual mountain to see and enter New Jerusalem. For this journey, Christ is our life (Col. 3:4) and we walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4).

❖ Our seeing of New Jerusalem depends both on the Lord’s mercy and on our cooperation. By the Lord’s mercy, may we let the Spirit dwell in us, live in us, be active in us, so that the Spirit can reveal more to us (Rev. 21:9-10).

❖ On a mountain the Lord spoke the reality of the kingdom of the heavens, which leads to New Jerusalem. In ourselves we cannot reach this level, but we have the life of our heavenly Father (Matt. 5:48).

❖ The Lord Jesus went to a mountain to present the kingdom (Matt. 5–7), to be transfigured (Matt. 17), to speak about this age and His return (Matt. 24), and to ascend (Acts 1). Our need is to come to Him. “His disciples came to Him” (Matt. 5:1)

❖ Everything written in the Old Testament, including Israel’s journey to Mt. Sinai, is for our instruction, admonition, and encouragement (1 Cor. 10:11, Rom. 15:4). Today, our job is to hold Jesus Christ, who is the reality (Col. 2:16-19).

❖ Recent posts have been about seeing New Jerusalem. After we see, how do we enter into the present reality of New Jerusalem? The answer is in John 3—be born again to see (v. 3) and to enter (v. 5).

❖ In John 3:5 we are born of water (terminating our old life) and the Spirit (generating our new life). In Galatians 2:20 “it is no longer I who live”—my old life, “but it is Christ who lives in me”—my new life. The more Christ lives in us the more we see and enter New Jerusalem.

❖ We need to be uplifted to a high mountain that we may see New Jerusalem as God’s eternal dwelling place for the fulfillment of His eternal purpose. (Rev. 21:9-10)

New Jerusalem

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In Revelation 21:9-10 John tells us that an angel carried him away in spirit to a great and high mountain and showed him the holy city, New Jerusalem. This clearly was not John’s effort. Likewise, our seeing of New Jerusalem is not by our determination nor by our striving. We simply turn to the Lord, open our whole heart to Him, and wait on Him. In His time He will give us the vision of New Jerusalem.

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“One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, Come here; I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he carried me away in spirit onto a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.” (Rev. 21:9-11a)

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)

More Seeing and Entering New Jerusalem

We should all desire to be “carried away in spirit onto a great and high mountain” to see New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-10). The seeing requires us to be “in spirit” and to have completed a spiritual journey (described in prior posts) to a high mountain.

According to John 3:3 and 3:5, when we see, we enter. Both depend on our new birth. The extent of our seeing and entering New Jerusalem matches the extent to which we let the new birth operate in us. This is like a human—birth brings the baby into humanity but the baby requires many years of development to fully see and enter into human life.

John 3:5: Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

New JerusalemIn John 3:5 being born anew has two aspects: water and Spirit. Being born of water is the termination of our old life. How much will we cooperate with the Spirit to apply this termination to our old habits, our old amusements, our old attitudes, and our old goals? This is the denial of our self spoken by the Lord in the gospels (e.g. Matt. 16:24) by cooperating with the indwelling Spirit (Rom. 8:13).

Being born of the Spirit is the enlivening of our human spirit and the joining of the Spirit with our spirit. How much will we live and walk according to this spirit? This is not separate from the first aspect of being born anew. In Galatians 2:20 “it is no longer I who live”—the first aspect, “but it is Christ who lives in me”—the second aspect. The more Christ lives in us the more we see and enter New Jerusalem.

Christ living in us is a matter of faith. Galatians 2:20 continues to say “I live in faith, the faith of the Son of God.” Lord, fill me with Yourself as my faith so that You may live through me. Lord, bring me more into New Jerusalem.

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