The Light of the World, A City (2)

The Lord Jesus told His disciples, “You are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14). “You” (plural) are “the light” (singular). All of us, as His disciples, are a corporate light to the world. Eventually Jesus Christ, the Lamb, shines within New Jerusalem to be light to the universe.

New JerusalemJesus continued, saying, “It is impossible for a city situated upon a mountain to be hidden.” We, the corporate light, with Him shining within and through us, are the unhidden city. Ultimately we are New Jerusalem, His expression to the universe.

All who have believed into Jesus Christ are today His body (Rom. 12:5). We are all the one new man (Eph. 2:15. We are all God’s spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5). We are all the city of Matthew 5. And we will all be the eternal city, New Jerusalem. Matthew 5:14 is a foretaste of New Jerusalem. The body, new man, house, and city are God’s eternal purpose—a living, corporate expression of Himself in a corporate humanity filled with Himself.

In position, we are in this corporate entity, but we need care to keep our living according to it. The Lord told us, “let your light shine before men,” not hiding it under a bushel (Matt. 5:15-16). A bushel is for measuring grain, food. We should not hide our light by being overly occupied with our jobs, anxious to earn a living to take care of our eating (Matt. 6:25, 31).

Since we are “light in the Lord,” Ephesians 5 charges us to “walk as children of light.” In position we are light but we need to walk in the Lord, loving Him, musing on His word, and opening ourselves to Him in prayer. The shining that results from walking in light is a precursor of New Jerusalem as the unhidden city on a mountain.

Photo by Allan Shimada, courtesy of U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Exodus, Ezekiel, Revelation

There are similarities in the presentation of God’s move on earth in the books of Exodus, Ezekiel, and Revelation.

Exodus 2 has some human history of Moses. Exodus 3 begins to unveil God’s revelation and speaking to Moses and God’s instruction for him to speak to Israel, God’s people. Through the book of Exodus, although Israel often was not faithful, God accomplished what he had promised. The second half of Exodus is primarily the revelation of the plan for the tabernacle, the work of preparing it, and its completion. The conclusion of Exodus is ” the glory of Jehovah filled the tabernacle” (40:34).

#NewJerusalemEzekiel 1 begins with one man, Ezekiel. It quickly progresses to God’s revelation and speaking to him (Ezek. 1), and then God’s instruction for him to speak to Israel (Ezek. 2–3). Thereafter is a long section with God’s judgment on Israel (again showing their unfaithfulness) and the nations.

Beginning in Ezekiel 33 God comes to recover His people inwardly, giving them a new heart and a new spirit and putting His Spirit within them (36:26-27) and accomplishing other things for His purpose. Then, from chapter 40, God reveals His house and the river of living water in the good land. In this revelation, the glory of God fills His house (43:4, 44:4).

Revelation begins with God’s revelation and speaking to John, and then God’s instruction for him to write to the churches (1:11, 19). Revelation 2–3 speak about the churches, both their strong points and their unfaithfulness. Following this are many judgments. Finally, it unveils God’s building, the city New Jerusalem, “having the glory of God” (21:11).

The parallels in these three books are simple even though the details have spiritual depth. God speaks to one man, tells him to speak to God’s people, judges both God’s people and the nations, and ultimately gains a building He fills with glory. Thus we can see that Exodus and Ezekiel show us in typology the path from God’s revelation to New Jerusalem.

The Church, Forerunner of New Jerusalem

The church is both singular, universal and plural, in many cities. The universal church includes all believers in the New Testament age. As such, it is the forerunner of New Jerusalem which includes all God’s people of the Old and New Testament ages.

Here we look at verses about the nature of the church, which also give us a view of the nature of New Jerusalem. First, in Matthew 16:18, the Lord Jesus speaks of “My church.” The church is His. Likewise, New Jerusalem is His. More specifically, it is His bride, His wife. An angel said to the apostle John, “I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb….and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem” (Rev. 21:9-10).

New JerusalemIn Acts 20:28 (and 1 Cor. 1:2, 1 Tim. 3:5, and other verses) is “the church of God.” The church, and New Jerusalem, are certainly of God as the source and of God as the element, the content (like “a table of wood” is made of wood).

In 1 Timothy 3:15 is “the house of God, which is the church of the living God.” And, in Hebrews 12:22 is “the city of the living God.” Both the church, the house, and New Jerusalem, the city, have the living God as their source and their element. Both the church and New Jerusalem are alive with the life of God.

The church is not a physical structure. Rather, the church, and New Jerusalem, are “the household of God” (many translations of 1 Tim. 3:15), the people of God. God is the element of New Jerusalem and we, His people, are the living components containing this living element. God is living and both the church and New Jerusalem are living organisms.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem, City of the Living God

New JerusalemRevelation 21–22 presents a vision of the holy city, New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven to the new earth. Let’s look at descriptions of this holy city in other books of the Bible.

Hebrews 12:22 speaks of “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” The living God desires a living city composed of all His redeemed and regenerated people.

When we are made alive with the divine life in regeneration, we become “sons of the living God” (Rom. 9:26) to be “the temple of the living God (2 Cor. 6:6) and “the house of God, the church of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15). These consummate in New Jerusalem, the city of the living God.

Revelation 21:23 says of New Jerusalem, “the glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” This combination of city and light reminds me of Matthew 5:14-16. Verse 14 says, “You are the light of the world. It is impossible for a city situated upon a mountain to be hidden.” Although New Jerusalem is not said to be “upon a mountain,” it will be very prominent in the new creation, in no way hidden.

 Today the kingdom people, with Christ shining within us, are the light to the fallen world. In eternity we, built into the city with Christ continuing to shine within us, will enlighten the new creation.

Hebrews 12 presents the city of the living God. Hebrews 11 also speaks about New Jerusalem: “the city which has the foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God” (v. 10) and “He [God] has prepared a city for them [the people of faith]” (v. 16).

Here are some prior posts about the God-prepared city in Hebrews 11.
We Enter New Jerusalem by Faith
Enter into What God Has Prepared
God Has Prepared the City, But …
God Has Prepared, We are Experiencing

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

A House and a City Built Together in Christ

New Jerusalem

Revelation is a book of signs (1:1). New Jerusalem is the consummate sign in Revelation and in the Bible. It is God and all His redeemed people living in mutuality.

Here is an excerpt* about New Jerusalem from the ministry of Witness Lee.

The New Jerusalem is not an actual city just as the lampstands are not actual lampstands but signs of the churches [Rev. 1:20]. The New Jerusalem is a great sign of the totality of all God’s chosen, redeemed, regenerated, and transformed people. The church today is a house, the house of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15). The house of God today is not an actual house but the totality of God’s people. The church today as God’s temple, God’s house, God’s building, is not an actual physical building but is a sign signifying that the church’s function is to be a house in which the Triune God can dwell.

Today the church is a house, and in eternity the church will be enlarged. When the church is enlarged, it becomes a city. The church as a house is not an actual physical house in the same way that the church enlarged to be the holy city will not be an actual physical city. The New Jerusalem is a city signifying the church’s function in eternity to be God’s dwelling place.

The church today, all the believers in Christ Jesus built together in Him, is a precursor of New Jerusalem. Many verses in the New Testament present this view, and no verse treats the church as a physical building.

Ephesians 2:19-20 declares that we are “members of the household of God, being built…” We, not a physical structure, get built together. Verse 21 continues, “In whom [Christ Jesus] all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” We are being built together in Him, not in a physical location. Also, this building is growing because its essence is the divine life.

First Peter 2:4-5 tells us that “coming to Him, a living Stone…you yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house.” Very clear. This is the living house of the living God in 1 Timothy 3:15.

Other verses in the New Testament say the same: we are the materials being built together, the building process is growth in the divine life, and the building work is going on in Christ. These same characteristics are true of New Jerusalem, which is the consummation of all the building and growth in the Bible.

* Witness Lee, The Divine Economy, Chapter 15, published and © by Living Stream Ministry. Read more of this excerpt online. Many other books by Witness Lee may be read online here.

Christ, God’s House, God’s City, the Earth

God intends that Christ have the preeminence in all things (Col. 1:18) and that Christ be all in all the believers (Col. 3:10-11). Our experience of Christ brings us into the reality of God’s house, which is the church today (1 Tim. 3:15) and New Jerusalem in eternity. The enlargement of God’s house is God’s city. Through the house and city God in Christ will reign over and bless the whole earth.

Here is a song about Christ, house, city, earth (music). This song captures the high points of messages on Christ and the Church Revealed and Typified in the Psalms (book)*.

www.hymnal.net:en:hymn:h:1224

Here is the summary of posts about New Jerusalem typified in Psalms, with a link to each.

Psalms with a shadow of New Jerusalem—an overview.

Psalms 2-22: New Jerusalem is a city in Christ’s resurrection.
Psalms 22-27: redeemed by Christ’s death and regenerated for New Jerusalem.
Psalms 29-46: shadows of New Jerusalem’s river of life.

Psalms 36-50: God’s lovingkindness and light, our singing and praising.
Psalms 66, 68: we rejoice in Christ’s victory.
Psalms 73, 84: we dwell in God’s house today; He will bring us to New Jerusalem’s glory.

Psalms 87-98: we dwell in Christ now and in eternity.
Psalms 100-107: we, in New Jerusalem, and the nations around the city, will praise.
Psalms 110-118: we go through gates of righteousness to praise God in His house.

Hebrews 2, quoting Psalm 8: today we do not see all that God has done but we see Jesus.
Psalm 118 (2): Christ is the Cornerstone; God’s building, now and eternally, is in Christ.
Psalm 118 (3): we rejoice, bless the Lord, are built together, & await His second coming.

Psalm 122, 132: we go with rejoicing to God’s house and city to enjoy Christ together.
Psalms 133-136: we are one in Christ Jesus and in His life, now and in New Jerusalem.
Psalms 135-147: O Jehovah, Yours is an eternal kingdom, manifested in New Jerusalem.

Psalms 138-145: Jehovah is much to be praised; His greatness is unsearchable.
Psalms 145-150: hallelujah…praise Him…praise Him…sing His praise.

This and many other books by Witness Lee may be read online here.

Shadows of New Jerusalem, Psalms 135-147

Christ brings us to God’s house, which is enlarged to be His city Jerusalem on the mount of Zion, a blessing to the whole earth. This is one of the last looks at verses in Psalms which present something to be fulfilled in New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem and the new heaven and new earth are eternal. Eternity is mentioned in many Psalms including these:
Psalm 135:13 ” O Jehovah, Your name is forever; O Jehovah, Your memorial is from generation to generation.”
New JerusalemPsalm 136 “His lovingkindness is forever” (in each of the 26 verses)
Psalm 145:13 “Your kingdom is an eternal kingdom, and Your dominion is throughout all generations.”
Psalm 145:21b, “all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.”
Psalm 146:10 Jehovah will reign forever, your God, O Zion, forever and ever. Hallelujah!

In New Jerusalem we will be in God’s kingdom and we will be partaking of His lovingkindness forever. Hence, we will bless God forever.

Psalm 142:5, “I cried to You, O Jehovah; I said, You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” God Himself, not a physical location, is our real refuge. Today in Christ we are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) and in eternity the entire universe will be a new creation (Rev. 21:1-2).

Psalm 147:2a, “Jehovah builds up Jerusalem.” And He builds up New Jerusalem. Jesus Christ said, “I will build.” He builds by operating in and through the members of His Body. By living one with Christ, Paul could say that he was “a wise master builder” (1 Cor. 3:10). We all, by continually coming to the Lord “are being built up as a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:4-5). This current building of the Body of Christ is the forerunner of New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of NOAA/U.S. Department of Commerce.

Shadows of New Jerusalem in Psalm 118 (3)

Psalm 118:22-23 is about Christ Jesus, rejected by the Jewish leaders, becoming the Cornerstone in resurrection. This Cornerstone is for building God’s house which expands to God’s city, His kingdom, and blesses the whole earth. Ultimately this is New Jerusalem with the fullest blessing to the new earth.

NGC 6496, NASA Goddard Space Flight CenterPsalm 118:24 continues, “This is the day that Jehovah has made; let us exult and rejoice in it.” It is possible to rejoice in every day that the Lord gives us. However, in context, this verse points specifically to the day of resurrection, the day in which Christ became the Cornerstone.

Whenever we are living Christ, we are living in resurrection. Here (in resurrection) we are being built together with other believers. Here we are richly supplied and knit together (Col. 2:19). Here we are entering the reality of New Jerusalem.

Psalm 118:25 says, “O Jehovah, do save, we pray! O Jehovah, do send prosperity, we pray!” This is not pointing to a physical salvation nor to material prosperity. Rather, it is about God saving us in resurrection into His building, which is in Christ Jesus the Cornerstone (Eph. 2:20-22). New Jerusalem is the final outcome of this salvation and is our utmost blessing. Let us follow Psalm 118 and pray for this kind of salvation and blessing.

Psalm 118:26 says, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of Jehovah; we bless you from the house of Jehovah.” This was spoken by the crowd when Jesus entered Jerusalem shortly before His death (Luke 19:37-38) and will be spoken again when He returns again (Luke 13:35).

In these few verses we exult, rejoice, and bless the Lord. We are being built together in Him. His second coming, with more rejoicing, brings us closer to New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God (Rev. 21:2).

Photo courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center 

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.

Shadows of New Jerusalem in Psalms 73, 84

In the Psalms we see many prophecies and allusions to Christ. Through believing into Christ, He brings us into God’s house, the church, which is typified in Psalms. The enlargement of the house is God’s kingdom, mentioned in Psalms and portrayed by earthly Jerusalem. Through the kingdom, God will bring peace and joy to the whole earth, as also foreseen in Psalms. This post resumes a series looking at prophecies and shadows in Psalms of Christ, God’s house and city, and God’s reign over the earth.

Eternally, Christ is the center of New Jerusalem, God’s ultimate house and city for His reign over the earth.

Psalm 73:23-24, “I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will receive me in glory.” Despite all the troubles in the world, like those in the earlier parts of Psalm 73, we need to look to Christ and God’s house and city; this is the way to be “continually with” the Lord. And He will receive us into glory—New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemPsalm 84:1, “How lovely are Your tabernacles, O Jehovah of hosts!” Revelation 21:2-3, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem…the tabernacle of God.”

Psalm 84:4, “Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they will yet be praising You.” Today we are blessed to dwell and praise God in the church, the house of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15); more dwelling, blessing, and praising await in New Jerusalem.

Psalm 84:5, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.” We are in Christ and in God’s house and kingdom, but because of Christ’s unlimited fullness and our limited experience, we have much more entering to do. Lord, fill our hearts with the highways to Zion; we long for more of You, Your house and city.

Psalm 84:10a, “a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.” This was true when the Psalmist spoke, it is true today, and it will be true in New Jerusalem.

Psalm 84:11 (mid), “Jehovah gives grace and glory.” Grace is Christ with us today— “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit” (Phil. 4:23). Glory will be manifested at the Lord’s return— “He comes to be glorified in His saints” (2 Thes. 1:10)—and in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

 

Shadows of New Jerusalem in Psalms 2-22

Here is the first group of verses from Psalms comparable to or shadows of characteristics of New Jerusalem. Key words for selecting these verses are Christ, house, city, earth.

Psalm 2:7-8  “I will recount the decree of Jehovah; He said to Me: You are My Son; today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give the nations as Your inheritance and the limits of the earth as Your possession.” This is quoted in Acts 13:33, where the begetting is the resurrection of Christ. This is the starting point for New Jerusalem, a city in resurrection. Ultimately, as the resurrected One, Christ will possess the earth.

New JerusalemPsalm 8:9, “O Jehovah our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!” Like Psalm 2, this is another exuberant declaration of Christ’s reign over the whole earth in the kingdom age and in eternity.

Psalm 16:9, “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy.” New Jerusalem is a city of life through which flows the river of life with the tree of life (Rev. 22:1-2). And the city will be full of joy.

The words at the top of Psalm 22 mention the hind of the dawn. This is an allusion to Christ in resurrection (Song of Songs 2:8-9). This resurrected One is the reality of every aspect of New Jerusalem, the city of resurrection.

Although Christ and New Jerusalem were not plainly revealed to the psalmists, in their love for God they prophesied concerning Christ and expressed a foretaste of New Jerusalem.

The first verse of a song about Christ, house, city, earth:
_We from the law to Christ have turned;
_To trust in Him by grace we’ve learned.
_And since His glory we’ve discerned
__We only care for Christ!
___We only care for Christ!
___We only care for Christ!
___And since His glory we’ve discerned
____We only care for Christ!

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Psalms with a Shadow of New Jerusalem

In the Psalms there are five crucial words: law, Christ, house, city, earth. With our New Testament view, we know that Christ has replaced the law (Rom. 7:4, 10:4, Gal. 2:16). Christ is presented by many verses in Psalms which are quoted and applied to Him in the New Testament.

Christ comes into us at regeneration and grows within us. This growth yields God’s house, God’s dwelling place, the church—portrayed by the temple in the Psalms. Further strengthening of Christ in us brings forth God’s kingdom—depicted by the city of Jerusalem in the Psalms. Eventually through the kingdom, God in Christ rules over the whole earth.

New Jerusalem

The four words Christ, house, city, earth were the focus of a conference published in the book Christ and the Church Revealed and Typified in the Psalms. During the conference a theme song (words and music) was written; the first lines of each stanza are: 
__
We from the law to Christ have turned
___Christ brings us to God’s house to dwell
____The house enlarged the city is
_____From Zion Christ will take the earth
______Christ—house—the city—earth, we see;
______Thus God’s great plan fulfilled will be.
Complete stanzas of the song will appear in coming posts.

In a recent reading of Psalms and the Life-Study of Psalms, I saw many verses comparable to or shadows of characteristics of New Jerusalem. In this series of posts I present some verses from Psalms with few comments about their correspondence to New Jerusalem.

In brief, God in Christ is on the throne (Rev. 22:1) as the center of New Jerusalem. God and the Lamb are the temple (Rev. 21:22), equivalent to the house in Psalms. New Jerusalem is a city (Rev. 21:2), the heavenly counterpart on earth of the earthly Jerusalem in Psalms. From New Jerusalem God in Christ rules over the entire new earth.

 

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