The Twelves of New Jerusalem

New JerusalemThe number seven is common early in Revelation. An example is verse 1:4 “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace…from the seven Spirits.”

The number twelve occurs many times in the description of New Jerusalem. Examples: “The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (21:14). “The twelve gates were twelve pearls” (21:21).

Seven is the Triune God (three) with His creatures (four). Twelve is the Triune God mingled with His people.

The book of Revelation begins with the number seven and ends with the number twelve….First, we as creatures have God added to us; then from the time of regeneration God is multiplied within us….The entire city of the New Jerusalem is a mingling of man with God—this is why the whole city is represented by the number twelve….The church must begin with the divine nature being added to the human nature; then each person must be mingled with God….The maturity of the church life is the very mingling of God with man.*

God desires that, in this age, that Christ be formed in us (Gal. 4:19). Romans 8:29 also tells us God’s intention: “those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brothers.”

New Jerusalem is saturated with God and radiates the expression of God. It is the outcome of all that God is doing in this age. God is working now toward this goal. We can cooperate by praying daily Lord, form Yourself within me today; develop a little of New Jerusalem in me now.


The next post will be Monday, December 28.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 19, © LSM.

Image courtesy of pixabay.com.

Two Currents, Each with a City

Revelation 17 begins with an angel speaking to John, “Come here; I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits upon the many waters.” In verse 5 she is named Babylon the Great. In Revelation 21:2 John says, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem.”

New JerusalemThroughout the Scriptures there are two currents with two cities. One current is of Satan, and the other is of God. With the current of Satan there is a city called Babylon the Great (17:5), and with the current of God there is the holy city, New Jerusalem (21:2). The book of Revelation unveils these two cities. Babylon the Great is none other than the mingling of Satan with the human race. In the eyes of God, Babylon consists of all the worldly people. On the other hand, the New Jerusalem is the mingling of God with His people.*

The current of Satan is visible from Genesis 3 and concludes in Revelation 20 when he was cast into the lake of fire. The current of God was hidden in Him from eternity (Rom. 16:25). It’s manifestation begins with His creation of the universe, which focuses on the heavens, the earth, and the spirit of man (Zech. 12:1).

God’s current was a mystery, hidden from man before the incarnation of His Son, but now it has been made known (Eph. 1:9). Paul labored “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). New Jerusalem is the consummation of this mystery.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 18, © LSM

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

Filled with God’s Holiness for the Holy City

John writes, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem” (Rev. 21:2). The holy city is holy because God is holy.

New JerusalemHoliness is the nature of God. Love reveals God’s heart, righteousness is God’s way, and holiness is God’s nature. Only God Himself is holy, for only God is separated and uniquely different from everything else. The New Jerusalem is a city which is absolutely saturated and mingled with God; therefore, it is absolutely holy. It is entirely different from all other things….If we have some experience of God in Christ being mingled with us, we experience holiness in that very thing. …To be holy means to have something of God mingled with us. Holiness is not a matter of action but a matter of nature, for holiness is God’s nature. It is not what we do but how much we have been mingled with God.*

First Peter 1:16 is God’s command, “You shall be holy because I am holy.” How shall we be holy? Verse 14 says we are God’s children; as children we have something from our Father. It also says we should obey and not live in our former lusts; this is to cooperate with God’s holiness in us.

Hebrews 12:10 says that God, our Father, disciplines us “for what is profitable that we might partake of His holiness.” Sometimes we need His discipline to remind us to cooperate or to stop us from our former lusts. The goal is not discipline but holiness, to prepare us for New Jerusalem.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 18, © 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.

God’s Building Work with Man (2)

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel” (which is translated, God with us)” (Matt. 1:23). From eternity Jesus Christ was God and from the time of Matthew 1 He was a man. Hence He became a God-man.

From the time of God’s incarnation as man, especially during a period of thirty-three and a half years, there was a man on this earth with God in Him. Jesus was a real man, a typical man, yet the Mighty God was wrought into Him. God had come to be a man, and God was brought into man. However, that is not all. The Lord Jesus also brought man into God. He accomplished this by His death and resurrection. Today in the heavens there is a man in God. By Christ’s incarnation God was brought into man, and by His death, resurrection, and ascension man has been brought into God.*

New JerusalemThrough His death and resurrection, and our response by believing, God has come into us and we have been brought into God. Colossians 1:27 tells us that Christ is in us. He is God and He is in all the believers. Romans 6:11 speaks of our “living to God in Christ Jesus” and 8:1 of “those who are in Christ Jesus.” Even though our physical location is on earth, our spiritual location is in Christ Jesus.

God is in us and we are in Him. This is not static; it totally depends on His resurrection life. This life grows in us and brings our practical living into God. By this we are built together with other believers. This is God’s building work, of which New Jerusalem will be the peak.

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 17

God’s Building Work with Man

New Jerusalem John 1:1. 14 tell us, “The Word was God….And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us (and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only Begotten from the Father), full of grace and reality.” This God-man tabernacle was the beginning of God’s building work.

Then in John 2 the Lord Jesus told the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Here, “He spoke of the temple of His body” (v. 19, 21). He replaced the Old Testament shadows and began the reality of God’s building which brings us to New Jerusalem.

When the Word of God, God Himself, became incarnated as a man, this was…a real mingling of God with man. Before this time God was God and man was man. But at the time of incarnation and since that time, something has happened on this earth—God has mingled Himself with man. Most Christians are familiar with Isaiah 9:6, yet few have been impressed that a child was born on this earth whose name was called Mighty God. If this were not recorded in the Scriptures, no one would believe that a child could be called Mighty God. This child was both the tabernacle and the temple, the very building of God (John 1:14; 2:19). Divinity had been mingled with humanity—this is the real definition of God’s building.*

Through His death and resurrection all the believers were brought into this mingled divine-human building work, but not into the Godhead. Christ is now making His home in our hearts (Eph. 3) and we are growing up into Him (Eph. 4). This is the mingling process which “causes the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love.” The consummation of the building work is at the end of the Bible—New Jerusalem!

* Excerpt from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 17
Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

God’s Creation Work and Building Work

In Revelation 21:1-2, John the apostle tells us, “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. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

Heaven and earth represent God’s work of creation, but the New Jerusalem represents God’s work of building….Genesis 1 and 2 record God’s creation work, but from Genesis 3 to the end of the Scriptures God is continually working for His building.*

The Old Testament has pictures of God’s building, including Abraham’s tent, the tabernacle, and the temple. The New Testament has the reality, including what is presented in Matthew 16, 1 Corinthians 3 and 14, Ephesians 2 and 4, 1 Peter 2, and mentioned in additional chapters.

New JerusalemLet us recall the vital meaning of God’s building; it is that God is building Himself into man and building man into Himself. It is the very mingling of God and man. Throughout all generations God has been working along this line for this purpose. The Scriptures mainly reveal that God’s whole work since creation has been to mingle° Himself and man together as one.*

One passage about God built into man is Galatians 4:19, “My children, with whom I travail again in birth until Christ is formed in you,” Man built into God is seen in Ephesians 2:20-22, “…Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone; in whom all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit.”

God and man built into one another is not within our natural concept but it is in God’s heart and presented through many verses in the New Testament. New Jerusalem is the conclusion and full display of this building work.

* Excerpts from The Vision of God’s Building by Witness Lee, chapter 17
° Mingle: man participates in God’s life and nature (2 Peter 1:4) but NOT in His Godhead.

Our Priesthood, Now & New Jerusalem (2)

Revelation 22:3 says that in New Jerusalem, God’s slaves will serve Him as priests. Slaves and priests is also our status now. Jesus Christ “loves us and has released us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.”

Luke 2 presents the widow Anna as a good example of serving as a priest. She “did not depart from the temple, serving God with fastings and petitions night and day.” Persevering prayer, even while we care for our human affairs, is a key to serving. This per-severing prayer is with rejoicing in Romans 12:12 and with thanksgiving in Colossians 4:2.

New JerusalemIn Acts 24 and 27 Paul declared that he served God as a priest. And he told the Romans, “I serve in my spirit in the gospel of His Son” (1:9). Our human spirit was created to contain the Holy Spirit; by the mingling of these two spirits (e.g. Rom. 8:16) we can satisfy God in our service. This matches New Jerusalem, a spiritual city.

“We are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3). When we serve in our spirit we are also “serving by the Spirit.” We do not use confidence in natural ability but we depend on the Spirit dwelling in us (Rom. 8:9, 11).

This is the way we will serve in New Jerusalem. May we learn this now and experience a foretaste of New Jerusalem.

The Spirit and the Bride Mingled as One

New Jerusalem is introduced in Revelation 21:2 as both the holy city and the bride. In 21:9 an angel tells us that the bride is “the wife of the Lamb,” who is Jesus Christ.

The bride has been sanctified (made holy) and renewed to match the holy and new nature of New Jerusalem. This occurs by our cooperation with the indwelling Spirit.

Revelation 22:17 says, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come!” In Revelation 2 and 3, it is the Spirit speaking to the churches (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22), but at the end of the whole Bible it is the Spirit and the bride speaking together. The Spirit is the ultimate consummation of the Triune God as the Bridegroom; the bride is the ultimate consummation of the redeemed man. After this universal marriage, the Triune God and redeemed man are not separate. They do not speak separately, but the two have become one couple, so there is the speaking of the Spirit and the bride together. Hallelujah, God and man are mingled and united to become the universal and eternal couple, moving together and speaking together!*

New JerusalemChrist has redeemed us from sin, death, and God’s judgment. Redemption brings us to life. Galatians 3:13 proclaims our redemption and 3:14 says that we have received the promise of the Spirit, who is life.

This living Spirit in us does the sanctifying and renewing work so that the bride may be prepared. Then the Spirit and the bride respond to the Lord Jesus, saying Come! He will come quickly to take His bride, the holy city, New Jerusalem.

Five Great Mysteries in the Bible, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem is the Mingling of The Triune God with His People

God has been seeking a dwelling with man since creation. Many stages of this dwelling developed through the Old and New Testaments, culminating in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemAn early picture of this dwelling, this building, is Abraham’s tent with his altar in front of it, a miniature of the tabernacle with an altar built centuries later. At that time God told Moses, “Let them make a sanctuary for Me that I may dwell in their midst” (Exo. 25:8).

In the Old Testament, due to the fall of man, God could only dwell with man, not in man. But the redemption obtained by the Lord Jesus cleansed man.

In the New Testament God does not dwell ‘with man’ but ‘in man.’ Even before accomplishing redemption, the Lord Jesus spoke of this. “You will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14:20). “Abide in Me and I in you” (John 15:4).

In the epistles many verses speak of us being in Christ and Christ being in us. This is mutual indwelling, also called coinherence or mingling. The ultimate stage of this coinherence is New Jerusalem.

The New Jerusalem is a full picture of the mingling of the Triune God with His redeemed creatures, the mingling of divinity with humanity. Now God is no longer merely a God outside of man. He is a God within man.

For eternity God will dwell in His people and His people in Him. This mutual dwelling is New Jerusalem.

* The Building of God, chapter 1, by Witness Lee.

Deny the Self for New Jerusalem

New JerusalemWe have, objectively, all that Christ accomplished through His death and resurrection. Now this must become our constitution by Christ increasing in us and our self decreasing.

This decrease is through our denying our self to apply, in spirit, the death of Christ to our natural being. Our denying ourself is part of our journey through the cross to New Jerusalem.

The Lord’s words about denying our self, our soul life, our natural life, are in five different chapters. In Matthew 10:38 He said, “he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” The next sentence has denying the soul life. If we do not take our cross / deny our soul life, we are not worthy of Him. How then could we be worthy to participate in New Jerusalem?

In Matthew 16 the Lord spoke again about denying the self, taking the cross, and losing the soul life. This is in the context of His building the church, his Body, which He is building by flowing out through His members, as revealed in Ephesians 4:15-16. His Body, composed of Him mingled with His believers as the members of His Body, is the forerunner of New Jerusalem.

 

God’s Slaves Serve in New Jerusalem (2)

Revelation 22:3b says, “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [New Jerusalem], and His slaves will serve Him.” Looking at our service now gives us insight into how we will serve in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemThe foundation of our serving is what Jesus Christ accomplished in His death and resurrection. He “released us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father” (Rev. 1:5-6).

Hebrews 9:14 also links the blood of Jesus and our serving, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Part of Revelation 7:14-15 is “they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Because of this they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple.” The washing of our robes, our conduct, is by receiving the forgiveness of sins accomplished by Jesus Christ.

This washing of sins has two stages. One is by our repenting at the initial time of our salvation. The other is throughout our Christian life by our confessing of sins for His cleansing (1 John 1:9). The first brings us before the throne and the second keeps us before the throne so  that we may serve God—both now and in New Jerusalem.

In Romans 1:9 Paul says, “God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit…” In Philippians 3:3 we “…serve by the Spirit of God…” Serving as priests must be in the Spirit with our human spirit. Without this mingled spirit, whatever we do is not serving God as a priest.

In John 4:24 Jesus says, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness.” There is no serving God in worship without the mingled spirit.

Our serving now, and in New Jerusalem, is based on redemption and in spirit.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Nations around New Jerusalem (2)

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the mingling of the Triune God and His chosen, redeemed, regenerated, and matured people. Around New Jerusalem on the new earth are the peoples (Rev. 21:3), the nations (Rev. 21:24).

* The [nations] will be judged by Christ at the throne of His glory when He comes back to earth….The justified ones, the “sheep,” will be blessed and will inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:31-46). Unlike the New Testament believers, the “sheep” will not be saved and regenerated; they will only be restored to the original state of man as he was created by God….After the millennial kingdom, a part of these nations, deceived by the devil, will rebel against the Lord and will be consumed by fire from heaven (20:7-9). The rest will be transferred to the new earth to be the nations, which will live around the New Jerusalem and walk by its light….They, as created but unregenerated men, will be maintained to live forever in their created state through the healing of the leaves of the tree of life (22:2). Even for them there will be no more death (v. 4). Under the shining of the New Jerusalem with the divine glory, neither will they be in darkness.

The peoples are restored but not regenerated. They belong to God but they are not His sons born of His life. Hence they cannot participate in the oneness of New Jerusalem.

First Corinthians 2:6-13 speaks of the things which God prepared “before the ages” for those who love Him, those who are born of the Spirit. The timing of this preparation is different from the blessing “prepared for you [the sheep] from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34). This shows another distinction between those who are constituents of New Jerusalem and those who are around New Jerusalem.

Thank the Lord that the door is open today to receive Him as life to become part of New Jerusalem!

Note 1 on Rev. 21:24 in The Holy Bible, Rec. Version published and © by Living Stream Ministry.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

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