New Jerusalem: Dwelling Place of God (2)

In Genesis 2 we read that “a river went forth from Eden to water the garden.” In New Jerusalem John was shown “a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb in the middle of its street.”

We see that the dwelling place God prepared for man in the beginning was a paradise and that the dwelling place God prepares for man in the end is also a paradise. Both are pleasant places, and their contents are also similar. The two paradises both have the tree of life and a river, and both have pure gold, pearl, and precious stones. This shows that the dwelling place God prepared for man in the beginning is the same as the one He prepares for man at the end. The two places have almost the same contents. This shows that what God did in the beginning was related to His ultimate purpose, and God’s ultimate purpose is revealed in what He did in the beginning.*

New JerusalemThe materials in the garden and in New Jerusalem  are the same. However, in the garden the materials are present but not built together as they are in the city.

God’s building work is going on through human history. In Genesis 12 Abraham’s tent was a small symbol of the dwelling place God desires. Later, the tabernacle and temple were much larger symbols and included precious materials. Today we are being built in reality to be “a dwelling place of God in spirit.”

By “coming to Him, a living stone” we also “as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:4-5). New Jerusalem is the consummation of this living building, a living composition of God and all His people.


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

Much more about the garden of Eden and New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

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)

 

Bricks or Precious Stones?

New JerusalemJohn was carried away in spirit to a wilderness to see Babylon the harlot (Rev. 17) and carried away in spirit to a high mountain see New Jerusalem, the wife of the Lamb (Rev. 21). The difference in locations reveals the difference in nature of these two women.

Genesis 11 records the building of Babel, the predecessor of Babylon. The builders said to one another (v. 3), “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and they had tar for mortar.”

God’s building is of stones (Matt. 16:18; 1 Pet. 2:5; Rev. 21:18-20), produced by God’s divine work, whereas Babel was of bricks, which are the result of human labor through the burning of the God-created earth. In figure, the earth signifies humanity (Gen. 2:7; Matt. 13: 3-8; 1 Cor. 15:47a). Satan kills the element within man that grows the divine life, by burning it out, and it misuses man to build up a man-made and godless life.*

Satan kills but Jesus Christ gives life. When He becomes our life through regeneration, God’s building work of life begins in us. An example is in 1 Peter: we are regenerated by incorruptible seed (1:23), we taste the Lord and grow by drinking the nourishing milk of His word (2:2-3), and we are living stones for the building of God’s spiritual house.

The consummation of this house is New Jerusalem. God’s life brings us here and builds us into this glorious city.

* Part of footnote 1 on Genesis 11:3 in The Recovery Version of the Bible, © LSM.

From the Garden to New Jerusalem

New JerusalemIn Genesis 1 God created by speaking everything into being. However, God does not speak New Jerusalem into being. New Jerusalem comes out of God’s building work by His life imparted into and developing within His people.

God’s desire for a building in His life is shown in Genesis 2. Man was placed in the garden with a tree and river portraying God as life. In the river there were precious materials for God’s building. The conclusion of Genesis 2 is a bride for Adam.

At the beginning of the Scripture in God’s old creation there was a garden, the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:8). At the end of the Scripture in God’s new creation there will be a city, the city of the New Jerusalem. The garden and the city at the two ends of the Scripture reflect each other, with the tree of life which is in both of them as the link (Gen. 2:9; Rev. 22:2). The garden was the issue of God’s creation; whereas the city will be the consummation of God’s building, a building which God has been carrying out through all the dispensations.*

New Jerusalem is both a city built with precious materials and the bride for the Lamb, Jesus Christ. It is built with the flow of life out from Christ (Eph. 4:15-16) and is maintained eternally by this flow (Rev. 22:1).

Conclusion of the New Testament, The, chapter 13, by Witness Lee

Much more about the garden of Eden and New Jerusalem

The Three Materials of New Jerusalem Signify the Triune God.

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the eternal dwelling of the Triune God with His people. New Jerusalem is constructed with gold, pearls, and precious stones. These signify the Triune God and His operation for and in His people.

Revelation has many other aspects such as beasts, fightings, and judgements. However, none of these are the focus of God’s revelation. Rather, they show what God does to clear away the old creation, the creation corrupted by Satan, in order to bring forth the new heavens and new earth with New Jerusalem at their center.

The three sections of the New Jerusalem are constructed with three kinds of materials, or three kinds of elements. The number three is a particular number in the universe, signifying the Triune God. The Triune God is the number three. Every number in the Bible has its meaning, and three signifies the Triune God. Therefore, the three kinds of materials in the New Jerusalem no doubt signify the Triune God.*

The gold signifies the Father’s divine nature, the pearls signify the Son’s work through death and resurrection, and the precious stones signify the Spirit’s transformation of the believers. The Triune God and His operation for and in the believers is the intrinsic essence of New Jerusalem, and New Jerusalem is an eternal display of the Triune God.

* The Organic Union in God’s Relationship with Man, chapter 6, by Witness Lee.

The Gold, Pearls, and Precious Stones of New Jerusalem Portray God

New JerusalemRevelation is a book of spiritual signs (1:1). For example, in 1:20 the Lord Jesus tells us that the seven lampstands are signs of the seven churches and the seven stars signify the messengers of the churches.

New Jerusalem, the conclusion of Revelation and of the whole Bible, is described in Revelation 21–22. The city has many spiritual signs, including those of its appearance, size, and materials. Here is something about the spiritual significance of the materials.

The New Jerusalem has three sections. The city proper, or the city itself, is pure gold (21:18b). This means that the base of the city is gold. The second part of the city is its twelve gates, each of which is a pearl (vv. 12-13, 21). The third part of the city is the wall with its foundations, all of which are precious stones (vv. 14, 18a, 19-20). The entire wall is jasper, and the foundation of the wall has twelve layers. The first layer of the foundation also is jasper. Revelation 4:2-3a tells us that God’s appearance is like jasper. Thus, in appearance the city is exactly the same as God. God appears like jasper, and the city also appears like jasper.*

The base of New Jerusalem is the divine nature, portrayed by gold. Nothing natural, nothing of the old creation can support this marvelous city. On this base and with the jasper, New Jerusalem has the same appearance as God because the purpose of the city is to express God, to manifest His glory.

* The Organic Union in God’s Relationship with Man, chapter 6, by Witness Lee.


TO MY READERS:

Most of the posts in the coming months will include quotes from the website Excerpts from Books by Watchman Nee and Witness Lee by Living Stream Ministry. Each post will identify the specific source for the quotation.

This week my blog returns to three posts a week, ending the two posts a week which began in November.

The Garden of Eden and New Jerusalem      in Song (4)

A hymn presents characteristics of New Jerusalem which are seen figuratively in the garden of Eden. Here is the first part of verse 3 with verse 4 of this hymn:

New JerusalemBoth in the garden and the city bright
Three kinds of precious substances are found;

But in the garden all these precious things
Are just materials lying in the earth,
Yet in the city all are builded up
And form that dwelling of transcendent worth.

Genesis 2 presents to us gold, bdellium (a pearl-like material from a tree resin), and onyx stones. As the song says, these are precious substances but merely lying around. In New Jerusalem the street is of gold, the twelve gates are pearls, the wall is built of jasper, and the foundations of the wall are adorned with twelve types of precious stones (Rev. 21:12-21).

New Jerusalem being builded up is the culmination of God’s spiritual building work throughout the New Testament. In Matthew 16 Jesus said “I will build my church.” Jesus is the Stone which became the Cornerstone for this building (Mark 12:10, Eph. 2:20).

The building work involves all of us, as in 1 Corinthians 3 and Ephesians 2 and 4. In Ephesians 4:15-16 holding in love to Christ as the truth, we grow up into Him in all things. Then a rich supply flows out from Him through the gifted members and also “through the operation in the measure of each one part.” The result is “the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love.”

The ultimate issue of the building work is New Jerusalem, built with the three kinds of precious substances.

New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:9-20

Revelation 21:9-11: “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. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, as clear as crystal.

Here are the recent posts from Revelation 21 with the main verse for each.

21:9, God’s Final Judgments, then New Jerusalem
21:9, The Bride, the Wife, New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem21:10, Carried Away in Spirit to See New Jerusalem
21:10, On a High Mountain, See New Jerusalem
21:10, Heavenly Jerusalem is on Earth from God

21:11, New Jerusalem Has the Glory of God
21:11, New Jerusalem’s Precious Light
21:11, New Jerusalem, Clear as Crystal

21:12, The Great and High Wall of New Jerusalem
21:12, New Jerusalem has a Wall with Twelve Gates
21:12, The City has 12 Gates, 12 Angels, 12 Names

21:13, We Enter by the Gates into New Jerusalem

21:14, New Jerusalem’s Wall has 12 Foundations

21:15, New Jerusalem is Divinity in Humanity

21:16, New Jerusalem is the Eternal Holy of Holies
21:16, Holy of Holies: Come Forward, Don’t Wait

21:17, The Eternally Perfect Wall of New Jerusalem

21:18, The Jasper Wall Expresses God                                               New Jerusalem
21:18, New Jerusalem is Pure Gold                                                       in Revelation
21:18, New Jerusalem is Divine, Eternal Gold                                          21:1-8

21:19-20, The Foundations of New Jerusalem’s Wall

Many older posts about Revelation 21:9-11.
Many older posts about Revelation 21:12-21.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Foundations of New Jerusalem’s Wall

Revelation 21:19-20, describing New Jerusalem, says, “The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every precious stone: the first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst.”

New JerusalemAs with the gold of New Jerusalem, so also the stones are not physical. They portray the Spirit’s work in us.

Precious stones are not created but are formed through a process in the earth. In the Bible, precious stones portray the Spirit’s transforming work in all the believers. This is 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.”

Our transformation happens by our beholding and reflecting the glory of the Lord, and transforms us into His image of glory. Ultimately this is the glory of New Jerusalem.

As with all the other “twelves” in New Jerusalem, the twelve stones proclaim eternal perfection. The variety of the stones portray the variety of the attributes of Christ constituted into us by the Spirit’s transforming work.

We all have a portion of our Lord’s love, faithfulness, boldness, patience, holiness, wisdom, meekness, etc., but some may have one of these in a greater degree than others. But we all are one Body in Christ and now and one New Jerusalem to come.

New Jerusalem’s Precious Light

Revelation 21:11 describes New Jerusalem, “Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, as clear as crystal.” This precious jasper stone is not a New Jerusalemphysical stone but a spiritual symbol.

In God’s New Testament building, including New Jerusalem, stones are living persons. Jesus Christ is a living and precious Stone. By coming to Him, we too are living stones for God’s building (1 Peter 2:4-5).

In Revelation 4 John saw “a throne set in heaven, and upon the throne there was One sitting; and He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance.”

The jasper of New Jerusalem is “a most precious stone” indicating that the whole city is most precious in God’s sight. New Jerusalem is most precious because it fulfills God’s eternal desire—a corporate expression of Himself in humanity. This desire was first indicated in Genesis 1:26 when God created man in His own image.

However, created man was like a photo, having the image of God but without the reality. To bring forth His corporate expression in man, the Triune God came to be life in man. This life is also the light as the Lord promised in John 8:12; not a natural light nor a man-made light, but God Himself shining through us. This is the most precious light of New Jerusalem, the light which expresses the One sitting on the throne at the center of the city.

New Jerusalem is the Bride of Christ, Adorned with Christ

in Revelation 21:2 New Jerusalem is “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” New Jerusalem as the bride of Christ is a corporate person, composed of all the believers.

This bride is adorned, not with physical jewels and fancy clothing, but with the virtues of Christ lived out through the believers. An example is 1 Timothy 2:9, “women adorn themselves in proper clothing with modesty and sobriety, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly clothing.” Our real modesty and sobriety come from Christ living in us.

New JerusalemSimilarly Titus 2:10 speaks of “all good faithfulness” adorning “the teaching of our Savior God.” And 1 Peter 3:3-4 says that adorning should not be outward things but “the hidden man of the heart in the incorruptible adornment of a meek and quiet spirit, which is very costly in the sight of God.”

Peter also tells us that even gold and silver are corruptible in the eyes of God. Jesus Christ is longing for a bride adorned with incorruptible beauty which can only come from Himself.

Revelation 21:19 records “The foundations of the wall of the city [New Jerusalem] were adorned with every precious stone.” In 1 Peter 2:4-7 Christ Himself is the living Stone who is precious to God. The wall of the city (which is not physical because it is a living bride) is not adorned with physical jewels but with the precious Christ wrought into us through transformation.

The adorning of New Jerusalem as the bride is Christ Himself lived out through all His members. This is the highest beauty in the universe.

New Jerusalem, a Bride Adorned (3)

New Jerusalem is “a bride adorned for her husband.” And, “The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every precious stone” (Rev. 21:19.

The prior posts present verses from Paul, in 1 Timothy 2, and Peter, in 1 Peter 3, showing that Christian adornment is not outward. It is not anything like the world with its fancy clothes, jewelry, and makeup. Rather, in God’s view, the proper adornment is Himself wrought into and radiating from our inner being. The worldly things are corruptible and will be consumed, but God in our hearts is our incorruptible adornment. This “is very costly in the sight of God.”

If we love the worldly things, we would be very disappointed with New Jerusalem. But God will turn our hearts to Him to love His ways.

The adorning of the foundations of the wall of New Jerusalem follow the divine principle of God’s operation in our being. These precious stones, precious to God, are believers who have been transformed by the Spirit’s work in them throughout their human lives. This adorning testifies both the riches of God New Jerusalemand the complete cooperation of these believers with the Spirit.

For this, we can to declare our love for the Lord, which saves us from love for the world. We may also pray with the words of a hymn,
___Lord, transform us to Thine image
_____In emotion, mind, and will;
___Saturate us with Thy Spirit,
_____All our being wholly fill.

This is our path to New Jerusalem and its adornment.

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