Our Path to New Jerusalem

Revelation 19:7 and 21:2 tell us that the holy city, New Jerusalem, is the bride of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. The New Jerusalem, the bride, is the composition of all God’s chosen, redeemed, regenerated, transformed, and glorified people. Here is a brief look at these five steps on our path to New Jerusalem.

CHOSEN: First Peter 1:2 tells us that we are “Chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” Ephesians 1:3-4 says that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ chose us in Him before the foundation of the world. The choice was entirely God’s, based on His foreknowledge. It is not our choice nor based on anything we are or have done. Because of God’s choice, we are in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemREDEEMED: Romans 5:12 declares, “through one man sin entered into the world, and through sin, death; and thus death passed on to all men because all have sinned.” Because of sin and death, we need redemption to bring us back to God. Jesus Christ died on the cross to redeem us. Galatians 3 says that Christ redeemed us out of the curse so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit and Galatians 4 says that God sent His Son to redeem us that we might receive the sonship.

REGENERATED: First Peter 1:3 blesses “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has regenerated us unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” This fulfills the goal of redemption stated in Galatians. In God’s eyes regeneration was accomplished “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” and we experience it at the time of our believing into Him.

Choosing, redemption and regeneration are three steps on our path to New Jerusalem. The other two will be in the next post.

Living Water Flows to, in New Jerusalem (2)

John saw in New Jerusalem is “a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev. 22:1). This river is the Spirit, because John 7:38-39 tells us that the Spirit will be rivers of living water flowing out of us.

New JerusalemJohn 7:39 says “the Spirit was not yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.” The Spirit of God was moving in Genesis 1:2 but the Spirit that can enter into us and flow out of us was not yet at the time of John 7. The need was for Jesus to be glorified.

Comparing Luke 24:26 and 46, we see that for Him to be glorified was for Him to be resurrected. Then in resurrection “He breathed into them [the disciples] and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22).

To be resurrected, Jesus first had to go through death. At the end of His crucifixion, “one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.” The blood is a symbol of our redemption and the water signifies the flowing Spirit as our eternal life.

The reality of blood and water remain with us through our entire Christian life and into New Jerusalem. In 1 John 1, if we confess our sins He is faithful and righteous to cleanse us and to forgive us. In this same chapter the life brings us into fellowship with God and with one another.

In New Jerusalem is the throne of God and of the blood-shedding, redeeming Lamb, a memorial of our redemption. In New Jerusalem there is also the flow of the Spirit, the river of water of life as our eternal supply.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

No Sweat, No Thorns, in New Jerusalem (2)

Thorns and sweat are part of the curse that came from the fall of man in Genesis 3. But, in New Jerusalem “there will no longer be a curse” (Rev. 22:3), so there will be no sweat and no thorns.

Ezekiel 44 speaks about the service of the priest in the coming age. Those who enter the inner court and the holy places must “not gird themselves with anything that causes sweat.” That is, they must not exercise their own effort as natural, fallen men. This is a precursor of New Jerusalem, the eternal holy of holies where we will serve God as priests* without sweat (Rev. 22:3).

New JerusalemThe parable at the beginning of Matthew 13 is about sowing the word of God into hearts of men. Verse 22 tells us that thorns represent “the anxiety of the age and the deceitfulness of riches” which ” utterly choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”

In the Bible thorns are negative. Matthew 27:29 tells us that the Roman soldiers “wove a crown of thorns” and placed it on the head of Jesus. They did this to mock Him, but it had greater significance in the eyes of God. It is one of the signs that He bore the curse for us.  Galatians 3:13 says, “Christ has redeemed us out of the curse of the law, having become a curse on our behalf; because it is written, ‘Cursed is every one hanging on a tree.”’

Because of the redemption of Christ, there is no curse in the new creation and in New Jerusalem. Hence, there will be no sweat and no thorns in the new creation and in New Jerusalem.

*We Serve God as Priests
God’s Slaves Serve in New Jerusalem (1) (2)

New Jerusalem: Eternal Holy of Holies (3)

#NewJerusalemIn the New Testament we no longer have a physical temple. Rather, the living temple is both Jesus (John 2) and His believers (2 Cor. 6:16). But, the Bible’s description of the old, physical temple depicts many spiritual realities today and in New Jerusalem.

The prior two posts are about the ark and its contents, described in Hebrews 9:4. Then 9:5 says, “And above it [the ark] cherubim of glory overshadowing the propitiation place.” The lid of the ark, with the propitiatory blood on it, frees us from the condemnation of falling short of the requirements of the law in the ark.

Today we certainly need forgiveness and cleansing of our sins by the blood of Jesus Christ. Before our initial repentance we were dead spiritually and were sinners condemned by God’s righteous requirement. We repented and believed, thus “though dead in your offenses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our offenses” (Col. 2:13).

That action took care of all offenses before our regeneration. Afterwards, 1 John 1:9 applies, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Thank Him!

In New Jerusalem there is no sin nature and we will never do sinful deeds. Nevertheless, in New Jerusalem God and the redeeming Lamb are on the throne (Rev. 22:3) and they are the temple (Rev. 21:22). This is a memorial of what is portrayed by the blood on the lid of the ark in the old holy of holies.

Hebrews 9:14 declares that “the blood of Christ…[will] purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” In New Jerusalem the Lamb is present as an eternal memorial, and in New Jerusalem we will “serve the living God” (Rev. 22:3).

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The Shadow of the Living Temple (2)

Jesus alone (John 2), then all His believers (2 Cor. 6:16), consummating in New Jerusalem, is the living temple. The Bible also has a material, physical temple, a shadow, a portrait of this reality. This shadow shows us the good, heavenly things to come in Christ. But what need was there for that shadow?

Because of the fall of man, in Genesis 3 man was shut out from the reality. As a result, before Christ came, there was a need of shadows. Then, through incarnation, the reality came to man. John 1:17 speaks of this contrast: “the law was given through Moses; grace and reality came [literally become, came into existence] through Jesus Christ.”

#NewJerusalemThe reality came, and through His redeeming death and life-imparting resurrection we can participate in this reality. We have no more need for shadows!

The shadows came because of the fall, but we can receive some spiritual vision from them. This is somewhat like the saying, a picture is worth a thousand words. The physical tabernacle and temple, the shadows, show us something about the living temple including New Jerusalem.

One thing we see is that the Old Testament temple was constructed with gold, wood, and stone. This is a picture of God’s New Testament building, including New Jerusalem, built with the divine nature, the humanity of Jesus, and the transformed members of His Body.

The dimensions of the tabernacle and temple show us that the Holy of Holies, their innermost chamber, is a cube. These cubes demonstrate that New Jerusalem, a cube (Rev. 21:16), is the eternal holy of holies. Furthermore, the fact that the whole of New Jerusalem is the holy of holies tells us that we all have been fully brought into God’s presence. Wonderful!

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New Jerusalem: Dwell and Serve in God

New JerusalemThe New Testament has a living temple— God Himself and all His people. Eventually this temple will be New Jerusalem. In the Old Testament times, before our redemption and regeneration, this living temple was portrayed by a physical temple.

Revelation 7:14-15 says, “These are those who come out of the great tribulation, and 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; and He who sits upon the throne will tabernacle over them.”

Revelation 7 is a view of life in the coming age and eternity. In this picture God’s redeemed people “serve Him day and night in His temple.” yet Revelation 21:22 tells us that John “saw no temple in it [New Jerusalem], for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”

We who will serve in the temple will serve in God, the living temple. And we will dwell in Him. And be “before the throne” in New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:3), supplied to serve by the flow from this throne (22:1-2).

This is New Jerusalem: we dwell in God, God dwells in us, God supplies us, and we serve God in God! Very much like the Lord’s word in John 14:20-23—we are in Him, He is in us, we love Him, the Father loves us, and He and the Father make a dwelling with us. When we love Him we are surely willing to serve, and we serve Him while dwelling in Him, in the living temple.

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We Mature in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (5)

#NewJerusalemWe received the Christian life, the divine life, the life of New Jerusalem, at our regeneration. Now we pursue growth in this life that we may reach God’s goal for us. On one hand, God will bring us to this goal. On the other hand, there is need of our pursuing and our laboring in prayer (prior 3 posts).

Hebrews 13:20-21 is on the side that God will do what is needed. “Now the God of peace, He who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, in the blood of an eternal covenant, perfect you in every good work for the doing of His will, doing in us that which is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ; to Him be the glory forever and ever.”

His doing in us is based on the Lord’s blood shed in His redeeming death. The goal of His doing is eternal glory to Him through New Jerusalem.

Hebrews 12:1-2 is on the side that we need to cooperate. “Let us…put away every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us and run with endurance the race which is set before us, looking away unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith…” We follow the example of the Old Testament people of faith, described in Hebrews 11, to put away all hindrances and run the race before us.

Are we able to do this? Not in ourselves! But we “look away unto Jesus!” He attracts us and empowers us to overcome all the distractions and run toward Him with New Jerusalem as the ultimate goal. While we are looking to Him, He perfects our faith, just as He has already authored (initiated) it. Praise Him! Lord, keep me looking away to You!

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New Jerusalem Comes from Divine Riches and is Without Human Poverty

The Lord Jesus, at the beginning of His ministry, read from Isaiah about Himself, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to announce the gospel to the poor…” (Luke 4:18). The poverty in this verse can certainly be understood physically but should also be viewed spiritually.

The Lord Jesus came to announce Himself to people who are poor spiritually, whether rich or poor humanly. What does this have to do with New Jerusalem? Simple. God’s riches bring us out of spiritual poverty all the way to New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemIn Ephesians 3:8 the unsearchable riches of Christ are the gospel announced by Paul. The goal of the gospel is not to save people from poverty but to impart these unsearchable riches into people. As a byproduct people are saved from spiritual poverty.

In Romans 2:4 “the riches of His kindness and forbearance and long-suffering” lead us to repentance. This is the beginning of our journey—to repent, turn to God, and receive Jesus Christ. Here three aspects of God’s riches lead us to repent and to enter the path to New Jerusalem. This repentance is one aspect of the rich gospel.

Ephesians 1:7 tells us that in Christ Jesus “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of offenses, according to the riches of His grace.” We certainly need forgiveness, but the measure of God’s action is not our need but His riches. This forgiveness is another aspect of the rich gospel.

Romans 9:23 tells us God will “make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy.” We need mercy to bring us out of our poor condition, but God does not emphasize that poor condition. His mercy is shown, not because we are pitiful, but to gain us as vessels to display the riches of His glory. Eventually New Jerusalem will be a great corporate vessel displaying His riches.

 

New Jerusalem: No Blemishes, No Spots

New JerusalemEphesians 1:4 tells us that God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish before Him in love.” This choosing was in eternity, before sin and any kind of corruption. This eternal choosing points to New Jerusalem, which is holy, without blemish, and in love.

Although sin death entered and humanity is extremely blemished, Jesus Christ is working to erase all blemishes. Ephesians 5:25-27 says that He “loved the church and gave Himself up for her” to accomplish redemption; that He is now working to “sanctify her [the church], cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word” so that when He returns “He might present the church to Himself glorious, not having spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that she would be holy and without blemish.” This is the preparation of New Jerusalem.

By His work on the cross, in us today, and at His return, the church will be holy and without blemish, matching God’s eternal choosing. This holy church, as His bride, New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2), will be without spot, without wrinkle, and without blemish.

Jesus Christ is qualified to do this work because He on the cross “through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God” (Heb. 9:14). The eternal Spirit applies to us and in us all that He accomplished. And 1 Peter 1:18-19 tells us that we were redeemed “with precious blood, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot, the blood of Christ.”

Paralleling Ephesians 5, Jude 24 speaks of “Him who is able to guard you from stumbling and to set you before His glory without blemish in exultation.” In New Jerusalem we will be with glory and without blemish. To Him be thanksgiving and praise.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

The Lamb’s Book of Life for New Jerusalem

New JerusalemRevelation 21:27 tells us that “only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” enter New Jerusalem.

Philippians 4:3 speaks about Christians “whose names are in the book of life.” Surely they will be in New Jerusalem. In contrast, “if anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).

Revelation 13:8 tells us that those dwelling on earth, “every one whose name is not written in the book of life of the Lamb” will worship a beast. Similarly Revelation 17:8 says that these people will marvel when they see a beast.

Some verses associate the book of life with the Lamb. God’s eternal purpose is that man receive Him as life so that man can express and represent God (Gen. 1:26). Therefore, God put created man in front of the tree of life in the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:8-9, 15-17). This tree is a symbol of Christ, who is the real life for man.

Unfortunately man partook of the wrong tree, and was banished from the garden and the tree of life (Gen. 3:22-24). This closure persisted until God incarnated in the man Jesus. He, the Lamb of God, died on the cross to redeem us and reopen the way for us to receive the divine life. This life enables us to participate in New Jerusalem.

We see three steps: redemption, life, city. Redemption is for life, and life is for the city. All three are in Revelation 22:14, “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.” To wash is to apply the Lamb’s redemption; to come to the tree is for life, and to enter the gates is to be in New Jerusalem. Praise the Lamb!

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God’s Slaves Serve in New Jerusalem

New JerusalemRevelation 22:3b says, “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [New Jerusalem], and His slaves will serve Him.”

There are three New Testament Greek words often translated “serve.” The word in Revelation 22 means to serve as a priest, to serve in worship of God. To get a better grasp of verse 22:3, let’s look at other verses with this same word.

In Matthew 4:10 Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:13, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.” Here worship and serving are linked, and restricted by “only.” This quotation surely matches what we will do in New Jerusalem.

In Acts 7:7 Stephen speaks about God’s actions with Israel. In verse 7 he said repeated God’s word, “After these things [slavery in Egypt] they will come forth and serve Me as priests in this place.” God’s desire was that the whole nation serve as priests. This was thwarted by their worship of the golden calf and only the house of Aaron served as priests.

The redemption and resurrection of Jesus Christ brought us back to God’s desire. He “released us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father” (Rev. 1:5-6). This action is for this age, the coming age, and eternity. The accomplishments of Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection point to New Jerusalem.

In Acts 24:14 and 27:23 Paul declares that he serves God. He was serving and we too should serve, based on the Lord having made us priests to His and our God and Father. Whether I serve or not is not based on how I feel but on the Lord’s doing. More on this in the next post; may we experience this from now unto New Jerusalem.

 

Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation 21

Revelation 21 presents the new creation with New Jerusalem as its outstanding feature. In verse 2 John tells us, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

Jesus Christ is the real Husband in the universe and New Jerusalem is the wife. This likeness is in Ephesians 5:23, “a husband is head of the wife as also Christ is Head of the church.” Jesus described Himself as the real Bridegroom in parables in Matthew 9:14-17 and 25:1-13. And John the Baptist referred to Him s the Bridegroom in John 3:29.

New JerusalemOn one hand, we are responsible to prepare ourselves for the wedding day. An example is our need to have much oil in our lamps, signifying the Spirit filling our being, as in Matthew 25. On the other hand, Jesus Christ prepares us first by His redemption and now by His life in us. Both are presented in Ephesians 5:25-27.

Revelation 21:4 says, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death will be no more, nor will there be sorrow or crying or pain anymore; for the former things have passed away.” The wiping of tears, and the absence of sorrow, crying, and pain correspond to the Lamb’s care in Revelation 7.

Death will be no more because of “our Savior Christ Jesus, who nullified death and brought life and incorruption to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10).

In 21:5 He is sitting on the throne and He tells us, “Behold, I make all things new. And He said, Write, for these words are faithful and true.” His making all new is seen in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”

The words He speaks are faithful and true because He Himself is Faithful and True (Rev. 3:14, 19:11). These few verses show that so many characteristics of Jesus Christ today match what He is in New Jerusalem, and are our path from today unto New Jerusalem.

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