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).

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation   6-9 Brings Us to New Jerusalem

The central theme of Revelation is the testimony of Jesus. This wonderful One is seen throughout Revelation caring for God’s interests on earth, which consummate in the new creation with New Jerusalem at its center. Here are some aspects of His care in Revelation 6–9, which bring us to New Jerusalem.

In Revelation 5 the Lamb is declared to be the only one in the universe worthy to open the seven seals. In 6:1 He opens the first, and in 6:2 the gospel is released. By responding to this gospel we are on the path to New Jerusalem. Thank Him for giving us this open door!

In 7:9 a great multitude, those purchased (5:9) “out of every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues” are “standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” This multitude will continue before the throne of God and the Lamb in New Jerusalem (22:1).

In 7:15 this multitude serves God “day and night in His temple” just as we will serve Him as priests in New Jerusalem (22:3).

Verses 7:16-17 present the Lamb’s care for the multitude. Revelation 7:9-17 has many parallels with New Jerusalem.

In 8:3 Christ adds Himself as incense to our prayers that they be accepted as a sweet-smelling savor to God. These prayers of the believers, on earth cooperating with the heavens, open the way for the seven trumpets.

These trumpets bring forth many calamities and judgments on the negative things and people on earth (Rev. 8–9). These actions conclude with the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ in 11:15, a kingdom which continues into New Jerusalem.

The actions in Revelation 9 should lead men to repent but 9:20-21 say they did not. Sad. It is His mercy that we can repent. Repentance Puts Us on the Path to New Jerusalem.

The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation   2-3 Brings Us to New Jerusalem

In Revelation 2–3 we see the Lord Jesus Christ walking in the midst of seven lampstands, caring for their development today unto the eternal lampstand, New Jerusalem.

New JErusalemIn Revelation 2:18 is the One “who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like shining bronze.” He passed through all kinds of testing during His earthly life and has come out approved, like shining bronze. Thus, He is qualified to judge anything negative in us, burning it with the fire of His eyes.

We should not be afraid nor shrink back. Instead, we should invite Him to burn whatever in us does not correspond to New Jerusalem.

In 2:28 He speaks of Himself as the morning star, as a prize to watchful overcomers. Lord, train us to be watchful for Your second coming. His warning in 3:3 should remind us to watch— “If therefore you will not watch, I will come as a thief, and you shall by no means know at what hour I will come upon you.”

In 3:7 He is “the Holy One” preparing us for the holy city, New Jerusalem.

In 3:14 He is “the faithful and true Witness.” We are neither faithful nor true in ourselves. Lord, work your attributes into us.

In 3:18 He is ready to sell us “gold refined by fire that you may be rich, and white garments that you may be clothed and that the shame of your nakedness may not be manifested, and eyesalve to anoint your eyes that you may see.” The Lord’s salvation is free but gaining these qualities requires a price. The price is to be zealous rather than lukewarm (3:15, 19) and to repent of our puffed up attitude and lack of love and zeal for Him (3:19).

The Lord’s gold, white garments, and eyesalve all prepare us for New Jerusalem.

Bible verses quoted in these posts are from The Holy Bible, Recovery Versionpublished and © by Living Stream MinistryAnaheim CA, 2003. The New Testament of this Bible, with its outlines, footnotes, and cross-references, is at online.recoveryversion.orgthis too is © by Living Stream Ministry. Besides this New Testament, many books published by Living Stream may be read online.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Inside of New Jerusalem

New JerusalemRevelation 21:8 and 22:15 speak of people who are not only outside New Jerusalem but also in the lake of fire.

These verses are the ultimate development of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21, and Ephesians 5:5, which name many unrighteous things saying, “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” The kingdom which they will not inherit consummates in New Jerusalem with the throne of God and the Lamb as its center.

We, in ourselves, are not better than those people. The difference is that we have, by faith, received Christ as our righteousness. The first stage of this receiving is our initial repentance and believing in Christ. The continuing stage is our daily pursuit of Christ.

Our pursuing is to receive more of Him as our righteousness. “Those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17). This reigning in life is more than having Christ as our objective righteousness. It is living Christ out as our daily righteousness.

Jesus Christ being our righteous living is portrayed in Revelation 19:8: New Jerusalem, the bride of Christ is “clothed in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints.” These righteousnesses (plural) are the Christ we live out day by day.

This living is also 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.” Our washing is actually His washing of us in response to our confessing (1 John 1:9).

This washing gives us right to the tree of life, Christ as our life and life supply. By this supply we live Him out. His living through us is bright and pure, matching New Jerusalem, thereby bringing us into it in reality. Thank Him that He enables us to be inside New Jerusalem and not outside.

Unsearchable Riches in New Jerusalem

The riches of God’s glory are for us from now unto New Jerusalem. The New Testament also presents other aspects of God’s riches, for today and for New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem Romans 2:4 speaks of “the riches of His kindness and forbearance and long-suffering” which leads us to repentance. Via repentance we receive Christ as our eternal life, which puts us on the way to New Jerusalem.

Second Corinthians 8:9, “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, for your sakes He became poor in order that you, because of His poverty, might become rich.” He had to become poor, lowly, to live a live of suffering culminating with His death on the cross. Through His death and resurrection we are rich in Him.

In Him “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of offenses, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). Forgiveness is one of the riches we receive through His poverty and is according to the riches of His grace.

Another contributor to our repentance, forgiveness, and eternal life is “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, made us alive together with Christ…” (Eph. 2:4-5). We are not qualified, but God is rich in mercy, for us to receive now and to display in New Jerusalem.

All these aspects of God’s riches are so “That He might display in the ages to come the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). God’s riches in kindness, mercy, and grace are so that He can work Himself into us and be expressed through us in the coming age and in New Jerusalem.

To make us aware of all this, grace was given to announce “the unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel” (Eph. 3:8). God is not only rich but surpassingly and unsearchably rich. These riches require the entirety of New Jerusalem and of eternity for their display.

Photo courtesy of Good Free Photos.

 

New Jerusalem: No Darkness, No Death

New Jerusalem is a city of light and life. The antithesis is darkness and death; New Jerusalem will not have either of these.
New Jerusalem• Revelation 21:25, “there will be no night there”
• Revelation 21:4, “death will be no more.”

When Jesus Christ comes, light and life come, and darkness and death are banished. Matthew 4:13-16 tells us that Jesus, “came and dwelt in Capernaum…in order that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, saying… The people sitting in darkness have seen a great light; and to those sitting in the region and shadow of death, to them light has risen.” This great light consummates in the light of New Jerusalem.

Then verse 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to proclaim and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” The kingdom is a matter of life. We repent, we turn, from our past; we turn to believe, to receive, and are born into the kingdom (John 3:3, 5). This kingdom of life also consummates in the light of New Jerusalem.

The same thought is in Ephesians 5:8, “For you were once darkness but are now light in the Lord; walk as children of light.” We were not only in darkness, but we were darkness itself. Now we are in the light (1 John 1:7) and are light, so we walk as children of light. “Children” is a matter of life. To repent and believe in Jesus Christ is to turn from darkness to light and from death to life. This begins our walk to New Jerusalem.

Photo by John Bortniak, courtesy of NOAA/U.S. Department of Commerce.

Live the Father’s Life for New Jerusalem

New JerusalemWe have a Christian journey to a spiritual mountain to see New Jerusalem. To reach this mountain requires experiences of Christ. It also requires exercise of our spirit mingled with the Spirit because a proper Christian life is a walk according to the spirit (Gal. 5:16).

In Matthew 4:17 the Lord proclaimed “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” In Matthew 5–7 He spoke about the reality of life in this kingdom. Both are necessary steps toward the vision of New Jerusalem.

Repentance was proclaimed to those beside or on the sea of Galilee, which typifies living in a worldly situation. May we all repent of whatever degree of worldliness we have. Then we go up a mountain (Matt. 5:1) to enter the reality of the kingdom of the heavens.

In ourselves we cannot fulfill what the Lord spoke in Matthew 5–7. But He gave us the key, “our Father.” He spoke this phrase at least 12 times in these three chapters. We are sons of our Father (5:45) and His life in us enables us to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (5:48).

Beside the sea we repent and on the mountain we live by the Father’s life. The reality of this life is the Spirit. “The Spirit gives life” (John 6:63, 2 Cor. 3:6) and because of being born again our spirit is life (Rom. 8:10). It is in our spirit, regenerated by the Spirit, that we are carried to the mountain for the vision of New Jerusalem.

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.

We Can Be Perfect in our Father’s Life

New JerusalemGod sent John the Baptist to “prepare the way of the Lord” (Matthew 3:3). This “way of the Lord” extends from John unto New Jerusalem. To prepare the way is to turn men’s hearts to the Lord. Both John and the Lord Jesus exhorted people to repent, to have a turn to the Lord, to have a change of heart for the Lord and His kingdom.

After the repentance spoken in Matthew 3 and 4, in Matthew 5:8 the Lord Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart.” And 2 Timothy 2:21-22 urges us to cleanse ourselves and pursue “with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

This purity comes in two steps. First is our repentance and faith—God cleanses our hearts by faith (Acts 15:8-9). This is once for all time. Second, we need the supply for a pure life day by day, because in ourselves we are not pure. Only the Lord Jesus is pure. First John 3:3 says “He is pure.” Only as He becomes our living can our living be pure.

Matthew 5:48 says, “You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” As children of the Father, we have the Father’s life, which is Jesus Christ (John 14:6). With Him as our life we can be pure (read more).

To the degree that Jesus Christ is our living, to this extent we have daily, experiential purity. Out of this living, as Revelation 19:7-8 declares, “the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And it was given to her that she should be clothed in fine linen, bright and pure.”

The fine, bright, and pure linen given on that day is an expression of all the preparation and the living leading to that day and ultimately to New Jerusalem.

Photo by John Manger, courtesy of CSIRO Australiawww.scienceimage.csiro.au.

Pursue with Those Who Call on the Lord   Out of a Pure Heart

New Jerusalem is revealed in Revelation 21–22 as a bride prepared for her Husband. This preparation involves many things including God’s sending of John the Baptist, God coming in the man Jesus, His offering of Himself to death in the body prepared by God, and God preparing us as vessels of mercy. On our side, the preparation includes our repentance and confession of sins, the exercise of our spirit to receive the deep things God prepared for us, and our holding the living word of God in faith.

New JerusalemOur cooperation with God’s preparation is also seen in 2 Timothy 2:21-22, “If therefore anyone cleanses himself from these, he will be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, useful to the master, prepared unto every good work. But flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

In these verses:
• We cleanse ourselves (by opening to the Lord and His word, not by our own effort) from things of dishonor, not passively waiting for the Lord to cleanse us.
• We flee youthful lusts (even if we are not young).
• We pursue spiritual virtues with others who have the same pursuing and who call on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:12-13).

Our heart is a key to our preparation. Lord, work in me to purify my heart, and purify the hearts of those with whom I pursue and call. This is a part of our journey to New Jerusalem.

With this preparation, we can be vessels unto honor, prepared unto every good work. These are the good works which God prepared for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). This is much higher than what is “good works” in the human realm. The highest good work is to minister Christ as life to other people for them to receive eternal salvation and for them to be knit together in the Body of Christ consummating in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Salvation Prepared for All Peoples

The apostle John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:1-2). This preparation involves what God has done, what God is doing, and our cooperation with His doing.

A good example of this cooperative preparation: God sent John the Baptist to “prepare the way of the Lord” by preaching repentance for His kingdom (Matthew 3:2-3). Some people cooperated by confessing their sins and being baptized (3:6).

Lenk, 1999

Another step on God’s side of the preparation was the incarnation of Jesus. After His birth, His parents brought Him to the temple in Jerusalem. Simeon, a righteous and devout man, was there and the Spirit was upon him (Luke 2:25).

Simeon took Jesus into his arms and declared to God, “my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared before the face of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:30-32). The Spirit’s speaking through Simeon reveals that Jesus is the salvation prepared for everyone, both Jews and non-Jews.

Without God’s salvation, we cannot have a share in New Jerusalem. Only by receiving Jesus as our Savior and having Him as our salvation, can we get to New Jerusalem. Thus, God’s preparation of His salvation for all people is part of His preparation of New Jerusalem.

Lord, Keep My Heart Always True to You

The first step in the New Testament toward New Jerusalem “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2) was God’s sending of John the Baptist to “prepare the way of the Lord” (Matthew 3:3).

Milford Sound, NZ, USFS photo by Robert Westover, CC 2.0This preparation was to turn men’s hearts to the Lord. Both John and the Lord Jesus exhorted people to repent, to have a turn to the Lord, to have a change of heart, to seek and love the Lord.

Matthew records many words of the Lord Jesus regarding our hearts.
We should be pure in heart (v. 5:8), seeking only God and His glory, a glory which consummates in New Jerusalem
Our treasure should be in the heavens so that our heart may be there also (v. 6:21)
The Lord Jesus is meek and lowly in heart (v. 11:29) and we can take Him as our lowliness and meekness
We should never let our heart get fat (calloused, dull, hard) but rather eagerly receive all the Lord’s words that they may grow in our hearts (v. 13:3-23)
We should not live a life according to traditions but always keep our heart close to the Lord (v. 15:1-9), loving Him and seeking Him
We apply the Lord’s forgiveness to forgive our brothers from our heart (v. 18:35)
We feed our fellows slaves with spiritual food, rather than being drunk with worldly people and saying in our heart that our Master delays (v. 24:45-51)
Above all, we love the Lord with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind. (v. 22:37)

The Lord says to the church in Ephesus, “I have one thing against you, that you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:4). The more we love the Lord, the more we take Him as our life supply, symbolized by the tree of life (v. 2:7), which is a prominent characteristic of New Jerusalem (v. 22:2).

Here is a song, “Lord, keep my heart always true to You.” Lord, draw us to love You wholly and purely that we may be supplied by You as our tree of life to prepare us for New Jerusalem.

U.S. Forest Service photo by Robert Westover, Creative Commons 2.0.

The Preparation of New Jerusalem

The apostle John saw a new heaven, a new earth, and the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:1-2). This post begins a series on the preparation of New Jerusalem.

Revelation 21:2 does not say who accomplished the preparation of New Jerusalem as the bride. However, through this series we will see clearly from many New Testament verses that this preparation requires both God and man.

The first step in the preparation was God’s sending of John the Baptist to “prepare the way of the Lord.” This was prophesied in Isaiah 40. Verses 3-4 say, “The voice of one who cries in the wilderness: make clear the way of Jehovah; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Every valley will be lifted up, and every mountain and hill will be made low, and the crooked places will become straight, and the rough places, a broad plain.”

It seems that Isaiah, and the quotations in Matthew, Mark, and Lukmarten, by Nathan Stone, USFS Rocky Mountain Research Statione, speak about changes in the physical landscape. However, these physical descriptions are portraits of people’s inner condition. Therefore, Matthew, Mark, and Luke say that John prepared the way of the Lord by proclaiming repentance for the king-dom and the people responded by being baptized while they confessed their sins.

Another indication that “the crooked places” (and valleys, hills, rough places) refer to our heart is in Acts 8. Peter said to Simon the magician, “your heart is not straight before God. Repent therefore from this wickedness of yours and beseech the Lord if perhaps the intent of your heart may be forgiven you” (8:21-22).

The real preparation of the way of the Lord is in our hearts. This preparation begins with our repentance and our confessing our sins. In this age we cannot say we have no sin and we cannot say that we have not sinned. But, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-10). More confessing in His light brings more forgiveness and more cleansing, which means more preparation for New Jerusalem.

Photo by Nathan Stone, USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station, courtesy of U.S. Forest Service.

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