Through Sufferings to New Jerusalem

New JerusalemGod created, formed, and made us for His glory (Isa. 43:7), a glory which consummates in New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:11, 23).

Between the first and last chapters of the Bible, on our journey from creation to glory, we receive the redemption from Christ and experience His life entering and maturing in us. While eternal life is maturing in us, conforming us to the perfection of New Jerusalem, there are often outward sufferings.

We should not be surprised by sufferings. The Lord told us, “These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have affliction, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The sufferings are outward but the peace of the Lord is inward. Sufferings are in the old creation and temporary; peace is in the new creation and is eternal. The name Jerusalem means foundation of peace.

Paul and Barnabas, visiting recently saved Christians, were “establishing the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith and saying that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Inwardly, in spirit, we are already in the kingdom of God (see next paragraph). Outwardly, we will participate in the global manifestation of God’s kingdom in the coming age and in New Jerusalem.

John describes himself as “your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus” (Rev. 1:9). This indicates that we too are partakers in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus.

These verses speak about troubles, but if our view is on eternity, on New Jerusalem, we will echo 2 Corinthians 4:17, “our momentary lightness of affliction works out for us, more and more surpassingly, an eternal weight of glory,”

The New Testament Temple is Living (3)

The Old Testament had a physical temple in Jerusalem which persisted into the New Testament age. However, the individual Jesus was the reality of this temple; He was the living temple in John 2. In resurrection He brought all His believers into this reality, this living temple. Now, this temple is growing in the Lord (Eph. 2:20-21) to the maturity of New Jerusalem.

#NewJerusalemIn Revelation 3:12 the Lord promises, “He who overcomes, him I will make a pillar in the temple of My God.” This is another verse showing us that the New Testament temple is a living building. Here is one who not only is “being fitted together” in the temple but even becomes a vital component in the temple.

Besides the promise to make the over-comer a pillar, the Lord also promises to write on him the name of His God, the name of the city of His God, the New Jerusalem, and His new name. This shows that the believer who is fully built in is possessed by God, by New Jerusalem, and by the Lord.

Becoming a pillar and being possessed by the Triune God and New Jerusalem has a base in keeping “the word of My endurance” (Rev. 3:10). This is to be a “fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus” (Rev. 1:9). “In Jesus” is all we need. Let’s “hold fast” (3:11) all that we have in Him.

Verses in Revelation 7, 11, 14, 15, and 16 speak about the temple in heaven. This is clearly not an earthly, physical temple. Near the end of this age a new physical temple will be built in earthly Jerusalem. But it will not be eternal, for the Bible does not include it in the description of the new creation and New Jerusalem, where only the living temple will be present.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

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.

New Jerusalem: No More Tribulation (2)

In the New Testament, tribulation refers to the persecution of the Lord’s people throughout this age (e.g. Matt. 24:9, Acts 14:22) and to the “great tribulation” (Matt. 24:21; Mark 13:19), the last three and a half years (Rev. 12:14) of this age, immediately prior to the Lord’s visible return.

#NewJerusalemGod, in His sovereignty, uses both aspects of tribulation to prepare His people for New Jerusalem. Here are more verses about this.

Acts 14:22, “Establishing the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith and saying that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God.” This was spoken by Paul and Barnabas in caring for relatively new believers. Tribulations would not be rare to them, but through these they were brought into the reality of the kingdom, which ultimately is New Jerusalem.

To participate in this entrance, we must continue in the faith. Some ways to do this are to read and say amen to God’s word, to sing about our Lord, and to praise Him. Also, since Romans 8:35 promises that neither tribulation nor other difficulties can separate us from the love of Christ, we can continue by declaring, Lord Jesus, I love You.

Revelation 1:9: “I John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” John partook of the endurance in Jesus to suffer tribulation for the word and the testimony. May we follow his example.

At that time John tells us that he was in the kingdom. This was the spiritual reality. Like the believers in Acts 14:22, John was still waiting for the entrance into the manifestation of the kingdom at the Lord’s return and the fullest experience of the kingdom in New Jerusalem.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem: No More Tribulation

In the New Testament, tribulation is used in two ways. One is the general persecution and sufferings of the Lord’s people throughout this age (e.g. Matt. 24:9, Acts 14:22). The other is the “great tribulation” (Matt. 24:21; Mark 13:19), the last three and a half years (Rev. 12:14) = 42 months (Rev. 11:2) = 1260 days (Rev. 11:3) of this age, immediately prior to the Lord’s visible return.

The devil is the source of all tribulation, including its hatred, persecution, and killing. But the devil “was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone” (Rev. 20:10). Hence, when the new creation and New Jerusalem appear, there will not be any devil nor any tribulation.

New JerusalemEven though tribulation is of the devil, God uses it to prefect us for His purpose. God is magnificent and able to use the devil’s opposing actions to His advantage. This is part of our path to New Jerusalem. Here are some verses:

Acts 11:19: “Those then who were scattered by the tribulation which took place on account of Stephen passed through as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word…” Here tribulation spread the gospel.

Romans 5:3: “…we also boast in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces endurance.” This is not our endurance; rather, it is “the endurance of Christ” worked into us (2 Thes. 3:5).

Revelation 2:9-10: “I know your tribulation and poverty (but you are rich) and the slander….Do not fear the things that you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison that you may be tried, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Amazing! The crown of life, surely a characteristic of New Jerusalem, comes forth from tribulation.

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

Jesus Christ, Living Forever and Ever

New JerusalemRecent posts are glory to God and the Lamb forever and ever and God and the Lamb reigning forever and ever. Now, verses about God and the Lamb living forever and ever. Of course, New Jerusalem is the consummation of “forever and ever.”

Revelation 1:17b-18: “I am the First and the Last and the living One; and I became dead, and behold, I am living forever and ever; and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” The Lord Jesus is the living One. He entered into death and came forth in resurrection. His living forever and ever is in resurrection. Likewise His reigning forever and ever is in resurrection.

His living and reigning in resurrection are characteristics of New Jerusalem. It is a city in resurrection. Not only our Lord, but also we are in resurrection. Our natural life has been crucified and buried with Him so that we walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-4). In this age we are learning to partake of this spiritual reality; in New Jerusalem we will be fully in newness of life, that is, in resurrection.

Revelation 4:9-10: “when the four living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits upon the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall before Him who sits upon the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever…” We too should give glory to Him and worship Him who sits on the throne and lives forever and ever.

Revelation 10:6 and 15:7 also speak about “Him who lives forever and ever.” His eternal living is our eternal life supply in New Jerusalem—the river of life which flows from the throne and the tree of life it conveys to us. His eternal living in resurrection is for us not only in New Jerusalem but also for today.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

To God Be the Glory Forever and Ever

Last fall I wrote about glory to God forever and ever, based on the end of Romans and on the end of Jude. The phrase “forever and ever” points to the eternal New Jerusalem.

“And one of the seven angels…came and spoke with me, saying, 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.” (Rev. 21:9-11a)

In recent reading I realized that glory to God forever and ever is in many New Testament books. Here are the verses from Paul’s epistles.
Romans 16:27: “To the only wise God through Jesus Christ, to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Galatians 1:4b-5: “Our God and Father to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Ephesians 3:21: “To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all the generations forever and ever. Amen.”
Philippians 4:20: “Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
2 Timothy 4:18: “The Lord…, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Hebrews 13:20-21: “the God of peace…to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

New JerusalemRevelation 1:5b-6 says, “To Him [Jesus Christ] who loves us and has released us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be the glory and the might forever and ever. Amen.”

In these verses the glory is to our God and Father and also to Jesus Christ. This is because the two are one. The Lord told us, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30) and “I am in the Father and the Father is in Me” (John 14:10). And in Revelation 22:1, 3 the one throne in New Jerusalem is “the throne of God and of the Lamb.”

May the words of the Bible be ours, not only in New Jerusalem but also now, so that we declare to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

 

 

Praises in the Book of Revelation

New JerusalemThere are many praises in Revelation. Some are for what God and the Lamb are and some for what God and the Lamb do. All the praises relate either to judgements on the old creation or bringing forth the new creation with New Jerusalem as its center.

Revelation 4:11: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, for You have created all things, and because of Your will they were, and were created.” God created everything according to His will and for His purpose. There is glory and honor to God now and these will be amplified in New Jerusalem.

Revelation 5:12: “Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb who has been slain to receive the power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.” The death of Jesus Christ on the cross is a great turn in the universe. Everything of the old creation was put to death and the new creation came forth in resurrection. We do not yet see the out-working of this turn, we should declare Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.

Revelation 7:10: “And they cry with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb.” If we have a heavenly vision, we see God and the Lamb on the throne now, and praise now. In the new creation everyone will see God and the Lamb on the throne in New Jerusalem and everyone will praise.

Revelation 7:12: “Saying, Amen. The blessing and the glory and the wisdom and the thanks and the honor and the power and the strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” We can echo this praise now and certainly will echo it in New Jerusalem forever.

New Jerusalem, City of the Living God (2)

New Jerusalem is the living city of the living God. This city is composed of the living God Himself and all His redeemed, enlivened, and glorified people.

In Revelation 20:9 New Jerusalem is named “the beloved city.”

Psalm 46:4 tells us that “There is a river whose streams gladden the city of God.” This is the river of water of life, which flows out of the throne of God and the Lamb in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemPsalm 48 gives us a broader preview of New Jerusalem. It begins, “Great is Jehovah, and much to be praised in the city of our God.” We should praise God now and certainly will praise Him in New Jerusalem.

Verse 2 declares, “Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, the sides of the north, the city of the great King.” New Jerusalem, the city of the great King, is elevated, beautiful, and provides joy to the whole earth.

In verse 8 the psalmist writes, “As we have heard, so we have seen in the city of Jehovah of hosts, in the city of our God. God will establish her forever.” O Lord, we want to see more and hear more about the city of our God.

Psalm 87:3 tells us “Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God.” Because New Jerusalem is a city of glory, glorious things should be, and are, spoken about her. This verse in Psalm 87 is the basis for a hymn.

New Jerusalem is eternal. Current cities are not eternal. Hence Hebrews 13:14 testifies, “we do not have here a remaining city, but we seek after the one to come.” May we seek our God and His eternal city every day, declaring that our current outward city is not our permanent home!

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

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.

 

The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation Brings Us to New Jerusalem

The heart of Revelation is the testimony of Jesus. He (not calamities nor judgments nor beasts) is our focus. In Revelation our Lord Jesus is seen in many ways. He is working to conclude this age, to bring the kingdom of God to earth, and to consummate God’s economy with the new creation. Here is a link and one highlight from each post on the wonderful Jesus Christ bringing us to New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemRev. 1: in verse 5  Jesus Christ is the faithful Witness. He is faithful to care for us and to care for God’s purpose through us, all the way to New Jerusalem.

Rev. 1: in verses 17-18 He declares, “Do not fear; I am the First and the Last and the living One; and I became dead, and behold, I am living forever.” We should not fear anything because He is first and last; nothing is outside the limits He sets.

Rev. 2: in verse 12 He “has the sharp two-edged sword.” This is His living and operative word, which divides all the mixture in our being (Heb. 4:12) and washes away all our blemishes to present us to Himself glorious (Eph. 5:26-27).

Rev. 3: in verse 7 Jesus Christ is “the Holy One” sanctifying us for the holy city, New Jerusalem.

Rev. 4–5: in verse 5:5 Jesus Christ is “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.” He, the victorious One, defeated God’s enemies to clear the way for our redemption, regeneration, and perfection.

Rev. 6–9: in verse 8:3 Christ adds Himself as incense to our prayers that they may be a sweet-smelling savor to God. These prayers of believers on earth cooperating with the heavens open the way for the seven trumpets.

Rev. 10–11: in verses 10:1-7 Christ comes to claim the earth and to declare that there will be no more delay in completing the mystery of God, leading to New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven.

Rev. 12: verse 10 has a loud proclamation, “Now has come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ.”

Rev. 12: verse 11 says that we overcome the devil because of the blood of the Lamb, the blood shed in His redemptive death. We also overcome because of the word of our testimony of all that Jesus Christ has accomplished.

Rev. 14: chapter 14 begins with praise. There are many praises in Revelation—here and chapters 5, 12, 19—and surely there will be more praises in New Jerusalem.

Rev. 17: verse 14, “The Lamb will overcome, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings.”

Rev. 18-19: chapter 19 begins with praise, “a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, Hallelujah! The salvation and the glory and the power are of our God.”

Rev. 19: verse 7, “Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife [New Jerusalem, in 21:9-10] has made herself ready.”

Rev. 19: verse 11, “I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sits on it called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.” What Jesus Christ is, not what we are, accomplishes everything leading to New Jerusalem.

Rev. 19: Christ is our fine garments. These qualify us 1) to attend the marriage dinner of the Lamb, 2) to be part of His victorious army, and 3) to participate in New Jerusalem.

Rev. 20: the millennium in verses 20:4-6 has many parallels with New Jerusalem.

Rev. 20: in the second half of the chapter, Jesus Christ, the Son of Man who has been given all judgement (John 5:26-27), clears up everything to bring in the new creation.

New JerusalemRev. 21: verse 2, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

Rev. 21: in verse 22 John saw no temple in New Jerusalem, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. God and Jesus Christ are the living temple of the city. There is no physical temple.

Rev. 22: in verse 2 is the tree of life, a symbol of Jesus Christ, who is our life and our life supply now and eternally.

 

New Jerusalem is the Universal Golden Lampstand, the Ultimate Consummation of the Lampstands

Here is a third post about New Jerusalem from Stefan’s blog, agodman.com. It begins, The New Jerusalem, the holy city, is the universal golden lampstand, the ultimate consummation of the lampstands in the Scriptures.

rev-1-20-the-mystery-of-the-seven-stars-which-you-saw-upon-my-right-hand-and-the-seven-golden-lampstands1

Excerpts from Stefan’s post: Throughout the Bible there’s the mentioning of the lampstand. First, in the tabernacle in the wilderness with Moses, there was a golden lampstand in the Holy Place; this lampstand signifies Christ Himself as the embodiment and shining out of God (Exo. 25:31-37).

When Christ came in incarnation, He was a lampstand: He embodied God, expressed God, made God visible, did everything by the Spirit of God, and shined out God. In His resurrection, Christ has been enlarged to become the church as the Body of Christ; now all the genuine local churches are the many golden lampstands as the reproduction of Christ and the reprint of the Spirit. [See Rev. 1:20 in the graphic above.]

In the New Testament we also see the lampstands – the Son of Man is walking among the seven golden lampstands in Rev. 1:12-20; these lampstands signify the churches, the local churches.

Read all of New Jerusalem is the Universal Golden Lampstand, the Ultimate Consummation of the Lampstands  with graphics, references, and hymns.

Stefan’s other two posts in this cluster are New Jerusalem is a Corporate God-man, the Consummation of the High Peak of Revelation and The New Jerusalem is the Real and Consummate Shulammite, a Corporate Shulammite.

ps: A God-man is a man in whom God in Christ dwells. In John 14:20 the Lord Jesus told us that after His resurrection we “will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” Our being in Christ and Christ being in us is the reality of a God-man, but we are NOT part of the Godhead.

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