New Jerusalem: God’s Slaves Serve Him (3)

New JerusalemRevelation begins, “The revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave to Him to show to His slaves the things that must quickly take place; and He made it known by signs, sending it by His angel to His slave John.” This book was written to God’s slaves and we should receive it as such. We are here to serve Him now and in New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:3).

The word of Revelation 1:1 is repeated in 22:6, “These words are faithful and true; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent His angel to show to His slaves the things which must quickly take place.” As slaves, we deny our natural, human sense of time and say amen to the Lord’s repeated word “quickly take place.”

The last part of Revelation 11 sums up many things, with the following chapters giving details. Verses 11:14-18 briefly have the last trumpet, judgements, God’s kingdom and eternal reign, and the reward to His slaves, saints, and those who fear Him. At this time “the mystery of God is finished, as He has announced the good news to His own slaves the prophets” (10:7). Although chapter 11 does not name New Jerusalem, it surely is implied by the eternal kingdom and reign and is a reward to all God’s people.

Another word to God’s slaves is in Revelation 19:5: “A voice came out from the throne, saying, Praise our God, all His slaves and those who fear Him, the small and the great.” Surely we should praise our God! We praise Him now and we will praise Him in New Jerusalem.

The Morning Star Rises and the Day Dawns unto the Full Day of New Jerusalem (2)

New Jerusalem

Ruins in Thessaloniki, Greece from the time of Acts 17

The glory of God illumines New Jerusalem, and its lamp is the Lamb. Hence, “there will be no night there” (Rev. 21:23, 25). This illuminating God in Christ desires to rise today in the hearts of people.

The prior post includes Malachi 4:2,”unto you who fear My name will the Sun of righteousness arise.” We do not fear God, who is full of compassion; rather, we fear our disrespect or disobedience of God. With this fear we must depend on the Christ within for our living a proper Christian life. Then the Sun will arise in us now and become brighter all the way to New Jerusalem.

Second Peter 1:19 says, “we have the prophetic word made more firm, to which you do well to give heed as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

In the darkest hour of the night the Lord will appear as the morning star (Rev. 2:28; 22:16) to those who are watchful and looking for His dear appearing (2 Tim. 4:8). They have been enlightened by the shining of the prophetic word, which is able to lead them to the dawning day. If we give heed to the word in the Bible, which shines as a lamp in a dark place, we will have His rising in our hearts to shine in the darkness of apostasy where we are today.*

Jesus Christ is “the Morning Star” and will be a reward to all who are faithful to Him in this age (Rev. 2:26, 28). He is also the Sun and will fill New Jerusalem with His shining.

Part of footnote 4 on 2 Peter 1:19 in the Recovery Version Bible, footnote written by Witness Lee,
Bible
© 2017 by Living Stream Ministry.

Glory, Now to New Jerusalem

Our present sufferings bring forth eternal glory. Posts on this connection touched verses in John and Acts, Romans and 2 Corinthians, more in Romans, 2 Corinthians (again) and Philippians, Colossians and 2 Thessalonians, 1 Peter, and again 1 Peter.

New JerusalemRevelation moves from “John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus” (1:9) to New Jerusalem, “having the glory of God” (21:11). While we also partake of the tribulation in Jesus and are supplied by the endurance in Jesus, we look away to Jesus and to the glory of God filling New Jerusalem.

First Peter 1:11 speaks of “the sufferings of Christ and the glories after these.” The Lord Jesus Christ suffered and then entered into His glory in His resurrection (Luke 24:26, 46). Also, after “the suffering of death” He was “crowned with glory and honor,” in His exaltation (Heb. 2:9). At His visible return to earth, He “comes in His glory” (Matt. 25:31). He will also be glorious in the kingdom age and in New Jerusalem.

With us, there is some glory now, mostly hidden within us. As believers in Jesus Christ, we “exult with joy that is unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). We are being transformed from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18). And, “the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him” (2 Thes. 1:12).

One aspect of the Lord’s return is that He “comes to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all those who have believed” (2 Thes. 1:10). At that time He will “present the church to Himself glorious” (Eph. 5:27). This glorious church will continue to radiate His glory in the time of the kingdom and as His wife, New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

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.

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