The Light of the World, A City

New JerusalemIn Matthew 5:14 the Lord Jesus told His disciples, ” You are the light of the world. It is impossible for a city situated upon a mountain to be hidden.” But how dies this relate to New Jerusalem? We will use a few posts to consider this, but one obvious link is the word “city.”

Here the Lord tells His disciples “You are the light of the world.” In John 8:12 and 9:5 He says, “I am the light of the world.” How can we be what He is? It is because when we can receive Him into our being, He becomes both life and light within us.

He is “the light of life” and we are born again with this life. Now we have Christ as our life and our light. We become “children of God” who can “walk as children of light” and “shine as luminaries in the world” (Phil. 2:15).

The Greek word φωστηρ translated “luminaries” in Philippians is used only one other place in the New Testament—”Her [New Jerusalem’s] light was like a most precious stone” (Rev. 21:11). New Jerusalem shines because Jesus Christ is the light infusing the entire city.

Revelation 21:23 tells us, “the glory of God illumined it [New Jerusalem], and its lamp is the Lamb.” Because the city is transparent (21:21), clear as crystal (21:11), the glory of God in the Lamb radiates through the city to the entire universe. In this way, New Jerusalem is the fulfillment of the Lord’s word in Matthew 5:14.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem: Eternal Holy of Holies (4)

The Old Testament temple is a picture of the reality of the New Testament temple. The Old Testament holy of holies also depicts New Jerusalem as the eternal holy of holies. In that holy of holies was the ark with its contents “and above it [the ark] cherubim of glory overshadowing the propitiation place” (Heb. 9:4-5).

New JerusalemPropitiation is the base for the glory. New Jerusalem has both the Lamb as the New Testament propitiatory sacrifice and the glory of God illuminating the city (Rev. 21:23).

Romans 3:23 says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Jesus Christ, through His redemption, is the way to be freed from sins and to come up to the level of God’s glory. Both solutions are seen in the propitiation cover with the cherubim of glory. New Jerusalem will declare both eternally.

The propitiation place is in the holy of holies. Therefore, this experience of redemption is deeper (more inward) than that of the trespass offering at the altar in the outer court of the temple. Although we might not understand the difference, we should seek to advance in our Christian life. The trespass offering and the propitiation place both take care of our sins, but only the latter is intimately tied to God’s glory.

Do not be satisfied to remain in the outer court. New Jerusalem is the holy of holies; there will be no more outer court. Don’t wait; advance now. Lord, I want to have a deeper experience of Your forgiveness. Bring me to the propitiation place so that Your glory may come forth.

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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.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

Our God, Our Dwelling, is the Living Temple

New JerusalemThe prior five posts look at the living New Testament temple. This began with the Lord Jesus in John 2, with His body, the real temple of God, “destroyed” by the Jews in crucifixion but raised up in resurrection. The living temple concludes with God and the Lamb as the temple of New Jerusalem in Revelation 21.

This living temple was typified by the physical tabernacle and temple in the Old Testament, but this physical structure was not God’s eternal intention.

Moses, who oversaw the building of the tabernacle, realized this. In Psalm 90:1 he declared, “O Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.” In eternity, in New Jerusalem, the Lord will still be our dwelling place.

Isaiah speaks similarly, “You shall sanctify Jehovah of hosts; He shall be the One to fear and He shall be the One to be awed by. Then He will become a sanctuary” (8:13-14a). When our heart pursues sanctification, the Lord becomes our sanctuary, our dwelling place, our temple. The ultimate stage of this is the holy (sanctified) city New Jerusalem.

We have been sanctified positionally at our initial salvation. Now we need to pursue experiential sanctification, that is, being separated unto God from everything else by being saturated with His holy nature. In this way He becomes our sanctuary, our temple.

Both Moses and Isaiah saw beyond the outward pictures of the tabernacle and temple. They saw that the real temple is the living God Himself. Lord, bring us to the same realization that they had; We want to experience dwelling in You as our living temple not only in New Jerusalem but also in this age.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

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, is at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

The New Testament Temple is Living (4)

New JerusalemIn various centuries, physical temples were built in earthly Jerusalem. But in the New Testament Jesus is the reality; He is the living temple. In resurrection He brought all His believers into this reality, this living temple.

In Revelation 21:22 John says, “I saw no temple in it [New Jerusalem], for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” Certainly this is a living temple! We do not need an earthly, physical temple, for today and in New Jerusalem we worship God in God.

This is not a new idea; in John 4:19-24 the Lord was asked which physical place is the proper location for worship. He answered. “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness.”

Worship is no longer defined by a physical building. To worship in our human spirit, born of God the Spirit, is to worship in the living temple. In resurrection, as regenerated people, we are one spirit with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17). Our worship of God in spirit, in the living temple, is in the Person of God, who is Spirit.

The regeneration of our human spirit and the Lord being with us in our spirit, distinguish the New Testament from the Old Testament. In the New Testament reality the location is spirit instead of the physical Jerusalem. In the New Testament reality the temple is living and the worship is living. This pattern will continue into New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem is Eternal

#NewJerusalemWe had recent posts on Eternal Life and New Jerusalem. Now we look at other eternal matters in the New Testament and how they relate to New Jerusalem.

First, God is eternal. And God is on the throne in New Jerusalem. He is the eternal center and the eternal nature of the city. The eternal God is incorruptible (1 Tim. 1:17), making New Jerusalem incorruptible.

God is also “the Father of lights, with whom is no variation or shadow cast by turning” (James 1:17). Because He is eternal, He has no variations. And He is the light of New Jerusalem. Revelation 21:23, “the city has no need of the sun or of the moon that they should shine in it, for the glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

The Lord Jesus died on the cross and “through His own blood, centered once for all into the Holy of Holies, obtaining an eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12). This eternal redemption is for now and for New Jerusalem, where it is eternally displayed by the Lamb on the throne (Rev. 22:1).

After His death, God raised our Lord Jesus “in the blood of an eternal covenant” (Heb. 13:20). This eternal covenant/agreement/contract includes New Jerusalem, the eternal city. Based on His eternal redemption and covenant, the Lord is now “the source of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9). The salvation we received includes our eternal participation in New Jerusalem.

Also, through His death and resurrection, the way is open that we “might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15). This is not an earthly nor a physical inheritance but “incorruptible and undefiled and unfading, kept in the heavens for you” (1 Peter 1:4). Ultimately this heavenly, eternal inheritance, New Jerusalem, will “come down out of heaven” (Rev. 21:10).

Eternal Life and New Jerusalem (5)

New JerusalemFirst John 1:2: “And the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and report to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us.” This life was first manifested through the incarnation and human living of the Lord Jesus. It will be fully manifested by New Jerusalem.

This eternal life brings us fellowship with God and with one another (v. 3, 7). This fellowship is for this time and will continue ever richer into eternity in New Jerusalem.

To announce this life to one another is a matter of joy now (v. 4). This life will also fill New Jerusalem with joy. Furthermore, in this life we have God, who is light (v. 5). This light is within us now and will characterize New Jerusalem as a city with God in the Lamb as its light (Rev. 21:11, 23).

In New Jerusalem there will be no sin, so there will be no further need of confessing sins (v. 9). But, the Lamb will be in the city (Rev. 21:22-23, 22:1, 3) as a reminder that He is the One who “took away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).

Verse 8 speaks about the truth (reality). This truth is Jesus Christ Himself (John 14:6) both now and in New Jerusalem.

Verse 9 tells us that God is faithful and righteous to forgive the sins we confess. In New Jerusalem there will be no more sinning so no more confessing of sins, but God will still be faithful and righteous, and we will still “openly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11). And we will “see His face” (Rev. 22:4).

All of these blessings in 1 John 1 characterize Christian life today and in New Jerusalem. It is a city of eternal life, eternal fellowship, eternal joy, eternal light, eternal truth (reality), and the eternal presence of the faithful and righteous God.

Photo courtesy of Heather Martin.

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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Nothing Abominable in New Jerusalem

This continues occasional posts about what is NOT in New Jerusalem. Revelation 21:8 declares, “But the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and fornicators and sorcerers and idolaters and all the false, their part will be in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

New JerusalemThis verse lists eight categories of people and actions which will not be in New Jerusalem. The verse begins but. This indicates a contrast. The prior phrase (21:7) is, “I will be God to him, and he will be a son to Me.” This indicates that the eight categories have not been born of God to be His sons.

The word to the Galatian believers (and to us) is, “you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” New Jerusalem is composed of all who are sons of God through faith. This includes the Old Testament people of faith. Hebrews 11:16 speaks about them: “they long after a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”

Revelation 21:27 is similar to 21:8, “anything common and he who makes an abomination and a lie shall by no means enter into it [New Jerusalem].” Verse 27 continues, “only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life [will enter New Jerusalem].” Like son in 21:7, this word indicates that participation in New Jerusalem is a matter of life. Since the nations around New Jerusalem will bring their glory and honor into New Jerusalem (21:26), they too must be in the Lamb’s book of life.

Our goal is not merely to be saved from negative things, but to be built together in the eternal life for God’s dwelling today, which develops unto New Jerusalem.

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God and the Lamb are the Temple

John the apostle, speaking about New Jerusalem, tells us, “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev. 21:22).

New JerusalemThere is no physical temple, no material “house of worship,” no “going to church,” in New Jerusalem. In this wonderful city we will worship God in God and the Lamb. Our priestly service to God will be in God and the Lamb.

Worshipping and serving God in God and the Lamb is a principle in the entire New Testament. The Lord Jesus first revealed this in John 4. The Samaritan woman asked whether the mountain of Samaria or Jerusalem is the proper place to worship. The Lord answered “an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father” (v. 21).

He continued, “An hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truthfulness, for the Father also seeks such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness” (v. 23-24).

“An hour is coming” points to the Lord’s resurrection. That “hour” is when the resurrected Lord breathed into His disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). From that time we worship in spirit. And we will continue to do so in New Jerusalem.

Yes, Christians should gather together (in small or large numbers) for our priestly service to God. But the physical location is not important; it could be outside or in a home or in another building. The important matter is to worship in spirit. God is spirit and our worship in spirit is in oneness with Him.

In New Jerusalem we will all be together in resurrection and will have no need of a physical location. There we will all worship God and the Lamb in the city’s temple, the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.

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, is at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation 21 (2)

In Revelation 21 we see New Jerusalem in the new creation. Many prior posts addressed accomplishments by Jesus Christ to bring us here. Now we see the same wonderful Person as the center of the new creation.

In verse 21:6 He says “I am the Alpha and the Omega*, the Beginning and the End. I will give to him who thirsts from the spring of the water of life freely.” What He began in eternity past, and continued through His incarnation, human living, death, and resurrection, has come to an eternal conclusion.

New JerusalemEven in New Jerusalem, He is not only our Omega and End but He is still our Alpha and our Beginning. And the water of life He freely gives flows out of His throne (22:1).

In verses 9-11 New Jerusalem is “the bride, the wife of the Lamb” and is seen, “having the glory of God.” The Lamb, Jesus Christ, is the Husband and He is also the glory of New Jerusalem. This “glory of Christ” first comes to us in the gospel (2 Cor. 4:4) and develops in us to His second coming (2 Thes. 1:10), consummating in the glory of New Jerusalem.

Verses 12 to 21 describe New Jerusalem. In verse 22 John says, “I saw no temple in it, 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.

In verse 23, “The city has no need of the sun or of the moon that they should shine in it, for the glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” God in Jesus Christ is the light of the city. There is no need for physical light. God in Christ as the real light is first seen in Matthew 4:13-16 and is consummated in illuminating New Jerusalem.

*The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.

 

New Jerusalem Like a Precious Jasper Stone

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.

New Jerusalem has the glory of God and “Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, as clear as crystal.” (Rev. 21:11). We know that this precious jasper stone is not physical because 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” (Rev. 4:2-3).

New JerusalemGod on the throne is like a jasper stone and a sardius stone. The light of New Jerusalem is like a jasper stone because God Himself is the light of the city. “The city has no need of the sun or of the moon that they should shine in it, for the glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev. 21:23).

“The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every precious stone” (Rev. 21:18). Because these foundations are plural, they are not Christ Himself. Rather, they are the apostles because, “the wall of the city had twelve founda-tions, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:14).

A recent inquiry asked who are the apostles named on the foundations of New Jerusalem. The Bible does not say and I will not speculate. But we do know that there are twelve foundations and that twelve signifies eternal completion and perfection. The ministry of the apostles in this age is for our transformation from clay to living stones and for our being built together now, to prepare the bride, New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2).

 

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