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.

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New Jerusalem, not in the Natural Realm (2)

New Jerusalem is the consummation of the Lord’s redeeming work on the cross, the Lord’s sanctifying/purifying work now, and His glorifying work at His return.  We see New Jerusalem by being carried away in spirit (out of the natural realm) onto a great and high mountain (above the level of our ordinary living).

To consider Revelation 21–22 as something natural is to miss the reality presented here. This is to repeat the error common in John’s gospel—interpreting or trying to grasp the Lord’s spiritual presentation by natural understanding. Here are more examples of this.

New Jerusalem• In 6:51-55 no one understood how the Lord could give us His flesh to eat for eternal life. But He spoke of the Spirit who gives life (v. 63).
• In 8:32-34 He spoke about being free from the slavery of sin but the hearers thought only about human slavery.
• In 8:51-53 the Lord spoke about keeping His word to overcome eternal death but the hearers could only think of physical death.
• In 11:11-14 the Lord used sleep as a picture of death; the disciples thought of physical sleep and could not comprehend His word.
• In 14:7-11 the Lord told the disciples that they had seen the Father manifested in His living and doing, but they only thought of physical seeing.

New Jerusalem is the consummation of the church as the Body of Christ, His fullness (Eph. 1:22-23). New Jerusalem is also the consummation of the new man created by Christ in Himself (Eph 2:15), the holy temple growing in Him (2:21), and the dwelling place of God in spirit (2:22). Surely this is not in the natural realm. Lord, carry me away in spirit to see New Jerusalem!

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New Jerusalem, not in the Natural Realm

New JerusalemJohn saw New Jerusalem when an angel showed it to him and carried him away “in spirit onto a great and high mountain” (Rev. 21:9-10). The angel’s showing, in spirit, and on a high mountain, indicate that seeing New Jerusalem is not based on human capability, is not in the natural realm, and is not on an ordinary level.

New Jerusalem is the bride of Christ, the consummation of His work of redeeming, sanctifying, and glorifying all His believers (Eph. 5:25-27). Thus, we should not think of New Jerusalem as a physical city. To think about the Lord’s words in the physical realm is to repeat a recurring error. Here are examples of this error from John’s gospel.

• In 2:19 Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews were in the natural realm, thinking He spoke about the physical temple. But, He spoke about His body in resurrection.
• In 3:3-6 Jesus spoke about being born anew, being born of the Spirit. Nicodemus misunderstood, thinking about natural birth.
• In 4:10-14 Jesus spoke about living water but the Samaritan woman only could conceive of physical water.
• In 4:32-34 the Lord spoke about being nourished by doing the Father’s will but the disciples only thought about physical food.
• In 6:38, 42 the Lord spoke about coming out of heaven but the Jews could not get beyond their knowledge of His human family.

These examples (and more in the next post) show the futility of depending on our own knowledge and comprehension with divine things. To see and understand New Jerusalem we need to be out of our natural understanding. We need to ask the Lord to carry us away,to keep us in spirit, and to bring us the high mountain so that we may receive a revelation of New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Created for the Glory of New Jerusalem

In Isaiah 43 God speaks of gathering His scattered people, “Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created, formed, and even made for My glory” (v. 7).

The words create, form, and make all appear in Genesis 1–2 (e.g. 1:1, 26; 2:4, 7-8). The declaration in Isaiah 43:7 shows us that all God’s work from the beginning of creation has a goal—His glory. God created us not merely to live a good human life. God put man in the garden of Eden with the tree of life. This is a picture of God wanting to be life to us.

New JerusalemThis picture in Genesis 2 is before sin, before death, before the curse, before rebellion against God. God being life to us is not a reaction to these negatives. God wants His life to be received by us, to be in us for His glory.

The tree of life is also in New Jerusalem. Christ has become life to all His believers and is our life eternally. This life operates in us to transform us and build us together to be His corporate Body in this age and to be the city of New Jerusalem in eternity.

This is “for God’s glory.” New Jerusalem “has the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11). The glory of God illuminates New Jerusalem (21:23). And, because the city is like clear, transparent glass (21:11, 18, 21), God’s illuminating glory will shine out through the city.

In these verses we see three steps. First, God created, formed, and made us. Second, God in Christ became life to us. Third, the result is God’s glory. These three steps cover the entire Bible, from creation to New Jerusalem.

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We Are God’s City

New JerusalemThis blog often writes about New Jerusalem being a living composition of God with His people, not a physical city.

The simplest proof of this is in Revelation 21. “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (v. 2). The Husband, Jesus Christ, is a living person, and the bride is a corporate living person to match Him.

“Come here; I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb….And he carried me away in spirit onto great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem” (v. 9-10). Again, there is a living Husband, the Lamb, and a corporate living bride, the wife of the Lamb. The city, New Jerusalem, is a corporate person.

Matthew 5:14 has the same thought. “You are the light of the world. It is impossible for a city situated upon a mountain to be hidden.” Here the Lord Jesus describes all His disciples (v. 1) as the light of the world. This same description, that we are the light, is in Ephesians 5:8 and Philippians 2:15. Of course, we are not light in ourselves, but we are the light because He is the light in us, shining through us.

The Lord then likens the disciples, a corporate light, to a city. The shining city on a mountain portrays the disciples. The thought here, at the start of the New Testament, matches the thought at the end of the New Testament—a city depicts God’s corporate people. This is New Jerusalem—all God’s people, filled with His fullness and glorifying Him (Eph. 3:19, 21).

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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.

The Church, Forerunner of New Jerusalem

The church is both singular, universal and plural, in many cities. The universal church includes all believers in the New Testament age. As such, it is the forerunner of New Jerusalem which includes all God’s people of the Old and New Testament ages.

Here we look at verses about the nature of the church, which also give us a view of the nature of New Jerusalem. First, in Matthew 16:18, the Lord Jesus speaks of “My church.” The church is His. Likewise, New Jerusalem is His. More specifically, it is His bride, His wife. An angel said to the apostle John, “I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb….and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem” (Rev. 21:9-10).

New JerusalemIn Acts 20:28 (and 1 Cor. 1:2, 1 Tim. 3:5, and other verses) is “the church of God.” The church, and New Jerusalem, are certainly of God as the source and of God as the element, the content (like “a table of wood” is made of wood).

In 1 Timothy 3:15 is “the house of God, which is the church of the living God.” And, in Hebrews 12:22 is “the city of the living God.” Both the church, the house, and New Jerusalem, the city, have the living God as their source and their element. Both the church and New Jerusalem are alive with the life of God.

The church is not a physical structure. Rather, the church, and New Jerusalem, are “the household of God” (many translations of 1 Tim. 3:15), the people of God. God is the element of New Jerusalem and we, His people, are the living components containing this living element. God is living and both the church and New Jerusalem are living organisms.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Being Perfected in Christian Life to Match New Jerusalem (4)

New JerusalemRomans 12:2 exhorts us “be transformed by the renewing of the mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect.” This good, well pleasing, and perfect will is ultimately to bring forth New Jerusalem.

Romans 12:1 shows us that a base for our transformation is to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service.”

This consecration comes out of the foregoing chapters of Romans—realizing that we, as fallen, natural men, cannot please God but need His life in us to enable us to be people for His purpose.

We cannot transform ourselves. Second Corinthians 3:18 tells us that we are transformed by beholding the glory of the Lord; He is the source! Ephesians 4:23 says we should “be renewed in the spirit of our mind.” Our transformation is by renewing and our renewing is accomplished by the Spirit in our spirit.

The first verse of a hymn (music) by Witness Lee speaks of God’s intention, His will, and our consequent need for transformation (see graphic in this post). The fourth verse of the hymn, based on 2 Corinthians 3:18, presents something of God’s goal.
__By the power of His Spirit
____In His pattern He transforms;
__From His glory to His glory
____To His image He conforms.
New Jerusalem, radiating the glory of God (Rev. 21:11), is the fulfillment of God’s will.

The chorus is a good prayer for each of us.
__Lord, transform us to Thine image
____In emotion, mind, and will;
__Saturate us with Thy Spirit,
____All our being wholly fill.

The hymn is © 2001 by Living Stream Ministry, used by permission.
Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

New Jerusalem is Eternal (2)

New Jerusalem is 
eternal
, based on the eternal redemption obtained by Jesus Christ. The city is part of God’s eternal 
covenant bringing us eternal salvation and an eternal 
inheritance.

New Jerusalem is a city “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11). This is an eternal glory because God is eternal. “The God of all grace has called you into His eternal glory” (1 Peter 5:10). We are not worthy, but because of God’s mercy and the redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ, we have been called into the glory of New Jerusalem.

#NewJerusalemSecond Timothy 2:10 also speaks of our obtaining “the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” Although we have not physically seen this glory, we have been called into it and have obtained by faith. And by faith we hold to this salvation with glory.

Do not be shaken by troubles now. Second Corinthians 4:17 says, “our momentary lightness of affliction works out for us, more and more surpassingly, an eternal weight of glory.” We have been called into eternal glory, and through afflictions the Lord constitutes this glory into us. As a result we correspond to New Jerusalem.

The afflictions are also mentioned in 1 Peter 5:10. After the phrase quoted above, it says,”after you have suffered a little while, will Himself perfect, establish, strengthen, and ground you.” Our cooperation is to look away by faith to what is eternal: “we do not regard the things which are seen but the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18).

Through the Bible and the eternal Spirit, we can be strengthened with the view of the eternal glory of New Jerusalem.

Photo by John Sonntag, courtesy of NASA.

New Jerusalem is Heavenly on Earth

New Jerusalem is heavenly in nature but in position it is on earth. John saw New Jerusalem “coming down out of heaven from God” (Rev. 21:2, 10). The phrase “out of heaven,” twice in Revelation 21, means it is no longer in heaven.

Matthew has multiple verses speaking of the “heavenly Father.” New Jerusalem is heavenly because the Father, the source of life, is heavenly. Through regeneration we received this heavenly life so that we can grow up to be the heavenly members of New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemBelieving in Jesus Christ for our new birth is our response to the “heavenly calling” which has come to us and of which we are now partakers (Heb. 3:1) . We are called to Jesus Christ, to God the Father, and to the heavenly city Jerusalem.

Ephesians 2:4-5 tells us that due to God’s rich mercy He made us alive with Christ. Then verse 6, “and raised us up together with Him and seated us together with Him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.” We were made alive with the divine life, the heavenly life, then seated in the heavenlies with Christ. Physically we are on earth but spiritually we are in a heavenly position

First Corinthians 15:49 declares, “even as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.” We have the earthly image because, as human beings, we have an earthly life. Now we have been reborn of a heavenly Father, and are being transformed into His image.

This transformation is presented in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit.” As we behold the Lord, His glory is infused into us to develop this glorious, heavenly image in us. This matches New Jerusalem, which “has the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11).

Photo courtesy of Heather Martin.

God and New Jerusalem, Forever and Ever

God is eternal. His new creation, with new heavens and a new earth, is eternal. New Jerusalem, the center of the new creation is eternal. Here is a list of the recent “forever and ever” posts which speak about the eternal God in the eternal New Jerusalem.

Glory to God in New JerusalemTo God Be the Glory Forever and Ever: in Paul’s epistles and Revelation 1. The glory is to our God, and New Jerusalem “has the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11).

To God Be the Glory Forever and Ever: in first Peter. We function as good stewards of the grace of God that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom is the glory and the might forever and ever (4:10-11).

To God Be the Glory Forever and Ever: in Jude and Revelation 5 and 7. 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 (5:13).

New Jerusalem: Reign Forever and Ever: the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever (Rev. 11:15). God’s slaves also reign forever and ever because they are one with the reigning God (Rev. 22:3, 5). New Jerusalem is the center of this eternal reign.

Jesus Christ, Living Forever and Ever: He is the One who became dead and is living forever. He is our life and life supply in resurrection for us today and in New Jerusalem.

Here is a hymn praising God who flows as living water forever and ever.

Second Corinthians 4:18 reminds us “…the things which are seen [physically/humanly] are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” The glory, reigning, and living of God and His city, New Jerusalem, are eternal, forever and ever.

New Jerusalem is a Corporate God-man,   the Consummation of the High Peak of Revelation

Thanks to Stefan at www.agodman.com/blog for this solid post on New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem

The consummation of the central vision of God’s economy and of the high peak of the divine revelation is the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:29-11); the New Jerusalem is a corporate God-man and the consummation of the high peak of the divine revelation.

The central vision of God’s economy is the experience of Christ as life for the producing and building up of the church as the Body of Christ. God has an economy, and in His economy He intends to dispense Himself into us to regenerate us, transform us, build us up, and glorify us, so that He may gain the church as the Body of Christ, His corporate expression in the universe.

This is what Paul was writing about in his 14 epistles; the central vision of Paul’s completing ministry is God in us as our contents, Christ as the mystery of God, and the church as the mystery of Christ.

Read the entire post which includes additional verses, more spiritual riches, plus links to references and hymns about New Jerusalem.

ps: Stefan is a God-man because, like all believers in Jesus Christ, he is a man and God in Christ is in Him. 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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