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   4-5 Brings Us to New Jerusalem

New JerusalemThe central theme of Revelation is the testimony of Jesus. This wonderful One is seen throughout Revelation caring for God’s interests on earth. These posts look at aspects of His care which brings us to New Jerusalem.

Revelation 4–5 presents a vision of heaven. In 5:5 Jesus Christ is “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.” He is the victorious One who fought God’s enemies, to clear the way for our redemption, regeneration, and perfection.

In 5:6 He is “a Lamb standing as having just been slain.” He died to redeem us but now He is standing in resurrection with the life that we receive in regeneration, the life for New Jerusalem. He also has “the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” This intensified Spirit is for our “much more salvation in life” (Rom. 5:10) in this dark age.

A praise to the Lamb in 5:9 says, “You are worthy…for You were slain and have purchased for God by Your blood men out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” By His death He purchased all of us out of every human distinction to be the one new man, who consummates in New Jerusalem. He is worthy!

In 5:10 the praise continues, echoing 1:6, that He has “made them a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign on the earth.” The ultimate stage of the kingdom and our priesthood and reigning is New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:3-5).

The praise continues in 5:11-14. We, with the heavenly host, can cry out, “Worthy is the Lamb.” Very likely, in New Jerusalem this praise will continue: “Worthy is the Lamb.”

New Jerusalem Declares God’s Excellencies

First Peter 2:9 says, “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people acquired for a possession, so that you may tell out the virtues of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” The choosing is of God, not of us.  The acquiring is of God and the possession is God’s. Becoming a royal priesthood is through the death of Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:5-6). The calling is of God.

The telling out, proclaiming, declaring, making known the virtues, the excellencies, of God is our function today and unto eternity in New Jerusalem.

This telling out is not merely with human words. It is based on and firmly related to God’s calling us “out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Our proclaiming of God’s virtues, His excellencies, is our shining Him forth. This shining will consummate with New Jerusalem radiating the glory of God.

New JerusalemHere are some verses related to our present shining:
• “You are the light of the world. It is impossible for a city situated upon a mountain to be hidden.” “Let your light shine before men” (Matt. 5:14, 16)
• “Children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine as luminaries in the world.” (Phil. 2:15)
• “You…are now light in the Lord; walk as children of light.” (Eph. 5:8)

We should shine now, and we will certainly shine as constituents of New Jerusalem. However, our present proclaiming of God’s excellency is not only by an abstract shining. It is also a “telling out” with human words filled with divine life. Philippians 2:15-16 say we are “shine as luminaries in the world, holding forth the word of life.”

God has called us to tell out, to proclaim, to declare, His excellent virtues. This is a call to participate now in this prefigure of New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

New Jerusalem Proclaims the Excellencies of God

New Jerusalem First Peter 2:9 says, “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people acquired for a possession, so that you may tell out the virtues of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Other translations* of “tell out the virtues” include “proclaim/ declare/show forth/make known the excellence/excellencies/praises.”

This telling out/proclaiming/declaring begins now and will be magnified in New Jerusalem. The initial step is regeneration by the incorruptible seed of the word of God (1 Peter 1:23).

The next step is the guileless milk of the word for our growth and our tasting the goodness of the Lord (1 Peter 2:2-3). Then we continually come to the Lord, the living Stone, to be built together into a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:4-5). This house is also a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God.

All of these steps are related to New Jerusalem. Regeneration is our entrance. Although we will be full grown in New Jerusalem and not need the milk for newborn babes, eternally we will have the river of life and tree of life to sustain and satisfy us (Rev. 22:1-2). Our being built together also points toward New Jerusalem, which is a spiritual building.

The holy priesthood of 1 Peter 2:5 and the royal priesthood of 2:9 will continue in New Jerusalem. God’s “slaves will serve Him” (Rev. 22:3). The Greek word translated serve means serve as priests. And we “will reign forever and ever” (22:5).

Based on our regeneration, growth, being built together, and serving in the priesthood, we proclaim the excellencies of our God. The proclaiming begins now and amplifies with our growth, building, and serving unto the fullness of New Jerusalem.

* Thanks to biblehub.com.

According to God’s Mercy He Saved Us

New JerusalemThe prior post focused on Ephesians 2, where God’s mercy is brings us to salvation “that He might display in the ages to come the surpassing riches of His grace.” New Jerusalem is the consummation of this display.

Titus 3:4-5 say, “the kindness and the love to man of our Savior God appeared, not out of works in righteousness which we did but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.”

Titus 3:3 (like Ephesians 2:1-3) presents our fallen condition, requiring God’s mercy. Then Titus 3:4-5 (like Ephesians 2:4-6) presents God’s mercy and our salvation. This salvation renews us to be God’s people for the building of God’s habitation.

First Peter 2:9-10 is similar—“you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people acquired for a possession, so that you may tell out the virtues of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but now are the people of God; who had not previously been shown mercy but have now been shown mercy.”

Again, mercy has come to us to make us God’s people, His royal priesthood, His holy nation. An issue of this is that we tell out/declare/show forth/proclaim His virtues, His excellencies. Eternally, New Jerusalem will be this telling out, this showing forth, of God’s excellencies.

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.

Photo courtesy of CSIRO Australia.

Come Forward, See God’s Face, Serve Him

A review of recent posts on the priesthood:
• In Exodus 19 God stated His intention to make Israel a kingdom of priests;
• Hebrews 5–7 speak about Jesus Christ as the kingly High Priest;
• Revelation 1:5-6 and 5:9-10 tell us that Jesus Christ, through His propitiatory death, made us a kingdom of priests;
• 1 Peter 1–2 presents a process through which we are built together as a priesthood;
• 1 Peter 2 also says we are a royal priesthood telling out the virtues of the Lord;
• Revelation 20:6 speaks of priests of God and of Christ and reigning with Him.

Finally, in Revelation 22:3, 5, “…the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [New Jerusalem], and His slaves will serve Him….and they will reign forever and ever.” Here the word “serve” means to serve as a priest.

New JerusalemTo serve as priests is to be in the presence of God in the holy of holies. Hebrews 9:8 tells us that the way into the holy of holies was not manifested in Old Testament times. But Hebrews 9–10 go on to speak of what Jesus Christ accomplished as our High Priest so that now we can come forward to the holy of holies (10:19). Ultimately, the entire city of New Jerusalem is the holy of holies. Here we see God’s face (Revelation 22:4).

By coming to the holy of holies, the priests are infused with God’s shining and thereby express Him. This matches two lines of a song in an earlier post: Saturated with His beauty, Radiate His excellence. This should be our experience today and will be our fuller experience in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Be Priests and Reign with God and Christ

New JerusalemRevelation 20:6 declares, “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”

An outcome of the Lord’s redemption is that we became a kingdom of priests (Revelation 1:5-6). Gradually we grow in Him and are built together into the reality of the priesthood to be saturated with Him and to radiate His excellence.

When the Lord returns, those believers who are living in the reality of the priesthood will be brought onward to be priests and to reign with Him for a thousand years.

There are many conflicting teachings about the thousand years. Without getting into this morass, we see that the kingdom of priests was intended by God with Israel, is founded on Jesus Christ Himself as the kingly High Priest, was brought forth and is built up in this age, will exist (no doubt stronger) in the thousand years, and will reach its high point in New Jerusalem.

This kingly priesthood is not many separate individual priests, but is the corporate body of priests, the priesthood, built together one spiritual house. It is progressing now, will be fuller in the thousand years, and will consummate in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Jesus Christ, the Originator and the Finisher

New JerusalemRevelation 1:5-6 says that Jesus Christ, through His redemption, “made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.” Revelation 22:3-5 says that we will serve Him as priests and will reign with Him in New Jerusalem. Thus, the kingdom of priests extends from the Lord’s resurrection to eternity.

Revelation 5:9-10 says the same. In a praise to the Lamb, we read, “You were slain and have purchased for God by Your blood men out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made them a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign on the earth.”

These verses make it clear that we are a kingdom of priests not by our choice nor by our accomplishments nor by our efforts nor due to anything else of ourselves. The Lamb has made us a kingdom of priests.

Since we are priests, we should live as priests. But learning to live as a priest is also not by our own determination nor by our own energy. The key is “looking away unto Jesus, the Author [Originator, Inaugurator] and Perfecter [Finisher, Completer] of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

The “looking away” to Him is also our “coming to Him” (1 Peter 2:4) by which we “are being built up as a spiritual house into a holy priesthood” (2:5). Our coming to Him is by prayer, singing, declaring His word, thanking Him, calling on His name (Romans 10:12-13), and praising.

He is the initiation of the kingdom of priests and He will bring us to the consummation in New Jerusalem.

A song begins_-_Take time to behold Him,
______________Speak oft with Thy Lord,
____________Abide in Him always,
______________And feed on His Word.

Photo by Gregory Heath, courtesy of CSIRO Australia.

A Kingdom of Priests, Both Now and In New Jerusalem

Revelation 1:5-6 and 5:9-10 tell us that the redemption of Jesus Christ has made us a kingdom of priests. This status will continue unto eternity in New Jerusalem.

Even in the Old Testament it was God’s intention to have a kingdom of priests. In Exodus 12-14 was the redemption of the Passover, followed by the departure from Egypt. Based on this, God’s word to Israel in Exodus 19 was,

You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My personal treasure from among all peoples, for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

New JerusalemLater, Israel turned away from obeying the Lord’s voice and worshipped a golden calf. As a result of this failure, and due to the positive reaction of the tribe of Levi, the priesthood was restricted to Aaron and his descendants.

This restriction of the priesthood to a small fraction of God’s people was not God’s intention. This temporary restriction was removed by the redemption of Christ.

Today we could turn away from the Lord’s word. This does not take us out of the priesthood but it annuls our function. However, we can confess our sins and be forgiven and cleansed (1 John 1:7, 9). Then we will be back in the light and able to resume participation in the priesthood.

May we confess so that we may live in the light and participate in the priesthood now while awaiting the fuller and unvarying priesthood in New Jerusalem.

___Pray to fellowship with Jesus,
_____In the spirit seek His face;
___Ask and listen in His presence,
_____Waiting in the secret place.____words_music

Photo by Scott Bauer, courtesy of U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

We Have a Merciful and Faithful High Priest

New JErusalemIn New Jerusalem all God’s slaves will serve Him as priests and all will reign with Him (Revelation 22:3, 5). We are now, and will be then, a kingdom of priests.

Melchizedek in Genesis 14 was the first royal priest and He is a picture of Jesus Christ. We see more in Hebrews:
• God declares to Christ, “You are a Priest forever according to the order of Melchisedec.” (v. 5:6, 7:17)
• “The Forerunner, Jesus, has entered for us [within the veil], having become forever a High Priest according to the order of Melchisedec.” (v. 6:20)
• The name Melchisedec means “king of righteousness” and He is “also king of Salem, which is king of peace.” (v. 7:2)
• This Melchisedec “having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but likened to the Son of God, abides a priest perpetually.” (v. 7:3)

Hebrews 2:17 declares that Jesus Christ, the real Melchisedec, was “made like His brothers in all things that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in the things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

As our High Priest, His propitiatory death released us from our sins. This release, this redemption, this forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7) is wonderful. Thank Him! However, this release is not God’s goal.

Revelation 1:5b-6 praises Him saying, “To Him 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.” The release from sins is so that He could make us a kingdom of priests, which points toward New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

We Serve God as Priests

In Revelation 21:2, 9-11 John saw the city New Jerusalem and he describes what was revealed to him. One aspect of his description is in Revelation 22:3, 5:

…the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [New Jerusalem], and His slaves will serve Him….and they have no need of the light of a lamp and of the light of the sun, for the Lord God will shine upon them; and they will reign forever and ever.

New JerusalemThe Greek word translated “serve” in verse 3 means to serve as priests. All God’s people are His slaves and all will be one corporate priesthood serving Him. Simultaneously they all will reign with Him. They will be the consummate, eternal, royal priesthood.

This royal priesthood was first portrayed by Melchizedek in Genesis 14. Verse 18 says, “Melchizedek the king of Salem brought out bread and wine. Now he was priest of God the Most High.”

The only other Old Testament word about Melchizedek is Psalm 110:4, “Jehovah has sworn, and He will not change: You are a Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” In Matthew 22:41-46 the Lord quotes Psalm 110:1 and tells us that it is a prophecy about Himself. He is the real Melchizedek, the real King-Priest.

Hebrews 5–7 has much to say about Melchisedec. The next post will look at these verses. Later posts will look at all the believers as a kingdom of priests culminating in New Jerusalem.

Photo by Gregory Heath, courtesy of CSIRO Australia.

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