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.

Aspects of New Jerusalem in Our Daily Life

hymn on God’s eternal purpose includes creation, life, transformation, building, and New Jerusalem. It moves from Genesis 1–2 through the New Testament to New Jerusalem in Revelation 21–22.
New Jerusalem

Verses 5 and 6 of the hymn, above, are about New Jerusalem. Here are many lines from these verses of the hymn with a corresponding portion from Revelation.

✦ He’s the very center, ruling on the throne:  “the throne of God and of the Lamb ” (22:1)
✦ By His light of glory, they are kept in light: “the Lord God will shine upon them” (22:5)
✦ He’s their living water, and their food supply: “a river of water of life, bright as crystal…And on this side and on that side of the river was the tree of life, producing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit each month” (22:1-2)
✦ All their thirst and hunger He doth satisfy: “They will not hunger any more, neither will they thirst any more” (7:16)
✦ He’s for them the temple, in Himself they live: “the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its [New Jerusalem’s] temple” (21:22), “they…serve [as priests] Him day and night in His temple” (7:15)
✦ In His constant presence: “they will see His face….the Lord God will shine upon them” (22:4, 5)
✦ Worship ever give: “His slaves will serve [as priests] Him” (22:3)

The characteristics of New Jerusalem described in these hymn verses should be spiritual (not physical) characteristics of our Christian life today. The Lord Jesus should be on the throne in us now, supplying us with living water and being our bread of life. We should walk in Him as our light (1 John 1:7), be empowered by Him (2 Tim. 2:1), be in the oneness (Eph. 4:3), behold Him (Heb. 12:2), and worship Him (John 4:24).

The characteristics of New Jerusalem in the hymn are very similar to the characteristics of a proper Christian life. The difference is not in nature but in magnitude. New Jerusalem will be much richer than today, and without the complication of sin and death.

Acts 26:18 and New Jerusalem

In Acts 26 Paul recounts his calling by the Lord in Acts 9. The LorNew Jerusalemd told Paul He was sending him to the nations (v. 17), “To open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light and from the authority of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (v. 18).

Every point of this commission has a fulfillment in New Jerusalem. The first point is “to open their eyes.” In New Jerusalem we will see the face of God and the Lamb (Rev. 22:4).

The second point is “to turn them from darkness to light.” In New Jerusalem there will be no darkness. “Night will be no more; 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” (Rev. 22:5). Not only no darkness; even more there is no natural light from the sun nor man-made light from a lamp. The light of the city is Christ, the light of life (John 8:12).

The third point is a turn “from the authority of Satan to God.” In Revelation 20 Satan, the devil, is cast into the lake of fire forever (v. 10). And in New Jerusalem there is “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev. 22:1, 3).

The fourth point is “sanctified by faith.” By faith we become immediately holy in position and gradually holy in our nature to match “the holy city, New Jerusalem” (Rev. 21:2).

The fifth point, the first result, is “forgiveness of sins.” All sin and sins will have been put away by the time New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven. As a testimony, God and the redeeming Lamb are the temple (which is the whole of New Jerusalem), the Lamb is the lamp, and they are on the throne (Rev. 21:22, 23, 22:1).

The sixth point, the second result, is “an inheritance.” to be continued

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Purified by the Lord for New Jerusalem

In a recent Bible reading I was touched by a parallel between Matthew 5:8 and New Jerusalem. In Matthew the Lord says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Revelation 21:18 says, “the city was pure gold, like clear* glass” and 22:4a says, “they will see His face.”

New JerusalemMatthew has a wonderful promise and New Jerusalem completes the fulfillment. However, in ourselves we are not pure, so what should we do? We let the Lord purify us!

Hebrews 1:3 says that the Son, “having made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” By His death He accomplished purification and the success of this purification is testified by His resurrection and ascension.

Acts 15:9 says that the Lord cleanses/ purifies** our hearts by faith. When we believe into the Lord Jesus Christ, we become a new creation; our old things are cleansed away. That is the first step of cleansing; a change in position. This is a first step unto the purity of New Jerusalem.

First John 1:7 says, “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from every sin,” and 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The blood He shed in His death has cleansed us from every sin before we believed. As we are enlightened by walking in the light and if we confess, His blood cleanses us from every sin after we believe. This is the second step of cleansing, purifying us from unrighteous acts in our present living.

A third step toward the purity of New Jerusalem is in the next post.

* The same Greek word as for “pure” earlier in this verse.
** The verb form of the same Greek word in Matthew 5 and Revelation 21; here and in 1 John 1.

In the Cloud for the Lord’s Presence

The Spirit will bring us up to a high mountain to see and enter New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-10). On this mountain, we will be in a cloud which cuts off our seeing of everything else. Moses; Peter, James, and John; and Saul all had such “cloud” experiences.

New JerusalemIn these experiences the “cloud” cuts off our view of everything, but that is not the goal. The goal of the cloud is to separate us from everything into the Lord’s presence that we may focus all our attention on Him.

Exodus 24:15–25:1 say, “Moses went up to the top of the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. And the glory of Jehovah settled on Mount Sinai….And Moses entered into the midst of the cloud…and was on the mountain forty days and forty nights….Then Jehovah spoke to Moses.” Moses was in the cloud to behold the glory of the Lord and to hear His speaking.

On the mountain in Matthew 17, while Peter was speaking, “behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is My Son, the Beloved, in whom I have found My delight. Hear Him!” The cloud brought God’s voice to turn Peter from everything else to Jesus Christ.

In Acts 9:11-12, while Saul was blind, he was praying and saw a vision. This indicates that he was in fellowship with the Lord. And Acts 26:16 records that the Lord spoke to Saul during his blindness about “the things in which you have seen Me and of the things in which I will appear to you.” Hence his blindness began a life of seeing the Lord and the things of the Lord.

Lord Jesus, turn us from darkness to light. Grant us a “cloud” experience that we may clearly hear Your voice, see You, and see the glory of New Jerusalem.

A Cloud + God’s Voice: Heavenly Revelation

Moses went up to the top of the mountain, heard God’s call, entered into the cloud, and remained there. As a result he received a vision of the tabernacle, a precursor of New Jerusalem.

There are some New Testament records which to me have the same flavor. In Matthew 17 the Lord Jesus took Peter and James and John up to a high mountain privately (v. 1). “He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun” (v. 2). At that time there was a transient appearance of His glory but in New Jerusalem the glory will eternally illuminate the city (Rev. 21:23).

New JerusalemWhile Jesus shone with glory, Moses and Elijah also appeared to the three disciples (v. 3). Peter’s response was to make Moses and Elijah equal to Jesus (v. 4). But, “While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is My Son, the Beloved, in whom I have found My delight. Hear Him!” (v. 5).

Even on the mountain, privately, far from all earthly activities, Peter still needed a cloud to cut off his attention to Moses and Elijah. Are we any different?

After the word, “Hear Him!” the disciples fell down (v. 6). Jesus said “Arise, and do not be afraid. And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.” The cloud plus God’s speaking were effective!

We all need experiences equivalent to those of Moses and the three disciples so that we can see New Jerusalem. The temporal and physical circumstances will be different but the outcome will be a heavenly vision.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

On a Mountain, In a Cloud, New Jerusalem

Last month we concluded the posts on our spiritual journey to a high mountain to see New Jerusalem. This series touched both the Old Testament picture and the New Testament reality.

In the picture, both Exodus 24 and Exodus 34 speak of Moses being in a cloud. To be on a mountain in clear weather affords a great view. But God preferred a cloud. Exodus 24:15 to 25:1:

“Moses went up to the top of the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. And the glory of Jehovah settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud….And Moses entered into the midst of the cloud and went up on the mountain; and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights. Then Jehovah spoke to Moses…”

Exodus 24-25In recent days I have been wondering if one purpose of the cloud is to block our view of things below so that all we can see are the heavenly things on the mountain.

The goal of going up is time in the presence of God. With Him it does not matter if we think the earthly scene is lovely or ugly, encouraging or depressing. The goal of going up is time with Him. For this, it is better to have no distractions—no list of daily chores, no work obligations, no internet, etc.*

Moses was in the cloud forty days—a period of testing. After this test, God began to speak with Him about offering materials for building the tabernacle, the forerunner of New Jerusalem as the eternal tabernacle (Rev. 21:3).

Moses heard the call and entered into the cloud. May we all hear the call to be with God and may we all be willing to enter a cloud, so that we can see nothing but Him. This is the route to the vision of New Jerusalem.

*We do need to care for our daily chores and human obligations but not during our time with the Lord.

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.

Moses in a Similitude of New Jerusalem

New JerusalemMoses is one of God’s people and there is no doubt that he will be in New Jerusalem. Continuing from other posts based on Exodus, I suggest that Moses, especially when he was on Mount Sinai (Exo. 24 and 34), was in a similitude* of New Jerusalem.

In Exodus 24:1-2 God instructed Moses to bring others up the mountain but that he alone was to come near to God. In New Jerusalem we will all be near to God.

When Moses went to the tent of meeting outside the camp, he spoke with God “face to face” (Exo. 33:11). To see the face of God is one blessing in New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:4). “Let us therefore go forth unto Him [Jesus] outside the camp” now (Heb. 13:13).

All who came part way up with Moses saw a paved work of sapphire like heaven itself for clearness (Exo. 24:10). Sapphire is one of the foundations of New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:19) and clearness/transparency is one of the city’s characteristics (Rev. 21:11, 18, 21).

Moses went to the top of the mountain where the glory of God was (Exo. 24:15-17). Eternally the glory of God enlightens New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:23). There Moses did not eat bread and did not drink water for forty days, yet he still had strength to come down the mountain (Exo. 34:28-29). How was Moses sustained? Probably by direct supply from God, like the river of water of life and the tree of life in New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:1-2).

When Moses came down from the mountain “the skin of his face shone by reason of His [God’s] speaking with him” (Exo. 34:29). This is like our present opportunity to behold and reflect the glory of the Lord by turning our heart to Him (2 Cor. 3:16-18). The shining of this glory is a characteristic of New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:11). Moses had these experiences during his human life; may the Lord bring us all into such a foretaste of New Jerusalem!

Photo courtesy of NOAA (U.S. Dept. of Commerce).

* A counterpart, a correspondence in kind or quality (www.merriam-webster.com).

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.

Priests from Exodus to New Jerusalem

In Exodus 19:3-6 Jehovah spoke to Moses concerning bringing Israel out of Egypt, “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 to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

New Jerusalem

For Israel to be a kingdom of priests is a foretaste of our New Testament experience and a foretaste of New Jerusalem. Revelation 1:5-6 says that Jesus Christ loves us, has released us from our sins in His blood, “and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.” By His action, all of His redeemed people are a kingdom of priests now. This depends neither on our education or ordination, nor on our feeling of adequacy or inadequacy.

Revelation 5:9-10 is an angelic praise sung to the Lamb repeating the same fact—“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.”

The extent to which we live out this wonderful fact depends on our time beholding God. He brought us “to Himself” (Exodus 19:4), and we should turn from everything else to “look away unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1-2). Here are words and music of a song about the priests’ living.

Today our living in the reality of the kingdom of priests may be sporadic but in New Jerusalem this living will be continual. There, in the new creation, we, God’s slaves, “will serve Him” (Revelation 22:3, where the Greek word means “serve as priests”) and we “will reign forever and ever” (22:5).

The song mentioned above includes,
____In the holiest place, live before His face,
____Light of glory thru me will shine;
Let us live before His face now and anticipate much more in New Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem is a Living, Spiritual City

New Jerusalem is a living city. It is the eternal expansion of the house of the living God—a composition of the Triune God and all God’s people.

Ephesians 1:3 declares, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ.” All the New Testament blessings are spiritual, including our participation in God’s New Testament building (Ephesians 2:22) which consummates in New Jerusalem.

The blessings in Ephesians 1 are both spiritual and heavenly, and New Jerusalem is both spiritual and heavenly. One day the city will “come down out of heaven” (Revelation 21:2). From that time it will be on earth but it will still have the heavenly nature, not an earthly nature.

New JerusalemThe spiritual blessings in Ephesians 1 include:
• God’s choosing and predestinating us,
• Christ’s redemption and abounding grace,
• The Spirit’s sealing and pledging,
• God’s revealing of His will (His eternal purpose) and His giving us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Jesus Christ.
All of these blessings are on the path to New Jerusalem.

God’s choosing and Christ’s redeeming were accomplished without any effort on our part. Now we need to receive forgiveness and grace, to cooperate with the Spirit’s operation in us, and to join in the prayer of verses 16-23 by asking for a spirit of wisdom and revelation and by asking for the eyes of our heart to be enlightened.

May we all see and experience more of our Lord Jesus Christ, more of the hope of God’s calling, more of the riches of God’s glory, and more of the surpassing greatness of God’s power toward us who believe. May our seeing extend from our current Christian life all the way to New Jerusalem.

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 of Venus (upper right) crossing the sun, courtesy of NASA.

Jesus Lord, We’re Captured by Your Beauty

The Bible is a love story concluding in New Jerusalem with an eternal marriage of the Triune God and all His people. This is what John saw and what we see in Revelation 21:2 and 21:9-11. There is a song about this eternal romance which begins:
..Jesus Lord, I’m captured by Thy beauty,
_.._All my heart to Thee I open wide;

These first two lines point us in the proper direction. We did not initiate the relationship with God, the relationship which culminates in New Jerusalem. Rather, we were drawn by the beauty of the Lord Jesus and then, in response to Him, we opened our heart.

New JerusalemThe last verse of the song says:
..My Beloved, come on spices’ mountain;
..__How I yearn to see Thee face to face.
..Drink, dear Lord, from my heart’s flowing fountain,
_.._Till I rest fore’er in Thine embrace.
..Not alone, O Lord, do I adore Thee,
_.._But with all the saints as Thy dear Bride;
..Quickly come, our love is waiting for Thee;
_.._Jesus Lord, Thou wilt be satisfied.

In the first line, Jesus Christ is our Beloved, and we can pour out the longings of our heart to Him every day. In the next phrases, reflecting the poetry of Song of Songs, the lover asks the Beloved to “come on spices’ mountain” (Song 8:14) and yearns to see Him “face to face.” The mountain signifies His kingdom. This kingdom was brought forth by the Lord’s death and resurrection which are symbolized by the spices. When He comes in glory to manifest His kingdom, we will see Him “face to face.”

Then the lover asks her Beloved to drink of her heart’s flowing fountain and expresses her longing to be in the eternal embrace of New Jerusalem. Finally the song presents the corporate lover, all God’s people, as the Bride, asking the Lord to come quickly (as in Revelation 22:17) and declaring the Bride’s love for the Bridegroom.

May the Lord attract us more to stir up more love for Him in our hearts! Come, Lord Jesus! Come and bring us onward to the fullness of New Jerusalem!

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

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