New Jerusalem: God and the Lamb are the Temple

In Revelation 21:22 John tells us, “I saw no temple in it [New Jerusalem], for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” By faith we have entered.

New JerusalemThe New Testament was written in Greek, which has distinct words for “in” and for “into.” According to the New Testament we do not merely believe in Jesus Christ, acknowledging something about Him. Rather, we believe “into Him.”
• “these little ones who believe into Me” Matthew 18:6
• “believe into His name” John 1:12
• “every one who believes into Him may have eternal life” John 3:15, 16
• “Do you believe into the Son of God?” John 9:35

Revelation says that God Himself, God and the Lamb, will be the temple for us who serve Him to dwell in. Our dwelling place in eternity is God Himself….We will dwell in God. He is our temple and we are His tabernacle. He dwells in us and we dwell in Him, and this mutual dwelling is the New Jerusalem, which to God is the tabernacle and to us is the temple. We enjoy a foretaste of this today when we abide in the Lord and the Lord abides in us (John 15:5). This mutual abode will be enlarged in eternity to be the New Jerusalem where God will be our dwelling place and we will be His dwelling place.*

It is not only in New Jerusalem that God will be our dwelling and we will be His dwelling. This is true since the Lord’s resurrection, as He spoke in John 14:20 and 15:5.

* The Divine Economy, chapter 15, by Witness Lee

See also Where is New Jerusalem

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New Jerusalem is the Consummation of God’s Building through the Bible

New Jerusalem, as the conclusion of the Bible, shows God’s goal—to have a living building composed of Himself and all His people.

New JerusalemWe see this building clearly in the New Testament. At first the eternal Word came to tabernacle among us (John 1:14). Jesus alone was God’s tabernacle at that time. In John 2:19-21 He spoke of Himself as the temple, the replacement for the old, physical temple.

Later, He redeemed us by His death and regenerated us through His resurrection (1 Peter 1:3). Now we are being built together. A few verses which speak of our involvement in God’s building work are 1 Corinthians 3:9 and Ephesians 2:19-22 and 4:15-16. In these verses both we and God in Christ are being built together. The ultimate issue is New Jerusalem.

Noah’s ark, the tabernacle, the temple, Christ, the church, and the New Jerusalem are all God’s building. However, these are all different aspects of one building, not many buildings. In the New Jerusalem we can find items related to Noah’s ark, to the tabernacle of Moses, and to Solomon’s temple with the old Jerusalem. We can certainly see Christ as the house and temple of God, and we can also see the church. Therefore, the New Jerusalem is the ultimate expression and consummation of God’s building.*

When the New Testament speaks about building it is always coupled with life. We are built together in the divine life which flows out from Christ the Head in Ephesians 4:16. This building is maintained in eternal newness by the flow of the river of water of life in New Jerusalem.

* The Building of God, chapter 1, by Witness Lee.

God’s NT Building is Living and Spiritual (9)

Ephesians presents much about our growth into Christ in all things, which matches His growth within us, and our being built together in Him. New Jerusalem, a living city, is the consummation of this growth and building.

New Jerusalem

Here are links to recent posts on God’s living New Testament building. The key verses in each post are listed.

Jesus Christ is the living Cornerstone of God’s NT building. Matt. 21:33-41; Acts 4:10-12
Jesus Christ is the Living Stone and we also are living stones. John 1:41-42; 1 Peter 2:2-7
Jesus Christ is the temple in resurrection, and all His believers are part of this temple.
John 1:14, 2:19-22, 14:2, 23; 2 Cor. 6:16

We are God’s cultivated land, God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:1-16
In Christ Jesus all the building is growing into a holy temple in the Lord. Eph. 2:19-22
We have been rooted and are being built up in Christ Jesus. Eph. 3:16-21; Col. 2:6-7

Our growth in life is for the building up of the Body of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-16
The growth of the Body is unto the building up of itself in love. Eph. 4:15-16, Col. 2:19

Earlier posts about New Jerusalem as a city of life and God’s NT building in life:

New Jerusalem, not in the Natural Realm
The Living House Becomes the Living City
New Jerusalem is a Living City

New Jerusalem is a Living City, a City of Life
New Jerusalem is a Living, Spiritual City
We are God’s Living House

God’s NT Building is Living and Spiritual (3)

God’s New Testament building is alive. It is a spiritual building brought forth by His life in us. This building work is proceeding now and will fully come forth with New Jerusalem.

The Old Testament tabernacle and temple were physical. In the New Testament Jesus is the reality of these shadows. In John 1:1 the eternal Word is God. In 1:14 “The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.” Jesus became the living tabernacle; The New Testament Tabernacle is Alive.

New Jerusalemin John 2 the Lord Jesus said to the Jews “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” They misunderstood His words, because all they knew was the old, physical temple. “But He spoke of the temple of His body.” They destroyed this temple through crucifixion and in three days He raised it up in resurrection.

In John 14 the Lord spoke about many abodes in His Father’s house. We are these abodes. There are no physical “mansions” in God’s house, neither today nor in New Jerusalem. In John 14 the Lord also spoke about His dwelling in us and our dwelling in Him. This is God’s living New Testament building.

In John 2 the Lord spoke about His physical body as the temple. In resurrection He also raised up all the believers as the enlarged, living temple of God. This is 2 Corinthians 6:16, “We are the temple of the living God.” The reality is being worked into us through this age to come forth fully as New Jerusalem.

The Triune God is the Living Temple of New Jerusalem

In Revelation 21:22 John says about New Jerusalem, “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”

The temple is not a physical building! It is a living Person, the Triune God! The entire New Jerusalem, as the consummation of all God’s New Testament building, is spiritual. This is not a new concept in Revelation 21. The Lord spoke this at the beginning of His ministry.

New JerusalemJohn 2:19 records His words, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews were focused on their physical temple, but “He spoke of the temple of His body” (v. 2:21). The Lord Jesus Himself is the temple.

The whole city is the holy of holies, which is the innermost part of the Old Testament temple. The holy of holies is the place for man to meet with God and speak with God. Moses did this, as recorded in Numbers 7:89.

The Triune God as the temple is the Triune God as the holy of holies, which is the Triune God as the whole city. We enter the city by the pearl gates, the death and resurrection of Christ, and then we are built into this city. This building work in the Triune God is described in many verses including Ephesians 2:20-22, 4:15-16, Colossians 2:7, and 1 Peter 2:4-5.

Lord Jesus, I believe into You to receive the eternal life for New Jerusalem. Now keep me in the reality of Your New Testament building work to be in You as the living temple. 

 

New Jerusalem: Living Temple and Eternal Holy of Holies

The Old Testament temple was physical and earthly. The New Testament temple is living and heavenly. It is the incarnated Jesus and the resurrected Jesus in His believers. Hebrews 8:5 tells us that the Old Testament priests “serve the example and shadow of the heavenly things.” Verse 2 says that our Lord, the real High Priest, is a Minister “of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.”

Here are a posts which compare the shadow and the true, and use the shadow to show characteristics of the true, including New Jerusalem as the eternal holy of holies. Each summary begins with a link to that post and ends with one key verse reference.

New Jerusalem

The Lord told the Jews that if they destroyed the temple (of His body), He would raise it up in resurrection. This shows that the New Testament temple is living, not physical. (John 2:19-22)

In resurrection, the Spirit is dwelling in every believer. This makes us “the temple of God.” (1 Cor. 3:16)

The overcomers, who hold fast to the Lord’s word, will be pillars in the living temple. (Rev. 3:11-12).

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

Jesus Christ “made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.” As priests, we are qualified to serve in the temple and will serve eternally in New Jerusalem. (Rev. 1:5-6).

God is not only our living temple but also our dwelling place now and in New Jerusalem. (Psalm 90:1)

We have been cleansed in the blood of the Lamb. We serve God day and night in His temple, which is God Himself. (Rev. 7:14-15).

Colossians 2, speaking about Old Testament things, says they “are a shadow of the things to come, but the body [the reality which casts the shadow] is of Christ.” (Heb. 8:5)

The Old Testament things are shadows because “grace and reality came through Jesus Christ,” in His incarnation. (John 1:17)

The shadows in the Bible illuminate us concerning the reality. The Old Testament holy of holies had the ark of the covenant with its contents, all pictures of the reality. (Hebrews 9:4)

The ark contains manna in a golden pot, the budding rod, and the tablets of the covenant. All portray something about New Jerusalem. (Hebrews 9:4).

The lid of the ark is the propitiation place, testifying of the forgiveness and cleansing of sins. (Heb. 9:5, 14)

The cherubim of glory are above the propitiation place, symbolizing New Jerusalem which has the glory of God. (Heb. 9:5)

Above the propitiation place and between the cherubim is where God meets with us and speaks with us. (Exo. 25:21-22)

In New Jerusalem we have been brought into the holy of holies to have full fellowship with the Triune God, there is no more need of the outer court nor the holy place. (Rev. 22:1-5)

We come forward with boldness, with full assurance of faith, to the holy of holies, to New Jerusalem. (Heb. 10:19-22)

To come forward to the holy of holies is also to come to the throne of grace. (Heb. 4:16)

To come forward to the holy of holies is to enter through the veil, which was torn when the Lord was crucified (Heb. 9:3, 10:19-20). Here is a hymn about entering through the veil:
Enter the Veil and Go Without the Camp
Taste Heaven’s Sweetness
Enter the Veil, Come Forward to the Throne

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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: Eternal Holy of Holies (3)

#NewJerusalemIn the New Testament we no longer have a physical temple. Rather, the living temple is both Jesus (John 2) and His believers (2 Cor. 6:16). But, the Bible’s description of the old, physical temple depicts many spiritual realities today and in New Jerusalem.

The prior two posts are about the ark and its contents, described in Hebrews 9:4. Then 9:5 says, “And above it [the ark] cherubim of glory overshadowing the propitiation place.” The lid of the ark, with the propitiatory blood on it, frees us from the condemnation of falling short of the requirements of the law in the ark.

Today we certainly need forgiveness and cleansing of our sins by the blood of Jesus Christ. Before our initial repentance we were dead spiritually and were sinners condemned by God’s righteous requirement. We repented and believed, thus “though dead in your offenses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our offenses” (Col. 2:13).

That action took care of all offenses before our regeneration. Afterwards, 1 John 1:9 applies, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Thank Him!

In New Jerusalem there is no sin nature and we will never do sinful deeds. Nevertheless, in New Jerusalem God and the redeeming Lamb are on the throne (Rev. 22:3) and they are the temple (Rev. 21:22). This is a memorial of what is portrayed by the blood on the lid of the ark in the old holy of holies.

Hebrews 9:14 declares that “the blood of Christ…[will] purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” In New Jerusalem the Lamb is present as an eternal memorial, and in New Jerusalem we will “serve the living God” (Rev. 22:3).

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New Jerusalem: Eternal Holy of Holies (2)

The New Testament temple is spiritual, not physical. We do not need the Old Testament’s physical temple; nevertheless, the record about it in the Bible depicts many spiritual realities today and in New Jerusalem.

The ark in the holy of holies contains the manna, the budding rod, and the tablets of the covenant (Heb. 9:4). The budding rod (Num. 17) started as a rod, a stick, lifeless and cut off. During a night before the Lord it “put forth buds and produced blossoms and bore ripe almonds.” This is a picture of resurrection, and is related to having authority in the divine life.

Colossians 2:12 says we were “Buried together with Him in baptism, in which also you were raised together with Him through the faith of the operation of God.” This is our initial experience of being one with Christ in His death and resurrection. The budding rod signifies a much deeper experience of the same resurrection.

New JerusalemIt is desirable that we all enter the holy of holies to experience this in our current Christian life. Since New Jerusalem is the eternal holy of holies, at that time we will all have this deepest experience of Christ in resurrection.

The tablets of the covenant point to the Old Testament law. This has been replaced by the inner “law of the Spirit of life” (Rom. 8:2). To experience the controlling, leading, restricting, and guiding of the eternal life within is the experience portrayed by the tablets in the ark.

Today, when we live by this inner law, “the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit” (Rom. 8:4). Today this is an exercise but in New Jerusalem it will be spontaneous and continuous.

New Jerusalem: Eternal Holy of Holies

The Old Testament shadows were necessary until the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Reality came in His incarnation and reality was made available to us in His resurrection. In this reality we have no need of a physical temple but He and we together are the living temple. And New Jerusalem is the ultimate temple in the Bible.

We have no need for a physical temple, but that temple, the shadow, shows us much about the present living temple. In addition to the materials and shape, the contents of the physical temple are important. Since the entire New Jerusalem is the holy of holies, we will look only at the physical holy of holies to get a picture of New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemHebrews 9:4 says the Holy of Holies contains “the ark of the covenant covered about everywhere with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna and Aaron’s rod that budded and the tablets of the covenant.”

The ark was made of wood, overlayed inside and outside with gold. This portrays Jesus Christ as the man (wood) mingled with God (gold). Everything is in Him.

This ark is “of the covenant.” This covenant is a definite promise, a commitment by God. Everything portrayed by the ark is guaranteed by God. Thank Him!

The golden pot with manna is the eternal life supply in New Jerusalem. This is the same manna that fell around Israel’s camp, but its location indicates a much deeper, inner experience* of this life supply.This corresponds to eating the fruit of the tree of life in New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:2).

*This footnote, from the ministry of Witness Lee, presents the experiences of Christ as seen in all three parts of the tabernacle.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Shadow of the Living Temple (2)

Jesus alone (John 2), then all His believers (2 Cor. 6:16), consummating in New Jerusalem, is the living temple. The Bible also has a material, physical temple, a shadow, a portrait of this reality. This shadow shows us the good, heavenly things to come in Christ. But what need was there for that shadow?

Because of the fall of man, in Genesis 3 man was shut out from the reality. As a result, before Christ came, there was a need of shadows. Then, through incarnation, the reality came to man. John 1:17 speaks of this contrast: “the law was given through Moses; grace and reality came [literally become, came into existence] through Jesus Christ.”

#NewJerusalemThe reality came, and through His redeeming death and life-imparting resurrection we can participate in this reality. We have no more need for shadows!

The shadows came because of the fall, but we can receive some spiritual vision from them. This is somewhat like the saying, a picture is worth a thousand words. The physical tabernacle and temple, the shadows, show us something about the living temple including New Jerusalem.

One thing we see is that the Old Testament temple was constructed with gold, wood, and stone. This is a picture of God’s New Testament building, including New Jerusalem, built with the divine nature, the humanity of Jesus, and the transformed members of His Body.

The dimensions of the tabernacle and temple show us that the Holy of Holies, their innermost chamber, is a cube. These cubes demonstrate that New Jerusalem, a cube (Rev. 21:16), is the eternal holy of holies. Furthermore, the fact that the whole of New Jerusalem is the holy of holies tells us that we all have been fully brought into God’s presence. Wonderful!

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The Shadow of the Living Temple

#NewJerusalemThe previous posts are about the living temple, first Jesus alone (John 2) and then all His believers (1 Cor. 3:16, 2 Cor. 6:16), consummating in New Jerusalem.

This living temple is the reality. But in the Old Testament, and lingering into New Testament times, there was a material, physical temple, a shadow, a figure, a portrait of the reality.

Hebrews 10:1 says that the law has “a shadow of the good things to come.” The physical tabernacle came with the law in Exodus. But it was only a shadow, indicating that something “good” was to follow.

Hebrews 8:5  says that the Old Testament priests “serve the example and shadow of the heavenly things.” “The good things to come”—in this case the living temple—is heavenly. Hence it is spiritual, not earthly and physicaL We are too accustomed to seeing and living among earthly things, but in God’s eyes only the heavenly, spiritual things are really “good.” This of course includes New Jerusalem, which is heavenly even though it comes down out of heaven from God.

More specifically, Colossians 2:16-17, speaking about Old Testament things, says they “are a shadow of the things to come, but the body is of Christ.” The “body” which casts the shadow is Christ Himself. All the positive people, things, and activities in the Old Testament are shadows of Christ Himself or Christ enlarged in His Body, composed of all His believers.

In light of Colossians 2, let us turn away from all the shadows, instead (2:19) “holding the Head” Christ, “out from whom all the Body, being richly supplied…grows with the growth of God.” His rich supply causes us to grow in Him and in His Body, growing unto New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

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