A City of Life, without Miracles

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is a city of life, a city in resurrection. From the throne at its center flows a river of water of life and beside the river grows the tree of life yielding its fruit every month. This life is the supply for every member of this city.

Miracles are of power, not of life. They are sometimes called works of power in the New Testament. These works might be done by a believer mature in the divine life, or by an immature believer. An example: the Corinthians did not lack in any gift (1 Cor. 1:7) but were babes in Christ (3:1), very immature in divine the life. Also love, which is of life, is contrasted with gifts and power in 1 Corinthians 13.

There are many miracles in the Gospels and Acts, but the Epistles which follow them turn the emphasis to growth in life for the manifestation of virtues of the Christian life. Paul speaks of growth in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, Ephesians 4:13-16, Colossians 1:6, 10 and 2:19, 2 Thessalonians 1:3, and other verses, some of which include full grown. Peter speaks of growth in 1 Peter 2:2 and 2 Peter 3:18. John, in his epistles, speaks much about a life lived in righteousness, truth, and love.

The emphasis on Christ as our life, our growth in this life, and our living out its virtues prepares us for New Jerusalem. The city is full of life and manifests the life that Jesus manifested to us through His incarnation.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

No Miracles in the New Creation

New JerusalemThe sources of all the problems in the old creation are eliminated by the time of Revelation 20. The new heaven and new earth, which appear in verse 21:1, will be without sin and death, without sicknesses, and without demons. There will be no need of miracles to remove problems of any kind in New Jerusalem.

Within New Jerusalem there is “the tree of life…yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations” (Rev. 22:2).

These nations are not New Jerusalem but are peoples living around the city for eternity. These peoples are not regenerated; they have a human life restored to the condition of the garden of Eden in Genesis 1–2. Here is a word about their healing:

Because in eternity there will be both the believers and the nations, the tree of life has two functions….The fruit of the tree of life will be a supply to the sons of God, to those born of God. But “the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations” (Rev. 22:2b). Hence, the leaves of the tree of life will not supply the nations but will heal them, keeping them alive for eternity.*

Neither New Jerusalem nor the new creation will have any need of casting out demons, cleaning leprosy, or raising the dead. The nations will receive healing from the tree of life, a matter of life, not of miraculous power.

* An excerpt from The Conclusion of the New Testament by Witness Lee, message 188, online section 4

No Sweat, No Thorns, in New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is the lovely center of the new creation, blessed with the presence of God and the Lamb, full of God’s glory, and supplied by the river of life and tree of life.

Due to the rebellion of Satan and the fall of man, the old creation was corrupted. and man was separated from God. To us, this would be very discouraging. However, to God, this is a big opportunity to display His unlimited wisdom. Out of all the corruption God will bring forth a new, perfect creation with New Jerusalem as His eternal dwelling.

One characteristic of the old creation that will not be in the new creation nor in New Jerusalem is sweat. The origin of sweat is 1) Satan’s deceiving man, 2) man’s taking of the tree of knowledge, and 3) God’s curse on fallen man, all recorded in Genesis 3. Verses 17-19 say, “Because you [Adam]…have eaten of the tree concerning which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it; cursed is the ground because of you….And thorns and thistles it will bring forth for you,…by the sweat of your face you will eat bread…”

New JerusalemThe sweat here indicates the need of human effort, separated from God’s blessing, to supply the essentials for human living. Man was shut out from the garden of Eden, which contained “every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food” and had to expend his own sweat-producing energy.

The curse of Genesis 3 also includes thorns. But, Revelation 22:3, describing New Jerusalem, says, “there will no longer be a curse.”

Because New Jerusalem will be filled with God and His blessings and no curse, there will be no need for man’s effort and no sweat. Also, without the curse, there will be no thorns in New Jerusalem.

 

“And…And” Points to New Jerusalem

Many verses in Revelation 19—20 begin “And” linking praises, judgments, the marriage of the Lamb, His victories, and the kingdom with “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth….And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem” at the start of chapter 21.

New JerusalemThe way to see New Jerusalem is in 21:10: “And he [an angel] carried me away in spirit onto a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem.” And couples this with the angels having the last plagues (v. 9), indicating that the plagues are a base for brining in New Jerusalem.

The description of the city in 21:11-23 has multiple ands because the city is one whole entity. Verses 21:24-26 each begin And, showing that the nations around New Jerusalem are coupled to it although not integral parts of it.

But Revelation 21 is not complete; 22 begins ” And he showed me a river of water of life…” Then 22:2: “And on this side and on that side of the river was the tree of life…” The description of the city in 21:11-23 is not complete without the life supply flowing from the throne brining us the tree of life with its fruits. The outcome of this life supply is described in 22:3-5, each of which begins “And.”

After the description of life in New Jerusalem we read, “And he [the angel] said to me, These words are faithful and true…” (v. 6). Then the Lord speaks “And behold, I come quickly.” (v. 7). The Lord’s second coming is not separate from New Jerusalem but rather is tied to it.

A few more verses begin with And, then Revelation concludes, ” The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.”

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

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.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

New Jerusalem: Eternal Holy of Holies (6)

The Old Testament temple is a picture of the New Testament reality. The picture is composed of three sections—the outer court, the holy place, and the holy of holies. in contrast, New Jerusalem is solely the holy of holies without an outer court or holy place. What changed?

The outer court is the location of the bronze altar and the laver. The bronze altar is for sacrifices. In New Jerusalem there will be neither sin nor sins, so we will have no need of those sacrifices. We will be absolute with God, fully at peace with Him, and nourished by Him in the holy of holies, so no need of the other offerings.

New JerusalemThe laver is for the priests to wash away worldly and earthly defilement. Before New Jerusalem appears the world will have been judged and the old earth will be replaced by the new earth. Hence, the sources of defilement are gone and there will be no defilements for the laver to wash away.

The holy place contains the bread table, the lampstand, and the golden altar. In New Jerusalem we have the tree of life for nourishment. In New Jerusalem the Lord God as the light in the Lamb as the lamp will shine upon us (Rev. 22:5, 21:23). Therefore, there is no need of any other lamp.

In the holy of holies the budding rod shows our acceptance by God, which is more profound and inward than the satisfying fragrance from the bronze and golden altars. Again, this shows New Jerusalem has no need for what is outside the holy of holies.

In New Jerusalem we will be fully one with the Triune God in life and reality so we will have no need for anything outside this eternal holy of holies.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

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.

Eternal Life and New Jerusalem

In Christ we have eternal life. New Jerusalem is an eternal city, so it is intimately tied with eternal life. This post begins a look at that which is eternal throughout the New Testament, and the relationship to New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemJohn 3:15, 16, 36 (and many more verses) give the first step – whoever believes into the Son of God has eternal life. Thus, whoever believes also will be part of New Jerusalem, the city of life. This life is the Son, Jesus Christ, as we see in John 11:25 and 14:6; hence, He who has the Son has the eternal life (1 John 5:11-12).

The Lord also tells us, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life” (John 6:54). To eat His flesh is to receive by faith all that He did in giving His body for us; and to drink His blood is to receive by faith all that He accomplished in shedding His blood for us*. This eating and drinking will continue into New Jerusalem where we will eat the fruit of the tree of life and drink the water of the river of life.

This eating and drinking is not physical but is spiritual, by faith. Many were bothered by the Lord’s word about eating Him (John 6:60) because they only knew the natural realm. But He said (v. 63), “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” Then Peter confessed (v. 68), “You have words of eternal life.” Lord, keep us eating Your words of life.

When we are in spirit and receive the Lord’s words as spirit and life, we are nourished and have a foretaste of the tree of life in New Jerusalem.

* From footnote 2 on John 6:54 in the Online Recovery Version New Testament, © LSM.

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!

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

Jesus Christ, Living Forever and Ever

New JerusalemRecent posts are glory to God and the Lamb forever and ever and God and the Lamb reigning forever and ever. Now, verses about God and the Lamb living forever and ever. Of course, New Jerusalem is the consummation of “forever and ever.”

Revelation 1:17b-18: “I am the First and the Last and the living One; and I became dead, and behold, I am living forever and ever; and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” The Lord Jesus is the living One. He entered into death and came forth in resurrection. His living forever and ever is in resurrection. Likewise His reigning forever and ever is in resurrection.

His living and reigning in resurrection are characteristics of New Jerusalem. It is a city in resurrection. Not only our Lord, but also we are in resurrection. Our natural life has been crucified and buried with Him so that we walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-4). In this age we are learning to partake of this spiritual reality; in New Jerusalem we will be fully in newness of life, that is, in resurrection.

Revelation 4:9-10: “when the four living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits upon the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall before Him who sits upon the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever…” We too should give glory to Him and worship Him who sits on the throne and lives forever and ever.

Revelation 10:6 and 15:7 also speak about “Him who lives forever and ever.” His eternal living is our eternal life supply in New Jerusalem—the river of life which flows from the throne and the tree of life it conveys to us. His eternal living in resurrection is for us not only in New Jerusalem but also for today.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay.com.

Revelation 7 and New Jerusalem

The record in Revelation 7:9-17 parallels in several ways the description of New Jerusalem in Revelation 21–22. Part of note 2 on Revelation 7:9 in the Recovery Version New Testament says, “The record in vv. 9-17 describes in a general way the scene from the time of the rapture of the believers to their enjoyment in eternity.”

New JerusalemOne striking parallel is “These are those who…have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:14) and “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” (22:14).

The result of washing in 22:14 indicates that the multitude in Revelation 7 will be constituents of New Jerusalem.

Another strong similarity is “They are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night…” (7:15) and “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His slaves will serve Him” (22:3). Prior to the Lord’s second coming, the throne of God is in heaven, to which this multitude has been raptured (see link to note in first paragraph). In eternity the throne is in New Jerusalem, which has come down “out of heaven” to the new earth (Rev. 21:2, 10).

“They will not hunger any more, neither will they thirst any more” (7:16a) is fulfilled in New Jerusalem by the fruit of the tree of life and the river of water of life (22:1-2).

“The Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them…” (7:17) matches “the throne of God and of the Lamb (22:1). The shepherding in 7:17 includes the tree and river in 22:1-2 and the Lord God’s shining on us in 22:5. These parallels show that the eternal blessing in New Jerusalem are presented in a general way in Revelation 7.

Inside of New Jerusalem

New JerusalemRevelation 21:8 and 22:15 speak of people who are not only outside New Jerusalem but also in the lake of fire.

These verses are the ultimate development of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21, and Ephesians 5:5, which name many unrighteous things saying, “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” The kingdom which they will not inherit consummates in New Jerusalem with the throne of God and the Lamb as its center.

We, in ourselves, are not better than those people. The difference is that we have, by faith, received Christ as our righteousness. The first stage of this receiving is our initial repentance and believing in Christ. The continuing stage is our daily pursuit of Christ.

Our pursuing is to receive more of Him as our righteousness. “Those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17). This reigning in life is more than having Christ as our objective righteousness. It is living Christ out as our daily righteousness.

Jesus Christ being our righteous living is portrayed in Revelation 19:8: New Jerusalem, the bride of Christ is “clothed in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints.” These righteousnesses (plural) are the Christ we live out day by day.

This living is also 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.” Our washing is actually His washing of us in response to our confessing (1 John 1:9).

This washing gives us right to the tree of life, Christ as our life and life supply. By this supply we live Him out. His living through us is bright and pure, matching New Jerusalem, thereby bringing us into it in reality. Thank Him that He enables us to be inside New Jerusalem and not outside.

%d bloggers like this: