Living From New Jerusalem 1
A Voyage of Discovery to the City of God
This is the story of a voyage of discovery I made only recently. Though I have known God my whole life — I am 57 right now — as you might expect I am still discovering new things about him. The realization that I can now live with God and Jesus in their city, and in this way be much closer to them than I had ever thought possible, however, was a very special find.
I am a person who tends to think a lot about the things of God and look for him in the Scriptures. Yet sometimes I find it difficult to experience him. Thankfully I have people around me who find it much easier to do this, and who are willing to help me make progress in this area. Directions found in the Bible itself have also been a real help to me in encountering God. In fact, my growth in living in the New Jerusalem has been profoundly accelerated by what I have discovered there. In this book, I will try to express the most important of these discoveries.
In speaking of my voyage of discovery, I have to include a caveat, and say that it is more a journey in which much has been handed down to me by others. When I started to recognize God in all of this and embrace it, however, he began to show things to me more personally. In this way, it became something of my own.
If I would have read this book a few years ago, I would most likely have had a lot of questions and even objections to it. It may be the same for you. However, consider this at least an invitation to listen to my story. Hopefully, it will inspire you to want to know more, start searching the Scriptures, and embark on your own journey.
1THE CITY OF GOD
And I saw the holy city, a New Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. (Rev. 21:2)
New Jerusalem? If you would have asked me about New Jerusalem three years ago, I would not have been able to say anything sensible about it, let alone guess that it would one day become an integral part of my life. Now, however, I believe it to be one of the most important (yet least recognized) aspects of the New Covenant.
Although the above verse is surely the most well-known, we also find the New Jerusalem recorded in Revelation 3:12:
The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the sanctuary of my God, and he shall surely not go out of it any longer, and I will inscribe upon him my God’s name and the name of my God’s city — the New Jerusalem descending out of heaven…
The mystery deepens when we take this wording, plus other descriptions from Revelation 21 and 22, and find that this city has been written about in several other places:
I will create Jerusalem to be a joy, and its people to be a delight.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in my people.
The sound of weeping and crying will no longer be heard in her.
But the Jerusalem above, who is our mother, is free.
In faith he sojourned in a land of promise, as in a foreign land… for he was looking forward to the city that would have foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
For those who say [that they are foreigners and sojourners here on the earth] make it quite evident that they are seeking a fatherland… they yearn for a better one, which is to say, a heavenly one. Hence God is not ashamed of them, of being called their God; for he has prepared a city for them.
Rather, you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of a living God, a heavenly Jerusalem.
Clearly, the subject is not unique to the book of Revelation. Abraham, Isaiah and Paul were also familiar with the New Jerusalem. One might even say it was remarkably important to them.
That being said, most of the biblical material about the New Jerusalem lies in the book of Revelation. There, the Bible finishes with an extended prophetic picture of the city — from 21:9 all the way to 22:5. The new heaven and new earth, on the other hand, is only mentioned in Revelation 21:1, and that without any further explanation. I think it is reasonable to conclude that in this last book of the New Testament, Jesus wanted to focus the attention of his followers, both ancient and modern, on the New Jerusalem.
Jesus’ Last Wish
Halfway through my voyage of discovery I came across this prayer of Jesus.
Father, I wish that they too, those you have given to me, might be with me where I am, that they might see my glory which you have given me…
Then, when I read what is written about life in the new Jerusalem, for example:
The throne of God and the lamb will be there [in the city], and his bondslaves will worship him, and they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night, they will have no need of lantern light and sunlight, because the Lord God will shine upon them…
That to me is an answer to Jesus’ prayer.
During his life on earth as a human being, Jesus gave three of his disciples a foretaste of this glory in what is commonly known as his Transfiguration:
Jesus takes Peter, and James, and his brother John, and privately leads them up to a high mountain. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone out like the sun, and his garments became as white as light.
Soon afterward, the disciples hear God declare:
“This is my Son, the beloved, in whom I have delighted — listen to him.”
It is as if God wanted to say, up until now you have known Jesus of Nazareth as a human being here on earth, a son of man. Now I present him to you as he was and always will be — Jesus of Heaven, in the glory of his spirit, my own son.
Paul echoes, “Even though we have known the Anointed [in the flesh], yet we know him that way no longer.” (2 Co. 5:16)
That is how God wanted us to see Jesus. And that is how we will be with him forever, seeing him in that way.
The question many of us struggle with is whether this is possible now, or is it something reserved for the future? And if it is for now, how does it work? In the coming chapters I will discuss what I discovered about this in the Scriptures and how I have started to experience it more and more.
In Chapter 2, we’ll begin with a review of the Old Covenant in the way it was first intended by God when He offered it to the whole of the people of Israel in Exodus 19.
Then in Chapter 3 we will move on to the New Covenant of Jesus, particularly in terms of its difference with the Old Covenant, and especially in the way it eventually turned out.
In Chapter 4, we will look at what is written in the book of Hebrews and Revelation about the meaning of the New Jerusalem for the first Christians of that time.
Next, in Chapter 5, I will summarize what Jesus said about our relationship with him and with God, and what He has made possible for us in the New Covenant.
Finally, from Chapter 6 on, we will deal with the book of Revelation in which the New Covenant is presented in all its fullness. The climax that is the life within and from the New Jerusalem of God, and in which living near and together with Jesus and Father God is central.
In an Afterword, I will close with some advice about this beautiful life with God.
Rien van der Maas is a teacher and a writer. He is from the Netherlands and is devoted to showing just how available close contact with God is in the New Covenant of Jesus.
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