Rev. 21:9-11 "He carried me
away in Spirit to a mountain great and high and showed me the Holy City, New
Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, her
light was like unto a stone most precious, as it were a jasper stone clear as
Rev. 21:15 "The building of the
wall thereof was jasper and the city was pure gold as it were transparent
Rev. 21:21 "The street (way)
was pure gold as it were transparent glass."
Rev 22:1 "And He showed me a
river of water of life clear as crystal proceeding out of the throne of God and
of the Lamb."
Rev. 3:12 "I will write on him
the Name of my God, the name of the City of my God... that cometh down out of
heaven from my God, and my own new Name."
Heb. 11:10 "The City which hath
the foundations, whose builder and architect is God."
Heb. 11:16 "God is not ashamed
to be called their God; He hath prepared for them a City."
Heb. 12:22 "The City of the
Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem."
Heb. 13:14 "We seek the city
which is to come."
Gal. 4:25-26 "Jerusalem which
is above is free which is our Mother."
Phil. 3:20 "Our citizenship in
Our main difficulty in
contemplating the City of God will be to get the literal and material out of
mind, we are dealing pre-eminently with what is spiritual.
The City of God is not merely a
place to which we are going, but is the Church of God of which we are part.
We are going to Heaven, a
place; we are not going to spaceless clouds for all eternity; but in considering
the City of God, the Heavenly City, the New Jerusalem, we are considering the
Church, the Body of Christ; and are only dealing with the nature and
characteristics of that City as related to the ultimate things. We are not now
touching questions related to times and dispensations. The last thing in the
Word of God is a City and everything heads up to that. He is related to the City
and the City to Him.
It is a concrete and all
inclusive presentation in finality of all the spiritual elements and features of
divine life in the individual and in the Church; the full and final expression
of conformity to the image of God's Son; "chosen and fore-ordained to be
conformed to the image of His Son." Rom. 8:29.
Here in Rev. 21 we see the City
of God, a realisation of that fore-ordination told of in Rom. 8:29, and it is
only another way of contemplating the glorified Son of Man, in His corporate
expression and all that is in Christ for the believer being realised.
We must ever remember, the one
central and dominating factor is the Lamb in the midst of the Throne, because
everything here is the expression of Calvary's work and is the realisation of
all that the Lord Jesus came to do by His death and resurrection. The elements
of divine life are spirituality, heavenliness, transparency, elevation,
stability, fulness, love, fellowship, sovereignty, government, openness and
exclusiveness, light, inwardness, glory, and many more.
We are dealing with spiritual
factors that go to make up the Church of God, the New Jerusalem, and when you
see the Church of God presented here in Rev. 21 you have it presented in its
final fulness in Christ, to which we are now moving. Compare Eph. 1:21-22, as
things are now it is the building of the Church, the growing up into Him.
Let us stay awhile with the
features and the characteristics of the City of God.
The First Feature is
Heavenliness and Spirituality
It "came out from heaven"
therefore it must have been first in heaven before it could come down out from
"They looked for a heavenly
city" Heb. 11:10. "He looked for the City which hath the foundation whose
builder and maker was God."
"Our citizenship is in heaven"
We find much in the Word of God
about material for the heavenly City, and the suggestion runs clearly through
the Word that since the fall, everything God has brought in is heavenly and not
earthly. God's people are of heaven, a heavenly people, and not of the earth; a
heavenly seed, and the heavenly seed began in type with Abel, and there can be
traced out the heavenly line all through the Word.
Cain is a man of the earth and
as such is rejected. Later Israel becomes the type of the heavenly people - they
are a people taken out of the earth, extricated from the earth and its ways,
taken out from Egypt, through the blood of the Lamb Who is now their true life
and its source; cut off by the Red Sea and out in the Wilderness under
government of the "Pillar of cloud" - the Holy Spirit; a people as out from the
earth and unto God. This in type constituted a heavenly people, a people from
above and not of the earth.
The predominating colour in
Israel's camp was heavenly blue. Each had to have a piece of blue like unto
the High Priest's ephod; typical of heavenliness.
John's Gospel is pre-eminently
the Gospel for the Church and its main emphasis is heavenliness and spirituality
- "born anew" "born from above" "born of God."
The word 'LIFE' in John is
always related to the heavenlies, it is heavenly life "I am the life" "I
am come that ye might have life." He came to give in His own person this life:
"In Him was life" "I am came down out of heaven."
In John 2 He takes up the
relationship of the Lord's people. John 2:4 literally is "woman what have you
and I in common?" As in Matt. 12:48-50 "...but He answered Who is my mother and
who are my brethren? For whosoever shall do the will of my Father who is in
heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother." Yes, the heavenly relationships
of this born-out-from-God people transcend earthly relationships all the time;
it is a bond in the spirit, deeper and more abiding than any earthly bond; the
interests of the heavenlies and the Lord's things far transcends interests of
worldly relationships and concerns. The more you have in common with the Lord,
the less you have in common with the world, and the greater the strain when you
have to be in it though not of it. You violate the laws of your spiritual life
and nature if you ignore this spiritual relationship, and cripple your own
spiritual effectiveness; it will be impossible finally for the heavenly people
to have any fellowship in spirit with the old creation.
Rev. 21:22 "I saw no temple
there" Why? The people are a worshipping people - they are worship; it is
spiritual worship not localised.
John 4:20 "Our fathers
worshipped in this mountain, but ye (Jews) say that in Jerusalem must men
worship." The Lord answered, "the true worshippers shall worship the Father in
spirit and in truth for such doth the Father seek to be His worshippers." The
Father is the seeker of the eternal City as well as its builder and architect.
The entire sustenance of the
Lord's people is spiritual and heavenly (see John 6). Life, sustenance,
development, maturity, the whole basis of life and growth of the City of God is
spiritual. Spiritual growth by heavenly food and spiritual sustenance by feeding
on the living Bread from heaven - "I am the Bread of Life."
And all service is out from
above - heavenly, words and works from above; that which the Father doeth and
speaketh, John 5:19,36. How does He see what the Father doeth? Only by the
Spirit - Matt, 10:20. "For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your
Father that speaketh in you." All this is not of the earth, it is heavenly, and
is all gathered up and related to the heavenly Person, the Person from above,
the Lord Jesus "I came forth from the Father." John 6:28. "I came down from
heaven." John 5:38, and yet having all abiding residence in heaven even while on
earth. "No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son who is in the
bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." John 1:18.
Pass to the Ephesian letter,
written especially for the Church. How much it has to say about "in the
heavenlies"; compare Eph. 1:3; 2:6; 4:10.
The Lord's people are so slow
to accept the implications and cost of this. We do so want something on the
earth, something of the nature of a quick return for our labour. Some
gratification to our senses, something to see. We do groan so constantly under
the labours of the Lord to get us cut off from the earth and to get us a
heavenly people. We so often fail to see what the Lord is doing. We must be
extricated from earthliness if we are to be made heavenly in character, and this
is going to cost if we yield to the Lord's hand. The power that raised Christ
from the dead, the exceeding greatness of that might is called into operation to
get the Church into its right place in the heavenlies, cut off from the earth,
in order that it might come down out from heaven (Eph. 1:19-20) God's great
might called forth to extricate us from earthliness. Ps. 87 - "His foundation is
in the mountain, the Lord loveth the gates of Zion."
Rev. 21:10 "He carried me... to
a mountain... and showed me the Holy City, New Jerusalem... the bride and wife
of the Lamb."
It is interesting to note, the
same angel took him into the wilderness to see Babylon, Rev. 17:1-5. No need for
a high mountain from which to see that wicked city, it is of the earth; but the
Holy City is most high.
In Psalm 87 God's City is set
over against all other cities mentioned in the Psalm.
Egypt and Zion
Rahab - Egypt: symbol of natural
resource. Abraham comes into the land - God's land of promise by faith and found
a supreme test of faith waiting him there; found the heathen in occupation,
their idolatrous altars everywhere and a great famine in the land. So he turned
to Egypt as an alternative to apparent contradiction and denial; to Egypt, the
place of natural resource, Abraham turned under testing.
Whenever Israel's spirituality
was low they turned to Egypt for help; when, because their faith was out of
order, they found the Lord no longer sufficient.
A little natural
resource will mar the City of God and bring a cloud. In the City of God all
natural resource is cut off, not permitted by God, and by God cut off, brought
to an end.
Egypt doesn't come into the New
Jerusalem, they are two different worlds, one earthly the other heavenly.
"Glorious things are spoken of
thee, O City of God." Ps. 87.3. Have you dealt with Egypt by knowing the cutting
off from natural resources? Do we accept this law of the City of God? Natural
resource in spiritual things is not admitted in the City of God, and all
natural resource must come to an end. Once you know the Lord as your
resource you are not depressed to hear natural resources are cut off, you don't
want Egypt. Egypt has got to be smitten, and the Lord is smiting Egypt for us
and taking away our natural resources in spiritual things.
The "natural man receiveth not
the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, and he
cannot know them." 1 Cor. 8:14. This cutting off from natural resource is
foolishness to the natural man; is it foolishness to you?
"Things which eye saw not, and
ear heard not, and which entered not into the heart of man... but unto us God
revealed them through the Spirit"; "the things of God none knoweth save the
Spirit of God"; "we received not the Spirit of bondage, but the Spirit which is
from God, that we might know the things which were freely given to us by God." 1
To see the City of God needs
spiritual capacity. The Blood of the Lamb comes in between you and Egypt, the
sea rolls between and after that the earth is but a wilderness, resourceless for
them, they now live by a heavenly life in a whole and utter dependence upon God.
Egypt has been smitten and is lying behind on the other side of the Red Sea; oh
blessed position! "I will make mention of Egypt, but God loveth
the gates of Zion."
Babylon and Zion
Babylon: the product of human effort and
the glory of fallen man. "Let us build a city... let us make us a name"; Gen.
11:4; and in Dan. 4:29-30 "Is not this the great Babylon which I have built...
by the might of my power and the glory of my majesty?"
Here we see the glory of
natural religious man, for we note that Babylon is always religious. Turn to the
book of the Revelation and we find Babylon dressed in religious garb. Babylon is
always religious, the religion of fallen man, Satan inspired. Gen. 10:8-10, the
beginning of this kingdom was Babel. What you can make or reach by your own
effort, that is man's product by his own resources. Note, that Babel was the
first city built on the new earth, the earth that had come through the flood of
divine judgment on that ground, typifying the ground of regeneration,
this religious construction of man's ambitions in the realm of religious
activity. And this thing, this religion of natural man is with us today; yes, it
will patronise God, even bringing His Name into it, as of old - Babel - "Gate of
God," but touch it with the eternal fact and purpose of the Cross, bring
Calvary's work and claim upon it and man will rise up in enmity against the
preaching of the Cross by the Holy Spirit, and defend his natural religious work
and worship, and in the background will be discerned the Satanic hate and
rebellion against God; and we see also in it Lucifer's bid for universal
worship. Isaiah 14:14. It is our own glory in the realm where things are
exclusively of God; yet how often there is found even here a personal interest
in the things and work of God. Is not this so with the spirit of jealousy,
disclosing a secret reservation of some personal interest? Or it may be pride,
and assertion of "my right," wanting to be something, wanting to see our efforts
produce something for God. All this will result in confusion and loss of
See the difference between the
Corinthian and Ephesian believers. At Corinth they wanted something with man's
name on it (1 Cor. 1:12-15). In Ephesus it is in the heavenlies with God's Name
on it (Eph. 1:3,22, 2:20).
Philistia and Zion
Philistia: type of man's
natural mind intruding into divine things; the people of Philistia are always in
the Word called uncircumcised. Man's natural mind taking hold of divine things
apart from the Cross. In Babylon we see natural man's effort. In
Philistia we find natural man's reason taking hold of the things of God
and intruding into them.
There is a preaching a of the
Cross in the wisdom of words that makes it of none effect (1 Cor 1:17). The
Devil does not altogether put out the Cross; the Cross can be preached without
the preacher having been to the Cross; this is a subtle work of the devil.
Tyre. Business world;
expansion the order of the day, but expansion and activities under the authority
of the Prince of this World, the commercial spirit brought into the things of
God, using the World's way, advertisement, much machinery, organisation, etc.,
this is not the way that the City of God is built.
Ethiopia, turn to Acts
8:26-30. The Ethiopian reading from Isa. 53:7 - Philip meets him with the
question "Understandest thou?" and he replies "How can I except one teach me."
Here is the type of the darkened mind concerning the Person of the Lord Jesus.
It takes the light of God to shine into our hearts, to reveal the Lord
Jesus. It takes divine shining to show Who Jesus is. 2 Cor. 4:6.
Over against these cities, Zion
is placed, and is different. It is not that which we see in the other cities, it
is different, and those born there find also their well springs there. Zion is
heavenly, and the Lord loveth the gates of Zion; and those born in Zion say "All
my wellsprings are in thee; nothing now in Egypt, Babylon, Tyre, etc".
Zion and Jerusalem though
inseparable are not the same, Zion is only a part of Jerusalem, the citadel
where the King dwells. Zion typifies the Lord Jesus. He as Zion is altogether
different from all these other things represented here. He is God's Ultimate,
and that to which God is moving; the result of the spiritual process which is
going on now.
The Lord is seeking a people
cut off from the earth and its ways, and brought into relationship with Himself,
and it must be true of them that their affection is set on things above, not on
the earth. Col. 3:1,2 - "If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are
above where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God."
Remember resurrection and
ascension is one act, see John 20:17. "Touch me not for I am not yet ascended
unto the Father... but I ascend unto my Father and your Father." "Touch me not,"
"don't make of Me something earthly on the part of natural affections." He is
now a heavenly Lord and that fact has got to be recognised.
We have got to be a people
whose life is wholly on the things of God, living out from heavenly resources
and fulfilling a heavenly vocation; partaking of a heavenly nature. This is made
possible by the Holy Ghost come down from heaven, for the Bride, and to take her
back to the Resurrection Man, that she may come forth as Bride out from heaven.
Are we walking, living, in the Spirit, being cut off from the earth?
We are "in Christ," in the
second Man, the Lord from heaven, are we living our life in Him? Is
this true of us in life, nature, sustenance, service, are we looking for the
Lord from heaven?
The City of God is most vividly
distinctive from all that marks other cities of the earth; compare Rev. 21 with
Matt. 11. "Woe unto you"; and it is not without significance that Matt. 11
closes with "Come unto Me." Come out from those cities upon which judgment is
announced - come unto the city of Rest - that in which God finds His
satisfaction. "Come unto Me and I will give you rest"; His City; in these
Spiritual elements - where He is pleased to dwell.
"The throne of God and the Lamb shall be
therein." Rev. 22:3.