JERUSALEM AND BABYLON IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Now, let us see the history in the New Testament. The New Testament, as we have said before, is also a record of building. Immediately after we recognize that the Lord Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Lord tells us that we are stones as the materials for His building of the church (Matt. 16:18). Building in the New Testament begins at this point. However, while God is building His church, Satan is also building his building. God is building the New Jerusalem, and Satan is building Babylon. Eventually, throughout all the Scriptures, there are these two cities, the New Jerusalem as the building of God and Babylon as the building of Satan.
We should not believe that Babylon is only a material city. Rather, Babylon is a sign, signifying people as a human community used by Satan as a corporate vessel to contain and express him. Likewise, we should not believe that the New Jerusalem is a heavenly mansion. The New Jerusalem is also a sign. It signifies all the chosen, redeemed people of God as materials built up together as a corporate vessel to contain God and express God. Therefore, in the whole universe, with the human race, there are two communities, the satanic community and the divine community. The satanic community is a corporate vessel to contain and express Satan, and the divine community is a corporate vessel to contain and express God.
I must reiterate these things because in Christianity there is a wrong concept concerning the New Jerusalem. In some places certain ones have come to me and said, “Brother Lee, you have taken away our heavenly mansion. Our only hope was to go to the heavenly mansion, but according to your teaching and interpretation, our heavenly mansion is gone.” Whether or not your heavenly mansion is gone is not up to me. My burden from the Lord is to help His children realize what the central thought and heart’s desire of God is. Do you think that God is looking for a heavenly mansion with millions of rooms, one room for each believer? This thought is ridiculous; it is too childish. God is not looking for such a thing. Rather, God is looking for a community, a composition of living persons redeemed by Him, regenerated by Him, transformed by Him, and mingled with Him as a corporate vessel to contain Him in Christ and to express Him through Christ. This is God’s desire, and this is the New Jerusalem.
This thought is not only in the New Testament; it is also in the Old Testament. One day the Lord revealed to me Song of Songs 6:4. This verse says, “You are as beautiful, my love, as Tirzah, / As lovely as Jerusalem.” Here we see that the bride, the one who is seeking the Lord, is likened by the Lord to Jerusalem. So, the thought of Jerusalem being the bride of the Lord is clearly seen in both the Old and New Testaments. However, to see the vision of the New Jerusalem we need to be brought to a high mountain. The two visions in Revelation, the vision of Babylon and the vision of the New Jerusalem, are in contrast. In Revelation 17, the apostle John was carried away in spirit into a wilderness to see the vision of Babylon (v. 3). In order to see the vision of Babylon, there is no need to go to a high mountain; it is sufficient to be in the wilderness. However, for John to see the vision of the New Jerusalem, he had to be carried away onto a great and high mountain (21:10). If you want to see something heavenly, you have to be in the heavenly place. If you want to see something eternal, you have to be on the spiritual height, on the spiritual high place. If you remain in the wilderness, you can see only Babylon and can never see the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city. If you want to see the heavenly city, you have to be delivered from the wilderness to the height of the heavenly places.
(The Central Thought of God, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)