I. THE NEW JERUSALEM, AS GOD’S HOLY CITY, BEING:
A. God’s Universal Building
for His New Creation out of His Old Creation
The New Jerusalem as God’s holy city is God’s universal building for His new creation out of His old creation (1 Cor. 3:9b; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15). The New Jerusalem is the building of God’s new creation. God would spend at least seven thousand years to finish this work. How does He carry out this work? First, He became a man. He was begotten in a human virgin’s womb and remained there for nine months. Matthew 1 says that God was born into the womb of Mary through His Spirit (vv. 18, 20). It was a great thing for the infinite God, the eternal God, to stay and be confined in the womb of a human virgin for nine months. His being in a virgin’s womb could be considered as an imprisonment to Him. Then He came out of that womb to be a God-man. His remaining in humanity in His human living was a longer imprisonment. As the divine person, He was imprisoned in humanity on this earth for thirty-three and a half years. Then He went to the cross and suffered there for six hours until His death (Mark 15:25; Matt. 27:45-46). Afterwards, He went down to Hades and remained there for three days (Matt. 12:40). He was raised from the dead on the third day (16:21). As the resurrected Christ, He has been working in the heavens for almost two thousand years to work out His new creation. This work is not yet finished. I hope we can see how much time, how much energy, and how much wisdom God has put into the work of His new creation. Therefore, the New Jerusalem, as the ultimate consummation of God’s new creation work, must be very, very significant.
We have to find out what the New Jerusalem is. The New Jerusalem is a building. First Corinthians 3:9 says that the church is God’s cultivated land, God’s farm, to grow something, and also God’s building. In the whole universe, there is a building, and this building is the building of the new creation. The New Jerusalem is God’s universal building.
B. God’s Tabernacle, God’s Temple,
and the Bride, the Wife of Christ
The New Jerusalem is God’s tabernacle—God’s dwelling in eternity (Rev. 21:3a). It is also God’s temple as God’s redeemed people’s living and serving place (v. 22). In the Old Testament there was first the tabernacle and then the temple. The tabernacle was God’s dwelling place, and the temple was the priests’ living place. The temple was also God’s people’s worshipping place, their serving place. We have to realize that even today in the New Testament we are living in the temple as God’s new creation. We are living in the temple because the church is the temple (1 Cor. 3:16-17). To us it is the temple; to God it is the tabernacle. The New Jerusalem, as the tabernacle, indicates what God’s redeemed people will be to God in eternity, that is, God’s eternal dwelling place. And the New Jerusalem, as the temple, indicates what the Triune God will be to His redeemed people in eternity, that is, their eternal dwelling place. In the new heaven and new earth, the New Jerusalem will be a mutual dwelling place for the redeeming God and the redeemed man for eternity.
The tabernacle, as a sign, signifies that the processed and consummated Triune God, after traveling through the wilderness of incarnation, human living, His all-inclusive death, and His life-imparting resurrection, and entering into His surpassing ascension, has secured a redeemed people to be His dwelling in eternity, as in typology after He traveled with the children of Israel through the wilderness and attained to Mount Sinai, He obtained His redeemed people to build Him a tabernacle for His dwelling on the earth. And the temple, as a sign, signifies that the processed and consummated Triune God, after being wrought into His redeemed, regenerated, transformed, and glorified people through His death, resurrection, and ascension in humanity, has been constituted with His redeemed and glorified people to be His organism, which becomes eventually His redeemed people’s dwelling in eternity.
The New Jerusalem is also the bride, the wife of Christ as the Lamb (Rev. 21:9). The city becomes a woman, a female. The bride is a virgin, and the wife is a married one. The New Jerusalem is both a virgin and also a married wife. The New Jerusalem is Christ’s wife, and Christ is the embodiment of God. Therefore, this New Jerusalem, on the one hand, is God’s dwelling and on the other hand, is Christ’s counterpart. Christ’s counterpart is His Body, the church. For the wife to be the husband’s counterpart means that she is a part of him. The New Jerusalem, to God, is the tabernacle; to us, is the temple; and to Christ, is a wife, a counterpart.
(The Central Line of the Divine Revelation, Chapter 28, by Witness Lee)