A REVIEW OF THE SIGNS
All these signs are the main scenes on this divine television screen of Revelation. The telecast begins with seven lampstands, signifying the churches; then follow seven shining stars, signifying the messengers of all the churches; then there is a jasper stone, signifying God’s appearance; then a lion and a lamb, both signifying Christ; then a universal woman with twelve stars on her head, the sun clothing her, and the moon under her feet; then a red dragon ready to swallow her child; then a man-child brought forth by her and raptured to the throne of God; then a beast coming up from the Mediterranean Sea; then a harvest on this earth, and out of the harvest a firstfruit; then a great prostitute, the great Babylon, terrible, ugly, abhorred; but then, hallelujah, a beautiful wife. the bride; then finally, something brighter, something greater, the New Jerusalem, which is God’s tabernacle just as Jesus was God’s tabernacle when He was on earth.
This New Jerusalem is not only a tabernacle to God but also a wife to God’s Son, Jesus Christ. God will have a tabernacle and Christ will have a wife. Both the tabernacle and the wife are the same: the New Jerusalem.
This is the book of Revelation, containing all these crucial signs. If you understand them, you understand the entire book of Revelation. With such a clear and accurate view, do you believe that the New Jerusalem will be a physical city built by God throughout all the centuries? Revelation is a book of signs. Every main item is a sign. Signs should not be interpreted literally. Do you think the church is an actual stand with seven lamps shining? This is a wrong understanding. Do you believe that Jesus Christ is a real lamb? This is ridiculous. Do you believe that the coming Caesar of the Roman Empire will be a real beast that comes out of the Mediterranean Sea and jumps onto the shore? Do you believe that the wife of the Lamb in Revelation 19 will be a woman adorned with a long wedding gown? Again, it makes no sense to understand it this way.
INTERPRETING THE NEW JERUSALEM
Then how about the New Jerusalem? In the same principle, it does not make sense to think of the coming New Jerusalem as a physical city. Just because this book uses the lion as a sign of Christ as the triumphant king, we should not think that Christ is like a lion in the zoo. The lion is not a real lion—it is a sign of Christ as the triumphant king. The lamb is not a real lamb—it is a sign of Christ as the Redeemer. In the same way, the New Jerusalem is a sign; it signifies something spiritual.
A principle in interpreting the Bible is to be consistent. Since we do not take the other signs literally, we may be sure the New Jerusalem is not a physical city for us to live in. Such an interpretation is altogether natural. If you do not interpret Christ as a lion with four legs and a tail, why would you think the New Jerusalem is an actual city? The lion is a sign, and the city is also a sign.
(The Basic Revelation in the Holy Scriptures, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)