C. IN THE NEW JERUSALEM AS THE CONSUMMATE CORPORATE EXPRESSION IN THE NEW CREATION
The final stage of God’s manifestation will be in the New Jerusalem as the consummated corporate expression in the new creation. Revelation 21:1-3 says, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and the sea is no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice out of the throne, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men and He shall tabernacle with them.” In eternity past God purposed to have a corporate expression so that He might be fully expressed and glorified (Eph. 3:9-11; 1:9-11). For this, He created the heavens, the earth, and mankind. Eventually, the old heaven and the old earth will pass away through fire and be renewed into the new heaven and new earth (2 Pet. 3:10-13) into which the New Jerusalem will come for God’s eternal expression.
1. The Holy City
The New Jerusalem in the new heaven and new earth will be the holy city, “the city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22). The designation “holy city” signifies that the New Jerusalem is a city sanctified and separated unto God for fulfilling His purpose. It is both sanctified and separated unto God positionally and sanctified and saturated with God dispositionally. It is holy both extrinsically and intrinsically. It is an entity, entirely and thoroughly holy, that fits in with God’s holy nature for God’s expression to fulfill His heart’s desire.
Today the church, as the manifestation of God in the flesh, is the house of God, whereas in the new heaven and new earth the New Jerusalem, as the manifestation of God in the new creation, will be the city of God. The city is much bigger than the house, signifying that the New Jerusalem, as the manifestation of God in His new creation, will be the enlargement and consummation of the church to express God in eternity.
As the old Jerusalem was the center and capital of God’s kingdom in the nation of Israel, the New Jerusalem will be the administrative center of the eternal kingdom of God in the new universe for the manifestation of God for the ages to come.
At the beginning of the Scripture in God’s old creation there was a garden, the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:8). At the end of the Scripture in God’s new creation there will be a city, the city of the New Jerusalem. The garden and the city at the two ends of the Scripture reflect each other, with the tree of life which is in both of them as the link (Gen. 2:9; Rev. 22:2). The garden was the issue of God’s creation; whereas the city will be the consummation of God’s building, a building which God has been carrying out through all the dispensations: the dispensation of the patriarchs, the dispensation of the law, the dispensation of grace, and the dispensation of the kingdom, of the old creation. Out of His old creation through all the dispensations, God has been doing His building work in the way of regeneration and resurrection. The ultimate result and the ultimate consummation of this building work will be the New Jerusalem in the new heaven and new earth as God’s manifestation in His new creation for eternity. It is not a creation by God’s divine power in the way to call things not being as being; but it is a building by God’s divine life in the way to regenerate the things which exist with the resurrection life that they may be one with God in His divine life and nature for His expression.
2. The Bride of the Lamb and the Tabernacle of God
The New Jerusalem in the new heaven and new earth is the bride, the wife (Rev. 21:9) of the Lamb Christ as His counterpart (John 3:29) and the tabernacle of God as His habitation (Rev. 21:3). Christ and God are one. They are one God, but triune. And the tabernacle is one entity with two aspects to meet the different needs of its Triune God. To Christ, the Lamb, the Redeemer, the New Jerusalem is His bride as His counterpart for His satisfaction. To God, the Originator, the Creator, the New Jerusalem is His tabernacle as His habitation for His rest. As the bride of the Lamb, the New Jerusalem comes out of Christ, her Husband, and becomes His counterpart, just as Eve came out of Adam, her husband, and became His counterpart (Gen. 2:21-24). She is prepared by participating in the riches of the life and nature of Christ the Lamb. As the tabernacle of God, the New Jerusalem is built by God with what He is. It is wholly constituted of the nature of God to be His habitation.
In both the Old and the New Testaments God likens His chosen people to a spouse (Isa. 54:6; Jer. 3:1; Ezek. 16:8; Hosea 2:19; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:31-32) and a dwelling place for Himself (Exo. 29:45-46; Num. 5:3; Ezek. 43:7-9; Psa. 68:18; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; 1 Tim. 3:15). The spouse is for His satisfaction in love, and the dwelling place is for His rest in expression. Both aspects will be ultimately consummated in the New Jerusalem. In her, God will have the fullest satisfaction in love and the uttermost rest in expression for eternity.
(Conclusion of the New Testament, The (Msgs. 001-020), Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)