THE NEW JERUSALEM AS THE TABERNACLE OF GOD WITH THE TEMPLE
In Revelation, we are also told that the holy city, the New Jerusalem, is the tabernacle of God (21:3). To Christ, it is a bride; to God, it is a tabernacle. God’s intention is not to have a tabernacle built with wood and gold or a temple built with wood and stones. God’s intention is to have a temple built with His living children. We are told in the Scriptures that we are the household and the house of God (Eph. 2:19; 1 Tim. 3:15), and we are the living temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 2:21-22). On the one hand, we are the living bride to match Christ, and on the other hand, we are the living house, the living temple, the living tabernacle, the living habitation, to meet God’s need. We are the bride to satisfy Christ, and we are the tabernacle to give God rest.
As we have seen, the Old Testament is a record of the history of the tabernacle and the temple. The same is true of the New Testament. When the Lord Jesus was on this earth, He was the tabernacle of God (John 1:14) and His body was the temple of God, which was destroyed on the cross by the Jewish people but raised up by the Lord in His resurrection in an enlarged way (2:19-21). So, the church is the enlarged Body of Christ as the enlarged temple of God. Eventually, when we come to the ultimate conclusion of the entire Scriptures, we have a picture of the tabernacle and the temple. This city is the very ultimate tabernacle, with God in Christ Himself as the temple. Therefore, this picture is the conclusion of the history of the tabernacle and the temple. What is the ultimate expression, the ultimate consummation, of the tabernacle and the temple? It is the holy city, the New Jerusalem, which is a living composition of all the saints from the Old Testament time to the New Testament time, all the chosen ones, all the redeemed people. All the people saved by God in Christ through the Spirit are the members to be built up as a living corporate Body, a living corporate city, a living corporate container to contain God in Christ through the Spirit to express the Triune God.
I believe that at this point we are clear about what God is after today. He desires to have a group of people mingled with Christ, transformed into the image of Christ, and built up together as a corporate Body to contain Christ and express Christ. As we have seen before, at the beginning of the book of Revelation there are the seven lampstands as the local expressions of this Body, and at the end there is the New Jerusalem as the great, universal lampstand. It is the universal and ultimate consummation and completion of the church, having God as the light, Christ as the lamp, and the city as the stand to express God in Christ. This is the central thought of God, and this is the aim, the goal, and the direction of the work of God today.
(The Central Thought of God, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)