THE WALL OF THE CITY
Now we come to the tenth aspect of the New Jerusalem, the wall of the city. We have seen that the city itself is pure gold (Rev. 21:18b), the first item of the materials of the city. We have also seen that the gates are pearls (v. 21a), the second item of the materials. Now we must see that the wall is built up with precious stones (vv. 18a, 19-20), the third item of the materials. The three kinds of materials are related to the three persons of the Triune God. The pure gold is related to God the Father as the divine nature; the pearls are related to God the Son, Christ, as the crucified One, the wounded One, in whom we are regenerated; and the precious stones are related to the work of the Holy Spirit. Here we have the nature of God the Father as the pure gold, and the crucifixion, the redemption, and the regeneration of Christ to make us pearls. Now we need to have the working of the Holy Spirit upon us to make us precious stones.
A precious stone is not an original item of creation. It is something created by God that is burned to become like charcoal. Then, after being burned, it has to be burned more intensely with great pressure until it becomes a precious stone. According to an article I once read, a one-inch-square piece of carbon, when pressed under a weight of 800,000 pounds and burned in a heat of five thousand degrees, will become a small fine diamond. This is an illustration of the working of the Holy Spirit. Originally, we are not pieces of stone but pieces of clay. We need to be burned and pressed. We may think that because we are regenerated and are seeking the Lord, the Lord should be very happy with us and should be good toward us by always giving us good and happy days. However, we know that often it is just the opposite. The more we love the Lord and seek the Lord, the more we are troubled. After hearing this word, perhaps you will be frightened and try to run away, but the Lord’s hand is upon you. You cannot run away because you are in the divine hand. He is the Potter and you are the clay (Rom. 9:20-21). Therefore, how can you run away? If you are able to run away, then try to do so. If you can give up being a Christian, try to do so, and the sooner the better. However, our being Christians is up to Him and not up to us; it is something from heaven and not something of this earth. You cannot give up the Lord. I tried a number of times to give up being a Christian, but I simply could not make it. The more I tried to give up, the more I had to love the Lord.
I must tell you the truth: The more you seek to love the Lord, the more there will be pressure and burning. On a given day, pressure may come from almost every side. Your dear wife is a pressure, your dear children are a pressure, and your dear brothers and sisters are a pressure. Everything is a pressure, and everyone burns you. Everywhere you go there is a furnace. You are just like the dough in a cake mold, put into the oven by the Cook. However, do not be afraid. The Cook knows how hot the oven should be. Whether it should be low, medium low, medium, medium high, or high, the divine Cook knows how to adjust the fire. He will “cook” you in the right way. He will press you, and He will burn you until you become a properly baked “cake,” suitable to His taste. He will press you and burn you until you become a diamond, a piece of precious stone. This is the work of the Holy Spirit.
In these days, Christians pay too much attention to the gifts. If a young man who has graduated from a seminary, who is eloquent in speaking, smart in thinking, and can recite some Bible verses, stands up to deliver a sermon in a wonderful way, people will admire and praise him. Such a young man may have a gift, but nothing of him may have passed through pressure and burning. I can never forget the lesson, the help, given to me by the Lord through Brother Watchman Nee when I was young and had just come out to serve the Lord. One day he sat in the living room with me alone. He said, “Brother, you have to realize that serving the Lord is not merely by the gifts. It is by something else that is more necessary.” I asked him, “What is that something?” He said, “O brother, it is hard for me to tell you. You have to pass through the furnace to be burned and pressed.” Then he went on to use the potter as an illustration. A potter makes a number of vessels or containers out of clay. Then he paints some beautiful patterns on the various pieces. The containers look beautiful, but they cannot be touched. A little touch will ruin them. So, the potter has to put all these vessels of clay with the beautiful paintings into the furnace to be burned. After the burning, they become solid. Whatever is painted on them can no longer be removed; it has been burned and wrought into them. This illustration shows us that the Lord needs us to be “burned” vessels with something of Him wrought into us by the work of the Holy Spirit. This is different from the gifts, which often hurt, damage, destroy, and spoil us.
(The Central Thought of God, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)