The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Studies in the Book of the Revelation of Jesus the Christ the Son of God ( the Visions ( Genesis Restored ) Pt 18

Keys to Understanding the Book of Revelation

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.

In previous studies; we have noted many times that, particularly in prophetic writings, the use of the term 'sea' most often refers to a large group of people, those outside the physical boundaries of the nation of Israel, or to the nation as a whole. When you read this first verse of chapter 21; the last phrase should immediately take you back to Genesis 1:10b; 'the gathering together of the waters He called Seas.' Understood in its true covenantal context, you might also think of Galatians 3:28, and like passages ( Colossians 3:11, Ephesians 2:14  ) where Paul wrote, 'There is neither Jew nor Greek'.

'How the Lord has covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in His anger! He cast down from heaven to the earth the beauty of Israel, and did not remember His footstool in the day of His anger.' ( Lamentations 2:1 )

Although I have quoted this verse before; I believe that it warrants being quoted again to show that the phrase 'heavens and earth' ( Deuteronomy 32:1, Psalm 50:4, Isaiah 13:13, 51:16, Jeremiah 51:48, Habakkuk 3:3, Matthew 5:18, II Peter 3:5-7 ) referred most often, especially in relation to YHWH's holy Covenant, not to the sky and terra firma, but to the position and place of YHWH's covenant people. YHWH told the priests, the leaders of His typical old covenant 'children', in Hosea 4:6; 'Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me'. Because His covenant 'children' had rejected His Law, as we saw above, in Jeremiah's lamentation; YHWH had removed them from their exalted position, and, as Jesus said, in His parable in Matthew 21:43, 'Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it'!

Then I, John,[a] saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

'But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn [ who are ] registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than [ that of ] Abel.' ( Hebrews 12:22-24 )

'For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he [ who was ] of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the[d] two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar-for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children-but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.' ( Galatians 4:22-26 )

I have commented on this previously, in another article, but when John saw this vision of the holy city of 'Jerusalem' descending from heaven to earth, as we read from the book of Hebrews above, it was significant, not only of the Church, the bride of Christ, ready to be wed to her Groom, but also that YHWH's covenant people had become, as Jesus taught His disciples to pray, in Matthew 6:9-13, His 'kingdom come', 'on earth as [ it is ] in heaven'!

'I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks [ himself ] with ornaments, and as a bride adorns [ herself ] with her jewels.' ( Isaiah 61:10 )

'Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.' ( Genesis 3:21 )

Looking back over the studies that I had done of the first three chapters of the book of beginnings, the other day; I was struck, again, with the fact that 'they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed' ( Genesis 2:25 ), before they had broken covenant with almighty God, and that after YHWH had pronounced judgment on them for their trespass, before He consigned them to wander in the wilderness, outside the Garden; He clothed them, thereby symbolically and significantly forgiving their iniquity!

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them [ and be ] their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

'And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood [ at ] the door of the tabernacle, and [ the LORD ] talked with Moses. All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing [ at ] the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man [ in ] his tent door. So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.'  ( Exodus 33:9-11 )

'I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I [ am ] the LORD their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I [ am ] the LORD their God.' ( Exodus 29: 45 & 46 )

'Then the word of the LORD came to Solomon, saying: [ Concerning ] this temple which you are building, if you walk in My statutes, execute My judgments, keep all My commandments, and walk in them, then I will perform My word with you, which I spoke to your father David. And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel.' ( I Kings 6:13 )

'You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts among men, even [ from ] the rebellious, that the LORD God might dwell [ there].' ( Psalm 68:18 )

'Then I heard [ Him ] speaking to me from the temple, while a man stood beside me. And He said to me, “Son of man, [ this is ] the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever. No more shall the house of Israel defile My holy name, they nor their kings, by their harlotry or with the carcasses of their kings on their high places. When they set their threshold by My threshold, and their doorpost by My doorpost, with a wall between them and Me, they defiled My holy name by the abominations which they committed; therefore I have consumed them in My anger.' ( Ezekiel 43:6-8 )

'Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.' ( John 14:23 )

John had heard this voice before, proclaiming things like 'Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down' ( Revelation 12:10 ), and 'The kingdoms[f] of this world have become [ the kingdoms ] of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!' ( Revelation 11:15 ). Hearing these words now must have thrilled John to the heart, knowing, understanding, as he must have, that the promises of YHWH concerning His continuing Presence, which were foreshadowed in the Hebrew, and reiterated in the Greek Scriptures, were about to be fulfilled, indeed were already fulfilled in Jesus the Christ!

One thing stood in the way, physically and covenantally speaking, though: as we read above, and there are others, in I Kings 6; YHWH told His people that 'if you walk in My statutes, execute My judgments, keep all My commandments, and walk in them', then He would fulfill His Word, and dwell among them. As we can easily ascertain by reading through the Hebrew Scriptures, and maybe especially through the book of Judges; the 'children' of Israel often, and on the whole, failed miserably to keep that Word! However; with the Revelation of Jesus the Christ, that Word was fulfilled, and YHWH's eternal Presence in and among His people was finally realized!

'For You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, [ and ] my feet from falling.' ( Psalm 116:8 )

'Then I returned and considered all the oppression that is done under the sun: and look! The tears of the oppressed, but they have no comforter-on the side of their oppressors [ there is ] power, but they have no comforter.' ( Ecclesiastes 4:1 )

Therefore you shall say this word to them: ‘Let my eyes flow with tears night and day, and let them not cease; for the virgin daughter of my people has been broken with a mighty stroke, with a very severe blow.' ( Jeremiah 14:17 )

'And this is the second thing you do: you cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and crying; so He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive [ it ] with goodwill from your hands.' ( Malachi 2:13 )

' And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”' ( Luke 7:37-39 )

'Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, [ he is ] a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.' ( II Corinthians 5:17 )

In the passage above, from Luke 7; read in the context of the whole story, we perceive that this woman, through her tears, received forgiveness of her sins from Jesus ( God ). In the covenant context of this greater story, then, we can ascertain, even from everyday life, that tears ( of pain or remorse, not joy ) most often are significant of some kind of punishment, as a result of wrong-doing, whether purposeful or ignorant. When Jesus forgave the prostitute, or sinner ( indicative of the adulterous house of Israel ); He showed that her tears had been dried, and that her former sins ( although He told another woman in a parallel passage ( John 8:11 ) 'go and sin no more' ) had been wiped away, or as Paul put it, speaking of the 'death' of that first covenant, 'old things have passed away', and she had been given a clean slate, for 'the former things have passed away'!

A friend of mine has recently begun a sermon study of the book of Hosea, and although this adulterous woman, Israel, is judged for her iniquity, there is also the promise given of forgiveness and reconciliation. In the Revelation of Jesus the Christ; we now begin to realize, to 'see' the fulfillment of that promise, in the forgiveness ( 'No More Tears' ) and reconciliation, or resurrection, of this relationship between God and His people!

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me,[b] “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

What did Jesus ( God ) make new? 

One 'problem' that most have with the Fulfilled viewpoint is that 'obviously', all things have not ( yet ) been made new, so this prophecy has yet to be fulfilled. When we go back to passages such as II Corinthians 5:17 ( Isaiah 48:5-7 ), though; we can start to get an idea of what these 'all things' are, that He made new. Paul says that we, His people, are His 'new creation'; as the covenant is at the basis of God's relationship; we see that the covenant was renewed with His people, fulfilled in Jesus the Christ ( Isaiah 42:6, 49:8 ). Rather than changing the Covenant itself, for Jesus is 'the same yesterday, today, and forever' ( Hebrews 13:8 ( Revelation 4:8 ), through the New Covenant ( I Corinthians 11:25 ( Matthew 26:28, Luke 22:20 ), He renewed His relationship with His people, instituting a 'change' ( I Corinthians 15:52 ( Ezekiel 36: 25-27, Ezekiel 37 ( Isaiah 62:2, 66:22 ) in them!

And He said to me, “It is done![c] I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things,[d] and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

Using language similar to the words He uttered on the cross ( John 19:30 ); Jesus revealed to John that His purpose, His plan, was complete; all had been renewed, all had been restored as it should be.

'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.' ( Genesis 1:1 )

'And He said, “Amos, what do you see?”   So I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the LORD said to me: “ The end has come upon My people Israel; I will not pass by them anymore.' ( Amos 8:2 )

'And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.' ( Matthew 24:14 )

'But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.' ( I Peter 4:7 )

I acknowledge that the verses I have chosen to show how Scripture 'backs up' Jesus' claim that He is 'the Beginning and the End' could be a bit confusing; if Jesus is the 'beginning', the Creator ( John 1:1-3 ) of the material wold, as is the traditional understanding of Genesis 1, would that not indicate that the end spoken of in Scripture, to be the 'end' of that material world? As believers in Fulfilled Eschatology; we see this 'end' for what it is, as YHWH revealed through His prophet Amos, above, 'The end has come upon My people Israel', and thus, that He was the 'beginning' of those same people, or 'children', as I like to term them. This is not to say that God is not the Creator of the physical heavens and earth; I believe that secular science, even, try as it might, cannot deny that the universe and all it contains, was made by an Intelligent Being, and not by 'chance'. It is clear enough that God did create the material universe, but Scripture is all about YHWH's dealings with His covenant people, and not about the creation of the physical heavens and earth, at least not as we're used to thinking of them!

But the cowardly, unbelieving,[e] abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

'Its streams shall be turned into pitch, and its dust into brimstone; its land shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night or day; its smoke shall ascend forever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste; no one shall pass through it forever and ever.' ( Isaiah 34:10 & 11 )

I have quoted this passage before, I believe, but as others, it bears repeating. God revealed His Judgment on cowardly Edom for the way in which they had treated His people. We have read other, similar passages before, all using this sort of hyperbolic and metaphoric language ( Joel 2 ( Acts 2:14-21 ), Ezekiel 32:1-8, Isaiah 13:5-10 ( Ecclesiastes 12:2 ).

We have seen throughout this study that John relied very heavily on his knowledge of the Hebrew Scripture, of course through the inspiration of YHWH's Holy Spirit, when he wrote the Revelation. This is the case here as well. John was reminding, in code, if you will, the enemies of the people of YHWH, that just as HE had judged His enemies in the past; their judgment would be, not only in similar terms, but that it would be final!

Again; we can see, in the covenant context, that it was national, physical Israel ( after the flesh ) that had become the cowardly, unbelieving, lying, and adulterous people that John had in view here. The book of Hosea shows very plainly how adulterous and idolatrous this people had become. Jesus told the Pharisees that they were children of the devil because he 'he is a liar and the father of it' ( John 8:44 ). Earlier in this very study; John condemned the Judaizers, 'those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan' ( Revelation 2:9, 3:9 ).

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me[f] and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”[g] And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy[h] Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.

'But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn [ who are ] registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than [ that of ] Abel.' ( Hebrews 12:22-24 )

The writer to the Hebrews told his first century audience that they had come to the New, or 'heavenly' Jerusalem. We understand that he was saying that, as the Body of Christ, we have come before the Throne of God, to the 'city' that Paul wrote of in Galatians 4:26; 'the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all'. There is a tendency, in today's 'day and age', to forget that John was recording a vision here. I have spoken before, with my 'tongue in cheek', of John's disappointment, when promised a view of 'the Bride', to only witness a city descending out of the sky, but seriously; John was shown a very hyperbolic, and metaphorically brilliant vision of the Bride of Christ, who really isn't a bride at all, except in the spiritual sense of being covenantally united with Christ, but is a corporate Body, the people of God, called out from among the Old Covenant Body of Moses.

This is not the first time that a 'woman' has been compared to a structure, or described in architectural terms. Solomon described his Shulamite bride ( traditionally viewed as a picture of Christ and His Bride ) in terms not unlike this; 'Your nose [ is ] like the tower of Lebanon which looks toward Damascus' ( Song of Solomon 7:4b ), and 'Your neck [ is ] like the tower of David, built for an armory, on which hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men' ( Song of Solomon 4:4 ).

It is rather common, even in this 'day and age' to refer to certain objects, including cities, as 'she', and this is nothing new, for throughout Scripture; Jerusalem is often referred to in terms of the people that inhabited 'her'. Isaiah, prophesying of the coming judgment, wrote 'When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, then the LORD will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering.' ( Isaiah 4:4 & 5 ) In Jeremiah 4:14; YHWH pleaded with His people, 'O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, that you may be saved. How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you?' YHWH referred to the spiritual harlotry of His people, Jerusalem, in very vivid terms, as the very worst of harlots, in Ezekiel 23 ( see this also, in the book of Hosea ).

Her light [ was ] like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.

'O you afflicted one, tossed with tempest, [ and ] not comforted, behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems, and lay your foundations with sapphires. I will make your pinnacles of rubies, your gates of crystal, and all your walls of precious stones.' ( Isaiah 54:11 & 12 )

The immediate context of God's promise above is that of the restoration of His people. Throughout this study; we have seen how this kind of language is used, largely by the prophets, to describe the blessings of the covenant for those who kept it. Not only is this kind of language used by the prophets of God in a hyperbolic, or metaphorical sense, though: I Kings 10 chronicles for us some of the blessings of the covenant that were lavished on Solomon, king of Israel for his faithfulness and Godliness. In I Chronicles 29; we read how David prepared much of these sorts of things, in preparation for his son to build the Temple, one of the many pictures we have in the Hebrew Scriptures, showing how God prepared us to be built up by His Son as a temple for the Holy Spirit ( Ephesians 2:19-22, I Peter 2:4 & 5 ).

'You [ were ] the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone [ was ] your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created.'

The above quotation from Ezekiel 28:12b & 13 is most often, I believe, said to be a description of that 'being' traditionally known as Satan, but when you really think about it, it really is a description of their first father, Adam. Remember when Jesus told the Pharisees that they were children of their father, the devil ( John 8:44 )? In other parts of the above passage, we can see, too, more language from the earlier parts of Genesis, referring to the beginning of covenant life.

We should notice too; that although YHWH had judged His old covenant 'children', mostly with a adverse judgment; the gates of His 'new' city, the heavenly Jerusalem ( from above ) were adorned with the names of His 'twelve tribes', which should be yet another 'key', or clue, that this was but a fuller revealing of His plan concerning His people.

Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names[i] of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal.

We see here how God has made of the two, One. By showing John that, not only, as we saw in the previous passage, was this 'heavenly Jerusalem', or the Bride of Christ, made up of the original twelve tribes, the very foundation of this 'city' was laid on the foundation of the apostles, who, though mostly of physically Jewish descent, were followers of the Christ, and no longer Jewish, but Christian. Remember that we read in Isaiah 62:2b, that 'You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD will name' ( see also Isaiah 65:15 )?

Many people like to read John's description of the Church, or the Bride of Christ, here, and assign to it a physically literal meaning, and envision a city that is 1,500 miles square, as one person described to me; floating in the air, with those twelve foundations. Wait; a city that is not anchored to the ground does not need.....................never mind: it's just ridiculous!

You've heard of the 'four-square' gospel churches, speaking, I believe, of the fulness of the message, rather than making sure that their buildings are laid out in exact measurements: much the same here; I believe that Jesus was showing His servant John that  His Church was perfect, and complete, the 'fullness of Him who fills all in all' ( Ephesians 1:23 )!

The equal 'length, breadth, and height' of its walls might also refer to the equality of its inhabitants before God, and each other.

Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.

We have noted this before, that as '7' is a most significant number in the Holy Scriptures; so too, we see that '12' is just as significant, and may even more prolific. Aside from the measurement of the wall, which John found to be a perfect multiple of 12; it is also interesting to note that this measurement was 'according to the measure of a man' , again cementing the fact that John was seeing no ordinary, physically literal city ( although its 'make-up' is very physical ), but rather was seeing in a wonderfully metaphorical vision, the Church of God, not as witnessed by human eyes, but as seen through the eyes of Grace!

'And you shall put settings of stones in it, four rows of stones: [ The first ] row [ shall be ] a sardius, a topaz, and an emerald; [ this shall be ] the first row; the second row [ shall be ]a turquoise, a sapphire, and a diamond; the third row, a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; and the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper.'  ( Exodus 28:17-20 )

I'm sure you've hear this before, and even noted it yourself, that, even though in different order, and most likely by different names, but the stones which John recorded seeing as adorning the walls of this city ( again, think of Ezekiel 28 & Isaiah 54, above, but also Isaiah 61:10 ) were much the same as the precious stones which were to adorn the high priest's breastplate. It is very interesting to note that, as these stones adorned the breastplate of judgment, so they also are noted as adorning the protecting wall of the New Jerusalem, the Bride of Christ!

The twelve gates [ were ] twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city [ was ] pure gold, like transparent glass.

'Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.' ( Matthew 13:45 & 46 )

I don't know if you've ever thought about why Jesus would show John a vision in which the gates of this heavenly city were made of pearls, but I had really never given it much thought, except to think; that is one BIG pearl! Aside from the fact that this was a metaphorical vision that John saw, and that this 'city' was not an actual city, but was indicative of the inhabitants of the New Covenant: why would Jesus use 'pearls' for the 'gates'?

For a physical explanation, both of why Jesus would use a pearl as the subject of one of His parables, and in the vision that He gave to His servant John, in the Revelation; we might think of the geographical land of Palestine. Palestine is located in the Near East, on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, where there are found, no doubt, pearls! For a more spiritual explanation, though; we might think first, of Jesus reference in the parable above, in Matthew 13, which includes a number of parables, all centered around 'the kingdom of heaven'. We're all familiar with Jesus' words in Matthew 7:6: 'Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine', lest, He said, 'they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces'. While we could certainly attribute a physically literal meaning to this, and glean some really good advice from this ( I mean; who in their right mind would throw their costly gems into a pigpen? ); I believe that Jesus had more in mind 'pearls of wisdom', metaphorically, 'the wisdom that comes from above'!

We saw, earlier in this study, how the Great Harlot, indicative of Israel, was adorned with 'gold and precious stones and pearls': these would be indicative, as James wrote, of a 'worldly wisdom' that is 'earthly, sensual, demonic' ( James 3:15 ).

Pearls, as you likely know, are formed through probably one of the most painful processes imaginable, at least, if you're an oyster! I mean, think about it, for us humans; it would be kind of like getting a splinter in a hard to reach place, or else one that is just beneath the surface of the skin, or even worse yet, under the fingernail! And we have arms, fingers with which to pull these foreign objects out; the mollusk's only choice is to cover it up and hope that it will eventually feel better as it continually layers this foreign object with nacre, the same stuff that lines the inside of their shells.

I believe that Jesus used the pearl as an object lesson, not only because of its ready availability, beauty, and popularity in the region, but metaphorically, because those who make up the Bride of Christ, the New Jerusalem, are very like pearls, in that we must make the best of what we have been given, whether it's foreign to us or not. The 'children' of Israel under the Old Covenant did not do this, rather, they let the foreign object become their identity, as we have seen, conforming to the wickedness around them, instead of being the redeeming factor they were called to be!

Streets of Gold?

I don't know if you've ever heard it explained this way, but someone actually told me once, that 'maybe the purest form of gold IS crystal clear'! Never heard that one before, but again, we must remember that this was a vision, meant to relate a greater spiritual truth.

'Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire.' ( James 5:3 )

'In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, [ being ] much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.' ( I Peter 1:6 & 7 )

Like the pearl; a natural explanation could be found, as to why Jesus would use this most precious metal to pave the streets of His city, but the point of John's vision here, I believe, was again that the New Covenant people of YHWH are in view here, as their 'gold' was found to be much more precious than that of His old covenant 'children', which was 'corroded', and soon to eat their flesh like fire, in the conflagration of AD70.

Again; gold is the softer of metals, more pliable than most, and except for platinum, arguably the most precious. Not only did gold figure most heavily in the trappings of the Old Covenant tabernacle and then in the Temple, which were but pictures of the true; it also was used to symbolize the preciousness and worth of the wise and covenant-keeping people of YHWH. In fact; the wisdom of YHWH's people, and His Law, are regarded as more precious, and 'better than gold, yes, than fine gold' ( Proverbs 8:19 ).

The other side of the coin, regarding the covenant-breaking 'children' of Israel, was that, as Jeremiah lamented; 'How the gold has become dim! [ How ] changed the fine gold! The stones of the sanctuary are scattered at the head of every street'  ( Lamentations 4:1 ), and 'The precious sons of Zion, valuable as fine gold, how they are regarded as clay pots, the work of the hands of the potter!' Although the people of God are today also regarded as 'clay pots'; let us not forget that, not only are we more precious, and 'valuable as fine gold', we are yet but 'the work of the hands of the potter'; lest we too, allow our 'light' to be dimmed, and forsake the Covenant!

But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it,[j] for the glory[k] of God illuminated it. The Lamb [ is ] its light. And the nations of those who are saved[l] shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.[m]

'Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.' ( Genesis 1:3 )

There is a story going around, not that we can really deny it's veracity, though maybe mis-understood, that the seeming inconsistency in YHWH 'creating' Light on the first 'day', but the Sun, Moon, and stars on the fourth day, by saying something like, 'Jesus was the Light, before the Sun, Moon or stars were created', then pointing ahead to the passage above, in Revelation 21. Like I said; you really can't deny that Truth, but I believe that, covenantally speaking, it's not quite that 'cut and dried', or simple. John's Gospel makes it pretty clear that Jesus was the Light typified by the Genesis creation, especially in the later portion of this passage; 'In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend[a] it.' ( John 1:4 & 5 )

In the Revelation of Jesus Christ; John saw that 'the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple', but other places in the Greek Scriptures call God's people, for instance, 'the temple of the Holy Spirit' ( I Corinthians 6:19 ), and 'the temple of God' ( I Corinthians 3:16 ). On the other hand; when Jesus told the Pharisees to 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' ( John 2:19 ), and though they, as often, misunderstood this saying; we can see that He was speaking metaphorically of 'the temple of His body'.

We also read in Scripture that Jesus is 'the light of the world' ( John 8:12, 9:5, 11:9, 12:46 ), and He most surely is, but Matthew told the followers of Jesus; 'You are the light of the world' ( Matthew 5:14 ), while Paul uses very similar language to John's in Philippians 2:15. As we are the Body of Christ on earth; we are both the light of the world, although those words were primarily meant, I believe, to give comfort and strength to their first-century audience, and the Temple of the New Jerusalem. God, in Christ is without doubt the true light and true temple, of which we are mere finite representations, but when we think of Jesus' words in John 14:23, for instance; we can begin to realize the impact of the words, 'Christ in you, the hope of glory' ( Colossians 1:27 ); for for believers ever since the 1st century anno domini, this is a fulfilled, though not always realized 'hope', but as we, believers in Fulfilled Eschatology, and the Revelation of Jesus the Christ, continually let our lights shine, or rather let the Light of God shine through us, we will make a way in the darkness!

As we've noted before in this study; Israel, under the Old Covenant, was to be a light to the darkness of idolatry around them, and sometimes, usually while they were being shepherded by a good leader, or leaders, they often fulfilled that mandate, to a point, but ultimately, they failed in their mission. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that God found fault with the 'children' of that 'first' covenant ( Hebrews 8:8 ), thus 'finding' it necessary to establish 'a new covenant', as prophesied in places like Jeremiah 31:31-37.

Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.[n] But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes[o] an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

'And I said to them, “Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot; and while they stand [ guard ], let them shut and bar the doors; and appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, one at his watch station and another in front of his own house.”' ( Nehemiah 7:3 )

If not from this verse alone, reading a bit of the historical background of the book of Nehemiah will quickly reveal why Nehemiah would give a command like this. The political situation at that time was such that he felt the need, for safety's sake, to give this command. In the New, or 'heavenly' Jerusalem, there is no need to take such precautions, for, going back to Genesis, 'there shall be no night there'. The enemy has been defeated, and though there are still 'gates' ( Psalm 24:7-9 ); we are not to be closed, or shut up, but are to be open, day and night, that the true Light of theChrist may shine through us, bringing God's Light to a sick world in desperate need of healing!

'Therefore your gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day or night, that [ men ] may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles, and their kings in procession.' ( Isaiah 60:11 )

In the New Jerusalem which Jesus revealed through His servant John, the situation is quite the opposite from in Nehemiah's day. In the New Jerusalem, which Paul equated with the Church, the Bride of Christ, now the Wife of God; the enemy has been defeated! We do not fear 'those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul', for death, the death of Adam, which was spiritual, or covenantal separation from God was cast into the 'Lake of Fire', to be seen no more! The New Jerusalem, like Jesus said of us, His kingdom, 'is not of this world' ( John 18:36 ). Jesus referred to the same 'world' to which He came, and which 'did not know Him' ( John 1:10 ); I believe that, as Paul revealed that 'flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God' ( I Corinthians 15:50-Paul also refers here to that same 'world' ), that we can also apply Jesus' words to the natural ( physical ) creation, intangible insofar that it can be defined, seen, or felt, only through the Spirit of God. Not only are the 'gates' to remain open for lack of fear, but as Jesus told the church at Laodicea; 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock' ( another particular referent ), they are also to remain open that men 'may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles', or as John wrote, 'they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it'. This is not so much an evangelistic message, as it is indicative of the blessings of the New Covenant in Christ!'

But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes[o] an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

This can applied to un-believers today, as well, but as we have seen throughout these studies; John's referent is the apostate 'children' of Israel, YHWH's typical old covenant people. We read in Revelation 3:7 about those 'of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie', and again, in John 8:44; Jesus told those same Jews that 'You are of [ your ] father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own [ resources ], for he is a liar and the father of it.'

Who is said to have profaned YHWH's holy name throughout the Scriptures, but the 'children' of Israel, 'after the flesh'? Who but these Israelites had, time after time, defiled, not only themselves, but their inheritance, the 'land of promise', which was, of course, typical of 'the holy city, New Jerusalem'?

This book is, of course, first and foremost, the Revelation of Jesus as the Christ, as the Son of God, Almighty Himself, but it also chronicles YHWH's judgment of His typical old covenant people, for those who obeyed the Gospel, as personified in Jesus, good, and for those who rejected this Good News; evil. As we near the end of these studies; it is important to remember this, and to realize that, as the New Covenant 'Israel of God', we are now married to God, not only as His representatives on earth, His Kingdom on Earth, but much more than that; we are His Wife, endowed with all the covenant blessings and intimacy that entails.

As we begin to wrap these studies up, then; let us forever keep in mind this glorious fact of Who He is, and thus who we are: may God bless you with these words!

Charles Haddon Shank

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