KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
THE HEAVENS DECLARE
ARIES THE LAMB
In last month's Study on the Signs of the heavens we considered the first Decan, or minor constellation, in the house of Aries CASSIOPEIA THE ENTHRONED WOMAN. Cassiopeia is the figure of a queenly woman, matchless in beauty, seated in exalted dignity. She is seated on a throne, high and lifted up. With one hand she is arranging her robe; in the other she holds the branch of victory and triumph, at the same time arranging her hair. She seems to be making herself ready for some presentation or great public manifestation. Near her sits King Cepheus on his throne. In Arabic this constellation is called EL SEDU, which means the freed. Albumazer, an ancient authority, says this woman was anciently called the daughter of splendor, hence, the glorified woman. Her common name is CASSIOPEIA, meaning the beautiful, the enthroned. This woman is obviously the Bride of Christ, the Lamb's Wife, the New Jerusalem of whom John the apostle said, "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready" (Rev. 19:7). In the book of Revelation John is carried away to an exceeding high mountain and there he is shown that which is called both a bride and a city. From the top of that high mountain John looks out and sees a most wonderful city, coming down out of heaven from God, filled and flooded with the glory of God. The name of the City is New Jerusalem.
THE GLORY OF THE NEW JERUSALEM
When John saw the Holy City descending down from God, the Spirit was giving him a vision of the bride of Christ as she would be in her perfection. If we follow John in the magnificent view that was given him of the Holy City, and study the various parts of the City as John saw them in the vision, and if we let the Spirit of God show us the spiritual realities of which these parts or portions of the Holy City are symbols, then it shall be revealed to our hearts how true it is that the Holy City is the Bride in her perfection. Until our spiritual minds are able to grasp the truth that the body of Christ is the temple of God and that every room and mansion of that temple is a living son of God, a literal habitation of God through the Spirit; and until we understand that the city of God is the bride of Christ, and that the stones of that City are all living stones, as Christ Jesus Himself is a living stone and the only foundation that can be laid, we have understood nothing at all. The book of Revelation shows the development of this Bride-City from glory to glory. Each view is a fresh and further comprehension of the grandeur of the purposes of God for all who are called to the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus. The total victory for all the elect is detailed in all its glorious and eternal reality. This is the beauty of the Church Triumphant! This is that glorious church without spot or wrinkle. It is so great and mighty! It stands throughout the ages to come clothed in the awesome majesty of the glory of the Almighty!
This City, John says, has THE GLORY OF GOD. What is the glory of God? The literal meaning of the Hebrew word for glory is weight or substance. In the eyes of men this literal meaning frequently lent itself to the idea that a person possessing glory was laden (heavy) with the substances of this world. Jacob's flock was his "glory" (Gen. 31:1). The Assyrians' power was their "glory" (Isa. 8:7). Joseph's high position in the kingdom of Egypt was his "glory" (Gen 45:13). But when the word was applied to God, it was meant to bring out the weightiness of God's nature, character, attributes and power. His love, His wisdom, His knowledge, His righteousness, His justice, His truth, His power these weighty spiritual substances are the "glory" of God! His glory is the emmanation of what He is. To me it is a wonderful thing to hear John say that the New Jerusalem "has the GLORY of God." It speaks to us and of us. For has not the Lord "called us to His kingdom and glory" (Col. 2:12)? Paul says in II Thes. 2:4 that we have been called "to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." Again, "For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings" (Heb. 2:10). "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18). "When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe in that day" (II Thes. 1:10). "And the glory which Thou gavest me I have given them...that the world may know that Thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved me" (Jn. 17:22-23). Can any doubt remain in any open mind that the saints ARE INDEED the Holy City, New Jerusalem "which has the glory of God"!
When God reveals this New Jerusalem people in all His fullness the world will know this wondrous fact, that "the glory which Thou gavest Me, I have given them." The glory of God is the LIGHT of this great City. Not only is it the light of the City, but also of the whole world, for "the nations of them that are saved shall walk in the light of it" (Rev. 21:24). This is that true light which "lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (Jn. 1:9). "His life is the light of men" (Jn. 1:4). "YE are the light of the world" (Mat. 5:14). The light of God is pure light, total white light, for "in Him there is no darkness at all" (I Jn. 1:5). The light of God is the light of the City. All through scripture we find that light has been a symbol for the truth. When the Bible says of the Holy City that her light shall be like a jasper stone, clear as crystal, it simply reveals the true church as having come to all light, perfect light, all truth, purest truth, absolute understanding, and walking and living in absolute light and truth the perfection of the mind of Christ within.
The revelation of the Christ within brings illumination, understanding, perfect clarity about the true nature of all things. This is that light that "shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Prov. 4:18). The light of this City is like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal that is, transparent. To live in that City, and in the light of it, is to walk in a state in which we "see right through" the illusion of this world, the external form of it, and the denseness of the lower, outer meanings of the letter of the Word of God to see right through into the mind and heart of God by the spirit. It is the revelation that carries one beyond doctrine and the external forms of religion right into the glorious and eternal reality of God Himself. It penetrates beyond the denseness of carnal understanding and natural comprehension to behold the substance of God's person and the glories of a realm not seen by the human eye. This is the realm beyond the Outer Court and the Holy Place the most inward realm of the Holiest of all. Moses raised up the Tabernacle in the wilderness, but of this glorious City of God the Spirit testifies, "Behold, THE TABERNACLE OF GOD IS WITH MEN, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them and be their God" (Rev. 21:3).
The witness of the Holy Spirit is that this City, New Jerusalem, corresponds in symbol to the Tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon but there is no veil there. As I recall the layout of the old Tabernacle, the Outer Court had no covering, so its light was the sun and the moon. In the Inner Court, the enclosed area just within the Outer Court, lamps were used as the source of light. But in the innermost Sanctuary, the Holy of holies, the Shekinah, the glory of God was the only light. The New Jerusalem does not need the sun or the moon nor the light of any lamp, because in this Holy of holies dwells the eternal presence of the Almighty God and His Son who are the light thereof (Rev. 21:23). This City has no Outer Court or Holy Place. The Holy Place of Moses' Tabernacle was oblong in shape, being thirty feet in length, fifteen in width, and fifteen in height. The Most Holy Place, on the other hand, was fifteen feet in length, width, and height, or a perfect cube. The only other cube described in the Bible is the Holy City, New Jerusalem! The perfect cube of the Holy of holies now finds its fulfillment in the City of God! "The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal" (Rev. 21:16). Now a cube is the most perfect figure, being equal on every side finite perfection. It has what you call finality, it is the most comprehensive, and holds the most nothing contains as much as a cube and therefore, it is given here, as the expression of perfection and fullness. It is divinely inwrought perfection and fullness the very glory of God and therefore it is spoken of as a cube. The message is clear you can never know the glory, illumination and power of this City in the Outer Court of popular religion, nor yet in the Holy Place of Pentecostal, Charismatic, or "New Testament Church" economy. Only those who by faith enter beyond the veil into the glorious and eternal reality of the Most Holy Place can even begin to touch and know the surpassing glory perfection and fullness of this realm of God's life.
"And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie, but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Rev. 21:27). No one whose nature has not been transformed shall enter into this City. Since this City is the true church in perfection and fullness, only those who have been born again of the Spirit of God and are walking in the Spirit of God until He has changed completely their nature, so that they have come to perfect purity, perfect wisdom, perfect knowledge and perfect love, shall arrive at this STATE OF PERFECTION AND FULLNESS which IS the Holy City. This is the wonderful plan that God has devised whereby nothing that defiles can enter into this City. For all who come to this state will have arrived at perfection and fullness and there will be no sin, lack, limitation, darkness or death left within them. The Bride, the Lamb's Wife, the New Jerusalem, the Holy City with all its foundations, wall, and gates are then in reality the total unveiling and manifestation of the mystical revelation of the fullness of the Lord Jesus Christ in His church for the age and the ages to come.
John measured the City and it was twelve thousand furlongs or fifteen hundred miles: the length and height and breadth were equal, as I have pointed out a cube. The measurements are in multiples of twelve which are a symbol and signature of God's purposes in His elect. Twelve is the number of divine government. One thousand is the number of the Day of the Lord (II Pet. 3:8). Twelve times one thousand is God's light and illumination multiplied by God's authority and rule the perfect and full dominion of God by the revelation of His glory without mixture, limitation or darkness. The Holy of holies of God's eternal Kingdom is, therefore, in type, 528,000 TIMES MORE GLORIOUS than the Holy of holies in the Mosaic Tabernacle that was a cube of only fifteen feet each way! The true measure of the City is the Lord Jesus Christ: "...unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). The people who come to this measure will be the glory of God and the light of the world in the fullness of what that means, and will bring the total restoration that God, who cannot lie, has promised to all creation. Hallelujah!
This, my beloved, is the hour of preparation. "And I John saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Rev. 21:2). The Greek word for "adorned" is KOSMEO and is here used of the "adorning" of the bride of Christ for her Husband. She is now fully processed and matured, qualified to be the Queen of Heaven, glorified as His Wife upon His throne. By right of marriage she takes His name (nature), is the complement of Himself, has joint-ownership of all His possessions and co-dominion over all His realms. From this word KOSMEO, comes our English word "cosmetics." The noun form is KOSMOS, which means "order, arrangement," and is translated in our Bible as "world." The meaning is just this: The world is to be MADE BEAUTIFUL! But it will be made beautiful by a beautiful people! There is a vital connection between the adorning of the Bride and the restoration of creation to the life of God. The latter shall spring from the former. The Bride is clothed, as she chooses the Lord in the midst of earth's pressures. Therefore, she is arrayed with all manner of precious jewels. In Isa. 61:10, we see the Bride adorned in precious jewels, which speak of the process of refining in fire, and of anointing. The wood, hay, and stubble are gone and her adornment is only that which is of the heavenly nature of her Bridegroom lover. What we build in our lives is either gold, silver, and precious jewels, or wood, hay, and stubble; and all shall pass through the fire! These terms refer to our works, the outer expression of our inner being. These works are not what we do for God, not the keeping of the law, rules, regulations, precepts, and traditions. Our works are the expression of the fruit of the spirit (or the lack of it) in our lives. Pressure will cause us to be either a precious jewel, or a heap of ashes. There can be no restoration of creation, precious friend of mine, no demonstration of the Kingdom, indeed, no manifestation of the sons of God apart from the Bride. By marriage she is joint-heir with the King of kings. The throne (sons) of God is in the midst of her. The fragrant tree of life nourishes in her street for the healing of the nations who hitherto walked in darkness and the shadow of death. The river of life flows from her midst, the foundations of God are laid in her, and the glory of God is revealed upon her. Out from her we hear the sweet strains of a new message, never heard before in all the history of the world. "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come." Hitherto the Spirit of Christ has invited the chosen, the elect, to come. From henceforth the New Jerusalem bride will be the vehicle of the Spirit's call, saying, "Come," to all the kindreds, and nations, and tongues, and peoples of the world, and the restitution of all things will begin. The twelve gates of the City will be opened by day and never closed, for there is no night there. In response to the glad message, "Come," proclaimed by the Spirit through the Bride, the nations in glad procession will bring their glory and honor into the City, a procession which will never cease until every descendant of Adam who has ever lived or died has entered through the gates of the City back to God from whence he came. No words from human lips could ever fully describe the wonder of this thing. Only the Holy Spirit can carry us away and reveal it to our hearts. Christ will not rule without His bride, for His throne is in the midst of her. She rules and reigns and redeems and restores in the authority of His wonderful name. She dwells with Him in the union of eternal love, devotion, purpose and fellowship. The Bride alone can give to Him that which His heart longs for. She has the capacity to satisfy the very heart of the Almighty! She is His wife, His beloved, the completion of Himself! Oh, the wonder of it! Oh, the glory of it!
Another of the beautiful symbols given us in the New Jerusalem is that of its majestic wall. "And had a wall great and high. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper..." (Rev. 21:15-18). According to this passage the City lies foursquare, 1,500 miles each way with a wall around it that is one hundred and forty four cubits high. That makes the wall 264 feet high. Now, if this is a literal city in heaven, who are the enemies this wall is designed to keep out? What would be the purpose of a wall 264 feet high? Or, if we understand this City carnally, will the new heavens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness be so wicked that walls are needed to protect and defend it? Even in our time, what protection would a wall 264 feet high provide? Would such a wall hinder jet planes loaded with bombs or missiles carrying warheads?
The literal interpretation of these beautiful symbols cannot explain any purpose for this wall. But understood spiritually, the walls have deep meaning and wonderful significance. The walls of this City are SALVATION. "In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks" (Isa. 26:1). "Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise" (Isa. 60:18). "For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her" (Zech. 2:5). "The name of the Lord is a strong tower (literally: a walled place)..." (Prov. 18:10). The mighty power of God's salvation in our lives is the wall of the City of our God. God is raising up this wall within us from glory to glory. The wall has a measurement there were an hundred and forty four cubits, according to the measure of a man. The man is Christ Jesus! That is the measure of the angel of the Lord. That is the measure of the last Adam, the perfect man, the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness, the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ (Eph. 4:13). This measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ IS THE SALVATION that shall bring the believer into that safety where no enemy can harm. As we come into the perfection of Christ we dwell within the walls of His salvation. The power of the Lord formed within is our defense, HIS LIFE becomes the strength of our life. It is the formation of His life in us that overcomes sin, defeats satan, dispels darkness, and conquers death. This is the eternal salvation that has been brought to us by Jesus Christ. "Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain" (Ps. 127:1) . Thank God, the Lord Himself is the keeper of the Walls of Salvation in the City of God! This Wall of Salvation has nothing to do with so-called "coverings," elderships, headships, fellowships, rules, regulations, laws or doctrines. If there was really "safety" in any of those orders you wouldn't see so much division, church splits, disgraced ministries, and fellowships falling apart. The Wall of Salvation reflects the glory of God in the life of the child of God as the faith and strength and power of God is formed as a nature in him.
There is another aspect. Walls are not for protection only, but for exclusion. Everything is excluded that defiles. "And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Rev. 21:27). Nothing can come into this City but that which is the life of Christ. Anything that is not of His life must be excluded. Those who inhabit this glorious realm are separate from the filth of Babylon and the flesh-pots of Egypt. They abide in union with Christ. They put on His glorious mind and are transformed into His wonderful likeness. Nothing else is permitted entry into their world.
"And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: on the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it" (Rev. 21:12-13,25-26). Rare indeed is the man or woman in the religious systems of earth who has a true and spiritual understanding of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem Bride of the Lamb. In one remarkable prophetic word the prophet Isaiah carries us beyond the symbol to the reality, saying, "Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy WALLS SALVATION, and thy GATES PRAISE" (Isa. 60:18). How clear that the idea of a material city is but a product of carnal minds and childish understanding, as the Holy Spirit pulls aside the veil and identifies for us just what the walls and gates of the City of God really are. The WALLS are SALVATION and the GATES are PRAISE. Salvation and Praise are wrought out through a people not through stone walls or pearly gates. There are twelve gates of praise twelve aspects of HIS PRAISE lived out through the lives of those ministries by which men are ushered into the realities of the City. Twelve is the number of divine government, thus the rulership of the Spirit in our lives evokes that praise by which HE is glorified. Jesus, our elder brother and pattern, was ruled by the mind and will of the Father at all times and in all things. His life was a praise to God. His life, in all its words, attitudes and actions GLORIFIED GOD. Praise is often associated in our minds only with singing, thanksgiving, and noise but true praise lies beyond what one speaks it is a state of being. Christ's life was a praise to God. It was in harmony with the purpose of God and revealed the character and glory of God.
The gates are the entrance into the Kingdom realm of God. "There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen: the lion's whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it" (Job 28:7-8). "It shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err and go therein" (Isa. 35:8-9). It is only by and through the wisdom, grace, and Spirit of God that we can find an entrance in through the gates of the Holy City. Nothing that is unclean or that defileth, nothing of the world, the flesh, or the devil can enter into this eternal divine relationship with the Lord. This Holy City and Divine Government of the Lord is composed of only those that have been made fully ONE IN HIM, filled with His fullness, invested with His nature. They have laid aside the corruptible things of this life and have put on the Lord Jesus Christ, being granted an abundant entrance into the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ. These are they whose life is hid with Christ in God, and when Christ, who is their life, appears, they will appear with Him in His glory (Col. 3:3-4).
The twelve gates of the City bear the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. This fact has led some to erroneously assume that the natural Israel, the fleshly seed of Abraham, the multitude of nations that have come out of his loins, the thousands of millions of physical descendants of Rebekah and Leah, are the bride of Christ. But such can never be! The book of Revelation is entirely a book of symbols. A symbol is never the reality, it merely points to the reality. The City as seen by John in holy vision is not a literal City it is a symbolic city a people. The gates are not literal gates they are entrances into the presence and glory of God. The river of water of life is not a babbling stream like the rivers of earth it is the eternal outflowing of the life of God in the Spirit. The wall is not like that wall which surrounded the ancient Jerusalem it is the almighty defense of His salvation- power in our lives. The throne is not a golden seat in some far-off heaven somewhere rather, it is a symbol bespeaking of the realm of His omnipotent power and universal authority. Thus, when we read of the names of the tribes of the children of Israel upon the gates of the City it cannot mean the literal names written with letters of the alphabet, nor can it signify the fleshly Israel else the symbolism here breaks down and what is intended as merely a symbol becomes in fact the reality. It must point beyond the outward and physical to the inward and spiritual. The things pertaining to the Tabernacle of God are heavenly not of the earth, earthy. They belong to the new creation not the old.
The names of the twelve tribes of Israel are deeply meaningful to us in the Spirit. An understanding of the tribes reveals to us ways and means by which we are able to enter into the New Jerusalem today. The first is RUEBEN, meaning "Behold a son." God is perfecting the spirit of sonship in a people, and this spirit is one of the entrances into the governmental realm of God. The Throne (sonship, government) is within the City. The second tribe is SIMEON, meaning "Hearing." The admonition to the overcomer is: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches" (Rev. 2:7). Faith comes by hearing the Word of God the Living Word and this spiritual capacity to truly hear is another of the gateways into the High Calling of God. LEVI, the third of the tribes, means "Unity" or "Joined," and truly "he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit" (I Cor. 6:17). It is the principle of abiding in Christ. "I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing" (Jn. 15:5). Those of the spiritual tribe of Levi have discovered the secret place of the Most High. The fourth is JUDAH, and means "Praise" a people transformed to show forth HIS virtues and excellencies, to become His praise in the earth. The fifth tribe, ZEBULON, means "Dwelling." It speaks of possessing our possessions, of apprehending that for which we also have been apprehended, entering into and laying hold upon that which has been promised. This principle is another mighty door of entrance into the power and glory of the City. The sixth tribe, ISSACHAR, means "Bearing a reward." This bespeaks of attainment that which surpasses grace and gifts and imputation something bestowed in recognition of actual accomplishment and qualification. Issachar becomes it is the development and maturity of the new creature. GAD, the seventh tribe, denotes "A seer" the spirit of prophecy, the opened heavens, divine wisdom by which one understands the true nature of all things. Without doubt this is an important prerequisite for rulership in the Kingdom! ASHER, the eighth of the tribes, means "Happy." "The joy of the Lord is our strength" not soulish joy worked up by singing and clapping for fifteen or thirty minutes, not the bubbly, giddy, superficial excitement of spiritual children over God's goodness and blessings; but that deep, confident, abiding joy of the spirit which is undisturbed by anything that happens in the outer world of appearances. This is the Kingdom Attitude that is unmoved and unshaken by events, a fundamental quality that admits us into the inner calm and stability of the Christ. The ninth tribe is NAPHTALI, meaning "Wrestling." This denotes victory in spiritual warfare OVERCOMING for "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high (heavenly, spiritual) places" (Eph. 5:12). The tenth tribe, EPHRAIM, means "Double fruit" that which becomes provision for all men out of the abundance of HIS LIFE. It is provision and ministry. "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples" (Jn. 15:8). The eleventh tribe, MANASSEH, means "Forgetfulness" representing the ministry of reconciliation, mercy, forgiveness, and blessing, even that beautiful characteristic of God's nature wherein He says even to the rebellious, "And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for ALL shall know Me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I REMEMBER NO MORE" (Heb. 8:11-12). The twelfth tribe is BENJAMIN, meaning, "Son of the father's right hand." Benjamin is the youngest son and the figure of authority and power, revealing the great truth that all the foregoing principles and characteristics must be thoroughly established in one's experience and life before he qualifies to share the dominion of HIS THRONE!
There are twelve gates to the Holy City three gates on each side and each gate is one great pearl (Rev. 21:13,21). Think of it, beloved: the Seer of Patmos does not tell us that the gates are made of pearl, but that each of the gates IS ONE PEARL! Why is every gate a pearl? You remember the heavenly merchant man in Jesus' parable of the pearl of great price. "The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it" (Mat. 3:45-46). You may say, "That is the sinner seeking the Saviour. Jesus is the one Pearl of great price, and we must sell all we have and are to obtain that priceless stone. Indeed! a sinner selling? What has old Adam got, what has the natural man got to sell but his sin, lack, limitation, darkness and death? What has the carnal, baby christian got to sell but his wood, hay, and stubble? Nay, the pearl of great price is not Christ Jesus, but the Church! Not that filthy harlot system which calls itself the church, but the true elect of God born from above.
I do not hesitate to tell you that the Christ went and sold all that He had, He emptied Himself, made Himself of no reputation, being made in the form of a servant, and in the likeness of sinful flesh, laying aside the glory He had with the Father before the world was, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross truly He paid ALL for the Church! The inspired writer has borne divine witness: "Take heed therefore unto yourselves...to feed the church of God, which HE HATH PURCHASED WITH HIS OWN BLOOD" (Acts 20:28). "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and GAVE HIMSELF FOR IT; that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:25,27). The pearl of great price is the Church in her unity, beauty, perfection and completeness the Bride adorned for her Husband, the Wife of the Lamb, the exalted Queen of Heaven, the glorious City of God! This Bride so fascinated the Lord Jesus, was of such value and preciousness unto Him, that He parted with "all that He had," to get that pearl.
The pearl was the most precious substance known to the ancients. A large pearl is almost priceless. A single ordinary pearl's worth may be as high as $200.000. And there is a reason for the pearl's great value. Some one hundred years ago, a common mussel living in the Tennessee River, began feeling mighty uncomfortable. A fragment of shell from some other mussel, long since dead, had washed into its housing. This shell fragment became an irritant within the mussel. Immediately the mussel began a response, a healing response, to the irritation. Because of the irritation and hurt, a juice or fluid began to be exuded by the mussel to "coat" the foreign substance. Secreting streams of pearly saliva or nacre one of the things mussels as well as oysters do best this particular mollusk managed to cover all the rough edges of the fragment. This provided some temporary relief. But each time the substance hardened it again created suffering, renewed pain, on the part of the mussel. Another layer of nacre was added. As the years passed, it added more and more coats of nacre until the fragment became deeply hidden in the pea-like object. Each layer added hardened into a spherical form of lustrous beauty. Thus was born an authentic North American fresh-water pearl.
The value of a pearl more than an inch in diameter is fabulous. The world's largest natural pearl found anywhere (recorded by Guinness) turned up in a giant killer clam off the coast of the Philippine Islands. It weighed a little more than 14 pounds. The pearl is baroque in shape, a little bigger than a man's head, and was valued at $4,080,000 a few years ago. How staggering is the statement that the portals of the New Jerusalem are each a single pearl! Each one represents the wealth of a world. Twelve of them matched! It stuns the imagination.
The pearl is formed within a living creature by a living process. Pearls do not grow in the open air, or exposed to the outer elements. Most are formed within an oyster, hidden away within the depths of the seas. The oyster is certainly not a beautiful creature on the outside, yet God has ordained a spiritual lesson for us in that on the inside of the oyster, through processes that He has ordained, something BEAUTIFUL and of GREAT VALUE can be formed. Thus a pure heart, a divine mind, a heavenly nature is formed in the center of the ugliness of an outwardly earthly creature. It is a living thing a living process and has its seat at the very center of the life. The creation of the pearl is initiated by the introduction of an irritant and in the life of the overcomer that irritant is THE CROSS. It is produced out of suffering, and the crucifixion of a life. The "sea" is a type of the soul, and the living process involved in making the pearl is the living, dynamic work of GRACE that flows out from our spirit joined to His Spirit, in response to the inworking of the cross, producing the beautiful character qualities that give us an entrance into the higher dimension of God's Kingdom. Our hearts are made pure, the new creation life is formed in soul and body, through the crucifixion of the natural life and the outflowing of His grace. The cross enters our lives as something that hurts we may see it as a trial, a difficulty, a hard place, a crisis experience but it pierces the flesh-life, evoking streams of the pearly nacre of HIS LIFE AND GRACE, forming the beauty of the Christ within.
Never forget, precious friend of mine, that each gate, each means of entrance into that City, is a PEARL we cannot be admitted to the Heavenly Jerusalem unless God has produced something in our lives akin to the beauty and value of the pearl. As someone has pointed out, pearls can be found anywhere in the world, even in waters that are somewhat shallow, but the best quality pearls are found in the depths of the sea, speaking to us of a deep work of God in our lives. "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep" (Ps. 107:23-24). Without a doubt a pearl is one of "His wonders in the deep." As God does a deeper work in us, piercing to the very depths of our life, then truly "deep calleth unto deep at the noise of the waterspouts" (Ps. 42:7).
Leland Earls wrote: "A pearl cannot be produced without suffering in the oyster. Heb. 2:10 says that Jesus was 'made perfect through suffering. The Greek word used here is PATHEMA, meaning 'something undergone, i.e. hardship or pain. Another Greek word is used in Heb. 5:8 where we read that Jesus learned obedience by the things which He suffered.' The word in this passage is PASCHO, which means to experience a sensation or impression.' Thus it was ALL the experiences that Jesus went through which prepared or perfected Him for His role or ministry as KING-PRIEST in the Kingdom of God. And remember Jesus is not only our Saviour, but also the PATTERN SON for all the sons who are to be brought to His same glory and share in His King-Priest ministry and rule. We are now being prepared for future roles of responsibility. And the experiences of life correspond to the 'irritants' that invade' the oyster! How we respond to them is important. If we let the Spirit of God 'exude' divine grace within us, even as the oyster exudes a living substance to form a pearl, then our right and grateful response to every experience can be used of God to form the pearl-like beauty of His nature and character in us. Pearls may be rose, cream, white, bronze, brown, or pastel shades of lavender, blue, green, etc., depicting the various hues of the Lord's work in us by His Spirit. It is not the 'irritants' (experiences) themselves that make us overcomers, but rather our drawing upon His grace His divine life substance, that builds layer upon layer of pearl-like beauty in us. The appealing iridescence and the luster for which pearls are prized are due primarily to the reflection and refraction of light on the surface of the translucent gem. Ah, beloved, the light of the New Jerusalem is the GLORY of God. Can we be ready for that City unless when that glory shines upon us there is a reflection and refraction of HIS OWN beauty and image developed within us?" end quote.
In ancient times, pearls were regarded as a symbol of perfection. This came about because of their pure color predominantly white with some rose, pinks, lavenders, delicate purples, greens and tones of gold. Their appearance was also regarded as softer, more feminine, than that of mineral gems such as diamonds and emeralds. Because they are softer and vulnerable to scratches, pearls need gentle treatment. A modern comparison of pearls and other precious gems, made by a woman's magazine some time ago, stated in a mock-serious vein that, while diamonds make a woman appear harsh and mysterious, pearls make her more sexy and sensuous. Is it not remarkable, in the light of this worldly evaluation, that two millenniums ago the Holy Spirit used the pearl as a symbol of entrance into the company of the prepared, adorned, beautiful and glorious bride of the Lamb! She is prepared, perfected, matured, adorned with goodly pearls as a bride for her Husband. Corporately, it is the feminine qualities of God formed in a people and united to Himself. Individually, it is the soul cleansed, sanctified and transformed, made one with the spirit. Oh glorious City of God!
"And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth, the twelfth, an amethyst" (Rev. 21:14.19-20). As we read these wonderful words it becomes at once clear that the use of gems in the description is not by chance but instead by divine purpose, because it specifies the kind to be used in relation to each foundation and the gates. What wealth of joy and instruction for God's elect is contained in this highly figurative language! Here we are told that the twelve apostles of the Lamb are the foundations of the City. This alone should be ample evidence to us that God never intended to present the idea that this New Jerusalem is a literal city. For it says that human beings, the twelve apostles of the Lamb, are the foundations of the City! In Eph. 2:20 we are told that we who are the temple of God are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone. So we see that the apostles and prophets are the foundation and that we are to build upon this foundation. We, the body of Christ, are God's building; we, the body of Christ, are God's Holy City that He is building.
There are twelve foundations not separate foundations apart from one another supporting different parts of the City, but twelve foundations laid one upon another, giving perfect and full support to the whole. Since these foundations are adorned with dazzling stones it is evident that they are not beneath the ground, but underneath the City in a heavenly realm, clearly visible for all to see. Jewels are brilliant. How often the clear sparkle of a gem set in a ring or as an ornament of adornment catches our eye, and almost without thinking our gaze follows its every movement. We are fascinated by the delightful way facets reflect in varying hue the rays of light that fall upon them. Oftentimes the large, well-cut gem seems to possess an inner light apart from that which strikes it. However, this we know is only an optical illusion, because no jewel possesses light within itself. So with the saint of God and the gifts and graces that are conferred upon us. Apart from God we are nothing, even as the brilliance of the jewel darkens and dies when taken from the light.
Jewels are beautiful. Precious stones have a beauty of form and color that delights the eye. Visualize spread out before you on a cloth of midnight blue velvet, some jewels of beauty. The clear, icy sparkle of the diamond, the warmth of glowing red of the ruby, the cool green of the emerald beside the regal purple of an amethyst. See also a sapphire reflecting the blue of heaven; a chalcedony, pale blue, translucent, and wax-like; and interspersed among them all, lustrous pearls, warm glowing spheres so strikingly different from the sharp facets of the other gems, all reflecting the same light in gloriously different hues, none detracting from the other, but all enhancing the beauty of the whole. Those many-hued stones bring out the varied qualities of God, made known through His people. There will be different rays of His glory revealed through them, illustrated by these different precious stones, which are the emblems employed, to set forth the luster of God's elect, in heavenly glory, and the way in which He displays the beauty which He has formed in them. Put a light through an emerald, and it is quite different from that of the ruby, and although we are all partakers of the grace and glory of God, that grace and glory will shine through each differently, and no two are alike. It would be an immense pity if all the saints were like a truck load of bricks all the same shape, and color. What a dull, drab City it would be! Just as there are not two leaves of the forest alike, so there are not two saints of God alike. All are alike in being perfected in His image, but all are different in the expression of that image, just as children are different expressions of their parents.
My heart has been thrilled and stirred beyond measure as I have mused upon the glories of the Holy City of God's great and eternal Kingdom. It has stood out to me that the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are inscribed upon the twelve foundations of the City. Time and space do not permit us to explore the deep meaning within each of the names of these apostles, but each bespeaks of a foundational principle in the governmental realm of God. In the various symbols of this City we see different representations of truth and the purposes of God in His people. The walls speak of the strength of the Christ within as our defense against every enemy of the spiritual life. The gates portray those precious truths and experiences in God by which we are given an abundant entrance into the High Calling of God. The foundations figure for us those foundational truths, experiences, ministries, and characteristics upon which the whole economy of God's Kingdom rests. The Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone. This means that Christ is foundational in the life of the New Creation there is that of Him which is laid in us as the basis, underlying principle, substratum, and support of all that is raised up in our lives. Christ Himself is the apostle of our profession, says the writer to the Hebrews. The apostles, that is, the apostolic ministry, is one of the underpinings of God's house.
Our English word "apostle" transliterates the Greek word APOSTOLOS which means one who is sent. During the earthly ministry of Jesus twelve disciples were called "apostles". In Rev. 21:14 these are called "the twelve apostles of the Lamb. This means that the twelve were specifically those who followed Jesus and were sent forth by Him during the days of His earthly walk as the Lamb of God come to live among men and be slain in sacrifice for them. The scriptures clearly show that the twelve were uniquely the apostles of Christ to the Jews (Acts 1:15-26; Acts 1:8; Gal. 2:8). Thus, the twelve were an entirely different order of apostles than those set forth in Eph. 4:7-11 where we read: "Therefore He saith, WHEN HE ASCENDED UP ON HIGH, He...gave gifts unto men...and He gave some apostles..." These apostles were not given by the Christ during His three and a half years of ministry while He walked the earth in a flesh and blood body as the Lamb of God. This order of apostle was given by the RISEN and ASCENDED Lord, and given not to the Jews, but to THE CHURCH which is His body. This order of apostle went beyond the twelve and included Barnabas and Paul (Acts 14:4), Sylvanus and Timothy (I Thes. 2:6), as well as Andronicus and Junia (a woman!) (Rom. 16:7) among others. These were all apostles to the early Church, even as the twelve were apostles in Jerusalem among the Jewish believers.
May the spirit of wisdom and revelation from God grant us understanding in this unique and momentous hour at the end of the age! It is my deepest conviction that God is raising up and sending forth an entirely NEW APOSTOLIC MINISTRY in this present day. I do not hesitate to declare to you that the apostle's ministry has always been essentially that of bringing in a NEW ORDER. A friend has shared the following insights into this great truth: "Apostles build where NO OTHER MAN HAS BUILT. So if a man is doing what others have done for years before him, or what was done two thousand years ago, I do not see that as a true apostolic ministry today. Moses, as an apostle, brought in an entirely new order. He went up into the mountain and brought down the house-law for the new dispensation. Jesus, as the apostle of our profession' ushered in a whole new age, and the Church Age apostles established that new thing. Apostleship is associated with NEW THINGS, foundation layers, those who CRACK THE FORM OF THE FORMER AGE and bring forth the essence of it and build the essence. Jesus, as an apostle, cracked the form of the Old Covenant and brought forth the essence of it in Himself.
"Many brethren have felt an inward call to apostolic ministry in this hour, and not yet understanding the fullness of what the Lord is doing have tried to apply that call in the wrong realm: moving under Church Order in an attempt to fulfill it. The sun is now setting on the Church age and the transcendent glory of that brighter and greater age when the body of Christ has been brought to its fullness, the manifestation of the sons of God, and all nations brought under the dominion of the Kingdom of God, is even now dawning upon us. It is now time for the APOSTLES OF THE KINGDOM to be sent forth, and these apostles will CRACK THE FORM of the Church age and bring forth its content as an essence that the Church has never yet known. These can be naught but the FIRST of the FIRSTFRUITS COMPANY. These must be brought forth prior to the establishing of the Kingdom, as the foundations of the Kingdom are laid in them."
Can we not see that all natural things have spiritual counterparts? John on the Isle of Patmos, beholding these glories in the Spirit, wrote, "And the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass" (Rev. 21:21). Here I would share the comments of another on this passage which eloquently sum up the very truth the Spirit has quickened in my own heart. "In the symbolism of scripture, gold is the symbol of the nature of God. As much as gold is the perfect metal that cannot be tarnished, so God's nature is perfect and it cannot be tarnished. From times immemorial men walked on streets. So the street of the City speaks of our walk. The fact that the street of this City was pure gold reveals to us the truth that in our walk, we will have come to the perfect walk in the nature of our God, having attained to the perfect nature of our God, walking in perfect purity, perfect holiness. We cannot overemphasize the truth that the idea that so many christians have in their spiritual immaturity that some day they're going to go to a literal, physical city, in space somewhere, with streets paved with literal gold and buildings made out of jewels is merely a notion that is the product of spiritual childishness. There is no physical city anywhere in God's vast universe having streets paved with gold and buildings constructed of jewels. There never will be any physical city with streets paved with gold and buildings made out of jewels as our 'heaven.' Our heaven is revealed to us in Eph. 2:1,5-7, where the scripture says, 'And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins...but God...when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together IN HEAVENLY PLACES IN CHRIST JESUS: that in the ages to come He might show (display) the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Jesus Christ.'
"To became exactly like Christ this is our 'heaven', no matter where we happen to be in God's great universe. 'Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren' (Rom. 8:29). This is our final dwelling place, our final state of being, when we have come to our glorified spiritual state, come to perfection in Christ Jesus, and have become the Holy City. Then we will not go to this city or that city or any city, but God's whole universe will be our dwelling place. We will be free free from the limitations of flesh, free from the tyranny of sin, free from the power of death, and therefore free to live in God's universe as citizens of God's universe. Of what benefit would streets paved with gold be to us after we have attained our glorified body? We will have no need to walk on any kind of streets then. We will have come to the resurrection life of Jesus. After the Lord Jesus was resurrected, we don't find that when He wanted to go somewhere He had to walk down streets. When He wanted to go to the upper room where the disciples were gathered, He simply appeared to them there in the upper room. When He wished to join some of the disciples walking on the road to Emmaus, He simply appeared to them there. When He wanted to meet with the disciples in the hills of Galilee, He simply appeared there. When the disciples were fishing on the lake and He appeared to them on the shore, He didn't need to walk there, He just was there.
"When we have attained to the resurrection power of Christ and we want to transport ourselves from one place to another, we won't have to walk down any literal street paved with gold, or asphalt, or anything else. We will simply think the thought in the will of the Father and we will be there. So streets paved with gold would be of no value to us, or buildings of jewels, because we won't live in physical buildings. Our dwelling place will be in God by the Spirit! The only reason that gold and jewels are so attractive to us now is because we are still physically in our carnal state and these things are beautiful on this plane and have real monetary value. They have carnal value here on earth. When we have attained to our spiritual state in spirit, soul, and body, such things will mean nothing to us because all things will be ours. Not one physical thing will have more value than another to us. So we see that there never was, and never will be, any literal city in heaven someplace with streets paved with gold. These are simply symbols which God uses to present to us spiritual realities. That spiritual reality is the Holy City which is the Church in perfection. With our spiritual mind we see that the street paved with gold is a symbol of a perfect walk in the Spirit of God, having attained to the perfect nature of God. We see that street of gold walked out in the lives of our brothers and sisters who walk out the nature of God even here on earth."
THE TREE OF LIFE
"In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations" (Rev. 22:2). What would you expect to find in the midst of the street of a great city? Without doubt, the din of endless traffic, and the hurrying of eager feet. But was there ever half so beautiful a street as that seen by the aged eyes of the Seer of Patmos? In a loving description of the New Jerusalem, he noticed that in the midst of the street there was a river, and on either side of the river there was a tree the tree of life. A tree in the street! And what a tree! Ever young and fair, bearing fruit all the year round, and dressed in leaves which were able to heal the sick and torn nations of the world as soon as they entered this street of the City of God and plucked thereof. Beautiful street of a glorious City! If only our unbelieving eyes could catch a sight of such a street with the magic, beneficent tree in the midst of it, how eagerly we too would run to pluck its leaves and heal our distracted hearts!
Thank God, the work of God upon the world is not yet done. The nations of earth are sick, even today; the mind and the heart are not sound; they need healing. And they find it on the leaves of the tree in the street of the City of God. So it would seem as if the vision that sustained the aged heart of this true Seer was that of some heavenly City in this world. True, there lies upon this City a wondrous light, such as never was upon sea or land; and no city that has ever been built by human hands can compare with it for the nobility of its inhabitants. But it seems, after all, to be a City set up upon the earth, inhabited not by angels but by living men, with the living God among them. The Word does not say "trees" of life, but the "tree" of life. You see, there is only one tree to give life to all of the City, and healing to all the nations of the world. It says that this tree was on either side of the river. On both sides of the river. How could one tree be on both sides of a river? Because it is the tree of life, my beloved. It is simply PERFECT UNION WITH THE SPIRIT OF GOD. In the blessedness of Eden, back in the beginning, man walked in perfect union with the Spirit of God, and therefore he was feeding upon the tree of life. He was partaking of the tree of life continuously. When he followed the serpent in his temptation and turned away and broke his communion with the Spirit of God, he ceased to partake of the tree of life, and began to partake of the tree of the carnal realm the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As man comes back into that perfect union with the Spirit of God that he knew in the beginning, he once again has perfect access to the tree of life. The one tree is on either side of the river of life it is only through union with the Holy Spirit, who is the river of life, that we have access and are partakers of the tree of life. It is as we are continually beside the river of life, yea, in that river, that we know the power of that tree.
Notice that the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. There has never been anything given to mankind for the healing of the nations, healing of the dread sickness of sin and death under which all are cursed. There has been no medicine, no philosophy, no governmental arrangement, no social order, no set of laws, no religious system nothing that has or can heal. Healing comes only through the Word of God. So the leaves of the tree are the truths of God's Word that are given to us by the Spirit of God, which is the river of life, by which we partake of the tree of life, and of its leaves which are the eternal truths of God's Word, truths which alone will bring the healing of the nations. Let me make it as plain as possible. The river is the Spirit the tree is the Word. The Spirit and the Word! It is out of the Spirit of God that the Word of God issues forth. The Spirit is life. The Word is an incorruptible seed planted within the river. We are born again of the Spirit, and we are born of the incorruptible seed of the Word of God which liveth and abideth forever. We drink of the Spirit, whereas we eat of the Word. When the ministry of the Spirit in the Lords body brings forth the Word of life in all its power and authority the nations will be healed!
The tree of life bears twelve manner of fruits. Twelve is the number of divine government, and the fruit is the fruit of the spirit. Therefore the twelve manner of fruits that the tree of life bears simply represents to us the fruit of the spirit borne in our lives in POWER AND DEMONSTRATION. The Kingdom (rule, government) of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. When the fruit of the spirit is produced out of our lives until the nature of God is revealed powerfully and communicated effectually to men producing change and transformation there is the blessed fruit of the wonderful tree of life!
"And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb" (Rev. 22:1). This wonderful river is called the "water of life" because of its life-giving properties. Earthly streams usually have their source in some mountain spring, but this river of living water, has its source in the throne of God and the Lamb. This stream originates unpolluted, incorruptible, and undefiled in all the power, all the authority, and life of Christ. This is the river and the water that Jesus spoke of to the woman at the well, "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (Jn. 4:14). "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come onto Me and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water...this spake He of the Spirit" (Jn. 7:37-39).
This pure river of life of the Holy Spirit brings unto every believer the divine life and nature of God that is made available unto us by the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ has made us partakers of His divine nature. He has given us His own divine life. This Holy City flows with ALL that God is; even NOW this river and all that it possesses is flowing through the channel of our lives by the Holy Ghost. This is the eternal river of the Spirit and Life that flows in the heart and life of every believer and eternally from the throne of God and the Lamb until all creation shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. Praise God! Already we are beginning to drink of that water of life; we are able to overcome death; the tears are being wiped from our eyes. Already we do not weep as those who have no hope. The spirit of the New Jerusalem is in us; therefore, death has no power over us. We have victory over death, the last enemy we must conquer. The complete and final fulfillment of these things is yet to come because we are still growing and maturing. Now we are beginning to experience a foretaste of the glory that lies before us. Hallelujah!
To be continued...J. PRESTON EBY
Return To: [Home] [Kingdom Resources]