"ON EAGLES’ WINGS MINISTRIES"
“DEFINING THE NEW JERUSALEM” February 2017, Part 2
In discussing the New Jerusalem as we have been doing, it would speak poorly of us if we did not bring heaven into the discussion. This we will do: but we will conclude our thoughts on the Holy City, new Jerusalem that John saw coming down to earth possibly being escorted by God himself. Now, more on the city! Notice that to every direction of the compass there were three gates. THREE in this case bespeaks of the Triune God, which in many religious circles and persuasions they use the term: “God in three persons, blessed Trinity.” The city being surrounded by three gates on each side, speaks to the fact that entrance is always available to whomsoever will. This reminds us of the well-known song that is frequently sung in the Billy Graham Crusades: “He the pearly gates will open, so that I may enter in; for he purchased my redemption and forgave me all my sins.”
The general consensus among Christians worldwide is that the gates lead to heaven itself, and it must be the believer’s endeavor to enter those gates into our final resting place. But the gates were not entrances to a place called heaven: they were entrances into the Body of Christ—the Bride—the City. The remarkable truth that we cannot afford to miss, is that each gate is made with a single pearl. “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was one pearl.” Revelation 21:21. We can imagine that each gate to the city is about 10 feet tall and about 7feet wide: but each gate is made of a single pearl. To understand the true relevance that a pearl has in relation to the gate, is that a pearl is made within the belly of an oyster, and it is formed out of the immense pressure that is placed upon it. The continued pressure on the pearl sustains its growth till the time for reaping.
John made a candid observation of events that occurred here on earth, even though many still teach it as happening in heaven. “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. Revelation 7: 9. John went on to clarify the white robes, so that we would not be misled as to what the true meaning is. John wrote again: “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints.” Rev.19: 8.
This same scene is shown in Revelation 7, and because of the sealing of the multitudes out of each of the twelve tribes of Israel, the popular song emerged that is even being used in Cowboy movies saying: “When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.” But this scene is set on earth and not in heaven. John wrote: “And I saw another angel (messenger) ascending (as if out of the earth) from the east, having the seal of the living God: and cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea.” Revelation 7: 2.
We can justly ignore the idea of all the saints up in heaven are adorning in long white robes: prompting the song, “When I get to heaven, I’m gonna put on my robe, and walk all over God’s heaven.” Let us not forget the main theme which is John’s vision and description of the new Jerusalem, the Bride of Christ, adorned as a woman on her wedding day, coming down from God out of heaven. This bride is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. One of the seven angels invited John to come and see the Bride the Lamb’s wife. John is being escorted by an angel to see the Lamb’s wife.
The escorting angel said to John: “Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit (this is the only sure way to grasp and embrace God’s revealed truths) to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.” Rev.21: 9, 10. John was invited to see the bride, the Lamb’s wife: instead, he was shone a great city. This means that the city and the bride are the self-same entity. When John said that he was carried away in the spirit, it means that he had become one with the spirit and in such case, he had become spirit.
The truth that is sort of comical is that saints the world over are saying: Dear God we are getting ready to make our way to be with you. God in turn is saying, my little children, I have already come down to live IN IN YOU. Have you forgotten that the WORD, GOD, was made flesh and dwelt among you? Have you forgotten that my Son promised to those who loves me, that we will come and make our abode with them? Haven’t you read in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians that I said, “I will dwell in them and walk in them, they shall be my people and I shall be their God? 2nd Cor. 6: 16. John 14: 23.
Is there a heaven outside of the city, the bride, the heavenly Jerusalem? There must be a massive amount of books written about heaven. Many have even written about their trip to heaven and describe the various scenes with which they were enchanted. I remember while at bible school, one of our fellow student dreamed that she went to heaven and was shown her mansion that was already finished and stood with a key hanging on the from door. Her understanding of the dream was that her time to depart this life was drawing near.
A study of heaven must begin at the beginning! “And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.” Genesis 1: 8. The Hebrew word for firmament in this text is raw-kee’-ah and it means an expanse, the visible arch of the sky. The Hebrew word for heaven is shaw-mah-yim. This too means the visible arch in which the clouds move, as well as to the higher ether where the celestial bodies revolve. As we move forward through the prophets and the Psalms, the term heaven takes on larger meanings and finally it is defined as God’s dwelling place, where he sits on his throne. Solomon wrote: “The Lord hath said that he would dwell in thick darkness. But will God in very deed dwell with men on earth?
Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built? 2nd Chronicles 6: 1, 18. The text in Genesis 1, offers just a bird’s eye view of the creation story, and many will no doubt think that God created heaven as a single expanse, much like a never-ending land mass. There is an ongoing argument as to how many heavens there are; and many join Paul’s assertion that he went up to the third heaven. I am told that the Jews believe in 7 heavens. But if there are more than one heaven, Christians across the broad spectrum of Christendom will have to decide which one they plan to dwell in.
Here is a thought that will add substance and understanding about heaven. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the hosts of them by the breath of his mouth.” Psalm 33:6. The term “hosts of them” seems to indicate that we cannot even begin to count how many heavens there are. Let us turn our attention to two main points in this study that have to do with our belief in possessing heaven one day. “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s. Each of us can put any number of heavens into that text and we still would not have a true definition or description of what we just read—but the earth hath he given to the children of men.” Psalm 115: 16. There are several scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments that plainly assure us that the earth was given to men.
Consider these: “For evil doers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth…But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace…The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever.” Psalm 37: 9, 11, 29. About 1042 years after David wrote the Psalms, Jesus came on the scene and taught us saying, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5: 5. We should not ignore the fact that when we speak of heaven, we speak of the realm of spirit, and not a land that is geographically located billions of light years beyond the moon and stars. That sort of thinking is confined to the natural mind.
We read in Daniel that king Nebuchadnezzar was told: “Thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.” Daniel 4: 26. What is the full understanding that indeed, “The heavens do rule?” When coupled with the scripture—“By him all things consist” we must conclude that our world, our governments, and all life-forms are governed by SPIRIT. (Thus, he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.) Also, in many scriptures when heaven or heavens are used they mean governments and rulers. However, when the natural man, being ruled by his natural mind tries to figure out these spiritual dynamics, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “they are foolishness to him.” Natural man equates with natural things! Let us review for a moment the supremacy and lordship of the Spirit in our very existence. “For by him (the Spirit of God) were all things created. And he is before all things, and by him (God who is Spirit) all things consist.” Colossians 1: 16, 17. It is quite clear, as seen in Psalm 115: 16; that the heavens—all of them, belong to the Lord as His personal property. That is what the apostrophe “S” means! But in dividing all the treasures of the heavens and the earth, God kept the heavens for himself and gave us the earth.
Listen to David again! “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handy work.” Psalm 19: 1. There are scores of scriptures that attest to the numberless heavens that surround us. That is why, taking it literally, the saints will have a hard time deciding which heaven to possess. Putting aside all the fanciful stories of the saints occupying heaven, from the scriptures we will see clearly God’s eternal purpose and plan for us.
We are going to delve into the reasons and assumptions of the entire Christian world that heaven is to be the place of our final abode. Contained in the eulogy in just about every funeral, the minister officiating will remark that “we are sure that dearly beloved Mary—or our dearly beloved uncle John, is now with Jesus in heaven. Many quote the words of the Apostle Paul when he said: “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” 2nd Corinthians 5: 8. This verse of scripture is being used by clergymen and Christians at every level to assure us that Paul meant that the departed loved one being absent from the body, is with the Lord in heaven. That is why at every funeral the officiating minister is diligent in assuring everyone that the departed loved one is now with Jesus in heaven…But Paul did not say any such thing!
In fact, Paul gave a classic method of finding God on his visit to Athens, Greece. Part of his admonishment went like this: “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us. For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. For as much then as we are the offspring of God, (His next of kin) we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver. Etc.” Acts 17: 27-29. It can be supposed that the greater percentage of Christians fail to understand that the very God of heaven has made his abode IN US (2nd Corinthians 6: 16) and from the beginning He recognized that we are his offspring. (After all, He made us so, in his likeness and after his image.)
Because the universe and the planet on which we live are governed by the Lord who is that Spirit, we are told that “he that is joined unto the Lord, is one spirit.” 1st Corinthians 6: 17. In spite of what seems to be disorder and waywardness in the midst of the created universe, God’s ultimate intentions will prevail and come to fruition: at which scene the angelic hosts will sing songs of victory; and it will resonate across heaven and earth filling the entire universe.
So far, we have shown emphatically that the New Jerusalem, the Heavenly Jerusalem is not heaven. Rather it is the Bride of Christ, the church of the firstborn written in heaven. But even though we have made this as plain as we think it needs to be, many in the depths of their heart, will continue to yearn for heaven. Millions across the broad spectrum of Christendom, are still working daily in the local church, and praying for the day when Christ shall adorn the eastern sky and they will take their flight up to heaven. Putting aside, for a moment, all that we were taught from our childhood, let us review the many scenes when Christ returns.
For the time being lets us lay aside the concept of a rapture, and the church gathered around the throne up in heaven. Let us observe what Jesus himself alluded to in parables that give us a glimpse of how things will be at his appearing. In Matthew 24 Jesus put forth this scenario: “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.” Matthew 24: 45-47.The faithful servant isn’t taken to heaven: he was made ruler of all his master’s goods.
In the next parable, Jesus portrayed himself as a certain noble man. “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. And he called his servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, (but he did not bring the kingdom back with him, because the kingdom was already here) then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
The first servant had gained ten pounds to which his lord said: “Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. The second servant gained only five pounds, to whom his lord replied: “Be thou also over five cities.” Luke 19: 12-19. Daniel served as an eye witness when the Nobleman (Jesus) received the title to the kingdom that the nobleman in Luke went to receive. “And I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven (the same clouds in Acts 1 that received him out of their sight, now escorted him to the Ancient of days) and came to the Ancient of days, and they (the escorting angels) brought him near before him.
And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7: 13, 14. The noblemen in Christ’s parable had to go on a long journey to receive the title to the kingdom: and he returned with the title knowing that the kingdom itself was always here. Notice that the faithful servants were given authority over cities—one over ten cities and the other over five cities depending on what profit they made by trading. But none was taken back to heaven on a silvery cloud. To clinch the deal Jesus said: “And he that overcometh and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star.” Revelation 2: 26-28. John added: “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5: 10. Thus, we see that Christ showed no interest in taking anybody back to heaven: they were put to work. As we said before, God himself came down to live with men on the earth.
To be continued...
Royce O. Kennedy
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