THE CHURCH AND THE SHEEP
THE CHURCH AND THE SHEEPCopyright Š 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. (Revelation 21:1)
Behold! The new world of righteousness!
Everyone who is saved shall live here; some, as members of the Church, who shall govern the new world; some as citizens who will enjoy love, joy, and peace forever through the ministry of the saints.
The Church is the new Jerusalem, the Tabernacle of God. The citizens are people who have been saved from the nations of the earth. They are the "sheep," whom Christ places at His right hand. It is for them the Kingdom of God has been prepared.
Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." (Matthew 25:34)
The "sheep" are the inheritance of the saints of the new Jerusalem. The saints are royal priests who shall minister the Presence, rule, and blessing of God to the sheep for eternity.
We have many myths about Heavenmansion, harps, backyards filled with diamonds, and so forth. But the Book of Revelation presents the truth.
Today, in the enormous spirit world, there is a city. It is Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem. It is small in area compared with the entire spirit world.
We often use the phrase "go to Heaven." Actually this is not an expression found in the Bible. God's elect, the members of the Christian Church, already have come to Mount Zion; have already risen with Christ and spiritually are now at the right hand of God.
Those who are not true Christiansand there are many church-members who are not true Christians, not disciples of the Lord Jesus, do not go to Mount Zion when they die. Rather they, as well as the rest of the world, go to an area in the spirit world for which they are suited.
There they either go to a school that will train them to live among righteous people in the Land of Light: or they will be placed in some area of the Land of Darkness, depending on their personality and behavior while living on the earth.
I think John saw a new "sky," not a new spirit "heaven." The Greek language does not differentiate between "sky" and "heaven." It does not seem reasonable that there would be a new spirit "heaven," the home of the angels, seraphim, cherubim, the Melchizedekian priesthood, and whatever other personages there may be.
It is the sky that is made new. I have no doubt the appearance of the new sky, when one looks up at it, will be a scene of splendid colorsperhaps some colors unknown to us at this time.
Since the Throne of God at that time will be in the new Jerusalem, it appears that what we desire about Heaven, God, Christ, the holy angels, the saints, are now on the earth. Since "our Father" no longer has His Throne in the invisible spirit world, we would not be amiss to say that the best of Heaven has come to the earth.
John saw the heavenly Jerusalem coming down through the new sky, although its origin was the spirit world.
The first sky and first earth had passed away. Some have ventured that what actually happened is that God modified the sky and earth in some manner. I do not believe the text admits to that interpretation. There is a big difference between a house that has been repainted and a house that has passed away and been replaced by a new house.
In any case, the new earth would have to be much, much larger than our present earth if it is to support a city that is a cube 1,800 miles on a side! Also there must be room for all the saved people from the beginning of the worldand the population keeps multiplying because there is no death.
There no longer was any sea. I believe this means there no longer will be a multitude of people who do not know God. Each citizen of the new earth, that is, each member of the nations of sheep, will know God and be known of God, and have a portion of Christ in him or her. It is the task of the Royal Priesthood, the members of the Body of Christ, to insure that this is the case.
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)
Here is the centerpiece of the new world of righteousness. The new Jerusalem is the glorified Christian Church. She comes down out of the spirit world from God. I believe the word "Heaven" as it is used here refers to the spirit world. The new Jerusalem remained in the spirit Heaven while the saints were made ready for their descent to the earth as the government of the Kingdom of God.
It is of note that the Wife of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem, is beautifully dressed for the Lamb. In Revelation, Chapter Nineteen, we see the Firstfruits of the Bride. She makes herself ready for the Lamb by her righteous behavior. But now, a thousand years later, the remainder of the Bride has been made ready by others.
As I see it, the Firstfruits of the Bride, those who were resurrected when the Lord Jesus next appears, work during the ensuing thousand years of the Kingdom Age to govern the nations of the earth along with Christ; and also to prepare the balance of the Wife of the Lamb for her presentation to the Lamb.
Right at this point we see the danger of the current emphasis on imputed righteousness. A bride who was without blemish only by imputed righteousness would not be acceptable to the Lamb. This is just common sense. She must be made ready by having all filthiness of the flesh and spirit removed, and by being filled with the Fullness of God. Otherwise she would not be suitable as a bride for the Lamb.
The eighth chapter of the Song of Solomon tells how the immature members of the Bride are prepared by others.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God." (Revelation 21:3)
"The dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them." Right here we have the whole plan. God desires a house, a place of rest, in which He can live, and through which He can communicate with the people whom He has chosen to save to residence on the new earth.
Throughout the Christian era, Christ has been intent on building His Church. When the Church has been brought to the fullness of the stature of Christ, then the Father and Christ can minister to the saved people who reside on the new earth.
While Christ was on the earth He was able to communicate to a few of earth's people. When He returns He will be able to communicate, through the members of His Body, to many more people.
When the Tabernacle of God, which is the Church, comes down from the spirit world to be installed forever upon the new earth, there shall be no more "sea" of people. God will live with each of the inhabitants. They shall be His people. He will be their God.
This is a marvelous situation, isn't it, compared with today. God at the present time is up in Heaven where we cannot see Him. We have to do everything in our power to find Him and determine His will for us. In the new world of righteousness, God will be living on the earth with people.
This is what the Lord meant by stating that there are many rooms in the Father's House. That house is ChristHead and Body. Christ is the chief Cornerstone, and the members of the Church are the living stones from which the house is constructed. It is from this house that God is able to live among the people on the new earth.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:4)
The result of God living in His house, His tabernacle, and this house being placed among the people on the earth, is that God now is able to wipe away the tears from the eyes of the people. Christ's sheep shall not die any longer. They shall not suffer mourning, or crying, or pain.
The Lord said to the sheep that the Kingdom has been prepared for them from the foundation of the world. God has called out the Church from the nations of the world. God has ordained that the Church will bring into existence an new world of love, joy, and peace. This new world of righteousness has been prepared for the people of the world, the sheep whom God intends to save.
Now we Christians can see why God deals so strictly with us. It is so we shall be able to bring all these blessings to the people who are saved.
I do not remember that I ever have heard any minister of the Gospel tell us that God is making us part of the Body of Christ so we can bring God's Presence to those who are saved to live on the new earth, and that this is why we must endure the rigors of discipleship.
Yet, such is the design of the Kingdom of God; and unless we understand that we have been made an integral part of Christ so we can bless saved mankind, our understanding of the statements of the Bible must remain quite limited.
He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." (Revelation 21:5)
God is making everything new. He began with Christ, when God raised Him from the dead. Now we members of Christ's Body are being made new creations. Eventually the sky and the earth will be made new, and everyone who lives on the new earth will have been made new.
The point is this: God is not making all new things but all things new.
As I have pointed out in other writings, there have been two witnesses who precede every new "day" of God's plan to build His Kingdom. Every set of two witnesses reveal in themselves the nature of the coming day, and the day continues to eternity.
The first "day" is the day of "form." The two witnesses were Adam and Eve. They revealed in themselves the form God's creation always shall take. There will be a sky, an earth, and people of the form to which we are accustomed.
So it will be in the new world of righteousness. There will be a sky, an earth, and people in the form to which we are accustomed. The seventh set of two witnesses are God and His Tabernacle. They will reveal in themselves the nature of the endless ages to come. They will not make all new things. The form shall remain the same. Rather, they shall make the sky, the earth, and the people new. Not all new things, but all things new.
It may be true that we have imagined, when we died and went to Heaven, that we would see all sorts of fantastic new forms. But if we search our heart I think we would prefer the forms to which we have been accustomed made new, in that there no longer is pain, grief, sorrow, remorse, weeping, or death.
In my way of thinking, I prefer the ordinary forms in an atmosphere of love, joy, and peace. And the idea of God using us to bring His Presence and eternal life to people is a happy thought. How do you feel about that?
You know, life on the new earth will be familiar to us. When speaking of the new earth, Isaiah says:
They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. (Isaiah 65:21)
So the new world of righteousness will not be one of fantastic forms and bizarre landscapes. We might picture an advanced "civilization" with high-rise apartments, huge factories, and people rushing around in the pursuit of money.
But all of this turmoil is unnecessary and does not satisfy the longing of people. There is a magazine sold in America to which people contribute pictures and stories of their youth. The intent of the magazine is to evoke nostalgic memories of an American culture that we are in the process of losing.
Not one of these "dear old days" magazines contains pictures and stories about life in a big city. They all are "down on the farm" episodes. Why? Because life on a farm, although people may want to escape it, brings back to us memories of the garden in Eden. God created us in a garden, on a farm we might say, not in a high-rise apartment in a frantic city.
Farms are the basic environment of people because they produce the food we need to support life. It always has been true; and, according to Isaiah, always shall be true.
"They will plant vineyards and eat their fruit." Sounds like Eden, doesn't it?
"Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." Why is this admonition needed? Because God knew that people would grow further and further away from God as time went on. Eventually the world would be as it is today, where the idea of God being the center of our life is mocked on every hand.
No matter how the wise of this world scheme, it is the picture painted in the last two chapter of the Book of Revelation that will be established as the truth. Such is the new world of righteousness that is coming.
He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life." (Revelation 21:6)
How wonderful it is to realize that what God has begun in Christ, God will finish in Christ. We might think that God has failed; that the Kingdom of God will never come down from Heaven. We are mistaken in this. God has power and wisdom far beyond anything we can imagine. What is described in the Book of Revelation shall come to pass precisely as written. He is the Beginning and the End.
"To him who is thirsty." I don't think this invitation is directed to the members of the Church so much as to the "sheep" of the nations. We will find in the last chapter of Revelation that the invitation to drink of the water of eternal life is given by both the Spirit of God and the Bride, who herself is the new Jerusalem.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
God loves the people of the world, and He desires that they have eternal life. He has called out from the world the members of the Body of Christ that they may serve, through Christ, as trees of life from whom the saved people of the world may receive eternal life, and also healing.
He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:7)
I believe we can assume that "all this" is referring to everything that has been said previously. If this is so, the promise to the overcomer applies both to the saints of the new Jerusalem, and also to the "sheep" nations to whom they minister.
There are three promises to the one who "overcomes": first, that he will inherit what has been stated thus far; second, that God will be his God; third, that he (or she) will be God's son.
This would mean that the individual who does not "overcome" will not inherit what has been stated; that God will not be his God; and that he will not be God's son.
The understanding of Christian people today is so warped by the philosophy of Humanism that Revelation 21:7, as it stands, would not be acceptable. Perhaps this is why the admonition that "these words are trustworthy and true" is needed. God's love has been emphasized to the point that God's sternness and wrath are largely discounted.
So if we want "to inherit all this," to have God be our God, and to be regarded as God's son, we had better find out what it means to overcome and to do so.
The next verse, Revelation 21:8, may have a bearing on what it means to overcome:
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liarstheir place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)
Perhaps to overcome may mean to not fall under one or more of the eight categories mentioned in the previous verse.
We would not place the cowardly in first place, would we. Why would God put the cowardly in first place and we wouldn't? It may be true that God does not regard our behavior in the same way we do.
The cowardly can get nowhere with God. In eons past, Satan and the angels who followed him rebelled against God. There has been spiritual war ever since. The history of mankind on the earth is a reflection of the spiritual war between good and evil; between God and Satan.
Since Satan and his demons resist every effort we make to please God, we must have courage in order to break through the resistance. When we yield to our sinful nature and Satan because we are afraid to risk what we hold dear, we are revealing that we do not have faith in God. In fact, as the Apostle John says, "He that commits sin is of the devil."
We may not like this. We may not want the issue of our sinning outlined this clearly. But it is true. When we sin we have turned away from God and are worshiping Satan.
If we are cowardly, our rightful home is in the Lake of Fire with Satan, whom we worship and fear. God has given the Lake of Fire authority over the cowardly. If we would escape the Lake of Fire, and be God's son, we must confess our cowardice to God, renouncing it with all our might. Then we must turn to Christ that we may receive His courage.
We absolutely must gain victory over cowardice if we are to be God's son. God will have no cowardly sons. Because of the spiritual forces that strive against us, we must call upon God until we have enough courage to force our way past the resistance and obey Christ in all matters.
One of our problems may be that we do not view cowardice as the unclean spirit that it is. It is of Satan. Satan and all who are of him are cowards. The wicked flee when no one is chasing them.
This spirit must be overcome if we are to inherit the promises of God; and we can overcome through Christ. We just have to pray and not quit until we gain victory over all fear, except the fear of God, which is holy and clean.
The unbelieving will never be referred to as "God's son." If we will pray for faith to believe God, it will be granted. But unbelief is of Satan. He does not believe God and never will. His place, and the place of all who do not believe God, is the Lake of File. The unbelieving have shut themselves off from the promises of God.
The vile. Many people of our day are vile. Those who abort their own offspring are vile. Sexual perverts are vile. Those who molest children are vile. Those who harm other people to gain their own advantage are vile. Those who harm animals unnecessarily are vile.
If they do not want to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire with their father, Satan, they must confess their vile behavior to Christ and turn away from it. Christ will help them if they are sincere.
Many people who profess belief in Jesus Christ practice vile behavior, like the rich man who refused to help the beggar, Lazarus. Their proper home is the fire. They never shall inherit the promises of God unless they turn away from their vile behavior.
The murderers. Rage, gossip, hatred, unforgiveness, aborting babies, are all acts of Satan. The Christian churches contain numerous instance of murderous behavior. Such people profess to be born again, to be saved, to be of Christ. They are none of these things. They are of their father the devil.
If we have been guilty of some form of murder, such as those listed above, we absolutely must, without delay, confess our behavior to the Lord Jesus. If we will ask Him, He will help us renounce and turn away from such unclean spirits. We absolutely must, without delay, forgive those who have harmed us.
We may not have the strength to cease our murderous behavior. But there is Virtue in the blood of Jesus, if we ask for help, the Virtue in the blood of the Lord Jesus will strengthen us so we can forgive everyone. This must be true of us. The Lake of Fire has authority over all who do not forgive others, and all other murderers.
The sexually immoral. It appears that in our day sexual immorality is increasing until we are as Sodom and Gomorrah. It seems as though it always shall be so. God never has permitted a nation that was given over to immorality to endure. The human body is the temple of the Spirit of God. Those who violate it will be destroyed, the Bible says.
Fornicators and sexual perverts will never inherit the Kingdom of God. Because God refrains from immediately revealing His wrath toward those who practice immoral acts, people suppose He doesn't care. God cares, and He sees every such perverted, obscene act. In His time His judgment will fall, and it will be without mercy and irrevocable.
The practitioners of magic arts. Any attempt to use metaphysical means to arrive at a desired result is condemned. Even horoscopes, the consulting of tea leaves, and astrology fall under this category.
The recent emphasis on using "faith" to gain ones objectives, speaking creative words, giving money to get more money, are not of God. All forms of sorcery, witchcraft, fortune telling, Tarot cards, calling on demon power, using a crystal ball, phrenology, are magic arts. Attempts to predict the future are part of this category.
When we have a need we are to call on the Lord Jesus for help. Seeking help from the spirit world, although we may not regard it as such, is to invite assistance from those spirits who do not obey God. This is why the Scripture says, "rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft." We are rebelling against the Lord Jesus when we seek spiritual help apart from Him.
All practitioners of magic arts, who do not repent, will not inherit the new world of righteousness but will have their place in the Lake of Fire with Satan and his angels.
The idolaters. Any person, circumstance, or thing we cling to, or find difficult to give to Christ, is an idol. The principal idols of America are money, sexual practices, and entertainment. One's children can be idols. An individual's music or artistic talent can be an idol.
Difficult times are coming to the United States. Today is a period of preparation. We are wise if we place all that we hold dear on the altar of God so He can take it at any time. The Lord Jesus advised us to place our treasures in Heaven where they will be safe. Only then will we be able to enter the chaos of the future without panicking.
All liars. Lying goes to the center of the unredeemed nature. The Antichrist world spirit is one mammoth lie. What we in America see and hear on the media is a lie. That which mankind exalts is a lie. We make our way in the world by lying. We talk too much because we are endeavoring to convince people the value of what we are saying. We all are liars.
We notice concerning the Firstfruits of Revelation, Chapter Fourteen, that no lie is found in their mouth. One of the primary characteristics of God is He always tells the truth. If we would be in the image of God, there must be truth in everything we think, everything we say, and everything we do.
Perhaps the primary characteristic of Satan is lying, in his thinking, in his speaking, and in his acting. Jesus said Satan is a liar and the father of lies. When we lie we are revealing Satan's nature.
It requires a period of time spent in intense fires before the lie is burned out of a human being. We need to pray continually to be delivered from all forms of lying and sneakiness.
To be thrown into the Lake of Fire is to experience the second death. The first death is that which we all share when we do not have the Life of Jesus Christ working in us.
We must through Christ overcome these eight behaviors if we are to escape residence in the Lake of Fire and inherit the wonders of the new world of righteousness.
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." (Revelation 21:9)
The new Jerusalem is the Bride, the Wife of the Lamb, the glorified Christian Church. The purpose of our rugged discipleship on the earth is to prepare us to bring the blessings and rule of God to the "sheep" nations, who will inherit the new world of righteousness.
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. (Revelation 21:10)
In my impression of the spirit world, Mount Zion, the holy city, Jerusalem, is a relatively small area of the spirit world. It is located on a mountain. As I said, the inhabitants are God's elect, His Royal Priesthood. They are being prepared for their ministry to the "sheep" nations, to those people for whom the Kingdom of God has been prepared.
The failure of the first two people to maintain Paradise on the earth. was due to a lack of government, to rulers who would have prevented them from sinning against God.
Paradise once again will be on the earth. It will be installed and maintained by the saints, the holy ones whom God has chosen and trained diligently during their discipleship on the earth. This is why the message of the coming of the Kingdom of God, preached by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, and the Apostles of the Lamb, is a "Gospel," that is, good news.
The coming of the Kingdom of God indeed is "good news" to the miserable inhabitants of the earth who suffer injustice, wars, sickness, grief, confusion, frustration, and the continual onslaught of demons who are seeking the ruin of people, the destruction of God's image in them, in order that the demons might experience various forms of gratification.
The holy city will be beautiful and glorious far beyond anything the mind of man can imagine in the present hour.
It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. (Revelation 21:12)
Much emphasis is placed on the wall, in the description of the new world of righteousness. The wall serves two purposes. First, it prevents people who practice sin from entering the Presence of God, Christ, and the saints. Second, it divides between the Church and mankind.
The separation between the Church and mankind dates back to Abraham and Sarah. At that time God called out Abraham from the world and prophesied to him concerning His Seed. That Seed is Christ.
The gates may possibly be people. They are single pearls. Pearls are formed from the irritation of sand in an oyster. The disciplined saints could tell of the years of irritation in which they have learned patience. They have been prepared to give access or deny access to those of the sheep nations who wish to enter and partake of eternal life.
The names of the twelve tribes of Israel are on the gates. This points out that the gifts and calling of God never change. The original "church" was Abraham and Sarah and their descendants.
Many years have passed since the time of the first Christian Church, all the members of which were Orthodox Jews. Gradually the Christian Church began to be considered a Gentile institution. It is not. It began as Israel and fill conclude as Israel. Thus the city is Jerusalem, and the names of the tribes are on the gates.
It is time for us Gentiles to be come aware of the fact that the Gospel of Christ is to the Jew first, and after that to the Gentile! All of our Bible, with the possible exception of the Gospel of Luke, was written by Jews!
You may have wondered when you read (above) that one of the two purposes of the "great, high" was is to prevent sinful people from entering the Presence of God, Christ, and the saints. In that case, consider the following passage:
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Revelation 22:14,15)
It sounds like these sinners are "outside" the gates of the wall. Can this be true? Will there be sinners among the "sheep"?
I don't know. I do know that the new world of righteousness is made up of human beings. And human beings can choose to sin if they want to.
Perhaps the answer is, "Yes, people can sin in the new world, and this is why there is a government and a wall."
There will be no demons to harass them; no Satan to tempt them. This was true also of Adam and Eve, except Satan entered. Remember, at one time Satan was one of the two cherubim that covered the Throne of God with their wings. Yet he turned.
What if one of the sons of God, one who was close to God and in His counsels, turned and sought to usurp the place of Christ? I believe this could happenalways will have a possibility of happening as long as angels and people have a will of their own.
I think this is why God goes to such great lengths to teach us obedience, and has provided an audio-visual lesson of six thousand years to show us the results of disobedience to God.
We would not like to think about an angel or a human being in the new world of righteousness rebelling against Christ. But the future is only safe as long as our faith and obedience to God are maintained.
There will be provision throughout eternity to deal with any people or angels, who might choose to rebel against God. This provision consists of people and angels who will not tolerate rebellion. Thus we have six thousand years of preparation to cope with any future rebellions.
So there will be a wall to cope with sinful peopleeven in the new world of righteousness.
The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
There is an emphasis on the foundations of the wall that surrounds the new Jerusalem, the Christian Church. This suggests to us that the "wall," while no doubt it is an actual, visible wall, is symbolic of the wall against sin that is created in the personality of the saints.
The twelve Apostles of the Lamb served as the foundations of that wall. They preached the righteousness and holiness of the Kingdom of God, thus placing a separation between the Church and the world; and also excluding sinners from the Paradise of God.
The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits thick ,by man's measurement, which the angel was using. (The Revelation 21:15-17)
The city being laid out like a square reminds us of the Most Holy Place of the Tent of Meeting of the Old Testament, It also was as long as it was wide.
Of all the things we would like to know about the city, the houses, the occupations of the inhabitants, and so forth, what we are told about is the wall. This fact suggests to me that each saint must have a wall against sin created in him or her. This is to prevent future rebellions against God.
The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. (Revelation 21:18)
Jasper is an ornamental stone that can be red, brown, green, or other colors. The "pure gold" of the city symbolizes Divinity. While we may be impressed with the thought of living in a golden city, I for one would not find it very comfortable. We will have to wait and see about this.
There can be little doubt that the description of the new Jerusalem, while it may be literally true, may also be symbolic, speaking of the virtue of the saints who compose the city.
The foundations of the wall contained different kinds of precious stones. This is so unusual in the foundations of a wall, as far as I know, that we must consider the symbolism. I would venture that we are referring here to the character of the saints, which was formed under great heat and pressure. It is their character that will guard Paradise against sinners and rebels.
The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass. (Revelation 21:21)
As I said, the gates of pearl may symbolize people whose character makes them to suitable to be guardians of the twelve entrances to the city. No doubt there are many streets in the city, so the emphasis on one great golden street might be telling us that this is the way of faith by which the righteous have learned to live.
The description must be symbolic. Who would want to walk on a golden street? Maybe dirt, or grass, or some other soft substance. But gold? That does not appeal to me. How about you? But God has promised that in His Presence is fullness of joy. So either he will change my preference for street material, or we are speaking of the way of the righteous.
I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. (Revelation 21:22)
The passage above is of unusual importance, I believe. It is telling us that there will be no religion practiced in the new world of righteousness. God and Christ will be present. There will be no need to enclose them in a building. They will be living in our heart and also among us.
Probably the greatest enemy of Christ in the world is religion. Religion is portrayed in the Book of Revelation as Babylon. Religion is man's idea of the buildings and practices will please God.
People, being what we are, find it difficult to leave Christ unorganized. We must "build three tabernacles." To just worship Christ without formalizing our beliefs in doctrines and liturgies appears to be impossible. Perhaps it is impossible in the present hour.
In our time it is very dangerous to be a "lone ranger," that is, to not assemble with other Christians. We easily can be deceived when we attempt to live the Christian life apart from fellow believers.
According to the prayer of the Lord Jesus, the time will come when the true members of the Body of Christ flow together as one. But the time is not yet. By attempting to do so now we will just create another Babylon.
We have to keep our well intentioned fingers off the Ark of the Covenant, so to speak, and wait until the Spirit of God tells us what to do. In the meanwhile, a great deal of good can be accomplished if we are willing to work within the framework of organized religion.
But in the spirit world, and in the new world of righteousness to come in the future, there will be no religious faiths or religious buildings. Our God will be the true God, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ Himself will be the true Way to the true God. The Holy Spirit will be the Influence of God among us who always accomplishes the will of Christ, which is the will of the Father.
Let us keep this in mind, that there are "no temples in the city." Let us do what good we can in the present systems, and wait until God tells us He is ready to put together the dry bones and breathe life into them. When He does, there will be a great army. This cannot be accomplished by any ecumenical efforts.
The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. (Revelation 21:23)
This reminds us of the first three days of creation when there were evenings and mornings but no sun, moon, or stars. Apparently the light at that time was Christ Himself.
The Lord Jesus said we are to be the light of the world. By this He meant that we are to reveal in our personality the way people are supposed to live. Light keeps us from stumbling, doesn't it! Now we see, in the new world of righteousness, that there no longer will be a need for a sun or moon because the Glory of God provides light.
The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. (Revelation 21:24)
One lady who died and then was raised up by the Lord said the light from the city showed through the wall causing the precious stones in the foundation to glow. This is interesting in that jasper is opaque. Apparently opacity is no hindrance to the light of the Glory of God. The city of God must be a wonderful sight to behold!
The nations will walk by its light. The Glory of God and the Lamb in the Church will guide the sheep nations on the earth. Since the city is wherever the saints are, and they will move among the people, the saints will be as lamps. There may be a spiritual meaning here---that the saints reveal the Presence, will, and way of God in their personalities so that the sheep can learn from them how to live so as to please God.
Bring their splendor into it. What possible splendor would the kings of the sheep nations have that the city needed? Certainly no material wealth of any kind. The reference must be to their children. Perhaps it means that they are to bring their children to the city of the saints.
Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. (Isaiah 60:4)
Maybe the sheep nation bring their boys and girls so they can be introduced to the saints and be blessed by them.
On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. (Revelation 21:25)
This reminds us of the Showbread of the Tent of Meeting. It always was to be on the Table of Showbreadeven on the march! We must always be ready to give the Bread of Life to those who come to us, whether or not it is convenient. We must be prepared in season and out of season. Remember how the Lord cursed the fig tree even though it was not the season for figs!
God and Christ always are ready and prepared to meet our needs, and we always are to be ready and prepared to serve the Lord and minister Christ to them.
There will be no night there. God has made the night so we can rest and regain our strength. Those who compose the new Jerusalem are so filled with the Life of Christ they have no need to rest. They always are filled with life, strength, and health.
Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.(Revelation 21:27)
The statement above could apply to the saints who compose the holy city, but I think it probably is directed toward the sheep who have been saved to life in the new world of righteousness.
The people of the sheep nations will still be people. Thus they can be guilty of impurity, shameful behavior, and deceit. It will be the responsibility of the saints of the new Jerusalem to show them by example and to teach them the right way to behave.
When these people, the sheep, appeared at the last judgment, and the books were opened, their name was found in the Book of Life. God had considered their behavior while on the earth and had judged them worthy of correction and of life in the new world.
"Grace" will not excuse them. Believing in Jesus will not excuse them. As long as they misbehave they will be denied entrance through the gates into the holy city of the saints. This means they cannot be renewed in the Life of the Spirit of God, and they cannot eat of the leaves of the trees of life and be healed of any afflictions.
I don't believe it is preached very often, but most of us have to be taught how to behave, after we die, and before we are permitted to live in one of the communities in the Land of Light.
For example, in our day many children of unusual talents and abilities are being born. Since these talents often can be profitable through public appearances and CD recordings, the child may be exploited.
Because of the, continuing adulation, it will not be long before the child considers himself or herself of considerable importance.
Should sickness or accident overtake the boy or girl, and he or she passes into the spirit world, the same self-importance is present in the personality. This means he or she cannot relate properly to the other boys and girls in the spirit world.
The child will be placed in a training institution operated by people and angels. There the child is taught to consider himself or herself as being an ordinary person who must love God with all his heart; obey the Lord Jesus absolutely; and love other children as himself or herself, seeking the welfare of the other person.
These attitudes are not born in us. If we do not learn them during our time on the earth, we must be taught them so we do not destroy the peace and joy of those who live in the community where we are placed. Our parents on earth may have been so anxious to profit from our special abilities that they did not consider what was happening to us as an individual.
I think some people learn, while they are on the earth, social skills sufficiently that they can pass readily into a heavenly community. But most of us need some brushing up so we do not upset people with our self-centered behavior.
Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1,2)
The water of eternal Life always flows from the Throne of God and of the Lamb. If we are to be trees of life, then the Throne of God and of the Lamb must be established in us. In order for the Throne to be established in us, we must be totally obedient to the will of God at all times.
Apparently the river is in the middle of the street of transparent pure gold. It is my opinion that this street represents the way of faith. The Tree of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ, has sprouted up on each side of the river so that there are many trees of life.
The twelve kinds of fruit represent, I believe, the many forms of eternal life that are in the Lord Jesus. I know that we of the Royal Priesthood are different in personality, one from the other. The Lord portrays an artistic temperament in one saint. In another it may be a teaching form of eternal life. In another it may be more along the business line.
Whatever our calling is, and we all are different, when we live by the Life of Jesus, our abilities are lifted above the adamic life and become part of the revelation of Christ.
Will the "sheep" need healing from time to time? Yes, and there are many kinds of afflictions and needs that people have. They can be healed by coming to one of the trees of life, just as today Jesus may work through a saint to whom someone has come who has a need for healing.
No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. (Revelation 22:3)
We humans have never known an earth that was not under the curse of God, except for the days of Adam and Eve. The nature that we see around us, the forests and oceans, are grand and beautiful even though under a curse. I wonder what nature will look like when it is not under the Divine curse. Perhaps the trees and the rocks will sing praises to God, and the oceans will respond, "Amen."
I am not being whimsical. I do believe nature will come alive in the most marvelous way.
The Throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city. This is a marvel beyond all marvels. No longer will people pray to God up in Heaven. God will be on the earth among the people He has created. All we treasure in Heaven has come to the earth. There can be no greater blessing than this.
The saints, God's servants, will serve God and the Lamb just as we do today.
They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. (Revelation 22:4)
Notice the singular, "his." His face, referring to both God and the Lamb. They are so totally "one" that They are mentioned as being one individual. So when we see "His face," it will be both God and the Lamb. Whether we will see two Persons I do not know.
But here is a marvel. "No man can see God and live," the Bible announces. Why is this? The angels of little children continually see the Face of the Father. Why little children? Because of their humility, innocence, sincerity, and lack of self-importance. Such must be the way of all who would live in the Kingdom of God.
There can be no greater privilege than to see the Face of God. We indeed shall, some day, but what a change in us that privilege will signify!
There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)
Since the idea of there being no more night is also in the preceding chapter, it must be that the Spirit wants us to know that is important.
Compare the following passage:
"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."(John 3:19-21)
The Lord must be telling us that all things are open and transparent in the new world of righteousness.
I have stressed in some of my writings the fact that our resurrection body will reflect our inward personality. Perhaps this is the same idea of nothing being concealed. How much evil is practiced in secret in our present evil world! It is common for us to hide our intentions and what we do in so many instances.
The desire to mask what we are thinking and doing gives rise in many instances to the multitude of speaking that takes place.
They will reign forever. I hope that this does not mean we all will be rulers of other people. Some will have this role, I am sure. But for myself, I do not care to sit on a throne and order men and women around. I trust the reference is to the fact that the conduct of the world will be governed by the saints.
For example, if I had enough power today I would bring to an end the practice of abortion, except when the mother's life is at stake or in the case of rape. Abortion-on-demand is a horrible crime. Our country is guilty of the shedding of innocent blood, so to speak, and we are going to pay terribly.
I would put an end to all sexual practices that are not part of honorable married life. This is what I hope it means when it states that the saints will rule forever, not that we all are kings sitting on thrones. This is just my personal desire.
The angel said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place." (Revelation 22:6)
Well, it has been two thousand years and they haven't taken place yet. But time does not affect the spirit world. It is the substance of things that God has spoken that matters, not "soon" in the way in which we use the term.
Why stress that "these words are trustworthy and true." It is because of the arrogance of people. We read in today's newspaper the arrogant statements of the world leaders. They are going to make the world a better place. All they do is make the world worse, because they do not look to God for help.
Such political leaders, for the most part, would attach little importance to the words of the Book of Revelation. But we who fear God know that these words shall come to pass in the hour they are supposed to, and there is no power in Heaven above, or on the earth, or in the regions under the surface of the earth, that can alter one letter of one word of the Book of Revelation.
"Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book." (Revelation 22:7)
Again the word, "soon." As I said, time does not control the spirit world. Neither does distance, nor gravity. These forces and dimensions control our life at this time, but not when we are in the spirit world.
In any case, think of how long a time, by our standards, that the Word has been with the Father? So the two thousand years of the Church Era are as nothing in comparison.
The important matter is that Christ is coming!
There is a special blessing and a special curse associated with the Book of Revelationmore so, I believe, than is true of other prophetic utterances. The words are not to be altered or gainsaid in any manner. It is true that the symbolic nature of the text requires that its understanding must be given by the Spirit of God, not by human reasoning. I think there is a Spirit of understanding of the Book of Revelation today that has not always been available to us.
I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!" (Revelation 22:8,9)
There are spirit angels and there are human angels. The term "angel" means "messenger." It appears that the Book of Revelation was given to the Lord Jesus, who in terms entrusted it to a human angel to give to John. Who knows what roles and tasks will be assigned to us in the future!
"Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy." (Revelation 22:11)
Now here is a strange command. It runs against the tenor of the whole Bible, which teaches us that the ungodly should change their ways, and when they do, their past wickedness will not be mentioned to them.
Exactly what has changed? It reminds us that Jesus would rather we be cold or hot than lukewarm. The current philosophy of Humanism does not agree with this. It would enjoy a happy compromise in which people were neither fervent for Christ nor fervent for Satan. Not so with the Lord.
Why is this? It is because God can do nothing with a lukewarm individual. If he is "hot" for Christ, then his or her zeal can be increased and directed. If he is "hot" for Satan and wickedness, cold spiritually, than it may be that he can be shown the error of his or her ways and brought to repentance.
But what can you do with a person who doesn't care very much about righteousness or wickedness?
The reason for the change in God's attitude, by commanding the righteous to keep on being righteous and the vile to keep on being vile is that we are near to the Day of Judgment. Ever since the rebellion of the angels, God has restrained His wrath.
But we must realize this about God. When He has exercised His patience long enough, the righteous are brought to love, joy, and peace, and the wicked are put in the eternal fire. God finally says, "Enough!" When He does, the game is over.
This happens with people. The Lord spoke to me about a man, and said, "He has shown no mercy. Do not show him mercy." I have been a Christian more than 65 years, and God has never said that to me before about anyone.
In our arrogance today, we do not believe God could ever be provoked to the point that He shuts the door of mercy. But He can be. Repentance is a gift, and God can give it or withhold it.
There are some people who will be "lost." This means they never will be given the gift of repentance. They are doomed to become part of Satan while residing in the Lake of Fire. They are kept forever from the new world of righteousness. If they were released from confinement a thousand years from now, they would bring disaster into the midst of God-fearing people.
We are in error when we point toward the love of God and say He never would put people, or even Satan, in the Lake of Fire. He most certainly shall. He created the Lake of Fire. He did not create it in vain or because He did not realize what He was doing.
God is a Spirit, not a human being. He is appeased by the shedding of innocent blood, to balance the scales of righteousness. This is not a human action but the behavior of an incomprehensible Spirit.
Never, never, never confuse the longsuffering of God to mean that the wicked will not be punished. They shall, in God's time. He has perfect recall. This is why He tells us not to avenge ourselves. God will avenge us in due time. This concept should be kept in mind and help us when we see the vile practices that occur daily in our country.
"Let the wicked and the vile continue to be wicked and vile. Let the righteous and the holy continue to be righteous and holy. Make straight the way of the Lord!"
Satan works in the dark and in gray areas. God works in the light and in clearly defined areas. The righteous love the light and for matters to be clear and either right or wrong. The wicked love the darkness, and gray areas where it is not clear what is right and what is wrong.
The new world of righteousness shall be full of light, and all behaviors will be seen clearly as right or wrong.
Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. (Revelation 22:12)
I have been writing for about forty years. Much of the texts have as their purpose to point out how destructive the present teaching of "grace" actually is.
Concerning the above passage, "grace" would say that if we believe in Jesus we shall not receive the evil we have done.
What a monstrous deception this is! How utterly destructive to Christian growth in righteousness! When we do away with the idea that we will be rewarded according to what we have done, we remove the fear of God from people. They might wish they could do better, but back in their minds is the notion that even if they continue to sin, there is nothing to fear from the Day of Judgment.
If we were not bombarded continually with the fiery lusts of demons, and if we had no sinful nature, and if our environment was morally pure, we might consider that we ought to refrain from doing what is evil, such as fornication, for example.
But given the spiritual darkness that oppresses us day and night, our nice intentions will not result in our resisting fiery temptations. We must believe that there shall be consequences if we keep sinning against God.
One time when driving I entered a state in which if you had one speeding ticket you lost your driver's license. You ought to see how the traffic slowed down.
Psychologists inspired by the philosophy of Humanism have "proved" that the certainty of harsh punishment does not improve behavior.
Religionists have assured us that the wickedeven Satan himselfeventually shall be saved.
The "grace" teaching removes our fears by telling us if we will make a profession of "faith" in Christ we never can be lost. We do not have to keep the commands of Christ and His Apostles, just make a profession of belief.
But the God of Heaven says, "My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done."
In our arrogance we claim that this cannot be; it must not be; there must be some way around this edict of the Lord Jesus; God loves us too much for this to be true!
God says, "I will give to everyone according to what he has done."
We use smooth explanations today as to why this can't be true for us intelligent people. But the time will come when people shake their fist at God and yell, "You cannot do this. We the people will not let you." Or we may descend to the level where we scream, "Satan won't let you!"
How about you? Do you trust the teachers of "grace" with your eternal welfare? Be assured, they are mistaken. This doctrine comes from the reasoning of people, not from the Bible. How soft and spoiled we are in our arrogance in the face of the Holy One of Israel, like so many children of indulgent parents!
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. (Revelation 22:13)
I sure am glad for the above word. Christ finishes what He begins. He causes travail, and then He is faithful to bring to birth.
At one time we started on this glad journey. We did not understand at that time the various deaths through which we must pass. If we did not have trust in the Lord Jesus that He will finish what He has begun in us, I simply do not know what we would do.
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Revelation 22:14,15)
We wash our robes in the blood of the Lamb. When the Spirit of God points out to us something in our personality or behavior that is not in the image of God, we confess it to the Lord specifically and promptlyjust as soon as we have an opportunity.
We hate to think about it, but the sheep nations of people who live on the new earth are still subject to sin. They are just people, even though they know God, are known of God, live in the Spirit of God, and have Christ in them.
They will be governed and taught by the saints, and they will learn acceptable behavior. If they do not, they will be stopped at the gates when they attempt to enter the holy city. This means they no longer have access to the body and blood of Christ, to the water of eternal life, or to healing.
What their end will be I am not certain. I am sure that lacking access to the Life that God has provided, they of necessity will become weak and helpless.
There is one unalterable law that operates in the new world of righteousness: everyone must be totally obedient to the Lord Jesus. At the slightest sign of rebellion on the part of an angel or a human being, the army of judges will be alerted.
If the angel or person merely has had a bad thought, and the Lord's judges are confident that genuine repentance has occurred, and it appears certain that this will not take place again. it may be true that the angel or person is genuinely reformed.
But should there be no sign of repentance, then it is certain that the angel or person will no longer have a place in the new world of righteousness but will be sent to some sort of prisonpossibly to the Lake of Fire itself.
I guess we always have thought that once there is a new sky and earth, rebellion and sin will be a thing of the past. This is not so. Angels and people have been created with wills. Obedience to God and Christ can be taught and enforced to a certain point. But there always is the possibility of rebellion, and this is the reason for the jasper wall and the rulership of the saints.
"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star." (Revelation 22:16)
"My angel" would be that human angel we encountered a moment ago. The "Morning Star" heralds the new day of righteousness.
The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17)
The above is an interesting verse. Here we find the Bride, standing with the Spirit of God, and inviting the people of the sheep nations to come and drink of eternal Life. This is why we find in the Book of Isaiah:
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3)
This chapter of Isaiah was chanted, in the time of Christ, during the celebration of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. In the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles, God and Christ make Their eternal habitation in us. This is why the River of Life can flow to other people from our personality.
I don't believe there is a higher calling, or a greater joy, than that of giving eternal Life to other people. That is our calling as members of the Royal Priesthood.
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Revelation 22:18,19)
This is a most unusual statement. I do not believe you would find this warning attached to any other book of the Bible. To be harmed by the three plagues of fire, smoke, and sulfur that have been mentioned earlier, or be exposed to the seven last plagues, or to lose one's opportunity to enter through the gates and partake of the Tree of Life, would be a frightful destiny.
Why the fearful warnings concerning this prophecy? It is because God knew in advance that in the days in which we are living, at the close of the Church Age, the arrogance of people would seek to diminish the severity of the statements. They indeed have already have removed words from the prophecy, as we noticed in the case of "grace" versus Revelation 22:12:
BEHOLD, I AM COMING SOON! MY REWARD IS WITH ME, AND I WILL GIVE TO EVERYONE ACCORDING TO WHAT HE HAS DONE. (REVELATION 22:12)