The New Jerusalem
A. T. Schofield
Plain Papers for Young Believers
We will close this series of papers with a subject that is but very little studied in comparison with the intense interest it surely should have for every one of us. Even on earth we sing, “There is no place like home,” and to it our thoughts ever turn in all our wanderings. How much more then should our hearts enjoy the consideration of our eternal home—that Jerusalem of which Bernard wrote so long ago:
“With jasper glow thy bulwarks, thy streets with emeralds blaze.
The sardius and the topaz unite in them their rays;
Thine ageless walls are bordered with amethyst unpriced;
Thy saints build up its fabric, and the cornerstone is Christ.
Jerusalem the glorious! The glory of the Elect!
Oh dear and future vision our eager hearts expect.
E'en now by faith I see thee; e'en here thy walls discern;
To thee my thoughts are kindled, and strive, and pant, and yearn.”
Somehow I think that this subject was more thought of in other days than now; for it is but seldom one hears the heavenly Jerusalem spoken of, and certainly very rarely with that heart longing that a contemplation of its glories must raise. Let us consider a little the well-known passage that describes them.
In Revelation 21:9 we find that the heavenly Jerusalem is itself the bride, the Lamb's wife. This city, therefore, really is not so much the abode of the saints (though it is that) as the saints themselves. Where inhabitants are spoken of, they are probably the saints looked at as individuals. The city is divine in its origin—it comes from God—it is also heavenly in its character, not being situated on earth like the Jewish city, but being placed in the heavens over it, so that it has the appearance of coming down out of heaven. It will probably be over the earthly Jerusalem to which it will give light and glory (compare Isa.4:5). It is clothed with the glory of God, according to Ephesians 1:18; 2:7. Although it is the bride of the Lamb that John sees, it is as a city he describes it, this being its appearance to the earth below. We are destined to know the deepest affections of Christ, as His bride; but to the world we shall be the center of heavenly rule, transmitting the glory and power of our Lord to the furthest parts of the redeemed world, and thus giving a deeper and fuller meaning to 1 Corinthians 11:7, for “the woman is the glory of the man.”
A Transparent Cube
The city is further described by the Apostle as a perfectly transparent cube, 1,500 miles in every direction, having the glory and brilliance of gold, and the crystal clearness of glass or jasper—a most beautiful figure as we shall see when we consider the city as a light bearer to the earth. This city is secure; she has a great and high wall (a symbol only) and twelve gates, or seats of judgment, of which angels are the doorkeepers (see also Heb. 2 and 1 Cor. 6:3), and at each of which a Jewish tribe is judged according to the Lord's words in Matthew 19:28: “Ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (See also Luke 22:30.) The foundations of this glorious city are the twelve apostles of the Lamb, according to Ephesians 2:20. Such is the new and heavenly capital of the government of God. It is vast, as we have seen, and perfect, as shown by the figure of a cube. The foundations are precious stones (that part most seen from the earth), showing all the varied glories of Christ.
Creation, Grace, and Glory
We get these glories figured by precious stones three times in Scripture. We find His glories shown in creation in Ezekiel 28:13. We get the varied glories in grace in the high priest's breastplate, and we get them all in glory here. The pure white light of Christ's glory is thus split up by the media through which it passes into its varied characteristics, as displayed among, and apprehended by, men.
This city differs from the earthly one in having no temple, for the all-pervading presence of the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb is there. Before passing on to consider it as a light bearer, we may here quote some beautiful words on this passage by another: “The wall which secured this city was the divine glory. As it is written of the earthly Jerusalem, salvation hath God appointed for walls and bulwarks. The city was formed in divine righteousness and holiness—gold transparent as glass. That which was by the Word wrought in and applied to men below, now, was the very nature of the whole place (see Eph. 4:24). The gates have the moral beauty which attracted Christ in the Church (see Matt.13), and that in a glorious way. That on which men walked, in stead of bringing danger of defilements, was itself righteous and holy; the street was gold, transparent as glass.” Such then is the general glorious aspect of our future home.
The City as a Light Bearer
Now let us see what is the object and purport of this vast city. A consideration of its construction will at once prepare us for the answer. It is a crystal cube, having in it the seat and center of glory, of God and of the Lamb (Rev. 22:3). Every ray, therefore, of the divine glory to reach this earth, must pass through this transparent cube. It is, therefore, plain that every ray this city gives of light and glory to the earth, comes from Christ alone, though it is all transmitted through the saints who will then form (not alas, now!) a perfectly transparent medium; they enjoy direct light, the earth, transmitted light. What a joy to think that we are then no longer to hinder and turn aside the light, as too often now, but perfectly to fulfill our high destiny of being light bearers of the glory of the Lamb.
Christ in Us, and God in Christ
Then will be fulfilled in all its perfection the wonderful thought of John 17:23, when Christ will be in us, and God in Christ, so that all the glory of God is seen in the Person of Christ who deigns thus to use His people, His beloved Church, to transmit these glories to the redeemed earth. There will be no night there, the gates need not be shut, for no defense against evil is needed, this glorious object being so much unlike that which has been established by God on earth, and soon invaded by evil and deceit; for “nought that defileth” shall even enter into it. All that have a place in the city are dependent on pure grace alone; the Lamb's book of life is the register which will determine whether you or I shall ever gaze upon its glories. Thanks be to God, the answer is certain and sure for the feeblest believer.
In this wonderful panorama, we get again, in all their divine perfection, those things from which man was shut out in the earthly paradise, here reappearing in the paradise of God. This city is the source of the river of blessing; the tree of life grows there, its fruits doubtless for the inhabitants of the city, its leaves bestowed in grace to the nations for their healing. God and the Lamb, now united in glory, have their throne in the city, and those who compose it are their happy servants. God's glory being seen in the Lamb, we get but one God; hence, they “shall serve Him: and they shall see His face” (Rev. 22:3,4). They too, like the Lamb (11:15), shall reign for ever and ever. Beloved reader, gaze as much as your longing eyes can bear on this glorious spectacle of our happy home on high, and then just quietly ponder all that these images mean.
Our Position in it
From them we gather that we shall have our home in the immediate presence of Christ, whose face we shall ever see, that we shall be used to transmit His glories to the millennial earth, over which we shall reign with Him, that we shall be constantly employed in His service, thus being in the relation of servants to Him, though in that of kings to all beside. We shall be secure from all evil; none of the defiling influences that will be seen on earth toward the close of the Millennium will ever mar our ceaseless joy. For all this we shall have a full capacity of enjoyment, never checked by any change of circumstances or of state within or without. Death, sorrow, pain will all be forgotten words, save as they remind us, as we gaze on His still pierced hands, of the mighty cost which has secured to us all these endless joys. Oh, how the heart longs and sighs for the realization of those glorious scenes. However, thanks be to God, they are all secure; and as surely, beloved reader, as your eyes scan these lines, shall you behold the King in His beauty, and enjoy to the full those realms of bliss we have been so feebly considering.
Never Fading Beauty
One word more, and we have done. In the first four verses of Revelation 21, we find another glorious fact. In the new heavens and new earth succeeding the Millennium, when all sin is forever done away, when Satan has been cast into the lake of fire to deceive no more—in the eternal state our glorious home remains unchanged, and is seen descending from out of heaven as fresh and beauteous as at the beginning of the Millennium in verse 10. It may seem strange to some that verse 10 should really date before verse 2. The explanation is that the first eight verses of this chapter close the subject of chapter 20, and in verse 9 a new scene opens in which the angel describes to John the appearance of the new Jerusalem during the Millennium.
Too briefly have we considered it, but let not its glories be forgotten when this short article is laid aside, but let it be the means of awakening new and lasting desires for the moment when faith shall be changed to sight, and prayer to praise.
Jerusalem the golden, with milk and honey blest,
Beneath thy contemplation sink heart and voice oppressed;
And when I fain would sing them, my spirit fails and faints,
And vainly would it image, the assembly of the saints.
They stand, those walls of Zion, all jubilant with song,
And bright with many an angel, and all the martyr throng.
The Prince is ever with them, the daylight is serene;
The pastures of the blessed are decked in golden sheen.
There is the throne of David, and there from care released
The song of them that triumph, the shout of them that feast;
And they who with their Leader have conquered in the fight,
Forever and forever are clad in robes of white.
“Oh fields that know no sorrow! Oh state that fears no strife!
Oh princely bowers! Oh land of flowers! Oh realm and home of life!
Thy loveliness oppresses all human thought and heart;
And none on earth, o Zion , can sing thee as thou art.”
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