New Jerusalem Part 2
Micah 4:1-5 “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted above the hills, and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples and shall decide disputes for strong nations far away, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore; but they shall sit every man under his vine and his fig tree and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken. For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.”
I realize that we have been teaching these verses for some time, but I think it is very important that we get this right. So many today rely on these scriptures to teach that there will be a natural fulfillment at the end of the age and that there will be a literal restoration of the city of Jerusalem and a rebuilding of the natural temple where Jesus will sit and rule the nations, but I believe that the prophecy of Micah is much bigger and more extraordinary than that. As we have shown, if the dimensions of the New Jerusalem are literal, and if the Book of Revelation is teaching about a literal scenario, then we have a problem because the dimensions are much larger than the whole nation of Israel can contain and the Book of Revelation teaches that in the New Jerusalem, there is no physical temple but rather the Almighty God and the Lamb are the temple!
In this teaching, I would like to look further at some New Testament scriptures on the New Jerusalem and see what we might discover, because, I believe, the city is the church where Christ dwells forever and there is no temple because God and Christ are the dwelling place of the people of God. He dwells in us and we dwell in Him. Notice also the similarity with the Jerusalem of Micah’s prophecy when we compare Revelation 21:22-27 “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city does not need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
Now let us look at Galatians 4:21-31 “Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.” Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.”
Paul is contrasting either living under the law or living under the freedom of grace, but notice in his allegory of Sarah and Hagar, that he likens them to the 2 mountains, the one in the wilderness, which he calls the present Jerusalem, and the Jerusalem that is from above. I want to point this scripture out because it is tied so closely to the current belief that when Jesus returns, he will allow there to be some sort of symbolic restoration of the worship that was under the law. Paul seems appalled by this idea that we would in any way desire for that system to be restored. If Jesus is present on the earth and we dwell in him and he dwells in us, why would there be any need for there to be any form of symbolic worship? We need to cast out any thoughts of a need for symbolism after Jesus returns. It would be a form of capitulation to think that Jesus would allow the Jewish people to worship him through the system that rejected him. The veil has been torn, never to be resown again. He demands that we look upon him who is the lamb slain and no other sacrifice remains.
This city which is the church is the city that Abraham was looking for and it can only be entered by faith and only those with faith can continually dwell there. Hebrews 11:8-10 “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” Like Abraham, we too are desiring a city. Hebrews 13:10-14 “We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. The bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate to sanctify the people through his blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” The only sacrifices that will be allowed in that city, are sacrifices of praise! Both redeemed Jews and redeemed Gentiles will be offering sacrifices of praise together forever. Jesus by His blood destroyed the wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles and woe to the man or woman who attempts to rebuild the wall.
We are the temple of God; He dwells in us and we dwell in Him forever. Revelation 3:12-13 encourages us that this idea of the temple and the New Jerusalem is so closely tied to the redeemed, that the redeemed are honored to wear the insignia of them both. “The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ That is a lot of names that will be placed on the overcomer! I do not think the Bible teaches that there will be people walking around covered in tattoos. I do believe that there will be people who have the revelation of who God is, and who Jesus is, and the concept of dwelling place is deeply ingrained in their hearts. One other point in the Book of Revelation that I find interesting concerning worship is that the emphasis in the many scenes of worship is on the nations, tribes, people, and tongues, not on any one ethnicity.
Finally, I would like to look at Hebrews 12:18-24 “For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”
There will come a time when the righteousness of Christ becomes evident to all men. Right now, we see society in a time of moral decline at a faster rate than ever before in the history of creation. It has been prophesied for ages that this time would come on the earth and we see that the ancient prophecies are true. There has never been a time of such confusion and deception concerning truth and the church is experiencing a time of total rejection and the intolerance of society is growing in dangerous and murderous ways. It will grow worse. There may be a small window of restraint, but when the next wave of evil is unleashed, it will be in a measure never seen on earth.
Am I speaking of a defeated church? Never! I am speaking of a church that will be purged and will emerge with a more powerful witness than ever. I believe that many will turn to the Lord even as many turn away from the Lord. I see a people purified through persecution and stronger than ever in the purpose of God. The description of the place that we have come to is incredible when we examine each one of them that is mentioned. This description certainly aligns with the idea that we are now seated with Him in heavenly places, Ephesians 1:3, 20. We are already citizens of heaven now, Philippians 3:20. Paul states in Philippians 3:20 that not only are we already citizens of heaven, but that it is from this very position that we await His coming. I would argue that since we have already tasted of the heavenly gift, the whole episode described in I Thessalonians about the coming of the Lord that we will arise to meet Him and enter that city that is descending from heaven only to remain with Him forever here on earth where the city has descended!!! This is the heavenly reception and procession as we are joined with those who have gone before.
In our next teaching, I will attempt to move away from this scene as it is described in Micah 4 and continue with our exploring the prophecy of Micah.