Hebrews 12:22-23 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of
the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of
23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.
The writer of the Book of Hebrews is talking about the Body of Christ. The main thing I want to point out here is the fact that he calls the Body of Christ “Mount Zion,” “the city of the living God.” Keep these terms in mind as we study the Word.
Matthew 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
The Body of Christ is pictured as several different things in the Scriptures. Each name given to it reveals some spiritual truth about it and its relationship with the Lord. At times, the Church is pictured as a woman. This speaks of its oneness with the Lord, which is described as a marriage. The Church, then, becomes a bride and our Lord Jesus is the Bridegroom.
Sometimes the Body of Christ is pictured as a man. In the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation, for example, it is called a “manchild.” Then Ephesians 4:13 says that it must become a “perfect man.” When it is called “the city of the living God,” the reference is to the Body of Christ as being the dwelling place of God.
Now we want to go to Genesis chapter forty-one. The next few verses of Scripture may seem unrelated at first, but it will come together at the end of this message. So keep in mind that the Body of Christ is sometimes called “the city of the living God.”
I’m sure you remember the story of Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers. While he was in the dungeon in Egypt, Pharaoh had a dream. In the dream he saw seven fat cows and seven lean cows, and the seven lean and skinny cows ate up the fat cows. Then Pharaoh had another dream. In this dream he saw seven fat ears of corn, plump and ripe. Then he saw seven wind-blown ears of corn, and the seven ears of scrawny corn ate up the seven ears of good corn.
Pharaoh was puzzled. Not knowing what the dream meant, he called for the wise men. The wise men, though, could not interpret his dreams. Then Pharaoh’s cupbearer remembered Joseph and how he had interpreted his dream and the baker’s dream when he was in prison. So Pharaoh had Joseph brought to him, and he related his dreams to Joseph. Joseph then interpreted the dreams to Pharaoh and explained to him that the seven fat cows and seven fat ears of corn represented seven years of plenty. The seven skinny cows and seven scrawny ears of corn represented seven years of famine, which would follow the seven years of plenty. The seven bad cows eating up the seven good cows, and the seven ears of bad corn eating up the seven ears of good corn meant that the seven years of famine would consume everything from the seven years of plenty.
Then Joseph counseled Pharaoh to store food during the seven years of plenty, so the people could eat during the seven years of famine. Because of Joseph’s wisdom Pharaoh put him in charge of the entire project and placed him second in command over all Egypt under himself. Now, what we are interested in mostly is the fact that Pharaoh had two dreams.
Genesis 41:32 And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.
Joseph’s word to Pharaoh was this: “The dream being doubled means that the thing is established by God and it is going to happen quickly.” There is an establishment by God, a divine sealing, when God doubles His Word. When God speaks once, your ears should be right in tune with Him. If He speaks twice, get ready! Something is going to happen!
It would prove quite interesting to make a study of the Scriptures that are doubled. There is something very significant about those that are recorded twice in the Bible. Let's look at a few examples.
Isaiah 61:1-2a The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the
Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to
bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening
of the prison to them that are bound;
2a To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord…
Isaiah makes this prophecy. Of whom is he speaking? He says, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me…,” and he lists the things to be done. Is he speaking of himself, or of someone else? We find these same words spoken again in Luke chapter four.
Luke 4:18-19 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath
anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the
brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight
to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
This is the same prophecy we read in Isaiah chapter sixty-one. Who is speaking it now? Of whom is the prophecy speaking? Now let’s go back up to verse sixteen and read through verse twenty-one, so we can get the full scope of this prophecy.
Luke 4:16-21 And He (Jesus) came to Nazareth, where He had been
brought up: and, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the sabbath
day, and stood up for to read.
17 And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written,
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
20 And He closed the book, and He gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on Him.
21 And He began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
Jesus is the one speaking the prophecy of Isaiah. He walks in the synagogue, opens the scroll of Isaiah, and begins reading, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me…” And He reads down to where it says, “…to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Then He closes the book, and says, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” Wow! Can you imagine the impact that probably had on those Jews when they heard that? Essentially, Jesus was saying, “Don’t look for this prophecy to be fulfilled sometime in the distant future, and don’t think Isaiah fulfilled it either. Today is the day! Today this scripture is fulfilled in your ears.” There is nothing more devastating to religious people than placing the fulfillment of scriptures in the present.
The prophecy of Isaiah was doubled, which meant that it was established by God and it would quickly come to pass. Now let’s look at another example.
II Chronicles 36:22-23 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that
the Word of the Lord spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the
Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he would make a
proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
23 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, all the kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord God of heaven given me; and He hath charged me to build Him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all His people? The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up.
The Jews had been captives in the land of Babylon for seventy years. The Medo-Persians invaded Babylon and Cyrus became king of a world empire. Jeremiah had prophesied some seventy to seventy-five years earlier that the Jews would be freed from captivity and allowed to return to Jerusalem (Jeremiah 29:10). So upon taking the throne Cyrus made the decree that the Jews could return to Jerusalem and rebuild the House of the Lord. Now let’s look at the first three verses of the Book of Ezra.
Ezra 1:1-3 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that
the Word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord
stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation
throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, the Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He hath charged me to build Him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
3 Who is there among you of all His people? His God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, (He is the God), which is in Jerusalem.
The last two verses in II Chronicles are the same as the first three verses in the Book of Ezra. Again, the Word is doubled! It is repeated because it is concerning something of great importance that is established by God. What is it? It is the rebuilding of the House of the Lord.
Jerusalem in the Old Testament is a type of the Church in the New Testament. Recall that we read in our text from the Book of Hebrews that the Church was called “the heavenly Jerusalem.” Thus we understand that the scriptures in the Old Testament concerning Jerusalem hold spiritual truths concerning the Church. The rebuilding of the House of the Lord in Jerusalem then sets forth the truth that God’s people in this day are going to be set free from religious Babylon, so that the New Testament Church can be restored. It is established by God, and it will quickly come to pass. Now let’s look at one more example.
Micah 4:1-2 But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the
mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the
mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills: and people shall flow unto
2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the House of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths; for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
This prophecy is also found in the Book of Isaiah.
Isaiah 2:2-3And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the
mountain of the Lord's House shall be established in the top of the mountains,
and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the House of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
What does it mean when it says, “…the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains…”? God’s people are going to be established above everything else. The Kingdom of God will be established above every other kingdom.
…all nations shall flow unto it. Recognize that nothing flows upward. This means that the time is coming when the gravitational pull of the sinful nature of man will be reversed, and people will be drawn upward unto the Lord.
And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the House of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion (the Church) shall go forth the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Regardless of how miraculous this prophecy seems, it is established by God.
When I first noticed that some scriptures were repeated in the Bible, I thought it quite strange. Our Bible is rather small considering the time span it covers and the vastness of what God has done during that time. In fact, the apostle John said that Jesus Himself did so much during His three and one-half years of ministry, that the world itself could not contain the books that should be written (John 21:25). Knowing this, I couldn’t help but wonder why God would repeat some things when there was so much unrecorded. But Joseph gives us the answer when he interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh. The doubling is because “the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.”
The remainder of this study will be on the twenty-first chapter of Revelation. Many Christians take everything beyond the third chapter of Revelation and place it in the future. They also put many of the events and happenings in heaven (beyond the stars somewhere) instead of on earth. Usually when the Bible speaks of the heavens, it is speaking of the realms of spirit. And we do not have to leave the earth to function in the realm of spirit. The spiritual realm is not a matter of distance, but a matter of plane. That’s why Paul said, “He hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). As we study Revelation chapter twenty-one, we will notice that it is speaking of something that God is doing right now on a spiritual plane.
Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
Taking this in a literal sense, the mind sees our globular earth with its heavens drifting out of sight and from the other direction a new earth and a new heaven coming on the scene. Then the thought comes, “How are we transferred from one to the other? How do we get off the one that is passing away and on to the one that is arriving?”
Actually, I don’t believe it happens that way at all. Scriptures must be understood in the light of other scriptures. We must also understand that some scriptures are not meant to be taken literally. Some of them hold spiritual truths only. If we say that the heaven and the earth literally passes away, and a new heaven and a new earth appears, then what are we going to do with Ecclesiastes 1:4, and other scriptures like it that say, “The earth abideth for ever”?
I remember when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, that not only did I see the whole earth differently, but I became a new earthen creature. For the first time, I became aware of the heavenly realm of God. In a sense, the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there was a new earth and a new heaven. Evidently, the apostle Paul understood it that way too, because he said, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17). We experience this when we are delivered from sin; likewise, the earth and its heavens will also become new when sin and death are done away with.
Revelation 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
I remember the first commentary I ever read on the Book of Revelation. I had purchased it from the local Christian bookstore. As well as charts, the author had a picture in it of the city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of the sky and safely landing on the new earth.
Now go back to the first two scriptures we read. In Matthew 5:14, Jesus called us “a city.” In Hebrews 12:22, the Church was called “the city of the living God” and “the heavenly Jerusalem.” In this verse (Revelation 21:2), John says that New Jerusalem is “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Obviously, this is not a literal city, but a symbolic picture of the Church, the bride of Jesus Christ. It is pictured as coming down out of heaven because the adorning of the Bride of Christ is not a work of man, but a heavenly work. The Church in all its glory is a creation of God.
Revelation 21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.
When the Church comes into maturity and becomes the Bride of Christ, when it becomes the holy city, New Jerusalem, then the Bible says, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He dwells with them…God Himself shall be with them.”
What does the word “tabernacle” mean? It means, “dwelling place.” God is making the Church His dwelling place. Instead of taking His people off the earth, He makes them His dwelling place on the earth. He wants to fill His Church with Himself, so that He can be manifested through His people to the world. Most Christians are so focused on going to heaven that they have lost sight of the fact that what God wants is a dwelling place on earth.
The thinking of Christianity has been misguided, causing people to feel that once they are saved from their sins, that it’s done; now they will go to heaven when they die, or if the rapture comes first, then they will still go to heaven. But when we realize that God is looking for a people who are willing to be His dwelling place on earth, then we become aware that getting saved is only a first step; the real issue is what we become after we are saved. God wants to make us His tabernacle.
Revelation 21:9-10 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which
had the seven vials of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come
hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.
10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.
Verse nine is not difficult at all. We know that the Bride, the wife of the Lamb, is the Church! The Lamb is the Lord Jesus Christ. We’re His Bride, and He is our Bridegroom.
The angel tells John, “Come here, I’m going to show you the Bride, the Lamb’s wife.” Then John says, “And he carried me away in the spirit (or, he opened up the spirit realm so I could see) to a great and high mountain…” In our scripture from Isaiah it is said that “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains” (Isaiah 2:2). The picturesque symbolism of the Scriptures is beautiful. Sometimes the Church is pictured as a high mountain, usually called Mt. Zion; sometimes a city; sometimes, a woman; sometimes, a man; sometimes, other things. Each description reveals a certain aspect of the Church.
“John, do you want to see the Bride, the Lamb’s wife?” And John answered, “Oh, yes I do!” Then the angel answered, “Come here!” And what did John see? He saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven, because it is something God has created. It is what Jesus talked about when He said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid” (Matthew 5:14). The Church will not be hid. The Lord will have His people in full view because He wants to be glorified and admired in them (II Thessalonians 1:10).
The following verses in this chapter describe the holy city Jerusalem. You would be surprised how many Christians are of the opinion that God is building a city up in the heavens somewhere for them to live in when this earth passes away. They talk about the city of precious stones, the streets of pure gold, the gates of pearl, etc. This city is the Church! It is people! This description of New Jerusalem is given to reveal spiritual truths about the Church and its relationship with God. It is not a city for Christians to dwell in; it is a city for God to dwell in – a city of people. We become the tabernacle of God.
Revelation 21:11-14 Having the glory of God: and her light
was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as
12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of Israel:
13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Walls and gates! Isaiah 60:18 says, “Thou shalt call thy walls salvation and thy gates praise.” The wall about the city, then, speaks of our salvation. We are walled in with God. In Old Testament times they built walls around the cities for protection from marauding bands, etc. Our source of protection and immunity is God. He is our wall of salvation. In Zechariah 2:5, He says, “For I,” saith the Lord, “will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.” The Lord is speaking of the Church, and we see the fulfillment of this prophecy in the twenty-first chapter of Revelation.
The gates are praise. We “enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise” (Psalm 100:4). Of course, we know that Jesus is the door (John 10:7, 9). He is the gate of entrance into God, for “no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6). So how do we get into this walled city, New Jerusalem? How do we enter the Church that experiences the fullness of God and becomes His abiding place? We enter in through Jesus with praise and worship.
Revelation 21:19-20 And the foundations of the wall of the city were
garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was Jasper;
the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;
20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardis; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
Let’s compare this passage with scripture from the first epistle of Peter and the first epistle of Paul to the Corinthians. Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. I Peter 2:5. Worshipers of God are called “lively stones” (precious stones), and they are built up as a “spiritual house” (an abiding place – New Jerusalem) unto God by Jesus Christ.
According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon…Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. I Corinthians 3:10, 12-13. Worshipers have been tried by the fires of God and have come forth as gold, silver, and precious stones. Gold represents the divine nature. Silver speaks of redemption, and the precious stones are the gifts and graces of Christ in the Church. Thus, “the foundations of the wall (salvation) of the city (Church) were garnished with all manner of precious stones” (gifts and graces of the Spirit of Christ).
Revelation 21:21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl – The prophet Isaiah told us that the gates were praise. Praise and worship breeds ministry, the true ministry of Jesus through the many-membered Body of Christ. Therefore, each pearl speaks of a different aspect of the Lord’s ministry through His Church, for “every several gate was of one pearl,” and that “one pearl” is Jesus Christ.
And the street of the city was pure gold – How often have we heard it said, “Oh, we’re going to live in the mansions of that holy city, and all the streets will be pure gold.” We can blame some of our preachers and a lot of religious songs that are sung today for those misconceptions. First of all, the Scriptures do not say anything about mansions in heaven. Neither do they say anything about a literal city in heaven. Thirdly, they do not say anything about streets of gold. What does the Bible say? It says, “The street of the city was pure gold.” We have already seen that gold represents the divine nature of the Lord, and that the city is the Church in its maturity, for it has become “the city of the living God.”
Now let’s consider the street of the city. First of all, it is not “streets”; it is “street.” It is one street! A street is a way. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6). Isaiah prophesied, speaking of the Church, “And a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness” (Isaiah 35:8). There is only one street, one way, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the street of gold! There is no other way to come into this city, no other way to be a part of the Body of Christ, which is the abiding place of God, but through Jesus Christ.
Revelation 21:22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
Tie this verse in with verse three. Verse three says that we become the tabernacle of God. This verse says that He becomes the temple for us. In other words, we are dwelling in Him, and He is dwelling in us. The Lord and His people become one.
Revelation 21:23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
We do not need to be educated by man’s wisdom. We do not need to be enlightened by the things of this world, because we are being enlightened by the glory of God. Whatever we have that is worth anything comes from Him. We do not need the enlightenment of this age. That is why Peter said in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40).
Revelation 21:24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
This verse goes right back to what we read in Isaiah chapter two, where it said, “And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the House of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
And the nations of them which are saved – This chapter cannot be speaking of something that takes place in the heavens somewhere, because nations are being saved at this time. This is the fulfillment of the commission that our Lord Jesus gave before He ascended, “All authority is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28: 18-19).
God has a purpose for His Church! While many Christians are focused on going to heaven one day, the Lord is interested in bringing the Church forth into all His glory, filling it with Himself, so that He can minister through the Church to save the nations.
Revelation 12:25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.
We are not children of the night; we are children of the day (I Thessalonians 5:5). Therefore, there is no night in the city of the living God.
I gave you some of the scriptures that were doubled because they were all relating to the Church that God is bringing forth. And I wanted you to see it in the light of Revelation chapter twenty-one.
Many of the things we have been taught from our pulpits, plus many of the religious songs we have sung in our churches, have been misleading because they present a picture that is inaccurate – mansions on a cloud somewhere, or a city up in the sky with streets of gold. The Scriptures tell us not to be concerned about worldly treasures, but to be concerned about the heavenly treasures, spiritual things. Actually, living in a mansion and having streets of gold doesn’t do a thing for me. But when I take the truths presented in the Word, like this scripture from Revelation chapter twenty-one, and I begin seeing what God is doing, how He is bringing the Church to the place where He dwells in their midst, then that does something for me! I like the idea of God dwelling in our midst. I like the idea of Jesus being the Way, the truth, and the life; that no man can come to the Father, but through Him. He is the life! He is the only way! He is the street of gold! He is the pearl of great price! And the salvation He gives us are the walls that protect us and give us immunity. We become His City, His dwelling-place. I love that! That just does something for me!
On top of all that, the Holy Spirit quickens it to my heart, and causes me to know that it is real. God wants to dwell in his people. He wants to live in us and move through us. He wants to use His people, His Church, to bring this whole earth under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It is a glorious calling, and it has been established by God!
Copyright © 2005 by Henry DuBose