Life-Study of Revelationby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In previous messages we have considered the city proper, the foundations, the wall, the gates, and the street. Now we come to the temple, a very significant topic in the Bible.
Revelation 21:22 says, “And I saw no temple in it, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.” This verse clearly says that in New Jerusalem there will be no temple. The Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. In the Old Testament the tabernacle of God was the precursor, or the forerunner, of the temple of God. New Jerusalem as the tabernacle of God (v. 3) will be the temple of God. This indicates that in the new heaven and new earth the temple of God will be enlarged into a city. The three equal dimensions of the city (v. 16) indicate that the whole city will be the Holy of Holies, the inner temple. Hence, there will be no temple in it.
The Greek word for temple in verse 22, naos, does not denote the whole temple in a common way including the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place. Rather, it denotes the inner temple, the Holy of Holies. This inner temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb, signifying that God and the Lamb will be the place in which we serve God. The holy city as the tabernacle of God is for God to dwell in, and God and the Lamb as the temple are for us to dwell in. In the new heaven and new earth, the New Jerusalem will be a mutual dwelling place for both God and man for eternity.
The entire city of New Jerusalem is the Holy of Holies, and God and the Lamb are the temple in this city. If we put these two points together, we shall realize that this city is God and the Lamb. Because the whole city is the Holy of Holies and because the inner temple is God and the Lamb, the city is God and the Lamb.
Furthermore, the whole city is called the tabernacle (v. 3). Just as a boy is the precursor of a man, so the tabernacle is the precursor of the temple. Before the temple appears, there is the tabernacle. But when the tabernacle comes into its fullness, it becomes the temple. Therefore, we need to keep three points before us: that the whole city is the Holy of Holies; that the temple is God Himself and the Lamb; and that the whole city is the tabernacle. When we put all these points together, we see that God Himself is the whole city of New Jerusalem.
However, as we have pointed out elsewhere, the whole city of New Jerusalem is also a living composition of all God’s redeemed ones. On the one hand, God is the entire city; on the other hand, the city is a living composition of the redeemed. If you find this difficult to grasp with your natural mind, let me ask you this question: Do we not say that the church today is Christ, and do we not also say that it is a composition of all the believers? On the one hand, the church is a composition of all the believers; on the other hand, Christ is both the Head and the Body. Hence, we have the term, the Body-Christ. First Corinthians 12:12 indicates that Christ is not only the Head, but also the Body: “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” The principle in both the church and New Jerusalem is the same.
The church is the enlargement of Christ. Christ Himself is the individual Christ, but the church is the corporate Christ, Christ enlarged and expanded. Therefore, the church is Christ’s expansion, Christ’s enlargement. In like manner, New Jerusalem is the enlargement and the expansion of the Triune God.
Many religious people will not agree with such a statement because they lack experience. Some would even slander us, saying that we teach evolution into God. Although we repudiate this slanderous accusation, we do say that we are the expansion of God and the enlargement of God. After those who oppose and criticize us today are perfected, they may say, “Brother Lee, you were right. We apologize for opposing you. When we were in the dispensation of grace, we did not have the experience. For this reason, we were so foolish as to oppose you. But we were dealt with during the dispensation of the kingdom, and we have been perfected. Now that we are together in eternity, we want to be reconciled to you and ask you to forgive us.” If any will say this, I will tell them that I forgave them already in the dispensation of grace. Sooner or later, in this age, in the next age, or in eternity, those who are opposing us will have to admit that the ultimate revelation of the Bible portrays the New Jerusalem as the enlargement of God.
The New Jerusalem is both the temple and the tabernacle. This means that New Jerusalem will not only be the enlargement of God, the temple, but also the tabernacle, God and the Lamb overshadowing His redeemed with Himself as the tabernacle. Revelation 7:15, speaking of the great multitude serving God in the heavenly temple, says, “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits upon the throne shall spread His tabernacle over them.” God shall overshadow His redeemed ones by spreading Himself over them. In Psalm 90:1 Moses said, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.” Moses knew that God Himself is our eternal dwelling place, our eternal habitation. Psalm 90 is a prophecy of this. I do not care to live in a heavenly mansion. I prefer to dwell in God, even in the enlargement of God. Our natural mind would never think that we could dwell in God. Nevertheless, the entire city of New Jerusalem will be God Himself as our habitation. The expansion and the enlargement of God will be our eternal city in which we shall dwell for eternity. All of God’s redeemed will serve and dwell in God and the Lamb as the temple.
In both the Old Testament and the New Testament, the tabernacle was the precursor of the temple. When the Lord Jesus was incarnated, He tabernacled among us (John 1:14) and He was also the temple (John 2:19-21). Today, the church is the temple (1 Cor. 3:16). These two terms, tabernacle and temple, are used again and again in the Bible. Hence, if we would know the New Jerusalem, we must study all the portions in the Old Testament and the New Testament concerning the tabernacle and the temple. Strictly speaking, the tabernacle was not mainly for people to dwell in; it was for God’s habitation. Eventually, New Jerusalem will be the habitation of both God and man. This means that it will be a mutual habitation. God will be our dwelling place, and we shall be His dwelling place.
We have a miniature of this mutual habitation in the Lord’s word, “Abide in Me, and I in you” (John 15:4). To abide in the Lord means to take Him as our dwelling, as our habitation. When we take the Lord as our dwelling, He abides in us. This abiding is mutual, for we abide in the Lord, and He abides in us. There is no need to wait until the coming New Jerusalem to abide in the Lord and to have Him abide in us. I can testify strongly that many times I know that I am truly in the Lord and that He is actually abiding in Me. Even this morning I abode in Him and He abode in me. Although this is difficult to explain, it is nonetheless a fact in our experience. We all can testify that whenever we abide in Him, we immediately sense that He is abiding in us. If you say, “Lord Jesus, how I thank You that right now I am abiding in You,” you will immediately have the deep sense that He is abiding in you. Wherever you are, at home, at work, or at school, you can say, “O Lord Jesus, I am abiding in You right now,” and something within you will say, “And I am abiding in you.” This is a miniature of the coming New Jerusalem, which will simply be a mutual abiding place for us and for God and the Lamb.
On the one hand, we shall be the New Jerusalem; on the other hand, it will be God and the Lamb. It is the same in principle with the church today. On the one hand, we are the church, and on the other hand, the church is Christ. This matter of the mutual dwelling place is deep and profound. The new city will be our dwelling place, and it will also be God’s dwelling place. It is similar to the temple, which was firstly God’s dwelling place and then the place where the priests served God. This new city will be God Himself. We shall dwell in God to serve God. The very God whom we serve will be the temple in which we serve Him. How wonderful! May we all experience Him in such a deep way.
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