The Dwelling of God is With Men

In the last few days we have been meditating on God’s plan for the ages, to call for a world-wide people who will enter into a marriage covenant with Jesus. Our Bridegroom will come for His Bride and will dwell with those who will respond to His love. He has been building a home for His Bride. In Middle Eastern weddings it is the bridegroom’s responsibility to prepare or build the place where the couple will live after the wedding.

Let’s look now at the place that our God has prepared for those who love Him:

1Then 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. 2I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And 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. 4He 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.” 5He 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.” 6He 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. 7He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son (Revelation 21:1-7. Emphasis mine).

The holy city descends from above. Notice that it’s not something that we build on Earth but something that Christ has built and descends to Earth for His people. It’s not New Washington or New London, but it is the New Jerusalem, the place where God has promised to dwell forever. He told Solomon that in Jerusalem He had put his Name forever: “My eyes and my heart will always be there” (1 Kings 9:3). Could that be the reason that there is so much warfare about the city of Jerusalem? I believe God’s enemies want to stamp out the name of the God of Israel from Jerusalem completely, and for the embodiment of Satan himself, the Antichrist, to sit enthroned on the sacred mount at the center of Jerusalem (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

Verse 2 says that the New Jerusalem comes down prepared as a bride. Some explain the sentence by saying that the city itself is the bride. Those that hold to that position remind us that we are being built into a temple as living stones: “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). To counter that argument, though, Revelation 21: 27 says that those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will live there, not that they are it! We are told that God Himself will live with them. This city will be our dwelling place and God Himself will live with us. Yes, the waiting is hard, but oh, so worth it when the time comes.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Wedding of the Lamb. Keith Thomas

The Wedding of the Lamb

In the last few days, we have been thinking on the fact that true biblical Christianity is about a marriage God is making between His Son and all those who will enter into covenant with Him. In some mysterious way, we, the people of God, have been brought into an organic union with Christ. Jesus said, “I am the Vine, you are the branches…4Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:1; 4). In fact, the words, “In Christ” appear 160 times. A marriage relationship between a man and his wife is a picture of the heavenly union that Christ has entered into with His bride, the people who are born-again of the Spirit (John 3:3).

Many of our wedding traditions are illustrative of the heavenly marriage. Things such as the bride taking on the last name of the bridegroom. Those of us who are known as “Christians”, have taken the name of our husband, the Lord Jesus, and the Bible says that we will bear His name on our foreheads (Revelation 22:4). The name is symbolic of the nature of Christ, and His name on our foreheads symbolize that our thought life, our minds, have been brought into alignment with the nature and character of our Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus.

At a wedding, what does the giving of rings on the finger symbolize? Perhaps, the ring speaks of the gift of eternal life that is given to the believer, in that a ring is circular and never ending. Also in a marriage everything that the bridegroom owns belongs to the bride. In the same way, the resources of heaven are given to the Church, the bride of Christ. All we need to do is to ask Him, for He has promised, “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father” (John 14:13). He has withheld nothing from His bride. The Bible tells us that, “he has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). The bride also wears white, which speaks of purity just as the bride of Christ on her wedding day will wear fine linen, bright and clean:

6Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 8Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints (Revelation 19:6-8).

This passage above is a prophecy of what will happen at some point in the future, the Day when everything will change, and the now-prepared bride of Christ will enter into her wedding with the Son of God. If salvation and eternity is totally a gift (and it is), what does it mean when the passage of Scripture says that the bride has made herself ready? How do we make ourselves ready? All that is of our old nature, things that are not pleasing to our Lord, must no longer be expressed:

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires (Ephesians 4:22).

Can you imagine what it will be like for you who know Christ to actually be in that moment, to be part of the great multitude shouting hallelujah to God? Imagine knowing that the fight of faith is over and that you will soon enter into the wedding celebration of the Lamb! How can anyone not want such a relationship with God as this? So loud was the sound of all those commingled voices that it sounded like “many waters;” similarly, so great will be the joy of the redeemed of the Lord. What a happy day that will be! Don’t you think the joy on the face of the Lord Jesus will be great as we look upon Him on that day. He will look upon you as He beholds the result of the work He completed on the cross for His people.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Wedding of the Lamb. Keith Thomas

A New Earth and New Heavens

We are continuing to meditate on the Millennium, the thousand-year reign of Christ on the earth (scroll down for yesterday’s thoughts).  Under the inspiration of the Spirit, the prophet Isaiah (65:17-25), writes a second time about the time when there will be great changes on the Earth:

17“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. 18But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. 19I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. 20“Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. 21They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands. 23They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them. 24Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. 25The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the Lord (Isaiah 65:17-25).

The Lord says that there will be a new earth and new heavens, too. What is meant by these words? At first glance, we could interpret the passage as saying that we will all be moved to a new planet, but that is not the meaning. Randy Alcorn in his book, Heaven, says that the expression “Heaven and Earth” is a biblical designation for the entire universe. He says:

When Revelation 21:1 speaks of “a new heaven and a new earth,” it indicates a transformation of the entire universe. The Greek word kainos, translated “new,” indicates that the earth God creates won’t merely be new as opposed to old, but new in quality and superior in character. According to Walter Bauer’s lexicon, kainos means new “in the sense that what is old has become obsolete, and should be replaced by what is new. In such a case the new is, as a rule, superior in kind to the old. It means, therefore, “not the emergence of a cosmos totally other than the present one, but the creation of a universe which, though it has been gloriously renewed, stands in continuity with the present one.” Paul uses the same word, kainos, when he speaks of a believer becoming “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The New Earth will be the same as the old Earth, just as a new Christian is still the same person he was before. Different? Yes, But also the same.[1]

The way the Earth has been for centuries will be changed and hardly remembered (v.17). It will be a time of complete renewal and restoration. The new heavens, perhaps, refer to the destruction of the enemy’s habitation in the invisible realm where he has waged his campaign against humanity. Up to that point, Satan is called the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). Luke in writing the Book of Acts, says that Jesus “must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets” (Acts 3:21). The earth will be restored to its pristine beauty and fertility. Those who are alive during the Millennium will long enjoy the fruit of their work, what they plant they will harvest. What they build will be theirs in which to live.

After the rapture and resurrection of the saints, and the wrath of God is poured out, the angels will weed out of Christ’s kingdom all evil. “The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil” (Matthew 13:41). This is a period of restoration before the final judgment. It will be a blessed time with people living, in most cases, many hundreds of years as they did in the book of Genesis. Adam lived for 930 years (Genesis 5:5), Seth lived for 912 years (Genesis 5:8), and Methuselah lived for 969 years (Genesis 5:27). The saints, those born again by the Spirit of God, will never die. They are imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:52). I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to that!

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Millennium. Keith Thomas

[1] Randy C. Alcorn, Heaven, published by Tyndale Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2004, Page 149.

The Whole Creation is in Pain as it Waits

We are continuing our meditation on the topic of the Millennium, the thousand-year reign of Jesus. When Christ comes, those who have given their lives to Jesus are given new, incorruptible bodies (1 Corinthians 15:54). At that time, something will change in the nature of the animal kingdom:

19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time (Romans 8:19-22).

When Paul the apostle wrote to the church in Rome about the creation, I wonder what was in his mind? I think he was referring to the animal kingdom that is so fearful of humankind. Since the Fall of Man, the relationship between mankind and the animal kingdom has suffered. Today, we see the devastating effects of modern agriculture and livestock farming methods that bring great suffering to the creation. This is not what God intended, and the animal kingdom is suffering, along with mankind. The inner longing and groaning of all the animal kingdom is for the changing of their nature of fear toward humanity and one another. Isaiah the prophet also has something to say about that time:

1A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD – 3and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; 4but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. 5Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. 6The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. 7The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. 9They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. 10In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious (Isaiah 11:1-10).

Isaiah starts out by talking about the One who will bring about this time of change. Out of one of the descendants of David (Jesse was David’s father) will come forth a King who will judge and change the earth. Notice the changes that take place when Christ is on the throne. Animals that are polar opposites to one another will feed together (vs. 6-7). The wolf and the sheep lying down with one another at night—living with one another. The lion, one of the most carnivorous animals on the planet, will eat straw in the same way an ox does (v.7). Then, there will be children reaching into the dens of adders and playing with the venomous snakes (v.8). When this prophecy was given 600 years before Christ, ferocious animals were abundant in Israel, but Isaiah prophesies of a time when children will play with the animals and the earth will be at peace. In fact, Isaiah says that the goyim, the gentile nations, because knowledge of God will cover the earth, will place their trust in Him, and His rest will be glorious (v.10). It will be the Sabbath 1000-year rest. The prayer for peace on earth and good will towards men will finally be answered. God’s presence and reign will accomplish this. The Lord Jesus will slay the wicked with the breath of His lips (v.4), and all of His creation will finally live in peace. His rest to our souls will be glorious (v.10).

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Millennium. Keith Thomas

The Thousand Year Peace.

We are continuing from our study yesterday on the topic of the Millennium. The thousand-year reign of Jesus on Earth. In the third study of Insights into eternity (In the middle column), we talked about the resurrection of the saints at the return of Christ. Those who are born again and walking with Christ will receive an imperishable body, a body of power that is immortal. This body will be like Christ’s resurrection body, a body that had been sown in dishonor, but raised in glory (1 Corinthians 15:43). The saints are given authority to reign with Christ for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4; 1 Corinthians 6:2) and Satan will be bound and thrown into the Abyss (Revelation 20:1-3).

1And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. 4I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-6 Emphasis mine).

Theologians and scholars call this thousand-year reign of Christ, the Millennium. The word millennium means a thousand. There are three beliefs about the Millennium. The first is called Amillennialism. An Amillennialist believes that the thousand years mentioned five times in the passage above is not a literal number but a symbolic number and represents the time we are in now, the church age. Secondly, there is postmillennialism.  Postmillennialists also believe that the 1000-year period mentioned in the passage above, is not literally 1,000 years. In their view, the church will bring in a golden age of Christian ethics and that Jesus’ Second Coming will come after that period of time. Thirdly, there is premillennialism, to which I personally hold. A premillenialist believes that Jesus’ coming will be after a time of tribulation, that He will raise the saints, those who have been born-again of the Spirit, and that the saints will rule and reign with Him in a literal thousand-year reign on the earth.

The dragon, that ancient serpent that appeared in the Garden of Eden, also called the devil and Satan, will be bound, verse three tells us, in the Abyss (Greek word is Abussos, a word that means bottomless, unfathomed; enormous; unbounded; immeasurable depth). There will be no more war until the 1000 years are up, and after that Satan must be released for a time. Imagine what our world will be like with Satan bound. What changes do you think will come about for those living on earth in total freedom from satanic influence?

For the saints, the Body of Christ, in their new resurrection bodies, there will be no temptation towards evil and sin, and no more deception at work on the earth (Verse 3). Our resurrection bodies will take away all fear of harm. There will be no fear of death. From the point when Jesus returns, the saints are immortal. Our sin nature, also, will be taken away, and there will be no desire to sin at all. Because we will be operating in a totally free capacity, our creativity will be unleashed. We will see our bodies, souls and minds operating at a totally different level, free from constraint. We will experience life as God intended us to know it. Oh, how I look forward to it! I hope you are too.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Millennium. Keith Thomas