Goodnews Christian Ministry
"Go all through the city, all through Jerusalem, and mark a cross on the foreheads of all who deplore and disapprove of the filth practised in it." ---Ezekiel 9:4
"Mine is not a kingdom of this world; if my kingdom were of this world,
my men would have fought to prevent my being surrendered to the Jews.
But my kingdom is not of this kind."
The kingdom of God is not in this world. It is being built a great distance away in a spiritual place Paul has called 'the third heaven'. There, a brilliant new spiritual Jerusalem is being formed by God to replace the sinful city now bustling in Palestine.
Jesus said that a "great gulf" (Lk.16:26) exists between us and this heaven -- a chasm so vast, not even the angels can cross it.
To get into God's kingdom we must be born again. This means that we have to duplicate our entrance into life, but in another location and in another kind of body -- a body, Jesus said, that is in the same substance as the angels. (Mt.22:29-30).
In our rebirth in Christ, the moment of conception occurs when we take the Holy Spirit into our soul. (Jn.3:5-8).
When God brought us into being on this planet, He did so by bringing us into birth in an entity we call 'flesh and blood'. But flesh and blood, Paul said, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Flesh is temporary and always dies.
When Jesus told his disciples that they had to be reborn into a second life in order to see the kingdom of God (Jn.3:3-8), he brought to light the true meaning of the concept of the 'first-born' which fills so many pages in the Old Testament.
In order to understand Jerusalem's new character under Christ, we need to examine closely the laws and prophecies of the Old Testament.
Life in this world duplicates, by imagery, the life of the 'first-born', a vital theme in Hebrew law.
Flesh and blood is the first-born creation, and the new eternal body that is to encase our soul in heaven through faith in Christ comes to life in our second birth. The symbolism surrounding these two births and lives is structured in the template of Moses.
What these two different conception processes show is that all mankind must enter the kingdom of God through divine specifications rooted in Moses' decree of redemption.
The Law says that every 'first-born' must be redeemed. (Ex.13:11-15).
God brought all of human society into unity with this legal decree by interpreting it in Christ's crucifixion.
From the cross Jesus offered every person on earth reconciliation with God through conversion, redeeming all who had faith in Him through the forgiveness of their sins.
The former redemption offered by Moses was not strong enough to overcome the power of sin. Based on outward rules, it was too superficial to overcome the strength of Satan.
Scripture is clear, the sacrifice necessary to accomplish true redemption is too great for human beings to make on their own: "But man could never redeem himself or pay his ransom to God: it costs so much to redeem his life, it is beyond him; how then could he live on forever and never see the Pit..." (Ps.49:7-9).
The ransom, the Bible said, had to be Divine. "It was neither messenger nor angel but his Presence that saved them. In his love and pity he redeemed them himself..." (Is.63:9).
God had Jesus institute a sacrifice in accordance with the Law of Moses that had superhuman power to redeem us from sin and death -- a sacrifice far greater than human flesh could possibly accomplish on its own. "His peace can ransom me from the war being waged on me." (Ps.55:18).
In order to keep the Law and save us at the same time, God gave us the sacrifice of His Son. (See Isaiah 53).
As the only Son of God -- a celestial Presence sent down to earth from heaven -- Jesus was the only man ever born on earth without sin and therefore he was the only person perfect enough to fulfill the requirements dictated by the Law.
In His equality with God, Jesus elevated the Law to a level where it could actually work. He did not destroy the Law, He made it perfect.
Moses, in the Book of Exodus, described the legal principles in the 'death of the first-born' that God would use as a basis for His everlasting redemption in Christ:
"When God brings you to the land of the Canaanites and gives it to you as he promised, you are to make over to God all that first issues from the womb... Of your sons, every first-born of men must be redeemed. "
"And when your son asks you in days to come, "What does this mean?" you will tell him, "By sheer power God brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, God killed all first-born in the land of Egypt, of man and of beast alike...for this I sacrifice to God every male that first issues from the womb, and redeem every first-born of my sons." (Ex.13:11-15).
What is being dictated here is a law concerning the redemption of 'first-born sons'. The law does not tell us who the first-born sons are; God alone has the power to do that.
God has determined that since we all live on earth in the flesh and blood of this first creation, each of us, male and female alike are subject to this law. Therefore, we all have to be redeemed in accordance with its directives.
God has interpreted the terms 'male' and 'sons' in this quotation as metaphoric. They apply to all mankind -- to men and women alike. We can see exactly the same kind of interpretation in our own constitution which states that "all men are created equal". Such directives are sensed to be metaphoric and do not exlude women.
At the heart of Moses' decree concerning this redemption (Ex.13:11-15) lies the fundamental reason why Jesus had to die on the cross.
When God gave Moses authority to bind a divine law on the people of Israel, He made it binding on Himself as well. Because of this, the Old Testament became a template for the new.
Jesus could not just come and institute a new law by His own authority, sweeping the old away as if it never existed. That would have made Christ an outlaw.
Instead, He came in perfect obedience to the old, fulfilling its directives and building the new covenant in the framework decreed by Moses. That is why to understand Christ we must first understand Moses. The divine rescue of Jesus has all of its roots in the architecture of the Torah.
By describing the spiritual cities of Babylon and Jerusalem in the image of women and wives, scripture has bound them to the Law in this format. Both cities are always portrayed in feminine terms. This was God's doing.
In the Book of Esther (in allegory) the Jerusalem of this world is referred to as the first wife of the king. Esther's prophecy follows that of Isaiah which sees the Jerusalem in Palestine as 'a daughter of Babylon', not the holy city of God that will come later (Is.48:1-2).
The book's name for this first wife was 'Vashti', and in the metaphore of scripture, she stood for the first creation -- bound to God by the vow of the first covenant.
For refusing to attend a great feast offered by the king, Vashti, the first wife, was replaced by a new bride, Esther, who is now symbolically understood as the new kingdom, the heavenly bride Jerusalem created in the everlasting covenant of Christ.
Using these two women in the Book of Esther as a base, the Holy Spirit has locked the two Jerusalem's (physical Jerusalem and spiritual Jerusalem) and their respective covenants into the Law's directives concerning nuptial vows (Num.30).
"Every vow or oath that is binding on the wife may be endorsed or annulled by the husband...but if he annuls them longer than a day after he learnt of them, then he must bear the burden of the wife's fault." (Num.30:14-16).
This decree in the Law allowed Jesus, the bridegroom of the new Jerusalem, to annul the first covenant and its penalty -- but to do so, he had to bear the burden of the penalty which sin had bound on the first wife.
He could do this because the Law allowed Him to stand in his Father's place: "The rite of atonement must be performed by the priest who has been anointed and installed to officiate in place of his father." (Lv.16:32).
Jesus' Father was God. Anointed by the Father, Jesus was installed by Him into a priesthood of divinity which the Old Testament calls 'Melchizedek' (Ps.110:4). It outranked the priesthood of Aaron, giving Jesus full authority over the Rite of Atonement and everything that followed.
Standing in for His Father, in obedience to the Law, He bore the sinful 'wife's fault' in his own body. In this way the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary fulfilled the directives of Mosaic Law, allowing God to rescue us entirely within it's own terms.
Captured in this creation is the sinful Jerusalem, the first wife of God.
In Christ's rescue of her, her own sinful nature is to be left behind (a shell in Palestine) as she is transformed into the wife of the Son -- the holy city in heaven.
Each of us become a part of her when we take God's Spirit into us through the redemption Jesus offered us. Our first birth was into this world, the creation which fell into sin, and our rebirth is into the divine creation above.
God's whole purpose in Christ is to rescue us from death. This is something no one else has power to do.
Doomed by the Law's decree, everything in the universe dies -- even the stars and their galaxies. But Jesus has intervened on our behalf, bringing the promise of life after death, and with that promise, nullifying the inevitable penalty of the Law.
Because of Jesus, eternal life is really possible and no one ever has to die. But everyone has to leave sin.
Jesus revealed that Satan, not God, is the true prince of this world, and under his influence he has led mankind into a state of sin which has separated all people from God.
So that we might understand this concept -- so that we can see the world as it really is (i.e., as the doomed, sin-dominated prison of Satan), God has scattered us all across its surface.
He has allowed the world to take each one of us prisoner and hold us captive in a life completely opposed to the kingdom of God -- in a place where we now stand condemned to death as a result of evil. This prison is the place the Bible calls 'Babylon'.
The biblical dispersion to Babylon and our imprisonment in this world are symbolically identical. That is why when we are born into this world we find ourselves here locked in Satan's possession and awaiting execution under the terms of divine wrath -- a wrath that started to come with the flood.
Just as that sentence began to be carried out, however, instead of destroying us, God sent a rescue. That rescue started with Noah and led to Abraham and then to Moses who prepared the people for Jesus.
When all was in readiness, Jesus came to lead those who would listen to him to the safety God had prepared for those who love Him.
He did not appear in theological chains, but instead, released us from all the restrictions and penalties imposed on us by the Law.
Because He had come in the perfection of the Law He became its master and so was able to restate it in terms acceptable to God.
In this way, He showed that He was the purpose of the Law from the beginning. He was the Messiah structured into the Law by the compromise at Sinai -- the 'One' that Moses had warned the Israelites they were bound to listen to under penalty of disaster. (Dt.18:19).
Rejected by Judaism He released the remaining tribes from the rules of the Torah and in the process, allowed His salvation to encompass the entire world so that it could reach all mankind.
Rescuing us from this world which is steeped in wickedness, God has created a new world. It exists in an entirely new universe, absolutely perfect and without sin of any kind. Those who choose to follow Jesus Christ will be led by the Holy Spirit to this new paradise.
"All that the Father gives to me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I shall not turn him away...Yes, it is my Father's will that whoever sees the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and that I shall raise him up on the last day." (Jn.6:37-40).
And because of what he did, offering his own life in atonement, God has made Jesus the ruler of the new creation. "The Father loves the Son and has entrusted everything to him." (Jn.3:15).
Because he laid down his own life to bring us this warning and offer of salvation, God has rewarded Jesus by sharing with him His own title. In this action, God has conferred absolute authority on Jesus Christ.
"Thus, as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son gives life to anyone he chooses; for the Father judges no one; he has entrusted all judgement to the Son, so that all may honor the Son as they honor the Father." (Jn.5:22-23).
That is why we call Jesus Master and Lord. What this means is that God has made Jesus our King. Together with God and the Holy Spirit, He will rule over us in the new kingdom. This Trinity will form its entire government.
"I have conferred the crown on a hero, and promoted one chosen from my people. I have selected my servant David and anointed him with my holy oil; my hand will be constantly with him." (Ps.89:19-20).
Before Jesus ascended to God he had not yet been glorified. (Jn.7:39, Jn.20:17).
This is why Paul said,"Even if we did once know Christ in the flesh, that is not how we know him now." (2 Cor.5:16).
Once he had been glorified, Jesus ascended to a position as high or higher than any he had ever held before. He became King and God -- his authority acknowledged by God to be absolute.
"Then angrily God addresses them, in a rage he strikes them with panic, 'This is my king, installed by me on Zion, my holy mountain'. Let me proclaim God's decree: he has told me, 'You are my son, today I have become your father. Ask and I will give you the nations for your heritage, the ends of the earth for your domain. With iron scepter you will break them, shatter them like potter's ware." (Ps.2:5-9).
The word 'God' is not a name, it is a title -- it means 'King above all Kings', and represents absolute rule and authority over all creation.
Christ's kingship, already made manifest by his glorification, will be officially revealed at the coronation which unites him with the kingdom of the third heaven.
It is this coronation that Daniel saw in his vision of the future. "I gazed into the visions of the night. And I saw, coming on the clouds of heaven, one like a son of man. He came to the one of great age and was led into his presence. On him was conferred sovereignty, glory and kingship, and men of all peoples, nations and languages became his servants." (Dn.7:13-14).
In that spectacular event -- an event vividly foreseen by Daniel -- Jesus, the only Son of God, is to become our own God -- King of his own kingdom -- a rule he will share with the Father and the Spirit.
"This is my king, installed by me on Zion, my holy mountain" (Ps.2:6).
When Daniel speaks of Christ's coronation (Dn.7:14), his reference describes the wedding between the Kingship of Jesus and the new creation God has created for him to rule -- the kingdom now under construction in the third heaven.
That is what the marriage feast of the Lamb is all about. It is the wedding between Jesus and the new creation which God has made -- a creation in which God has made Jesus our King and God.
"The bride of Christ is the New Jerusalem -- the great city of the kingdom of heaven.
And I seemed to hear the voices of a huge crowd answering, 'Alleluia! The reign of the Lord our God Almighty has begun; let us be glad and joyful and give praise to God, because this is the time for the marriage of the Lamb. "
"His bride is ready, and she has been able to dress herself in dazzling white linen, because her linen is made of the good deeds of the saints'." (Rv.19:5-8).
This world is just a stepping stone to that creation. Scripture calls it a 'threshing-stone' which Jesus Christ, himself, formed in order to separate and rescue the captive children of Israel from Satan's grasp -- a process that requires threshing -- much in the same way that wheat is separated on a threshing-stone from the chaff that surrounds it.
The symbolism behind this is continuous in the Bible. David, for instance, purchased the holy rock on which the temple used to sit from Arunah the Jebusite who had been using it as a threshing stone.
The muslims now control that rock in Jerusalem and have built their own temple on the site -- the Dome of the Rock. According to Jewish Law, Mosaic sacrifices can only take place on that one rock and that is why these sacrifices have not been renewed.
This former threshing stone, moreover, has always been considered by Jews and Christians to be the site where Abraham almost sacrificed his son, Issac, to God, long before Arunah or David were born. The theme of threshing is a favorite of the prophets and so references to it salt and pepper all of the scriptures.
Our own world will soon pass away. It lives under a sentence of death because of the sin which inhabits it, but God's new kingdom will be eternal. Making a covenant with Jesus, God has given him this word: "I have founded your dynasty to last forever, I have built you a throne to outlast all time." (Ps.89:3-4).
This kingdom has no equal in our world. Therefore, we cannot see it on earth. It exists in people, but not in structures. That is why Jesus said, "The coming of the kingdom of God does not admit of observation and there will be no one to say, 'Look here! Look there!' For, you must know, the kingdom of God is within you." (Lk.17:20-21).
Our only view of it comes from prophecy:
"One of the angels came to speak to me, and said, 'Come here and I will show you the bride that the Lamb has married'. "
"In the spirit, he took me to the top of an enormous high mountain, and showed me Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God out of heaven. It had all the radiant glory of God and glittered like some precious jewel of crystal-clear diamond. "
"The walls of it were of a great height, and had twelve gates; at each of the twelve gates there was an angel, and over the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel...The city walls stood on twelve foundation stones, each one of which bore the name of one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb... "
"The wall was built of diamond and the city of pure gold, like polished glass... I saw that there was no temple in the city since the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb were themselves the temple, and the city did not need the sun or the moon for light, since it was lit by the radiant glory of God and the Lamb was a lighted torch for it. "
"The pagan nations will live by its light and the kings of the earth will bring it their treasures. The gates of it will never be shut by day -- and there will be no night there -- and the nations will come, bringing their treasure and their wealth. "
"Nothing unclean may come into it: no one who does what is loathsome or false, but only those who are listed in the Lamb's book of life... "
"The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in its place in the city; his servants will worship him, they will see him face to face, and his name will be written on their foreheads." (Rv.21:9-22:15).
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