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“They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.'” Hebrews 8:5
A copy is never identical to the original. But it is clearer and more accurate than subsequent copies. Meaning, if someone were to make a photocopy, then make a photocopy from that copy and so on, each copy becomes hazier and less accurate than the first.
It’s the same way with our understanding of and patterning after God. We are called to be like Christ [1 John 3:2]. If we are in Christ, our hearts are being built into a living tabernacle, acceptable to God [1 Peter 2:5]. We ourselves are to be a copy of the original.
God made us in His image at the Creation. Christ makes us anew and the Holy Spirit reforms the Father’s image in us, but only if we pattern ourselves after Him.
God is good. While our goodness can never save us, in Christ by faith we do the good works God intended us to do from the Creation [Ephesians 2:10]. Without God, how would even know what good is?
Many, however, accept hand-me-down faith. They attend church from childhood and become a copy of the people in the church. Maybe the pastor is a great man of God. Maybe the choir leader has a great heart for worshiping God. Maybe our teachers genuinely know and love God. Maybe our parents and grandparents are people of true faith. These are all good things. And these people are all good role models.
However, their lives–like ours–ultimately fall short of the glory of God [Romans 3:23]. They themselves are still in the process of being transformed by the renewing of their minds [Romans 12:2]. Patterning ourselves after any one of them will make us an untrue version of another person rather than a genuine copy of Christ.
God is good and we are the light of His goodness to the world around us. Are you patterning your life after the original through prayer and Bible study? Or are you living as a copy of a copy?
“After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I heard first speaking to me like a trumpet said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.’ At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.” Revelation 4:1-3
The entire book of Revelation predicates the understanding of the triune Godhead. All three persons in one accord are present throughout the letter. Right from the first line and chapter defining this piece of scripture as–1) the revelation of Jesus Christ; 2) given by God the Father; and 3) received in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day when Jesus spoke to John [Revelation 1:1 & 10-18].
The baptism of the Holy Spirit was the promised gift of God the Father to comfort and empower believers in Jesus’ physical absence from the earth [John 14:16 & 26, & 16:7; Acts 1:4-5 & 8]. This is important to us, because during the time of the Law of Moses in the Old Testament the Israelites couldn’t bring their sacrifices directly to God, they couldn’t stand in His presence because of the sin in their lives. Only the High Priest one day a year could come before God in the Holy of Holies to make the atonement sacrifice for the sins of the people [Hebrews 9:7].
When Jesus came to the earth as a physical human being, people could approach Him without fear of their sins. He mediated between God and man, freely forgiving all who asked and healing and providing and performing many other miracles as well. At His death, the Temple veil miraculously tore in two pieces, showing that Jesus had once again opened the way to God the Father for all mankind. But when He ascended into heaven, God the Spirit was sent in His stead. Through Him we continually have access to and communion with God the Father and God the Son.
All scripture is God-breathed [2 Timothy 3:16], and the book of Revelation was a timely message as well. Jesus had left the earth. The promised Spirit was at work–but not physically visible. The apostles were writing letters to the many New Testament churches, letters which were inspired of God and were canonized as God’s Word. But in Revelation Jesus spoke directly through the Spirit of God to the churches–His Word was final.
After John records the specific messages to each of the seven churches of Asia Minor, Jesus speaks to him and the Spirit descends on him again, together they usher John into the throne room of heaven and the presence of God the Father.
Without question, the Trinity of God is a very real, very divine phenomena. All three persons in perfect accord with each other, and all three persons eternal, having existed before the Creation and continuing forever after the first Creation comes to an end.
Do you commune with God the Father and Son through the Spirit in prayer, praise, Bible study and the like?
“Even while the people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did.” 2 Kings 17:41
Hand-me-down faith happens when we base what we believe about God on what others tell us, rather than on what God tells us about Himself in His Word. One of the greatest dangers of this hand-me-down religion is seeing God wrongly.
When our faith–what we absolutely, certainly believe without being able to see–comes from people rather than the Word of God, we inherit a flawed understanding. Because we are all sinful and therefore have imperfect understanding–understanding that falls short of fully comprehending the glory of God [Romans 3:23].
Jesus warned that there will be those who believe they belong in heaven, that they have lived religious lives invoking His name, but they will not actually have known God–by experience and relationship–they will not have known and done God’s will [Matthew 7:21-23]. Why? Quite possibly because they didn’t get into His Word for themselves. They didn’t read the Scriptures with the intent of pursuing the knowledge of God.
Yet, there is certainly a place for instructing others in the truth. God commanded the Israelites to love God with all that was within them, and from this love to impress God’s Word on their children by talking about Him all day long in every situation [Deuteronomy 6:4-9]. They were to observe Sabbaths and holy days and be ready to answer their children’s questions about why they did such things [Exodus 12:26; Deuteronomy 6:20; Joshua 4:21].
But this instruction was meant to turn hearts to seek God in His Word, not substitute human instruction for God’s Word.
In the 2 Kings passage above, we see that well-meaning, religious, but still sinful people, easily mixed worldly ideas with the truth of God. They worshiped the Lord. But even while they did what should have been right, they served idols–a complete rebellion against God. More tragically, they handed this mixed faith–which was no faith at all–down through the generations of God’s chosen people.
But the youth did not have to accept the watered down truth they were given. King Josiah ruled not many years after these verses. When God’s Word was found in the Temple and read to him, he grieved that he had not fully known God, that understanding had been withheld from his generation. He returned to a right belief in God and endeavored to lead all Israel into a right understanding [2 Kings 22:8-13].
What is your understanding of God based on? Human interpretation or God’s Word? If human interpretation in any measure, turn back to God’s Word like King Josiah and seek to meet Him face to face for yourself.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” Revelation 22:13-15
Jesus speaks to close the Revelation, much in the same way that He did to open it, declaring His eternality and, therefore, the sovereign authority of this book [Revelation 1:8 & 17].
The Alpha and Omega–first and last, beginning and end letters of the Greek alphabet. Jesus is the spoken Word of God through whom all things were created [John 1:3; Romans 10:17; Colossians 1:16], have their being [Acts 17:28] and–by faith–are reconciled to God [John 3:17; Acts 10:43; Romans 5:9; Colossians 1:20; Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 4:9].
He is before all things that are in this world and He will always be, long after every stitch of grass and blade of sword have perished in the fires of judgment. Nothing on earth will remain in the New Creation, because nothing else is eternal. Like traversing the gravity-free reaches of outer space, nothing in the physical world holds any weight at all in the scheme of eternity.
Only what is done for God has any gravitational pull in eternity.
Extremely and eternally joyful will be everyone who believes on the Lord Jesus, accepting His forgiveness for their sins and thereby washing the proverbial robes of their soul [1 Corinthians 6:11]. There is plenty of Old Testament precedent demonstrating the need for physical cleanliness to be in God’s presence, much of which was prescribed in tabernacle and temple worship [Exodus 19:14 & 40:32; Numbers 8:21; Ezekiel 16:9].
It’s true that cleanliness may not be next to Godliness–as it is nowhere stated in scripture–but to stand before God we do need to be sin-stain free. Without spot, blemish or wrinkle. Justified. Redeemed. Washed in the cleansing blood of Jesus. It’s the only way to access the tree of life [Genesis 2:9 & 3:22; Revelation 2:7]. The only way to be granted access to the twelve gates of heaven inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel and guarded by twelve angels [Revelation 21:12 & 27].
Outside is the trash heap of the heavenly city, the eternally burning lake of sulfur [Revelation 19:20, 20:10 & 21:8]. The gates to hell are wider than the imaginations of humankind and the paths more numerous than rope-fibers of the hangman’s noose [1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Colossians 3:5-6; et al].
All ways but One lead to condemnation.
One Way leads all who find it to life.
Which gravitational pull do you obey? The weightlessness of earth or the truth of eternity? Unsure? Check the path your walking on. Gain discernment by comparing and contrasting the sign-posts of your life against God’s Word [James 1:22-25].
“No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. The angel said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.'” Revelation 22:3-6
The curse of sin will be wiped away [Genesis 3:14-19; Zechariah 14:11; Revelation 7:15-17], because God will dwell there with us. And where He is, sin cannot be also [1 John 3:8-10]. And in ancient times, criminals were banished from the presence of the king. They could never hope to have an audience with him.
But the New Jerusalem is the true Holy of Holies that was foreshadowed in the earthly tabernacle and temple, and, this time, everyone will be able to stand in His presence and live–not just a sanctified priest making a right sacrifice.
For only the pure in heart–the forgiven–will enter heaven and see God [Matthew 5:8]–we who have believed on His Son Jesus [John 3:16] and, by God’s grace, have been made righteous through that faith [Ephesians 2:8-9]. We will bear Christ’s name on our foreheads just as the one’s who were sealed in the Great Tribulation [Revelation 14:1]. And just as God commanded His chosen people nearly 3,400 years ago, we who love the Lord our God with all our heart, and soul, and strength we who have His commands written on our hearts and bound to our foreheads, we who make our earthly dwelling with God will have our eternal dwelling with Him as well [Deuteronomy 6:4-8; John 14:2-3].
God Himself is our light–here on this earth and forevermore [Psalm 119:105; John 1:4-12; Revelation 21:23-25]. Every other light source is just a makeshift copy and pattern of God’s true splendor. And just as the shards of precious gems and gold in the earth should turn our eyes to the heaven for which we were made, so also should the sight of light turn our hearts to Him who is light. It should call to remembrance the eternity that God set in our hearts [Ecclesiastes 3:11] and, understanding, draw us closer to Him.
Everything points our attention back to our Creator and loving Father God, the Almighty, the Sovereign of all. Everything from rocks to light are here to remind every human being who we truly are–God’s Holy people, set apart from the Creation [Daniel 7:27] with the express intention that we should rule the earth [Revelation 20:4]. Instead, sin gives Satan the authority that is rightly ours. He becomes the prince and ruler of the air [John 14:30; Ephesians 2:2]. In deceiving us to think that we can be our god [Genesis 3:5; Isaiah 14:14], the devil has actually set himself up as the god of this earthly age [2 Corinthians 4:4].
But the faithful will and have already overcome by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. We will no only inherit eternal life, but we will rule and reign with Him forever and ever, just as He always intended. And, these word are true, spoken by the One Who Is Truth [Revelation 19:9 & 21:5]. You can take them to the bank of heaven and live [Matthew 6:19-20].
Do you see by the makeshift lights of earth–lamps and torches, sun, moon and stars? Or are your eyes full of the light of truth [Matthew 6:22-23]?
“I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 21:22-27
The temple was the center of Jewish spiritual life. It was the place the Israelites came to draw near to God–and He to them–for them to worship and to offer sacrifice. In the Old Testament, God’s presence indwelled the Most Holy Place of both tabernacle and temple. The mercy seat therein resembled a glorious, ancient throne room. And the Most Holy Place itself was shaped as a perfect cube like the city of New Jerusalem–the heavenly Jerusalem.
All was just a copy and a shadow of that on which we are to truly set our hearts. The eternal throne room of God, His Most Holy dwelling place among His faithful people in the New Jerusalem .
In heaven, we won’t need a temple to draw near to God. We will live in His presence. In heaven, we won’t need a temple to worship God. Like the four living creatures, the twenty-four elders and the angels, we will continually worship God Almighty [John 4:21-23]. In heaven, we won’t need a temple to make sacrifices to God. We will live eternally thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice once and for all for our sins.
So radiant is He that no lights outside His being will be necessary [Isaiah 24:23 & 60:19-20]. How inspired of the Spirit when the Psalmist said, your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path [Psalm 119:105].
No more will darkness reign upon the earth–the new creation [Matthew 4:26; John 1:5]. No more will corruption reign in government. No more will people trespass against one another [Matthew 6:12; Luke 11:4].
The gates of the New Jerusalem will ever be open to the inhabitants of the new heaven and the new earth. Night will never fall. Safety and peace never compromised or threatened [Isaiah 52:1; Joel 3:17; Zechariah 14:11]. No more terror. Nothing contrary to the love of God will enter His gates. Only those who have received salvation by grace through faith [Ephesians 2:8-9].
Do you see by the sun or by the Holy One of Israel? Are your feet on the straight and narrow path to the New Jerusalem [Matthew 7:14]?
“The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. This first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.” Revelation 21:18-21
Walls made of jasper–the stone of the tribe of Benjamin–meaning son of my right hand [Genesis 35:18], or honored son. The New Jerusalem is the city of God’s Son. A city of pure gold–His people refined in the fire [1 Peter 1:7; Revelation 3:18]. Pure as glass–transparent. Nothing sinful. Nothing hidden [Genesis 3:8 & 10].
The first foundation, also jasper–the last son of Jacob, the last Adam–Jesus Christ [1 Corinthians 15:45]. Look at how the last shall be first [Matthew 20:16]–the tribe of Benjamin before all his brothers and Jesus Christ the Alpha and Omega before the first man Adam.
Each foundation stone representative of the tribes of Israel as was worn on the priestly ephod when they ministered before the Lord in the Tabernacle and the Temple [Exodus 28:17].
Reuben: carnelian [aka sardius or ruby]
Simeon: topaz/chrysolite [aka peridot, emerald or topaz]
Manasseh, Levi, Judah: beryl [aka carbuncle or emerald]
Judah, Zebulon: emerald [aka carbuncle or beryl or diamond]
Nephtali: jacinth [aka ligure]
Gad, Ephraim: chalcedony [aka agate or onyx]
Gad, Ephraim: chrysoprase [aka calcedony, agate or onyx]
Ephraim: sardonyx [aka onyx alternated with sardius]
The book of Job tells about how we human beings plumb the depths of the earth for hidden riches [Job 28:1-19]. In the name of beauty, wealth and greatness, we ferret out every nugget of gold and precious gem the ground produces.
But before Adam and Eve ushered sin into the world, riches like these were abundant, even laying on the ground as commonplace as gravel or river rock [Genesis 2:12]. After sin, though, all of Creation was broken. The truth of eternity hidden from human understanding.
What does this have to do with the foundations of heaven? As aliens and strangers in this world [Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 2:11], we are naturally drawn to the wonder, beauty and riches of our heavenly home. We dig into the earth seeking treasure to fill the need for something that we are missing. It is the natural response of the eternity in our hearts [Ecclesiastes 3:11]. Yet because of sin, we do not recognize the shards of heaven when we find them. Rather they become the impetus for greed and the root of all kinds of evil [1 Timothy 6:10].
Beauty is fleeting [Proverbs 31:30]. Earthly wealth will pass away [Proverbs 13:22]. Greatness belongs to God alone [Psalm 145:3]. True wonder emanates from Him alone.
Do you search for God as for hidden treasure [Proverbs 2:4]? Do you seek Him while He may be found [Isaiah 55:6]?