The City of God
The writer to the Hebrews declares:
“But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” (Heb 12:22-24)
So what does this City of God look like? Well it is made of living stones that are connected by faith to the chief cornerstone – Jesus.
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
“‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’
Paul tells us that we who believe are citizens of heaven, that is we are connected in the spirit and by the Spirit to Jesus and to all those in heaven at this time. (Eph 2:12-19; Phil 3:20; see also Rev 21:20).
We are quite literally surrounded by millions of angels, believers, martyrs and Christ himself dwells in us. A glorious union of love and peace that makes us unique in the universe of chaos. God’s treasured possession.
This City will not be finished until all the stones have been collected and joined all together and when Jesus our Messiah returns. This will be like a glorious wedding banquet when all the guests celebrate the wondrous glory and work of Jesus, the Father and the Spirit.
The wife of the Lamb
“Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (Rev 21:9-14).
The City of God is not bricks and mortar that will come flying out of space, because God does not live in buildings (despite what we may think or what Pharisees may preach), but where does he dwell?
“Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.
Where is the house you will build for me?
Where will my resting place be?
Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord.
“These are the ones I look on with favour: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word. (Isa 66v1-2)
God dwells in 2 places and his city (the people) has 4 characteristics (walls), 12 apostolic truths (foundations) and 12 pearls of wisdom – guarded by Angels (Gates).
Earlier is Isaiah 57:15 the Lord (Yahweh) had already pointed to this truth:
“For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
The 4 walls of the city
The 4 walls of the city (His people, church, body etc.) can be seen throughout God’s Word, but specifically in Jesus life, death, burial and resurrection. We also see it in the apostles lives as they imitated Him and obeyed His every Word. So what are these walls, these characteristics. To help us the Bible uses different metaphors and visions because it is actually only by revelation that these things can be known fully. Please pray for this revelation in your heart as you read.
Firstly we must understand that the City is revealed to be square at base and rises to form a perfect cube. This is significant because the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and Temple structures (the only buildings God did ordain) was a perfect cube of Gold! And this was where God manifested his presence. In 1 Corin 3:9 Paul clearly states that we are now God’s building.
1. East wall – Relationship with God
The East wall is mentioned first as this faces the light, in the natural it faces the rising sun. The Tabernacle entrance was always to face east. This is also where the Tribe of Judah was camped from whom came Jesus the Lion of Judah. He taught us that the first thing to do is Love God the Father who is in Heaven. To seek first the Kingdom of God. The apostles tell us to ‘fix our thoughts on Jesus’ and to worship him alone. The Tabernacle entrance was known as ‘The WAY’ and Jesus is the WAY to the Father. By faith we receive His righteousness and can come boldly to the Father in prayer!
2. North wall – Relationship with man
Jesus taught us that we must love our neighbour as we love ourselves and do unto others as you would have them do to you. Loving our brother sincerely from the heart, even our enemy can only come when we know God the Father through Jesus and have received the Holy Spirit. He loves all men equally and we must also learn to do this and let him be the judge and the one who pays back evil against us. The apostles taught us to share all things with one another and to encourage one another to love and good deeds.
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” (Rom 13:8).
3. South wall – Relationship with the World
Thirdly we see a strange jump down across the square to the south wall. Ezek 47 reveals that from the south wall runs the river of life.
“The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar.” (Ezek 47:1)
The life of God flows from his heart of love out towards the world in darkness, he reaches out to bring life to all he created.
“When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live.” (Ezek 47:8). Significantly the river (in the natural) enters the dead sea, that is those dead in their sin and this fresh living water brings life. The apostles teach us that we must love our enemies and pray for those who are still dead in their sins. We too must go out with the river and become oaks of righteousness bringing forth fruit.
4. West wall – All things will be added
Jesus said that when we seek first his Kingdom and His righteousness then all things would be added to us. However these things are not for us alone, but for us to use to help the needy find Christ. This wall symbolises our obedience to God’s will to go and make disciples, by doing all 3 in unison together in the way he has revealed through the apostles, (the foundational first members of his church in the earth see Acts 4:32-37).
The riches of the earth will flow to us to achieve this purpose of salvation so that our need is met and that we can have left overs to share with others swimming towards the fresh water of the Holy Spirit. There is no time to build with wood hay or stubble, but we must use precious stones (good works) and refined gold (wisdom).
In the Ezekiel vision we see that the inheritance was not only for them, but also for others (Ezek 47:22).
The above is just a glimpse of the full understanding of the wondrous city of God where he dwells in the midst of us.
These 4 walls are also reflected in the daily devoted lifestyle that Jesus and the apostles modelled for us to follow.
Daily Prayer (dedication)
Daily Dying (to self)
Daily Serving (Brothers)
Daily Reaching out (the lost)
Last Word: Isaiah 50