12/29/W – The New Jerusalem

Malachi 2:1-17; Revelation 21:15-27; Psalms 149:2-9; Proverbs 31:8-9

OT: ““My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave these to him; it called for reverence, and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, and nothing wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and integrity and turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should desire instruction from his mouth, because he is the messenger of the Lord of Armies. “You, on the other hand, have turned from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have violated the covenant of Levi,” says the Lord of Armies… This is another thing you do. You are covering the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning, because he no longer respects your offerings or receives them gladly from your hands. And you ask, “Why?” Because even though the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, you have acted treacherously against her. She was your marriage partner and your wife by covenant. Didn’t God make them one and give them a portion of spirit? What is the one seeking? Godly offspring. So watch yourselves carefully, so that no one acts treacherously against the wife of his youth. “If he hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord God of Israel, “he covers his garment with injustice,” says the Lord of Armies. Therefore, watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously. You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you ask, “How have we wearied him?” When you say, “Everyone who does what is evil is good in the Lord’s sight, and he is delighted with them, or else where is the God of justice?”” (‭‭Malachi‬ ‭2:5-8, 13-17‬ ‭CSB)

The covenant that the Lord spoke of through Malachi was God’s covenant with the tribe of Levi – His covenant with them to serve as His holy priesthood. Serving as a priest of the Lord God was a high honor and privilege that came with its own benefits. It also came with a great set of responsibilities. As the Lord said, the priest was the messenger of the Lord – His representative on earth – a mediator between a holy God and the people He loved. The honor of a priest was to bridge the gap between humanity and God and to communicate the word, will and ways of God to those who sought Him.

The priests in Malachi’s day were doing the exact opposite.  They turned from integrity before the Lord, they were causing people to stumble by leading them astray, and they were violating the covenant that God had made with Levi. Not only that, the priests were divorcing their Jewish wives and marrying pagan women. The way that verse 16 is translated in the CSB is a little off. The way most translations put it – and I believe the Hebrew bears this out – is that The Lord hates divorce. The reason why the Lord didn’t want His people to marry pagan women was not because God was against interracial marriages. It was because He desired spiritual holiness among His people… He desired to maintain a lineage of faith… He desired His people to raise Godly offspring. Yet, in their contempt for the word, will and ways of God, the priests were violating the strict instructions of the Lord, they were committing emotional and spiritual violence against the wives that God had joined them with, and were throwing away their heritage by marrying into pagan families. Then, to top it all off, the priests (in their position of spiritual authority) were telling those who were committing sin against the Lord, that they were still in good standing with God… that the Lord was delighted in them no matter what they did. Sound familiar to the words that come from some in the church today?

All who are in Christ by faith have been made a part of His royal priest hood. With that honor and privilege comes great responsibility and a commitment to the covenant that Christ made with us through His blood. We should revere the Lord and stand in awe of His name. From our mouths should come true instruction on God’s word, will and ways, with nothing wrong found on our lips. We should walk in peace and integrity and turn many from iniquity. We should guard the knowledge of the glory of God, and people should desire to hear our words of life, because we are the messengers of the Lord.

NT: “I did not see a temple in it, because the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never close by day because it will never be night there. They will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. Nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (‭‭Revelation‬ ‭21:22-27‬ ‭CSB)

The New Jerusalem, as John measured it out in his vision, was shown to be perfect in every way: 12 gates representing the 12 tribes of Israel, and 12 foundations representing the 12 apostles of Christ. It was laid out in a perfect square: 12,000 furlongs long by 12,000 furlongs wide (1,400 miles x 1,400 miles = 1,960,00 square miles). It’s walls were 144 (12 x 12) cubits, or 216 feet high. The city was perfectly designed to perfectly house all of the righteous and redeemed throughout history.

Beyond the New Jerusalem’s massive size were other characteristics that made it the perfect place – the most important being that the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb made the city their home. There was no longer any need for a temple for the Lord God and the Lamb were ever present. There was no longer a need for the sun because the glory of God and the Lamb were its light. There was no longer a need for the moon because there was never night – darkness was eradicated for good. People from every nation, tribe, language and people group, who were written in the Lamb’s book of life, made up its citizenry and filled the city with a kaleidoscope of glory and honor. The New Jerusalem will be a city full of royal priests… a city full of people who walked on earth with peace and integrity, and honored the Lord God fully. Therefore, the city will forever be a place of peace and integrity – full of the knowledge and glory of God.

Psalms: “Let Israel celebrate its Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and lyre. For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. Let the faithful celebrate in triumphal glory; let them shout for joy on their beds. Let the exaltation of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, inflicting vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, binding their kings with chains and their dignitaries with iron shackles, carrying out the judgment decreed against them. This honor is for all his faithful people. Hallelujah!” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭149:2-9‬ ‭CSB)

While it is true, that the saints of God will one day inhabit the New Jerusalem and rule and reign with Christ as His royal priesthood, there is a call and responsibility on our lives… a privilege and honor given to us now as we walk on this earth. We are to lift up praise and exaltation to the Lord with our mouths, and allow those words of praise and exultation to be a spiritual double-edged sword in our hands to bring about God’s word, will and ways on the earth. When we lift up the praises of God and declare His Lordship on the earth, it binds the hands of our spiritual enemies and makes place for God’s kingdom to be established and for His righteousness and justice to reign. So many people call out to God for revival in the Land. God desires to bring revival – but He is not waiting to be begged. He is waiting to be Lord. When His people truly walk in the privilege they have been given – when they truly humble themselves and make Him Lord of their lives, God’s kingdom will come spiritually and set people free… and then one day, He will fully come physically.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You for the privilege and honor of being named one of Your royal priests. I thank You for the opportunity to serve You and to serve others with the truth of Your word, to share in and share of the life You have given me, and to provide light for those who walk in darkness. Help me to not shirk my responsibilities, but to ever treat my calling and privilege with the utmost respect. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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