How glorious, how bright it shines

The Body of Christ is also the accomplishment of man's experience of the grace in the economy of God, which is Himself as the processed Triune God, ultimately consummating in the New Jerusalem. Hymns, #979 is a sweet hymn on the many characteristics of the holy city, the New Jerusalem. For the last two thousand years, ordinary Bible readers and even Bible scholars have been puzzled by the New Jerusalem, wondering whether it is a material city or whether it refers to something else. Because of man's natural concept according to human understanding, most consider the New Jerusalem a material city. I still remember that when I was young, I sang a hymn that says one day we will enter the golden city with a golden street, pearl gates, and a jasper wall. But within my heart I said, "Did the Lord die and shed His blood just to save me into a golden city?" From then on I began to pursue to know what the New Jerusalem really is. Eventually, around 1960 I saw clearly that this city is not a physical city but a sign to express a spiritual reality that cannot be expressed with ordinary words. God began to use such signs in Genesis 2, where there is the tree of life. In the New Testament the tree of life reappears. In Revelation 2:7 the Lord says, "To him who overcomes, to him I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God." At the end of Revelation, the tree of life is again present in the New Jerusalem (22:2). Based upon this, I made a bold judgment that the New Jerusalem is a sign, because the tree of life within the city is a sign. Since that tree is not a physical tree but a sign, the city must also be a sign.

Furthermore, Revelation 21:22 says that there is no temple in the city of the New Jerusalem. What is the temple? The temple is God and the Lamb as the place for God's people to worship God and enjoy God. Therefore, the temple is also a sign. It is not a real building within the city; rather, God and the Lamb are the temple. Furthermore, Revelation 21:23 says, "The city has no need of the sun or of the moon that they should shine in it, for the glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb." Both the lamp and the light refer to God's glory. Therefore, both the lamp and the light are signs, not physical things. Moreover, in the New Jerusalem Christ is the Lamb. This surely does not mean that Christ in the New Jerusalem is a lamb with four legs and a tail. The Lamb is a sign. In addition, the New Jerusalem is the tabernacle of God (v. 3). Eventually, the city will become a tabernacle; this is also a sign. On the one hand, it is a city with gates, foundations, and a wall; on the other hand, it is the tabernacle of God—the place where God dwells with man. Finally, this city is the bride, the wife of the Lamb (v. 2). All these indicate that the entire holy city, the New Jerusalem, is not a physical city; rather, it is the ultimate sign, the greatest sign in the Bible, signifying the aggregate, the totality, of the redeemed saints throughout the generations, who have been regenerated, transformed, and glorified, as the consummation of man's experience of the Triune God, which is the organic Body of Christ.

In Revelation 21 and 22 there is a picture of a holy city. This picture must be very significant. Over thirty-five years ago, I received the understanding of the significance, in detail, of every item of this city. Hymn #979, composed of sixteen verses, gives the details of these items. We need to see what this holy city, the New Jerusalem, is. Many in Christianity say that it is a heavenly mansion, but we need to throw away that inaccurate concept.