Old and New Jerusalem--Part 2
Jul 30, 2009
The OT prophets said nothing of "New Jerusalem." But they prophesied of it many times, perhaps to some extent unknowingly. Isaiah 62:1, 2 speaks to Jerusalem saying, "you will be called by a new name." I can imagine the prophet pondering the meaning of that word from the Lord.
Revelation 3:12 tells us its meaning, saying that the overcomers would have written upon them, "the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem." This new name is the one written in our foreheads (Rev. 22:4).
Isaiah 62:4, 5 speaks of the restoration of Israel, saying, "for the Lord delights in you, and to Him your land will be married." In Rev. 21:2 we see the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, "made ready as a bride adorned for her husband."
This marriage theme is found throughout Scripture. God married Israel at Mount Sinai, with Moses as the officiating minister. Jer. 3:14 says plainly, "I am married unto you." The entire book of Hosea is about God's failed marriage with Israel, playing out in the life of Hosea and his prostitute wife.
So when we speak of the Bride of Christ, we must understand this as Christ playing the role of the OT Yahweh, seeing that "Yahweh ... also has become my Yeshua" (Is. 12:2). He is said to be marrying the "land" and "Israel" and "New Jerusalem." This was not an easy subject to understand in the past. It is difficult to apply this correctly, unless we know how God moved His mailbox to Shiloh, then to Jerusalem, and finally to the New Jerusalem. Applying it to the old Jerusalem is as erroneous as trying to apply it to Shiloh, where He first put His name (Jer. 7:12).
The Two Brides
One must also understand that there is more than one type of "Bride" in this picture, for, as Paul says in Gal. 4:22,
"For is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman."
Abraham's two wives allegorically speak of two brides of Christ--or more specifically, two types of relationships with God. These are represented by the Old and New Covenants and also, Paul says, by the Old and New Jerusalem. Gal. 4:25, 26 says,
(25) Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. (26) But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.
The "present Jerusalem" is the old Jerusalem which God forsook "as Shiloh." Paul calls it "Hagar," because it was unable to bring forth the promised son through the Old Covenant, even though the marriage was legitimate. As Christians, our "mother" is "the Jerusalem above," that is, the New Jerusalem, or "Sarah." She is the only one who can bring forth Isaac, through whom comes the promise of Sonship.
The old Jerusalem can never be more than Hagar, prophetically speaking. It will never have the capability of bringing forth "Isaac," for Hagar was only capable of bringing forth Ishmael. This does not mean she was a bad person. Yet her role was to provide a relationship with Abraham that was in contrast to Sarah's.
Even as Hagar was the first to bring forth a child of Abraham, so also was it necessary to establish the Old Covenant to give Israel the opportunity to bring forth the Manchild by that type of relationship. Their failure was predetermined from the beginning, for it was in the divine Plan that the Sons of God would come to birth through a better covenant, a better relationship, which we call the New Covenant.
In the fulness of Time, when God sent Jesus into the world to mediate the New Covenant, the people and priests of Jerusalem were given the choice of accepting Him and His New Covenant--or rejecting Him and remaining under the Old Covenant. They chose to remain under the Old Covenant as children of Hagar. The evidence of this, Paul says, is that the son of the bondwoman persecutes the son of the free woman (Ga. 4:29). Paul was an expert in that topic, since he himself had been a zealous leader of the persecution in his earlier life (Gal. 1:13).
The Old Covenant was given at "Mount Sinai in Arabia," Paul says in Gal. 4:25. Arabia was the inheritance of Ishmael. This provides the allegorical connection establishing the fact that the Old Covenant is Hagar and the children of that covenant represent Ishmael. When Judaism made its decision to remain under the Old Covenant, they proved that the entire religion known as Judaism was of Hagar, not of Sarah, in spite of their objections to the contrary.
The prophetic significance of this is enormous, because Paul concludes in verse 30,
"But what does the Scripture say? Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman."
Paul cast out the bondwoman; Christian Zionism now wants to embrace the bondwoman and treat her as the heiress. Christian Zionists think that Jesus will return to old Jerusalem, even though He left there, vowing to forsake Jerusalem "as Shiloh." Christian Zionists disagree with Paul and have joined with the faction that opposed Paul's clean break from Judaism and its Old Covenant.
Shall that which was "cast out" return again to be the Bride of Christ? Shall Christ marry Hagar and bring forth Ishmael as the promised seed? I think not.
When we see how the OT "Jerusalem" is often applied in the NT to the New Jerusalem, it is plain that "Jerusalem" can be applied either way, depending on the context. Hence, as a general rule of thumb, when the OT speaks of "Jerusalem" in a negative context (being divinely judged), it refers to the Old Jerusalem. When the OT speaks of "Jerusalem" in terms of restoration and inheritance, it is to be applied to the New Jerusalem.
This is because the New Jerusalem is the "Bride" in Revelation 21:9, 10. This Bride is not Hagar, but Sarah. As Christians, we have cast out the bondwoman, rejected the Old Covenant, and we have a New Covenant relationship with God. We have gone "outside the camp" (Heb. 13:12, 13), following Jesus' example, for we are crucified with Christ outside the camp of Judaism (and Christian Zionism).
Isaiah 60:19, 20 tells us that "Jerusalem" will have no need for the light of the sun or moon. John applies this to the New Jerusalem in Rev. 21:23.
And so, as I said earlier, when the OT prophets speak of "Jerusalem," their prophecy is not necessarily to be applied to the old Jerusalem. One must discern how to apply it correctly. The fact is, the Hebrew name Yerushalayim ("Jerusalem") is a plural word. The "im" ending makes it plural. The ancient rabbis debated this very issue: Why is Jerusalem plural?
The answer given in the New Testament is that there are two Jerusalems, and in order to properly interpret Scripture, one must understand the divine plan for each. There is a Hagar-Jerusalem and a Sarah-Jerusalem, Paul tells us, and it is for us to decide which "mother" (Gal. 4:26) we wish to claim as our own. Our decision will determine if we are an Isaac or an Ishmael. That "confession of faith" could determine one's future as an overcomer, for it is certain that Hagar was not given the promise of Sonship in the age to come.
Yet keep in mind that the Apostle Paul himself was able to emigrate from the Old Covenant to the New, because one's "mother" in this sense is not determined by genealogy. It is a matter of faith. Christian Zionism has brought many well meaning Christians back into the family of Hagar. But there is still time to repent, as Paul did, and to join Sarah's family.
This is the final part of a series titled "Old and New Jerusalem." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones