God with us
Sep 03, 2016
Revelation 21:3 says,
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among [meta, “among, amid, in the midst of, with, by”] men, and He shall dwell among [meta] them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among [meta] them.
This statement comes in the context of the marriage theme in the previous verse, connected by the word “and” at the start of verse 3. For this reason, the statement saying “God Himself shall be among them” is to be taken in the sense of a divine marriage. Furthermore, the voice from the throne tells us that “the tabernacle of God is among men.” We must understand this from a Hebrew perspective, where a tabernacle is a sukkah (and a chuppah), not only a place of worship, but also a marriage canopy.
This also forms the background of the feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkoth, which prophesies of the marriage of the Lamb to His bride. So when it depicts a marriage, it is a time of rejoicing and intimacy. So also Revelation 21:4 says,
4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.
Hence, pain and sorrow are no longer inherent in the new order brought to new earth by the new Jerusalem. It is a new creation.
The Immanuel Prophecy
In the days of King Ahaz of Judah, the prophet Isaiah took his son, Shear-jashub (“the remnant will return”) to bring a prophetic word to the king. This word was given because the king was afraid of an Assyrian invasion, which had already taken the northern House of Israel into captivity. Isaiah told Ahaz to “have no fear and do not be fainthearted” (Isaiah 7:4), because their threats “shall not stand nor shall it come to pass” (Isaiah 7:7).
Isaiah then told Ahaz to ask for a sign. Ahaz refused. We read in Isaiah 7:12-14,
12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord.” 13 Then he said, “Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well? 14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign; Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”
Immanuel means “God with us,” and this sign will have its final fulfillment in Revelation 21:3, when all enemies have been subdued and “God Himself shall be among them.”
This prophecy began to be fulfilled in Isaiah’s day when Hezekiah was born to king Ahaz. Hezekiah was a type of Christ. It was under Hezekiah that the Assyrian army was destroyed after it attempted to conquer Jerusalem (2 Kings 19:35, 36).
The next level of prophecy came with the birth of Jesus Christ, the “Immanuel” that Hezekiah represented as a prophetic type many centuries earlier. When Mary became pregnant, Joseph thought he should put her away quietly. But in Matthew 1:20-23 says,
20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, ‘God with us’.”
It is interesting to note that neither Hezekiah nor Jesus were named Immanuel. Yet they each saved their people. Hezekiah saved his people from Assyria. Jesus saved His people “from their sins.” Both the Assyrians and the people’s sins were enemies on different levels. It is only when the last enemy (death) is destroyed that the Immanuel prophecy is fulfilled entirely.
Hezekiah and Hephzibah
As we have already noted, Hezekiah was a type of Christ. That means his wife Hephzibah (2 Kings 21:1) was a prophetic type of the bride of Christ. Isaiah saw Hephzibah in this prophetic role when he prophesied of the New Jerusalem in Isaiah 62:1-5.
1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for [New] Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness [Zedek] goes forth like brightness, and her salvation [Yeshua] like a torch that is burning.
John applies this passage to the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21. It is also of interest to see the Hebrew name of Jesus (Yeshua) appear in the same verse. Isaiah vowed to not remain silent until Jerusalem became the city shined with the light of righteousness (Zedek). This too is prophetic of Jesus, who came as the high priest of Melchizedek, which was the title given first to Shem, the builder and founder of Jerusalem.
The light of the city is a major feature of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:23, 24.
2 And the nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; and you will be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will designate.
As we will see later, this is referenced in Revelation 21:23, where “the glory of God has illumined” the city, and in Revelation 21:24, where “the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it.”
It is apparent that the “new name” given to Jerusalem is simply the New Jerusalem, for that is what John calls the city in Revelation 21:2.
3 You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
When a city was built upon a hill or mountain, its walls resembled a crown on the head of a king.
4 It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken” [Azubah], nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate” [Shemamah], but you will be called “My Delight is in her” [Hephzibah], and your land “Married” [Beulah]; for the Lord delights in you, and to Him your land will be married.
This verse specifically mentions Hephzibah and relates the meaning of her name to the prophecy of the New Jerusalem. As the wife of Hezekiah, king of Judah, she was the queen. As a type of Christ, her name shows that Christ delights in her—that is, He has fallen in love with her, and “your land will be married.”
Isaiah’s prophecy, then, identifies Jerusalem with Hephzibah, the wife of the king, and this is fulfilled in Revelation 21 when the New Jerusalem is married to Jesus Christ.
5 For as a young man marries a virgin, so your sons will marry [ba’al] you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice over you.
It seems odd for Isaiah to say that “your sons will marry you.” Would this not indicate a form of spiritual incest? First, “as a young man marries a virgin” speaks of a normal love story. Secondly, Isaiah compares such a story to the sons of Jerusalem marrying their mother, Jerusalem.
The Hebrew word translated “marry” is ba’al, which most people recognize as a god of the Canaanites. But it is only a title which means “to take dominion over, to rule, to be master of, to possess, to own.” As a title, it means literally an owner (landowner), master, lord. The word is also used of marriage, because a husband was said to “rule” over his wife (based on Genesis 3:16).
Hence, the word had a broad range of meaning. The Canaanites called their false god ba’al, as if he were the rightful ruler (owner) of the land, whereas Yahweh was the true Owner and King by right of creation. In Isaiah 62:5, the ones who rule Jerusalem are “sons,” that is, the sons of God.
The Sons of God
The New Testament concept of the sons of God is unique to Christianity, although the majority of Christians do not fully understand this truth. In fact, this truth was largely hidden in types and shadows until Jesus Himself was born of a virgin who had been impregnated by the Holy Spirit. This unusual birth made Him the Son of God and the Son of Man at the same time, because He had a heavenly Father and an earthly mother.
This established the pattern for all the sons of God who have been “begotten [gennao] not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13, The Emphatic Diaglott). This occurs when a person believes (has faith in) the word, which is likened to an imperishable “seed” (1 Peter 1:23). When the Holy Spirit begets a holy seed in us, we are said to be impregnated with “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
Paul tells us that this holy seed is a “new creature,” (2 Corinthians 5:17) and a “new man” (Colossians 3:10 KJV), distinct from the person that was conceived by our earthly parents. Our “old man” came strictly from Adam, who was the original “old man.” But when we were spiritually begotten, our identity shifted to a new man, which, like Christ, is both a son of God and a son of man. This is because this new man has a heavenly Father and an earthly mother.
Collectively, these are the “sons” which will rule (or “marry”) the New Jerusalem, even though they are also her children. Conversely, the children of the earthly Jerusalem are not inheritors and are therefore not “sons” in the same sense. They are called “children of the flesh” in Romans 9:8 and are likened to Ishmael in that passage and again in Galatians 4:28-31.
This is part 173 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Revelation." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones