WHERE wast thou when I laid the basis of the earth? Declare: if thou art acquainted with understanding. Who planned her measurement, if thou knowest? Or who stretched forth the measuring line upon her? Into what were her sockets sunk? Or who laid her key-stone, While the morning stars exulted together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who enclosed the sea within doors When it burst forth as if issuing from the womb? When I used the clouds for its vesture, And thick darkness for its swathing band? When my decree brake silence over it, When I established its bars and its doors; When I said: Thus far shalt thou come, but no further, And here appoint I the boundary of thy tossing wave? Spurrell's translation of Job 38:4-12.
In the beginning, when all things in the universe perfectly obeyed the divine law; when worlds performed their revolutions throughout space in perfect unison, and in the universe of God there was not one note of discord, then He spake, and our world came into existence; He commanded and it stood forth, and a shout rang from the sons of God; for they saw another work of His hands. Man upon it was as truly in harmony with the law of God as nature itself; and God pronounced all things very good. In innocency man was placed here in a home prepared of God, and there was but one thing for him to accomplish, -- this was strength of character, which would link humanity and divinity into one. With the fall of man, a cloud rested on the face of the whole earth: the first glory was shrouded, and the world itself, was, at the time of the flood, turned out of its course. At creation, the waters filled the earth and there were no rains; but the ground was watered from beneath, by a mist which arose. At the flood, the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the waters poured forth in great streams. Since that time, a large portion of the surface of our world, has been covered with vast seas. This was not so in the beginning. When sin filled the earth, God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah by fire from heaven. Those two cities in the plain of Jordan were destroyed for an object lesson of the destruction of the earth; and since that time, there has been fire within the earth, -- the elements of its own destruction, pent up, awaiting the command of Jehovah, to perform their appointed work. At the end of the thousand years, fire will destroy the earth together with the wicked.
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea." Through the open heavens, Christ and the saints beheld the "New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." Jerusalem is a name interwoven with all the history of the chosen people from the days of the establishment of the nation in the land of Palestine. The name means "possession of peace;" and when the heathen were driven from its strongholds, and it became the capital of the Jewish nation, the promise was given that should Israel adhere to the commandments of God, Jerusalem would become an everlasting city. But the conditions were unheeded, and that city, which in the days of Solomon, was raised to the highest pinnacle of fame as the capital of the world, has been degraded, desecrated and burned, until to-day the very ground about it seems unable to support life; and the city itself is in the hands of the Mohammedans, the smoke of the bottomless pit. Here the Prince of heaven was crucified; here, on the site of the cross, He will at last erect His throne.
If the plan of God had been followed, the Garden of Eden would have become the center of the city of God. That plan failed; and the Jews had the privilege of making their city the house of Jehovah.
They failed, and Christ ascended to heaven, there, to prepare a city, the New Jerusalem, as the capital of the universal kingdom. The New Jerusalem will be located on the precise spot where the city once stood. The Mount of Olives parts asunder, one half moving to the north, and one half to the south; and on the great plain between the peaks, the capital of the new earth will rest. Christ's mission to the earth was to save that which was lost. Sin robbed man of the beauties of Eden; sin defeated the plans for the Jews; and what man might have done, but did not do because of evil, Christ does through the power of His love. In spite of the delay caused by sin, the final triumph will be greater than it could have been, had sin never entered the world. Such is the infinite depth of redeeming love.
The story of Jerusalem is salvation's story; and throughout eternity, that glorious home of the saved, will tell to every saint who enters there, and will proclaim to all the universe, the cross of Christ and life through Him. When the city descends as a bride adorned for her husband, the redeemed receive it with shouts of triumph, and Christ receives it as the trophy of His struggles. Christ and His followers enter the city, and there is spread for them the marriage feast of the Lamb.
From heaven the voice of Jehovah proclaims: "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them." In Christ the God-man, Jehovah tabernacled. His name was Emmanuel, which means "God with us."
In the human form, divinity was veiled by the same cloud which sin cast over the face of Eden; but in the New Jerusalem, the people meet God face to face, with no dividing veil between. From the most exalted position in the kingdom of God to utter destruction; this is the story which sin has written: from death to life immortal; from degredation to the capital of the universe; this is the story of redemption.
What wonder that those who have passed through these experiences sing, "Great and marvelous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of nations." "Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!" There is no longer cause for sorrow and weeping; for the former things have passed away. Tears came when sin entered the dominion of God. There were no tears before that; and when the traces of sin are gone, tears will have forever passed away. "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him."
Words cannot express the fullness and beauty of the law of compensation which is revealed in the entire history of salvation. This will be partially understood by those who gather in the city, and behold all things made new; those who see Christ as the Alpha, -- Him who first created; the Genesis, in which was hidden the fullness of God's love; and the Omega, the final completion, which rising above the fall, and having banished every trace of sin, sits as King of kings, surrounded by subjects who are better able to appreciate the spiritual nature of Jehovah and His kingdom than they could have been, had sin never entered. This is infinite love, the character of our God and His Christ.
And above all, as the most supreme manifestation of that love, is the promise that he that overcometh through Christ, shall inherit all these things. The new earth is not awarded like charity gifts, parceled out to the poor of earth; it is not bought, but men are born into the family of God, and as joint heirs with Jesus Christ, they receive the new earth as an inheritance. Christ spoke to Nicodemus of the new, the spiritual birth, which brings the inheritance. The soul hungering and thirsting in this life opens the springs of heaven, and Christ Himself gives unto those who are athirst of the water of life freely.
Every well of water has been a token of this promise which will be fulfilled in the new earth. The living fountains there will contain the water of life which will give eternal life and unbounded wisdom. Rivulets flowing from that eternal fountain bring life to the earth to-day, and those who drink now, have a pledge that they shall drink in the kingdom of God. This is the wine of the living grape, typified by the cup given at the Passover table on that last night of the Saviour's life, when He said: "I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God." This new wine will be given to the guests at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
"Let not your heart be troubled," said the Saviour, and John was one of the number to whom He spoke: "In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
After a life on earth with the Saviour, and after being shown the sorrows through which man must pass before the end, John was prepared to appreciate the city which Christ had gone to prepare. One of the seven angels who carries the vials of God's wrath, revealed to the prophet the beauties of the New Jerusalem.
The city lieth four square, perfect in its dimensions, measuring three hundred and seventy-five miles each way, with a wall of precious stones. This wall measures in height, one hundred and forty-four cubits, or between two hundred and sixteen and two hundred sixty-six feet. The city in all its details represents salvation; also the people within its jasper walls, represent the salvation of God. At creation the gold, the silver, and the precious stones, lay on the face of the earth. Men used them for selfish purposes; and for this reason at the time of the flood, they were buried beneath the surface, and are brought to light only as the result of hard labor. In the New Jerusalem, they will be so arranged as to tell the story of infinite wisdom and love.
Some have given the following imaginative interpretation to the various colors of the stones: "At the base is the crimson jasper, typical of the suffering and death of the Saviour slain from the foundation of the world. Above this, is laid the sapphire, like a blue flame of truth. In the pure white chalcedony is reflected the purity of the Christ life. The emerald green, like the rainbow about the throne, offers hope to those who rest upon the others. The sardonyx reflects many colors, but above it, is the deep red sardius, covered by the chrysolite.
This is overlaid by the beautiful blue beryl, whose light mingles with the blazing topaz in telling the story of joy and peace in the Lord. The eleventh is the purple of royalty, crowned with the purity of the amethyst." The foundation, composed entirely of precious stones, is beautiful beyond description; but besides this, it is ornamented, or garnished, with all manner of precious stones.
Stones have voices, although they speak in tones seldom heard by men. Christ told His disciples that if men held their peace, the very stones would cry out. The story which they tell is the old, old story; and as they form the walls of the New Jerusalem, and the glory of Christ and the Father shines on them, they will not meet the eye with a dull, lusterless surface, but with a glory known only in the purity of a spiritual world. Inanimate nature partook of the curse of sin; but the foundation of the city of our God, like all things in the earth made new, will shine in its original splendor. On these twelve foundations are written the names of the twelve apostles, the pillars of the Christian church. The prophet on Patmos had been condemned, his name recorded on the books of Rome as a criminal and an exile; what joy, then, must have come to him, when he saw in heaven his name engraved on one of the foundations of the city. Here is the difference between human and divine judgment.
The streets of the city are of pure gold, -- so pure that they are transparent like crystal. The light from the countenance of Christ falls upon the beautifully blended colors of the wall, and then is reflected again and again on the polished streets.
Men have lavished wealth on buildings, but no earthly edifice ever equaled the beauties of this capital city. In this wall are twelve gates; in number the same as the twelve tribes of the children of Israel, -- the twelve patriarchs, whose names appear graven in living characters upon them. Each gate is a single pearl. The pearl, as we know it, is formed by the life fluid of the oyster covering a foreign substance. The pearls of heaven represent the abundant righteousness of Christ called forth by sin; but which, flowing full and free; covers every blemish in the character to which it is applied.
As the redeemed enter the city, they are arranged according to the tribes of division. The twelve taken together reflect the fullness of Christ. The character portrayed in the blessings pronounced upon the sons of Jacob, reveals the many sides of the life of the Son of God, as manifested in redemption.
In the city, the saints meet Jehovah face to face. Even God veiled His glory during the reign of sin; and not until the work of Christ is entirely finished, and He leaves the temple in heaven preparatory to coming to earth, does the undimmed glory of the Father burst forth. This was typified in the sanctuary service, by the veil which protected the Shekinah from the gaze of the people, and by the cloud of incense, which went up before the priest when he ministered in the inner apartment on the day of atonement.
Had it been otherwise, the consuming glory would have slain all. In the new Jerusalem, there is no veil, no temple; but God and Christ are the light of it. The veiling of Jehovah's glory is likewise typified by the sun and moon in our own heavens. The light of these bodies seems intense to mortal eyes; but in the new earth, the sun will shine with a light seven times brighter than to-day and the moon will be as our sun. Even then, their light is hidden by the glory of celestial rays. Day and night, that light of life shines forth throughout eternity. This light causes spiritual life, just as our sunshine makes the earth to bring forth and bud.
The glory is not wholly confined to the city; for the earth itself is Eden restored. The redeemed have houses outside the city. The earth brings forth in abundance, and labor is a pleasure. As it was God's plan to people the earth, and have all nations come to the Garden of Eden, so in the new earth the nations, or tribes, under their kings, bring their glory and honor into Jerusalem, coming there to meet with God.
Christ was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil. God placed man in a perfect earth, and bade him subdue it; in other words, to make the whole earth like Eden; but Satan thwarted the plan, and for six thousand years he has reigned on the earth.
When the earth is restored, it will not be as it was in the beginning, but far more beautiful. It will be as it would have been in the same length of time, if sin had never entered. All the works of the devil will be destroyed. The work that man would have done, if sin had not entered, Christ will do. Instead of their home being simply a garden, there will be the beautiful city enclosing the garden.
The human mind can but faintly grasp the idea of spiritual existence; and the best that mortal man can do, is to compare the glory of eternity with those things which are divinely appointed to foreshadow the things of the eternal world.
The ear of man catches but the smallest proportion of the sounds which are everywhere about him; his eye sees but little that light in reality reveals; so narrow is the sphere in which we live. God has spoken of the other world, and He has described it in human language. There are things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, but God hath revealed them by His Spirit; so of the glories beyond, one can truthfully say, The half hath not been told.
Through eternity those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life will receive new revelations of Jesus Christ; and they themselves will reflect more and more of the divine character. Then it will be known what life really is. As the Saviour leads to fountains of wisdom, men will know that he is "the way, the truth, and the life."
Page 339; Psa. 33:6-9; Gen. 1:31; Gen. 2:16, 17; Gen. 2:6; Psa. 82:5; Job 9:5; Job 22:15, 16; Gen. 7:11; Jude 7; Gen. 19:24, 25; Deut. 32:22; 2Pet. 3:7.
Page 340; Rev. 21:1, 2; JERUSALEM; Josh. 15:8; Josh. 10:5-23; Josh 18:28; Judges 1:21; 2Sam. 5:6-8; 2Sam. 5:9; 2Chron. 6:6; Jer. 17:20-25; Jer. 17:27; Jer. 38:1-8; Lev. 25:2-4.
Page 341; Lev. 26:33-35; 2Chron. 36:21; Neh. 13:17, 18; Jer. 17:25; Rom. 8:3; Heb. 11:16; Gal. 4:26; Rev. 21:1, 2; Zech. 14:4; Jer. 17:24, 25; Rev. 22:14; Rev. 21:3; Matt. 1:23.
Page 342; Rom. 5:20; Rev. 21:4; Isa. 25:8; 1Cor. 2:9; Rev. 21:5, 6; 1Cor. 15:28; Rev. 21:7, 8.
Page 343; Rom. 8:17; John 3:5; Matt. 5:6; Isa. 12:2, 3; Num. 21:17, 18; Prov. 3:18; John 4:10; John 15:1, 2; Matt. 26:29; John 13:1-3; John 17:24.
Page 344; Rev. 21:9-16; Job 28:1, 2.
Page 345; Ex. 28:15-21; Rev. 21:17-20; Gen. 31:45-52; Gen. 28:18-22; Rom. 8:22; Eph. 2:20; Gal. 2:9; Luke 10:20.
Page 346; Isa. 54:11, 13; Rev. 21:21; Rom. 11:19-21; Rev. 7:4; Matt. 5:8; Rev. 22:4.
Page 347; Rev. 21:22, 25; Rev. 21:26, 27.
Page 348; 1John 3:8; Isa. 65:18, 19; Eph. 3:20, 21; John 17:24; [All the treasures of the universe will be open to the study of God's redeemed. Unfettered by mortality, they wing their tireless flight to worlds afar, -- worlds that thrilled with sorrow at the spectacle of human woe, and rang with songs of gladness at the tidings of a ransomed soul. with unutterable delight the children of earth enter into the joy and the wisdom of unfallen beings. They share the treasures of knowledge and understanding gained through ages upon ages in contemplation of God's handiwork. With undimmed vision they gaze upon the glory of creation, -suns and stars and systems all in their appointed order circling the throne of Deity. Upon all things, from the least to the greatest, the Creator's name is written, and in all are the riches of His power displayed. --The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan.