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The New Jerusalem Bride

• Greg Boyd

Revelation provides us with a beautiful vision of the future as well as a way to live in the here and now. In this sermon, Greg shows us how the symbolism of Jerusalem and the Bride shows God’s heart for creation and our holiness.

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The last three chapters of Revelation provide us with a beautiful vision of the future and also a vision of how we are to live now. There is a rich symbolism in the vision of a city that is a bride: the New Jerusalem Bride.

This symbolism begins with the Holy City coming down from Heaven to the Earth. This is important symbolism for Christians. In ancient times, there were a lot of thinkers that saw this world and the matter it was made from as inferior, if not evil. They thought of the soul as being trapped in a body, waiting to be released upon death and never to return again. This thinking also crept into the early church, unfortunately.

But, in the Bible, there is no such view. The world was created by God, sustained by God and loved by God. Our bodies and creation have been corrupted by the Fall, but that doesn’t make them inherently evil. This is why the vision of the City returning to the Earth is so important. It shows Christians that this creation is important to God and will not be abandoned.

The second symbolism we see is that the city is adorned like a bride. This is where God shows his dwelling place, the city, as a bride, which represented his people. Throughout the New Testament, we see the people of God being described as Jesus’ bride and Jesus as the bridegroom. And in the Old Testament, we see Israel being described as God’s bride.

In Judaism culture, after a couple was engaged, there was a time called the betrothal period. During this betrothal period, the husband and wife would spend time apart to prepare for their wedding and marriage. The husband would find employment and housing. The wife would be coached by others on how to be a good wife. And this vision brings us to the understanding that we need to be preparing ourselves as the bride of Christ.

To prepare ourselves, we need to be in community with other Christians. The brand of American Christianity with individualism and podcasts is not as fulfilling as solid communities where others help us grow. And, the reason we do this is because we want to be as holy as God has made us. This Holy City that came down from Heaven is not just God turning an ignorant eye towards it. Rather, God has made it holy through Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross.

God’s goal all along was to dwell with his creation. From the Garden to Revelation, we see God constantly pursuing his creation as it walks away from him. This symbolism of the Holy Bride City coming down to Earth is a confirmation that God’s goal will happen. We will one day dwell fully with God as his Holy people and we can start acting like it now.

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Topics: Community, End Times, Heaven

Sermon Series: Rescuing Revelation

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Focus Scripture:

  • Revelation 21:1-2

    21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

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13 thoughts on “The New Jerusalem Bride

  1. Jill says:

    What an uplifting message, thank you! Your teachings are prophetic with so much clarity. They remind me so much of St. Hildegard of Bingen. She was a musician, physicist, doctor and prophet, lover of the earth and all creation. Within her many works she talks about the four elements of the world that God created. They are Fire, Air, Water & Earth. Here is a tiny bit of what she writes;

    “These four basic elements are so closely connected and bound together that none can be seperated from the others. Thus they hold so closely together that one can call them the basic building blocks of the cosmos.

    Creation blooms and flourishes when it remains in right relationship and keeps to it’s assigned tasks. If we misuse the priviledge that creation is, then God’s justice permits creation to punish humanity.

    The entire world has been embraced by the creators kiss

    God says: I am the supreme fire; not deadly, but rather, enkindling every spark of life.”

    Her work and theology were stuffed away for many centuries but have re-surfaced the last 30 years. Her work is so similar to what you teach, but very different from most. I don’t know of any other preacher or theologian who brings animals into the equation. I thank you for that and I’m sure everytime you do it there is controversy. But why? They are a huge part of God’s creation and that fact that so many are suffering at the hands of humans for our selfish consumption is horrible. I watched “Eating Mercifully” back in October and haven’t bought meat from stores since. I actually feel ashamed for not doing research earlier and seeing how out of control this has become.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for your profound teachings!! The world needs this very bad!

    P.S. For anyone living in or around St. Paul the Farmers market in downtown St. Paul has family owned farms that sell meat and other products every Saturday mornings all year round (and I think Sunday’s beginning in spring).

  2. Dave Pritchard says:

    Absolutely loved this message! So much of what Greg was saying here early on, ties into the concept of “Christoplatonism”. Recently, Randy Alcorn and others have demonstrated how this hybrid frame of reference devoted to the immaterial, has stealthfully attempted to rob Christianity of it’s essential “Resurrection” motif by replacing it with a – all human flesh and the world is evil, where eventually we will have a disembodied eternal spiritual existence where we pluck and strum our harps as we float around in the clouds – Ha!

    The subtle inculcation of this kind of thinking has clearly wormed its way into church theology and the mind set of many believers – including myself! This earth and these bodies of ours are not inherently evil but rather, sin laden and infected – (The SOMA & SARCS are different!). But praise God that the blood of The Cross is the cure for the spiritual entropy that infects the heart of man, as well as all of creation.

    From the beginning of this series, Greg has been referencing “Guernica” by Picasso as a pictorial model in kind for interpreting apocalyptic literature/scripture. This is an incredibly poignant visual metaphor where the multi-faceted quality inherent in this form of Cubism allows for simultaneous vanishing points of perspective within the picture plane – as does John’s Revelation.

    The last time I was there to see the painting a few years ago in the The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, it was protected on either side by machine gunned armed guards who were very serious about keeping people back behind the rope barrier. The painting, like the Book of Revelation has caused a lot of controversy and divided people sharply on its interpretation!

    The famous story of Picasso living in Nazi-occupied Paris during World War II, where a German officer allegedly asked him, upon seeing a photo of “Guernica” in his apartment, said: “Did you do that?” Picasso responded, “No, you did” – This profound moment in history of that painting could be akin to John seeing the Bloodied lamb and wondering exactly what it all means.

  3. M85 says:

    In the end heaven really is a place on earth!

  4. Dave Pritchard says:

    Hey Big M check it out –

    16 Dec 2007 – Uploaded by AngelsFstyle
    Belinda Carlisle performing “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” live at Prince’s Trust Rock Gala ’87 …

  5. Chris Jones says:

    First, I am blessed by Reknew and the service of Greg for the Kingdom of God. A couple questions for Greg.

    1. Isn’t the Corinthians passage about wood, etc. about ministry and not a general teaching about how God will judge the world?

    2. Since the Nations are thrown into the lake of fire at the final judgment and then the Nations are healed by the leaves in the New Creation, can’t one argue that eventually all will be redeemed by the love of God?

  6. Jill says:

    Along with mosquito’s, I hope woodticks aren’t salvable either!

  7. M85 says:

    Thanks Dave.

  8. Kathy D. says:

    Fabulous message Greg. Dido Jill and others. When our relationship will be restored with the earth and animal kingdom, I’m so looking forward to – caring for them, serving them, looking out for their well being – alongside each other. I hope we’ll be making up for all the horrible treatment they’ve gotten.

    And it was an uplifting message, thank you, which was well needed. Nothing brings more pain and sorrow to my heart than what mankind is doing to the animal kingdom. It is a source of great depression, debilitating depression at times. Finding ways to know what I know, be involved in what I know, in order to help His animal kingdom and further The Kingdom, is at times troublesome given the climate of the culture in the world regarding animals and their plight. So thank you again for speaking on this most important and urgent issue. You are right, it isn’t spoken on enough. I am praying that this is changing!

    The Lord bless you – you and WHC are in my prayers.

  9. I concur with all. But I’ll add one thing to say that Earth/Heaven becomes the Capital city of the universe so to speak. It’s the Washington DC of the plurality of galaxies in the Cosmos with big one difference – things will actually get done : )

    Keep up the good Pastor Greg & WHC. I’m happy we’ll be reigning with you all in and with our Lord.

    ~ Denley

  10. Tracy says:

    Fantastic message as usual. Love the part about envisioning heaven. also loved the part abut serving the animals and caring for them. Does God give us back our animals that we have loved i wonder as part of His love for us? Or are their new animals on the new earth. Always wondered about that. Thanks you again Greg for you passion and wonderful messages. Lay off that Coke!! not good for you 🙂

  11. brian mayer says:

    Thanks Greg for this wonderful series.
    I do have some issues with the suggestion that belief in a purely spiritual (supernatural) resurrection is heretical and equatable to Gnoticism or that it implies all matter is corrupt.
    If we take a Picasso-like view of the imagery in the book of revelation isn’t it possible that the author would rather refer to the earth as our final destination rather than the complex view of God’s kingdom being utterly unlike the created universe?
    For me, I believe the question remains open for discussion. The earth can be good in God’s sight and yet not destined to become the kingdom of heaven.
    If I’m wrong and am resurrected on this earth, however, I don’t plan on arguing about it with God.

    Brian Mayer

  12. Love this teaching!
    Very important stuff…
    (Should probably avoid bottles of coca cola on these sermons lol!)


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