Revelation 21: 1-4
GAB What was in mind was to look at some of these great primary thoughts of God. The word primary, as far as I know, does not occur in scripture, but I think it has come into currency in the time of the recovery so we can use it. It might be worthwhile to enquire as to what it really means. I gather from what I have gained through teaching from others, what is in mind is that there are certain great things, great thoughts which have originated with God Himself apart from the instrumentality of man, or any other creature. By way of contrast certain other things have come in which began with man, fallen man, which God has taken up, for instance, the ideas of a city or a kingdom. The first person to build a city was Cain and the first person to establish a kingdom was Nimrod. Then there is the idea of nations coming in after the flood because of man’s lawlessness. All these things God has taken up in His wise ways. The city - God has developed the thought in Jerusalem, mountains round about her (Ps 125: 2), “Beautiful in elevation, joy of the whole earth ... the city of the great king” (PS 48: 2) and, of course, “the new Jerusalem” eventually. God has used that. Likewise the kingdom; we are all familiar with the idea of the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the heavens and so on. Even nations God has used and the saints are said to be “a holy nation”, Exod 19: 6 and 1 Pet 2: 9. All these things are going to be wound up eventually when they have served their purpose. In the eternal setting, the idea of the city recedes and what we find is, “as a bride adorned for her husband”; and the kingdom is given up, “to him who is God and Father”, 1 Cor 24. Likewise nations, prominent in the millennial setting, give way to the idea of families in eternity. These things all finish - God has used them in His wisdom, but His primary thoughts remain.
What I am exercised about is to get over to see the greatness of God’s primary and original thoughts because they go right through into eternity. The first two chapters of Genesis are very rich in this respect. I have been impressed recently with the fact that the first figurative reference we have to Christ and the assembly is in chapter 1 of Genesis where the sun is set in the expanse of the heavens and the moon (v 16, 17). That is an allusion to Christ glorified with His heavenly consort. It seems to me of great significance that you get that, Christ glorified, presented before you have any suggestion of Christ stooping and being found in the pathway of humiliation and suffering.
Coming back to God’s original thoughts, what God has in mind for man is man glorified. That is the pattern. As we go through the chapter we have the swarms of living souls: God will fill His eternity with living souls. God has instituted this great matter of life and He will have it. Then man is brought in, “male and female created he them”, v 27. I do not think that is exactly an allusion to Christ and the assembly, although you might apply it that way, but they are said to be created, it is a creature thought “male and female created he them”. But they are given dominion which would relate to the idea of the sun and the moon, they rule. It is man patterned after Christ, that is what God has before Him. All this is related before sin came in.
In chapter 2 God is forming things. In chapter 1 man was created, but in chapter 2 he “formed Man, dust of the ground”. Again it is not Christ so much, it is man as a creature and Christ cannot be said to be formed in that way, He was perfect. Here it is man as a result of God’s handiwork, skilful handiwork in producing something which is patterned after Christ. Then God provides an environment; He planted a garden. That is another primary thought. This was the first garden ever, and Jehovah Elohim planted it Himself and there He put man whom He had formed, and the tree of life flourishing in the midst, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We might enquire into why that should be.
I think the section where we have the rivers divided into the four main heads is very interesting and relates to the Acts where God is introducing something completely new according to His own original and primary thoughts in the assembly.
Perhaps the greatest thing of all is the mystery, the woman taken out of the man, “built” into a woman. Paul says, “This mystery is great, but I speak as to Christ, and as to the assembly”, Eph 5: 32.
I read the passage in Revelation to show how God comes back and secures for the eternal day what He began with.
PJH I was thinking of what you said about His prime thought; it is really that man may seek after God. We get that in Acts, God “determined ordained times and the boundaries of their dwelling”, chap 17: 26. This cannot proceed unless God has given them the place that He has. Man’s enjoyment is not realised unless God is brought in.
GAB That is right, and if we could for the moment dismiss from our minds all the failure that has come in, we can see what God has in mind for man. Someone might say, ’What has this to do with our current exercises; we have difficulties, and so on?’. I think it would have a lot to do with them if we can get over and see things from God’s side, I think it would help us in the working out of practical matters.
SH Could you say something about the difference between creation and forming?
GAB Creation is a matter of the power of God: “He spoke and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast”, Ps 33: 9. That is creation, but formation is a more intimate thing. God is working in divine skill. The hymn we sang at the beginning sits perfectly with my thought,
Relationship sublime for creature man
What God has in mind is man glorified. That is God’s view of things.
RDP-r It is wonderful to lay hold of what God had in mind from the outset of what He will secure eternally, and nothing will stop Him.
GAB Surely that must be the greatest of encouragement to us. It is so easy to get discouraged when you see failure and breakdown and you find it in yourself as well all around, but if we can just lift our sights to see that God has nothing less in mind than a universe patterned after Christ, and that is what He is working at. That is the idea of formation at the present time.
RDP-r So of that Man it says, “He shall not fail”, Isa 42: 4 AV.
GAB “Thou canst be hindered in no thought of thine”, Job 42: 2.
DJW Can you say something as to the seventh day? That seems to follow through the whole of the scriptures. It says, “and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made”; it seems to be that God’s rest is one of the prime thoughts that you had in mind.
GAB He rests in His love, because love is what lies behind His power. Power is an attribute of God, but love is His nature. What lies behind all God’s operations is His love. Then, when everything has been completed, there is the whole work of redemption that was necessary to secure man from what he had fallen into; what God has at the end is not man in innocence it is man glorified, man like Christ.
DJW His rest was for enjoyment; man is full of activity, but God rests in what He has secured for His own pleasure.
GR The statement in John is that “he came out from God and was going to God”, John 13: 3. He did many, many things, but I was thinking of the way that the disciples would have pondered that expression when the Spirit came and would have explored something of what was involved in that wonderful thing.
GAB That is a very interesting scripture to bring up. “Knowing that the Father had given him all things into his hands, and that he came out from God and was going to God”. We speak about a future eternity and a past eternity, and I suppose that is all right because we are here in time and human language scarcely is sufficient to express what we mean; eternity has no beginning and will have no end, but that dip into time involved the Lord Jesus, a divine Person, taking His place in manhood, taking on the relationship of Son to work out all God’s thoughts. But that relationship continues, goes into eternity.
BWB So, “from eternity to eternity thou art God” (Ps 90: 2), but the dip into time has brought the knowledge of God to us in a wonderful way, and the response that was in the first hymn flows out of that does it not?
GAB That is right. How much has been worked out in time. We may think that time is long, and I suppose in one sense it is, we do not know how long it is - the scripture records six thousand years, but there may be a lot more. However long that time may have been it is a platform on which God has worked out His great thoughts.
BWB So time is very valuable - “So teach us to number our days” (Ps 90: 12); each day should yield something. It did in the life of Jesus; “it came to pass on one of the days”, as Luke says, chap 8: 22. Each day was precious and full.
GAB “Morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ears to hear as the instructed” (Isa 50: 4), and then it also says, “to His beloved one He giveth sleep”, Ps 127: 2. The Father woke the Lord Jesus in the morning and put Him to sleep. Sometimes He did not sleep; sometimes He spent the whole night in prayer. What a pathway it was! You just feel rather like John at the end of his gospel, “there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they were written one by one, I suppose that not even the world itself would contain the books written”, chap 21: 25.
JAT Mr Darby wrote in ‘The Man of Sorrows’:
Oh, suited now in nature
For Love’s divinest ways,
To make the fallen creature
The vessel of Thy praise!
I had the sense on Lord’s day that we were engaged in eternal praise, it was praise that will never, never end. That links with eternity.
GAB Exactly. It is a very precious privilege to be gathered in assembly because, apart from the discipline meeting, which is thankfully very rare, the Lord’s supper is the only occasion when we are gathered in assembly. That is actual, as I understand it. We do not claim to be the assembly, but the character of our gathering to break bread is in assembly. That takes you into eternity. We break bread in time, we break bread in the wilderness, but when the Lord comes in He takes us over onto His side and can touch what is eternal in character.
JAT We have assembly experience with Christ. We are conscious of what we are in His eyes and what we are then before the Father.
GAB It is something that should elevate our thoughts of one another too. I may think of what I am, what my history has been, just total failure, but what God has in mind for me, what God is making me, is patterned after Christ. Nothing less than that will satisfy the heart of God than a whole universe patterned after Christ.
MJW Whilst you speak of certain things being used in the ways of God like the kingdom and then given up, the remarkable thing, which chapter 1 and chapter 2 highlight, is that the greatness of God is made known throughout all those different activities which are in His way. In the first chapter you get power in creation; regarding the second chapter Mr James Taylor speaks of “Jehovah Elohim” being a softening down of that great Name (Vol 73 p215-216), and you get the formation there. Whilst certain things are given up, the greatness of God remains, and a development of light regarding who He is and what He is remains. I would have thought that that was primary as well.
GAB I think it is primary, what God does. I am just making the distinction between what has originated with man, such as Cain building a city; God takes that up, and shows that He can make a better city than Cain could. Although even in Jerusalem, which has a very precious background to it, failure does come into it. All these things which began with fallen man, even though God takes them up, are still subject to man’s failures. The kingdom, another thing, the kingdom of the heavens, is presented as like leaven, the birds of the air come and roost in the branches and so on (Matt 13: 31-33), but God’s prime thoughts are above all that.
MJW In the midst of all the things that He takes up of man’s He makes known Himself and that remains along with the primary thoughts which He brings out.
GAB We sometimes used to sing:
Evil’s challenge, long permitted -
Met by Thy supremacy -
In Thy ways was wisely fitted
To display the Trinity.
God makes Himself known even through our failures. That is true. But is there not something bigger than that? Something that surpasses anything that has ever come in relating to failure.
MJW I am sure that is right.
GR So primary really means first - “In the beginning God” (Gen 1: 1); that is an absolute statement, before man was ever created.
GAB Before anything was created God was there.
GR God has brought the whole universe into existence to provide a platform on which He could display the glories of Christ.
DJW I was thinking as to the reference to Jehovah Elohim, does that anticipate the revelation, the fact that it is plural?
GAB I think so. In Chapter 1 it is God, but now God has a Name by which He is known. Man has a name as well - “but as for Adam, he found no helpmate his like”, v 20. So in chapter 2 names are coming into play, both Jehovah Himself and the man have a name. Do you think that there is an increased intimacy between God and His creature?
DJW Were you thinking of 1 Corinthians 15 the “last Adam”, v 45?
GAB I was not actually, but that is interesting. I was just commenting on the fact that God is speaking to His creature as a known person. It is not simply a creation, he is a person, he has a name. It is quite true what you say, the Lord Jesus is the last Adam and a life- giving spirit.
AS In chapter 5 it says “God … called their name Adam” (v 2); every other creature man named, but God named man Adam. I like the thought of intimacy that you have brought in.
GAB God did it Himself. These are the things we are trying to get at, things that God did Himself without any intervention of the creature. There are references in the epistles such as, “he that has wrought us for this very thing is God”, 2 Cor 5: 5. It is something to take account of, God’s own work.
AEM I was thinking of God’s own work. That is something that goes right through; He continues to work. It says in Genesis, “he rested from all his work which God had created in making it”. We read that the Father worked, and then the Son worked, “My Father worketh hitherto and I work”, John 5: 17. That is His work, and we look for the work of God in each other. I was just impressed with the contrast between what you have spoken of as the work of man; God’s work continues unabated.
GAB That is good. It is a remarkable thought, “he rested from all his work which God had created in making it” - God created work for Himself. You might say God did not need to do that, God being who He is is all sufficient, but I think His heart of love required that there should be a man, a whole race of man, likened after Christ on whom that love could rest.
AEM It makes a great impression when we finally realise that, other than the work of One who came in to take a place as a man, all other men’s work will end. This is the only work that will go through.
GAB So anything which we do which is going to remain is what is wrought of God.
DJW Does He anticipate what is final too in the reference to the rain? Might that speak of judgment do you think? What is referred to is the mist which would speak of the Spirit’s activities, but you are speaking of what He takes up of man to which failure attaches, but it seems to indicate here that even that is met.
GAB I would like to enquire in that connection as to the garden - the tree of life is there in the midst and we can understand that in the context of what we are saying, but why is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil here in this stage?
MJW Before you go into that, you said the garden was a primary thought. Can you help us first as to why that is primary and what it represents then perhaps we will understand how the tree is there?
GAB It is primary in the sense that it is God who did it. There never was a garden before; it is one of God’s original thoughts to provide an environment in which man can prosper and flourish. I think that garden takes shape in the book of the Acts. I think that is the idea of the garden. God has provided an environment. He formed man, but man needs somewhere to live and this is the environment which God has provided. Now, when you come to the book of the Acts you see the river flowing and you find the land there, the gold of that land is good (Acts 2: 1-4), the assembly is there for the first time, a vessel indwelt by the Spirit of God, the work of God in its aggregate gathered there - the gold.
BCB When you move forward into the Song of Songs the garden is a place where the man can restfully enjoy relationships with his spouse, “I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse”, chap 5: 1. So this is planted by God but it is an area where man can relax with his wife, and taking that forward, Christ with the assembly, would you say?
GAB That is right. “Awake, north wind, and come, thou south; Blow upon my garden that the spices thereof may flow forth”, chap 4: 16. There is something for the pleasure of Christ and for the pleasure of the assembly as well. We are talking typically now, but that is what it means, that there is enjoyment in the garden in a condition where the tree of life is central. We are coming back to the great matter of what is primary, what is prime in the mind of God, Christ who is the pattern for everything:. “The tree of life, in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” which is not said to be in the midst.
DJW Does the tree of the knowledge of good and evil involve that God is going to be with man on a moral basis?
GAB That answers the question. Although sin has not yet come in in this setting we are looking at, nevertheless God has in mind that man is going to be developed on moral lines. Further down we have the warning, “for in the day that thou eatest of it thou shalt certainly die”. ’Evil’s challenge long permitted’ - God has allowed certain things to go on, but in it all He is forming something which is going through into eternity which is formed after Christ and compatible with His own original thoughts for man.
BWB Is it not so that the earth was really formed for man, and it looked on to Christ coming in to fill it out, and the knowledge of His glory will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, Hab 2: 14? Do you think that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was all part of God’s primary thought that the whole issue of evil should be settled and dealt with?
GAB The provision was there right from the beginning, before man fell into sin. I think that the foreknowledge of God comes into this. Foreknowledge is not the portion of the creature; we can maybe foresee certain things if we are shrewd enough, but we cannot foreknow. God can foreknow, and He knew that sin would come in and provision is made for that. But, the great point I see here is that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is not the central tree; it is the tree of life that is said to be “in the midst of the garden”. Christ is central to all God’s thoughts for man.
JAT God had glorified Himself in the meeting of evil. Is it not true that by nature we do not appreciate things on a continuing basis; we are always looking for the next thing? God is glorified; the cross was a tremendous point at which that matter was met by God, but in a Man. God was glorified in that, that was a divine glory, and then we come to appreciate things in an eternal way because everything around us is passing.
GAB As we have been taught, these two trees are conciliated on the cross in Christ. As He has met the question of our responsibility and removed the judgment that lay upon us, we get the conciliation of these two trees, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, with which responsibility was connected, and the tree of life, FER vol 8 p35-37. You have the whole moral question met and it is met in Christ. No other could have undertaken to deal with the matter of good and evil but One who was on the one hand divine in His Person, yet perfect in His Manhood, the sin-offering meet for God.
DJW So in Revelation 21, heaven and earth are in conciliation, the sea exists no more, there are no more divisions left.
GAB It is a very beautiful thing, that the sea exists no more. Think of how much sorrow has come about through the sea, how many shipwrecks there have been, how many people have died, how many partings there have been too - think of partings when the ships sail off with loved ones aboard. None of that is going to happen any more when you get through to the glory of the eternal day.
RCT I wondered whether realisation that we are “vessels of mercy, which he had before prepared for glory” (Rom 9: 23) would enter into this.
GAB That is good. That brings us back to the idea of the foreknowledge of God.
RCT It links with Revelation, “coming down out of the heaven from God, having the glory of God”, 21: 10. It is the aggregate of those vessels of mercy.
GAB It says, “before prepared for glory” so that God had great things in mind for us before we were born.
PH You said earlier that the knowledge of these primary thoughts will help us in our practical exercises. How does that come about?
GAB To get God’s viewpoint about things would help us. If you view things from ground level you only see what is around you and there is much failure around. We cannot disguise that fact, we know it in ourselves apart from anything else, but we can look from above - like Balaam, although he was a bad man, who was forced to see and say good things. “From the top of the rocks I see him” (Num 23: 9); he saw people, I would say reverently, from God’s point of view. God does have a point of view: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts”, Isa 55: 9. If we could just get a grip of what God has had in mind from the very start, and has never changed and never will, and will achieve His great and glorious end, I think that many of these problems that arise would very soon dissolve.
PH Do you think that if we can see what is in another, as a subject of the work of God, in the difficulties that come up, for example in the care meeting, we will show more respect, more patience for one another, as we can see one another as God sees us.
GAB That is exactly right. There was one point in the epistles where Paul speaks of those “who are little esteemed in the assembly”, 1 Cor 6: 4. He might be the one who has the wisdom, he might just have a glimpse of the saints from the top of the rocks, he might see something shining there in the work of God in a person in whom maybe you did not.
PWB I was interested in your thought of the garden especially. Is there any link, or is there any significance, in the fact that John speaks of Gethsemane as a garden? I know there is the side of what the Lord Jesus took on, but in it there is the proving of the perfection of a man before His God, “not my will, but thine be done”, Luke 22: 42.
GAB That is beautiful. The name Gethsemane is not in John’s Gospel; it is a garden, a place where Jesus was often with His disciples. But the fact that it is called a garden seems to indicate that the pleasure of God was involved in what the Lord was about to undertake in going into death. He does not ask to have the cup taken away in John, but He says, “the cup which the Father has given me, shall I not drink it?”, chap 18: 11. It is the pleasure of God that is in view. So that ultimately God will be able to find His rest in His love.
Perhaps we should consider what is in this garden - the four main streams. You have the first one set out in the beginning of the Acts where there is a company where the gold is, the Spirit has taken up His abode and that river “which surrounds the whole land of Havilah”. The second river is Gihon “which surrounds the whole land of Cush” and brings in the eunuch, brings in Simeon called Niger in Acts 13, probably an African. Then there is the one which flows forward towards Asshur, that is where the violent opposition of the Jew personified in Saul of Tarsus is, “breathing out threatenings and slaughters against the disciples of the Lord” Acts 9: 1; then the Euphrates. Nothing is said about it but it is the one which we often say divides East from West, but I think in the context of it here it is a mighty river flowing through and fructifying both, it is a universal view of the assembly here.
BWB It says in the Acts, “the word of the Lord increased and prevailed”, chap 19: 20. Is that like these rivers going forward, the river of the testimony and linking it too with the Spirit?
GAB It is one river but divided into four main heads; the source is the same. It is the Holy Spirit that is in view, but diverse in His activities.
SH Is it important that this river in four streams flows out from Eden, it does not flow through, but its source is Eden.
GAB I think that links with the Acts; it flows out in a universal way. The Lord said to His own before He left them to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations”, Matt 28: 19. That is the view of it. I know there are other contexts, we can think of the fact that the testimony moved into Europe, but in the setting we are looking at the assembly is seen as universal.
RDP-r Is there something defining about these first two that surround a certain area? Do we need to be aware of the area where God is working?
GAB I think that is very helpful because there are other areas which have an official mark upon them as belonging to Christendom and bearing the name of Christ, but the Lord is not in them.
RDP-r The assembly is where God is working at the present time?
GAB That is a big statement to make. How do you define that? We always have to be very careful that we do not claim anything. I think what has been said is very wise, that you claim nothing but enjoy everything. God is working where His work is proceeding, and I would not care to define it any more definitely than that. As you say, that stream goes round it and the Lord knows those that are His.
RDP-r The defining thing is the Spirit of God’s activity?
GAB I think that would be a real guideline for any soul who is seeking to find where the Lord is - where is the Spirit operating?
PJH The thief on the cross was concerned about the kingdom of His Lord (Luke 23: 42) and I think paradise is where the owner has sway, and where those in it enjoy it to the maximum.
GAB The thief was there that very same day on the cross, but the question of good and evil was resolved in him very quickly, it was instant. When persons are converted they are fit for heaven immediately, but generally the Lord does not take us to be with Himself immediately. Sometimes He does, and the thief was one such; but usually He leaves us here so that this matter of formation might go on. The Spirit’s work in us would develop so that something is achieved on moral lines which would not have been if we had just gone straight to heaven. Mr Stoney said that he knew some people who were fit for heaven, but not fit for earth, vol 1 p294.
PJH The thief was occupied about his Lord as Paul was, “Who art thou, Lord?”, Acts 9: 5
GAB That is my burden in what we have been considering, that God has Christ as His pattern. The whole universe will be patterned after Christ; anything outside of that will perish.
DJW Does the fact that there are four rivers remind us of Ephesians 3? God has a universal outlook, breadth and length, and depth and height.
GAB I am sure of that because what we are saying as to Acts was the initiating of the thing, but you cannot stop short of Ephesians where the full glorious light as to Christ and the assembly comes in.
JAT Is that a particular factor that God is working out in us? As said earlier, we go into the heights, but do you think the Spirit had to do with the deep things of God? We might skim over the surface but I wondered whether that was a very necessary thing for the present time.
GAB In the millennial view of the city it is breadth, length and height. You have to go to Ephesians to get the fourth dimension. It is only when you come to what is spiritual that you have the fourth dimension because all material things are three dimensional, but depth brings in what is spiritual.
JAT That helps. Paul speaks affectingly about the One who descended, the same who has also ascended, but he goes into it in his appreciation of Christ, and that is the only way that God’s primary thoughts are being completed, by Christ, but in the saints too.
GAB Christ is the great pattern. It seems that the deep sleep is one of God’s primary thoughts, Christ and the assembly, but now the assembly is taken out of Christ. We have other presentations where we have the assembly standing by Christ, head over all things to the assembly which is His body, the queen standing in gold of Ophir beside the King might suggest it, that is the public side of things; but this is more of what she is as taken out of Him, and therefore essentially of himself.
MJM Is it remarkable that we get the Lord’s tomb as in the garden in John, connecting to what we have in type here as to His death?
GAB It goes on there to the Lord Jesus coming in and presenting Himself, showing them His hands and His side.
MJM Just prior to that His first words as out of death were to the woman; that was in the garden.
GAB There is a good deal of scope for enquiry into the garden. What a wonderful realm it is and it leads on to the idea of the woman which is what we have in this last section of Genesis 2.
It seems to me to connect with the idea of being formed. It is more than creation; it is how Jehovah lovingly took the rib and worked with it until He had something that was equal to the man. I want to be careful in saying that but she was equal in status. The assembly can never be equal as to the Lord in His Person, but in heavenly status she is able to fill out a place which only she can fill out in the whole universe because she is the only vessel said to be taken out of his side.
DJW It shows divine skill. I was thinking of your reference as to how these things affect our practical experiences. We look round and see divine skill in the way He sets us together. The finger of God is in that.
GAB What you see here is a perfect complement to the man. How soon it was spoiled, alas, but here we have perfection.
BWB So this time it is in distinction from all that has gone before. Is it not linked with your idea as to the start of the primary thought? The primary thought of God is going through into eternity.
GAB It is as though God is saying ‘This is what I want, this is what I have purposed and now I have it’, and it is going through into eternity as a bride adorned for her husband.
The deep sleep is a reference to the death of the Lord. It is about the only typical reference I know to the death of Christ that does not involve the moral question, because sin had not arisen here, but it involves that what is to be produced is to be of the same character as the man and death had to come in because the Lord was here in flesh and blood, but the assembly was not possible until after His death.
AEM Do you think one of the results of the deep sleep was that man appreciated what God had done, for the first time? He may have appreciated it before but it does not say so. Beforehand God had looked at it and seen that what He had done was good, but here it is Man who says, “This time”.
GAB He had named all the other creatures already. You can see that one by one they had come to him and he would say, ’That is a magnificent creature, I will call it this’, and others beautiful creatures, but none of them answered to himself until he says, “This time” - ’Here is the one I need’.
MJM Is it worth noting that the Holy Spirit refers to a “deep sleep”? Is there extreme reverence, awe and divine mystery in the fact that it was a deep sleep?
GAB We have referred to the depth in Ephesians 3; there may be some connection there with the depth. The depth is the dimension which is spiritual; it takes you beyond the literal.
MR Would it be right to say that this is the top stone of God’s work?
GAB That is what I thought; it is the divine end. In the next chapter you find that things are quite different. God has in principle reached His end here in Christ and the assembly, what can be better than that.
In Revelation, the passage speaks for itself to a great extent. I understand the reference to the holy city in verse 2 is simply to show that it is the same vessel as is referred to in the millennial account. There it is very much a city, it has a wall and gates, all these city features, it is the same vessel but now this is “coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband”. That would link with “This time it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh”. Entering into the glorious eternal day, “a bride adorned for her husband”, God is coming back to His original thought.
BWB There could not be a closer link. Genesis 2 speaks of “one flesh”, is that what we are talking of here?
GAB Yes, that is right. It is the very original thought which God began with is secured now in finality.
BWB “Prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” - is that preparation in view of filling out eternity?
GAB I think so. It would perhaps relate to the matter of formation we have been speaking about, but all has now been completed. There is no growth in eternity; the preparation is all done: this is the finished product.
BWB So it is one aspect of the Spirit’s work at the present moment.
GAB That is what is going on. There is no more sea and God Himself “shall tabernacle with them”. That is another primary thought of God, the tabernacle. The first reference to a tabernacle is in Exodus 25 where God gave Moses the pattern of the tabernacle. There had been tents before, an individual idea, but the tabernacle was something which originated in the mind of God and so He comes back to it here, “he shall tabernacle with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, their God. And he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes …the former things have passed away”. God has achieved what He set out to do.
RDP-r The word tabernacle would be “dwell amongst”. This might be a difficult word for the younger ones, but it means God is dwelling, or living, amongst His people.
GAB The tabernacle is where God dwelt between the cherubim, the holy ark of the covenant was there, the centre of the divine system; God dwelt there. In John 1 it says, “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1: 14), and the word is ’tabernacled’ among us. That blessed Man was always the pattern for what God will secure eternally.
GR The temple is more official and glorious, but this is intimate, God’s dwelling?
GAB The temple has a glorious meaning in its place in the day to come but God comes back to His original thoughts.
28th March 2009