The city in two places at once

The place where only God can truly be “all in all.”

A few months ago, I did a podcast episode (#44) on the topic of the kingdom of God being a present reality and a future certainty. In this article I am looking at some other terms that apply to the heavenly reality of godly existence: Mount Zion, the city of God, and the heavenly Jerusalem.

In the books of Hebrews and Revelation, the terms are used interchangeably. Here are passages from each next to another, underlining the key terms to show the comparison:

Hebrews 12:22 – “Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem)…”
Revelation 21:10 – “He then carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain [Zion] and showed me the holy city [city of God], Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven [heavenly Jerusalem] from God…”

Zion has been associated with Jerusalem all throughout the Bible. Yet, when that name is used for Jerusalem, or the mountain upon which it sits, it typically has a prophetic and symbolic meaning. Consider the following:

Psalm 2:6 – “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

This verse is almost universally accepted as being a Messianic verse applying to Yeshua.

Psalm 48:1-3 – “Great is Yahweh and greatly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King. Within her citadels God has made himself known as a fortress.”

This could be a psalm about the might of the earthly Jerusalem in the time it was written, but it does have overtones of a more expansive and symbolic location (in the far north).

Psalm 50:2 – “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.”

Again, this is a psalm speaking of the eternal judgment of God reaching beyond just the sacrificial system of physical Jerusalem (“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!,” v. 23).

And the most quoted prophecy in the NT (seven times in all) alluding to the rulership of Messiah over God’s kingdom:

Psalm 110:1-2 – “A Psalm of David. Yahweh says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” Yahweh sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies!”

To my way of thinking, the term Zion in the OT represents in foreshadow what begins coming to pass in reality during the ministry of Yeshua, and then comes to be an ongoing spiritual reality in the consummation of that age when the temple is ultimately destroyed once and for all.

Notice some of the “pre-consummation” instances how the city is still “in heaven.”

Hebrews 12:22 – “Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem)…”
Galatians 4:24-26 – “These things are being taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai and bears children into slavery ​– ​this is Hagar. Now Hagar represents Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.”

But then, when we arrive at the Revelation language, it appears the city is now shifted to the action of “coming down” out of heaven:

Revelation 3:12 – “The one who conquers I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never go out again. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God ​– ​the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God ​– ​and my new name.”
Revelation 21:2 – “I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.”

While I would not necessarily be dogmatic on the issue, I think it is a fascinating study of some of the terms and how they are used relating to the symbolic and representative focal point of all Creation. I believe this once again demonstrates a strong continuity between the prophecy of the past in the Tanakh (OT) and the prophetic writings demonstrating fulfillment during the NT times.

What I take away is that the city of God, Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, is a present reality (continually coming down) and also a future habitation of the just for all eternity. The city that lives in two realities at once is the ultimate place of God’s presence, reconciling all things to himself in one. It is in this place that God truly can be “all in all,” (1 Corinthians 15:28; Ephesians 1:23).


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Vigilance on the road to New Eden

The way consists of focusing on God and dying to self.

The vigilance required to live the life that God requires involves two distinct yet complementary aspects: a constant focus on God and a committed attitude of dying to self.

Focus on God:
Romans 8:5 – For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit.

Dying to self:
Romans 8:12-14 – So then, brothers, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, because if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.

Focus on God:
Colossians 3:1-2 – So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Dying to self:
Colossians 3:5-10 – Therefore, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, God’s wrath is coming upon the disobedient, and you once walked in these things when you were living in them. But now, put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator.

The apostle Paul conveys some of his most profound teaching in the passages presented here. The crux of the believer’s life is rooted in these deep truths. The summation of the argument in both cases is the ongoing blending of these twin acts of keeping one’s eyes on God and dying to self.

  • “For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons,” (Romans 8:14).
  • “…you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator,” (Colossians 3:10).

Focusing on God and dying to self is defined here as being “led by God’s Spirit,” and by “putting off the old self; putting on the new self.” By faithfully doing these things, Paul says we engage a process of renewal, a type of ongoing resurrection from dead practices to knowledge of what is right. As this process continues we become what God has originally created us to be, “in his image.”

Genesis 1:27 – So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.
Genesis 9:6 – … for God made humans in his image.

All of humanity’s striving is to get back to Eden, to return to the original concept and design that God has for all people. Yet Messiah has begun a new type of creation, one that is better because in it we can be victorious over all trial and temptation. This the the grand goal of all Scripture, to point us in that direction and to empower us through his Spirit living within us. Only dying to self allows for this level of renewal. Only a clear focus on God and his Word provides for dying to self. And the two aspects of this life of dying to self and being led by God’s Spirit are brought to fruition through Messiah Yeshua.

Romans 8:1-2 – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Messiah Yeshua, because the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yeshua has set you free from the law of sin and death.
Colossians 3:1 – So if you have been raised with Messiah, seek the things above, where Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God.

In Messiah, God had begun this new and renewed humanity. As Adam was the first physical being, Yeshua became the first spiritually renewed being.

1 Corinthians 15:45-49 – So it is written, The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is of heaven. Like the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; like the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.

As we focus on Messiah and his steadfast obedience to God, we are renewed in his likeness to ultimately bear the image of God.

Galatians 5:16, 24-25 – I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. … Now those who belong to Messiah Yeshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvR_aNEyA7WEZJtF4B8fZ6g

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Living righteously removes fear

Doing what’s right instills confidence in those who practice it.

Psalm 112:1 – Praise Yahweh! Happy is the person who fears Yahweh, taking great delight in his commands.

The idea contained within the completeness of this psalm is that the righteous individual, one who fears God and abides by his word, is blessed by God.

  • v. 2 Their descendants will be powerful and blessed
  • v. 3 They will have wealth and riches

They are:

  • v. 4 industrious, gracious, merciful
  • v. 5 just in all dealings
  • v. 9 generous
  • v. 9 they receive honor

This is the picture of a righteous person who lives with integrity. This is also the idea that the disciples of Yeshua had of someone who is considered righteous by God. If someone was rich and powerful, they thought, it was clear they were blessed by God.

However, Yeshua provided further insight regarding wealth and power.

Matthew 19:23-26 – Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were utterly astonished and asked, “Then who can be saved? ” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Yeshua took the disciples perspective that all wealthy people must be blessed by God and turned it on its head, a concept which astonished the disciples. True wealth, he says, is maintained by those who are rich toward God and toward his righteous standards.

Matthew 6:19-21 – “Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

In fact, that was the very discussion he had just had with the rich young ruler, and which caused the disciples to be considering this question of God’s blessing on the wealthy in the first place.

Matthew 19:21-22 – “If you want to be perfect,” Jesus said to him, “go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard that, he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.

Our perspective must always be based on the overall message of God’s word, not just certain aspects of it, or verses taken out of context here and there. When God says the righteous will be blessed, he means it; but being blessed by God should not be the reason and motivation for living righteously.

Living according to God’s standards provides for needs and also allows one to be generous with others as God provides above and beyond. Yet, being wealthy, something many people seek to attain, should not be an end in itself. When it is, then the attainment of riches becomes the standard, and any means will be used to reach that goal.

Instead, Yeshua encourages believers to focus on doing what’s right, and God will bless as he sees fit and in his own timing. When this understanding is the focus of the individual, the confidence of the believer is that, though they may not have attained their own personal financial desires, doing what God requires according to his wisdom is more valuable than any riches in the world.

A sampling from the Proverbs can easily demonstrate this:

Proverbs 3:13-14 – Happy is a man who finds wisdom and who acquires understanding, for she is more profitable than silver, and her revenue is better than gold.
8:11, 19 – “For wisdom is better than jewels, and nothing desirable can equal it. … “My fruit is better than solid gold, and my harvest than pure silver.
16:8, 16, 19 – Better a little with righteousness than great income with injustice. … Get wisdom — how much better it is than gold! And get understanding — it is preferable to silver. … Better to be lowly of spirit with the humble than to divide plunder with the proud.

True wealth is not measured in dollars and cents, but in the abundant measure of doing what’s right. When this is the true stance of the believer, there is no fear of losing that abundance, because it is not something that can be taken away.

Psalm 112: 7-8 – He will not fear bad news; his heart is confident, trusting in Yahweh. His heart is assured; he will not fear.

This should be the central core of the believer’s perspective. Doing right according to God’s standards, living with integrity, allows one the privilege of confidence and dominion over fear; fear of loss, fear of failure, fear of the unknown. When one is operating from this confident place of a settled mind, they can be more assured in their just dealings, and this can naturally lead to increased abundance. However, abundance in and of itself is not the measure to attain. It may be the by-product of faithful work and just dealings, but it should not be the end-goal of all industry.

While God can provide bountifully for his own, the larger perspective is that everything we have belongs to him and can be given up in a moment. When this is the heart perspective of the believer, then all confidence is in God, not in the abundance of things. There is no bad news that this type of assurance cannot overcome.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvR_aNEyA7WEZJtF4B8fZ6g

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.