The New Jerusalem—a Pattern for Living—Foundation of the Apostles and Prophets
A full description of the New Jerusalem, the topic of this study, is recorded in John's book of Revelation.
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
— Revelation 21:10-21
This heavenly depiction is so much more than a fantasy home to look forward to at the end of our earthly journey. It is the blueprint of an entire Christian life lived for God.
Much like the Tabernacle of the Old Testament Tabernacle, in which every detail spoke of salvation through a sacrificial system which Christ fulfilled, so to this structure's every detail will have something to say about a life lived in fellowship with Him. Both structure's main goal and focus are to dwell with God eternal.
This structure consists of the individual lives of believers, and It is also a picture and symbol of how God was able to take sinful humanity and bring forth a new and beautiful creation.
For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.
— I Corinthians 3:9
. . . you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
— I Peter 2:5
Every foundation and gate will include people that were not perfect but submitted themselves and surrendered their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ, whose name means salvation. And in the end, the Lord was able to create a beautiful and suitable habitation with their lives.
So it is with us. Our individual lives may not seem to bear much beauty from our mistakes and may even be marred by the sins committed against us. But as we place our faith, trust, and hope in the saving work of Jesus' death for our sins and the sins committed against us, and in His resurrection, we can believe to have our lives resurrected and transformed into a beautiful new and perfect creation.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
— Romans 8:28
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
— Ephesians 2:10
This particular study will focus on the foundation of the apostles part of this structure.
The Convincing Element
The chief cornerstone is about the Father's love for us shown through the life and death of His Son on our behalf. This event is the beginning and the base of the entire structure of our lives. The foundation stones in the holy city reflect how that love works out in the lives of those who would come to faith in Jesus Christ. The lives of the apostles evidenced this thought.
Most of the apostles died a martyr's death except for one, John was exiled to the Island of Patmos, and it is unclear how he died. It isn't to say that he didn't die a martyr's death, but it is merely unknown. Nonetheless, he died while imprisoned for his faith in the Lord and Savior Messiah.
Most of their deaths were torturous and brutal. Was it merely a religion for which they died? Consider that to avoid these tragic events, all they had to do was deny this religion if that was all it was. What was it about their faith that they knew and understood and made them willing to suffer and die such horrible deaths? I believe it was love. I think the love of the Father indeed had entered the Holy of Holies of their being through their faith in His Son, and it is so "rock-solid" that nothing could penetrate nor destroy it.
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 8:37-39
They had learned a kind of love that they did not want to be separated from, no matter its cost.
What makes the apostles such a firm foundation is that they were all eye-witness testimonies of the Lord's life, death, and resurrection. Secondly, the fact that they were willing to die for Him solidified that fact. Who would die for something that was a lie? When a person gives a false witness, it is generally to protect and preserve themselves. To have been killed for this love establishes its validity.
. . . By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.”
— I Corinthians 13:1
There are people in the world who call themselves martyrs but are not. These are those who use their own lives to destroy others, such as suicide bombers. We could call this reverse martyrdom, in that they are dying for the reason of hate. Their hatred and death for it convince no one of anything. It is controlling, manipulative, and evil.
However, it is telling and highly persuasive for a person to be so full of the love of God that they could not help but live their lives to convince the world of that love even at the expense of their own lives.
So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
— Acts 4:18-20
God wants to fill our lives with the knowledge of Him and our experiences with Him that we cannot help but speak about what we have seen and heard.
According to Luke 6:45, our mouth will speak what our heart is full of, and nothing is more convincing than genuine enthusiasm about the things we have seen, heard, and experienced. Our experience with God is our witness.
It's All About His Love
Earlier in Acts Chapter four, Peter is being confronted by the religious rulers about healing a man and preaching about Jesus and His great love to the people. The Chief priests and rulers wanted to know by what power and whose name they are doing this. Peter explains:
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
— Acts 4:8-12
Peter says that the foundation and cornerstone were Jesus showing the Father's love to fallen humanity, and it was this love that they were rejecting. A man is made whole by being loved by God through His Son Jesus Christ is the foundation.
One last note I would like to make from Acts chapter four relevant to our study is the following.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.
— Acts 4:13
Do our lives give witness that we have been with Jesus? It is vital to the foundation of our structure to be so permeated with His love from being in His presence that people marvel not because we are smart, funny, or pleasant to be around but that we emanate the scent of being around Him that reaches out to others. This love must be witnessed in our own lives to build a solid structure. The man standing with them who was healed and made whole, and sharing this great news could not be argued with it was a firm foundation.
IFor we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life . . .
— II Corinthians 2:15-16
This solid foundation is being laid and pulled together in Revelation.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
— Revelation 12:11
- The blood of the lamb. (chief cornerstone) The foundation is laid upon our reception of this love shown through the life and sacrifice of Yeshua.
- The word of their testimony (Apostle foundation) built upon this chief cornerstone is sharing this love with others by those who have been witnesses to it by experience.
- And they loved not their lives even unto death (Apostle foundation) solidifying the whole thing is the knowledge of this love so profoundly that their own lives were inconsequential in comparison to living for Him.
We might be tempted to think that these were special men and had something that perhaps we don't.
As it refers to this topic, the following is a quote from a portion of Herbert Lockyear's book titled All the Apostles of the Bible.
"Some time ago, The Readers' Digest carried a most illuminating article by Ernest Hauser on The Miracle of the Twelve, which bore the subtitle, Hand-picked by Jesus, they were the missionaries of a message that changed the world." Who were these men whom Jesus chose, in whose honor cathedrals have been built, around whom legend has spun golden webs, and whose names have been used naming multitudes since? How was it that principally through the evangelistic efforts within three and a half centuries, proud imperial Rome succumbed to the glad tidings of the Redeemer from the East?
A fact we cannot deny is that no body of men, few or many, has ever exercised so vast an influence on the world as the small circle of ordinary men Jesus called, trained, commissioned, and empowered to further His cause. surveyed from the human angle, the twelve had meager equipment for the great tasks before them. They are referred to as being "unlettered and ignorant men," which means they were unprofessional men absolutely outside the current schools of philosophical, political and religious thought.
To all appearances no mission seemed more hopeless than theirs. Were they not facing and enterprise doomed to failure, seeing they had no social status no organization behind them, no wealth of their own or wealthy backers? How could they then expect success in the world wide campaign awaiting them? They became companions of a Man who was born in poverty, spent most of His years in obscurity, never had any position in life, never wrote a book, was gibbeted as a felon between two thieves, and who lived for only 33 years. How could they expect to bring the impact of their witness to bear upon the world as followers of One who was despised and rejected of men? Yet forward they went to summon the world to His feet, and the world came - and is still coming, for in spite of the godlessness of our age, there are millions today in the world who love this Man of Galilee . . .
. . . they were men with like passions as ourselves. With all their noble qualities, they had their imperfections and limitations . . . He called them to follow Him, not because of what they were in themselves when He met them for the first time, but because of what under His tuition, and by His power they would become . . .
. . . It is not what we are, in ourselves, when we hear and respond to Christ's call, but what by His grace and power He can make us as we company with Him. When Jesus called those first disciples, He said,"Follow me, and I will make you" - and there are no self-made Christians in His service . . .
. . . those whom the Lord wants and wins are those He is able to fashion into human books to tell the story of His love and grace. As did those He gathered around Him in the days of His flesh, disciples today begin their apprenticeship by following Christ, daily learning of, and from Him (Matt. 11:29). Then as they grow in grace and knowledge, they become more fitted to represent the Savior in a world of sin and need . . .
. . . To us, the apostles were not exceptional men, strangers to our weakness, temptations and difficulties. Jesus chose twelve typical representative men...He chose those who were poor and teachable as the clay out of which to fashion spiritual greatness . . .
. . . The twelve Christ chose, then, were twelve men, distinguished by marked degrees of difference and varieties of temper and disposition...
. . .These twelve types were selected as a representation of a narrow circle of the whole human race, in which there is a great variety of types . . .
. . . It has been suggested that in the ch oice of the twelve, Christ was experimenting on the entire human race. If He could bring these twelve under His power and subdue them to His qualities, it would be proof that all men might be made to yield to His sway. It was a prophetic demonstration that His salvation was adapted to all classes with varieties of disposition and qualities. The selection was also proof that Jesus was both willing and able to employ all manner of gifts and all manner of natures in His service. Doubtless if the choice had been ours we should have left several of the twelve out, and chosen others . . .
The names of the twelve appear on the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem which their devotion and dedication helped to build" . . .
. . . Twelve is the number establishing governmental perfection . . . it is a clear illustration to the tribes of a new people. It happily expresses that Jesus was the Divine Messianic King.1
No One Is Too Difficult
It is interesting to note that when looking at how the disciples are listed in different orders in the various Gospels, Peter is always mentioned first. Could it be that he possibly had one of the more complicated personality types? Peter would depict that even the most difficult of personalities can be saved and transformed. It may be that this is why so many things are revealed about Peter's personality traits in the Gospel accounts.
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
— II Corinthians 3:9
The foundation and provision for all types of temperaments were made and laid. God made sure that anyone who wants to know the love of the Father may come.
The guarantee of the Father's love was founded on Jesus, the Chief Cornerstone. He came to make the Father's love available to all of humanity by paying the penalty for our sins,
It is not a particular type of personality that prevents people from knowing the Father's love. It is our sin that separates us from Him.
Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.
— Isaiah 59:1-2
May we never see anyone as impossible, including ourselves. The only thing standing between God and any person now is the unawareness of the forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ.
. . . And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”
— Mark 10:26 -27
No circumstance or personality can keep the Love of the Father from a heart that yearns to know Him. Our sins are forgiven, and our debt paid; There is now nothing standing between ourselves and the Father's divine love.
The Gems Are the Transformed Believers
The foundation stones of this structure were described as gems, which I believe are symbolic of something.
The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.
— Revelation 21:19-20
Gems are naturally occurring crystalline forms of a mineral, which is desirable for their beauty, and they are valuable in their rarity and durability.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
— I Peter 2:9
Gems develop from minerals, inorganic substances made up of two or more elements. This uniting of materials represents the solidity of the witness and agreement of two or more things.
. . . “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.”
— II Corinthians 13:1
Here we have twelve. According to Revelation 12:11, the stones were made up of their testimony and loving God more than their own life laid on the foundation of Jesus, the chief cornerstone. We have a witness from heaven and two witnesses from the earth.
. . . that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.
— Hebrews 6:18
We can be sure of the Father's love. All the evidence is confirmed and reconfirmed in the lives of faithful believers.
How do we become everlasting gems? First, we must be cleansed from our sin (foundation) by the blood of the lamb. Next, we need to experience the gracious love of the Father and be a testimony to others of it. (by the word of our testimony). And thirdly, we must love God more than ourselves. (love not our lives even unto death) (Revelation 12:11)
According to Herbert Lockyer
"It is not what we are, in ourselves, when we hear and respond to Christ's call, but what by His grace and power He can make us as we company with Him. When Jesus called those first disciples, He said,"Follow me, and I will make you" - and there are no self-made Christians in His service . . .
. . . those whom the Lord wants and wins are those He is able to fashion into human books to tell the story of His love and grace. As did those He gathered around Him in the days of His flesh, disciples today begin their apprenticeship by following Christ, daily learning of, and from Him (Matt. 11:29). Then as they grow in grace and knowledge, they become more fitted to represent the Savior in a world of sin and need . . . "
A transformation must take place for these materials to become gems. Usually, heat and pressure are required.
“O you afflicted one, Tossed with tempest, and not comforted, Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems, And lay your foundations with sapphires.
— Isaiah 54:11
"We must, through many tribulations, enter the kingdom of God." (Acts 14:22)
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.
— I Peter 4:12-14
There is no way to avoid the tribulations of this life. Jesus said that in this world, we would have trouble, according to John 16:33. Do we let them crush us, or do we surrender to the love of our Father and allow them to transform us into a beautiful jewel as we trust in Him?
We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we areperplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed
— II Corinthians 4:8
Each experience is a new opportunity to learn who God says He is to us.
Gems have no light source of their own, and their beauty can only be beheld when the light is absorbed by it. Only the color that is not absorbed gets reflected. We are reflecting on the qualities of God as we absorb the light of His love. When we absorb the Love of God, something of His character reflects through facets of our particular personality and experience.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . . .
— Genesis 1:26
We were initially designed to be reflections of His goodness and character.
. . . And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
— I Corinthians 15:49
We reflect which every realm we dwell; Flesh, the man of dust or spirit, the heavenly man.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
— Romans 8:5
Each stone is individual and unique. God's love is not generic. We are not a speck in a sea of faces. Every human being that has submitted their lives to Him becomes another facet and reflection of His light and glory.
You shall also be a crown of glory In the hand of the LORD, And a royal diadem In the hand of your God.
— Isaiah 62:3
Gems are usually mined and resurrected from dead, dry stone.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
— I Corinthians 4:7
Sources and Credits
1"All the Apostles of the Bible" by Herbert Lockyer. Copyright 1972 by Zondervan Publishing House. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com”
© 2010 Tamarajo