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The Revelation - Book 8

A study of Revelation 20-22. This is book 8 of an 8 part book series.

Category - Bible Commentaries

Chapter 15

God With Us

Revelation 21:3 says,

3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among [meta, “among, amid, in the midst of, with, by”] men, and He shall dwell among [meta] them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among [meta] them.

This statement comes in the context of the marriage theme in the previous verse, connected by the word “and” at the start of verse 3. For this reason, the statement saying “God Himself shall be among them” is to be taken in the sense of a divine marriage. Furthermore, the voice from the throne tells us that “the tabernacle of God is among men.” We must understand this from a Hebrew perspective, where a tabernacle is a sukkah (and a chuppah), not only a place of worship, but also a marriage canopy.

This also forms the background of the feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkoth, which prophesies of the marriage of the Lamb to His bride. So when it depicts a marriage, it is a time of rejoicing and intimacy. So also Rev. 21:4 says,

4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.

Hence, pain and sorrow are no longer inherent in the new order brought to the new earth by the new Jerusalem. It is a new creation.

The Immanuel Prophecy

In the days of King Ahaz of Judah, the prophet Isaiah took his son, Shear-jashub (“the remnant will return”) to bring a prophetic word to the king. This word was given because the king was afraid of an Assyrian invasion. The northern House of Israel was soon to be taken into captivity, but both Israel and Judah were threatened. Isaiah told Ahaz to “have no fear and do not be fainthearted” (Isaiah 7:4), because their threats “shall not stand nor shall it come to pass” (Isaiah 7:7).

Isaiah then told Ahaz to ask for a sign of deliverance. Ahaz refused, but God intended to impart revelation, not only to him but to future generations. We read in Isaiah 7:12-14,

12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord.” 13 Then he said, “Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well? 14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign; Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”

Immanuel means “God with us,” and this sign will have its final fulfillment in Rev. 21:3, when all enemies have been subdued and “God Himself shall be among them.”

The sign of deliverance given to King Ahaz was the birth of his son, Hezekiah, under whose rule Judah was to be delivered. As a type of Christ, Hezekiah was the “Immanuel” of his day. It was under Hezekiah that the Assyrian army was destroyed after it attempted to conquer Jerusalem (2 Kings 19:35, 36). Isaiah’s assurance that the Assyrian threat “shall not stand nor shall it come to pass” was fulfilled about 40 years later when Hezekiah was 39 years old.

God’s deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrian army fulfilled the prophecy of Immanuel, because it showed them that God was indeed with them. It was God’s presence that delivered Jerusalem and the refugees packed within its stone walls.

The greater level of prophetic fulfillment came with the birth of Jesus, the real “Immanuel,” whose presence would bring salvation and deliverance in a greater way. Hence, when Mary became pregnant by the Holy Spirit, Isaiah’s deliverance prophecy was applicable.

When Mary became pregnant, Joseph thought he should put her away quietly. But Matt. 1:20-23 says,

20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, ‘God with us’.”

It is interesting to note that neither Hezekiah nor Jesus were named Immanuel. Yet they each saved their people—first Jerusalem, and later the world itself. Hezekiah saved his people from Assyria. Jesus saved His people “from their sins.” Both the Assyrians and the people’s sins were enemies on different levels. It is only when the last enemy (death) is destroyed that the Immanuel prophecy is fulfilled entirely.

Hezekiah and Hephzibah

As we have already noted, Hezekiah was a type of Christ. By extension, that means Hephzibah (2 Kings 21:1) was a prophetic type of the bride of Christ. Hephzibah was Hezekiah’s wife and the mother of Manasseh. Isaiah saw Hephzibah in this prophetic role when he prophesied of the New Jerusalem in Isaiah 62:1-5. Verse 1 begins:

1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for [New] Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness [Zedek] goes forth like brightness, and her salvation [Yeshua] like a torch that is burning.

John applies this passage to the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21. It is also of interest to see the Hebrew name of Jesus (Yeshua) appear in the same verse. Isaiah vowed to not remain silent until Jerusalem became the city shining with the light of righteousness (Zedek). This too is prophetic of Jesus, who came as the high priest of Melchizedek, which was the title given first to Shem, the builder and founder of Jerusalem.

In Rev. 21:23, 24 the light of the city is a major feature of the New Jerusalem. Verse 23 says that “the glory of God has illumined” the city, and in verse 24, says, “the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it.”

Isaiah 62:2 continues,

2 And the nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; and you will be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will designate.

It is apparent that the “new name” given to Jerusalem is simply the New Jerusalem, as John calls it in Rev. 21:2.

Isaiah 62:3 continues,

3 You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

When a city was built upon a hill or mountain, its walls resembled a crown on the head of a king. Isaiah 62:4 then speaks of Jerusalem as Hephzibah, saying,

4 It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken” [Azubah], nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate” [Shemamah], but you will be called “My Delight is in her” [Hephzibah], and your land “Married” [Beulah]; for the Lord delights in you, and to Him your land will be married.

This verse specifically mentions Hephzibah in connection to Jerusalem. But John tells us that it is a reference to the New Jerusalem. Hence, Hephzibah is not a restored earthly city, but the heavenly city that comes down from heaven, a city not built with hands, the true city that Abraham was promised, and which he sought (Heb. 11:16).

As the wife of Hezekiah, king of Judah, Hephzibah was the queen. As a type of the bride of Christ, her name shows that Christ delights in her—that is, He has fallen in love with her, and “your land will be married.” Isaiah’s prophecy, then, speaks of the New Jerusalem as being Hephzibah, the wife of the king. This is fulfilled in Revelation 21 when the New Jerusalem is married to Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 62:5 concludes this section, saying,

5 For as a young man marries a virgin, so your sons will marry [ba’al] you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice over you.

It seems odd for Isaiah to say that “your sons will marry you.” Would this not indicate a form of spiritual incest? First of all, “as a young man marries a virgin” speaks of a normal love story. Secondly, Isaiah seems to say that the sons of Jerusalem will marry their mother, Jerusalem. Perhaps this is not the correct translation.

The Hebrew word translated “marry” is ba’al, which most people recognize as the main god of the Canaanites. But it is only a title which means “to take dominion over, to rule, to be master of, to possess, to own.” As a title, it means literally an owner (landowner), master, lord.

The word is also used of marriage, because a husband was said to “rule” over his wife (based on Gen. 3:16). Hence, the word had a broad range of meaning. The Canaanites called their false god ba’al, as if he were the rightful ruler (owner) of the land, whereas Yahweh was the true Owner and King by right of creation.

In Isaiah 62:5, the ones who rule Jerusalem are “sons,” that is, the sons of God, the children of “Sarah,” who represents the New Covenant and the New Jerusalem (Gal. 4:22-26). As the body of Christ with Jesus as their Head, these “sons” are part of the Husband, or Groom, that marries the Bride. But by another metaphor, these sons also rule the New Jerusalem.

The Sons of God

The New Testament concept of the sons of God is unique to Christianity, although perhaps the majority of Christians do not fully understand this truth. In fact, this truth was largely hidden in types and shadows until Jesus Himself was born of a virgin who had been impregnated by the Holy Spirit. This unusual birth made Him the Son of God and the Son of Man at the same time, because He had a heavenly Father and an earthly mother.

This established the pattern for all the sons of God who have been “begotten [gennao] not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13, The Emphatic Diaglott). This occurs when a person believes (has faith in) the word, which is likened to an imperishable “seed” (1 Peter 1:23). When the Holy Spirit begets a holy seed in us, we are said to be impregnated with “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).

Paul tells us that this holy seed is a “new creature,” (2 Cor. 5:17) and a “new man” (Col. 3:10, KJV), distinct from the person that was conceived by our earthly parents. Our “old man” came strictly from Adam, who was the original “old man.” But when we were spiritually begotten, our identity shifted to a new man, which, like Christ, is both a son of God and a son of man. This is because this new man has a heavenly Father and an earthly mother.