21 The revelation of this book is composed of signs (see note 12 in ch. 1). Because of the profundity of the great and important matters in this book, it is difficult for man to speak of them exhaustively in plain words. Thus, all these matters are symbolized and depicted by signs, such as the lampstands, signifying the churches, and stars, signifying the messengers of the churches (ch. 1); Jezebel, signifying the degraded, fornicating Roman Church (ch. 2b); jasper and precious stones, signifying life and the redeeming God (4:3); the Lion and the Lamb, signifying the overcoming and redeeming Christ (ch. 5); the four horses, signifying the gospel, war, famine, and the spreading abroad of death (ch. 6a); the universal woman, signifying God's redeemed throughout the generations, her child, signifying the strong, overcoming ones among God's redeemed, and the dragon, the serpent, signifying the cruel and subtle Satan, the devil (ch. 12); the beast out of the sea, signifying Antichrist, and the beast out of the earth, signifying the false prophet (ch. 13); the harvest, signifying the people growing under God's cultivation, and the firstfruits, signifying the ones who ripen early among those who are growing under God's cultivation (ch. 14); Babylon the Great, signifying Rome, in both its religious aspect and its material aspect (chs. 17--18); and the bride, signifying the saints who are mature and are prepared to be Christ's counterpart (ch. 19a). Besides these, there are many other signs. The final sign, which is also the greatest, is the New Jerusalem, signifying the composition of the totality of God's redeemed saints throughout the generations, who have been regenerated, transformed, and glorified. It is not a material, lifeless city but a corporate living person as the bride, having Christ, such a wonderful person, as her husband (v. 2).
The New Jerusalem is a living composition of all the saints redeemed by God throughout all generations. It is the bride of Christ as His counterpart (John 3:29) and the holy city of God as His habitation, His tabernacle (v. 3). This is the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22), which God has prepared for us and which Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob long after (Heb. 11:10, 16). This is also the Jerusalem which is above and which is our mother (Gal. 4:26). As the bride of Christ, the New Jerusalem comes out of Christ, her Husband, and becomes His counterpart, just as Eve came out of Adam, her husband, and became his counterpart (Gen. 2:21-24). She is prepared by participating in the riches of the life and nature of Christ. As the holy city of God, she is wholly sanctified unto God and fully saturated with God's holy nature to be His habitation.
In both the Old Testament and the New Testament, God likens His chosen people to a spouse (Isa. 54:6; Jer. 3:1; Ezek. 16:8; Hosea 2:19; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:31-32) and a dwelling place for Himself (Exo. 29:45-46; Num. 5:3; Ezek. 43:7, 9; Psa. 68:18; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; 1 Tim. 3:15). The spouse is for His satisfaction in love, and the dwelling place is for His rest in expression. Both of these aspects will be ultimately consummated in the New Jerusalem. In her, God will have the fullest satisfaction in love and the utmost rest in expression for eternity.