One day Yahshua went up on a mountainside in Galilee and looked with compassion at the multitudes of people who flocked to Him everywhere He went. They were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. When He found a suitable place and sat down, His disciples gathered around Him and He began to teach them.
They themselves were a rag-tag bunch -- a few fishermen, a tax collector, a political activist... no one of great significance. Yet the Master looked them square in the eyes and told them:
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
"Us? Is He talking about us? The light of the world? A city? Us?"
Yes, He was talking about them , and those who would receive them, 1 and the communities full of wholehearted disciples that would result from them forsaking their old lives for His sake and the Gospel's sake. There would be many "cities" set on hills, shedding light for the world around them to see.
You see, the pronouns "you" and "your" in that passage are plural , not singular . 2 He was speaking of them as a people, not as independent individuals. The light would emanate from the city and their common works . Even that word, works , is interesting. It means one's employment, an enterprise or undertaking , not just some isolated good deeds. It is the effect of one's life, or in this context, the common enterprise of the holy ones in their holy cities (communities). Their light would shine from its lampstand as long as it remained in its place. 3
The Master did not say this to His disciples lightly or as mere poetry, but because this enterprise of theirs was to be the fulfillment of the prophetic word spoken of Him, 4 and by extension, of them as His Body on earth. He would say many such things to them in the days ahead that would sometimes leave them bewildered. He wanted them to know who they were becoming, to be filled with vision about the great purpose for their lives, even if they didn't understand it all at first. Later they would understand, and they would write from their understanding of His words and the words of the Prophets as He had taught them. 5 For everything the Master said and did was to bring about the fulfillment of what was in His Father's heart as expressed in the Law and the Prophets:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-18)
Heaven and earth have not yet passed away, 6 so clearly all has not been accomplished. Contrary to the opinions of many, Messiah's life, death, and resurrection did not fulfill all that is in the Law and the Prophets. It remains for His Body on earth -- His bride, 7 His suitable helper 8 -- to fulfill all things that remain to be fulfilled. 9 He cannot return until she does. 10
So we want to give you a glimpse of who the bride of Messiah is, according to the Scriptures, and of her great purpose, both in this age and for all eternity, for that is where we find our identity. And no one can reasonably claim to be included in His bride (which is the true Body of Messiah) who is not becoming who she is and doing what she does. So with the same awe and wonder as those first disciples had as they learned who they were, not yet having fully attained to it, we write of who we aspire to be, according to the Scriptures.
A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel. (Luke 2:32)
She is the Israel of God, 11 the sons of God 12 who are being conformed to the image of the firstborn Son 13 in this present age. As her Master is, so also is she in this world. 14 She is the very embodiment of Him who is in heaven. 15 She is, in His place, the Servant Israel who fulfills Isaiah's prophecy, becoming the light to the Gentiles, 16 taking or literally being His salvation to the ends of the earth.
God is in the process of making for Himself an eternal dwelling place in us. 17 This dwelling place is the twelve tribes of Israel, the bride and wife-to-be of the Lamb. 18 God, who is Spirit, wants to make Himself visible in a body, a human body 19 -- not just one, but as many as can be sons of God. God needs to be seen in a human body -- a many-membered Body 20 which is in complete unity 21 and total coordination under the Head. 22
This is why Isaiah called her sought out, wanted, necessary. 23 Contrary to Calvinist doctrine, God actually needs redeemed human beings in order to accomplish His eternal purpose. They are essential and absolutely necessary to form His Body, His Holy Temple through whom He will rule the universe of men in the ages to come.
And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, 24 the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:22-23)
He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things. (Ephesians 4:10)
"All things" includes the entire universe. What does it mean to be the fullness of Him who fills the universe in His many sons who are just like His first-born Son? 25
Then I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God." (Revelation 21:2-3)
This passage is speaking of the eternal age that follows the millennial reign of Messiah on the earth, and the Last Judgment. 26 The "men" with whom God dwells in the eternal age are those who have been raised from the first death at the Last Judgment and have been judged not worthy of the second death. 27 They will live a second and eternal life instead, and God will dwell with them. How can He dwell with them? In His dwelling place , which is the bride of Messiah, the wife of the Lamb, 28 the very body of God. 29
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4)
Those who have been raised from the agonies of the first death and judged worthy of life will need healing, and their tears will be wiped away by the Lamb's wife in whom God dwells, who has the same compassion as Messiah. 30Reign in Revelation 22:5 means exactly that. The nations will need to be taught how to live in the eternal age. They will be dependent on us, just as Adam was made to be dependent on God. God makes them dependent upon His sons 31 in whom He dwells. The nations of the eternal age will walk by the light of those who were the light in this age. 32 All nations will serve and obey them , 33 the corporate Body of God.
God is Spirit, 34 therefore humans are unable to see Him unless He dwells in humanity. Redeemed humanity will reign over restored humanity. 35 The One who humbled Himself will then, with His many brothers who are like Him, 36 ascend to the oversight of the universe. 37 He who is the body of God now has His many brothers who are the corporate body of God. This is the "perfect man" of Ephesians 4:11-16, which is now in the making.
The dwelling place of God 38 is now in the process of being fitted together. The chief cornerstone is the support for the whole building. It is the foundation or basic element in the whole building. 39 The chief cornerstone is our Master, and we are His servants, 40 the living stones of 1 Peter 2:5. By the grace of apostleship, 41 the stones are being placed and adjusted until they fit each other perfectly, making an eternal dwelling place for the Godhead to dwell in bodily form, in order to bring peace and order to the whole human family in the far reaches of the universe.
The whole universe will be qualitatively changed, 42 with eternal planets and stars for the immortal humans who will occupy them all -- the men 43 of the nations who were worthy of a second life will now be God's people, and He will be their God through us, His temple or body, which houses His Spirit. 44
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase 45 of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
There will be no end to the increase of His government, which is His bride, His wife in the eternal age. 46 She will be the nucleus through which the promise is fulfilled that Abraham's descendants will be like the sands of the oceans..." 47 As Psalm 102 prophesies,
Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; yes, they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will have no end. The children of Your servants will continue, and their descendants will be established before You. (Psalm 102:25-28)
The countless descendants, perpetually propagated through the spiritual union of Messiah and His wife, 48 will rule over restored humanity who fill up the earth and then colonize the "changed" heavens made habitable for them. Is there any end to the universe? Thus, as Paul prophesied, the glory of Messiah will reach to all generations, forever and ever. 49 There can be no end to the increase of His rulers who will reign forever and ever, 50 since there will be no end to the propagation of the restored men of the nations who can now go on to fulfill Genesis 1:26-28.
How will this happen? As Paul said, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things God has prepared for those who love Him." 51 Yet we know where this glorious future begins: right here in this present age. First God must have a people who love Him enough to obey Him, who do His will on the earth and cause His name to be hallowed. 52
He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him... If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (John 14:21,23)
He will reveal Himself to those who obey Him, and that revelation will cause them to obey Him all the more, 53 so that they become a witness to His character, a living demonstration of Messiah on the earth. Only this will bring about His return and the end of this age. 54 We must fulfill what was spoken prophetically of our Master:
Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring 55 from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:78-79)
The "Dayspring" provides light and truth and true forgiveness of sins and the way of peace for the people blinded by the darkness of their sins, 56 and groping for truth in the midst of confusion. 57 If we are not this "sprout" or "dayspring" from on high, then we are just one more religion amongst all the confusion.
The light of Luke 1:79 and 2:32 emanates from the life 58 of the restored twelve tribes of Isaiah's prophecy, who are the embodiment of Messiah:
Indeed He says, "It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth." (Isaiah 49:6)
Paul understood that Isaiah was speaking prophetically of Messiah and His bride, and that it would take the light of the restored twelve tribes to bring salvation to the Gentiles 59 and ultimately to win his own countrymen. 60 We are here to carry on where Paul left off. To bring about this prophecy we labor night and day in one accord 61 in order to be the light of the world, 62 a city set on a hill, to enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, 63 to bring revelation to the Gentiles, 64 causing them to glorify God as He "visits" them through us. 65
We are in training now for what we will be doing throughout eternity.