Monday, 22 February 2021
Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail. Revelation 11:19
With the doxology of the twenty-four elders complete, John next says, “Then the temple of God was opened in heaven.” The translation is confused. It should rather say, “Then the temple of God in heaven was opened.” John is seeing a vision of the heavenly temple. And rather than the entire temple, this is referring to the Most Holy Place in the temple. This is the place where, in the earthly sanctuary, the Ark of the Covenant was set. It is the place where the Lord said He would dwell among Israel.
However, the book of Hebrews explains that the earthly sanctuary was only a type, or shadow, of the true sanctuary –
“Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.
3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. 4 For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; 5 who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” 6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.” Hebrews 8:1-6
In other words, everything about the earthly sanctuary was given to represent a more perfect spiritual reality in heaven. To understand this, the entire series of sermons concerning the construction of the sanctuary, which is detailed in the book of Exodus, can be reviewed at the Superior Word website. This link will take you to all written Exodus sermons – http://superiorword.org/wp-content/uploads/study-pdfs/exodus-commentary-rev1.pdf
Every detail of its construction points to the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Therefore, what John is seeing is another revelation of Jesus Christ that points to spiritual truths. With this understanding, he next says, “and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple.”
The ark of the covenant, in every detail, pictures Christ Jesus. Placed within it were the Ten Commandments, signifying that He is the embodiment of the law. The two poles picture the two testaments – the Old and the New. The mercy seat place on top of it pictures Christ, the place of propitiation for man. He is the spot where atonement is made, and where restoration is realized. And so on. This is only a small part of the typology that pointed to Christ.
Here, the significance of the ark being seen is based on the words of the doxology of the twenty-four elders. Their words spoke of the reigning authority of Christ, and of His judgments. As Christ is the embodiment of the law, He has full authority to judge according to the law. As He is the place of atonement, it is He who atones for the sins of those who are His. For those who are not His, their condemnation remains. In saying that the ark of the covenant is seen, it means that the basis for judgment – meaning the law – is now being presented. With that in mind, the verse and the chapter end with, “And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.”
The wording is similar to verses 4:5 and 8:5 –
lightnings, thunderings, and voices – 4:5
noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake – 8:5
lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail – 11:19
It can be seen that the number and types of events have increased. It is as if the wrath of God is increasing as the pages of Revelation continue to unfold. The terrifying events are similar to the great display that occurred when the Law of Moses was received on Mt. Sinai. The judgment on the world is based on this standard, which no one can meet. As Paul says in Romans 3:20 –
“Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
The law was given to show all people of the world their sinful state and that something more than our own works is needed, meaning the imputed righteousness of Christ. Here, the world has rejected this and will now be judged based on the standard set forth in the law. The world has rejected Christ’s imputed righteousness as testified to by the bringing forth of the ark. Only the saints who trust in Christ alone, and not on some other standard of righteousness, are to be saved. The rest will perish in their unrighteousness.
Life application: For any who are willing to call on Jesus, mercy will be granted. God is infinitely merciful, and He understands our failings. However, He is perfect in His being, and only perfection may be accepted by Him. This perfection cannot be attained by our own efforts because we are already imperfect. What we need is the perfection of Christ to cover us. This is why the Bible uses the term “in Christ.” It means just that. We are in Him, and when God looks at us, it is through the covering of His Son.
Let us be sure to let the world know this. The gospel is not merely one means of reconciliation with God. Rather, it is the ONLY means of reconciliation with Him. But in understanding our already fallen nature, we should be eternally grateful that God has even given us this one means of restoration. Yes, let us be forever grateful to God for the giving of JESUS!
O God, You have revealed to us the glory of Your Son and the magnificent work that He has accomplished for Adam’s fallen seed. How great, yes, how truly great You are. Thank You, O God, for the perfect and glorious Gift who is Jesus our Lord! May we be sure to tell the world of this wonderful means of restoration and forgiveness while there is still time. Amen.