Wednesday, 25 August 2021
But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. Revelation 21:22
After describing the city’s sizes, walls, foundations, gates, and so on, John now specifically notes a wonderful truth that he has observed, saying, “But I saw no temple in it.”
The earthly dwelling of the Lord, be it in Shiloh or some other place – even until it came to be located in Jerusalem – was noted as a place where the tabernacle/temple was. The people came to that location to observe their pilgrim feasts in the presence of the Lord, meaning around the tabernacle/temple, but they were not allowed to enter His dwelling place – under pain of death. Only the priests could enter the Holy Place to conduct the daily affairs, and only the high priest – and only once a year on the Day of Atonement – could enter into the Most Holy Place.
Access to God by man was severely restricted. At Christ’s death, that was restored through faith in Christ. However, it is only restored in the sense that believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit. We have access to God in a spiritual sense, but we are not in the physical presence of Christ at this time.
In New Jerusalem, of which the earthly tabernacle was patterned after, there is no temple (meaning a separate dwelling place for God) because the city itself is His dwelling place. As seen in the measurement of the city, it is laid out as a cube, resembling the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle/temple. The entire city is set up as a dwelling place for God, but also for God’s redeemed. This is what is being stated by Jesus all the way back in Chapter 1 –
“To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 1:5, 6
Jesus’ words ultimately anticipate the state of God’s redeemed in New Jerusalem, living as a kingdom of priests. The function of a priest is to serve God. And this is what Revelation 22 says those in New Jerusalem will do –
“And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. 4 They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.” Revelation 22:3, 4
Man will dwell with God, and as servants of Him, we will serve Him. The details of the service are not given, but the fact that it is so is clearly stated. The seven letters, written to the seven churches, show the church today that this is our hope and anticipation. The thought is similar to that found, for example, in Ephesians 2 –
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-6
Paul is writing to saved believers who were (and to this day are) living out lives in earthly bodies. And yet, he writes as if we are already seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. In other words, there is – to God – the already-realized state because of faith in Christ, even if we have not yet attained that state in a physical reality.
This is the force of John’s words in Revelation 1. We are serving in the kingdom of God, right now, but we are also anticipating the full realization of that as well. This is why we do not need a temple today. Until we are glorified, we are God’s dwelling place. And yet, we await the final result of that in the city with no temple – because the city is the dwelling place of God.
John next confirms this, saying, “for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” The idea of these words is that the glory of God fills the entire city, being present there for all to behold. The way this is possible is because of the Lamb. Under the Mosaic Covenant, God resides in the temple, but to have access to Him, there must be a sacrifice. The author of Hebrews explains this –
“Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. 7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; 8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing.” Hebrews 9:6-8
For us now, the sacrifice is complete, and God resides in us during this dispensation as we await the full and final realization of the promise (the sealing of the Spirit). That is explained as well in Hebrews 9 –
“But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” Hebrews 9:11, 12
In New Jerusalem, there is no need for a sacrificial offering because the Lamb is there. He is that full, final, and forever offering to God for the sins of the people. Christ, the God/Man, is the bridge between the two. It is He that makes this intimate and eternal fellowship with God possible. As such, there is one thing being described with two aspects to it. The Greek reads, “for Lord the God the Almighty, temple of it is, and the Lamb.”
This is the last use of pantokratór, or “Almighty,” found in Scripture. In Revelation 1:8, Christ was identified as such. He is God. But here, He is also identified as the arnion, or Lamb (a term consistently used of Him in Revelation). Again, He is God. And yet, they are spoken of as One in this passage. In other words, one could hold up a coin before flipping it and say, “This is the head and the tail of the bet.” It is two aspects of something being used to describe that one thing.
Life application: When Jerusalem was in proper covenant relationship with God, there was a temple standing where He would meet with His people. Solomon built the first. Upon its destruction, the Jewish people were exiled to Babylon. The next temple was built by Zerubbabel. This is described in various books and passages, but Zechariah 4 gives these details –
“The hands of Zerubbabel
Have laid the foundation of this temple;
His hands shall also finish it.” Zechariah 4:9
Although still considered the second temple, it was renovated to a large degree by Herod the Great. Eventually, the temple was destroyed again by the Roman armies under Titus in AD70, and the people were exiled for two thousand years – all due to their disobedience (meaning failure to believe – Hebrews 3:18, 19).
During this period of exile, God’s presence, His Holy Spirit, has dwelt among believers individually. We are the sanctuary where God dwells among men. When believers come together in prayer and worship, we are demonstrating the unity of the body of Christ. However, this period is coming to an end at a point known as the rapture of the church. When this occurs, it will be followed by the building of a new temple in Jerusalem which will be the fulfillment of the 70th week (a seven-year period) of Daniel’s vision in Daniel 9.
At the end of this seven-year period, Christ will return and rule from this same spot in the millennial temple for one thousand years. After that will come the New Jerusalem. King David looked forward to this time of intimate glory when he wrote the 27th Psalm –
“One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.” Psalm 27:4
There is one way to be allowed access into the New Jerusalem – the spot where there will be eternal joy as the saints of the ages live in the presence of God and the Lamb. It is by accepting God’s offer of peace, Jesus Christ. If you have never accepted Jesus Christ, don’t put it off any longer.
No one knows the day of the Lord’s coming – either through death or the rapture. Because our future is unknown, we need to be ready at every moment for our date with destiny. Again, the words of David show us the hope and anticipation of this glorious time ahead –
“You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
It is all made possible because of what God has done in Christ. Hallelujah to our God! Hallelujah to the Lamb of God! Hallelujah to JESUS!
Lord, what a wonderful and glorious hope we have of an eternal walk in Your presence. There is no veil that will separate us from You as in earlier times. And there will be no sin that infects us as we strive to become holy as believers now. There will only be purity, holiness, fellowship, and splendor. Thank You for what the future holds! Thank You for Jesus! Amen.