Reflections on Revelation #271

‘Day 271

“And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! Who will not fear You, Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy; For all the nations will come and worship before You, For Your righteous acts have been revealed.” After these things I looked, and the temple of the tabernacle of testimony in heaven was opened, 6 and the seven angels who had the seven plagues came out of the temple, clothed in linen, clean and bright, and their chests wrapped with golden sashes.” Revelation 15:3-6 (NASB)

The basis for worship in this text is the public display of God’s mighty and righteous acts. At history’s end, everyone will see that God has destroyed sin and oppression and has delivered His faithful people. God’s saving action will be so overwhelming that the redeemed will break out into spontaneous devotion.

This mention of the temple in heaven is one of many references to the sanctuary in Revelation. Each of the book’s 7 main sections is introduced with a scene based on the sanctuary. To summarize briefly:

Rev 1:12-20. Jesus is among the 7 golden lamp-stands. These represent the churches on earth (1:20). So God’s church is a temple in its own right (1 Cor 3:17; 1 Pet 2:1-10). Rev 4-5 contains a thorough mix of images from every part and service of the sanctuary. The scene represents the inauguration of the sanctuary itself when every item in the sanctuary was dedicated to God. Revelation 8:3-5. The focus of this passage is intercession. The prayers of the saints are combined with incense from the altar to enhance their effectiveness before God. Revelation 11:19. Here is a view of the Most Holy Place, where the Ark of the Covenant can be found. It appears in the context of judgment. In Revelation 15 and 16, the temple is emptied. The heavenly sanctuary was inaugurated in Revelation 4 and 5, went through phases of intercession and judgment and is here shut down, its services have ceased.

Revelation 21:1-8. In Rev 21:2-3 the “tabernacle” is actually the New Jerusalem descending to earth. The city is symbolically shaped like a cube, just like the Most Holy Place of the sanctuary. God and the Lamb become the temple of the city themselves. 
The Book of Revelation displays a completed sanctuary cycle. The cycle begins on earth (Rev 1) and ends on earth (Rev 21). Scenes 2-6, on the other hand, focus on the heavenly sanctuary throughout the Christian era. The sanctuary is inaugurated, goes through phases of intercession and judgment, then is abandoned. When the plan of salvation is over, the sanctuary will no longer be needed. 

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