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Monday: In the Temple of God — 10 Comments

  1. I have no doubt that heaven is real with real objects in it, but I have no idea how that reality is going to be implemented. We quickly run into absurdities if we limit ourselves to what we think of in our physical world.

    Just, for example, suppose 1 billion people are saved, how are they going to physically gather at the throne of God? I save myself from the mental gymnastics of that using my mother's favourite saying; "God will work it out!"

    I am not saying we should not think about it, but we should also be realistic enough to keep it in perspective. As I have alluded to previously, we have the potential to become cargo cultists or utopian if we focus on the physical implementation.

    Ultimately, Heaven is where God is, and salvation is about a relationship with God. Those are two realities we can work with now, and share with others. Christianity is nothing if it is not practical.

    • Since we believe that when Christ comes in the clouds as King of kings and Lord of lord's, every eye shall see Him, is a reality, Revelation 1:7, the reality of a gathering of God's people the number that is larger than the sands of the sea, sitting at the throne of God , also becomes plausible. Ezekiel implies that God's throne is much more vast than a 12'x 12' cube -- as vast as the firmament. The firmament is the blue dome arching across our heads. A beautiful sky-blue sapphire fits what Ezekiel saw. Ezekiel 1:26. I would put forth that God's throne in heaven is even larger than the firmament, which will accommodate all of us, as part of a gathering so large, we are innumerable.

  2. Unfortunately, the Bible is not a book that can be interpreted literally from cover to cover. Is this because God was deliberately trying to make things difficult for a person to understand, or that it is not reliable or cannot be trusted? Or is it due to the inherent limitations in developing a written work that needs to try and convey things that are 'out of this world' to a vast diversity of people across cultures and thousands of years where ways of understanding, thinking and communicating differ greatly? Think about your own use of language to friends and family members. Do you always speak literally, or do you use symbols and figures of speech to try to communicate? Why do you do this? Do unintentional misunderstandings sometimes arise in the process that then take time and effort to sort out? Does this mean we can't trust the language process, and therefore throw it out completely?

    Revelation - to reveal, not hide - predominantly uses symbolism and figures of speech. Its purpose is to try and reveal awareness of things that are outside of our normal awareness -- not the literal detail of those things, but rather the nature and character of those things. And, as Maurice has said, the ultimate purpose for revealing the nature and character of things is practical application of that awareness.

    Consider for example Revelation 7:14 that the lesson mentioned. Can you literally wash a robe in blood and have it come out white? This verse, like all other verses, does paint a mental picture for sure. But, like abstract art, the picture is not the literal reality; it is symbolic of the nature and character of the reality and the practical implications of such. So, within Scripture the blood of the lamb symbolises Christ (John 1:29; Isaiah 53:7) who was willing to hold to self-renouncing/other-benefiting love, even to the point of being willing to lay down his life (as per convergence of Philippians 2:8; John 10:18; John 15:13; Leviticus 17:11,14). A robe in Scripture is metaphorical of character (eg Revelation 22:14). Therefore, those who have washed their robes in the blood of the lamb are those who have had their characters re-formed from being based the 'fallen' state of self-seeking to instead, in Christlikeness, being once again based on humanity's originally-created, 'pre-fallen' state of self-renouncing/other-benefiting love (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12-14; Romans 12:2; Philippians 2:3-5, etc).

    It is just a reality that each of us, myself included, need to learn from others how to unpack Scripture (see Acts 8:26-31; Romans 10:13-15). And this 'communal learning' is the reality that the Holy Spirit typically works within and through. And this is why we each share what we share on this forum -- to mutually learn from each other so our understanding can grow -- and in turn foster our practical application of that learning.

    So, how might we apply the idea of symbolism helping us unpack and understand the nature and character of something to some of the other verses contained in today's lesson? I invite your thoughts...

    • I agree with you, Phil. We can see that even to the writer of Revelation, he could not accurately describe everthing he saw because he had no human terms of reference for them. That is why John, in many texts in revelation used the word "like."

  3. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” I Cor 2:9.

    I look forward to heaven, a place that I cannot begin to see or understand while on this earth. I rely on God’s promises which are just and true.

  4. "Some people speak of heaven itself as being God’s sanctuary. But the book of Revelation refers to a specific sanctuary/temple within the New Jerusalem, where God’s throne and the sea of glass are located."

    The author of the lesson makes the assertion above and then cites scriptural references from John’s vision that from context and commentaries clearly show that these scenes do represent God's temple in heaven and not the New Jerusalem.

    It is unclear to me why the author appears to have wrested these scriptures from their context to make this point.

    He then cites Richard M. Davidson, who claims “But does that mean there is no longer a house of the Lord where His creatures can come and have special fellowship with Him? By no means!” Mr. Davidson cites Revelation 21:22 as proof of his assertion. And what does this verse say? “I [John] saw no temple in it [New Jerusalem], for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”

    It is unclear why the author is ascribing a wooden literalism to something that is so obviously highly symbolic. Exactly what kind of “house” is required for the Lord God to meet with his people, when as Solomon said, “Will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you.” (1 Kings 8:27.) As the writer of Hebrews points out in chapter 8, the temple was a teaching tool (much like the Torah) which has the purpose of revealing the character of God and his Gospel. The reality is Christ. His “new covenant” is that he will put his laws in our minds and write them in our hearts, so that we (his children) will “Know the Lord.” In this way, we become God’s living temple that he may dwell among us.

    • How about God will dwell within each and every one if we let Him in when he knocks? What an awesome God we serve. I believe that as well as the firmament is His throne, Ezekiel 1:26, so is the universe His throne. Imagine, if you will, there is nothing wooden about our firmament and the universe. Our God is omnipresent. He dwelt in the tabernacle in the wilderness. I do believe He dwells also in the temple within the Holy City.
      Deuteronomy 1:33.
      Exodus 29:45.
      1Corinthians 3:16.

    • Moses was told to build the sanctuary according to the pattern. This revers to Christ character.We aught to seek to be temple's like you mentioned, according to the pattern, which is self sacrificing love.

  5. I have always marveled at the statement that John - “ saw a new heaven and a new earth and the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven ….” Rev.21-1-3. And with this came the great pronouncement that “the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God,” and that he saw no temple in it, “for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” – Rev.21:22.

    Rev.15:4-5 - John speaks: “And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened.” Could it not be that there are two separate ‘places’ where God and the Lamb are present – one in heaven to attend to its affairs, and one on earth with His people - both needed to fulfill their assigned purpose?

    I certainly appreciate to find that the ‘Lord Almighty and the Lamb are New Jerusalem’s temple’ and that the redeemed serve as priests without the need for additional 'light'. This would confirm that we are truly a new creation which is able to exist in the New Jerusalem “which does not have the need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” – Rev.21:23.

    Rev.21:23-27; 22:1-5 speaks to those redeemed from to old earth as participating in the administration guiding New Jerusalem and the nations around it: “and the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they (the kings) shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.”

    Yes, it's symbolic language, but clearly reveals the permanence of the core of the Gospel - that those who overcome trials and tribulation here on earth are His children and blessed by His Presence among us in this earth as we will be in the new earth to come.

  6. How can we harmonize the description of the great multitude of the redeemed serving God “day and night in His temple” (Revelation 7:15, NKJV) with the statement that John “saw no temple” in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:22, NKJV)

    Could it be that these texts refer to two different times.
    In Rev. 7:15 The multitude taken to heaven at Christ's second coming, are given thrones and judgment is given to them " they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years" Rev. 20:4

    At that time the temple and it's dealing with the sin problem is still very much in operation.

    Rev 21:22 depicts Jerusalem on earth after it is made new. The sin problem is resolved forever, the plan of salvation is now complete. The services of the temple are no longer needed. The saints worship and praise God!!!


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