So often I focus on Jesus’ revelation to John as something to be figured out rather than something to be experienced. I can be so intent on the “the trees” that I miss “the forest” . . . so consumed with the facts and what they mean and not spend time in wonder at John’s experience and how it must have felt. Point in case this morning as I sit back and think about the temple opened.
Then, in heaven, the Temple of God was opened and the Ark of His covenant could be seen inside the Temple. Lightning flashed, thunder crashed and roared, and there was an earthquake and a terrible hailstorm.
(Revelation 11:19 ESV)
First, a door standing in heaven was opened and John is invited to come up (Rev. 4:1). Now, the Temple of God is opened and John is invited to come in. John permitted greater and greater access to the inner sanctum of heaven . . . John drawing nearer and nearer as the vision continues to play out on man’s last days on earth.
And it becomes clear to me that as God’s holiness is increasingly revealed, the justification for, and the intensity of His wrath are more understood. Open the doors to the temple, expose the Most Holy Place to the dealings of earth and you might expect nothing less than lightning and thunder, earthquake and heavy hail, to fall upon a world bent on rebellion and transgression.
But what was it for John to see God’s temple in heaven opened? What was it to look into heaven’s Holy of Holies and behold the ark of God’s covenant? Jaw-dropping I’m thinking. Isaiah had a taste of it . . .
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above Him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:1-5 ESV)
Jaw-dropping . . . face-planting . . . awe-invoking. What wonder!
Isaiah trembled because of how aware he was of his uncleanness. John, however, approaches washed in the blood of the Lamb . . . robed in the righteousness of Christ . . . adopted and counted as family with the Son . . . aware of how much he has been forgiven and of what privilege He possesses in the One he has known as Savior.
Today, I can read of the temples of times past and marvel at their function as a place of worship . . . and wonder at what it was like for the glory of God to dwell within their walls. Or, I can be reminded that today God’s people are being built into a living temple . . . a habitation for the glory of God through the Spirit of God.
But what will it be when heaven’s door is opened and I am invited to come up? To, at first, stand at the outer edge of those who, from every tribe and language and people and nation, are gathered around Him who sits on the throne and worship the Lamb in the midst? And then, to see the temple opened . . . and to be invited to draw near . . . that, face to face, I might behold the majesty, the might, and the glory of God. What will that be like? I can only imagine.
When, by the gift of His infinite grace,
I am accorded in heaven a place,
Just to be there and to look on His face,
Will through the ages be glory for me.
Oh, that will be glory for me,
Glory for me, glory for me,
When by His grace I shall look on His face,
That will be glory, be glory for me.
Oh, That Will Be Glory by Charles H. Gabriel