Last week, in The Heavenly Temple, Part 4, we learned two important lessons from the two altars mentioned in the book of Revelation: We need to ask for God’s Spirit to help us to know how to pray; and that sacrifice is important, and we offer sacrifices to God when we praise Him, when we give of what we have for others, and when we allow ourselves to be renewed into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ by turning away from the world.
Today’s study takes us to one of the most important pieces of furniture in the Earthly sanctuary: the Ark of God, the place where God spoke to the people: “You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark…And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat…” (Exod 25:21-22, NKJV).
We know that the ark in the earthly temple was separated from the rest by a veil; and that, amidst a myriad of natural disasters, this veil was torn at the time of Jesus death: “Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split…” (Matt 27:51-52, NKJV)
The first mention we have of the Ark of God in Heaven is in Revelation 11:19: “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.” (NKJV)
Here we see that once again, amidst a myriad of natural disasters, the temple is opened and the ark of God can be seen. What is perhaps the most interesting thing is that this “temple opening” in Heaven occurs just after the 7th trumpet is blown and a loud voice is heaven cries out: “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15)
Isn’t this what happened at the time of Jesus’ death? The kingdoms of this world, which had been under the subjection of the evil one, were rightfully put back under Jesus’ rule!
In case there is any further doubt about the relationship between these two incidents, let’s go to Revelation 12. Remember that when the Scriptures were written, they weren’t divided into chapters and verses, so this was the paragraph that immediately followed Rev. 11:19: “Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.” (Rev. 12:1,2)
The verses then go on to tell about the appearance of a great, red dragon that drew away in his tail a third of the stars of heaven and threw them down to the earth, and then the dragon stood, waiting for the woman to give birth so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. (See Rev. 12:3,4). We pick up the story in verse 5: “She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.” (Rev. 12:5,6).
This “”male child” is, of course, none other than Jesus Himself (See Ps. 2:7-9). Just as the Ark of the Covenant represented God’s presence to the children of Israel, the Ark of the Covenant in the Heavenly sanctuary also represents God’s presence. That presence was initially hidden, but with Jesus’ supreme sacrifice on the cross, the veil was forever torn, giving us direct access to the throne room, to the Ark of the Covenant, to the presence of God: “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb. 19-22, NKJV)
Thus, the lesson for our heart-temples to be learned from the Ark of the Covenant in the Heavenly sanctuary is this: we have access to the presence of God through the blood of Jesus, and since Jesus paid such a high price to gain us that access, let us never, ever hold ourselves back from drawing near to God’s presence!
Join us next week, for The Heavenly Temple, Part 6: The Throne of God.
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
(To access the entire “The Heavenly Temple” mini-series, please click here.)