The Light of His Glory
Read Revelation 21:22-27 (ESV)
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of the God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
What was the function of the temple in the old Jerusalem? Why is there no need for a temple in the New Jerusalem?
For the Israelites, life revolved around the temple of God. Even before the temple was built, life revolved around the tabernacle, which was like a mobile temple, or a tent temple. In Exodus 25-31, God gave Moses very specific instructions detailing how the tabernacle and the holy articles in it were to be designed and crafted. Later, in 2 Chronicles 3 and 4, we see similarly specific details for building the permanent temple which was overseen by King Solomon.
Why was the tabernacle, and later the temple, so important to God’s people? Because it was the dwelling place of the Lord and was a visible sign of the covenant that He had made with them. In Exodus 6:7, God declared: “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” He promised that Israel will have a relationship with the Lord and that He would be their God and King. In 2 Chronicles 4:11-14, we read about the glory of the Lord filling the temple in the form of a cloud.
The Ark of the Covenant was kept in the “Holy of Holies” or “the Most Holy Place.” Only the High Priest could enter on behalf of the people and only once a year on the day of atonement because the Ark of the Covenant was where God’s presence dwelled. A veil or a heavy curtain blocked the entrance to the presence of God. On the Day of Atonement, the high priest entered the Most Holy Place to make sacrifices and offerings on behalf of the people for the forgiveness of their sins. The Israelites could not approach God individually.
It was incredibly significant then, in Matthew 27:51, when the curtain of the temple was torn from top to bottom immediately following Jesus’ death. It showed that through Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf, we all can enter into the presence of God. Hebrews 10:19-22 explains: “...we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh…”. Jesus’ death for us made a way for everyone to have fellowship with the Lord. Now, we can seek forgiveness and fellowship with God through prayer and through His Holy Spirit indwelling us.
But today’s verses are even more amazing and significant because in the New Jerusalem, John records, there will be no need for a temple there! Why? Because the Lord and the Lamb will be the temple.
John MacArthur explained it this way: “There is no need for a temple in the eternal state since God Himself will be the temple in which everything exists. The presence of God literally fills the entire new heaven and new earth. Going to heaven will be entering the limitless presence of the Lord.”
Friends, throughout history, God has been restoring His relationship with His people. From His presence among them in the tabernacle and the temple, to His Holy Spirit indwelling true believers. But one day we are promised that we will live in the midst of the very presence of God. In eternity, we will never, ever be separated from Him. There won’t be anything we need to do to seek Him. Life will simply be lived with Him and we will be able to see the light of His glorious presence with our own eyes. I am praising God today for that promise. Will you join me?
Lord God, I am longing for the day when I will live in Your presence. When Your glory will surround me and You will be the literal light of my life. Thank You for making me worthy to be listed in the Book of Life and able to enter into Your eternal glory. Amen.