Sunday, March 7, 2010

Revelation 15:5-8

Verse 5-8 "And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened: And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles. And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled."

John sees opened the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony that is in heaven. What is this temple of the tabernacle of the testimony? We know that the tabernacle on earth was a pattern of the heavenly tabernacle. Hebrews 8: 5 “Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount." And what is the testimony? To understand what John sees here, we need to examine what the Old Testament says about the tabernacle and testimony.

In Exodus God gave all of the instructions regarding the building of the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant. Ex. 25:9 "According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it." God gave Moses instructions on how to build a tabernacle, the tent-like building or moveable temporary temple, which served as the housing for all of the instruments of worship. Everything was patterned after the tabernacle in heaven, which is where God's throne (the heavenly mercy seat), the candlesticks (which we saw in Rev. 1), and etc. exist.

Within the tabernacle there was an ark. Ex. 25:10-15 "And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it." Ex. 25:17, 21a "And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark;" The ark held the commandments, the rod of Aaron, and a jar of manna. On it is the mercy seat of God in the tabernacle. This mercy seat was where the blood of the sacrifices was sprinkled in atonement for the sins of Israel once a year on Yom Kippur.

There are several purposes for this ark. The first is that it is where God meets with mankind. Ex. 25:22 "And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel." Num 7:89 "And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with him, then he heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and he spake unto him." The second is that it is the receptacle of the testimony, Ex. 25:16, 21b "And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee. .......and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee." Ex. 40:20 "And he took and put the testimony into the ark, and set the staves on the ark, and put the mercy seat above upon the ark."

Now we have to look to see what the testimony is. Ex. 31:18 "And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon Mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God." Ex. 32:15 "And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written." Ex. 34:29 "And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him." We can see from these verses that the testimony is none other than the Ten Commandments or Laws of God which He wrote with His own finger.

Although not mentioned in this verse in Revelation, we know from Exodus that the testimony was put in what was called the ark. Although everyone thinks of the name of this object as the ark of the covenant, it is also called the ark of the testimony. Ex. 30:26 "And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony," Ex. 40:5 "And thou shalt set the altar of gold for the incense before the ark of the testimony, and put the hanging of the door to the tabernacle." Ex. 40:21 "And he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the vail [sic] of the covering, and covered the ark of the testimony; as the LORD commanded Moses." Ex. 31:7 "The tabernacle of the congregation, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is thereupon, and all the furniture of the tabernacle." Num 7:89 "And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with him, then he heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and he spake unto him."

From the previous two verses it can be seen that the tabernacle is also known as the tabernacle of the congregation. Also in Ex. 30:36 "And thou shalt beat some of it [perfume] very small, and put of it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy." Ex. 27:21 "In the tabernacle of the congregation without the vail, which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall order it from evening to morning before the LORD: it shall be a statute for ever unto their generations on the behalf of the children of Israel." Lev 24:3 "Without the vail of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the LORD continually: it shall be a statute for ever in your generations." Num 17:4"And thou shalt lay them up in the tabernacle of the congregation before the testimony, where I will meet with you."

The tabernacle is also known by another name. Ex. 38:21 "This is the sum of the tabernacle, even of the tabernacle of testimony, as it was counted, according to the commandment of Moses, for the service of the Levites, by the hand of Ithamar, son to Aaron the priest." Num 1:50 "But thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all the vessels thereof, and over all things that belong to it: they shall bear the tabernacle, and all the vessels thereof; and they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle." Num 1:53 "But the Levites shall pitch round about the tabernacle of testimony, that there be no wrath upon the congregation of the children of Israel : and the Levites shall keep the charge of the tabernacle of testimony." Num 9:15 "And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony: and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning." Num 10:11 "And it came to pass on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, that the cloud was taken up from off the tabernacle of the testimony." From these verses we can see that the tabernacle of the congregation and the tabernacle of the testimony are interchangeable names.

So the tabernacle of the testimony was the earthly sanctuary that Moses made from the pattern God showed him on the mountain of the heavenly sanctuary. It was the tabernacle where the commandments rested in the ark, therefore known as the tabernacle of the testimony. In the tabernacle was a section called the Holy of Holies, wherein the ark rested. But that was not the entire tabernacle. The tabernacle proper (for lack of a better word) had two rooms, the Holy of Holies (housing the ark) and the Holy Place (which had the candlesticks, table of shewbread, and altar of incense). There was also a courtyard surrounding it. Later when the structure became permanent in Jerusalem, the entire structure with several courtyards all became known as the temple. So the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony would be the heavenly temple counterpart to the earthly one on the Temple Mount. The veil that separated the holy place from the holy of holies would not need to exist in heaven, as everyone in heaven is already in the presence of God. The testimony itself would lie under the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies in heaven as it did on earth.

What is of importance is that the Ten Commandments reside in a temple in heaven. In fact they reside in God's throne room. The Ten Commandments are everlasting, not done away with as some Christians may like to believe. While the commandments cannot save us and never did, they were only there to show us our sin, they are still binding upon us. In John 14:15 Christ said, "If you love me, keep my commandments." and verse 21 "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him." and John 15:10 "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love."

The seven angels coming from the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony would seem to indicate that God is going to judge the world on the basis of its breaking of the Ten Commandments. They are still His holy law and still are valid for righteous judgments. God's Laws have not been done away with by the death and resurrection of Jesus. It had been surmised earlier that those on the sea of glass were those who had not only believed in Christ, but had been aware of the need to observe God's Laws (which include keeping the Sabbath, which was the sign of the covenant with Israel and was a perpetual covenant, and therefore not to be done away with). In Is. 24:5-6 it is speaking of God's judgment on the earth. "The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left." The world is going to be destroyed why? Because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, and broken the covenant. Christianity says that we are not under law, we are under grace. Not so. The law still applies. It never was meant to save us, it was the standard which we were supposed to apply to our lives. Christ's sacrifice made it possible for us to do that, whereas before man did not have the means to keep the law. Christ said he came not to destroy the law but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17), and God said He would write it on our hearts. (Jer. 31:33) Christianity has changed some of the ordinances - specifically the Sabbath and the holy days, which we have entirely replaced with Christian veneers over pagan holy days.

Having spent much time on the tabernacle, we now need to see what these seven angels are doing. They are carrying seven plagues. These angels are dressed in white (heaven's color) with golden sashes. One of the four beasts before the throne of God gives the angels seven golden vials which are full of the wrath of God. These vials are by definition broad shallow cups or bowls. If one tries to empty a tall glass, one has to turn it over and the contents fall under the glass. If one wants to empty a broad shallow dish, one only has to give a toss of the hand and the contents fly out all over the place. This is how the plagues are going to be poured out on the earth. With rapidity and all over the earth.

Now the temple is filled with smoke from God's glory. God is finally getting his revenge (vengeance is mine saith the Lord) for all that the world has done. No man can enter the temple while God is in this state. Usually when speaking of God's glory, one thinks of the Shekinah glory that shines as a light. It is not God's light that is shining, it is the smoke of His anger, and nobody wants to go near Him while He is pouring out His wrath. Nobody is going to be able to enter into the presence of God until all of His anger is assuaged and all the plagues are finished.

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