“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 NLT
Look at the sequence of events in Revelation 11 regarding the third and last terror. The trumpet sound penetrated loud and clear over the earth. Then shouts were heard in Heaven, declaring that the time for the rule and reign of Christ had come. The elders gave praise to God, thanking Him that together with Christ’s reign comes the judgement of the bad and rewards for the good. And this chapter in Revelation then bows out with another confirmation of what is about to happen. We read that the Heavenly Temple of God is exposed for all to see, and, even more, the inner place where the Ark of His covenant is kept, will also became visible. But who will be able to see it?
All those residing in Heaven would have been no strangers to God’s Temple. They were in Heaven with God Himself. So this mighty Temple edifice must have become visible to all those on the earth. Imagine the process of looking up and seeing the Temple of God, and its inner parts, even those parts that were the most sacred. And as though to emphasise the event, there was a terrible tropical storm, complete with thunder, lightning, and hail. An earthquake completed the impact of this amazing event. But is that really what John saw in his vision?
In the beginning of chapter 11 in Revelation, John wrote about being asked to measure the Temple. And we concluded in a blog a few days ago that the Temple referred to God’s people. But we know that from 1 Peter 2:5, “And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple… “. As an aside, we thank Him that all we have to do is make ourselves available as living stones. He is the Master Builder. He will do the building. Making us fit into the living stones either side, above and below takes a lifetime of diligent attention. Thankfully God is very patient!
The elders, in their prayer in the previous verse, defined the people who make up the Temple – “…Your servants the prophets, as well as Your holy people, and all who fear Your name, from the least to the greatest…”. So at long last, by the visibility of God’s Temple, we have a public demonstration of who God’s people really are. And their relationship with God is exposed, as portrayed by His Ark. Presumably within the “Temple” there would also be all of God’s attributes there to see. His grace and mercy. His love and kindness. But also His righteousness and awesome presence, enough to instil a deep sense of foreboding, even fear, in those who don’t know Him. God’s holy people will experience the thunder, lightning and earthquake as well, but with a joy because of what was coming.
Is it too late for all those who didn’t know God to turn to Him? Having lasted this long through all the terrors and woes, perhaps they have become even more hardened of heart. But in this pre-End-Times season of grace, we have the time to turn to God, if we haven’t done so already. God’s love will always soften hearts, if we let Him.
Paul wrote in Romans 13, “Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbour, you will fulfil the requirements of God’s law“. And, “This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armour of right living“. (Romans 13:8,11-12). If Paul wrote two thousand years or so ago that the time for salvation was limited, how much more that must be the case today. God’s patience with mankind will one day come to an end, and the season of grace in which we live will end. We don’t know when the seventh trumpet blast will be heard. But it’s coming.
Father God. We thank You for Your love, always there and available for us to embrace. We join together in praying for our neighbours and friends, that they too will feel Your loving touch, while there is still time. In Jesus’ name. Amen.