Revelation 11:19
Then the temple of God in heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple. And there were flashes of lightning, and rumblings, and peals of thunder, and an earthquake, and a great hailstorm.
Sermons
The Ark of His CovenantC. H. Spurgeon.Revelation 11:19
The Ark of the CovenantC. H. Spurgeon.Revelation 11:19
The Rent VeilS. Conway Revelation 11:19
The Vision of the Heavenly TempleG. Barlow.Revelation 11:19
The Cause of Right on EarthD. Thomas, D. D.Revelation 11:1-19
The Cause of Right on EarthD. Thomas Revelation 11:1-19
The Extent and Limit of the True Church of GodC. Clemance, D. D.Revelation 11:1-19
The Living Temple of Christ's Church and the Two Witnesses of the Word Written and the SacramentsBp. Grafton.Revelation 11:1-19
The Measuring of the TempleS. Conway, B. A.Revelation 11:1-19
The Right TempleJames Wells.Revelation 11:1-19
The Temple of GodG. Rogers.Revelation 11:1-19
The True Church ReducedBp. Horsley.Revelation 11:1-19
The Final VictoryR. Green Revelation 11:15-19
The Heavenly LifeCanon Huchings, M. A.Revelation 11:16-19
The Omnipotence of GodJ. L. F. Russell, M. A.Revelation 11:16-19
The Omnipotence of GodIsaac Barrow, D. D.Revelation 11:16-19
In the foregoing part of this chapter, which tells of the two witnesses, we have seen how the path along which they were led resembled that of the Lord Jesus Christ himself. They had fellowship with him in ministry, in suffering, and in triumph. It is ever so with the servants of Christ. And now in this verse our thoughts are sent back to those miracles which were attendant upon his death. In Matthew 27:50, 51, etc., we are told of the veil that was rent from the top to the bottom, and of the earthquake, and of the opened graves. And so in this chapter, which tells of the winding up of the Jewish dispensation, we see the innermost recesses of the temple thrown open, and all that it contained laid bare to men's sight and approach, as it had never been before. So was it when on the cross Christ said, "It is finished!" so is it now in this vision in which the end of all that old order of things is portrayed. But what meant that rent veil there, and this opened temple and ark of the covenant disclosed to all eyes? They have a meaning. "To the few eyes that witnessed that rending of the temple veil it must have been a most mysterious spectacle. Our Lord died at the third hour after midday, the very hour when eager crowds of worshippers would be thronging into the courts of the temple, and all would be perparing for the evening sacrifice. Within the holy place, kindling, perhaps, the many lights of the golden candlestick, some priests would be busy before the inner veil which hung between them and the holy of holies - the dark secluded chamber within which once lay the ark of the covenant, with the cherubim above it shadowing the mercy seat, which no mortal footstep was permitted to invade, save that of the high priest once only every year. How strange, how awful, to the ministering priests, standing before that veil, to feel the earth tremble beneath their feet, and to see the strong veil grasped, as if by two unseen hands of superhuman strength, and torn down in its centre from top to bottom; the glaring light of day, that never for long centuries gone by had entered there, flung into that sacred tenement, and all its mysteries laid open to ruler gaze!" Now, that which this disclosure of the most holy place meant when our Lord was crucified, is meant also by what St. John tells us here in his vision. But more than this is meant. For when the veil of the temple was rent no ark of the covenant was seen. That had long ago disappeared, having been either burnt or carried off when Jerusalem and the temple were overthrown by Nebuchadnezzar. Hence neither in the second temple, nor in that of Herod, in the days of our Lord, was there any ark of the covenant. It seems never to have been replaced (cf. Esdras, Josephus, Tacitus). But here, in St. John's vision, the ark of the covenant is seen again. Fuller meaning, therefore, is to be found in the vision than in the rent veil. Much is common to both; something, however, belongs peculiarly to each. Let us, therefore, note -

I. WHAT IS SPECIAL TO EACH. And:

1. As to the veil rent in twain. "It is not fanciful," says one, "to regard it as a solemn act of mourning on the part of the house of the Lord. In the East men express their sorrow by rending their garments, and the temple, when it beheld its Master die, seemed struck with horror, and rent its veil Shocked at the sin of man, indignant at the murder of its Lord, in its sympathy with him who is the true Temple of God, the outward symbol tore its holy vestment from the top to the bottom" (Spurgeon). But, with far more certainty, we may see in it the symbol of our Lord's sacred humanity. The Epistle to the Hebrews expressly tells us this in Hebrews 10:19, 20, where we read, "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh." "The weak, human, mortal flesh was the state through which he had to pass before he could enter into the holiest in the heavens for us, and when he put off that flesh the actual veil in the temple was rent in twain." That perfect human life, this life in our suffering humanity, opened to our sight and to our feet the way to God. Recall the ancient type. Ere ever the high priest could enter into the holiest of all, he must push aside or lift up the separating veil which hung before it. Now, that veil symbolized Christ's flesh, that is, his life in the flesh - his earthly, human life. And, ere he could enter into the holiest for us, he must live that life, must pass through it as through the veil And this is what he did. And now, relying on that blood of Jesus which atones for us with God, because it evermore makes our flesh, that is, makes our life, pure, trustful, consecrated, as was his life - so, by this "new and living way" we must draw near, keep drawing near, to our Father and our God. His way into the holiest is our way, only the way for him was far more severe than ours. For he had to be perfectly holy, "as a lamb without blemish and without spot," and to suffer as none other ever did or could. But our marred and imperfect holiness is accepted for the sake of his, which was all perfect, and so, even through the coarse and tattered veil of our flesh, we shall enter, by his grace, into the presence of God.

2. The vision of the ark of the covenant. We may take this as telling

(1) of the unchangeableness of God. When St. John wrote, the very foundations of the earth seemed to be shaken and in course of being moved. That Judaism of which the temple was the centre was dying, dying hard. Jerusalem and her people were in the last throes of their national existence, and the old order was changing every hour and, amid sore travail, giving place to new. To many eyes it seemed as if all was lost, and the end of all things was at hand. Now, what a reassuring vision this would be! The ark of the covenant that enshrined God's holy Law; the ark that was covered with the mercy seat, that told of the eternal grace of God; that ark of the covenant, now seen in beatific vision, said to the beholder, "The Lord liveth, the Lord holy and full of compassion, just, yet delighting in mercy, he liveth." Moreover it told

(2) of the certainty of victory over all foes. It was the ark of God's strength, God's resting place, where he dwelt between the cherubim. Under its shadow Israel had dwelt, as under the shadow of the Almighty. At its presence the rushing river rolled back its flowing flood, and piled up its awestruck waters, and held them bound until all the people of God had passed by. At its presence the walls of Jericho had fallen fiat, and under its leadership Israel had gone on from victory unto victory. It had made them invincible a thousand times. And now the persecuted people of God beheld this ark of the covenant once again. "When the enemy came in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord lifted up the standard against him." It was an omen of victory, a prophecy of good, a lifter up of all hearts that were cast down. It meant all that.

II. WHAT IS COMMON TO BOTH - to the veil of the temple rent and this vision of the ark of the covenant. One chief meaning belongs to both - that meaning which our Lord declared when on the cross at the moment of his death he cried, "It is finished! The veil and the shrine wherein the ark was seen represent the whole of the Mosaic ceremonial, the system of types, the Levitical Law, the whole body of Jewish ordinances. And the rent veil, and the vision of the ark alike show that all that is done with and forever. Freedom of access is given to all, and we are bidden therefore to come boldly to the throne of grace. The veil is not rolled up, but rent, so that it cannot be put up again;" and in this vision there is no sign of it at all. Now, this means that all that separates the soul of the believer from God is clean gone forever.

1. All legal ordinances. And yet how slow men are to believe this - to believe that the worshippers whom God seeks are those who worship him in spirit and in truth! It is not papists alone, but so-called Protestants also, all too many of them, who have not yet realized what the rent veil, and the ark of the covenant visible to all, mean. Hence the often hurried sending for ministers of religion to pray by the sick and dying. Hence, too, those many evidences which we meet with that men's minds are not yet emancipated from reliance on certain persons, ordinances, and the like; and that they yet know not that none can make them more acceptable to God, or as acceptable, as when they themselves come through the blood of Christ.

2. All guilt. This separates indeed, and would forever do so, had not the veil been rent and the way opened.

3. All depravity. The evil bias of our nature - that in us which makes us do the things we would not, and forbids our doing those we would. And:

4. The flesh itself; for this veil, too, will one day be rent, and then our soul, escaped as a bird out of the hand of the fowler, shall go into the presence of God forever. Conclusion. Then if all that separates, every veil, be done away, let me draw near, as I am bidden to do - in prayer, in praise, in communion; asking or giving thanks for blessings on my soul, in pardon, peace, purity, consolation, strength; blessings on others, those whom I love, those who love me, and for all for whom I am bound to pray. We may, we should, we must. - S.C.







The temple of God was opened in heaven.
I. THE VISION OF THE HEAVENLY TEMPLE. "The temple of God was opened in heaven."

1. A spectacle of surpassing grandeur. Its revealing splendour drinks up the mists of ages, and solves enigmas that have puzzled the wisest.

2. A spectacle of Divine government. Our God and King is enshrined in the heavenly temple; from thence He governs all things in the interest of His Church, contending with and defeating her enemies. The unexplained procedures of His government will soon be made clear.

3. A spectacle of loftiest worship. There is no true worship without thanksgiving and praise.

II. THE SUGGESTIVE DISCLOSURE OF THE HEAVENLY VISION. There was seen in His temple the ark of the Testament. We regard the ark disclosed in this vision as a symbol of God's faithfulness.

1. In carrying out the covenant of redemption. He selected the Jews as the nation through which He intended to reveal His saving purposes to the world. The work of atonement was conceived, developed, and carried out in harmony with all the attributes of the Divine character.

2. In rewarding the faithful. Designated in three different grades — ver. 18.

(1)His servants, the prophets — men prominently active in His cause.

(2)The saints — eminent for piety.

(3)Them that fear Thy name, small and great — men of varying degrees of attachment to God. All rewarded according to their works.

3. In taking vengeance on His enemies. These enemies are described in ver. 18 as those who destroy or corrupt the earth. This done by wars and desolations, by abuse of secular and spiritual powers, by evil doctrines, by flagrant sins, which cry for vengeance. All such enemies God will "punish with everlasting destruction."Lessons:

1. The most imposing revelation in the heavenly temple will be that of God's faithfulness.

2. The contemplation of that faithfulness, while it stimulates the righteous, may well alarm the wicked.

(G. Barlow.)

The ark of His testimony
(with Jeremiah 3:6): —

I. THE SYMBOL REVERENCED. This ark was the object of great reverence, and very fitly so, because it symbolised God's presence. They saw no similitude, for what likeness can there be of Him that filleth all in all? But they knew that God's excellent glory shone above the mercy-seat, and they thought of the ark in connection with the Lord, as David did when he said, "Thou and the ark of Thy strength." It was, therefore, a thing greatly to be reverenced, for God was there. That presence of God meant blessing, for God was with His people in love to them. Moreover, the ark was held in reverence by the Israelites because it was their leader. Marvel not that the men of Judah paid great reverence to this ark when in so many ways it was a token for good to them. What they did to this ark is mentioned in the text.

1. They recognised it as the ark of the covenant of the Lord. They were wont to say, "The ark of the covenant of the Lord." They spoke much of it, and prided themselves upon the possession of it.

2. They remembered it, as the text plainly informs us. If they were captives they prayed in the direction in which the ark was situated; wherever they wandered they thought of God and of the coffer which represented His presence.

3. They visited it. On certain holy days they came from Dan and from Beersheba, even from the uttermost ends of their land, in joyful companies, singing and making joyful holiday as they went up to the place where God did dwell between the cherubim.

4. They were accustomed also to speak highly of it, for in the margin of your Bibles you will find, "Neither shall they magnify it any more." They used to tell to one another what the ark had done; the glory that shone forth from it, the acceptance of the offering whose blood was sprinkled upon it on the Day of Atonement, and the testimony which was heard from between the cherubic wings.

II. THAT REVERENCE OBLITERATED. They were to say no more, "The ark of the covenant of the Lord." Yet that fact was to be a blessing. Observe that the words are not spoken as a threatening, but as a gracious promise. Now, this cannot merely mean that they would be without the ark, for they would certainly understand that to be a sign of Divine anger. Neither would the mere absence of the ark fulfil the prophet's words; for if the ark were gone they would remember it still. If they could not visit it, yet it would come to their minds, and they would speak of it. It was somehow to be a boon to them that they should speak no more of the ark of the covenant, for the text was delivered in the form of a promise. The fact is they were to have done with the symbol because the substance would come. Our Lord Jesus by His coming has put out of His people's thoughts the material ark of the covenant, because its meaning is fulfilled in Him, and this —

1. In the sense of preservation. We think nothing of the ark now, and we think nothing of the tablets of stone; but we do think everything of Jesus Christ, "who is made of God unto us righteousness"; for He has completely kept the law; for He said, "Thy law is within My heart." It was not within His heart alone, but within all His life; His whole thoughts, words, and acts went to make up a golden chest in which the precious treasure of the perfect law of God should be contained. O come, let us magnify His blessed name!

2. Next, the ark signified propitiation; for over the top of the sacred box which held the two tables of the law was the slab of gold called the mercy-seat, which covered all. We will not talk of that golden covering now, but we will speak of Jesus, our blessed Lord, who covers all.

3. The next word is a very blessed one: and that is, "covenant." I thank God that in Jesus Christ we have a covenant of grace which can never fail, and can never be broken, and in Him we have all that our souls desire: pot of manna and rod of Aaron; covenant provision and covenant rule we find in Him.

4. Fourthly: because this ark was the ark of the covenant of God it was from it that He was accustomed to reveal Himself, and so it is called the "ark of testimony." Jehovah often spoke from off the mercy-seat to His waiting people. We say no more, "the ark of the testimony," but we rejoice that God was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, and saw the Father in the Son.

5. This ark also signified enthronement; for the top of the ark was, so to speak, the throne of God. It was "the throne of the heavenly grace." There God reigned and dwelt, that is, typically. We talk no longer of the ark, and of its gold, and of its crown, and of its golden lid, and of the winged cherubs; for the Lord Jesus is infinitely better than these. Oh, our beloved Lord and Master, Thou dost chase away these shadows from our minds, for the very throne of God art Thou!

6. Out of this grows the next idea, that as it was the place of God's enthronement, so it was the door of man's approach. Men never came nearer to God on earth typically than when they stood in the holy place close by the ark. Israel was nearest to God symbolically on that day when the atonement had been made and accepted, and her priest stood before the ark awe-stricken in the presence of God. You and I need not speak of the ark of the covenant, for we have a blessed way of approach. We do not come to Christ once in the year only, but every day in the year, and every hour of the day. He who came but once in the year came tremblingly. The Jews have a tradition that they put a cord about the foot of the high priest, so that if he should die before the ark they might draw out his corpse, such was their servile fear of God. The tradition shows what was the trembling nature of that entrance within the veil: how different from the apostle's words, "Let us come boldly unto the throne of the heavenly grace "! We are not afraid of being stricken with death there: we are full of reverence, but we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear. There is no approaching God except in Christ; but in Christ our approach to God may be as near as possible.

III. THIS REVERENCE TRANSFERRED.

1. First: Let us say that Jesus is our covenant. We are told, "They shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the Lord." People must talk, it is natural to them — what else are their tongues for? Let us, then, say concerning Christ that He is the ark of the covenant of the Lord. Come, let us each one say it for himself — "Lord Jesus, I am in covenant with God through Thee. Jesus, thou art my propitiation, by Thee I approach unto the Father."

2. The text takes you a step further, for it says of the original ark, "neither shall it come to mind, or (margin), neither shall it come upon your heart." Let Christ come upon your heart, and dwell there. Let us not have Christ in the head, but Christ in the heart. Know all you can about Him; but love Him on account of everything you know; for everything we learn about Christ ought to be another argument for affection to Him.

3. And next, if we should ever grow dull or cold at any time, let us take the third step in the text, and let us remember the Lord. If I have not this enjoyment now I will remember it, and struggle till I find my Lord again. O my Lord, I will remember Thee. If I forget Thee, let my heart forget to beat.

4. The next thing is, let us visit Him. We cannot set out on journeys now to go to Jerusalem on foot — little bands of us together; yet let us visit Jesus. Let us continually come to the mercy-seat alone. Who that knows the worth of prayer but wishes to be often there? Next, let us come up by twos and threes. You that live at home and seldom get out, could you not every now and then during the day say to your maid, if she is a Christian, or to your sister who lives with you, "Come, let us have a five minutes' visit to the ark of the covenant; let us go to the Lord and speak with Him; maybe He will speak with us"?

5. The last thing is, "neither shall that be done any more"; but the margin has it, "neither shall that be magnified any more." Transfer your reverence, then, and as you cannot magnify the literal mercy-seat, come and magnify Christ, who is the real mercy-seat.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE COVENANT ALWAYS NEAR TO GOD.

1. Whatever happens, the covenant stands secure.

2. Whether we see it or not, the covenant is in its place, near to God.

3. The covenant of grace is for ever the same, for —

(1)The God who made it changes not.

(2)The Christ who is its Surety and Substance changes not.

(3)The love which suggested it changes not.

(4)The principles on which it is settled change not.

(5)The promises contained in it change not; and, best of all —

(6)The force and binding power of the covenant change not.

II. THE COVENANT IS SEEN OF SAINTS. We see it when —

1. By faith we believe in Jesus as our Covenant-head.

2. By instruction we understand the system and plan of grace.

3. By confidence we depend upon the Lord's faithfulness, and the promises which He has made in the covenant.

4. By prayer we plead the covenant.

5. By experience we come to perceive covenant-love running as a silver thread through all the dispensations of providence.

6. By a wonderful retrospect we look back when we arrive in heaven, and see all the dealings of our faithful covenant God.

III. THE COVENANT CONTAINS MUCH THAT IS WORTH SEEING.

1. God dwelling among men: as the ark in the tabernacle, in the centre of the camp.

2. God reconciled, and communing with men upon the mercy-seat.

3. The law fulfilled in Christ: the two tables in the ark:

4. The kingdom established and flourishing in Him: Aaron's rod blossomed.

5. The provision made for the wilderness: for in the ark was laid up the golden pot which had manna. The universe united in carrying out covenant purposes, as typified by the cherubim on the mercy-seat.

IV. THE COVENANT HAS SOLEMN SURROUNDINGS.

1. The sanctions of Divine power — confirming.

2. The supports of eternal might — accomplishing.

3. The movements of spiritual energy — applying its grace.

4. The terrors of eternal law — overthrowing its adversaries.

(C. H. Spurgeon.).

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