(5) And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:
In John’s vision angels, as they departed from the presence of God, is said to be departing the temple. This heavenly temple uses the Old Testament temple as the basis for its symbolism (1 Kings 8:1-11).
This same symbolic heavenly temple is given the title “the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony”. Why was this temple given this title? Again, to understand this title we must look back at the OT temple.
The OT temple can be described as being “of the tabernacle”, because it is directly linked to the OT tabernacle in several ways. Keep in mind that the OT tabernacle was a portable tent in which:
- God dwelled – God’s presence was seen as a cloud of glory that would descend upon the tabernacle
- God was worshipped – The Jews would participate in worship observances at the tabernacle
- Christ was typically revealed – Through the use of types it represented Christ and His work
This tabernacle was used during the wilderness wanderings of the Jews. However, once the Jews inhabited the promised land a mobile place of worship was no longer needed. Solomon then built the fixed temple that fulfilled the same three purposes (listed above) as did the tabernacle. This is why the temple is described as “the temple of the tabernacle”, reflecting that it finds it basis for its existence, and purpose, in the tabernacle.
The title for the symbolic heavenly temple continues with the phrase “of the testimony” or “of the witness”. Again, a quick look at the OT temple gives us a better understanding of this phrase.
One of the chief purposes of both the OT tabernacle and temple was to reveal Christ to the worshipping Jews prior to Christ’s first coming. Through the usage of these pieces of furniture, and the sacrifices that were made, a tremendous testimony of Christ was being presented to the Jewish worshippers. In other words, the tabernacle and then the temple was a constant witness of Christ and His work on behalf of His people. This is why the phrase “of the testimony” so aptly fits in the title of the temple… it testified of the Christ that was yet to come.
Folks, in one sense, as those who are saved, we are living New Testament temples. God dwells in us (in the person of the Holy Spirit), He is to be worshipped in us (by loving, thankful, submitted hearts), and finally, we are to be living testimonies of Christ to those around us (through our words and deeds).
Are we living as temples for the Lord’s glory?
2Co 6:16-18 KJV – “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
For an in depth look at these sections of the Revelation: