The Path to the Throne of God

 

38. THE TEMPLE ETERNAL - ITS MOST HOLY PLACE


Will There Be A Temple After Redemption? We may now ask, will the sanctuary which has fulfilled its mission, first as the earthly sanctuary and then so gloriously as the greater and more perfect tabernacle - the heavenly sanctuary, - will the sanctuary be still more gloriously perpetuated when, at the end of the one thousand years every trace of iniquity has been forever wiped out of the universe? Answering this question, God has promised: "I will set My sanctuary in the midst of them, (Redeemed Israel) forevermore." Eze. 37:25-27.

Where will this eternal sanctuary be located? Will it have a court, a holy place, and a most holy place? What will they be like, and how will they function in the redeemer's wonderful plan? These are legitimate questions that now challenge our study.


God's Eternal Throne and the Temple Eternal. When the work in the heavenly sanctuary

- the judgment of both the righteous and the wicked - is finished, will there be a sanctuary, or temple, in "Heaven itself," Heb. 9:25; that is, in the New Jerusalem? Let John answer this question. In his description of the City he says, "I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it." Rev. 21:22. John saw "no temple" such as he was familiar with, but he did see "the temple" which he says is "the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb;" that is, he saw the eternal throne of God occupied by the Father and the Son.

John's vision looked forward to the time when the redemptive work of the Father and the Son, the work of the Holy Spirit, and of the angels as co-workers with Them, is finally accomplished. Then the heavenly sanctuary as such, having fulfilled God's purpose, automatically ceases. Like any court of Justice when its work is done it adjourns. But the throne of God and the Holy City, being eternal, remain. The ambition of Lucifer to exalt his throne "above the stars of God" and "be like the Most High" Isa. 14:13,14, has crumbled to dust, but (the throne of) "the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb" (which) are the temple of it" Rev. 21:22, remains eternally secure. The temple eternal in its fulness will be a complete fulfillment of God's glorious plan, foreshadowed in His word: "Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them." Ex. 25:8. It will be a fulfillment of the prophecy, "The tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God." Rev. 21:3. It will be a fulfillment of His promise: I will set My sanctuary in the midst of them forevermore.


Its Most Holy Place. We have seen that all parts of the earthly sanctuary typified the various parts and activities of the heavenly sanctuary. Each has a court, a holy place, and a most holy place. God directed that the most holy place of the earthly sanctuary should be a perfect square because it symbolized the most holy place of the temple eternal, the New Jerusalem, which is a perfect square. Rev. 21:16. The art in the center of the most holy place represented God's eternal throne, which is "in the midst (center) of the Paradise of God." Rev. 2:7, the New Jerusalem. "The King in His glory is in the midst of Zion.', PP 87. The cherubim carved on the walls and embroidered on the veil and on the inner covering of the earthly sanctuary, symbolized the real angels - "His train that filled the temple." Isa. 6:1. They were symbols not only of the real angels of the heavenly sanctuary but also of the temple eternal. Their antitypes are eternal; they abide forever.

As already noted, during redemption the heavenly sanctuary in the City is divided into two parts - the holy place where Christ ministered as High Priest, and the most holy where now He officiates as Judge. When redemption is past, these apartments being no longer needed for mediatorial and judgment purposes, the entire City, the "tabernacle of God," His permanent dwelling place with His throne in its center is the final antitype of the most holy place of the earthly sanctuary. It is "the capital" of God's entire kingdom, GC 426, "the throne room of the universe." It is the most sacred and the most glorious place in the entire universe. It is the most holy place of the temple eternal.

The Service in the Temple Eternal. The difference between the heavenly sanctuary and the temple eternal lies chiefly in the service. The service in the heavenly continues during redemption; the service in the temple eternal comes after redemption: The heavenly sanctuary was set up for redemptive and judgment purposes; the temple eternal functions after both these are past. As the heavenly sanctuary could not begin its service until the work of the earthly closed, Heb. 9:8, so the temple eternal cannot function until the work of the heavenly sanctuary is finished. The ministration in the earthly sanctuary closed at the death of Christ on Calvary; the service in the heavenly closes at the end of the one thousand years when the judgment is past, and the earth is cleansed from sin. Then, when God creates "a new heaven and a new earth," Rev. 21:1, the service in the temple eternal begins. Our present study is to get a mental picture, as definite and as tangible as possible, of the most holy place of the temple eternal and its services.


The Garden of Eden and the Temple Eternal. Now that we have located the New Jerusalem as the most holy place of the temple eternal, let us look about. The throne is on Mount Zion, "high and lifted up." Isa. 6:1. It is "a glorious . . . throne." Jer. 17:12. By comparing John's description of the throne in Revelation 22:1,2 with Moses' description of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2:8-10, we find several striking similarities.

"The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. . . And out of the garden made the Lord God to grow. . . good and evil. And a river went out to water the garden. Apparently, this river which was in the midst of the garden near the tree of life was the river of life. Originally the Eden, with the tree of life and the river of life, was on this earth. But everyone knows that it is not here now. What has become of it? God planted it, and "whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever." Eccl. 3: 14. Therefore, it still exists somehwere. Where?

John says that both the tree of life and the river of life are now in the New Jerusalem, that the river of life proceeds out of the throne, and the tree of life. which is "in the midst (middle) of the Paradise of God," Rev. 2:7, grows on either side of the river. Rev. 22:1,2. In Eden the tree of life and the river of life were "in the midst of the garden." Gen. 2:9. This locates the throne, with the river of life and the tree of life, in the midst of the Garden of Eden. From these scriptures we learn that the Garden of Eden is now in the New Jerusalem, that it surrounds the throne of God, and that both are in the center of the City.

When and how was Eden transplanted? We are told that "the Garden of Eden remained upon this earth long after man had become an outcast from its pleasant paths. . . At the cherubim-guarded gate of Paradise, the divine glory (the Shekinah) was revealed. Hither came Adam and his sons to worship God. Here they renewed their vows of obedience to that law the transgression of which had banished them from Eden. When the tide of iniquity overspread the earth, and the wickedness of man determined their destruction by a flood of waters, the hand that had planted Eden withdrew it from the earth." PP 62.


At that time, God transplanted the Garden which He had made to be the home of Adam, to His own home in Paradise above and placed it in the care of heavenly beings. Here, in the Paradise of God, the most holy place of the temple eternal, it will remain forever. Then, instead of angels around whom "flashed beams of light having the appearance of a glittering sword," PP 60, to guard the way of the tree of life, Gen. 3:24, an angel stands at each gate of the City, Rev. 21: 12, not to keep the redeemed away from the tree of life, but to welcome them - descendants of Adam - to its life-giving fruit. In the days before the Flood the people of God presented themselves outside the gate of Eden to offer their sacrifices and to renew their vows of obedience, while in the restoration, those who "do His commandments. . . . enter in through the Gates into the city" to worship God and to renew their vows of consecration and loving obedience.

A man of wealth, living in Chico, California, once had a tree hobby. He traveled to different foreign lands, collecting interesting trees that took his fancy. These he shipped to his home city, where they were planted in his extensive garden. In a few years he had a very fine collection of rare

and beautiful trees which have been the admiration of the city and its visitors. In this garden is one tree of special interest. It is called the "Hooker Oak - a live oak, estimated to be at least one thousand years old. Under its spreading branches a thousand or more people could find shelter. This tree is listed among the "trees of fame" of our country. The original owner of the garden is now dead, and the garden with its beautiful trees, although still cared for, will sooner or later pass away. In fact, in a recent storm it was broken down, to the deep sorrow of the inhabitants.

Not so with the Garden of Eden. After 6,000 years, this "garden of delight" still lives, "more gloriously adorned than at the beginning." PP 62. Here grew not only a few selected trees, but in it "made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food" - a marvelous variety. Gen. 2:9. Besides all these He made to grow two other trees of exceptional beauty and value, which might rightly be called "trees of fame." These, the tree of life and the tree of knowledge, grew in the midst of the garden, the most honored location of any of the trees.

"A river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted and became into four heads." Gen. 2:10. Ezekiel, describing this same river, speaks of it not only as "river" but also as "rivers." Eze. 47:9. And John says it proceeds "out of the throne of God and the Lamb." Rev. 22:1. Like a huge artesian well, its water, "clear as crystal," flows from its "four heads" in four directions, down the four sides of the mountain on which the throne is located. Down the mountain for miles, here and there joyously leaping in waterfalls and rushing onward in cataracts, sometimes doubtlessly forming into quiet lakes, from which rivulets flow out "to water the garden," it surely must present a charming picture. David recognized this when he wrote: "There is a river, the streams (plural) whereof shall make glad the City of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High. God is in the midst of her." Ps. 46:4,5. The verdure thus watered is "living green" brightened with never-fading flowers of every hue and filling the air with sweetest fragrance. Fruit trees laden with luscious fruit add to the beauty. Lining the river on either side, the tree of life, growing similar to our banyan tree, but "united at the top in one tree" EW 17, takes root all along both its banks. Ezekiel, describing it says, "By the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed; - "it shall never fade" Moffatt, it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they proceeded out of the sanctuary ("thanks to the water that flows from the sanctuary." Moffatt) (the throne of God in the temple eternal), and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine." Eze. 47:7,12. "The tree of life perpetuates immortality." EW 51,126.

From the base of the mountain, this tree-bowered river flows on in mighty streams to the jasper wall on the four sides of the City, thence dispensing its life-giving properties to refresh and beautify the Eden homes of the redeemed, located "beside those living streams." GC 675. This garden of unsurpassed beauty, located at least in part, on the slopes of Mt. Zion, may very properly be called the hanging gardens of the New Jerusalem. Long ago in the city of Babylon, which has been called Satan's counterfeit of the heavenly City, the great king Nebuchadnezzar built hanging gardens which were the wonders of earth, but the hanging gardens planted by the King of the universe are among the wonders of Heaven.


The Throne and the Tree of Knowledge. In the City, "there is no cruel deceiving foe to tempt to forgetfullness of God" GC 677; "no tree of knowledge of good and evil will afford opportunity for temptation," Ed. 302, for in that tree the curse of sin first polluted this earth, and in the restoration "there shall be no curse." Rev. 22:3. "But," continues the Revelator, "the throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it." This seems to indicate that God's throne will occupy the place in Eden where first grew the tree of knowledge. Wherever in the Bible the river and the tree of life are mentioned (except at creation, Gen. 2:9) it is significant to observe that the tree of knowledge is consistently ignored as if it no longer existed. Rev. 22:2,3. In its place is the glorious "throne of God and the Lamb," the fountain head of all true knowledge - the knowledge of good unmixed with evil. How wonderful that in the very place where Satan tried to establish his throne, will be located the eternal throne of God and the Lamb! So complete will be the victory of righteousness over sin,

of Christ over Satan! Through the redemption of Christ, the garden of Eden first planted in the earth, has been exalted to the highest place of honor, where it stands as a perpetual reminder of the power and righteousness of Christ.

When Eden was transplanted to Heaven, the tree of knowledge was left on earth and finally destroyed, it would seem in the Flood that soon followed; but, like all evil, its influence remains and still pollutes the stream of wisdom falsely so called. Since God planted the tree of knowledge, and since what He doeth shall be forever, how could it be destroyed? God also created this earth, yet because it has been ruined by sin, it will finally be destroyed, or speaking more nearly accurate, all the sin in it will be destroyed. Then, out of the ruins of the old, Mal. 4.2,-3, God will create a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. Is it not likewise that out of the ruins of the tree of knowledge, God will provide a place in the new earth where the redeemed shall have the wonderful opportunity of delving into the treasures of wisdom and knowledge untainted with evil?


The Residents of the Holy City. Heaven is the home of that vast company of angels who co-operate with Christ in His work. They are the "innumerable company" Heb. 12:22, who from the beginning have been loyal subjects of their mighty Leader. They are "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation." Heb. 1:14. They have often protected the children of visible human agencies. E. G. White in My Life Today, p. 305. While on this earth, the Son of God Himself was ministered unto by certain chosen angels. These loyal angels comprise God's "whole family in Heaven," the family of the "Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," Eph. 3:14,1,5. They are the permanent and eternal residents of the City, the most holy place of the temple eternal.

This "innumerable company" does not include "the third part of the stars of heaven," the disloyal angels who joined Satan in his rebellion against God, and with him "were cast down to the earth." Rev. 12:3,4. It does not include "the angels which kept not their first estate" - an estate more lordly than any ever owned by the most wealthy of earth - "but left their own habitation." Jude 6. left their Father's house, to follow "that old serpent, called the devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world." Rev. 12:9. The angels who left their Father's house have no representation in the temple eternal.

According to John, Rev. 4:4-6,8-10, a multitude of the redeemed are also now in heaven- those whom Christ raised "out of the graves after His resurrection" and took with Him at His ascension, Matt. 27:52,53; Eph. 4:8, margin, as first fruits of the general resurrection of the righteous. It would seem that these groups - the four living creatures and the four and twenty elders

- serving God" in the midst of the throne and round about the throne" will remain in the City as permanent residents. As already noted certain others who will have part in the special resurrection of Dan. 12:2 will join those "nearest the throne." GC 665. Enoch also, "the first from among men to enter" "the gates of the Holy City" has his "home - in the City." PP 87; EW 40. The same is true of Elijah and Moses who were taken to Heaven and who appeared with Christ at His transfiguration. Matt. 17:1-3. The rest of the redeemed who are taken from this earth to the New Jerusalem at the beginning of the one thousand years, live in the City until the Judgment of the wicked is past at the end of the thousand years. During this time, as "priests of God and of Christ," Rev. 20:6, they occupy the “many mansions” which Christ at His ascension went to prepare for them. John 14:2,3. At the end of the thousand years when the City comes "down from God out of Heaven," and the new Heaven and the new earth are created, Rev. 21:1-3, they dwell in their Eden homes outside the City. Here they will plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them." Isa. 65:21. While the "mansions" in the City may be called their city home, these gardens of Eden will be their country home.


The Function of the Most Holy Place of the Temple Eternal. The most holy place of the temple eternal, the New Jerusalem, is "the metropolis of the new earth." GC 676. Having the throne of God, it is the seat of His universal government, "the capital" of the universe. GC 426. It will also be the scene of special occasions for the redeemed, among which will be Heaven's grand reception of all the redeemed - the fourth celebration of Christ's redemptive work. Here the redeemed - the fourth celebration of Christ's redemptive work. Here is celebrated the marriage and the marriage

supper of the Lamb when He is crowned KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Rev. 19:9,16. Here, also, at the end of the thousand years, will be His "final coronation" as KING OF ETERNITY. And here throughout eternity, all the redeemed, the church of the Firstborn, assemble for divine worship "from one new moon to another; and from one Sabbath to another." Isa. 66:23. Thus we may call the City the CHURCH of the temple eternal.


"From One New Moon to Another." With Israel, the new moon was a peculiar class of holy days, its arrival being formally announced by the president of the Sanhedrin proclaiming, "It is consecrated." SB Dict. Art. New Moon. After leaving Egypt, when the silver trumpets sounded "the beginning of . . . months," all Isarel assembled to offer "burnt offerings and. . . peace offerings . . . for a memorial before. . . God." Num. 10:2,10. Burnt offerings were expressive of a renewal of consecration; peace offerings expressed thanksgiving to God for His care, and His deliverance from their enemies. v. 9. Both were sweet savor offerings.

The new moon was not only a renewal of consecration but it was "for a memorial" in commemoration especially of their deliverance from Egypt. It was to be "an ordinance forever throughout (their) generations." v. 8. This ordinance, observed throughout the generations of ancient Israel, will be perpetuated by redeemed Israel when "from one new moon to another," "all flesh" - all the redeemed, God's whole family, the entire church of the Firstborn -shall come to the New Jerusalem to worship the Lord. Isa. 66:22,23. Here, as on the original new moon occasion ancient Israel offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, so in its New Jerusalem counterpart, redeemed Israel will bring to God their offerings of heart consecration and thanksgiving for their deliverance from the arch enemy.

With ancient Israel, the special sacrifices of the new moon were followed by a dinner at which the head of the family expected all the members to be present. It was also a time for State banquets, I Sam. 20:5, when all the royal family were to dine at the king's table in his palace. JFB Com. on I Sam. 20:5.

In the restoration, this is memorialized from month to month when the tree of life yields a new fruit. Rev. 22:2. Then redeemed Israel, "the royal family" shall assemble in "the palace" of the heavenly King and dine at his table, that "table of pure silver many miles in length," where at the marriage supper of the Lamb they first ate of the life-giving fruit from the tree of life. How fitting that at each new moon, all the redeemed re-assemble around this table, here to re-dedicate themselves to Him who gave His life for them! These monthly meetings will indeed be real feasts from the Fountainhead of love and joy.

Even in this life, we may eat of the fruit of the tree of life, for "its branches hang over the wall" to this world. 8T 288. The promises of God "are leaves from the tree of live" which are "for the healing (the health) of the nations." MH 22; Rev. 22:2. Its fruit is "the antidote of death." 8T

288. Our spiritual life is sustained by constantly partaking of the promises of God as found in His Word.

Since the new moon was "for an ordinance forever," how has it been continued from the Mosaic to the Christian dispensation? When do Christians, "the royal family," assemble at the Lord's table, "the king's table"? At the last Passover which Christ celebrated with His disciples on the day of His crucifixion, He established the communion service, which like the Passover, pointing forward to His death, was to commemorate His broken body and His spilled blood. From that time, all Christians have observed this ordinance, the emblems of which are placed on the table of the Lord and partaken of by the church.

When Christ instituted this ordinance, He said to His disciples "I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God." "I will not drink henceforth of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom." Luke 22: 16,18; Matt. 26:29. To what time did He refer? The Bible mentions only two occasions when all the redeemed meet for divine worship in the Father's kingdom. These are "from one new moon to another" and "from one Sabbath to another." This eternal Sabbath service is a continuation of the Sabbath given

by God at creation, and observed on this present earth. Is it not therefore on the new moon occasion that Christ will eat and drink with all the redeemed, "the royal family"?

At this time there is no mention of the preparatory service, feet washing, which was a type of "the higher cleansing" of the soul. DA 646. This soul cleansing which prepares the redeemed to participate at the Lord's table in heaven, takes place on earth. Here and now, is our opportunity to be cleansed in the blood of the Lamb. At each new moon in the new Jerusalem, the redeemed assemble at the silver table in the City, where they dedicate themselves anew to Him whose body was broken and whose blood was shed for their redemption. Thus, while the Sabbath is an eternal memorial of His creative work, the new moon service is a memorial of His re-creative work - an ordinance forever. Num. 10:8.

As with other of God's memorials, Satan, in idolatrous worship, has counterfeited the new moon ordinance. The worship of the moon was extensively practiced by the nations of the East. In Egypt it was honored under the form if Isis, (the moon god), one of the only two deities (the other being the sun god) which commanded the reverence of all the Egyptians. Smith's Bible Dictionary, Art. Moon. This the Israelites must have witnessed in Egypt, so they well understood the force of the new moon ordinance instituted by Jehovah.


“ From One Sabbath to Another.” The Sabbath has always been Satan's special point of attack, because the Sabbath commandment contains the seal of God which validates His law, and pronounces Him Ruler of all. Therefore Satan, thinking to change God's law. Dan. 7:25, has counterfeited the true Sabbath by introducing the observance of Sun-day, the day dedicated to the sun god, as a day of worship in place of the Sabbath which in the beginning God set apart as His day, "the Sabbath of the Lord." Ex. 20:10. As a result, heathen religions emphasize the worship of the sun. Osiris, the sun god, the husband of Isis, was the favorite god of the Egyptians. These two idols, Isis and Osiris, were the two deities that "commanded the reverence of all the Egyptians" - a complete counterfeit of the new moon service and the Sabbath which will command the reverance of all the redeemed.

In the restoration, when Satan no longer dominates the minds and hearts of men, God's law, being eternal, will again shine forth, and the idolatrous practice of sun worship will disappear with its satanic originator. Then from one Sabbath to another shall all the redeemed assemble to worship God in the most holy place of the temple eternal. This is the very same Sabbath that God sanctified for man at creation; Gen. 2:2,3; the very same Sabbath that He gave to Israel at Sinai as a memorial of His creative work; Ex. 20:8,11; the same Sabbath of which "the Son of man is Lord," Matt. 12:8, and on which as a man He worshiped as His custom was," Luke 4:16,20, and taught the people in their synagogues; Mark 6:2. It is the same Sabbath that the apostles and the early Christian church kept holy "According to the commandment," Luke 23:56, and which has been restored to God's people in these last days, Isa. 58:12,13, - on this very same Sabbath in the new earth "shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith the Lord." Isa. 66:23. Thus the Sabbath, the seal of God's eternal law, is most exalted. How precious will be these Sabbath occasions - the Sabbath, not two or three hours a day, but the entire day from its beginning to its close, - when God's "whole family in heaven and earth" meet together with Him. From the remotest corners of the earth, all are present and on time to welcome its opening hours with lofty choruses of adoration and thankful praise, and to listen to messages of love and joy and peace from the Father and the Son.

During the day, they may have the pleasure and comfort of the "many mansions" which Jesus has prepared for them. John 14:2. Then, at the close of the evening vesper service, spiritually refreshed and strengthened for another week, they “wing their tireless flight” to their Eden homes in the country - a flight more swift than the swifest plane ever made by man.

Thus the New Jerusalem with the redeemed will indeed be "a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of our God." Isa. 62:3. This is God's "Glorious plan" for the most holy place of the temple eternal.