HEAVEN may seem like a far away world, but inspiration has given vivid descriptions of the abode of Jehovah. Human language but faintly conveys the splendor of spiritual purity, and the mortal mind, because of its narrowness, fails to grasp even the glimpses that are given; nevertheless, some idea may be gained of the capital of the universe, where dwells the King of kings. Outside the city of the New Jerusalem, the place which Christ promised to prepare for His people, and which is called the bride, the Lamb's wife, is Mount Zion, on which stands the living temple, the great council chamber of the most High.
Between the ascension of Christ and 1844, the Saviour ministered His own shed blood in the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary. He, the Lamb slain in the court of the congregation as a sin offering, presented His own blood before the Father in the holy place of the sanctuary.
In 1844, when the prophetic period of twenty-three hundred days of Daniel 8:14, closed, the mighty angel of the tenth chapter of Revelation, made known the fact to the waiting congregation in the earth, which is the outer court of the heavenly sanctuary. At that time, Christ entered into the most holy apartment, where the investigative judgment began before the throne of God. The judgment work continues until the sealing angel returns from the earth with the words that his work has been accomplished. Then Christ rises from the judgment throne, and with a loud voice proclaims, "It is finished." Every man has heard the everlasting Gospel, and has accepted, or rejected it. If he has answered to the wooings of Jehovah, and the seal of the living God rests in his forehead. He is numbered with the one hundred and forty-four thousand. If, on the other hand, he has spurned the Spirit's pleadings, he has received the mark of the beast, and his destiny is likewise sealed.
Christ casts to the earth the censer which He holds in His hand. He lays aside the garments of His priesthood, and passes from the temple. Probation is closed. Christ's work is finished; and as He, with those who have ministered with Him for fallen man, passes from the temple, the glory of God bursts forth in all its grandeur, until His train fills the temple. "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."
When the Son of God was offered for the sins of the world, when He became a man, and afterwards ministered in heaven as a man, God, the Father, had veiled His exceeding great glory until the work of redemption was complete. But when the Saviour utters the triumphant shout, "It is finished," the restrained glory bursts forth in the splendor which was seen before the fall. Human language is so weak that words fail to express the thought; but for six thousand years, even the God of the universe, has mourned for the lost world; and when at last the redeemed are gathered out, although they are still on earth, the pent up glory of Jehovah flashes forth, -- a living, consuming fire. This was typified in the temple at Jerusalem, when at the words, "It is finished," uttered by the Saviour on the cross, the veil was rent from top to bottom. With the announcement of these words this second time, the man Jesus Christ, with the four living creatures and four and twenty elders, who for centuries have represented the redeemed, leave the temple altogether, and enter no more, until Christ returns from earth, bringing with Him the host of the redeemed. Then with the hundred and forty-four thousand, glorified, and reflecting the character of Christ, He enters the temple, and this company minister there.
In these closing events two distinct views are given to John. Before the Saviour leaves the temple, seven angels are seen standing before the altar. To them are given seven vials containing the unmingled wrath of God.
The elements of the earth are under the control of mighty angels, and although Satan, "the prince of the power of the air," has had partial control of these mighty forces, yet the power of God has held them in check; else destruction would have come, and man would have been destroyed. As Christ rises to leave the temple, these seven commanding angels stand awaiting the command of Jehovah.
While they are waiting, for heaven has seemed to pause, John sees the same company, precious in the eyes of the Lord, standing, as they will stand on the sea of glass, when the seven last plagues have been poured out. Lest it should seem that these were lost in the terror of the plagues, with one sweeping glance, the prophet sees beyond the time of trouble, when this same company stand on Mount Zion with the Lamb. It is wonderful how often this company is mentioned, and with what care it is described, before the terrors are portrayed! Its numbers come up out of great tribulation; they stand through the time of trouble without an intercessor; for Christ is without the temple, and only God remains within.
For them the time of the plagues, through which they pass unharmed, is as when Israel stood between the mountain and the Red Sea, with an Egyptian army pressing hard after them. There was no visible way of escape, and casting themselves on the arm of Jehovah, they awaited His deliverance. Their deliverance was a marvel in the eyes of the nations round about, and all men feared the God of Israel. The song in which Moses led the hosts of the delivered, will be repeated when the one hundred and forty- four thousand stand on Mount Zion.
"I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously. ... The Lord is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation: He is my God, and I will prepare Him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt Him. ... Thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. And in the greatness of Thine excellency Thou hast overthrown them that rose up against Thee: Thou sentest forth Thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble." The song of Moses is the song of deliverance from impending destruction; the song of the Lamb is one of triumph over sin and the grave. p. 269, .
This company stand on a sea of glass, which, to the prophet on Patmos, looked like the smooth waters of the Mediterranean, reflecting the glories of a sunset. It was a sea of glass mingled with fire. The Saviour Himself places crowns on their heads and harps in their hands.
Earth has heard music; but never has this world heard any music which can compare with celestial strains. Heaven has resounded with songs; but since the fall, the key had been lowered. when the redeemed gather about the throne, the leader of the angel choir strikes a note higher than before; and the harps are swept by fingers guided by souls filled with love and thanksgiving.
"Great and marvelous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty," rings forth as the works of God are viewed by eyes once dimmed by sin. "Just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints," echoes and reechoes as the plan of salvation unfolds to minds, newly touched with immortality. "Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name?" And the answer comes, "All nations shall come and worship before Thee; for Thy judgments are made manifest."
Through all the controversy, Satan has attempted to justify himself, and to prove that heaven was responsible for the rebellion; but before his destruction, he will be convinced of the everlasting goodness of the Father; and bowing before the throne, he will confess the justice of the sentence pronounced against him. God's wisdom, His justice, and His goodness, stand vindicated before the universe. The whole universe, both the lost and the redeemed, will at last pronounce their own sentence in the words, "just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints, ... for Thy judgments are made manifest."
John looked again toward the temple; for while he had prophetically seen the culmination, the end had not yet fully come. He sees the seven angels waiting, and to them are given, by one of the four living creatures, seven vials of wrath. So complete is the acknowledgment of the justice of all God's ways that when Christ proclaims, "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still," there is no longer any opportunity for man to change his course, or retrace his steps, the vials which contain destruction for the wicked, are placed in the hands of the angels by one of the four living creatures, representing man in the court of heaven.
Man is judged by fellow-man, and the universe proclaims the justice of the law of God. Christ steps out; the temple is left to the Father alone. "The thresholds moved at the voice of Him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke." The seven angels await the command of Jehovah. The closing work of earth is about to begin.
Page 266; Rev. 4:1-3; 2Cor. 12:4 [margin.]; John 14:1-3; Rev. 21:9, 10; Heb. 9:6.
Page 267; Heb. 9:12; Luke 1:9, 10; Rev. 14:7; 1Pet. 4:17; Eze. 9:11; Matt. 24:14; Rev. 22:11; Rev. 7:1-4; Rev. 8:5; Lev. 16:23; Isa. 6:1-4; Rev. 15:8; Ex. 40:34,35; 1Kings 8:10, 11.
Page 268; 2Chron. 5:14; 2Tim. 2:5; Rev. 22:11, 12; John 17:24; Isa. 33:17; Heb. 12:29; Matt. 27:51, 52; 1John 3:2; Rev. 14:10.
Page 269; Job 1:12-19; Rev. 15:1, 2; Rev. 14:1; Rev. 7:14; Isa. 61:2; Isa. 63:4; Josh. 5:1; Ex. 15:1, 21.
Page 270; Rev. 15:3-7; 2Tim. 4:8; Luke 2:13, 14; Rev. 15:3; Isa. 26:19.
Page 271; 1Cor. 15:54-57; Isa. 44:23; Phil 2:10; Rev. 15:8; Rev. 22:11, 12.
Page 272; Eccl. 11:3; Psa. 75:8, 9; Psa. 102:19.