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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 11 - Verse 19

Verse 19. And the temple of God was opened in heaven. The temple of God at Jerusalem was a pattern of the heavenly one, or of heaven, Heb 8:1-5. In that temple God was supposed to reside by the visible symbol of his presence—the Shekinah—in the holy of holies. See Barnes on "Heb 9:7".

Thus God dwells in heaven, as in a holy temple, of which that on earth was the emblem. When it is said that that was "opened in heaven," the meaning is, that John was permitted, as it were, to look into heaven, the abode of God, and to see him in his glory.

And there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament. See Barnes on "Heb 9:4".

That is, the very interior of heaven was laid open, and John was permitted to witness what was transacted in its obscurest recesses, and what were its most hidden mysteries. It will be remembered, as an illustration of the correctness of this view of the meaning of the verse, and of its proper place in the divisions of the book—assigning it as the opening verse of a new series of visions—that in the first series of visions we have a statement remarkably similar to this, Re 4:1: "After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven;" that is, there was, as it were, an opening made into heaven, so that John was permitted to look in and see what was occurring there. The same idea is expressed substantially here, by saying that the very interior of the sacred temple where God resides was "opened in heaven," so that John was permitted to look in and see what was transacted in his very presence. This may confirm the idea that this portion of the Apocalypse refers rather to the internal affairs of the church, or the church itself—for of this the temple was the proper emblem. Then appropriately follows the series of visions describing, as in the former case, what was to occur in future times: this series referring to the internal affairs of the church, as the former did mainly to what would outwardly affect its form and condition. And there were lightnings, etc. Symbolic of the awful presence of God, and of his majesty and glory, as in the commencement of the first series-of visions. See Barnes "Re 4:5".

The similarity of the symbols of the Divine Majesty in the two cases may also serve to confirm the supposition that this is the beginning of a new series of visions.

And an earthquake. Also a symbol of the Divine Majesty, and perhaps of the great convulsions that were to occur under this series of visions. Compare See Barnes on "Re 6:12".

Thus, in the sublime description of God in Ps 18:7, "Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth." So in Ex 19:18, "And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke—and the whole mount quaked greatly." Compare Am 8:8-9; Joe 2:10.

And great hail. Also an emblem of the presence and majesty of God, perhaps with the accompanying idea that he would overwhelm and punish his enemies. So in Ps 18:13, "The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice: hailstones and coals of fire." So also Job 38:22-23:—

"Hast thou entered into the treasures of snow?

Or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail?

Which I have reserved against the time of trouble.

Against the day of battle and war?"

So in Ps 105:32:

"He gave them hail for rain.

And flaming fire in their land."

Compare Ps 78:48; Isa 30:30; Eze 38:22.

 

{a} "temple" Re 15:5,8 {b} "lightnings" Re 8:5 {c} "earthquake" Re 16:18,21

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