Revelation 11:19 MEANING

Revelation 11:19
(19) And the temple of God . . .--Translate, And the temple of God was opened in the heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake, and a great hail. At the beginning of the chapter we noticed the distinction between the two words (naos and hieron) applied to the Temple; the Temple building proper (the naos) was measured off. Now this (naos) Temple is opened, yes, to its very inmost recesses; for not the holy place alone is disclosed, but the holiest, of all, the shrine of shrines, into which the high priest alone--and he only once a year--entered, is opened, as though anew the veil of the Temple had been rent in twain, and there the ark of the covenant of God is seen. The meaning of this, when read by the light of the measuring of the Temple, seems to be that now the secret abode of the safe-guarded children of God was revealed. In the hour of apostasies and worldliness the faithful had found their strength and protection in the shadow of the Almighty; they were regarded by God as His true living Temple, and in them He dwelt, as they, too, found their defence in Him. But now that the end has come there is no need that these should be hidden any more. The children of God, who are the Temple of God, are made manifest; and at the same time the secret spot of their shelter in troublous days is made plain, and in it is seen the token of that everlasting covenant which was the sheet-anchor of their hopes in the day of their trouble (Hebrews 6:19). The ark of God's covenant is seen; the ark which contained the tables of the law, the rod of Aaron, and the manna is unveiled; and now is known whence they derived that hidden manna, that bread of heaven which strengthened their hearts in the days of temptation; now is known how it was that the rod of Christ's power flourished and blossomed in spite of oft-repeated rejection; now, too, are known those high and holy principles by which the lives of the saints of God were ruled, even that law which the divine Spirit had written in their hearts (Hebrews 10:16, and 2 Corinthians 3:2). Then, too, with the ark of God's covenant, is brought into view the mercy-seat, that throne of grace to which the weary and heavy-laden children of God had so often gone, and where they had never failed to receive grace to help in every time of need (Hebrews 4:16). The Temple of God was opened, and the secret springs of power which sustained the patience and faith of the saints are found to be in God. And out of the opened Temple, or round about it, as round the sacred peak of Sinai, the lightnings are seen and voices and thunders are heard: the tokens of that holy law which the power of the world had defied are made manifest; for God's righteousness has not lost its strength, and that which is a power of help to those who seek their shelter in God becomes a power of destruction to those who turn from Him. The habitation of God is an open sanctuary to faith; it is a clouded and lightning-crowned Sinai to faithlessness. (Comp. Hebrews 12:18-24.) The spirit of evil, of selfishness, of luxuriousness, of profanity, which rejects its birthright, of better thoughts and holy things, leads to "the mount that burned with fire, and unto blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words;" the Spirit of God leads to "the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and Church of the first-born which are written in heaven."

Verse 19. - And the temple of God was opened in heaven; and there was opened the temple of God that is in heaven (Revised Version). "The temple" (ναός), the dwelling place of God (cf. ver. 1; Revelation 3:12; Revelation 7:15). Again, but a glimpse is afforded; and yet more is revealed than at the conclusion of the former series of visions; while the chief description is reserved to a later part of the Revelation. And there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament; or, ark of his covenant. This seems to be introduced in order to render more emphatic the steadfastness and unchangeableness of God. As in the case of the witnesses, the figure is taken from the Old Testament, and the symbol would be pregnant with meaning to Jewish Christians and ethers who had learnt to think of the ark as the sacrament of God's abiding presence and continual help. He who now promises aid to his people, and threatens judgment upon the wicked, is the same God who formerly had displayed his power on behalf of his people Israel. And there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail; there followed (Revised Version). The usual token of any special manifestation of God's presence, or direct dealing with men (see on Revelation 6:1). This, then, forms the conclusion to the series of trumpet visions. These visions, evoked by the cry for vengeance in Revelation 6:10, have demonstrated the need for patience and endurance on the part of Christians, by indicating the punishments meted out to the wicked on this earth and at the final judgment, together with the final triumph of the faithful. The seer next proceeds to elaborate a fact alluded to in the measuring of the temple in Revelation 10:2, and to point the moral that it is possible for Christians within the Church to lose their final reward by their apostasy.

11:14-19 Before the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet, there is the usual demand of attention. The saints and angels in heaven know the right of our God and Saviour to rule over all the world. But the nations met God's wrath with their own anger. It was a time in which he was beginning to reward his people's faithful services, and sufferings; and their enemies fretted against God, and so increased their guilt, and hastened their destruction. By the opening the temple of God in heaven, may be meant, that there was a more free communication between heaven and earth; prayer and praises more freely and frequently going up, graces and blessings plentifully coming down. But it rather seems to refer to the church of God on earth. In the reign of antichrist, God's law was laid aside, and made void by traditions and decrees; the Scriptures were locked up from the people, but now they are brought to the view of all. This, like the ark, is a token of the presence of God returned to his people, and his favour toward them in Jesus Christ, as the Propitiation for their sins. The great blessing of the Reformation was attended with very awful providences; as by terrible things in righteousness God answered the prayers presented in his holy temple now opened.And the temple of God was opened in heaven,.... The temple at Jerusalem, to which the allusion is, was the place of public worship; this, in times of idolatry, was shut up, and fell to decay; and when there was a reformation its doors were opened, and that repaired; and to this the reference seems to be; and the sense is, that at this time the pure worship of God will be restored, and there will be a free and uninterrupted exercise of it; the temple will be open to all; here everyone may come, and sit, and worship without fear; churches will now be formed according to the original plan, and primitive order and institution of them; and the laws of Christ concerning the admission, regulation, and exclusion of members, will be carefully and punctually observed; the ordinances of Christ will be kept, as they were first delivered, and be purged from all the corruptions introduced by Papists or retained by Protestants; the ordinance of the Lord's supper will be freed from the senseless notions of transubstantiation and consubstantiation, and from all vain and impertinent rites and ceremonies that attend it; and the ordinance of baptism will be administered, both as to mode and subject, according to the word of God, as well as be cleared from the superstitious rites of the sign of the cross, chrism, spittle, &c. in short, all external worship will be pure, plain, and evangelical: hence it appears, that by this temple is not meant the church triumphant, and the happiness of the saints in heaven, as becoming visible, not even the new Jerusalem church state, or the personal reign of Christ on earth for a thousand years; for in that state there will be no temple at all, nor will the saints then need the sun, or moon of Gospel ordinances, Revelation 21:22;

and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: the ark was a chest, in which the covenant or tables of the law were put; upon it was the mercy seat, and over that the cherubim of glory, shadowing it; between which were the seat of the divine Majesty; this ark stood in the holy of holies, and was seen only by the high priest once a year, and was covered with a covering vail, Numbers 4:5; it was wanting in the second temple (w); to this the allusion is here; See Gill on Hebrews 9:4. Now in this spiritual Gospel church state, through the pure ministry of the word, and the faithful administration of ordinances, the mysteries of the Gospel, into which angels desire to look, signified by the cherubim over the mercy seat, will be clearly revealed to all Christians, Jews and Gentiles; particularly to the former, from whom they have been hid; the vail that is over their hearts will then be done away, when they shall be turned to the Lord; and indeed the vail which is overall people will then be removed; and those truths which have been so much obscured by antichrist will be clearly seen; and especially the Lord Jesus Christ, the antitype of the ark, in whom are hid the treasures of wisdom; by whom the law, and the two tables of it, are fulfilled; and in whom they are pure and perfect; and by whom the covenant of grace is ratified and confirmed; and in whom it is sure; and through whom God is propitious to his people, and grants them communion with him; he will be visibly held forth in the ministry of the word; and be seen in the glory of his person, and offices, and grace; who has been so long and greatly hid, and kept out of sight by Popish and Mahometan darkness;

and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail; which may be understood of the vials of God's wrath, that will be poured out upon the pope and Turk; which though mentioned last, will be first, and make way for this spiritual state; particularly the things here spoken of may be compared with what will be at the pouring out of the seventh vial, Revelation 16:18; or this may design the powerful "voices", and clear ministrations of the Gospel, and the efficacy of them at this time; which, like "thunders", will awaken the consciences of men, and, like "earthquakes", will make them shake and tremble, and cry out, what shall we do to be saved? and as "lightnings" illuminate their understandings, and give them a clear discerning of divine things; and as "hail" beat down all self-righteousness and self-confidence, and all errors, heresies, superstition, and will worship. Though I suspect, that these several things are expressive of the change and revolution that will be made after a time, in this happy and comfortable state; and that the cold, which generally attends an hail storm, represents that coldness and lukewarmness, into which the churches of Christ will again sink, expressed in the Laodicean church state, in which condition Christ will find them when he personally appears; so that the seven seals, with the seven trumpets, bring us exactly to the same period of time as the seven churches do.

(w) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 21. 2. See following in Apocrypha:

"And they took all the holy vessels of the Lord, both great and small, with the vessels of the ark of God, and the king's treasures, and carried them away into Babylon.'' (1 Esdras 1:54)

"4 And open your hearts in his law and commandments, and send you peace, 5 And hear your prayers, and be at one with you, and never forsake you in time of trouble.'' (2 Maccabees 1).

Courtesy of Open Bible