"And I saw no temple therein; for the Lord God
Almighty and the Lamb are the temple thereof."--Rev. 21:22
A world without a temple, a heaven without a sanctuary,
would, at first sight, appear an unfavorable image incongruous with its holy
character, lacking in one of its grandest attributes and sweetest
attractions. With the hallowed and precious memories of the services and
delights of the earthly sanctuary clustering around us--the place,
perchance, where we first heard "the joyful sound," experienced the first
pulse of spiritual life, felt the first thrill of holy joy, and caught the
first believing sight of Jesus. We find it difficult to picture to our minds
a Heaven of which it is said--"I saw no temple therein." It sounds as
if no Sabbath, no worship, no Redeemer, no God, were there! But let us not
misinterpret this expressive negative of the New Jerusalem. Rather let us
endeavor, by the Holy Spirit's aid, to evolve its deep and holy meaning,
while we contemplate Heaven in its two aspects--as having NO Temple--and
as being ALL Temple.
To guard against any misconception of this view of our
subject, and thus clear our way to a proper understanding of its nature, let
the following thoughts be carefully weighed. This absence of a Temple in
Heaven by no means implies the absence of all worship, as constituting in
part the happiness, and in part the employment, of the glorified spirits. It
would seem clear, even from the partial revelations we possess of the
blessedness of the glorified saints, that worship forms their most
prominent, if not their only, function in Heaven. A door is opened in
Heaven, and gazing within by faith, what do we see? We behold the "four and
twenty elders fall down and WORSHIP Him that lives forever" What do
we hear? The sweetest music that ever awoke the echoes of earth, fall upon
our ear--"And they sang a NEW SONG, saying, with a loud voice, Worthy is
the Lamb who was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and
strength, and honor, and blessing." Here is worship of the divinest,
holiest, and sweetest character. Singing the "song of Moses, the servant
of God, and the song of the Lamb," they are engaged in the highest
devotion, and present the purest worship that ever bathed the throne of God
with its incense-cloud. Oh, how faint, how poor, and how sinful, are our
highest, holiest, and sweetest devotions here, compared with those
inconceivable, pure, and sublime raptures which fill the souls of the
glorified spirits in Heaven! Say not, then, that if Heaven is without a
temple, it is therefore without worship! Does not your spirit pant, O you
praiseful believer, to exchange earth's low worship for the lofty devotion,
the perfect adoration, the swelling harmonies, of Heaven?
The existence of worship involves the presence and
manifestation of the Divine Being. The worship of the glorified spirits is
no blind unintelligent homage. To no unknown, unseen God is the homage of
their souls offered. Heaven is replete with the unveilings of Deity, the
manifestations of the Savior, the glory of the Godhead. Oh, the splendor of
that beatific vision! WHO shall behold it? "The pure in heart shall SEE
GOD." The tabernacle of God is now with men, and He will dwell with
them, and they shall see His face, and they shall be His people.
What, then, are we to understand by the words--"And I
saw no temple therein?" If there be a Divine object of worship, and a
holy act of worship, and a devout assembly of worshipers, how is it that
there is no temple? We answer--
There is no local or particular place of worship in
Heaven. Christ did indeed say, "I go to prepare a PLACE for you;"
but Heaven is a state as well as a place, and the Divine presence so fills
its vast, its boundless space, that no one part can be regarded as more the
temple of God than another. O sweet thought! Let me take the wings of the
morning, and fly to the remotest sphere of Heaven; even there I shall be
blessed with His presence, and robed with His glory, and bathed in the ocean
of His love, who dwells in the high and lofty place, inhabiting eternity.
Is it not, in a sense, so now? Where does Divine
providence lead me in which I am exiled from the Divine presence? Where may
I wander in this lower world, and find no temple, and build no altar, for
the worship and service of my God? What may be the sense of my solitude, the
depth of my grief, the pressure of my need, the anguish of my spirit, the
suffering of my body, and no throne of grace, no meeting-place be near, to
which I may approach, and lose all my sorrow and my need in God? "Where
shall I go from Your Spirit, or where shall I flee from Your presence? If I
take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there shall Your hand lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me."
The evangelist saw no MATERIAL temple in Heaven.
Such a spectacle would have been perfectly incongruous with the character of
the place. A spiritual world, every physical and objective element in its
worship must necessarily be absent. A material temple, with a service to a
certain extent material and tangible, is a necessary accessory of earth.
Jehovah recognized and illustrated this, when He commanded Solomon to build
it, and furnished him with the plan--God Himself the Architect, and Moses
the builder, of that stupendous and sacred edifice.
But what hallowed reminiscences and what precious
memories are associated in our minds with the material sanctuary! If there
is one spot upon earth more sacred and more dear than every other, it is the
House of God, which often to us has proved the Gate of Heaven. With what
fervor does the pious heart echo the words of the Psalmist, "How amiable
are Your tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts! my soul longs, yes, even faints for
the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cries out for the living God.
Yes, the sparrow has found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she a may lay her young; even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King
and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in Your House; they will be still
praising You." "Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your House, and the
place where Your honor dwells."
Spiritual, pure, and sublime as will be our worship in
the heavenly sanctuary, vivid and grateful will be the memories of the
services of the sanctuary on earth. "There it was," exclaims one, "I first
heard of Jesus." It was there," says another, "I first saw the blood that
cleansed me from my guilt, and brought peace to my burdened soul!" "There,"
testifies a third, "my imperfect knowledge of God was enlarged; my spiritual
life was deepened; my failing faith was strengthened; and my love to the
Savior was intensified and inflamed." "It was in God's House," is the
language of yet another, "that I was comforted in deep sorrow, sustained in
sore trial, strengthened in duty and service, and was taught to drink, with
meek and cheerful submission, the cup which my Father gave me." And oh, how
precious will be the memory of those soul-refreshing, heart-kindling,
Christ-endearing seasons, when, clustering around the Supper of the Lord, we
remembered the precious Person, and commemorated the atoning sacrifice, of
Him whose Divine love dissolved our hearts, while the solemn symbols of His
death moistened our lips! "And of Zion it shall be said, This and that
man was BORN in her."
There is no HERETICAL temple in Heaven. That there
should be such on earth, forms one of the darkest and most fatal facts in
its history. The architecture may be perfect, the edifice imposing, its
service attractive--soft music may float through its arches--fragrant
incense perfume its air--gorgeous vestments dazzle the eye--and brilliant
lights throw their luster over all--yet, if beneath its decorated roof, and
along its Gothic walls, resound the echoes of false devotion; if the
inspiration of the Bible is impugned, and the Godhead of the Savior denied,
and the Sacrifice of the cross is ignored, and the regenerating grace of the
Spirit is set aside, then the noxious upas-tree yields not fruit more
poisonous, or casts not a shade more deadly, than the teaching and the
influence of that temple, thus devoted to the promulgation of doctrines
fatal to the salvation of man, and derogatory of the glory of God.
But, O blessed thought! in Heaven--no Pagan church, no
infidel temple, no Romish mass-house, no heretical sanctuary, shall rear its
dark head, or cast its gloomy shadow. All is truth, and all are truthful!
There revelation is seen in its fullness, Christ's Deity adored in its
grandeur, the Atonement acknowledged in its purity, and the holiness and
music of the gospel--unshaded and unimpaired--is reflected from every
spirit, and breathes from every harp.
There is no SECTARIAN temple in heaven. The
existence of denominational sanctuaries on earth seems a natural and
necessary part of the present imperfect state of the Church of God. Nothing,
perhaps, more truly and strongly indicates its but partially sanctified
condition, than the many unhappy divisions into which the Body of Christ is
broken. "I am of Paul, and I of Apollos," is too much the shibboleth
of those who yet belong to one Body--acknowledge one Head--are the temples
of one Spirit, and bend the knee in worship before one God and Father of
all--are traveling to one home, and hope to join through eternity in the one
anthem--"Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own
blood, and has made us kings and priests unto God, and His Father, to Him be
glory and dominion forever and ever, Amen!"
Oh, if there is one attraction of Heaven sweeter than all
others–except for the being forever with the Lord--methinks it is that of
the perfect Church. There are no sects in Heaven--no rival Churches--no
ecclesiastical divisions--no sacramental barriers--no exclusive orders--no
spiritual caste, or clan, or party; nothing to create one jarring note in
its finished harmony, or to distill one drop of bitter in its perfect love.
With a prospect so enchanting, a hope so glorious, who will not strive to
promote that spirit of love, unity, and fellowship in the Church on earth,
which will receive its perfect consummation in the Church in Heaven? Oh, if
a blush could crimson the cheek, or a tear moisten the eye of a glorified
saint, methinks it would be the memory of the sectarian badge he narrowly
wore on earth, and of the coldness, distrust, and alienation which he bore
towards one whom God loved, and for whom the Savior died. How might shame
and confusion of face cover us--not that we held our conscientious
convictions firmly, but that we held them exclusively; not that we
loved our own Branch of the Christian Church much, but that we did not love
the whole Christian Church more.
There will be no IDOLATROUS temple in Heaven;
"The idols He will utterly abolish." Evangelical missions to the heathen
world--now the most noble sphere of the Christian Church--will then have
accomplished their great, their Godlike work; the heathen will have been
given to Christ for His inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth
for His possession. Until that long predicted, long prayed and looked for
period arrive, be it our sweetest privilege, as it is our most imperative
duty, to aid by our wealth, influence, and prayers, those Christian and
evangelical enterprises, which are the glory of the Church, designed to
impart vigor and swiftness to "the angel flying in the midst of Heaven,
having the everlasting gospel to preach unto those who dwell on the earth,
and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people."
In promoting the kingdom of Jesus in the world, we are
effectually promoting the kingdom of Jesus in our souls. There is a present
blessing and a reflex influence in what we do for God and for man. There is
no waste in a service for Jesus. The ointment we pour upon His head--in our
loving recognition of Him in His poor and suffering members--will diffuse
its fragrance and awaken its song through eternity. Oh for more compassion
for souls! Oh for more zeal for God, and self-denying service for Christ!
What are we--what am I--doing for Him who has done so much for me?
Are my intellectual powers sanctified to the vindication of His truth? Is my
wealth consecrated to the advancement of His kingdom? Are my rank,
influence, and time, all laid down at His feet? Have I humbly submitted my
proud reason to revelation, and my faith to Christ--bowing down to Him as
the Lord of my intellect, the Sovereign of my heart, and the Savior of my
No unreasonable requirement is this, that my faith should
accept what my reason cannot fathom; that my heart should believe what my
understanding cannot grasp; that I should "become a fool that I may
be wise," receiving the mysteries of God's word with the reverence,
trust, and docility of a "little child." Such are the simple and immutable
conditions propounded by the Great Teacher Himself. "Verily, I say unto
you, whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall
in no wise enter therein." (Luke 18:17) Upon no other terms can we be
saved. It is divinely written, "The natural man receives not the things
of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know
them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor. 2:14)
But, submitting your mind to the Spirit's divine
teaching--your heart to the power of Christ's grace--your whole being to the
influence of God's love--lo! "He who commanded the light to shine out of
darkness, will shine into your heart, to give you the light of the knowledge
of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Thus, submitting your
intellect to the gospel of God as a humble learner--believing in the Lord
Jesus Christ as a penitent sinner--and loving God with the fervent and
supreme affection of an obedient child, to you will unveil the mysteries of
the kingdom of God's grace on earth, and before long, the full, unclouded
splendor of those mysteries in the kingdom of His glory in heaven.
But, HEAVEN IS ALL TEMPLE--"for the Lord God
and the Lamb are the temple thereof." A slight grammatical alteration
may increase the force of this expression. In the original Greek, the verb
is not in the plural; the "Lord God and the Lamb" constitute one and the
same nominative singular; so that the words may be rendered, "Jehovah the
Almighty God is its temple, and the Lamb." The New Jerusalem, unlike
the Old--where but one house was reared expressly for divine worship, and to
which the inhabitants alone repaired--will be all Temple--nothing but
a temple--from every part of which--from its Divine center to its
illimitable circumference--incense shall be offered unto His Name, and a
Even now, the believer can realize God in Christ as His
true Sanctuary--His Divine Temple everywhere. In the busiest mart or the
deepest solitude--in the silent chamber of sickness and in the shadowed
house of mourning--at eventide and at day-dawn--on the land and on the
sea--at home and abroad, God in Christ is the accessible Sanctuary of His
saints. There--at that moment and on that spot--the devout heart may breathe
its holy aspirations, the sorrowful unveil its lonely grief, the needy make
known its pressing wants, the erring confess its deepest guilt. "And
there will I be unto you," says God, "as a little Sanctuary." "In all
places where I record My name, I will come unto you and I will bless you."
And where in the vast creation of God is His great and holy Name not
recorded? To what object does the eye of man turn, or upon what spot does he
plant his foot, and God's Name not appear in its own divine grandeur? It is
engraved indelible on the granite rock--dazzles resplendent from the snowy
mountain--smiles in beauty from the jutting cliff--towers in majesty in the
hoary forest--thunders sublimely in the roaring cataract--whispers softly in
the evening breeze--breathes from every flower and smiles in every sunbeam,
'You are near, O God! and all creation a sanctuary, and every object
an altar where Your presence may be found, and Your great and glorious Name
worshiped and adored!'
Deem not yourself deserted of your God, you lonely and
desolate one! Separated from your brethren, like Joseph; exiled from your
home, like John; rejected of man, like your Savior--yet you cannot be where
your Heavenly Father bends not upon you His eye of love, where the arms of
Jesus, your Elder Brother, do not encircle you, and where the "still small
voice" of the Divine Comforter does not whisper words of peace to your
spirit. God bows His ear to your softest prayer, Jesus interprets the
language of your silent tear, the Holy Spirit hears your pensive sigh
floating upon the viewless wind; and thus known to each Person of the
ever-blessed Triune-God is the rough and shaded path along which, weary and
footsore, you travel.
But let us take a closer view of this representation of
Heaven as being all temple. We read--"And I saw no temple therein; for
the Lord God Almighty, and the Lamb, are the temple thereof." The
further thoughts which this glorious apocalyptic vision suggests are
precious and animating. We are reminded, first, that there will be NO
LOCALIZING OF THE HEAVENLY WORSHIP; that no particular part will be
more consecrated for this purpose than another; because the whole will be
one vast holy and sublime temple, since the Lord God will enlighten it, and
the Lamb be the light thereof. Filled with His magnificent presence,
illuminated with His dazzling glory, fragrant with the incense of His love,
and resounding with the music of His praise, the spirits of the just made
perfect will from every region fully and "continually behold His face, and
serve Him day and night in His temple." Thus, all Heaven will be a temple,
because all Heaven will be--GOD.
Another thought is, the FULL GLORY AND PRESENCE OF THE
LAMB. The beauty and embellishment of this Divine Temple will be--JESUS.
Through the temple of His glorified humanity--for anything that we know--the
glory of God will still be seen. That the Son will, when the mystery of God
is finished, surrender the Kingdom to the Father, that God may be all in
all, is perfectly clear; but not so clear is the idea that, independently of
the mediatorship of Christ, we shall continue to see and worship God. It is
the opinion of the writer that the 'Humanity of Christ' will still be the
medium of the divine presence and communication of the divine glory to the
saints. But, be this as it may, we shall see God and live. Magnificent
thought! Sublime prospect! If the divine presence in the earthly sanctuary
is so precious and inspiriting, what will that presence be in the heavenly?
O Lord! may our worship of You below resemble more closely our worship of
You above--and since You will be our Temple in Heaven, be our Sanctuary on
earth, that, when we tread Your courts, we may feel, "How fearsome is this
place! this is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of
"In time of service seal up both your eyes,
And send them to your heart--that spying sin
They may weep out the stains by them did rise;
Those doors being shut, all by the ear comes in.
Who marks in church-time other's symmetry
Makes all their beauty his deformity.
"Let vain or busy thoughts have there no part,
Bring not your plots, your plow, your pleasures there.
CHRIST purged His temple--so must you your heart.
All worldly thoughts are but thieves met together
To distract you. Look to your actions well,
For churches either are our heaven or hell."--George Herbert
But, oh! what a magnificent vision awaits us--the glory
of the Lamb in the Heavenly Temple! Methinks the first sight on the soul's
entrance into glory will be the enthroned Redeemer. All thought and
admiration, all love and worship, all song and service, will center in Him.
There are moments in our present imperfect state when we associate Heaven
with the beloved being who has passed from our embrace within the veil, and
we think only of the happy and endless reunion with the departed one--it is
a pleasant and a lovely thought, and God would not rob us of it. But we
leave all of earth on earth when we exchange earth for Heaven. The moment we
pass within its gate of pearl we become perfectly heavenly. "As is the
heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly." Not that we shall love
these precious ones less, but we shall love Jesus more. Not that we shall
not be filled with wonder at their perfect beauty, but we shall be yet more
profoundly lost in wonder, admiration, and praise of Him whose beauty
beautified all, eclipses all, and whose love, transcending all love, will
have brought us there!
When the late Whately was on his dying bed, a clergyman
sitting at his side and looking at an exquisite bouquet, inquired,
"Does you think there will be flowers in Heaven?" "As to that I know
nothing," replied the dying prelate; "but this I do know--JESUS will
be there!" Yes, Jesus will be there! and that will be enough! Oh, how we
shall admire--love--and adore Him! To do so now is our heaven upon earth;
but to see Him as He is, to love as we then shall love, to worship as we
then shall worship--oh, it will be the "Heaven of Heaven" to our souls!
"Dear Lord Jesus, keep me ever
In Your presence, near Your side;
Nothing my soul from You can sever,
In Your ways will I abide--
You the life are of my living,
And all strength and power of mine
I am still from You deriving
As the vine-branch from the vine.
"Could my state on earth be better
Than beneath His watchful care,
To whom I am daily debtor
For all blessings that I share?
Could my happiness be surer
Than in resting near my Lord?
Could the future be securer
Than He's made it by His Word?
"Is there any earthly master
Who, like Jesus, could or would
Rescue me from death's disaster
With his own most precious blood?
Should I not be His possession
When He gave His life for me?
His, by my own glad concession,
Now and through eternity?
"Yes, Lord Jesus, I will love Thee;
In my gladness, in my grief;
From Your service nothing move me;
I will serve You all my life--
Ever to Your voice replying,
Ready when death comes to me,
For the soul may welcome dying
Whose humble trust is fixed on Thee.
"Lord, be near, my soul to strengthen,
As my day on earth goes on,
Until the evening shadows lengthen
And the night is coming down:
Then, Your gracious hands extending,
In the fullness of Your love,
Whisper, 'Child, this life is ending,
Come and rest with me above."'--from the German
If the presence of Christ and the glory of God in the
earthly sanctuary are so precious and glorious, oh, what will that world be
which is all Temple, because it is all God! No longer the dawn of glory and
the gate of Heaven, it will be the meridian of glory and Heaven itself, in
unclouded splendor, fullness of joy and perfection of worship. The central
Object will be JESUS--"Jesus in the midst." This has ever been the
place of Jesus. He was the center of suffering on Mount Calvary--"Jesus in
the midst;"--and He will be the center of glory on Mount Zion.--"In
the midst of the throne stood a Lamb, as it had been slain."
Every eye will be fixed upon Him--every heart will meet in Him--every song
will be of Him--and at His feet every crown will be laid. My soul longs for
the wings of a dove, that it might fly away and behold Jesus in His glory.
"O thrilling thought! that I shall be
With Him who shed His blood for me,
Where nothing from Him shall sever;
Where I with sainted hosts above,
Overshadowed by the Holy Dove,
Shall banquet on His boundless love,
And KNOW those words--'forever.'
O thrilling thought! to see Him shine,
For evermore to call Him mine,
With Heaven, ALL Heaven, before me!
To stand where angel myriads gaze,
Amid the illimitable blaze,
While He the Godhead full displays,
To all the sons of glory!"
A practical and solemn question will close these pages.
Are we as temples of God through the Spirit, preparing for the
Temple-worship of God in Heaven? The worship of Heaven begun in time,
is prolonged through eternity. The hour is approaching when the
questions of place and mode of worship will diminish into impressive
insignificance weighed with the questions, "Am I born again? have I Christ
in me, the hope of glory? is my hope of salvation wholly in His blood and
righteousness? am I a true, holy, spiritual worshiper in the sanctuary
below?" But if, on the contrary, we reverence not God's day, forsake His
house, and exclaim of His service and worship, "What a weariness!" how can
we, in the nature of things, be admitted to the society, the employments,
and the worship of that world of which the Lord God and the Lamb are the
You are, perhaps, my reader, the Lord's prisoner--the
"prisoner of hope." Suffering and infirmity prevent your attendance at the
house of God--the place you long have loved and frequented--and you exclaim,
with the Psalmist, "My soul longs, yes, even faints, for the courts of the
Lord; my heart and my flesh cries out for the living God." Be still! the God
who loves you is not restricted to places, or means, or forms; but as He has
appointed you that couch of suffering, that bed of sickness, even there He
will be to you as a little sanctuary. Bowing down to your weakness, He will
catch the softest prayer, interpret the language of your silent tears,
accept and answer the feeblest desires of your heart. Oh, what pure,
fragrant, and acceptable worship may ascend to Him from your sick and lonely
chamber--even the worship of a broken, Christ-loving, God-longing heart, to
Him the most acceptable of all worship. The deprivation of a blessing may be
to you a richer boon than the blessing itself.
Thus, beloved, is Jesus disciplining and preparing you
for the higher, holier, sweeter worship of that world of which the Lord God
and the Lamb are the temple thereof. Cheer up! soon you will weep the last
tear, and sigh the last sigh, and sin and sorrow and suffer no more--gazing
in admiration and love upon the King in His beauty, and reclining in the
sweetest repose forever on His ineffable bosom.
Until then, let faith often climb Pisgah's sacred height,
and survey the golden shore, and the sunny hills, and the fragrant fields,
that lie across Jordan's river. Before long you will reach the margin and
death will ferry you over; and you will "Come to Mount Zion, and unto 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, who
are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of
just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant; to the
glorious company of the apostles, the godly fellowship of the prophets, the
noble army of martyrs, and you shall be--forever with the Lord."
"Row me over, row me over,
I would see the other side--
Hasten, boatman, quickly hasten,
Let me breast the rising tide.
"'Lady, hear the billows raging,
Listen to the driving storm;
Wait until the sea is calmer,
Wait until the coming morn.'
"Row me, boatman, row me over,
I will never fear the storm,
While the Dear One hails my coming--
See, oh, see His lovely form.
"'I see no one who waits your coming;
All is wild, and dark, and drear;
Hark! the waves are breaking wildly--
Lady, do you know no fear?'
"Fear! O boatman, name it never,
When it is the Lord's command;
He can calm the angry waters
With the waving of His hand.
"'I see no hand above the billows,
I see no form on yonder shore;
I will never trust the waters
Until the midnight storm is o'er.'
"Hark! a voice is sweetly calling,
Calling from the other side;
Hear you not its gentle accents
Floating over the swelling tide?
"'Tis the song of ocean, lady,
Listen to it never more;
Come to me upon the morrow--
When it calms I'll row you o'er.'
"Cannot wait until tomorrow--
He commands, I must obey;
Where He hails me is no morrow,
But unchanging, endless day.
"If you will not row me over,
Place the helm within His hand;
He will guide the frail bark over,
Over to the promised land.
"He's a true and faithful Pilot,
Ever ready at command;
Never a soul that trusted in Him
Failed to reach the gilded strand."--Baker.