The One True Temple at Which to Worship
“And the temple sanctuary of God that is in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen in his temple sanctuary.”—Rev. 11:19.
1. The earthly affairs of the world get what kind of coverage today?
THE news of today pours in from all quarters of the globe in such quantity that we ordinary people cannot keep up with it. It is in such variety that we are bewildered by it. The earthly affairs of the world get quite a coverage by all the news media, such as magazines, newspapers, telegraph, telephone, radio and television.
2. What news item of serious consideration has been regularly overlooked by these modern means of communication?
2 However, there is a most important item of news that is regularly being overlooked by all these channels of communication. This news item deserves our most serious attention. It has taken its place in the procession of events that has passed before mankind in this era of international wars and changes in political governments since the newsworthy year of 1914 in this Common Era of ours. This rare news item was timed beforehand for our twentieth-century period of human history. In an inspired history that was written in advance, that is to say, in divine prophecy, it was foretold and described for us nearly nineteen centuries ago. As we now read this prophetic write-up, we can see the connection that this news item has with what has been taking place in world affairs.
3. From where do we dig up this news item, and what does it say?
3 We dig out this news item from the last book of the Sacred Bible, called Revelation 11:15-19 or Apocalypse, chapter eleven, and verses fifteen through nineteen. It reads: “And the seventh angel blew his trumpet. And loud voices occurred in heaven, saying: ‘The kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will rule as king forever and ever.’ And the twenty-four elders who were seated before God upon their thrones fell upon their faces and worshiped God, saying: ‘We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king. But the nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came, and the appointed time for the dead to be judged, and to give their reward to your slaves the prophets and to the holy ones and to those fearing your name, the small and the great, and to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.’ And the temple sanctuary of God that is in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen in his temple sanctuary. And there occurred lightnings and voices and thunders and an earthquake and a great hail.”
4. (a) In commenting on that news item, what must be said about Kingdom rule of the world? (b) What does the presence of the “ark of his covenant” in the temple sanctuary represent?
4 Well, what comment deserves to be made on that prophetic news item today? This: Regardless of the fight since the year 1914 between the democratic bloc of nations and the dictatorial bloc of nations for the domination of the world of mankind, it is the ever-living Jehovah God, the Almighty, that has taken his great power and begun ruling as king since that year 1914. In that year “the kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord [God] and of his Christ,” that is to say, of Jesus Christ the Son of God. Jehovah God, the Almighty, as the present Possessor of the “kingdom of the world,” has come to his temple sanctuary. His presence in that holy place was symbolized by the sacred receptacle, called “the ark of his covenant.” Just the size and shape of this “ark” are not described for us by the viewer, the Christian apostle John; but it represented the presence of the Lord God, whom it is impossible for us to see and to describe fully in human language. This symbolic “ark” is the ark of the “new covenant” of God with men, which has been in force since the year 33 C.E.
5. Historically, what is a temple, and at what temple must all nations worship in order to gain endless life?
5 The records of history show that a temple is a building or place that is dedicated to the service and worship of a deity or deities. In the case of the symbolic “ark of his covenant,” the temple sanctuary is that of Jehovah God, the Almighty. It is to this divine temple that all the nations must yet come to worship unitedly, even if it is necessary to bring the peoples of the nations back from the dead by the promised resurrection of the righteous ones and the unrighteous. (Rev. 11:18; Acts 24:15) This is the one and only way by which the peoples of all the nations can gain endless life on our earth, which will be duly transformed into a global paradise. They must all recognize and worship and serve the divine Holder of the “kingdom of the world,” who will rule as King at his temple sanctuary forever and ever.—Rev. 11:15.
6, 7. What question arises as to the worshiping at this temple by inhabitants of Paradise, and what did Solomon say about God’s dwelling in a temple building?
6 Does this worship, in being carried on in a paradise earth, mean that the peoples of the nations will not go to heaven? If they do not do so, how can they go to God’s temple, inasmuch as Revelation 11:19 speaks of it as “the temple sanctuary of God that is in heaven”? That is a fitting question here, but is it because we think of God’s temple sanctuary as being a building or edifice up in the invisible heavens that has walls and a doorway? Well, then, let us recall what an outstanding temple builder of the eleventh century before our Common Era said when inaugurating the temple. This was wise King Solomon, who built the first temple of its kind on Mount Moriah of Jerusalem. Addressing God, Solomon said:
7 “But will God truly dwell upon the earth? Look! The heavens, yes, the heaven of the heavens, themselves cannot contain you; how much less, then, this house that I have built!”—1 Ki. 8:27.
8. Where was the “ark of the covenant” located, what did it represent, and so what did the Most Holy of the temple represent?
8 In the temple sanctuary built by King Solomon, the innermost room was called the Most Holy and it was a perfect cube twenty cubits long, wide and high. It was certainly big enough to accommodate the earthly, material “ark of the covenant of Jehovah,” this ark containing the two stone tablets on which the finger of God had written the Ten Commandments. (1 Ki. 6:19, 20; 8:6-9; Ex. 34:1, 27, 28; 40:20) But that innermost room or Most Holy of the temple was hardly big enough to contain the personal presence of Jehovah God, the Creator of heaven and earth. The ark of the covenant was the sacred thing toward which the high priest of God sprinkled the blood of the sin-atoning sacrifices on the annual Day of Atonement. In this way the ark represented the throne of Jehovah God in the heavens. In keeping with this fact, the Most Holy of the temple, where the ark was located, pictured that part of the limitless heavens where God has his holy residence. That place is large enough to contain Him.
THE “TENT” OR “TABERNACLE”
9. After what structure was Solomon’s temple patterned, and who were the ones that entered into the compartments of that structure?
9 The temple sanctuary of which King Solomon was the builder was patterned after the sacred tent or tabernacle that the prophet Moses built in the wilderness of Mount Sinai in Arabia. That tent had two compartments, these being separated from each other by an inner curtain. The first compartment, which the priests entered by passing the outer curtain that faced the courtyard, was called the Holy. The innermost compartment, which the high priest entered by getting past the inner curtain, was called the Most Holy. When the high priest entered the Most Holy he brought along an incense burner or censer in order to fill the Most Holy with incense smoke. This was done in order to prepare the situation for the high priest to sprinkle the blood of the Atonement Day sacrifices toward the golden ark of the covenant. The Christian apostle Paul describes this, in Hebrews 9:2-10, saying:
10. According to Hebrews 9:2-10, what were the things contained in those compartments, and who entered the compartments, and when?
10 “There was constructed a first tent compartment in which were the lampstand and also the table and the display of the loaves; and it is called ‘the Holy Place.’ But behind the second curtain was the tent compartment called ‘the Most Holy.’ This had a golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid all around with gold, in which were the golden jar having the manna and the rod of [High Priest] Aaron that budded and the tablets of the covenant; but up above it were the glorious cherubs overshadowing the propitiatory cover. But now is not the time to speak in detail concerning these things. After these things had been constructed this way, the priests enter the first tent compartment at all times to perform the sacred services; but into the second compartment the high priest alone enters once a year, not without blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of ignorance of the people. Thus the holy spirit makes it plain that the way into the holy place had not yet been made manifest while the first tent was standing. This very tent is an illustration for the appointed time that is now here, . . . the appointed time to set things straight.”
11. Was that “tent” an illustration of something past or of something future?
11 Let us take note that the writer says that the sacred tent constructed by the prophet Moses was an “illustration for the appointed time that is now here.” The “time that is now here,” in the writer’s case, was about the year 61 C.E., or nine years before the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman armies in the year 70 C.E. It was also twenty-eight years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and his ascension to heaven. So that tent built by Moses was an “illustration” of something future and not of something before the days of the prophet Moses. In the days of High Priest Eli that illustrative “tent” came to be called a “temple.” (1 Sam. 1:9; 3:3; note also 2 Samuel 22:7; Psalms 18:6; 27:4.) So the tent or temple constructed by Moses was not an illustration of a temple that had existed prior to Moses’ time.
12. Had faithful witnesses of Jehovah before Moses built temples on earth, and did Jehovah himself have a temple in heaven at that time?
12 When we look back to the time previous to Moses, we find no record of a temple’s being built on earth by any faithful worshiper of Jehovah God, not even by the man Melchizedek, who was “king of Salem, priest of the Most High God.” (Heb. 7:1; Gen. 14:18-20) Although faithful witnesses of Jehovah God like Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Job offered sacrifices to God, they built no temple to Him. Well, then, did Jehovah God have a temple in heaven, although having no material temple on earth? No! That is to say, not a temple such as was illustrated by the tent built by Moses and the temple built by King Solomon.
13. Why was there no need of a temple at the close of the sixth day of God’s creative activity, and how are references to Jehovah’s temple in prophetic writings to be understood?
13 Certainly, when Jehovah God created Adam and Eve in human perfection in the garden of Eden, there was no need of such a temple in heaven. Why not? Because at that time after the creation of the perfect man and woman at the close of the sixth creative day, when “God saw everything he had made and, look! it was very good,” there was no sin in all creation, either in heaven or on earth. There was no need for God to have a high priest to offer up sin-atoning sacrifices, nor was there need for an altar in a temple courtyard on which to offer up a sin offering. (Gen. 1:26-31; 2:7-24) Such references to a temple as found, for instance, in Psalm 11:4, Micah 1:2 and Habakkuk 2:20 were prophetic and were written after Moses had constructed the tent temple or Solomon had built the temple at Jerusalem. These illustrated or typified a spiritual temple that was yet to come into existence.
14. Why do we ask whether the real temple of Jehovah came into existence on the day of Pentecost of the year 33 C.E.?
14 So, now, when did the real temple that was illustrated by the tent constructed by Moses and the temple built by Solomon come into existence? Was it on the festival day of Pentecost in the year 33 C.E., when the Christian congregation or church was founded? Why we ask is because the apostle Paul wrote to the Christian congregation of his day and said: “Do you not know that you people are God’s temple, and that the spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you people are.” (1 Cor. 3:16, 17) From those words it might be reasoned that the tent built by Moses and the temples built at Jerusalem by King Solomon and Governor Zerubbabel and King Herod the Great pictured or typified the Christian congregation as a figurative temple. But is this true? What answer does Paul himself give us on the question?
15. What does Hebrews 9:11, 12 say about Jesus Christ as a high priest?
15 So we turn back to Hebrews, chapter nine, to where we left off, and go on to read these explanatory words of Paul: “However, when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come to pass, through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, he entered, no, not with the blood of goats and of young bulls, but with his own blood, once for all time into the holy place and obtained an everlasting deliverance for us.”—Heb. 9:11, 12.
16. On the Jewish Day of Atonement, did Jesus enter with his own blood into the Most Holy of the Jerusalem temple or was it into the Christian congregation as a temple that he entered?
16 Jesus Christ did not die sacrificially on the Jewish Day of Atonement (Tishri 10) and enter with his own blood into the Most Holy of the temple of Herod at Jerusalem. He could never do that. He was not a Levite high priest. The Jewish high priest was then Caiaphas, and he went with the blood of a young bull and of a goat into the Most Holy of the Jerusalem temple on the Day of Atonement. But not so Jesus Christ. Well, then, into what “holy place” did he enter with his own blood? Not into the Christian congregation on earth, for that was not yet founded on the day of Jesus’ resurrection nor on the day of his ascension to heaven ten days before the festival day of Pentecost of 33 C.E. So what was the “holy place” into which Jesus Christ entered before that Pentecostal day? Again we turn to Hebrews, chapter nine, and let Paul give the answer:
17. According to Hebrews 9:23, 24, Jesus Christ as High Priest entered where?
17 He says: “Therefore it was necessary that the typical representations of the things in the heavens should be cleansed by these means, but the heavenly things themselves with sacrifices that are better than such sacrifices. For Christ entered, not into a holy place made with hands, which is a copy of the reality, but into heaven itself, now to appear before the person of God for us.”—Heb. 9:23, 24.
THE REAL TEMPLE TAKES ON EXISTENCE
18, 19. (a) How does God dwell in that real Most Holy into which Jesus Christ entered? (b) What barrier did Jesus Christ have to pass in order to enter, and how was this pictured according to Hebrews 6:18-20?
18 Thank you, Paul, for we are glad to learn that the holy place into which the resurrected Jesus Christ entered with the value of his own sacrificial blood was not a holy place on earth where his few disciples then were, but was “heaven itself,” where the “person of God” is, where God himself dwells personally rather than dwelling there by spirit. However, that real “holy place,” namely, “heaven itself,” was not all that there was to the real temple. Why not? Because the Most Holy of the earthly tent and temples made with hands and where God dwelt by his spirit was not all that there was to those sacred structures. The Most Holy was only the innermost room of those earthly structures, and was separated from a first compartment by a curtain. (Matt. 27:50, 51) This inner curtain illustrated the fleshly barrier that Jesus had to pass in order to get into the heavenly Most Holy, namely, his fleshly body, his humanity. Talking of his hope, Paul says:
19 “We who have fled to the refuge may have strong encouragement to lay hold on the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor for the soul, both sure and firm, and it enters in within the curtain, where a forerunner has entered in our behalf, Jesus who has become a high priest according to the manner of Melchizedek forever.”—Heb. 6:18-20.
20. How was the Holy of the tent separated from the courtyard, and what copper object was there in that courtyard?
20 We remember that the first compartment of the tent or tabernacle was called the Holy and that it was separated by a curtain or screen from the courtyard outside the temple sanctuary. In that courtyard and in front (or east) of the temple sanctuary there was a large copper altar.
21. From what altar do the Jewish priests have no right to eat, and with whose sacrifice does this altar have to do?
21 Like the temple sanctuary itself, this altar was typical. The apostle Paul shows this, when he speaks of the difference between the Jewish priests and the baptized disciples of Christ and says: “We have an altar from which those who do sacred service at the tent have no authority to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is taken into the holy place by the high priest for sin are burned up outside the camp. Hence Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate [that is to say, outside the gate of Jerusalem].” (Heb. 13:10-12) The Christian altar therefore has to do with Jesus’ human sacrifice. But what is this antitypical altar? Also, what is the antitype of the first compartment or Holy of the earthly tent or temple? Let us figure this out with Bible help.
22. (a) What was illustrated by the inner curtain of the temple, and how did Jesus pass it? (b) Hence, everything outside or east of that curtain had reference to what kind of things?
22 That inner curtain between the Most Holy and the Holy of the temple represents a dividing line. It illustrates the fleshly barrier that Jesus Christ had to pass by laying down his perfect human flesh in sacrifice, giving this up forever. Now, since the Most Holy compartment inside the inner curtain pictures “heaven itself,” where God dwells, not by spirit but in person, everything outside that curtain (or to the east of it) would stand for something not in the invisible heavens but down here on earth. It would have to do with the flesh of those worshiping and serving Jehovah God here on earth. This rule applied therefore to the copper altar. In the cases of the temples of Solomon and of Herod, the altar was located in the inner courtyard or priests’ courtyard, where the high priest and his underpriests carried out their sacrificial duties. What did this altar typify?
THE ANTITYPICAL ALTAR
23, 24. (a) When Jesus came “into the world,” what did he say regarding God’s attitude toward sacrifices, and why? (b) So, what was taken away, and by what are Christians sanctified through Christ’s sacrifice?
23 This is made clear for us by the apostle Paul in Hebrews, chapter ten. After having described how Jesus Christ as God’s High Priest entered into heaven itself in order to appear with the value of his own blood before the person of God for us, Paul goes on to say:
24 “For since the Law has a shadow of the good things to come, but not the very substance of the things, men can never with the same sacrifices from year to year which they offer continually make those who approach perfect. . . . for it is not possible for the blood of bulls and of goats to take sins away. Hence when he comes into the world he says: ‘“Sacrifice and offering you did not want, but you prepared a body for me. You did not approve of whole burnt offerings and sin offering.” Then I said, “Look! I am come (in the roll of the book it is written about me) to do your will, O God.”’ After first saying: ‘You did not want nor did you approve of sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sin offering’—sacrifices that are offered according to the Law—then he actually says: ‘Look! I am come to do your will.’ He does away with what is first that he may establish what is second. By the said ‘will’ we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time.”—Heb. 10:1-10.
25. What, then, was the altar upon which Jesus came and presented himself to be offered up as a sacrifice?
25 From this it is evident that the antitypical equivalent of the copper altar in the temple courtyard is God’s “will,” his willingness to accept a perfect human sacrifice for which he had made preparation, this “will” of God being foretold in what was written in the roll of the book. (Ps. 40:6-8) God had not been willing to accept the imperfect human sacrifice of Abraham’s son Isaac, but he was willing to accept the perfect human sacrifice of his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. He did not want and did not approve of the animal sacrifices of the annual Day of Atonement endlessly, but, according to His will and purpose, he did want a perfect human sacrifice that would atone for human sins, really “take sins away.” Jesus Christ came to do God’s will, and it was on the basis of God’s will as upon an altar that the presentation of the perfect Jesus for human sacrifice was accepted and his prepared, perfect human body was offered up. This perfect human sacrifice on the altar of God’s “will” really brought sanctification to Christ’s disciples. That is why Paul added: “By the said ‘will’ we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ.”—Heb. 10:10.
26. Why is it that the Jewish priests have no authority to eat of the “altar” from which the Christians underpriests eat?
26 That is why, also, Paul said later on: “We have an altar from which those who do sacred service at the tent have no authority to eat. . . . Hence Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate.” (Heb. 13:10-12) That is, we Christians who are spiritual underpriests have a sin-atoning sacrifice on the altar of God’s “will” from which the priests who serve at Herod’s temple in Jerusalem have no authority to eat the sacrifice because of their lack of faith in Jehovah’s true High Priest, Jesus Christ, the Mediator of Jehovah’s new covenant.
27. When did Jesus present himself for sacrifice, and what basis for sacrifice then came into existence, and what antitypical “day” then began?
27 When did Jesus as a perfect human being come to present himself for sacrifice on the altar of God’s “will” as prescribed in the roll of the book? This was at the time that he presented himself to John the Baptist in the year 29 C.E. in order to be immersed in the Jordan River. That Jehovah God accepted Jesus’ self-sacrifice is manifest, for after Jesus’ water baptism Jehovah poured out his holy spirit upon Jesus and made him the Christ or Anointed One and audibly said from heaven: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.” (Matt. 3:13-17; John 1:29-34) Consequently it was at that time that God’s antitypical “altar” came into existence and there was an acceptable sin offering upon it. From then on Jesus Christ was walking in the antitypical priestly courtyard superintending his human sacrifice to the death. The great antitypical Day of Atonement had begun, and Jesus Christ as God’s High Priest was serving at God’s true spiritual “altar” in a way similar to that of the Aaronic high priest in Jerusalem’s temple on the annual Day of Atonement, Tishri 10.—Heb. 8:1-6.
[Diagram on page 711]
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GROUND PLAN OF THE TABERNACLE
Altar of Incense
Altar of Burnt Offering
[Picture on page 712]
Solomon’s temple, as well as the tabernacle, typified God’s spiritual temple—the arrangement for approaching Jehovah in worship on the basis of Jesus’ propitiatory sacrifice