The finishing of the mystery of God involves the opening of the second apartment of the temple in heaven wherein is the ark of God’s testament. This is the place where our Lord finishes His priesthood; hence this apartment of the heavenly temple must be the place of that tribunal at which the righteous are acquitted, their sins blotted out, and themselves accounted worthy of the kingdom of God. The temple of God in heaven, and especially its second apartment, is therefore worthy of our most attentive study. The Scriptures contain many explicit testimonies to the existence of the heavenly temple.
“Hear, all ye people; hearken, O earth, and all that therein is; and let the Lord God be witness against you; the Lord from His holy temple. For, behold, the Lord cometh forth out of His place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth.” Micah 1:2, 3. (See Psalm 11:4; 2 Samuel 22:7, 8. See also Psalm 18:6, 7; Isaiah 6:1–4.)
“And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament; and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.” Revelation 11:19. (See Revelation 14:17, 18; 15:5; 16:7.)
Two Holy Places in Heaven
The heavenly temple consists of two holy places. This is proved by many conclusive arguments. The first of these is drawn from the statements respecting the tabernacle erected by Moses. When God called Moses into the mount to receive the tables of the Law (see Exodus 24:12), He first bade him make a sanctuary that He might dwell among them and that the priests might minister in His presence. (See Exodus 25–28.) He also bade him to make an ark to contain the tables of the Law, to be placed in the second apartment of the sanctuary. This building consisted of two holy places (see Exodus 26), and both itself and its sacred vessels were made like the pattern showed in the mount. (See Exodus 25:9.)
“Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle; for, See, saith He, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.” Hebrews 8:5. (See also Exodus 25:40; 26:30; Acts 7:44.)
The tabernacle thus constructed was a pattern of the heavenly temple. Thus Paul bears testimony:
“It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Hebrews 9:23, 24
This establishes one plain, incontrovertible argument, that the heavenly temple has two holy places. The temple erected by Solomon furnishes the second argument, and it is of the same character as that drawn from the tabernacle. The temple was a larger and grander building than the tabernacle and differed from it in being an immovable structure; but it was constructed on the same plan, in that it was an edifice consisting of two holy places with sacred vessels of the same kind and occupied with the very same ministration as that which had previously served in the tabernacle. (See 1 Kings 6–8.) This building with its two holy places was a pattern of the heavenly temple, as the words of David and of Solomon declare:
“Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasuries thereof, and of the upper chambers thereof, and of the inner parlors thereof, and of the place of the mercyseat, and the pattern of all that he had by the Spirit, of the courts of the house of the Lord, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things.” “All this, said David, the Lord made me understand in writing by His hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern.” 1 Chronicles 28:11, 12, 19
This is a second decisive argument that the heavenly sanctuary has two holy places. The third is drawn from the fact that the plural term “holy places” is used in the designation of the greater and more perfect tabernacle.
The Way of the Holy Places
Thus when Paul says, as expressed in our common version (see Hebrews 8:2), “A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man,” it is literally in the original, “a minister of the holy places.” And thus also when we read respecting the heavenly temple, “The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing,” it is literally in the Greek, “the way of the holy places.” Hebrews 9:8. So also where we read of the greater and more perfect tabernacle, in verse 12, that Christ “entered in once into the holy place,” it is also literally “holy places.” Again, in verse 24, we read in our common version the same thing, literally rendered, “the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true,” which last word is plural in the original, showing that there are holy places in the heavenly temple. And again in Hebrews 10:19, the term “holiest” is not, in the original “holy of holies,” as in chapter 9:3, but simply “holy places.” These passages form a most convincing argument that there must be two holy places in the heavenly temple. A fourth argument is found in the fact that each of the two holy places of the heavenly temple is definitely set forth in the description of that building not made with hands.
The first apartment is identified by the things which it contains. When John was called in vision to ascend to the place of God’s throne, the heavenly temple, a door was opened in heaven and the throne of God was revealed to his view. This is manifestly the door of the heavenly temple, for the throne of God which it discloses to view is within that temple. (See Psalm 11:4; Revelation 16:17.) That it was the first apartment of that temple into which he looked is evident from what he saw therein. “And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thundering and voices; and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.” Revelation 4:5. Here is a plain reference to the seven lamps which burned in the first apartment of the earthly sanctuary. (See Leviticus 24:2–4.)
And again, when the seven angels receive the seven trumpets, the scene of vision is still the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary. Thus we read:
“And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.” Revelation 8:2, 3
The golden altar stood in the first apartment of the sanctuary, i.e., in the same room with the candlestick on which were the seven lamps. (See Exodus 40:24–26.) The place of God’s throne at the time when the book with the seven seals was delivered to Christ, and also when the seven trumpets were given to the seven angels, is the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary. But when the seven vials are delivered into the hands of the seven angels who have the duty of pouring them out, the second apartment of the heavenly temple is opened and they come out from thence to execute the wrath of God upon men. This opening of the holiest takes place under the seventh trumpet.
The Temple Opened
“And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened; and the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles. And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth forever and ever. And 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.” Revelation 15:5–8
This opening of the heavenly temple, which is followed by the pouring out of the unmingled wrath of God, is an event connected with the closing up of human probation. And it is certain that we have in this case the opening of the holiest of all, here called the tabernacle of the testimony. The expression, “tabernacle of the testimony,” is a familiar term taken from the Old Testament and is precisely equivalent to “tabernacle of the ten commandments.” In proof of this, take the use of this term in the Bible. We begin with the first use of the Hebrew word gehdooth, and trace it through the books of Moses. Thus it occurs for the first time in Exodus 16:34: “Aaron laid it up before the testimony.” That is to say, he laid up the pot of manna before the ark of the Ten Commandments. (See Hebrews 9:4.) The next is Exodus 25:16: “Thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.” This was the Ten Commandments. (See Exodus 31:18; Deuteronomy 10:4, 5.) Again, “In the ark thou shalt put the testimony,” (see Exodus 25:2), i.e., the Ten Commandments. (See 1 Kings 8:9.) And now the ark itself takes its name from what was put in it. “The two cherubim’s which are upon the ark of the testimony.” Exodus 25:22. “And thou shalt hang up the veil under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the veil the ark of the testimony; and the veil shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy. And thou shalt put the mercyseat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place.” Exodus 26:33, 34. Here we have the ark of the Ten Commandments assigned to the most holy place of the tabernacle and the mercyseat placed over the ark. Presently we shall find that this testimony gives name to the tabernacle itself. As we read onward we find in Exodus 27:21; 30:6, 26, 36; 31:7, 18; 32:15; 34:29, the terms “testimony,” “tables of testimony,” “ark of the testimony,” each time by testimony meaning definitely the Ten Commandments. The term, “tabernacle of testimony,” occurs for the first time in Exodus 38:21.
The Second Apartment
Thus we see that the testimony of the Almighty gives name to the tables on which it was written, to the ark in which the tables were placed, and to the tabernacle itself, whose second apartment received the ark. Next, we thrice read of the ark of the testimony. (See Exodus 39:35; 40:3, 5.) And now we are brought to the acts of Moses in setting up the sanctuary. It is said in Exodus 40:20, “He took and put the testimony into the ark,” i.e., he put the Law of God therein. Then he placed the ark itself within the tabernacle and covered the ark of the testimony by hanging up the second veil. (See Exodus 40:21.) In Leviticus 16:13, the mercyseat is said to be upon the testimony. In Leviticus 24:3, the veil which hides the ark is called the veil of the testimony. Next, we read of the tabernacle of the testimony in Numbers 1:50, 53. Next, of the ark of the testimony. (See Numbers 4:5; 7:89; Joshua 4:16.) Next, of the tent of the testimony (see Numbers 9:15), and of the testimony itself. (See Numbers 17:10.) Next, of the tabernacle of witness, or testimony (for the two words are synonymous). (See Numbers 10:11; 17:7, 8; 18:2.) In all of these texts, it is certain that the Ten Commandments are called the testimony and that they give name to the tables, to the ark, to the veil, and to the tabernacle, especially to the second apartment.
This term has, therefore, a well-defined meaning in the Scriptures. By the testimony, the tables of the testimony, the ark of the testimony, the veil of the testimony, and the tabernacle of the testimony, are meant respectively the Ten Commandments. The term, “tabernacle of witness,” or “testimony,” does therefore definitely signify the tabernacle of the Ten Commandments. Now it is remarkable that this term occurs twice in the New Testament. In Acts 7:44, the tabernacle of witness, i.e., of the Ten Commandments, is mentioned, referring to the earthly sanctuary; and in Revelation 15:5, the heavenly sanctuary is designated by this same term, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven; and we have proved conclusively that this is equivalent to the temple of the tabernacle of the Ten Commandments in heaven.
This text is therefore a plain reference to the most holy place of the heavenly temple and to the Law of God deposited therein, which gives name to the building. This apartment of the heavenly temple is opened just prior to the pouring out of the plagues. But we have a second statement of the opening of the most holy place of the temple in heaven. Thus we read of the events under the seventh trumpet:
“And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament; and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.” Revelation 11:19
Here is disclosed to our view the second apartment of the heavenly temple, and here is shown the grand central object, which gives name to the tabernacle itself. It is the ark of God, sometimes called the ark of the covenant, or testament (see Numbers 10:33; Hebrews 9:4), and sometimes the ark of the testimony (see Exodus 25:22). It is because the heavenly temple contains the ark of God’s testimony that it is itself called the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven. And the ark itself is not empty; it contains what Revelation 11:19 calls God’s testament and what Revelation 15:5 calls “the testimony in heaven.” These two terms must signify the Ten Commandments and cannot signify anything else.
The Work of Judgment
The existence of the temple in heaven and the fact that it has two holy places, like the sanctuary of the first covenant, have been clearly proved. The judgment work in the second apartment remains to engage our attention.
When Paul says, in Romans 2:6, that God “will render to every man according to his deeds,” he adds in the next verse this important statement: “To them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.” Now it is manifest that this work of rendering to every man according to his deeds can only be wrought after the examination of those deeds in the judgment. It must be in consequence of the decision of the judgment that the things promised are rendered to men. It is also evident that the gift of immortality is one of the things thus rendered. As the righteous receive this gift in the very act of being resurrected from the grave, it is certain that the decision of the judgment passes upon them before the voice of the archangel and the trump of God awaken them to immortal life.
This part of the judgment work takes place where our Lord finishes His priesthood; for His last work as Priest is to secure the acquittal of His people and to obtain the decision that their sins shall be blotted out. We have learned from the Scriptures that the heavenly temple has two holy places. A further examination will evince the fact that there are two parts to the ministration of Christ and that His last work is at the tribunal of His Father in the tabernacle of the testimony, where it is determined who shall receive immortality.
The Levitical Example
The Levitical priests served “unto the example and shadow of heavenly things.” Hebrews 8:5. The most important part of the service pertaining to the earthly sanctuary was that which was performed within the second apartment on the tenth day of the seventh month. (See Leviticus 16.) This is generally considered as typifying the events of the whole gospel dispensation. But we think the evidence conclusive that this chapter is a typical representation of that part of our Lord’s work which is embraced in the hour of God’s judgment, or in the days of the voice of the seventh angel when he begins to sound.
The sixteenth chapter of Leviticus is devoted solely to the work of finishing the yearly round of service in the earthly sanctuary. This was wrought on the great day of atonement and was of the most impressive character. First, the high priest was solemnly admonished that he was such only in a typical sense and not such in reality. For on this day, which was by far the most impressive of all and when he entered the most holy place of the sanctuary, he must put on the plainest and humblest dress, laying aside that splendid dress which the law prescribed for him to wear on other occasions. (See Leviticus 16:4 compared with Exodus 28.) He was also to make a public acknowledgment of his own sinfulness by proceeding to offer a sin offering for himself. (See Leviticus 16:3, 6, 11–14.) No part of this can be typical of our Lord’s work, for it was expressly designed to impress upon the mind the infirmity and sinfulness of the high priest.
But this being accomplished, the high priest entered upon that work which directly shadowed forth the work of atonement. He took from the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering. (See Leviticus 16:5.) On these two goats he was to cast lots; one lot was for the goat to be sacrificed and one for the scapegoat. Then he slew the goat upon which the lot fell for a sacrifice, and with his blood he entered into the second apartment of the sanctuary. This blood he sprinkled before the mercyseat and upon it. He did this for two purposes: (1) to make atonement for the people; (2) to cleanse the sanctuary by removing from it the sins of the people of God. Then the high priest returned into the first apartment and cleansed the altar from the sins of the people. The sanctuary being cleansed, the high priest comes out of the door of the building, and, having caused the live goat to be brought, he lays both his hands upon his head and confesses over him all the transgressions of the children of Israel in all their sins. These he puts upon the head of the goat and sends him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness. The goat thus sent bears away all their iniquities into a land not inhabited. (See Leviticus 16:7–10, 15–22.)