Scriptural Insights from Biblical Overlooks, Pt. 2
Study Guide, August 6, 2023
Pastor Clay Olsen
Last week we began our scenic tour of some Biblical Overlooks. And the purpose for our tour is to gain further Scriptural insights into the wonders of the Word of God, and to inspire us to greater worship and service unto our Great God. So, if you are ready to ride, let’s go!
How many have visited the Grand Canyon? They don’t call it ‘Grand’ for nothing! How about, who has ever walked out on the Skywalk, that amazing horseshoe-shaped cantilever bridge with a glass walkway, located at Eagle Point, Arizona? You are walking on glass, but they say it feels like you’re walking on air…it’s about 2,000 feet to the rock shelf below and the Colorado River is about 4,000 feet below. Put that on your bucket list.
Today we’re going to pull over to look at a scene that has amazed Biblical commentators for centuries. And we first see it from the top of a mountain, Mount Sinai, in the book of Exodus. What God had been doing was instructing Moses on how to build the Tabernacle. And the instructions were so precise that several chapters in Exodus were devoted to it. And, of course, the Tabernacle would be the place where God’s presence would reside. And, remember, the Shekinah glory would be visible to the people, in the form of the pillar of the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.
But first, God gave Moses the instructions on how to build the tabernacle, along with its contents. And here’s where it gets especially fascinating, because what we learn is that these instructions were not for building something that had not yet existed, no, what God was showing Moses was a pattern or a copy or a model that was based upon the original. Let’s look: Ex 25:40- “See that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain.” NASU And what was this pattern or copy or model based upon? We go to the book of Hebrews for this, as it is here that we see this wonder revealed further. Heb 8:1-5- “Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. There He ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands. And since every high priest is required to offer gifts and sacrifices, our High Priest must make an offering, too. If He were here on earth, He would not even be a priest, since there already are priests who offer the gifts required by the law. They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning: “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.” NLT
A heavenly Tabernacle? Now, one of the first principles of Bible interpretation is that the best interpreter of Scripture is Scripture itself. It’s like even with Prophecy, even though there are many good Bible teachers who do hold to the same Gospel of Salvation of the New Birth by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, yet when it comes to Prophecy, some have different positions when it comes to interpreting Prophecy. And that’s okay, since Prophecy is not a Salvation issue, but a ‘preparation’ for Christ’s coming Kingdom issue. Christians of varying prophetic positions can still have good fellowship and great missionary service together. But again, the point of Bible interpretation is to seek to find what the Scriptures most consistently proclaim throughout the entire Bible. What are the Scriptures saying to us throughout the whole counsel of Scripture? In other words, all of us are to spend more time on listening to and acting upon what the Bible says than on seeking to interpret what the Bible is saying. Always remember – We are not the judge of the Bible; the Bible is the Judge of us! Trust less in your errant human reasoning and presuppositions and trust more in God’s revealed truths and positions about everything on Earth and in Heaven. Let God speak to you throughout His Scriptures by paying attention to what He is saying, especially when He says it many times and in many places throughout the Bible. The path to discovering the most consistent revelation is when you find God revealing the same or similar realities in several places in the Scriptures.
And that’s true of what God reveals about Prophecy, as well as other wondrous things, such as these Scriptures that state that the earthly tabernacle was a copy of the original tabernacle in Heaven. Again, this is not a Salvation issue, and there are good Bible commentators that lean more toward symbolism about this, but the thing is…when you simply let the Bible speak for itself, it not only further inspires your faith, but it ignites a greater desire to know the Person of God even more and it fuels a longing for seeing and being in that amazing place of God’s home and our home of Heaven even more. The physical realities of Heaven and Earth are all designed to connect us, God’s spiritual and physical family, in both a higher and deeper relationship and fellowship with our Creator and Redeemer, who is now both Divine and Human, spiritual and physical. Jesus Christ is now and forever both a spiritual being and a physical being residing in a Heaven that is filled with physical realities! God created us both as physical beings as well as spiritual beings. God loves to create physical things…have you noticed that? Look at our world, look at the stars, look at the galaxies…look at the Heavenly realties.
At this point we should hear from Dr. Henry Morris, founder of the Creation Research Institute and highly esteemed Bible teacher the world over. Concerning the tabernacle or temple in Heaven Dr. Morris said this: “That there is indeed a temple in Heaven is confirmed in both the Old and New Testaments. Isaiah the prophet saw it in His vision and the writer of Hebrews makes it clear that the earthly tabernacle had been ‘patterned’ after ‘the true tabernacle’. This is a real physical temple, in a real physical city, where Christ now appears in His real physical, glorified resurrection body.” 1 Thank you Dr. Morris! How about including that into what is there when you look into the heavens at night. Of course, Heaven is part of a dimension that mortals are not yet capable of accessing. But once you pass through the door of immortality, many new wondrous dimensions of reality open up to you as well… ‘things eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has yet even entered into the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those that love Him.’
But now, back to part of our purpose for focusing on these amazing Heavenly realities. God intends for this to be a source of great comfort and great encouragement for His disciples, for us. Here’s an example of that: When Jesus’ disciples were troubled that He had told them He would be leaving them, this is what He said to comfort them: John 14:1-3- “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” NASU Just as Jesus was really with them there, both spiritually and physically, He would also be with them again in a very real place of Heaven. Again, Jesus Himself is even now and forever in His resurrected physical body, and in that physical place that He is preparing for His disciples…for us.
And to assure us even further about this awesome place that God is preparing, God also gave us a preview of the city section of the New Earth and appointed the Apostle John to show it to us: Rev 21:1-4- “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” NASU And if you ever wonder what Jesus has been doing since He told His disciples and us that He was going to prepare a place for us all…wonder no more! John showed us in this preview of the New Jerusalem, and even called this New Jerusalem ‘the tabernacle of God!’
Plus, this Capitol city of the New Earth is absolutely immense! God even reveals its dimensions: 1500 miles long, 1500 miles wide, and 1500 miles high! And people think things are big in Texas! This city is out of this world…but it’s coming into the New World! And, by the way, The New Jerusalem is a cube in its dimensions. Only two other cubes are described in the Bible. One was the holy of holies in the tabernacle, and the other in the temple. The new Holy City is shaped like the temple, but the essence of this temple is the presence of the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. But then it also points us to, why, as the Apostle John looks into this New Jerusalem and this New Earth, he then says, “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” Rev 21:22-23 NASU When God completes His family after the Millennial Kingdom, and since His redemptive works are completed as well, the temple has now become the presence of God and the New Jerusalem.
But remember, before God ushers in His Eternal Kingdom…before He connects the New Earth and the New Heavens, John said that there still was a tabernacle or temple in Heaven, as in, even now. And if we were given the privilege of seeing what John saw, we would see it, too. In fact, John was very precise in revealing exactly what he saw. Notice some examples: As John sees into the future during the Tribulation period, he sees the tribulation saints serving God in a very specific place. Where? Let’s look: Rev 7:14-15- “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them.” NASU
Here’s another example of where John describes the very real physical events that are going to occur on Earth during the judgments of the Great Tribulation. Rev 15:7-8 – “Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.” NASU And remember, John is prophesying about real events and very physical things.
In fact, within sixteen chapters of the Book of Revelation John speaks of the temple of Heaven fourteen times! Of course, as we stated, once the Eternal Kingdom begins, the presence of God and the New Jerusalem become the temple of God’s family. But let’s finish looking at these wondrous things from this Biblical Overlook with one more astonishing sight. Some time ago Brother Don Mitchell asked me a question, which really impressed me with his depth of Bible study, because you don’t often hear this question. It concerned this passage in Heb 9:11-12- “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
His question concerned whether this was speaking literally or symbolically? Did Jesus really enter the tabernacle of Heaven with His own blood to place on the Mercy Seat in Heaven? I’m going to let the world renown Bible Teacher, and founder and President of Radio Bible Class, which produces these wonderful ‘Our Daily Bread’ devotionals, Dr. M.R. DeHaan, answer that. Dr. DeHaan wrote: “The blood was to be sprinkled on the mercy seat right after the death of the substitutionary animal of sacrifice. Now, Christ is, of course, our substitute. He was slain for us upon the Cross and entered into death for us…entered into the holy of holies in heaven, sprinkled His precious blood upon the mercy seat before the throne of God, and forever settled the sin question, and delivered us from the curse of the law. This is clearly taught in the New Testament.2
Dr. Henry Morris also taught the same as Dr. DeHaan, as well as did another great Bible Teacher and Commentator James Vernon McGee. J. Vernon MeGee taught that Jesus did exactly as the writer of Hebrews revealed what He did. Remember, Jesus was both our High Priest and our Substitutionary sacrifice. And it was the responsibility of the High Priest to apply the blood of the sacrifice upon the mercy seat in the temple. Remember, Hebrews said: “…our High Priest must make an offering.” So, how is that for a Biblical Overlook…all the way into the tabernacle…the temple of Heaven?!
Once again, the Word of God is about real people and real places and real events. And God is preparing a real place for His redeemed people. And it’s all intended to help us all be really comforted, and to be really encouraged, and be really excited about our Lord Jesus Christ’s return…which we pray will be real soon!
1, Henry M. Morris, The Revelation Record, pp. 210,211
2. M.R. DeHaan, The Tabernacle, p 129