REVELATION 11Revelation of Jesus | Revelation of JohnT: REVELATION 11:1-1911:1,2 MEASURING THE TEMPLETHE ALTAR AND THOSE WHO WORSHIP THERE11:2 LEAVE OUT THE COURT11:3-6 WHO ARE THE TWO WITNESSES?OLD TESTAMENT TYPES OF THE TWO WITNESSESWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?11:7-10 THE TWO WITNESSES KILLEDSATAN’S IMPERSONATION OF CHRISTWHEN WILL THE BEAST APPEAR?11:11-13 RESURRECTION OF THE TWO WITNESSES11:14,15 THE KINGDOMS OF OUR LORD11:16-18 ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE JUDGMENT11:19 THE ARK OF THE COVENANT


11:19 THE ARK OF THE COVENANT

And the temple of God was opened in heaven and there was seen in His temple the ark of His covenant. And there were lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake, and great hail” (Revelation 11:19).

God told Moses to have the children of Israel “make Me a sanctuary [temple], that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it” (Exodus 25:8,9). When God told Him to make it “according to the pattern” He was not simply giving Him a design. The pattern for the tabernacle and its furnishings, including the ark of the covenant, was a heavenly reality, which John saw when “the temple of God was opened in heaven.” Although the full reality of the ark of His covenant” and the “temple of Godin heaven are incomprehensible to sinful humanity, we can understand them to a certain extent by studying the issues surrounding the earthly "ark of His covenant."

The ark was a box approximately four feet long, two feet wide and two feet high, made of Acacia wood covered inside and out with gold. The ark contained the two tables of stone with the Ten Commandments written on them—“the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were…the tablets of the covenant” (Hebrews 9:4). It was called the ark of the covenant because the Ten Commandments are a central part of God’s covenant with His people—“He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone” (Deuteronomy 4:13).

Some Bible students have concluded from this and similar passages that the law of God was the “old covenant,” a way of “salvation” given to the Jews in which they could be saved by faithfully obeying the commandments. The fact that commandment keeping could not have been God’s covenant of salvation is evident since no one (except Jesus) has ever kept God’s law (Romans 3:23, 1 John 3:4). This means that God would have given the Jews an ineffective means of salvation. Furthermore, in the new covenant period (even down to the end of time, as seen in this passage of Revelation) the ark in heaven (which presumably has some kind of original of the law of God) is still called “the ark of His covenant.”

Actually, God’s commandments are just one of the four elements of each of the covenants He made with mankind. These elements are 1) God’s promise to bless humanity through His chosen people. 2) His requirements (commandments). 3) His provision to save those who violate His requirements (the plan of salvation). 4) The sign of His covenant. These elements can be seen most clearly in the covenants God made with Noah after the flood, in His covenant with Abraham, in the “old covenant” God made with Moses and the Children of Israel, and in the new covenant with the Christian church. Significantly, all of these covenants are called an “everlasting covenant,” showing that the essence of God's covenants does not change.

These elements are analyzed in each of the covenants in Appendix 9. Their manifestation in the new covenant is central in the climax of the great controversy, which is presented in chapters 12-14. The promise of the new covenant is that the church will reveal God to the world—“You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9,10). The requirement of the new covenant is God’s law, written by the Spirit in the heart—“This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days’, says the Lord, ‘I will put my laws in their mind and write them on their hearts” (Hebrews 8:10). The provision of the new covenant is the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, received by faith—“He [Christ] is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions” (Hebrews 9:15). The sign of the new covenant is the Sabbath, the symbol of creation and redemption (see Appendix 9).

The everlasting covenant is brought into focus when “the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His covenant.” In the book of Daniel, Satan’s enmity against the covenant is manifested through the activity of his earthly agents, the “King of the North” who “shall be moved against the holy covenant; so he shall do damage….and [he shall] show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant…he shall corrupt with flattery those who do wickedly against the covenant” (Daniel 11:28, 30, 32). The “King of the North” who wars against the covenant turns out to be none other than “the beast from the sea” whose destructive activity is featured in chapter 13.

In the next three chapters, which are the climax of the great controversy theme of Revelation, beginning with the "war in heaven." We will see that the four elements of the covenant are the great issues of the final struggle, with each coming under fierce attack by the dragon, “that serpent of old.” Satan hates Christ’s people and the message they have for the world, and he also hates God’s law, His sacrifice, and the sign of His covenant. But the opening of the temple in heaven and the revealing of "the ark of His covenant" is God's announcement of Satan's utter defeat.