Perhaps Johnís most surprising statement about the New Jerusalem is that he saw no temple there. Johnís word for temple here means only the most holy building which 2 Chronicles 3:3-14 describes. It stood in a larger area that included outer and inner courts (yards). We often refer to the whole area as the temple. The priests worked in its inner court; the people gathered in the outer courts. The actual temple building was for God himself; only a few priests entered it each day.
The purpose of this arrangement was to separate God from the people. God is holy, but people are sinful (guilty of wrong and evil acts). Therefore, the people could not approach God in that unholy state. God chose to live among his people, but he had to be separate from them.
Such an arrangement was not necessary before people chose not to obey God. There was no temple in the garden called Eden (see Genesis 3:8). However, when the first people chose not to serve God, God forced them to leave that place (Genesis 3:22-24). God still cared about them (Genesis 3:21), but they had to be separate from God.
God did a very wonderful thing by means of the death of Christ. He made it possible for his people to approach him - and even to go into his most holy place (Hebrews 10:19-22). They cannot do it at the temple in Jerusalem, which no longer exists. So, Hebrews 10:19-22 means that they can have the closest possible relationship with God. God is not still separate from his people; he lives in them (1 Corinthians 6:19).
In the New Jerusalem, God will not even have a separate holy place. He will constantly remain with his people; nothing will separate him from them (22:3-4). That is the kind of relationship that God has always wanted to have with his people.
Next part: Light that comes from God (Revelation 21:23)
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© 2016, Keith Simons.