Preface to the Book of Revelation
To open this study of Revelation I want to quote a lengthy section of the book, the Desire of Ages pages 154 - 163. This reading is a fulfillment of the prophecy of Haggai 2:6-9 “For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Ye once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the hearth, and the sea, and the dry land, And I will shake all nations, and The Desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver is min, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of host.”
This section of Scripture and this study about the Temple is a Revelation of Jesus the Christ. I will highlight various sections of this quotation to prepare your thoughts as to what the Book of Revelation wants to reveal to us today. Satan has conducted his warfare in such a way as to hide the ministry of Jesus from God’s creation. Thus it is God’s will to reveal His ministry to all who seek truth. When we can see the way, the truth, and the life, then we can decide whether we want to join this great work of the revelation of Christ.
Chap. 16 - In His Temple – Desire of Ages 154-163
"After this He went down to Capernaum, He, and His mother, and His brethren, and His disciples: and they continued there not many days. And the Jews' Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem."
In this journey, Jesus joined one of the large companies that were making their way to the capital. He had not yet publicly announced His mission, and He mingled unnoticed with the throng. Upon these occasions, the coming of the Messiah, to which such prominence had been given by the ministry of John, was often the theme of conversation. The hope of national greatness was dwelt upon with kindling enthusiasm. Jesus knew that this hope was to be disappointed, for it was founded on a misinterpretation of the Scriptures. With deep earnestness He explained the prophecies, and tried to arouse the people to a closer study of God's word.
The Jewish leaders had instructed the people that at Jerusalem they were to be taught to worship God. Here during the Passover week large numbers assembled, coming from all parts of Palestine, and even from distant lands. The temple courts were filled with a promiscuous throng. Many were unable to bring with them the sacrifices that were to be offered up as typifying the one great Sacrifice. For the convenience of these, animals were bought and sold in the outer court of the temple. Here all classes of people assembled to purchase their offerings. Here all foreign money was exchanged for the coin of the sanctuary.
Every Jew was required to pay yearly a half shekel as "a ransom for his soul;" and the money thus collected was used for the support of the temple. Ex. 30:12-16. Besides this, large sums were brought as freewill offerings, to be deposited in the temple treasury. And it was required that all foreign coin should be changed for a coin called the temple shekel, which was accepted for the service of the sanctuary. The money changing gave opportunity for fraud and extortion, and it had grown into a disgraceful traffic, which was a source of revenue to the priests.
The dealers demanded exorbitant prices for the animals sold, and they shared their profits with the priests and rulers, who thus enriched themselves at the expense of the people. The worshipers had been taught to believe that if they did not offer sacrifice, the blessing of God would not rest on their children or their lands. Thus a high price for the animals could be secured; for after coming so far, the people would not return to their homes without performing the act of devotion for which they had come.
A great number of sacrifices were offered at the time of the Passover, and the sales at the temple were very large. The consequent confusion indicated a noisy cattle market rather than the sacred temple of God. There could be heard sharp bargaining, the lowing of cattle, the bleating of sheep, the cooing of doves, mingled with the chinking of coin and angry disputation. So great was the confusion that the worshipers were disturbed, and the words addressed to the Most High were drowned in the uproar that invaded the temple. The Jews were exceedingly proud of their piety. They rejoiced over their temple, and regarded a word spoken in its disfavor as blasphemy; they were very rigorous in the performance of ceremonies connected with it; but the love of money had overruled their scruples. They were scarcely aware how far they had wandered from the original purpose of the service instituted by God Himself.
When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai, the place was consecrated by His presence. Moses was commanded to put bounds around the mount and sanctify it, and the word of the Lord was heard in warning: "Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: there shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live." Ex. 19:12, 13. Thus was taught the lesson that wherever God manifests His presence, the place is holy. The precincts of God's temple should have been regarded as sacred. But in the strife for gain, all this was lost sight of.
The priests and rulers were called to be the representatives of God to the nation; they should have corrected the abuses of the temple court. They should have given to the people an example of integrity and compassion. Instead of studying their own profit, they should have considered the situation and needs of the worshipers, and should have been ready to assist those who were not able to buy the required sacrifices. But this they did not do. Avarice had hardened their hearts.
There came to this feast those who were suffering, those who were in want and distress. The blind, the lame, the deaf, were there. Some were brought on beds. Many came who were too poor to purchase the humblest offering for the Lord, too poor even to buy food with which to satisfy their own hunger. These were greatly distressed by the statements of the priests. The priests boasted of their piety; they claimed to be the guardians of the people; but they were without sympathy or compassion. The poor, the sick, the dying, made their vain plea for favor. Their suffering awakened no pity in the hearts of the priests.
As Jesus came into the temple, He took in the whole scene. He saw the unfair transactions. He saw the distress of the poor, who thought that without shedding of blood there would be no forgiveness for their sins. He saw the outer court of His temple converted into a place of unholy traffic. The sacred enclosure had become one vast exchange.
Christ saw that something must be done. Numerous ceremonies were enjoined upon the people without the proper instruction as to their import. The worshipers offered their sacrifices without understanding that they were typical of the only perfect Sacrifice. And among them, unrecognized and unhonored, stood the One symbolized by all their service. He had given directions in regard to the offerings. He understood their symbolical value, and He saw that they were now perverted and misunderstood. Spiritual worship was fast disappearing. No link bound the priests and rulers to their God. Christ's work was to establish an altogether different worship.
With searching glance, Christ takes in the scene before Him as He stands upon the steps of the temple court. With prophetic eye He looks into futurity, and sees not only years, but centuries and ages. He sees how priests and rulers will turn the needy from their right, and forbid that the gospel shall be preached to the poor. He sees how the love of God will be concealed from sinners, and men will make merchandise of His grace. As He beholds the scene, indignation, authority, and power are expressed in His countenance. The attention of the people is attracted to Him. The eyes of those engaged in their unholy traffic are riveted upon His face. They cannot withdraw their gaze. They feel that this Man reads their inmost thoughts, and discovers their hidden motives. Some attempt to conceal their faces, as if their evil deeds were written upon their countenances, to be scanned by those searching eyes.
The confusion is hushed. The sound of traffic and bargaining has ceased. The silence becomes painful. A sense of awe overpowers the assembly. It is as if they were arraigned before the tribunal of God to answer for their deeds. Looking upon Christ, they behold divinity flash through the garb of humanity. The Majesty of heaven stands as the Judge will stand at the last day,--not now encircled with the glory that will then attend Him, but with the same power to read the soul. His eye sweeps over the multitude, taking in every individual. His form seems to rise above them in commanding dignity, and a divine light illuminates His countenance. He speaks, and His clear, ringing voice--the same that upon Mount Sinai proclaimed the law that priests and rulers are transgressing--is heard echoing through the arches of the temple: "Take these things hence; make not My Father's house an house of merchandise."
Slowly descending the steps, and raising the scourge of cords gathered up on entering the enclosure, He bids the bargaining company depart from the precincts of the temple. With a zeal and severity He has never before manifested, He overthrows the tables of the money-changers. The coin falls, ringing sharply upon the marble pavement. None presume to question His authority. None dare stop to gather up their ill-gotten gain. Jesus does not smite them with the whip of cords, but in His hand that simple scourge seems terrible as a flaming sword. Officers of the temple, speculating priests, brokers and cattle traders, with their sheep and oxen, rush from the place, with the one thought of escaping from the condemnation of His presence.
A panic sweeps over the multitude, who feel the overshadowing of His divinity. Cries of terror escape from hundreds of blanched lips. Even the disciples tremble. They are awestruck by the words and manner of Jesus, so unlike His usual demeanor. They remember that it is written of Him, "The zeal of Thine house hath eaten Me up." Ps. 69:9. Soon the tumultuous throng with their merchandise are far removed from the temple of the Lord. The courts are free from unholy traffic, and a deep silence and solemnity settles upon the scene of confusion. The presence of the Lord, that of old sanctified the mount, has now made sacred the temple reared in His honor.
In the cleansing of the temple, Jesus was announcing His mission as the Messiah, and entering upon His work. That temple, erected for the abode of the divine Presence, was designed to be an object lesson for Israel and for the world. From eternal ages it was God's purpose that every created being, from the bright and holy seraph to man, should be a temple for the indwelling of the Creator. Because of sin, humanity ceased to be a temple for God. Darkened and defiled by evil, the heart of man no longer revealed the glory of the Divine One. But by the incarnation of the Son of God, the purpose of Heaven is fulfilled. God dwells in humanity, and through saving grace the heart of man becomes again His temple. God designed that the temple at Jerusalem should be a continual witness to the high destiny open to every soul. But the Jews had not understood the significance of the building they regarded with so much pride. They did not yield themselves as holy temples for the Divine Spirit. The courts of the temple at Jerusalem, filled with the tumult of unholy traffic, represented all too truly the temple of the heart, defiled by the presence of sensual passion and unholy thoughts. In cleansing the temple from the world's buyers and sellers, Jesus announced His mission to cleanse the heart from the defilement of sin,--from the earthly desires, the selfish lusts, the evil habits, that corrupt the soul. "The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver." Mal. 3:1-3.
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." 1 Cor. 3:16, 17. No man can of himself cast out the evil throng that have taken possession of the heart. Only Christ can cleanse the soul temple. But He will not force an entrance. He comes not into the heart as to the temple of old; but He says, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him." Rev. 3:20. He will come, not for one day merely; for He says, "I will dwell in them, and walk in them; . . . and they shall be My people." "He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." 2 Cor. 6:16; Micah 7:19. His presence will cleanse and sanctify the soul, so that it may be a holy temple unto the Lord, and "an habitation of God through the Spirit." Eph. 2:21, 22.
Overpowered with terror, the priests and rulers had fled from the temple court, and from the searching glance that read their hearts. In their flight they met others on their way to the temple, and bade them turn back, telling them what they had seen and heard. Christ looked upon the fleeing men with yearning pity for their fear, and their ignorance of what constituted true worship. In this scene He saw symbolized the dispersion of the whole Jewish nation for their wickedness and impenitence.
And why did the priests flee from the temple? Why did they not stand their ground? He who commanded them to go was a carpenter's son, a poor Galilean, without earthly rank or power. Why did they not resist Him? Why did they leave the gain so ill acquired, and flee at the command of One whose outward appearance was so humble?
Christ spoke with the authority of a king, and in His appearance, and in the tones of His voice, there was that which they had no power to resist. At the word of command they realized, as they had never realized before, their true position as hypocrites and robbers. When divinity flashed through humanity, not only did they see indignation on Christ's countenance; they realized the import of His words. They felt as if before the throne of the eternal Judge, with their sentence passed on them for time and for eternity. For a time they were convinced that Christ was a prophet; and many believed Him to be the Messiah. The Holy Spirit flashed into their minds the utterances of the prophets concerning Christ. Would they yield to this conviction?
Repent they would not. They knew that Christ's sympathy for the poor had been aroused. They knew that they had been guilty of extortion in their dealings with the people. Because Christ discerned their thoughts they hated Him. His public rebuke was humiliating to their pride, and they were jealous of His growing influence with the people. They determined to challenge Him as to the power by which He had driven them forth, and who gave Him this power.
Slowly and thoughtfully, but with hate in their hearts, they returned to the temple. But what a change had taken place during their absence! When they fled, the poor remained behind; and these were now looking to Jesus, whose countenance expressed His love and sympathy. With tears in His eyes, He said to the trembling ones around Him: Fear not; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me. For this cause came I into the world.
The people pressed into Christ's presence with urgent, pitiful appeals: Master, bless me. His ear heard every cry. With pity exceeding that of a tender mother He bent over the suffering little ones. All received attention. Everyone was healed of whatever disease he had. The dumb opened their lips in praise; the blind beheld the face of their Restorer. The hearts of the sufferers were made glad.”
In the above section of Desire of Ages Jesus reveals Himself to His people as the Lord of the Temple, the symbol of the human heart and mind. Jesus came to reveal what the Leaders and Priests of Israel had hidden. They had cooperated with Satan in distorting the truths of the Sanctuary system and Jesus came to correct these errors, and to reestablish and reveal the gospel which Satan had hidden even in Israel. What Jesus came to correct was the errors that Satan had sown in the field of Israel. Jesus came to restore the Daily to all who wanted to be free of abominations and the desolation of the soul.
But a great question is how did this happen to Israel? How did the righteous nation begin to teach the errors of Satan? How was it that Satan could win his greatest triumph by perverting the faith of Israel? How was it that Satan could make the children of Israel his agents and representatives? The servant of God of God states that the Jewish nation had accepted the principle that “man could save himself by his own work…” Desire of Ages 35-36. Once this error was accepted into the Jewish religion then as in any other heathen religion there was no barrier and no power over sin. “…The bodies of human beings, made for the dwelling place of God, had become the habitation of demons…” Desire of Ages 36-37. As a result of this set of teachings the whole system of sacrifices and offerings must be swept away. DA 36-37
Yet still the question of how had this situation occurred must be answered. The sources of this issue must be revealed and the solution that Jesus had prepared must be declared in a manner that all who wanted to be redeemed would have that opportunity and would have access to the power necessary to overcome and be restored into the image of Christ.
The story, according to Revelation 12:7-13, started long ago, in a far and distant land. Lucifer, the greatest of angels decided that he was not content in his position and he wanted to be like the Most High. Isaiah 14:12-14. He entered into controversy with Michael, the Arch-Angel, the Prince of God’s people, the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. Jude 9; Daniel 12:1; 10:21; 9:25; Matthew 16:16
When Lucifer began to spread his lies among the angels many trusted him for he was a covering cherub and next to the throne of God. Ezekiel 28:14. He spread his lies so well that one third of the angels chose to follow him rather than to follow Michael. Isaiah 9:15; Revelation 12:4 Eventually, there was war in heaven and Satan, Lucifer’s name now changed to Satan – the Adversary, became the Dragon. When the Dragon fought with Michael the inevitable happened and the Dragon lost the war and was cast out of heaven, and out from the presence of God, to the Earth.
The idea that there could be war in heaven, and war over ideas and thoughts, is an amazing concept. Yet Lucifer and his angels chose to believe lies about God and about Michael to the point that they conducted warfare in the very presence of God and lost. This warfare has continued down through the ages and will continue until Satan and his angels are consumed in the lake of fire, along with all of the people who also have chosen to believe these lies. Revelation 20:7-15
After Lucifer, now Satan the Adversary, lost the war in heaven, and was cast out to the Earth, he continued his war against God by attacking God’s children on Earth. Now he attacked Adam and Eve the same way he did the angels in heaven. He insinuated thoughts to Eve and she chose to believe him rather than her Creator – The Son of God. Colossians 1:12-18; John 1:1-3. When she listened to then went to her husband and passed on the same lies to him. Adam chose to disobey His Creator and ate of the fruit. When he ate of the fruit it changed his experience toward His God and when God came to speak to him at the time of the evening worship, Adam fled from Jesus, just as the Jewish leaders had done in the quotation at the beginning. Jesus, the Creator, offered Adam and Eve a plan through which they could be restored to fearless and open communion with God. If they would accept His life, death, and shed blood in their place, by faith, then God would restore the relationship to what it was and more. Adam and Eve accepted the offer and were willing to exchange the fig leaf clothing they had made for the clothing made from the skins of animals that God had made for them. Thus the first altar was developed and the first sacrifices made and the first blood shed on the planet Earth. All of these activities were to symbolize the Daily intercessory ministry of Jesus in behalf of sinful mankind.
However, there were a couple of major negative issues that had to take place as a result of sin. The first was that Adam and Eve must leave their Garden home. They could come to the gate but they could not come any farther into the garden/sanctuary. They could partake of the tree of life but it must come through the testimony of Jesus and His followers. Proverbs 11:30; John 15:1-7. They would be exposed to the changes in the Earth that came as a result of the sowing of sin. Matthew 13:24-30. And then there would be death that could only come through sin and rebellion against God. That which God told them would come to pass – they would surely die. Genesis 2:17. They would also have to live with the idea that the Creator Himself would someday come to die for mankind, but that as a result of His death Satan would eventually die himself.
Now the stage was set for the warfare between God and Satan to spread throughout the Earth. Satan, the father of lies, continued to do his will but God, the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6) continued to present truth so that each person could decide for themselves. Satan’s followers seemed to identify themselves with Cain, the first murderer, and the first individual who killed a person over religious/worship issues. When Shem replaced Able as a follower of God, the great struggle continued down through time. Satan won so many people to his side that it appeared that there would be no followers of God left. Yet God continued to display the path of righteousness. He still had a remnant that was faithful to Him and the descendents of Seth built and Ark so that all who would be willing to follow God would have a place of shelter when God displayed a great revelation of His power and grace. God promised to cleanse the Earth and maintain His people. When God invited all of His people to come into the Ark of His Covenant, only 8 people came out of all of the people in the world. When all had made their final decision as to whether to believe God He reluctantly closed the door and then 8 days later He cleansed the Earth of sin.
After this revelation of God He preserved His Remnant people and repopulated the Earth. But the same principles of life continued. There continued to be warfare among the people and eventually the lines of demarcation settled between the followers of Canaan and the followers of Shem – the Canaanites and the Shemites. This lineage brings us down through all of the covenants between Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and God. Always Satan is trying to deceive, alter, mutilate, and kill the message and messengers of God. God, at the same time is preserving, protecting, and purifying the message and the messengers of God.
After hundreds of years God reveals Himself to the world in another mighty display of power and truth. Israel, the descendents of Jacob, whose name had been changed to a Prince with God or Israel, his descendents were called Israelites to testify of the victory granted him by Jesus Himself. When they had gone into Egypt in the time of the great famine, they chose to stay there after the flood and did not return to Canaan as their father Abraham had done. When they were tired of staying in Egypt they pleaded with God for deliverance and when the fullness of His time prophecy (Genesis 15:1-21 especially verses 13-16) had come He chose to deliver them by a mighty hand. God allowed Egypt to experience a series of plagues that would eventually move the Pharaoh to release them to go with God into the wilderness and eventually to Canaan.
All the then known world watched the contest between God and Satan in Egypt. After each plague the Pharaoh would seemingly be ready to surrender to God and then he would harden his own heart and resist God only to lead to a greater display of the power of God until finally Israel was released. God then led them to a place where only His power could deliver them. By faith God opened up the Red Sea to deliver Israel and by that same act of power the Egyptian army placed themselves in open rebellion against the Deliverer of Israel and the whole army was wiped out in the Red Sea.
After revealing His power to deliver, to provide food and water to Israel, He brought them to Mount Sinai, a great high place, and entered into covenant relationship with Israel as a nation. When they were willing to do so God gave them His law, and gave them a copy of His Sanctuary, so that they could study these two concepts and be drawn into a deeper conceptual experience with Him.
Yet Israel rebelled against her Deliverer over and over again. Finally God allowed this rebellious generation to die in the wilderness and then brought their children into Canaan. In Canaan God set up His children in the most beautiful land that remained in the world. If they would remain true to Him He would use them to display His gospel story to all of the travelers who wanted to go to Asia, Europe, and or Africa. If they would do this then all of the world would be converted and be ready to meet the Son of God when He came to Earth.
But Satan continued to work as well, and between trying to kill off the nation of Israel, and seeking to seduce them into error, again Satan seemed on the verge of winning the war by getting Israel to ask for a king other than that of Jesus. I Samuel 8-10. When they did that it appeared again that God would be taken off guard and would be revealed as one who could not control the issues of life. Yet through this very king system God raised up His people again and all the world sought out His people to learn of the truths of God. I Kings 10:1-13, 24-25.
At the very same time Satan conspired with Israel and set in motion a series of thoughts which resulted in the dividing of the kingdom into two nations – Israel and Judah. This eventually brought the Israel to be captured by Assyria and taken captive and spread throughout the world. II Kings 17:1-23. After failing to learn from this lesson 100 years later Judah was taken captive by the king of Babylon.
While in Babylon, God continued to call to His people, and used the faithful Remnant to reveal His power through great numbers or small numbers. All of the world was again startled by the power of God. See Daniel 2, 3, 5, 6. God still called to His own people and to all of the people who wanted to know the truth at any cost.
When God brought His people back from Babylon He gave them 490 more years to surrender fully to Him. Daniel 9:25 If they chose not to do so He would continue on with a true remnant but the Jewish nation would be cut off from relationship to Him by their own choices. Once God set this time, then He also set the time when Jesus Himself would come to Earth and fulfill the promises of the Bible including His death as prophesied in Genesis 3:15. And when the fullness of time came God indeed sent His Son to become a man like us with flesh like His fathers Abraham and David. Galatians 4:4; Romans 1:3; Hebrews 2:16.
When Jesus became about 30 years old He was anointed by God, as the Messiah. Prophecy stated that after 3.5 years of intense ministry for the world He would be crucified for the entire world. Daniel 9:26-27. This prophecy was fulfilled to the letter. Gloriously, Jesus died for all of His people. But sadly, the majority of His people rejected Him and chose Caesar of Rome to rule over them. John 19:1-22. Yet even though crucified, He rose from the tomb and returned to heaven to continue His intercessory ministry for His people.
When Jesus returned to heaven He sent a special gift to the remnant of His people. He chose to reveal Himself again to His people and to the world. He chose to reveal Himself through His church, just as He has always wanted to do. He poured out the oil of His Spirit through the true candlesticks of His people and revealed Himself through His true Temple – His people. Acts 2; I Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20; Ephesians 2; Revelation 1-3. God’s powers were displayed so wonderfully through His church that all of the then known world heard of Jesus.
At the very same time Satan was introducing principles in the church of God which would eventually lead to attempts to cut off the display of God to the world. Acts 20:25-31. Satan’s program of error would again be on display and for 1260 years he attempt to block off every display of truth, justice, and mercy so that the world would think that God had abandoned them. Daniel 8:9-14. Satan would display the same principles that led to the flood, the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, the betrayal of Christ by His own people, the 1260 years of persecution by the Little Horn, and eventually the full display of the Image to the Beast in Revelation 13.
All of these issues are discussed in the Bible and are abundantly clear. Yet Satan has done such a good job of deceiving the people of God, that God in His infinite wisdom wrote a special book for His people. Since Satan had tried to hide the ministry of God, God Himself would reveal Himself in this special book called the Revelation of Christ. In this book He goes all through the history of Daniel, and builds and expands upon this history so that all who want to know the truth will come into God’s last day Ark – His Remnant Church.
The great question for each of us is whether we will read and study the book of Revelation, as well as its associated book the book of Daniel. When we read these truths will we allow Jesus to reveal His presence from within the sanctuaries of our hearts and minds. God wants to do for us what He did for His disciples in Acts 2. He wants to so fill us with His Spirit and His truths that we will be a light unto the world and reveal Jesus fully and completely. God has promised to use us in special ways if we will only invite Him into our hearts. What will you decide to do?