The Heavenly Temple Opened
When the seventh angel blew his trumpet in Rev. 11:15, we are given immediately a picture of the end (or result), even though all of those events have yet to be worked out on the earth. From the heavenly standpoint, the work is successfully accomplished, but we must understand that the trumpet is a divine decree that must yet be carried out. In other words, the decree is a promise that cannot fail, and all of the earlier trumpets and their corresponding earthly events have laid the foundations for the overthrow of all usurpers.
Revelation 11:19 then says,
19 And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm. 1 And a great sign appeared in heaven…
The implication is that prior to the coronation of Jesus Christ as King of Creation, the heavenly temple was CLOSED. But when the temple doors were opened, “the ark of His covenant appeared,” that is, it was revealed for all to see. The Greek word is horao, “to see with the eyes.” Furthermore, when the temple is opened, a great sign appears in the heavens, which is the subject of Revelation 12. It is the woman clothed with the sun. The “and” in Rev. 12:1 is a Hebraic connector, commonly used throughout the Old Testament, which in this case links the open temple to the sign of the woman.
Although the heavenly temple is opened here, the ark itself remains closed until we see it opened in Rev. 15:5, 6,
5 After these things I looked, and the temple of the tabernacle of testimony in heaven was opened, 6 and the seven angels who had the seven plagues came out of the temple.
These seven angels are assigned to pour out the seven bowls of wine over Babylon in the final overthrow of that great city. During the interim between the opening of the temple and the opening of the ark, we see many events take place in chapters 12-14. These events are all part of the seventh trumpet, but do not yet overthrow Babylon.
The Feast of Trumpets
Opening the temple in heaven is an event associated with the feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hoshana) which was held on the first day of the seventh month. How do we know?
The basic structure of the book of Revelation is founded on the Hebrew calendar, which is marked off in sevens. Every seven years there is a Sabbath rest year. During that Sabbath year are twelve months, each of which began when the watchmen sighted the first crescent moon over the horizon at sunset. When the moon was sighted, the trumpet was blown to signal the start of the first day (evening) of the next month (Num. 10:10).
The first trumpet, then, was blown on the first day of the first month, and the seventh trumpet was blown on Rosh Hoshana (Lev. 23:24), the first day of the seventh month. Rosh Hoshana, however, was more important than other first days of the month, because it was considered to be the first day of creation—the birth of the earth itself. It was also believed to be the day when, in the future, the dead would be raised. Hence, “the last trumpet” in 1 Thess. 4:16 was the seventh trumpet, the last to mark the progression of months leading to the final Mosaic feast, the feast of Tabernacles.
During the feast of Tabernacles in the seventh month (trumpet), they were to pour out a drink offering on each of the seven days of Tabernacles (Num. 29:19, 22, 25, etc.). These are the seven bowls of wine poured out during the time of the seventh trumpet (month).
So we see that the seven seals in the book of Revelation represent the seven years of a Sabbath cycle. The seven trumpets come in the seventh seal, because these are prophesied in the seven months of that Sabbath year. Finally, the seven bowls of wine in Revelation 16 are prophesied by the seven drink offerings in the feast of Tabernacles which falls in the seventh month.
Seeing this gives us the context of the seventh trumpet in the prophetic structure of Revelation. It is meant to portray the prophecy of Rosh Hoshana, which in turn leads to the feast of Tabernacles and the ultimate collapse of Babylon on the eighth day of Tabernacles.
Opening the temple sets off a spiritual “storm,” complete with lightning, thunder, hail, and even an earthquake. (The editors of The Emphatic Diaglott tell us that the Vatican Manuscript omits “and an earthquake,” but Panin’s Numeric English New Testament includes this phrase. Panin’s study of the text shows that it is necessary to include it in order to retain the numerical patterns that are built into the text itself.)
Lightning is called God’s “arrows” (Psalm 77:17), and arrows are also sons (Psalm 127:4). Hence, lightning represents the sons of God. God’s voice is heard in the “thunder” (Psalm 77:18; 2 Sam. 22:14; John 12:29), and because thunder is the sound of lightning, what is pictured is the voice of God speaking through His sons.
As the sons of God give voice to the divine decrees which they hear from the throne (ark) in the heavenly temple, the judgments of God overrule the objections of the beast governments that have usurped the earth. As these forces of darkness are pushed back one decree at a time, the time eventually arrives for the saints to take their rightful places and to possess the Kingdom.
Spiritual “hail” is Truth, for we read in Isaiah 28:17 that “hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies.” This hail of truth comes from the sons of God, as the decrees of God thunder from their mouths. When men’s governments are overthrown, Scripture pictures this as earthquakes.
All of this is pictured in Rev. 11:19 in order to set us up for the next event in chapter 12. Opening the temple in heaven reveals the woman clothed with the sun, and, in fact, this appears to be the message coming from the sons of God in the lightning and thunder. In fact, the twelfth chapter depicts the twelfth letter of the Hebrew alphabet (lamed), which literally is an ox goad representing authority. Revelation 12, then, is about the conflict over who has legitimate authority over the earth.
The Book of Judges
The book of Judges tells us how God raised up certain “judges” (or “saviors, deliverers”) to set Israel free from six different captivities in its history in the old land. These captivities occurred after the death of Joshua but before the coronation of King Saul. God took credit for all of these captivities, telling us that captivity was a divine judgment upon the nation for its lawlessness.
When Israel repented and returned to God and His law, then God raised up a “judge” to deliver them.
There were six captivities and six judges who delivered Israel during this time. Their names are prophetic, for when we string them together, a prophecy emerges as a hidden message.
Othniel (Judges 3:9) means “the force or power of God.”
Ehud (Judges 3:15) means “united.”
Barak (Judges 4:6) means “lightning.” He delivered Israel with the help of Deborah, whose name means “a bee.”
Gideon (Judges 6:11) means “a feller (of trees); warrior.”
Jephthah (Judges 11:1) means “he will open.”
Samuel and the Ark itself delivered Israel in 1 Sam. 6, 7. First, the Ark overthrew the god of the Philistines (1 Sam. 5:11), and so, after holding the ark for seven months (6:1), they sent it back to Israel during the time of wheat harvest (6:13). In other words, the ark was in the hands of the Philistines from Tabernacles to Pentecost.
The Pentecostal Israelites (wheat gatherers) opened the ark to see if the tables of the law and the hidden manna were still in it (6:19), not realizing that they were not qualified to open the ark or even to touch it. Many died as a result. Finally, in 1 Sam. 7:6 the prophet led the people in a prayer of repentance and then led them to victory in a battle against the Philistines (7:10).
This is a brief summary of the prophetic events in the book of Judges up to the time of Samuel, who then anointed Saul as king.
Othniel’s name, when viewed in the context of the next two judges, indicates thunder, which is the voice, force, or power of God. Hence, by stringing the meaning of all their names together, we read: The Voice of God united in His sons (and daughters such as Deborah) will fell the enemy and will open the ark.
What is particularly interesting in this sequence is that Jephthah was born illegitimately (Judges 11:1), and yet he was called as a judge. The circumstances of his birth, along with his name, suggest a deeper prophecy that runs parallel with the actions of those Israelites who opened the ark without authorization. The wheat-gatherers were types of Pentecostals, who are not allowed to open the ark, for one must be of the feast of Tabernacles to be a true son of God.
While this story is an aside from the main flow, it nonetheless gives us an important lesson. Furthermore, it also shows us why the ark in heaven is not opened until Rev. 15:5. The chapters prior to this verse speak of church history during the Age of Pentecost. The ark could not be opened until the time of the end when the sons of God, empowered by Tabernacles, were qualified to look into the ark that was opened in heaven.
Therefore, we can say that when Rev. 11:19 pictures the temple being opened, it is in preparation for the next step, when the ark was to be opened in Rev. 15:5. The interim between these two events is designed, in part, to bring forth qualified sons of God to look into the opened ark, see and understand the tables of the law and the hidden manna.
Qualifications for Opening the Ark
The law and the hidden manna are revealed together, for both are contained within the ark, which is the throne of God. This was the specific reward given to the overcomers of Pergamum, for Rev. 2:17 says, “To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone.” In this sense, the manna, which was “as coriander seed” (Exodus 16:31) and the white stone of the law represent the contents of the ark of the covenant.
The manna, pictured as” seed,” is the message of sonship—how to be begotten of God by the seed of the gospel through the work of the Holy Spirit. We read of this in 1 Peter 1:23-25,
23 for you have been begotten [gennao] not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God. 24 For [quoting Isaiah 40:6-8] “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, 25 but the word of the Lord abides forever.” And this is the word which was preached to you.
Sonship messages have been preached without the law for a long time, and the law has been preached apart from an understanding of sonship. The former results in lawless grace, while the latter creates barren, legalistic religion. Together, however, the law and the hidden manna bring the revelation of truth that can produce the fruits of righteousness for the Kingdom.