A Brief Addendum to “The Ark of the Covenant” Series

Since I’ve already had a reader ask about the Ark the apostle John saw in Revelation 11:19, let me address that verse. In hindsight, I should have included a word about it in the first post of the series, but I had so much other information on my mind that the verse just kind of got lost in the wash. So, let me fix that oversight right now.

As I type this there is an actual sanctuary in heaven, one not made with human hands (Acts 7:48;17:24). According to Hebrews 8:2, the Lord Himself erected it. Sometimes this heavenly sanctuary is referred to as a “tabernacle” (Hebrews 8:2; Revelation 13:6; 15:5). Much more frequently, though, it is referred to as a “temple” (2 Samuel 22:7; Psalm 11:4; Psalm 18:6; Jonah 2:7; Micah 1:2; Habakkuk 2:20; Revelation 7:15; 11:19; 14:15-17; 15:6-8; 16:1,17). It’s possible that there are actually two sanctuaries in heaven, one a tabernacle and the other a temple, but my interpretation is that there is just one. (By the way, keep in mind that we are talking about the heaven that exists now, not the heavenly city of New Jerusalem that doesn’t come into play until after Christ’s millennial reign. Revelation 21:22 flatly says that city will not have a temple in it.)

Now, what we must understand is that everything about the earthly tabernacle that God instructed Moses and the Israelites to build was a “copy” and a “shadow” of the things in the heavenly tabernacle/temple. The proof texts on this are Hebrews 8:1-6 and Hebrews 9:23-24. Furthermore, Exodus 25:40 and Hebrews 8:5 probably mean that God somehow allowed Moses to see the heavenly tabernacle/temple, complete with all its features, when Moses was atop Mount Sinai with Him.

And so it makes perfect sense that heaven’s tabernacle/temple has its own: altar (Revelation 6:9; 8:3-5; 9:13; 14:18; 16:7), Holy of Holies — called “the Holiest” (N.K.J.V.) or “the Most Holy Place” (N.I.V.)  — (Hebrews 10:19), and Ark of the Covenant (Revelation 11:19). For that matter, even though there are no specific passages to offer as evidence, it could well be that the heavenly tabernacle/temple also has its own: Bronze Laver (washing basin) (Exodus 30:17-21), Table of Showbread (Exodus 25:23-30), Golden Lampstand (Exodus 25:31-40), and Altar of Incense (Exodus 30:1-10).

What this means is that the Ark of the Covenant that John saw in Revelation 11:19 was the heavenly original upon which the earthly copy was based. John even says it was in the temple of God in heaven. While it’s possible that John saw the Ark that Moses and the Israelites built, that Ark having been miraculously transported up to heaven and placed in the heavenly sanctuary at some point, the better interpretation is that he saw heaven’s prototype.

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