The Heavenly Holy of Holies

The temple King Solomon built in Jerusalem was not just as a place of worship and sacrifice, but also an image, or a model, of the cost of sin and of redemption.  The many courts, chambers, and walls were an object lesson in man’s separation from God because of his sin, and the required cost of restoring that relationship.  The most interior part of the temple, and hardest to get to, was the Holy of Holies, a room shaped like a perfect cube: 20 cubits by 20 cubits by 20 cubits.[1]  This cubed space was so sacred, and so holy, that only the high priest could enter it, and only once per year, and only after elaborate sacrifice.

However, by Christ’s sacrifice, we have hope: “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf.” (Hebrews 6:19-20a).  In Mark’s gospel, we learn that when Christ died on the cross, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.”[2]  This curtain was the barrier covering the entrance to the Holy of Holies, and with Jesus’ death, entrance isn’t limited to just the high priest, but open to all who would believe in Him.  He entered “on our behalf” and anchors us to this most holy destination.

The Bible was not finished drawing this picture, though.  In Revelation 21, a new city – a new Jerusalem – is seen by the apostle John in a vision, coming down from heaven, and verse 16 says: “The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal.”  This vision was not meant to tell us that in Paradise we will all live inside a big cube.  As pastor Glenn Parkinson wrote: “Certainly all physical beings must exist somewhere, but this is not a vision of where God’s people will live, but how they will live when the former things have passed away.”[3]

Don’t put Earth in a box. Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

Earlier, Revelation 21:1 referred to a whole new heaven and earth, so the new Jerusalem probably represents something about life everywhere in this new creation, and in this image, God would have used things familiar to John, the author of Revelation, otherwise the visions wouldn’t make sense.  The only other architectural cube John would probably recall from Scripture would be the Holy of Holies, but what does that mean?

I believe it means that all of the new heaven and earth will be inhabitable by both God and His people.  All of Paradise will be holier than even the Holy of Holies, but because the church will be fully sanctified, God’s people can enter His presence without the many temple courts and chambers and walls symbolizing man’s separation from God.  Relationship between Creator and created will be fully restored.  Everywhere will be holy, and everyone will be holy.

No, the New Jerusalem isn’t literally a cube, but it symbolizes that in the new world, the temple is not even needed, because all is as it should be between God and man:

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.” – Revelation 21:22

Praise God Almighty and the Lamb!

[1] 1 Kings 6:20 (a cubit was roughly 18 inches)
[2] Mark 15:38
[3] Parkinson, Glenn.  Tapestry: The Book of Revelation (2015).

2 thoughts on “The Heavenly Holy of Holies

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