Posted by: Terry | January 17, 2014

A door standing open

John was about to be transported, we know not how, from Patmos to realms he could not imagine. After taking down the messages that Christ had for the churches he saw a “door standing open in heaven.” To grasp a bit of the significance of what John was about to experience we need to step back and look at the sweeping context of the relationship between heaven and earth.

How God created the Earth will always be fodder for discussion, but that he created it and for what purpose is more easily determined. There is this image of a master craftsman fashioning his masterpiece, then resting to enjoy and commune with what he had made. God made a place for the beings that he made in his image to live, thrive and commune with the creator of it all. It was as if God created earth as a sort of temple, a meeting place where heaven and earth intersected.

The beauty and wonder of that first creation would be marred and cursed thanks to the actions of the ones God most desired to commune with. Yet immediately God began the process of restoring the relationship with his beloved earth and people.

Centuries would pass and the seed of evil, that seemed so small in the garden, grew and spread, and as every seed contains a whole tree, the violence and evil in the world shows how deadly that first act of disobedience really was. God wiped out most of the life and started over, this time with the wonderful promise to Noah that there was a new covenant with the whole earth. Noah built an alter and worshipped God, for now occasional alters were how humans and God connected.

Many more years would pass before a man, living in what is present day Iran, would be contacted by God to initiate the restoration of the earth and restore the relationship between God and people. Abraham met with God through altars, angelic visitors and from God himself. His sons would become a great people after they we’re relocated in Egypt. It was there that 72 people turned into many thousands of people that would become a nation rescued by God to be a chosen people for him to have the communion with that he desired from the beginning.

Moses was given precise instructions to build a huge tent, the Tabernacle, where God said he would meet with the people, “according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” Not since the Garden at the beginning of creation had there been a specific place where God met with his creation.

Over 500 years later Solomon, the king who followed David, would build a magnificent Temple to replace the tent that Moses had built. Yet as in the Garden this temple would be desecrated repeatedly in the centuries that followed until one day Ezekiel saw in a vision the glory of The Lord depart from the temple. To any Israelite the message was clear, God was no longer among them, the Temple was empty. The subsequent destruction of the Temple was a visible sign of how far they had fallen short as the people God had intended them to be.

Ezekiel was promised that the temple would be restored, that one day God would again meet with his people. After 70 years in exile they would rebuild the temple from the rubble of the original. This would also fall to the armies and desecration of foreign invaders. Herod the Great built them a new temple in 516 BC, which would stand until 70 AD.

The temple was central to the daily life of every Jew, it represented all of their past, all of their hopes for a coming Messiah, it as much as anything was the icon of their identity. So when the Apostle John wrote, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” there could be no confusion in his meaning. The very word for dwell is “skene” – tent. It even sounds like the Hebrew word for glory, so when John continued with, “we have seen his glory” he was using language that would have triggered memories of the tabernacle, the temple – the meeting place of God.

When he was challenged about the temple Jesus told them that if they tore down the physical temple he would rebuild it in three days, and lest there be uncertainty, he made it clear that he was talking about his body. Jesus is the new temple, he is where we now meet with God. In him heaven and earth meet. He claimed to be the gate, he said “I am the way… No one comes to the Father but by me.” This message of Jesus was one of his most important, no longer was there a building or a tent, now the meeting of heaven and earth was in him. He even taught us to pray that what is in heaven should be on earth.

John in his vision sees a door, no longer closed but open and kept open by the blood of Christ. We have access to heaven as never before possible, in fact we are a temple because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in us. John is about to get a behind the scenes look of how this will all play out, with explanation of how it has been playing out.

The final vision of John will be the final vision of how God and man will connect. He will see the new Jerusalem coming down to earth, there will be no more temple, because Heaven and earth will be forever connected and the fellowship uninterrupted. Earth, God’s creation, will be as he designed, we will inhabit it as it was intended. Heaven is not our final abode, the new earth that is in perfect conjunction with heaven is where we we live and be.

John passed on to us what he saw through that open door, we get a glimpse of what is going on in heaven even now, and what will be. No wonder we are promised a blessing.

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