But I saw no temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
three ways of describing to others scenes unlike those with which they are acquainted.
1. A statement of those things which are not there, but which are found elsewhere within their sphere of observation.
2. A statement of those things which are found in them in common with those scenes with which they are familiar.
3. A statement of those things which are peculiar to them, and which are found in no other scene within their knowledge. These three methods are employed by the sacred writers in order to present to us the heavenly Jerusalem - the eternal inheritance of the good. The verses before us are a specimen of the first method. Certain things are here mentioned which belong to our earthly sphere, but which have no existence there, and this very negative description has a power to make on us a deep impression that heaven is a scene of transcendent blessedness. Looking a little closely into the negative record in the text, we may infer -
I. THAT IN THAT STATE THERE IS NO SPECIALITY IN THE FORMS OF RELIGIOUS WORSHIP. "And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it" (ver. 22). A city without a temple would strike the common notions of men as atheistic. To the Jewish mind especially it would give the idea of a city to be avoided and denounced. The glory of the metropolis of their country was its temple. When the Prophet Ezekiel would cheer and animate them in their Babylonian bondage, he presents to them a graphic description of the temple that was to be reared in their city, with its ornaments and ordinances, its chambers for the priests, its altars for the sacrifices. Still, whatever might be the popular notions of men about temples, with their methods of worship:
1. Their existence implies spiritual blindness and imperfection; they are remedies for evils.
2. Their history shows that men, in many instances, have turned them to a most injurious account. They have nourished superstition. Men have confined the idea of sacredness and worship and God to these buildings. They have nourished sectarianism, the devilism of Christendom. Different classes have had their different temples and modes of worship, and often regard with sectarian jealousy and loathing those who kneel not at their altar and adopt not their theory of doctrine and ritual of worship. When it is said, therefore, that there is "no temple in heaven," it does not mean that there will be no worship in heaven, but that there will be no temple like that on earth, always implying imperfections and often used to foster the superstitious and sectarian. The reason assigned for the non existence of a temple in heaven is a very wonderful one: "The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it." God and his holy Son are not only the Objects of heavenly worship, but the very temple of devotion. All there feel not only that they have to render to God and his Son worship, but they are in them in the worship. All there feel that "in him they live, and move, and have their being;" that he is the very breath of their existence. Where he is - and he is everywhere - there is their temple, there is their worship. The doctrine of worship propounded by Christ to the woman of Samaria is there felt in all its intensity and developed in all its perfection. "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." The "no temple" in heaven really means "all temple" - worship everywhere, under all circumstances, and forever. Brethren, are we learning a worship here to prepare us for the worship yonder? Is our worship a thing of buildings, liturgies, ritualisms, and sects? Such worship will not do for heaven. Our conventional worship, in the light of the worship of eternity, is as contemptible as a rushlight in the beams of the noonday sun.
II. THAT IN THAT WORLD THERE IS NO NECESSITY FOR SECONDHAND KNOWLEDGE. "And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof" (ver. 23). Moons and suns are but secondary organs of light. The moon borrows from the sun; the sun, perhaps, from another orb; and that from another. The Fountain of all light is God himself, the is "the Father of lights." The grand central orb in the material universe catches his radiance, and flings it abroad on the million globes of space. When we are told, therefore, that the city will have no need of the moon and the sun, it figuratively expresses the idea that the holy tenants of that blessed state will have no need for any secondary means of knowledge. Here a secondhand knowledge is indispensable to us. Most of the knowledge we have is derived from others - parents, teachers, ministers, books. Knowledge about our own being and relations, about Christ and God and worship, come to us, not directly from God, the great Fountain of light, but through a variety of secondary agencies. Even the higher light of the Bible comes to us in this way. "Holy men of God spake as they were moved." It is moon and sun light; the light of secondary orbs we have here, and we cannot do without it. Not so in the celestial world. That spiritual intelligence in that blessed state will be derived from communion with spirit can scarcely admit a doubt. In that society, as here, there will be the teacher and the learner. But the idea symbolized by the verse is that that secondhand knowledge will not be needed, will not be indispensable as here. Here, like Job, we hear of God by the hearing of the ear; there we shall see him as he is, and be like him. He will be the Light, the clear, direct, unbounded medium, through which we shall see ourselves, and our fellow worshippers, and the universe. "Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face." This light will he enjoyed by all the saved. "And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it, and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it" (ver. 24). Observe:
1. The saved will be numerous. "Nations." "The Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising," etc. (Isaiah 60:3-5).
2. The saved will be progressive. "They shall walk in the light," ever onward.
3. The saved are self-surrendering. "The kings of the earth do bring their glory." All the honours, even of kings, shall be laid in reverence at his feet. "The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him."
III. THAT IN THAT WORLD THERE WILL BE NO APPREHENSION OF DANGER FROM ANY PART. "And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there" (ver. 25). Never shut by day, then never shut at all, for the day there is eternal. Fear, which bath torment, and which often shakes our spirits here, as the wind shakes the leaf in the forest, will find no place in any breast in heaven. An unshaken consciousness of safety will reign universally. No fear of temptation; here we are bound to watch and pray lest we fall into temptation; we are surrounded by tempters on every hand. No seductive serpent will ever find. his way into that Paradise restored by Christ. Why should we say so? Has there not been a fall in heaven? Did not a host of bright angels leave their first estate? And may not such a rebellion again break forth? Never! Why? Because of the great amount of motive that now exists in heaven to bind the virtuous to virtue, the Christian to Christ, the godly to God.
1. There is a motive from a contrast between the present and the past.
2. There is the motive from the appearance of the Lamb in the midst of the throne. The memory of Calvary is a golden chain, linking all to the eternal throne of purity and love. There is no fear of affliction. We are told in the fourth verse that there shall be no sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain. The countless ills to which flesh is heir will never find their way thither. There is no fear of death. Death here is the king of terrors. Through fear of death we are all our lifetime subject to bondage; but death will never enter there. The gates, then, might well be left open, for there is no fear.
IV. THAT IN THAT WORLD THERE WILL BE NONE OF THE INCONVENIENCES OF DARKNESS. "There shall be no night there."
1. Night interrupts our vision. It hides the world from our view, and is the symbol of ignorance. The world is full of existence and beauty, but night hides all.
2. Night interrupts our labour. We "go forth unto our labour until the evening."
V. THAT IN THAT WORLD THERE WILL BE NO ADMISSION OF IMPURITY OF ANY KIND. "And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life (ver. 27). Observe:
1. The excluded. All impurities of all kinds and degrees.
2. The included. All who are "written," etc. All who are registered on the grand roll of redemption. What a roll is this! - D.T.
I saw no temple therein.1. A temple is a place set apart for the residence of a Deity. In heaven there is no temple, no particular place of worship. In Revelation 7. it is said, "they serve Him in His temple." There heaven itself is the temple mentioned; here it is meant that no portion in particular could be styled the temple.
2. A temple is a place where particular rites are observed. In Deuteronomy 12:13, it was expressly commanded that no sacrifices should be offered but in the temple; elsewhere they would be a profanation. But in heaven no place was set apart for religious services; they might be offered in all parts alike.
3. A temple is a place where the worshippers resort at seasons for worship: three times a year the Israelites went up to Jerusalem to appear before the Lord from all parts of the holy land. In heaven there are no stated seasons of worship; no need to say there, "Come, let us go up to the house of the Lord": the inhabitants are everywhere and always engaged in the service and worship of God.
4. A. temple is set apart from common uses for sacred exercises. In heaven there is no distinction between ordinary and religious employments.Lessons:
1. Those must be essentially disqualified for heaven who find no pleasure in devotion.
2. What a reason is here why we should improve the seasons of devotion, and especially these Sabbath opportunities of religious improvement!
3. Finally, how happy are those that love God and His service!
(R. Hall, M. A.)
(A. K. H. Boyd, D. D.)
(C. H. Parkhurst, D. D.)
1. It was a meeting-place between God and His people. How grateful ought we to be that God has appointed to man meeting. places. Are we strengthened, enlivened, comforted, by meeting with fellow-Christians? If the temple and the church now be a place for such purposes, how is it that the absence of a temple in the heavenly Jerusalem is a mark of its perfection? The history of our earth tells, when there was no imperfection, no sin ill the world, there was no temple; there was no need for it. A temple conveys the idea of limiting the worship of God to a set time and place; and not only that, but it reminds us of how many places there are where we seldom think of meeting with God. In heaven there is no temple, because it is not needed. There is no need of a meeting-place when God dwells among the inhabitants; no need of a temple, for we shall never be forgetful of Him; no need of getting our hearts anew enkindled with a devout and heavenly flame when every heart is full of love.
2. The temple a place of reconciliation. If two friends have quarrelled, how delightful to see them reconciled and walking together! But the very fact of your saying that they are reconciled shows that they have quarrelled. So it is in the church and in the temple. You cannot listen, you cannot look upon the ceremonies, without at once learning that man has quarrelled with God; that he has sinned against Him, and is now reconciled. But in the New Jerusalem there is no need of the symbol, or the words that tell man has been reconciled to God — brought back to God — for he is with God; what need of a place where friends should come to be reconciled, when they are reconciled already.
(James Aitken.)I. THE SYMBOL OF THE DIVINE GLORY, WHICH WAS SEEN IN THE TEMPLE AT JERUSALEM, WILL BE EXCHANGED IN HEAVEN FOR THE IMMEDIATE PRESENCE OF GOD AND OF CHRIST. There shall be no display of supernatural light there, such as dwelt in fearful majesty of old within the holy place of the temple; there shall be no symbol of mysterious glory, as in the ancient sanctuary, fitted and designed rather to veil the face of God than to reveal His character; the Almighty will not clothe and hide Himself, as in former days, with the impenetrable cloud, or the equally impenetrable brightness. But, without the intervention of any sign or symbol, or even outward representation, the living God shall be there seen as He is; the excellent glory that blazed between the cherubim as the representative of the Divine presence in ancient times will give place to the revealed form and the open face of Jehovah.
II. THE SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS FOR SIN, WHICH FORMED A PRINCIPAL PART OF THE SERVICES OF THE TEMPLE AT JERUSALEM, WILL BE EXCHANGED IN HEAVEN FOR THE FAVOUR OF A RECONCILED GOD AND AN EXALTED REDEEMER. The sacrifice once presented on the Cross by the Son of God Himself has completely taken away the guilt of sin and the Divine wrath that was due to it. The one shedding of blood upon Calvary has perfectly done what the blood streaming upon a thousand altars, and shed by ten thousand victims, in former ages, could never accomplish. There shall be no temple in heaven, in respect that there shall be no need of sacrifice or shedding of blood there. But more than this. We are assured by the inspired apostle that, in the absence of any other temple, "the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb shall be the temple there"; and no small share of the happiness of the redeemed, as we learn from the passage before us, will be that, in exchange for the sacrifices and offerings presented for sin in the ancient temple, the saints of the Lord in heaven shall enjoy the favour of a reconciled God, and dwell in the presence of an exalted Saviour. And shall not the presence of the Lamb in the midst of heaven, the appearance of the crucified Saviour in human form among the multitudes whom His blood has saved, lend to them an assurance of peace and safety, and complete acquittal from the guilt of sin, which cannot fail to swell their hearts with more than mortal gladness?
III. THE IMPERFECT REVELATIONS PECULIAR TO THE ANCIENT TEMPLE AT JERUSALEM WILL BE SUPERSEDED IN THE CELESTIAL WORLD BY THE FULL KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AND THE REDEEMER. In this world of sin and imperfection the Christian sees only through a glass darkly. He sees, therefore, but in part, and he knows but in part. Mortal ears are not capable of hearing the accents of eternity; and there are sights there which could not be unveiled to mortal eyes. The angels of heaven "desire to look into them," and even they look in vain. And the redeemed of the Lord, when they break away from the confinement of their present condition and awaken to the vastness of their future lot, shall enter upon a state of existence in which new thoughts, new feelings, and new truths concerning God and concerning the Saviour, shall occupy and enlarge their souls throughout eternity.
IV. THE PARTICULAR PLACES AND SEASONS, WHICH WERE PECULIAR TO THE DEVOTIONS OF THE TEMPLE AT JERUSALEM, WILL BE DONE AWAY WITH IN THE WORSHIP OF HEAVEN. The many mansions of that celestial city will be alike pervaded by the glory of the Almighty, and alike sanctified and gladdened by it. The inhabitants of that kingdom, which is eternal in the heavens, will not have to wait the slow return of those annual seasons when His ancient people were invited to appear before God in Zion, and to hold fellowship with the Most High in His sanctuary; for their life will be a season of continual and endless fellowship with their Maker; and the day of glory which they shall spend in His presence — a day which has no morning and no night — will be one everlasting and uninterrupted Sabbath.
(J. Bannerman, D. D.)I. THERE IS NO TEMPLE IN HELL. There is none for the devil. Here he has innumerable followers; and the Scriptures call him not only the prince of this world, to show that they are his subjects, but the god of this world, to show that they are his worshippers. There are days set apart for his honour, and places of worship open for his name. They will soon see him as he is — they will see what a wretch they have been serving here; how he has deceived them — how he has destroyed them; and, after having been their tempter, proving only their tormentor; and therefore Scripture says, "They shall look upward, and curse their king and their god."
II. THERE IS NO TEMPLE IN HEAVEN.
1. There is no idol temple there.
2. There is no temple there for heresies and error.
3. There is no party temple there.
4. There will be no material temple there.The reason is, because they will be unnecessary. They are now in the order of means, but then the end will be accomplished.
III. NOW THERE ARE TEMPLES ON EARTH WHICH DESERVE OUR ATTACHMENT AND OUR RESPECT.
1. It is even possible for us to err now on the side of excess. We do this whenever we forget that their institutions and ceremonies are not to be regarded for their own sake. They are not ends, but means; they are not religion, but the instrumentalities of religion; and these temples, therefore, are not in all respects essential to religion even here.
2. We are more liable to err on the side of deficiency than of excess; and, therefore, having opposed formality which rests in temples, we must assail enthusiasm that would rise above them, and despise the things that are not necessary in eternity, though important and necessary here. Hereafter we shall live without food and without sleep; but what should we think of a man who affected to be spiritual enough to despise these vulgarities now, and to think that he could live without them? Let us take six views of man, each of which will show that, though our temples are to be dispensed with hereafter, yet that they are important and necessary now.(1) Let us view man physically. Let us look at his very constitution; at his nature. It was reserved for a philosopher of our own times to prove that the possessions of the most enlarged mind are from ideas originally admitted through the medium of the senses, or from contemplating the operation of our own minds acted upon by the medium of sensation. And what reason in the world have we to suppose that religion will not operate in the same way, and derive benefit from external things? Now God has acted all along upon the truth of Locke's principle, and He addresses us chiefly, in His word, by facts. The apostle spoke of those things which he had seen, and heard, and handled, of the good word of life. All the observances of Christianity are founded upon facts which interest and impress us entirely through the medium of sensation and reflection.(2) Let us view man as an immortal being, who has deep wants, and mysterious cravings, which distinguish from all the orders of inferior creatures, but rendering him the subject of hopes and fears which nothing earthly can remove or satisfy. It is only the institutions of religion that can meet this hunger.(3) As a depraved being. Who can deny this? For what is the inference? If he be ignorant, he needs to be instructed; if he be wandering, he needs to be reclaimed; if he be careless, he requires to be aroused; if he be averse to duty, he stands in need of every address and motive that can excite him and influence him. Can religion be safely left to the choice and the disposition of such a being as this?(4) View man as a renewed being. Thus he is made to differ from others, and from himself. But though he be a changed creature now, he is not yet a glorified one. He is surrounded with numerous diversions and temptations; he abounds with much evil. Religion is indeed planted in him, but then it is an exotic, and a very tender one. Can religion be kept alive and flourishing in the soul without aid — constant aid?(5) View man in his civil being. Here you will meet with him among ranks and degrees of life, and these ranks and degrees of life are proper. The Scripture enforces an attention to them; no advantage is ever derived from the violation of them. But then it will be acknowledged that they may become excessive and injurious, and I ask what there is that can charm them, and sanctify them, like public worship, where the rich and the poor meet together, etc.(6) Let us view man publicly, in his connection with the State, for whose safety and for whose welfare he ought to be concerned. Now, if religion be essential to the safety and the welfare of a country, we contend that these institutions, and these observances, are essential to religion. And we would ask, What would any nation, what would any neighbourhood be, if the Sabbath, and if our temples were given up? How rude, how savage, how insubordinate, how insulting, are found those in the different parts of the country that are brought up away from the influence of the means of grace.
(W. Jay.)I. THE USE OF TEMPLES IN MAN'S PRESENT STATE.
II. THE ABSENCE OF TEMPLES FROM MAN'S FUTURE STATE. What changes then must have passed upon our condition ere temples may be swept away without injury, nay, rather, with great benefit, to vital religion. It tells me there is no keeping of the earthly Sabbaths, for all its days alike are holiness to the Lord: and telling me this it also tells me that if once admitted within the gates of pearl, and privileged to tread the streets of gold, I shall be free from every remainder of corruption; I shall no longer need external ordinances to remind me of my allegiance, and strengthen me for conflict; but that, made equal to the angels, I shall love God without wavering, and serve God without weariness. It is, however, when we consider churches as the places in which we are to gain acquaintance with God, that we find most of interesting truth in the fact that there is no temple in heaven. Allowed not direct and immediate intercourse with God, we can now only avail ourselves of instituted means, and hope to obtain in the use of ordinances faint glimpses of that Being who withdraws Himself majestically from the searchings of His creatures. And we may not doubt that God shall everlastingly continue a mystery to all finite intelligences; so that we look not in the favoured expatiations of the future for perfect acquaintance with Deity. We rather take it as a self-evident truth, that God can be comprehensible by none other but God; and that consequently there will always be between the Creator and the created that immeasurable separation which forbids all approach to familiar inspection. But nevertheless we may not doubt that although God must be inscrutable even to the angel and the archangel, there are disclosures of Deity made to these illustrious orders of being such as we ourselves are neither permitted nor qualified to enjoy. The manifestation of Godhead in that to us unknown region which we designate heaven, and to those ranks of subsistences which we believe associated highest in the scale of creation, must be, we are sure, of that intenseness and that vividness which give to intercourse the character of direct and personal communion. To such manifestations we ourselves are privileged to expect admission. It shall not be needful in order to advance in acquaintance with the Deity, that the saints gather themselves into a material sanctuary, and hearken to the teaching of one of their brethren, and partake of sacramental elements. They can go to the fountain head, and therefore require not those channels through which riving streams were before time transmitted. Present with the Lord, they need no emblem of his presence: faith having given place to sight, the apparatus of outward ordinances vanishes, like the shadows of the law when the substance had appeared.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Homilist.I. IN THAT WORLD THERE IS NO SPECIALITY IN THE FORMS OF RELIGIOUS WORSHIP. A city without a temple would strike the common notions of men as atheistic. To the Jewish mind especially it would give the idea of a city to be avoided and denounced. Still, whatever might be the popular notions of men about temples, with their methods of worship:
1. Their existence implies spiritual blindness and imperfection, they are remedies for evils.
2. Their history shows that men, in many instances, have turned them to a most injurious account. They have nourished superstition; men have confined the idea of sacredness and worship and God to these buildings. They have nourished sectarianism. When it is said, therefore, that there is no temple in heaven, it does not mean that there will be no worship in heaven, but that there will be no temple like that on earth; always implying imperfections. The reason assigned for the non-existence of a temple in heaven is a very wonderful one, "The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it." God and His Holy Son are not only the objects of heavenly worship, but the very temple of devotion. All there feel, not only that they have to render to God and His Son worship, but they are in them in the worship.
II. IN THAT WORLD THERE IS NO NECESSITY FOR SECOND-HAND KNOWLEDGE. The fountain of all light is God Himself. He is the Father of lights. Here, like Job, we hear of God by the hearing of the ear, there we shall see Him as He is, and be like Him. He will be the light, the clear, direct, unbounded medium, through which we shall see ourselves, our fellow worshippers, and the universe.
III. IN THAT WORLD THERE WILL BE NO APPREHENSION OF DANGER FROM ANY PART. "And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there." No fear of temptation; here we are bound to watch and pray lest we fall into temptation. Why? Because of the greater amount of motive that now exists in heaven to bind the virtuous to virtue, the Christian to Christ, the godly to God.
1. There is a motive from the contrast between the present and the past.
2. There is the motive from the appearance of the Lamb in the midst of the throne. There is no fear of affliction; we are told there "shall be no sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain."
IV. THAT IN THAT WORLD THERE WILL BE NONE OF THE INCONVENIENCES OF DARKNESS. "There shall be no night there."
1. Night interrupts our vision. It hides the world from our view, and is the symbol of ignorance. The world is full of existence and beauty, but night hides all.
2. Night interrupts our labour. We go forth unto our labour until the evening.
V. THAT IN THAT WORLD THERE WILL BE NO ADMISSION OF IMPURITY OF ANY KIND. "And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life."
(John Thomas, M. A.)—
The God-enlightened city: —
I. The principal purpose here mentioned, for which the heavenly bodies were created, and for which we need them in this lower world is, TO GIVE LIGHT UPON THE EARTH. But agreeable and necessary as they are to us, the New Jerusalem needs them not for this purpose; for the glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. The unfathomable flood of light and glory which unceasingly flows from the Father, is collected and concentrated in the person of His Son; for He is the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of His person. Heaven is, therefore, illuminated not only with God's glory, but with the brightness of His glory, with the most dazzling effulgence of Divine, uncreated light, a light which enlightens and cheers the soul as well as the body. Of the nature and degree of this light, who but the happy beings that enjoy it can form any conception? As the inhabitants of heaven will not need the light of created luminaries, so, we may add, they will no more need the assistance of human teachers, or of the means of grace. Little do they need human teachers, who know incomparably more of Divine things than all the prophets and apostles united knew, while here below. Little do they need the Bible, who have forever escaped all its threatenings, who are enjoying all its promises, who intuitively understand all its doctrines, and who have arrived at that heaven to which it points out the way.
II. Another purpose for which God formed the sun was, we are told, TO DIVIDE THE DAY FROM THE NIGHT. To creatures constituted as we are, the vicissitude of day and night, which is thus produced by the sun, is equally necessary and agreeable; and we ought ever to acknowledge the wisdom and goodness to which it is owing. Our bodies and our minds are soon fatigued, and indispensably require the refreshment of sleep. But we may easily perceive that it would be a great privilege to be freed from the necessity of sleeping, and especially from that subjection to weariness and fatigue which occasion the necessity. Do the rays of light grow weary in their flight from the sun? or does the thunder-bolt need to pause and seek refreshment in the midst of its career? As little do the inhabitants of heaven become weary in praising and enjoying God. As little do they need refreshment or repose; for their spiritual bodies will be far more active and refined than the purest light; and their labour itself will be the sweetest rest.
III. Another purpose for which the heavenly bodies were created was TO SERVE FOR SIGNS, AND FOR THE REGULATION OF THE SEASONS. In this, as in other respects, they are eminently useful to a world like ours. The heat of the sun is no less necessary than its light; but the convenience and happiness of man require that this heat should be communicated to us in different degrees at different periods. But however necessary the celestial luminaries may be for signs and seasons on earth, they are needed for neither of these purposes by the inhabitants of heaven. They need no pole star to guide their rapid flight through the immeasurable ocean of ethereal space; for God, their sun, is everywhere, and where He is, there is heaven; there they are at home. They need no signs to warn them of approaching storms, or impending dangers; for they enjoy uninterrupted sunshine and perpetual peace.
IV. Another purpose for which the heavenly bodies were created was TO SHOW THE FLIGHT, AND MARK THE DIVISIONS OF TIME. But though such divisions of time, as days and years, are thus necessary on earth, they will be perfectly needless to the inhabitants of heaven. With them, time has ended and eternity begun; and eternity neither needs, nor is capable of division. They know with the utmost certainty that their happiness will never, never end. Why then should they wish to know, what possible advantage could it be to them to know, at any given period, how many days or years had passed away since they arrived in heaven?
(E. Payson, D. D.)I. IT IS PECULIAR LIGHT. There is none like it. Its blaze is not earthly. Yet it is truly light for men. It is Divine, but it is also human. All created and all uncreated brilliance is concentrated in it. The Man Christ Jesus is there. God over all is there.
II. IT IS UNCHANGING LIGHT. He from whom it emanates is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Here there is no rising nor setting; no clouding nor eclipsing.
III. IT IS FESTAL LIGHT. The feast is spread; the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready.
IV. IT IS ALL-PERVADING LIGHT. It is not confined to a few favoured dwellings; to one region of the city. The whole city shall be full of fight.
V. IT IS THE LIGHT OF LIFE. It is living light, fife-giving light; not dead and inert like that of our sun, and moon, and stars, but living; instinct with fife, and health, and immortality. It fills the whole man with life — body, soul, and spirit.
VI. IT IS THE LIGHT OF LOVE. For that name, "the Lamb," contains within it the revelation of the love of God. That lamp, which is the Lamb, then must be love; its light must be the light of redeeming love.
(H. Bonar, D. D.)I. WHAT CHRIST IS IN HEAVEN. He is the Son of Man, it says; for it calls Him "the Lamb," the same name that was applied to Him in His human nature on earth, and a name which will not admit of being applied to Him as the everlasting God. It involves in it an idea, not at variance with divinity, but yet quite foreign to it. Further, this name sets Him forth as retaining in heaven the marks of His sufferings on earth. This teaches us not only the blessed truth that we shall see in heaven the Saviour who bled for us, but that we shall see Him as the Saviour who bled for us; we shall never look on Him without beholding in Him that which will remind us of His dying love. But again — our Lord is styled also in this text "the glory of God." I say, our Lord is so styled, because it seems quite evident that the glory of God and the Lamb mean here one and the same object. The apostle evidently speaks as though by God and the Lamb he meant the same Person; as though he could not separate them in his mind; as though, in fact, they had been presented to him in this vision but as one object, and were but one object. And we are to infer more from this, than that the ascended Jesus is acknowledged in heaven to be God and Lord; we are warranted to infer that no other God or Lord is seen or thought of in heaven; and more also — that Christ's human nature is as complete a manifestation of the Divine glory as even heaven itself can understand or bear.
II. WHAT CHRIST IS TO HEAVEN. He is in it as the Son of Man, the once crucified Son of Men, the glory of God; He is to it a light, and all the light it has. There are two ideas generally connected with the word "light" in Scripture, when used in a spiritual sense — one primary idea, knowledge, because light shows us things as they are; and then a secondary idea, joy, because a right knowledge of spiritual things imparts joy. When therefore we are told that there is light in heaven, that God dwells in light there, that the inheritance of the saints there is an inheritance in light, we are to understand that heaven is a world of knowledge, and such knowledge as gives rise to pleasure and joy; that we shall not lose our character as intellectual beings there; that our minds and understandings will go with us to heaven, and be called into exercise in heaven, and have everything brought before them that can expand, and elevate, and delight them. But whence is this knowledge to come? The text tells us. It traces it, observe, to the glorified Jesus as its source. God in Christ, it says, and in Christ as the Son of Man, is the author of it. "The city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it." In this imperfect state of the Church, we need the sun and the moon, all the help we can obtain. We want the assistance of created things to impart knowledge and joy to us — Scriptures, and ministers, and sacraments, and ordinances. But not so in heaven.
III. THE GREATNESS OF THIS HEAVENLY HAPPINESS. This is evidently the point to which the text is intended to bring us. Its design is to show us how much happier a world heaven is than earth, and how much happier the Church in heaven is than the Church on earth. It supposes, you observe, the Church to have some blessedness here. It has its sun and it has its moon, some sources of knowledge and joy, and these quite sufficient, not to meet its desires, but to answer the purposes of its present condition. But then it implies that these sink into nothing, when compared with the light which will shine on it, the knowledge and joy which will be imparted to it in the heavenly city.
1. The light that flows immediately from Christ in glory, is clearer and brighter than any ether light can be. There is more of it, and what there is of it is of a purer nature.
2. The knowledge we shall have in heaven is not only more accurate than any we can attain here, it is a knowledge more easily acquired. How difficult do we sometimes find it now to lay hold of Divine truth! What a process we are obliged to pass through in order to arrive at a clear comprehension of the simplest truths of the gospel! Now in heaven a glance will teach you. Knowledge will flow like a stream into our minds, and bring happiness with it, and this every moment, and this for ever, without mixture, without interruption, withoutend.
(C. Bradley, M. A.)
I. THE MILLENNIAL PERIOD. Jesus, in a millennial age, shall be the light and the glory of the city of the new Jerusalem.
1. Observe, then, that Jesus makes the light of the millennium, because His presence will be that which distinguishes that age from the present. That age is to be akin to paradise. It is true we have the presence of Christ in the Church now — "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." We have the promise of His constant indwelling: "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them." But still that is vicariously by His Spirit, but soon He is to be personally with us.
2. The presence of Christ it is which will be the means of the peace of the age. In that sense Christ will be the light of it, for He is our peace. It will be through His presence that the lion shall cat straw like an ex, that the leopard shall lie down with the kid.
3. Again, Christ's presence is to that period its special instruction. When He comes, superstition will not need an earnest testimony to confute it — it will hide its head. Idolatry will not need the missionary to preach against it — the idols He shall utterly abolish, and cast them to the moles and bats.
4. Once again, Christ will be the light of that period in the sense of being its glory. Think of the splendour of that time! Oh! to be present and to see Him in His own light, the King of kings, and Lord of lords!
II. THE STATE OF THE GLORIFIED IN HEAVEN ITSELF, "The city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it."
1. The inhabitants of the better world are independent of creature comforts. We have no reason to believe that they daily pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." Their bodies shall dwell in perpetual youth. They shall have no need of raiment; their white robes shall never wear out, neither shall they ever be defiled.
2. While in heaven, it is clear that the glorified are quite independent of creature aid, do not forget that they are entirely dependent for their joy upon Jesus Christ. He is their sole spiritual light. They have nothing else in heaven to give them perfect satisfaction but Himself. The language here used, "the Lamb is the light thereof," may be read in two or three ways. By your patience, let us so read it. In heaven Jesus is the light in the sense of joy, for light is ever in Scripture the emblem of joy. Darkness betokens sorrow, but the rising of the sun indicates the return of holy joy. Christ is the joy of heaven. Another meaning of light in Scripture is knowledge. Ignorance is darkness. Oh! what manifestations of God there will be! Dark dealings of providence which you never understood before will then be seen without the light, of a candle or of the sun. Many doctrines puzzled you; but there all will be simple.
III. THE HEAVENLY MAN'S STATE MAY BE SET FORTH IN THESE WORDS. First, then, even on earth the heavenly man's joy does not depend upon the creature. In a certain sense we can say to-day that "the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it." As we can do without these two most eminent creatures, so we can be happy without other earthly blessings. Our dear friends are very precious to us — we love our wife and children, our parents and our friends, but we do not need them. May God spare them to us I but if they were taken, it does not come to a matter of absolute need, for you know there is many a Christian who has been bereft of all, and he thought, as the props were taken away one after another, that he should die of very grief; but he did not die, his faith surmounted every wave, and he still rejoices in his God. We finish by observing that such a man, however, has great need of Christ — he cannot get on without Christ. We can do without light, without friendship, without life, but we cannot live without our Saviour,
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(John Thomas, M. A.)
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