When Symbols Give Way to Reality
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb (Revelation 21:22).
We are not surprised when we see places of worship that have clearly invested in surroundings that are designed to stimulate thoughts of splendor, majesty and beauty. This is why our own sanctuary has a high vaulted ceiling with exposed beams that draw our sight upward, windows that present the cross with a subtle beauty, and stained glass that with light brings to mind splendor. Yet none of these things are an end in themselves - we understand that they are designed to reflect something of God’s beauty and call our thoughts to Him.
Similar things could have been said of Solomon’s temple - its splendor and beauty were meant to draw our attention to God’s splendor and beauty. So, imagine the surprise when we find out that in the opening words of Revelation 21:22 John tells us that he “saw no temple in the city.” How could this be, for surely in this eternal city of God there would be a temple - a place of worship. Yet on closer examination, it is not that John sees no temple, but rather that he saw no physical temple. The shocking truth of the first half of the sentence is explained in the second half: “for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.”
Like me, you are likely longing for the time when we can again gather in our sanctuary to worship. Then the place and the people gathered will help us to experience something of the splendor and beauty of our God. Ah, but the text of Revelation 21:22 reminds us of a far greater day when symbols will give way to reality; when hints will give way to fullness. On that day we will not need a building to aid us to God’s splendor for He will be the temple. Then all of our beloved symbols will give way to a more glorious reality - Our Lord.