1. Revelation 21:22 (ESV)
  2. Exposition

Why is the absence of a temple so amazing?

Revelation 21:22 (ESV)

22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.

When John first saw the holy city, he heard a heavenly voice tell him: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.” With the fall into sin, the Lord God had exiled humanity from his presence (Genesis 3:23–24). After he redeemed a people from Egypt, he in his gracious good pleasure established a bond of love with them so as to be their God (Exodus 20:2). He would even dwell among them, but only in a dedicated dwelling, that is, the tabernacle (Exodus 25:8; Exodus 40:34) and later in the temple (1 Kings 6:11–13; 1 Kings 8:10–11). Though in their midst, distance remained as the people could not enter the tabernacle or temple; an altar for sacrifice was located strategically between the holy God and the people. In connection with the destruction of the temple through Nebuchadnezzar’s forces, Ezekiel saw a vision of God leaving the Most Holy Place, the temple and even Jerusalem (Ezekiel 10:1–22). He later received a vision of a restored temple wherein God again came to live among his people (see especially Ezekiel 43:1–12); this temple too retained an altar where sacrifices were made for sin (Ezekiel 43:13–27). The total absence of a temple in the holy city of Revelation 21:9–27, then, is out of step with the Old Testament structure of things. The absence of a temple for God was made possible because Christ Jesus (who had come to “tabernacle” among us, John 1:14) had made atonement for sin on the cross of Calvary, at which time the curtain protecting the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place was torn (Matthew 27:51). That progress is amazing!