The multitude standing by the sea of glass is the whole assembly of Israelites who have been saved. The Israelites are God’s chosen people, God has special blessings in store for them and it is not because they were very good or because they love the Lord very much. It is because God had not forgotten them; God remembered the covenant He had with them. Theirs is the way of Moses, the way of the law; it is God’s special grace towards them. In addition to that, there is the way of the Lamb, which shows that they also have God’s grace through Jesus’ death. They have a share in the Kingdom of Heaven.
All because God remembered their ancestor’s devotion and the promises that God gave them in the past.
GOD DISPLAYS A TOKEN OF HIS COVENANT
5 After this I looked, and I saw in heaven the temple—that is, the tabernacle of the covenant law—and it was opened.
The setting is still in the sanctuary in heaven, but here, the most inner part of the sanctuary can be seen, the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant is placed. The Israelites in those days had never seen the Ark of the Covenant , nobody was allowed inside that place, only the High Priest could enter once a year. And during the times of John, the Ark was lost; there was not Ark of the Covenant in the temple.
無論新約舊約，｢約櫃｣都有兩個名稱。第一｢法櫃｣，正確的翻譯應該是｢見證的櫃｣ark of testimony 。第二是｢約櫃｣ark of covenant 。｢見證的櫃｣是最早的名稱，因為櫃裡放著亞倫發芽的杖、嗎哪、與十誡法版，這些東西都是見證神曾經與他們同在，眷顧他們。要叫他們記得神的作為、神的保護、神的恩典與神的供應。
This Ark, whether in the Old Testament or in the New Testament, had two names. It was called the “Ark of the Covenant” and the “Ark of the Testimony”. At first, this Ark was called “Ark of the Testimony” because inside it had Aaron’s staff that had budded, the golden jar of manna and the stone tablets of the covenant; these things testified that God had been with them and cared for them. So they remember the great things God had done for them, God’s protection, God’s grace and God’s provision.
在啟示錄中｢法櫃｣出現一次，｢約櫃｣也出現一次( 在第十一章) 。這｢見證的櫃｣，是要提醒我們，神一直在眷顧祂的子民。有信心的人，這種種證據，都提醒我們要信靠主、愛主。
In Revelation, the term “Ark of the Testimony” appears one time and the term “Ark of the Covenant”, also appears one time (in Chapter 11). The “Ark of the Testimony” reminds us that God has always cared for His own people. For the believers, all these evidences remind us that we must trust in God and love Him wholeheartedly.
THE ARK OF THE TESTIMONY CONTAINED THREE KEEPSAKES
( 一) 嗎哪：以色列人在曠野行走的時候，沒有商店、沒有餐館、沒有田地種植，但他們不肯進入迦南，因為害怕迦南人高大威猛，寧願留在沙漠，缺食、缺水，過貧窮的生活。他們過的漂流生活是因為信心不足，但神還是供應給他們，每天降下嗎哪給他們吃。他們吃了快四十年的嗎哪。
(l) MANNA: When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, they did not have any restaurants, shops or farmlands but they were afraid to enter Canaan because they were afraid of the Canaanites who were big and strong. They preferred to stay in the wilderness where there was a lack of food and water. They chose to live in poverty. They just kept wandering in the desert because of their lack of faith, but God provided for them, God sent manna every day for them to eat. They ate manna for almost 40 years.
Manna looked like little round things, like coriander seeds, it appeared fresh every day, they could collect it just by going outside; after gathering the manna, it could be cooked, baked or just eaten as it is. Every day they would gather enough for their family to eat, whatever was collected could not be kept until the next day because it would become corrupt with worms. Actually, what we need is not a lot and the Lord knows what we need, He will surely provide for us at the proper time. Our spiritual needs are similar; every day we are fed spiritually and we are refreshed.
They ate the manna for 40 years, this proves that God provides abundantly at the proper time. God told Moses and Aaron to put some manna in a golden jar and to place it inside the Ark as eternal evidence, so that later generations might know about God’s great works, God’s trustworthiness, so that we will not worry about tomorrow for He will provide for our every need. No matter what hardships we face, we can trust in God to get us through.
( 二) 亞倫發芽的杖：他們曾經有人造反，想捧起有本領、有才幹的領袖可拉，覺得摩西作領袖太軟弱、太溫柔、太謙卑。他們希望領袖有英雄氣慨。可拉是領袖人才，所以他們示威、抗議，要更換領袖。摩西叫百姓分開兩邊站，凡擁護可拉的，站到另一邊去。神忽然使地裂開，把可拉黨全部吞下去死了。
(2) AARON’S STAFF THAT BUDDED: Once the Israelites were insolent and rebelled against God by trying to make a very capable and skillful person named Korah to be their leader instead of Moses. They thought that Moses was not good enough because he was too weak , too gentle and too humble. Korah was a very talented leader so they wanted him instead of Moses. Moses ordered the people to separate from Korah and his group because God was angry with them, then God made the earth open its mouth and swallowed up the rebellious people alive, that included all those associated with Korah and their possessions.
At that time the people thought that what had happened was just an accident; so, Moses told the leaders of each ancestral tribe to bring one staff with their names written on it. Moses’ older brother Aaron, the representative of the tribe of Levi also brought his staff. All the staffs were placed in the tent of the covenant law. The next day Moses entered the tent and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the tribe of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds. This was a miracle which proved that Moses and Aaron from the tribe of Levi were the ones whom God had chosen for His service; so the matter was settled. Later on, the staff that budded was placed in the Ark of the Testimony as evidence to tell the people that in God’s house all the leaders that serve God are chosen by Him and no human being can use worldly methods to obtain this position.
( 叁) 十誡兩塊法版：神在西乃山上啟示摩西，百姓當怎樣生活。並且親自用祂的指頭把十條誡寫在兩塊石版上。約裡告訴百姓，要恆心守主的道，主必賜福他們以及他們的子子孫孫。如果他們離棄神的約，就會很快滅亡。
(3) THE STONE TABLETS OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS: On Mt. Sinai, God revealed to Moses how the people should live. God wrote with His own finger the Ten Commandments on two tablets of stone. The commandments tell the people that if they persevere in keeping them, God will bless His people from generation to generation; but if they reject God’s covenant, they will quickly perish.
A LOVING GOD WHO KEEPS HIS COVENANT
The keepsakes inside the Ark are the evidence of the agreement between God and the Israelites; therefore the “Ark of the Testimony” later on became the “Ark of the Covenant”. If the Israelites followed God’s Word, they would live happy and healthy lives . The people of their nation would testify of God’s covenant and the trustworthiness of God’s promises, from generation to generation. Not only would those who keep God’s covenant be blessed, even their families, their country and their ethnic group would be blessed, they would then be called “the blessed people”.
If they did not keep the agreement, all the curses mentioned in the law would be on them. Israel’s history is evidence of this; because they did not persevere in keeping God’s covenant, they have lost the unity of their family and many have been drifting around for more than 2,000 years.
When people keep the covenant, God keeps His covenant; but even if the people don’t keep the agreement, God still keeps His Word. At the end of the world, God will still remember the covenant He made with them since ancient times, and during their most difficult times, when they change their minds and turn to God, God will rescue them so that their whole nation will repent and be saved.
保羅說：｢我們縱然失信，祂仍是可信的，因為祂不能背乎自己。｣( 提後2:13) 人常會反悔自己承諾的話，對配偶的承諾，對朋友的承諾，對父母的承諾，對主的承諾，都可以完全背棄。人常會背約的原因：( 一) 是由於本性浮誇，隨口亂說，根本沒有把承諾放在心上。( 二) 沒有能力去守住諾言，有心無力。但神不一樣，祂不能背乎自己，祂說的話就成為真理，無法改變。祂每一句話都必應驗。
Paul said: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.”(2 Timothy 2:13) People tend to go back on their own word, their commitment to their spouse, their commitment to their parents or their commitment to God. They could just completely deny what they promised. The reason why people break an agreement is because: (1) they are boastful, they speak without thinking the matter through, the actually just don’t care about the promise. ( 2) They are not capable of keeping the promise. But God is different, He cannot disown Himself, whatever He says becomes an unchangeable truth. Every word He speaks is fulfilled.
GOD SENDS HIS SERVANTS TO CARRY OUT HIS ORDERS
6 Out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean, shining linen and wore golden sashes around their chests.
John saw the seven angels who were ready to execute judgment come out from the temple, from the Most Holy Place, from the throne of God. Angels have different ranks and different powers. Those that are nearest to God have the highest positions. Therefore, these seven angels are very powerful. They received orders directly from God’s throne.
他們穿著潔白光明( 白到發亮) 的細麻衣，衣服表明他們的職責。啟示錄裡面有叁種衣服，中文都有｢麻衣｣的字眼，會使人混亂。不知道每種衣服所代表的是甚麽意思。衣服乃是代表穿著者的身份，也代表他們所做的工，所以要先搞清楚他們的衣飾。
The angels were dressed in clean, shining linen and wore golden sashes around their chests. The clothes they wore represented the work they were doing and their status. The book of Revelation mentions three different kinds of clothing:
THREE DIFFERENT KINDS OF CLOTHING:
( 一) 麻衣(11:3) sakkous ：以色列人穿麻衣的時候，是表達憂傷、痛苦、難過、懊悔的心情。在十一章那兩位見證人｢身穿麻衣｣傳道，表示他們是｢悔改｣的見證人，他們經過憂傷、患難、懊悔，然後做主的見證人。中文聖經翻作｢毛衣｣，因為翻譯的人以為他們有先知的職份，應該穿毛衣。所以把｢麻衣｣改成｢毛衣｣，其實是改錯了。
(1) Sackcloth (11:3) sakkous : When the Israelites wear sackcloth, it shows their grief, pain, sadness and repenting heart. In chapter 11, the two witnesses were prophesying clothed in sackcloth, representing their repentance. They had to go through grief, trials and tribulations and repentance before becoming witnesses for the Lord.
( 二) 細麻衣( 19:8) bussinon ：是基督的新婦、新娘子所穿的婚紗。她｢蒙恩得穿光明潔白的細麻衣，就是聖徒所行的義｣。表面看，好像說她有好的行為。但如果看清楚。那裡是說是｢蒙恩得穿｣was given ，是特別給她的，不是她自己的本領賺到的。基督徒所有的義行，都是聖靈的作為，人必須倚靠聖靈的引導，纔得穿這光明的衣服。這細麻衣可以說是結婚時的婚紗，表示在外表行為上，有很美麗的生活表現。
(2) Fine Linen (19:8) bussinon : It is the wedding dress that Christ’s bride wears. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.) Apparently, it seems to be talking about her good deeds; but when we take a closer look we see that it was “given her” to wear; she didn’t obtain it by her own ability. All the righteous acts of the Christians are the work of the Holy Spirit. Believers must depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to have this bright and clean garment to wear. This fine linen could be the wedding dress of the bride, which represents the outward behavior, the display of a beautiful life.
( 叁) 細麻衣：這七位大天使所穿的。原文是 linon ，是舊約祭司供職時所穿的聖衣。不在供職的時候，一出了聖所，就要脫下來。進聖所前就要穿起來。是聖所裡面穿的聖衣。只在聖所里辦事的祭司纔可以穿( 結44) 。所以這裡實在是告訴我們，這七位天使是在執行祭司的任務。
(3) Shining linen: was what these seven angels were wearing. In the original text it is referred to as linon , which is the holy garment that the priests in the Old Testament wore only when performing their duties inside the sanctuary. When they were done serving in the sanctuary, they would take off those garments and leave them in the sacred rooms. Those were holy garments that were to be worn only inside the sanctuary (Ezekiel 44). Therefore, this passage is telling us that these seven angels were carrying out priestly duties.
What is their duty? Their duty is to carry out judgment, because when their golden sashes are worn around their chest, it shows their status as judges. When the priests perform their duties in the sanctuary, the sashes are worn on their waist; this shows that they are serving. When they act as judges the sashes are worn around their chest. These priests are highly respected and have royal authority.
These priests from the sanctuary in heaven have two kinds of duties. Most of the times they represent the people in prayer, they bring the prayers of the people to the throne of God. They also represent God carrying His judgment, after listening to the believers ‘ prayers they will avenge God’s people. Those who make God’s children suffer will be severely judged.
These angels were carrying out judgment; they served God and served God’s people.
GOD EXPRESSES HIS FEELINGS
7 Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever.
The angels received seven golden bowls from the four living creatures that were beside the throne of God, these seven golden bowls were actually seven golden censers. In 8:5 they are translated into “censers” which is the same word. The angel took these seven censers filled with disasters and hurled it on the earth; this was done in answer to the prayers of the saints which is the incense from the censers. God commanded the angels to do that in reply to the prayers of His children.
These seven golden censers are shaped like cups; they can be called seven golden cups. Similar to cups of wine, filled with the wine of the wrath of God. The seven cups were hurled to the earth one after the other, the whole earth was filled with terrible disasters, God was avenging his people, and He was conveying His wrath on the wicked ones who slaughtered God’s people.
Some people say that the Bible talks about God ‘ s judgment and His wrath more than His love and His grace. Therefore, should we should talk more about God’s wrath and His judgment. It kind of makes sense, but we should note that God’s wrath is directed towards the unbelievers, towards those who despise God’s grace. “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” (Romans 1:18)
There are many people in this world who enjoy God’s grace and His provision but they do wicked acts, they are against the truth and corrupt the hearts of the people. Like a student from mainland China who was a given a scholarship to study in Singapore but during his last year at the University he posted on the internet an article insulting the people from Singapore saying that there were more dogs than people in Singapore. This led to public anger requesting to take back his scholarship money and to cancel his credits. This ungrateful student asked the Embassy for help but the only thing they could do was to apologize. Being ungrateful is a characteristic of a sinful person.
There are many people in this world who are ungrateful; God shows His wrath towards these people. But for those who are His people God shows His grace, His mercy and His love.
GOD HIMSELF COMMANDED THE ACTION
8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power.
Whenever God appears He is accompanied by smoke or clouds. This is seen many times in the Bible. In Exodus, when God commanded Moses to go up Mt. Sinai to give him the Commandments, the mountain was covered with clouds. Afterwards, when the tabernacle was built, and an inauguration ceremony was held for the new tent of meeting, a cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. The same thing happened during the offering of the temple during Solomon’s time. In all the instances the cloud fills the sanctuary during the offering ceremony.
The presence of God shows that God regards highly the temple and the worship. People might think that worshiping God is a waste of time but in God’s heart it is a most significant time where He can meet with His children. It is God’s desire to see us often in the temple. It was of such importance for Him that He personally showed up and the temple was filled with His glory.
Another time when the glory of God appeared was when Korah and his followers rebelled against Moses. This showed that God values His servant highly. When the people are dissatisfied with God’s plans and want to do business the way the world does or use the game of politics to destroy the unity of the church, God will unveil His wrath to put a stop to it. The people who serve in the church must be chosen by God. God values not only the worship but those who lead the worship.
On another occasion, Jesus took a few of His closest disciples up on a mountain and He was transfigured before them, His face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light. At that time His disciples were so excited that they did not want to go down the mountain and wanted to put up shelters to stay there. But God appeared unexpectedly in a bright cloud, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased . Listen to him! The three disciples who were with Jesus were very considered very important characters; the church would be established on their foundation. God wanted to correct their mistake so they would not be separated from the world and live in seclusion. In the past the church followed the way of seclusion, getting away from the people, hiding deep in the mountains living like hermits. That is not what God requires of us, God wants us to live among the people and be His witnesses.
GOD IS FIRM REGARDING HIS PLAN
8 and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.
When the glory of God appeared, no one could enter the temple. These words appeared a few times in the Bible. The same thing occurred during the times of Moses and King Solomon. It also happened during the vision of the prophet Ezekiel, when the glory of God appeared the priest could not perform their duties and the people had to keep their distance. When the cloud appeared it came with an astounding awe-inspiring atmosphere. People had to stop what they were doing because it was so overwhelming.
When the end time comes, even the priests would not be able to pray for those who are being punished. Regarding the unbelievers, they will be eternally cut off from God and from His grace. That is the last and greatest tribulation. Actually, during the great tribulation, people will not be given the opportunity to repent anymore. Don’t think that it is alright if I do not repent and believe in Jesus now; I will wait until the last minute to do that. During times of the great tribulation only one kind of people will be able to repent and those are the ones who have the seal of the Holy Spirit on their foreheads. The rest of the people will continue to curse God even among their sufferings, because at that time there will not be anyone left to pray for them.