"A New Approach to Revelation" by Tricia Tillin (Part Thirteen)
how the day of atonement Temple service sheds light on the book of revelation - Three Interludes
At this point in both the Yom Kippur ceremonies and the book of Revelation, something unique and surprising happens. It marked the highest point of awe for the Jewish worshippers and priesthood, the entrance of the High Priest into the innermost part of the Temple, the Holy of Holies. He went there alone, and only once a year, dressed in pure white linen.
Though this is not expressed in so many words in Leviticus 16:2 ... the high priest went into the holy of holies but once a year, on the day of atonement, which was on the tenth of the month Tishri; not but that he went in more than once on that day, for he went in no less than four times; the first time he went in to offer incense; the second time with the blood of the bullock, to sprinkle it; the third time with the blood of the goat; and the fourth time to bring out the censer (s); and if he entered a fifth time, they say he was worthy of death; [Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible]
The offering of incense (as in the ordinary morning service some hours earlier that day) was an awesome event, made even more spectacular and awe-inspiring by the elaborate rituals involved, and doubly sacred because this time - unlike the last - the High Priest would disappear by himself into that very holy place once dedicated to the Presence of God. (By the time of Herod, tragically, the Holy Place was but an empty void.)
Why all this waiting around?
As the sanctuary slowly filled with the smoke of the incense, the people waited. It is during this time in Revelation that John diverts from the prophetic flow of events and gives us some background information and summaries. These I have called INTERLUDES. They are contained in Chapters 11 to 19. They almost take the place of an interval in a theatrical performance, and that interval was not just the time it took for the High Priest to offer the incense, but also the other blood offerings and sprinklings.
And there is one other reason for waiting, for all concerned: nothing further could be done that afternoon until word came back that Azazel, the scapegoat, had reached the wilderness. We can imagine that this took quite some time, probably several hours, since the goat had to be conducted far out of the city and scouts had to signal back by waving flags to inform the priests that the deed was done. (We shall shortly find this event also in Revelation).
THE SCOUTS' SIGNALS: Back inside the Holy Temple, after having delivered the scapegoat into the hands of his colleague, the High Priest must wait to receive word that the scapegoat has reached the desert, for he is not permitted to begin the next stage of the day's service until then.... scouts were positioned at high points all along the route to the cliff. As the goat was led from one station to the next, these scouts would signal each other by waving cloths. When the scapegoat had been sent off, the news was relayed back to the Temple through the scouts' signals. [Temple Institute]
Three Interludes, "while we are waiting"
The interludes each cover a general view of events both past and future, compressed into stories. The first concerns John himself, as he prepares himself to "prophesy again", perhaps in the evening service that will shortly follow this part of the service. At that time, the day's rituals will be concluded and all prophecy will be ended.
First Interlude, Chapters 10-11 The Book, the Temple & Two Witnesses
John eats the little book that is given him by the strong angel, and then measures the Temple as instructed. (Rev 10:9-11:2) Afterwards he tells the story of the Two Witnesses that are to appear on earth and preach during the reign of the beasts. (Rev 11: 3-13) Their fate does seem to line up with that of Babylon and is described in similar terms. In the same hour that they are raised from the dead, there is a "great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell, seven thousand were killed and the rest gave glory to the God of Heaven." Rev 11:13
Now that is interesting, because very similar or identical events takes place at both the seventh and final TRUMPET and the seventh and final BOWL judgements. (Compare 11:19 with 16:18) Please note that the description of the three woes at the end of the Two Witnesses's ministry (11:14-18) is actually part of their story and does not happen at this exact point in time. Just as with the story of the sun-clothed Woman, John is compressing a lot of historical data and presenting it as an overview.
We know where we are in terms of Yom Kippur because in Chapter 11: 19 we are told: THEN "the Temple of God was opened in heaven and the ark of his covenant was seen in his Temple". The Ark of the Covenant was of course in the Holy of Holies. That places the event in the afternoon of the day, just as the High Priest enters to offer either the blood sprinklings or the incense. And that indeed - as you read above - is where we are in the ceremony! NOT at the final judgement, just yet!
Why does Heaven have an Ark?
It is a strange feature of heaven that it supposedly contains - according to John's account - a hidden inner sanctuary and the ark of the covenant, which were in truth only earthly symbols of heavenly realities. Surely John has seen the Throne of God in heaven, and the four living creatures, all of which are the reality of the Temple's Ark? Yet, because this prophecy is set into the framework of a Temple service, and specifically that of Yom Kippur, it must be that the appropriate action (the Holy of Holies being opened) is reflected in the revelation!
There is to be one further opening of the Temple [or, the "tabernacle of the testimony"] in heaven, during the evening offering of incense, again just at the appropriate time in the service.
The first Temple opening is into the Holy of Holies (and therefore in the afternoon, as we saw above) but the second one in Chapter 15 is contemporary with the bowl judgements and the final three trumpets (the three woes). That takes place during the evening offering of incense, NOT in the Holy of Holies but at the golden altar in front of the veil. See chapter 9:13. The voice that calls for the final and definitive bowls of God's wrath is heard from "the four horns of the golden altar which is before the Lord" and that is the Incense Altar in the Holy Place, not the Holy of Holies.
Thus we are foreseeing the events of the evening service - we will come to that in due course. Please see the CHART.
Second Interlude, Chapters 12-14
This second summary concerns Israel, the Woman clothed with the sun. Once again we have a compressed overview of events right through the time-period, starting in the night hours of tribulation and ending with the overthrow of Babylon who persecuted her.
The Woman's story begins during the opening of the seals, with increasing pressure and persecution. Jesus used the word "birthpangs" to describe this time period, and here Israel is in labour, in travail, trouble and tribulation increasingly.
Her story progresses through the rest of the seals with Israel delivering the male child who is caught up to heaven, and she is subsequently conveyed to a place of safe-keeping "on the wings of an eagle" (12:14). Has anybody considered whether America - whose national symbol is an eagle - might send planes to convey some of Israel's refugees to safety? Just a thought!
Mixed in with the story of the Woman is that of her enemy, Satan or the Great Red Dragon. Again we see an overview of his fate - firstly watching and waiting for the climax of deliverance both for the Woman and Child. Then he takes his opposition to the very back door of God and tries to prevent the catching up of the believers, but is fought back and cast out along with his fallen angels.
Thereupon, enraged, he persecutes the Woman, who is rescued as we said.
A Parody of the Ministry of Jesus
The timing of both these events - the Woman's flight and the Dragon's reign - is identical, locating us at the beginning of his satanic reign: three and a half years. It is a parody of the ministry of Jesus the true Messiah in its timing and events. Jesus was incarnate, ministered for three and a half years, was killed and resurrected, thereafter to be raised to Heaven. The Dragon on the other hand is firstly cast OUT of the "heavenlies", is incarnate by possessing a dead body (thus a kind of resurrection) (Note 1) ministers afterwards for three and a half years and is then thrown DOWN into the Pit.
In Chapter 13, John continues his story by describing the results of this casting-out of the heavenlies. He describes the Beasts that arise as a result - one from the sea, ridden by his mistress the Harlot - the other from the land.
Notice that the mighty angel who descends with the little book puts one foot on the sea and the other on the land, as if proclaiming dominion over both the realms of the Beast. (Rev 10:2)
Third Interlude, Chapter 17-19 The Fate of Babylon Prophesied
In these chapters we have John taken away from the Temple scene to the wilderness where the Azazel has been dispatched. An angel - interestingly, one of those who is commissioned with the task of pouring out the bowls of wrath - tells John who the beasts are and what will happen to them. The bowls have taken us in reality to the final judgement, (16:19) but the angel backtracks to explain these things in more detail to John.
Without going into extensive details, we note that the angel explains who is the Harlot (Mystery Babylon) and the two Beasts, and what their fate is.
We have to realise that John in Heaven is taken to one side for a real-time explanation of visionary events! What he has seen are prophecies, but the angel needs to point out their significance.
We know this is a real-time, heavenly commentary on John's vision, because the angel gives a complete overview of all the events of the 42 months, along with their completion. We note such verses out of their time context such as 17:14 "these WILL make war with the Lamb..." and 17:8 "the beast WILL ascend out of the bottomless pit..." which are outside the prophetic timeline.
In Chapter 18 the angel gives a long account of the fate of Babylon, and another voice adds that the only sensible decision for Christians receiving this prophecy is to "come out of her, lest you share in her sins". (18:4).
The voice from Heaven speaking these words is no doubt that of Jesus the Saviour himself, because he addresses the readers as "MY people".
The fate of Babylon, which is to avoided by all who love God, is to be thrown down like a millstone into the sea. (Rev 18:21) We touched on this previously, referring to the similar prophecy in Jeremiah 51:63. However, at this precise point - and not by accident - the narrative takes us back to the Temple rituals where the High Priest has been waiting for news that Azazel has indeed been "cast down", and now he receives word from the scouts that the event has occurred - so the rest of the day's activities can resume.
Back to Yom Kippur
After these diversions and explanations, we are taken back to the Yom Kippur service in the Temple. While waiting for the scouts to report back, only certain tasks were undertaken, including the removal of the two carcasses of the bullock and goat. Nothing else can be done, while we wait for news.
But now (14:8 and then 18:2) instead of a scout waving a flag to announce the fall of Azazel to the High Priest and the crowds thronging the Temple, we have an angel flying in the heavens reporting that "Babylon has fallen!"
Because of that fact, the service can continue and thus the FINAL JUDGEMENT can come! (See next page). As another angel says, "the HOUR has come!" and this would be a good time to re-think your worship of the Beasts, because of the terrible fate in store for them and their worshippers. (14:6-10)
NOTE: My belief, based upon a number of scriptures, is that the person who ultimately becomes what we call the Antichrist, as world leader, firstly appears as a very clever, popular and charismatic politician or spokesman who is then assassinated or otherwise killed, and "miraculously" raised from the dead so that all the world wonders and worships him, but in fact he has at that moment become bodily possessed by Satan, who energises him for his reign on earth.
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© 2014 Tricia Tillin-Booth. All rights reserved. Birthpangs Website: http://www.birthpangs.org/ This document is the property of its author and is not to be displayed on other websites, redistributed, sold, reprinted, or reproduced in printed in any other format without permission. Websites may link to this article, if they provide proper title and author information. One copy may be downloaded, stored and/or printed for personal research. All spelling and phraseology is UK English.