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Revelation 22:1

Revelation 22:1
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Revelation 22:1, “…the throne of God and of the Lamb…”

Though specifics vary, many scholars acknowledge the tabernacle complex was designed as a model of the cosmos. The tabernacle (and later the temple) was divided broadly into two sections, what we might call the “lower”—with the Altar of Burnt Offering at its center—and the “higher”—with the Ark of the Covenant at its center. It seems legitimate to understand the “higher” as representative of heaven, with the Holy of Holies representing God’s heavenly throne room (the Ark imaging His throne), and the holy place representing the visible heavens (where the sun, moon, and stars can be seen). We might then say that the “lower” part of the tabernacle court represents the earth (where sin is dealt with in fire on the Altar).

What does this have to do with Revelation 22:1? Well, by envisioning the sacrificial Lamb, slain and standing in the midst of the throne of God, John has united the imagery of Throne (Ark) and Altar of Burnt Offering.  This is a vision of the Throne of God, from which life pours out into the regenerated cosmos…and yet, upon that throne is the sacrificial lamb, whose presence transfigures our perception of the Throne itself—the Throne of God—into an altar.

Further, by uniting the Throne and the Altar in and around the person of the slain and risen Christ, John has united the higher portion of the tabernacle (with the Ark/Throne at its center) with the lower portion (with the Altar at its center), symbolically implying that heaven and earth are drawn into harmonious unity as a cosmos-embracing holy place centered around the Altar-Throne of the God-Man.

And yet, John’s vision in Rev.22:1 is not merely of some future time, it is also a visual-exegetical unveiling of a reality solidly anchored in history, namely, the crucifixion of the risen Christ. The cross of Christ—viewed in light of His resurrection—IS the Altar-Throne of God and of the Lamb, the throne around which heaven and earth are harmonized (Col.1:20) and from which the River of Living Water flows out to give life to all the world (John 19:34, Ezekiel 47:1).