Thunker’s Weblog

Revelation 21-22 (Part 2)

Robert Wheadon-126x150

I’m continuing with my review of the volume, “Apocalypse-Reading Revelation 21-22,” published this year by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.  This is part two of a six-part review covering the six lectures contained in the book.

The second lecture is by the book’s editor, Julie M. Smith.  It is entitled, “The Beginning and the End: Echoes of Genesis 1-3 in Revelation 21-22.”

Smith works her lecture around an article by the evangelical scholar, Gregory K. Beale.  Beale wrote a piece in 2005, “Eden, the Temple, and the Church’s Mission in the New Creation,” Journal of the Evangelical Tehological Society 48/1 (March 2005): 5-31.

In Beale’s article, he outlines nine areas of comparison between the the Creation account found in Genesis 1-3 and the New Jerusalem temple imagery in Revelation 21-22.  Julie Smith expands on Beale’s article, including LDS perspectives and scripture, especially Book of Mormon imagery.  The argument is made that Eden’s Garden and the New Jerusalem both meet qualifications identifying a temple is present.  I am only going to highlight a few of the areas of interest.

So, let’s begin:

God’s Presence

The first item to be considered when examining the garden of Eden as a temple is demonstrated  in both Genesis and the New Jerusalem in Revelation.  The common tie is God’s presence is evidenced in both accounts.  In Genesis 3:8, we read, “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…”  The garden of Eden was a place where God could come.  In Revelation 21:3, we read, “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.”

Both of these accounts coincide with Israel’s temple rites, where once a year, the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies.  In Exodus 25:22, God said, “And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.”

We see the common thread of God’s presence in all three accounts, making an excellent case for the garden of Eden to be considered a temple, as well.


The second evidence presented is that of common priesthood philology.  In Hebrew, the words describing Adam’s duties in the garden are abad and shamar, which correspond to, “dress,” and “keep,” (Genesis 2:15.)  The same hebrew word, shamar, is used to describe the duties of the cherubim to guard  and keep the tree of life after the Fall, (see Genesis 3:24 – “and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”)

In Revelation 21:12, we read how twelve angels will guard the city gates of the New Jerusalem, ensuring that only the righteous will enter.  In the same spirit as the cherubim guarding the Edenic tree of life and the Eden temple space, angels will guard the temple space of the New Jerusalem.

Tree of Life

Next up are the examples concerning the tree of life.  This is where we arrive at Book of Mormon entries into the lecture.  Of course, the biblical examples are easy to pick out.  We know of the tree of life in the garden of Eden.  The existence of the tree of life in the garden ties the garden/temple idea neatly in with the Revelation 22:2, “In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life…”  So, there is at least one tree of life present at the temple of the New Jerusalem.

The vision that both Lehi and Nephi receive depict what they clearly identify as the tree of life.  Nephi’s telling of his vision includes the definition of the tree of life:  it is the love of God, (1 Nephi 11:1-22.)  To carry that definition further, logic leads one to say that when the tree of life is represented, a holy temple space is present, and the presence of the temple is a physical manifestation of God’s love for his children here on earth.

And that point, I believe, is really one of the main points of the gospel: God’s evidences of His love for us, His children.  He has returned temples to the earth, as He did anciently, and as He will again with the New Jerusalem.



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