The Firmaments and the Crystal Seas

  • There were 3 veils in the Tabernacle complex.
    • Veil One: This separated the camp from the courtyard. It was made of white, purple, blue, and red. This veil represents the firmament over Earth, the dwelling of mankind. Below this firmament is the First Heaven. This canopy around the earth is described in Gen. 1:6-8.
      • Though one could argue the “waters above” are the “crystal sea” in Revelation, the Genesis text seems to make them more local, as is the light shining on Earth in 1:3. This idea of a localized firmament being a type of a heavenly one fits well with Biblical usage. For example, Eden is a mountain on Earth symbolizing the mountain in the Third Heaven.
    • Veil Two: This separated the courtyard from the Holy Place. It was also made of white, purple, blue, and red. Like the gate, it lacked cherubim. This veil represents the firmament separating the Second Heaven from the Third Heaven.
      • This firmament is apparently the “crystal sea” in Revelation 15:2. It has a fiery appearance due to the conflict being waged in the realms below (?). That there are two different seas is argued by Ebrard. This is supported by the beginning of a new vision (“And I saw…”) with the absence of the definite article referring back to 4:6.
      • The Bronze Laver sat before this veil. The priests had to wash to enter the Tabernacle. Similarly, to enter the Third Heaven all must be free from sin (Titus 3:5).
      • Interestingly, though an equivalent to an outer court is seen in Revelation (along with the sacrificial altar), there is no hint of a veil between it and the Holy Place. Moreover, there is no need for additional cleansing to enter what would be equivalent to the Holy Place (though only the elders are admitted to this area). All this signifies that in the Third Heaven all believers are cleansed, and none are excluded. Nevertheless, though all are clean, not all are necessarily permitted to serve as elders. It is possible only overcoming believers will fill these seats on a rotating basis.
    • Veil Three: This separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. It was of white, purple, blue, and red. It also had cherubim embroidered on it. This represents the firmament between the Third Heaven and the throne of God, sitting above it (Ez. 1:26; Ex. 24:10). It is possible that the “crystal sea” in Revelation 4:6 is different from the one in 15:2. Possibly, the one in 4:6 is below the throne of God, stretching out before it and over the heads of the “living creatures.” Beyond this firmament lies the Holy of Holies. Christ alone, as the Son and High Priest, is able to enter this place and retrieve for us the scroll at the right hand of God.
      • This sea is not mingled with fire. This suggests the absence of conflict or judgment. Below God in the Third Heaven, rebellion is not permitted. Only below the Third Heaven do the angels and humans resist God’s plan.
      • Ordinary priests were not allowed to enter the Holy of Holies. Similarly, no one has at any time seen the Father, excepting the Son (John 1:18). The light surrounding the throne is unapproachable for any finite being (1 Tim. 6:16).
        • Leviticus 16:12-13 indicates that a veil of smoke was needed to shield the high priest from God’s glory. This does not suggest another veil in Heaven, however. In Heaven, Christ is the High Priest and does not require a veil to enter the Holy of Holies.
      • When the New Jerusalem is established on Earth the Father’s throne will sit below the rebuilt firmament (canopy) originally surrounding the planet. In Eden (and in the Millennium) the Son’s throne was with us, but in the eternal state the Father’s will be as well!
  • The veils give us some insight into the difference between the Third Heaven and the New Earth. All believers are welcome in the New Jerusalem (though not all necessarily reside in the city year-round), just as all believers are welcome in the Heavenly Tabernacle now (i.e., Holy Place). However, during the Tribulation there was conflict below the middle firmament (symbolized by fire). After the establishment of the of the eternal state, the gates of the city will be wide open at all times, all rebels having been consigned to the Lake of Fire.
    • Heaven is a wonderful place, but it is currently a vacation home (John 10:9). When a believer goes to Heaven, they are brought into the fold and kept safe behind the gate. When Christ sets up His Kingdom on Earth, He will open the gate so we can go in and out freely! The idea is that Jesus comes to do more than just keep us secure. He came to also set us free to roam. This is the “life” He brings in the ultimate sense! Moreover, it can be experienced abundantly if we live faithfully in this life (i.e., Tree of Life).
    • Though Satan is permitted to occasionally come before God, this should not be mistaken for a welcome mat. Just as a king sometimes allows the enemy to visit his kingdom for talks, God apparently allows Satan into Heaven to report his activities. Nevertheless, halfway through the Tribulation Satan will not be permitted access anymore, and he will even be cast down from the Second Heaven to Earth.

Author: James Buddy Smith
Ark of Hope
Jasper, Georgia