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24 - The Temple Measured

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The Temple Measured(Revelation 11:1–2)

Revelation 11:1-2 (KJV) 1 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. 2 But the court which is without the temple leave outa, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.

Intro.   Throughout history God has faithfully sent His spokesmen to call sinners to repentance.

  • During the long, dark years of Israel’s rebellion, “the Lord warned Israel and Judah through all His prophets and every seer, saying, ‘Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments, My statutes according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you through My servants the prophets’ ” (2 Kings 17:13).
    • Tragically, however, they did not listen, but stiffened their neck like their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God. They rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers and His warnings with which He warned them. And they followed vanity and became vain, and went after the nations which surrounded them, concerning which the Lord had commanded them not to do like them. (vv. 14–15)
    • The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place; but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, until there was no remedy. (2 Chron. 36:15–16)
  • I sent you all My servants the prophets, again and again, saying, “Oh, do not do this abominable thing which I hate.” But they did not listen or incline their ears to turn from their wickedness, so as not to burn sacrifices to other gods. Therefore My wrath and My anger were poured out and burned in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, so they have become a ruin and a desolation as it is this day. (Jer. 44:4–6)
  • Prophets such as Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah, and the others confronted both wayward Israel and sinful Gentile nations. Jeremiah’s experience was typical of the reception that the prophets often received:
  • In the future, during Earth’s darkest hour, God will raise up two exceptional and powerful preachers. They will fearlessly proclaim the gospel during the last three and one-half years of the seven-year Tribulation, the period that Jesus called “the great tribulation” (Matt. 24:21; cf. Rev. 7:14). During that time of horrific divine judgments on the earth, of rampaging hordes of demons terrorizing and slaughtering millions of people, and wickedness rampaging unrestrained, their gospel preaching, along with that of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists (7:1–10), the “angel flying in midheaven” (14:6), and the testimonies of other believers alive during that time, will be a final expression of God’s grace offered to repentant and believing sinners.
  • In addition to preaching the gospel, these two preachers will proclaim God’s judgment on the wicked world. Their ministry will likely stretch from the midpoint of the Tribulation until just before the sounding of the seventh trumpet. That trumpet will herald the pouring out of the rapid-fire bowl judgments, the battle of Armageddon, and the return of Christ. During that period, they will declare that the disasters befalling the world are the judgments of God. They will participate in fulfilling the words of the Lord Jesus Christ that the “gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14). They will also be used by God to bring salvation to Israel (cf. the discussion of v. 13 below).

But before introducing these two faithful witnesses, John records a fascinating incident in which he himself took part, an incident that sets the stage for the arrival of the two preachers.

  1. The Temple Measured

Revelation 11:1-2 (KJV) 1 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. 2 But the court which is without the temple leave outa, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.

    1. Occasionally in Revelation the apostle John plays an active role in his visions (cf. 1:17; 4:1; 5:4–5; 7:13–14; 10:8–10).
    2. After his renewed commission to write the prophecies yet to come in Revelation (10:11), John again became involved in one of the very visions he was recording.
    3. He was … given a measuring rod like a staff, by either the same angel who spoke with him in 10:8 or the strong angel he spoke with in 10:9–11.
    4. Kalamos (measuring rod) refers to a reedlike plant that grew in the Jordan Valley to a height of fifteen to twenty feet.

                                                               i.      It had a stalk that was hollow and lightweight, yet rigid enough to be used as a walking staff (cf. Ezek. 29:6) or to be shaved down into a pen (3 John 13).

                                                              ii.      The stalks, because they were long and lightweight, were ideal for use as measuring rods. In Ezekiel’s vision, an angel used such a rod to measure the millennial temple (Ezek. 40:3–43:17).

    1. John was told to measure the temple of God, including the altar, and those who worship in it. #. Obviously, this was not an effort to determine its physical dimensions, since none are given, but was conveying some important truth beyond architecture.

                                                               i.      It could have indicated, as on occasion in the Old Testament, that God sometimes marks things out for destruction (e.g., 2 Sam. 8:2; 2 Kings 21:13; Isa. 28:17; Lam. 2:8; Amos 7:7–9, 17).

                                                              ii.      But John’s measuring is better understood as signifying ownership, defining the parameters of God’s possessions (cf. 21:15; Zech. 2:1–5).

                                                            iii.      This measuring signified something good, since what was not measured was evil (v. 2).

                                                            iv.      It is best to see it as God’s measuring off Israel, symbolized by her temple, for salvation and for His special protection, preservation, and favor.

                                                              v.      The prophecies yet to be given to John will thus distinguish between God’s favor toward Israel and His wrath on the pagan world.

    1. That truth was no doubt very encouraging to John. At the time he wrote Revelation, Israel’s future looked bleak.                                                                i.      A quarter century earlier, the Romans had brutally suppressed the Jewish revolt of a.d. 66–70, slaughtering over one million Jews, devastating Jerusalem, and burning the temple.

                                                              ii.      But in spite of that massive destruction, “God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew” (Rom. 11:2), and will preserve them until that future day when the believing remnant of the nation will be saved (Rom. 11:4–5, 26; cf. Zech. 12:10–13:1, 8–9).

    1. Naos (temple) does not refer to the entire temple complex (cf. v. 2), but to the inner temple, made up of the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The altar is probably the brazen altar, located outside the inner sanctuary in the courtyard, since that is where those who worship in the temple would have gathered.                                                                i.      The people were never permitted into the inner temple; only the priests could enter the Holy Place (where the incense altar stood; cf. Luke 1:8–10).

                                                              ii.      The worshipers in John’s vision depict a remnant of believing Jews alive during the Tribulation who are worshiping God.

    1. The presence of the temple in this vision of the time of great tribulation brought with it the encouraging realization that the temple, destroyed by the Romans many years before John wrote, would be rebuilt in the future. #. The Bible mentions five temples.

                                                               i.      Solomon built the first,

                                                              ii.      Zerubbabel built the second after the exile,

                                                            iii.      Herod built the third (during the time of Christ), and

                                                            iv.      the Lord Himself will build the fifth during the Millennium (Ezek. 40–48; Hag. 2:9; Zech. 6:12–13).

                                                              v.      The temple John saw in this vision was the fourth temple, which will be built in Jerusalem during the Tribulation (Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4), and, along with it, the Jewish sacrificial system will be restored (cf. Dan. 9:27; 12:11).

    1. The Tribulation temple will be built early in the first half of the Tribulation under the patronage and protection of Antichrist.                                                                i.      Many orthodox Jews today dream of rebuilding their temple, but its site is now occupied (and in the minds of many Jews desecrated) by the Islamic shrine known as the Dome of the Rock.

                                                              ii.      Because Muslims believe it to be the place from which Muhammad ascended to heaven, it is among the most sacred shrines in the Islamic world.

                                                            iii.      For the Jews to wrest that site away from the Muslims and build their temple there would be unthinkable in today’s political climate.

                                                            iv.      But during the Tribulation, under the protection of Antichrist (cf. Dan. 9:24–27), they will be able to rebuild the temple.

    1. The reinstitution of the temple worship will reawaken interest on the part of many Jews in the Messiah.                                                                i.      Many will realize that “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb. 10:4).

                                                              ii.      God will use that dissatisfaction to prepare their hearts for the day when He will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, every family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself and their wives by themselves; all the families that remain, every family by itself and their wives by themselves. In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity. (Zech. 12:10–13:1)

                                                            iii.      But the reawakening of interest in the true Messiah will provoke the insane jealousy of the false one. As more and more Jews return to the temple worship and begin seeking their Messiah, Antichrist will act.

                                                            iv.      At the midpoint of the Tribulation, he will halt their worship, desecrate the temple (the abomination of desolation; Dan. 9:27; 12:11; Matt. 24:15), and set himself up as the only acceptable object of worship (13:15; 2 Thess. 2:4).

    1. John’s measuring of the temple symbolized the marking out of the believing Jewish remnant that God will spare from judgment. Zechariah wrote of that coming day:                                                                i.      “It will come about in all the land,”  Declares the Lord, “That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ And they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’ ” (13:8–9)

                                                              ii.      Behold, a day is coming for the Lord when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him! (14:1–5)

    1. John’s instructions on measuring the temple included a significant omission. He was commanded, Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it.                                                                i.      The reference is to the court of the Gentiles, located outside the courtyard containing the brazen altar.

                                                              ii.      It marked the boundary beyond which Gentiles were forbidden to go. In New Testament times, the Romans had given the Jews the right to execute any Gentile who went beyond the court of the Gentiles.

                                                            iii.      For a Gentile to do so was to defile the temple. In fact, it was the false charge that Paul had brought Gentiles into the temple that sparked the riot that led to his arrest and imprisonment (Acts 21:28–29).

                                                            iv.      God redeems Gentiles, and will continue to do so during this age and the time of tribulation (5:9; 7:9).

                                                              v.      But He will reject those unbelieving Gentiles who have united with Satan and the beast and oppressed His covenant people, Israel.

                                                            vi.      The sharp distinction in this vision between Jews and Gentiles suggests that the church, having earlier been raptured (cf. 3:10), is not present during the Tribulation, because in the church, “there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised” (Col. 3:11). In Ephesians, Paul writes that Christ is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity (2:14–16).

    1. By way of explanation, John was told not to measure the outer court because it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.                                                               i.      The forty-two months (1,260 days; three and one-half years) correspond to the overtly evil career of Antichrist, which dominates the last half of the Tribulation (13:5).

                                                              ii.      That period will be the culmination of the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24)—the thousands of years during which Gentile nations have in various ways occupied and oppressed the holy city of Jerusalem. Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, the Turks, the British, and the Arabs have all ruled Jerusalem, and today Israel’s self-rule is fragile and under incessant attack.

                                                            iii.      But the devastating destruction and oppression by the rule of Antichrist and his demonic and human cohorts will surpass all other oppressors.

    1. During this same forty-two-month period, God will shelter many Israelites in a place He has prepared for them in the wilderness (some speculate the rock city of Petra).                                                                 i.      Revelation 12:6 reads, “Then the woman [Israel] fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days” (cf. v. 14).

                                                              ii.      Many Jews will heed Jesus’ warning to flee to safety: Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains; whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. (Matt. 24:15–20)

                                                            iii.      The rest, however, who remain (some in Jerusalem; 11:13) will face terrible persecution from the forces of Antichrist. At that time, God will bring salvation to Israel, using the two powerful preachers who will appear in Jerusalem (v. 3), and will also suffer hostility and hatred (vv. 7–8).

                                                            iv.      At the end of the 1,260 days (forty-two months; three and one-half years), Christ will return (19:11–16), destroy Antichrist and his forces (19:17–21; 2 Thess. 2:8), judge the nations (Matt. 25:31–46), and establish His earthly millennial kingdom (20:1–10). 

                                                              v.      Daniel 12:11–12 indicates that there will be a seventy-five-day gap between the victorious return of Christ and the beginning of the kingdom to take care of the features just mentioned.

                                                            vi.      So despite the maniacal efforts of Antichrist to destroy Israel, God will measure off Israel to save, preserve, and protect the nation. As Zechariah wrote, two-thirds of Israel will be purged in judgment and the remaining one-third will be saved and enter the glory of Messiah’s earthly kingdom (Zech. 13:8–9).

                                                          vii.      Instrumental in their conversion will be a unique, invincible two-man evangelistic team, which John introduces.


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a  leave out: Gr. cast out

a  leave out: Gr. cast out

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