As we continue with our study in the book of Revelation, we come to the 11th chapter. The fourteen verses continue the fourth and longest parenthetical section of the book. This section of course began in the 10th chapter. There we saw an unusual angel, whom we identified as Christ Himself. This messenger performed an unusual act by placing His right foot on the sea and His left on the land, declaring and demonstrating that He was the rightful owner of the earth and it’s fulness by virtue of creation. Next seven “thunders” are said to utter their voices. As we have stated, in prophetic imagery “thunder” represents judgment. These were most likely seven other angels, different from those we have seen before, with additional words of judgment. We are not told what these “thunders” said as in an unusual answer to the thunders, John is told to “seal up”the words and not reveal them.
Then we heard an unusual announcement that there would be delay no longer. John saw a time when Satan’s reign of terror will come to an end. There is coming a day when the “accuser of the brethren” will no longer be allowed to present his lies before the presence of God as he has before. John saw that day, and it is in our not too distant future. Next John is given an unusual assignment, as he is told to take the little book in the right hand of Christ and “eat it.” As we stated this is what is known as an “Hebraism”, and represents to assimilate and internalize something, in this case the pronouncement of coming judgment. As the messenger promised, it was “sweet” to John at first as he with all believers long for the day when all sin and its ill affects will be forever ended and judged. It was later “bitter” as the stark realization of the eternal judgment and torment that awaited the unregenerate dawned on him. This is the reaction that every child of God should have toward judgment.
In this 11th chapter we will be introduced to two unusual witnesses. As there were no chapter verse divisions originally, John continues; 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. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. [Rev. 11:1, 2 KJV] These opening two verses have proven to be a point of disagreement between capable brethren. This disagreement has primarily centered around the dating of the writing of the book of Revelation. For example, my Preterist brethren say that John penned this book on Patmos around 65 A.D., obviously prior to the invasion of Titus and the Roman army in 70 A.D. In this understanding, the Temple referred to here in Revelation 11 would be Herod’s Temple, that was of course razed by the Romans in 70 A.D. While I respect my Preterist brethren, I do not subscribe to this interpretation of this passage.
The greatest weight of scholarship is on the side of the book of Revelation having been penned post Roman invasion, some time between 95 – 100 A.D. If that is the case, and I believe it is, then there was no Temple standing in Jerusalem at the time John was told to measure it. We must remember that the things John saw and recorded for us in this book, he saw while “in the Spirit.” He was beckoned to, “Come up hither”, through an open door, a portal if you will, standing open in Heaven. He entered that portal and was transported to, as the most reliable manuscripts confirm, the “Day of the Lord.” He saw the coming rapture of the Church, the rise of the Antichrist, the Great Tribulation period, the Second Coming, the battle of Armageddon, the Kingdom Age, and the Perfect Age to come. In a time when no Temple was standing, having been razed to the ground some twenty-five years prior; he saw a time when a Temple would be standing! The Temple will be re-built in Jerusalem. This is an established prophetic fact [See Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4].
In fact, as of this writing, young men whom have been determined to be of the Tribe of Levi are being prepared to serve as Temple Priests. The priestly garments and implements of sacrifice have been prepared, the instruments of Temple worship have been re-built to ancient specifications. There have been three Temples so far in the history of the Jewish people: 1) Solomon’s; 2) Zerubbabel’s; and 3) Herod’s. There will be two more. First, there will be the Tribulation Temple. This one will be re-built and the Man of Sin will ratify a seven-year peace contract with Israel, re-instituting Temple worship and the Jewish sacrificial system. He will of course break the treaty after only three-and-one-half years and turn against the Jews in fury, thus signaling the last half of the Great Tribulation. The three Temples that have stood in Jerusalem have all stood on what is known as, “The Temple Mount”, interestingly the present site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site of Islam. In fact, Muslims believe that Mohamed ascended to heaven on a winged white horse from this very site. Will the future Temple also stand there, and if so, how will the Muslims ever agree to this. Will it require their Mosque to be torn down? I really don’t know how this will all play out logistically, but play out it will.
Some Muslim scholars contend that the Jewish Temple never stood on the Temple Mount itself, but rather on another nearby prominence. The great majority of authorities agree however that the first two Temples (Herod’s being a re-furbished, repaired version of the post exile Temple), did indeed stand on the hotly disputed Temple Mount. Some Christian scholars have suggested The Temple actually stood just to the South of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and could be built adjacent to the Mosque without the Mosque having to be torn down. To see an artists rendition of such an arrangement take a look at the following link, http://endtimepilgrim.org/templeA.jpg. How would the Muslims ever agree to share this site with the Jews? Again, I don’t know, but the Antichrist will somehow get it negotiated. It is possible that he will tell the Muslims to go along with him, and that he will eventually turn against the Jews and side with them. He will however turn against the Muslims as well, and demand worship of himself [See Daniel 11:37]. For more information on the plans to re-build the Temple, see http://www.templemountfaithful.org/.
Notice again what John is instructed to do, 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. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. [Rev. 11:1, 2 KJV] Why is John instructed to “measure” the Temple? It was not to determine its physical dimensions. It is possible it is being measured or marked for judgment, as there is biblical precedent for such action [See 2 Sam. 8:2; 2 Kings 21:13; Isa. 28:17; Amos 7:7 – 9]. Some have suggested that this was an act demonstrating ownership and defining the parameters of God’s possessions [See 21:15; Zech. 2:1 – 5]. I want to suggest that we see both judgment and comfort for God’s people in this chapter. On the one hand, when you see God beginning to measure something in either the Old or New Testament, it means that God is beginning to deal with Nation of Israel [See Jer. 31:38, 39; Zech. 2].
This reed, interestingly enough, is like a rod. A rod is used by a shepherd. Psalm 2:9 says, Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. We see the rod used for chastisement and judgment here. It seems as though a measurement of time is given here for the Time of The Gentiles, after which they will face judgment. It is as though the Father is letting His people, the Jews, know that He is watching out for them and that indeed as the Prophets of old have declared a remnant will be saved. We should note that the rod is also used for comfort, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. [Ps. 23:4 KJV]
What is being dealt with in the Greek is the Holy place and the Holy of holies, that place behind the veil where God’s Shekina Glory dwelt in the Old Testament. The “Altar” refers to the Brazen Altar, most likely, which was located outside the inner sanctuary in the courtyard. The common worshiper was never allowed to go into that place behind the veil, but only the High Priest once a year. The literal Temple will be re-built and Temple sacrifice will be re-instituted during the Great Tribulation. He also measures the worshipers, whom represent a remnant of believing Jews worshiping during the Great Tribulation. He leaves out the outer court in his measurement because, it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. These forty-two months (3 ½ years), correspond to the overtly evil career of the Antichrist. He will be evil with evil intent from the very first, but overtly so during the final half of the Great tribulation. That period will also be the culmination of the “Time of the Gentiles” [See Luke 21:24], the thousands of years during which Gentile nations have in various ways occupied and oppressed Jerusalem.
During this same period, God will shelter many Jews in a place He has prepared for them in the wilderness (some speculate it will be the rock city of Petra). Revelation 12:6 reads, And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. Why will they flee? Jesus warned them to, and consequently many will heed the warning [See Matt. 24:16 – 21]. For those who ignore the warning, they will face great persecution at the hands of the Man of Sin. At that time, God will bring salvation to
Israel, using the two powerful preachers who will appear in Jerusalem [See verse 3], they too will suffer great hostility and hatred at the hands of the Antichrist and his forces [verses 7, 8].The connection between this vision of the two preachers and the previous verses should be clear. They are among God’s unique witnesses who will proclaim His message of judgment during the final stages of the Tribulation. They will preach the gospel so the Jewish remnant can believe and enjoy God’s protection.
Next time we will examine these two witnesses in greater detail. Please plan to join us then.