Seven Trumpets Two Witnesses

Measuring the Temple

A Look at Revelation Chapter 11 – Part 1

In Revelation Chapter 11, John is told to measure the temple of God, the altar and the worshippers. Let’s pause right here. Sometimes there’s so much in one little verse that we have to stop and examine it. This is one of those verses.

“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”. Rev. 11:1

What is Measuring For?

bishops castleMy family recently visited a strange looking castle. It looked as if nothing was measured while it was being built. From a distance it looked impressive, but up close we saw loose railings and places where some of the building stones had fallen off. I certainly wouldn’t feel safe living in that castle.

There’s a reason carpenters measure everything very carefully. They want to build a strong, safe and pleasant looking structure. What do you suppose they do with all the scraps and leftover pieces? Do they measure those pieces too? Of course not.

The apostle John was asked to take a measuring rod and to measure the temple of God, but not to measure the court (Rev. 11:1-2). I’m sure there’s a good reason for this too. Let find out what’s going on.

Revelation often uses symbols. John is not measuring a big stone temple in Jerusalem. By the time John wrote Revelation, the temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Roman army. The Bible tells us the real temple is in Heaven where Jesus is our high priest. It also says that we are living stones being built into a spiritual house (Heb. 8:1-2, 5; 1Pet. 2:5).

There’s an interesting story in Ezekiel that may give us some clues to this measuring business. Remember the Bible interprets the Bible. It’s a long story but I’ll give you the short version.

Israel’s temple had been destroyed because they had not followed God’s ways and therefore he could not protect them any longer. The prophet Ezekiel is given a vision about measuring the temple so it could be rebuilt. Here’s some clues from Ezekiel’s vision.

  • It was on the Day of Atonement, a time of separating the true followers of God from the false. (Ezek. 40:1; Lev. 23:27-29)
  • God said this is where I live. If you want to live with me, you must be holy. (Ezek. 43:7-9; 1 Peter 1:16)
  • God told Ezekiel to show his people the house rules. (Ezek. 43:10-12)
  • Some people were not allowed to enter the new temple – the uncircumcised in heart and flesh (Ezek 44:9). In other words, those that were allowed to enter the new temple both wanted to follow God and obeyed God.

Hey, I have house rules too: pick up your clothes, make your bed, be kind to one another, do not swear, obey your parents without complaining. When you’re a kid, it sometimes seems that the rules are a bother. But when you grow up you actually like rules and realize everyone is happier when they follow good rules. So if God has some rules, that seems reasonable. It is his house after all!

Measuring the Altar and the Worshippers

Not only was John asked to measure the temple, but also the altar and the worshippers there. Where else does the Bible mention temple, altar and worshippers together? In Leviticus 16, describing the Day of Atonement. Oh wow! Ezekiel measured the temple on the Day of Atonement too. Now that must be a big clue!

The Day of Atonement was a very serious and special day in the Biblical year. Before this day everyone was to repent of all their sins. The high priest would then go into the Most Holy Place where the ark of the covenant was and clean it from all the sins that were brought there throughout the year. Then he would put the sins on a scape goat that was sent into the wilderness. Whoever did not repent would be cut off from the people. (Lev. 16, 23:28-29)

This explains why the outer court was not measured. The Gentiles represent those who are not true followers of God.  They may look like Christians or even act like Christians. A true follower of Christ will want to follow Jesus with all their heart and they will obey God because they love and trust Him. Some people say they love Jesus, but then continue to live in sin as if it doesn’t matter. Others try their very best to do all the right things but for the wrong reasons. They don’t really love and know God. I’m so glad I don’t have to decide who is who!  God however, knows the heart. He knows who belongs to Him and who does not. (For more about who is Israel, read our post The Lord’s Army)

Measure the temple
Basically this measuring separates the true followers of God from the false. When God decides who is for Him and who is against Him, this is called judgment. It is a day to be glad because if you follow God and ask for his forgiveness he washes away all your sins! Jesus also promises that it is God “which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). What a loving God he is!

What have we learned so far?

  • To measure something is to prepare it for building.
  • God wants us to live with him forever. He is building us into a spiritual house.
  • God wants us to be holy so we can live with him in his house and be happy. He does this for us when we follow Him completely.
  • When we repent of our sins, Jesus our high priest washes all our sins away.
  • Those who are not true followers of God are not included.

Just like stones that are measured and cut carefully fit together to make a strong beautiful building, people need to be measured and polished to prepare them for heaven to live with a Holy God. But apparently not everyone is happy with this beautiful plan…

Trampled for Forty-Two Months

“…and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.” Rev. 11:2

Why would anyone want to trample on God’s holy city or on God’s holy people who are being built into a spiritual house? The devil, for one, who is very angry with God’s people as we will see in Chapter 12. And whoever is not following God completely. Sometimes they don’t even know what they are doing (Luke 23:34). And as it says in Rev. 11:2, they have come to the temple court to worship. They appear to be christian, but they are not true followers of the Most High God. 

There is much more to be said about the 42 month prophecy which is similar to time, times and half a time (3 1/2 years or 42 months) and 1,290 days (43 months) mentioned in the book of Daniel (Dan. 7:25; Dan. 8:14). But we’ll save that for another time.

Now is the time to repent and give your whole heart to Jesus

Let’s just say for now that those who are against God try to stomp on his holy living place, his holy people and mix up his house rules to confuse everyone. They did this during a historical time period  of 1,290 years and they will probably do it again. But God won’t let them do that forever. He sets a time limit on evil. He also gives his witnesses power to share his Word, his truth and his love. 

Will You Follow Jesus Today?

Now is the time to repent and give your whole heart to Jesus. He is calling for His people to prepare to go to Heaven with Him and to be his witnesses to all the earth (Acts 1:8). Will you join me in following Jesus today and sharing His love with others?

(Note to parents: This is a very difficult chapter to understand. Even life-long Biblical scholars admit this. I’m not going to try and unpack this whole chapter for kids.  I will share some of what I have learned. If you have questions as to how I arrived at these conclusions, please comment and I can share more. Remember, we do not have to understand every detail of Revelation to know that Jesus loves us and wants to save us. We can familiarize ourselves and our children with what is in Revelation so that as we learn and grow, the Lord can teach us more and more.)

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