Friday, September 17, 2021

40: The Revelation: The Little Book and the Two Great Witnesses - Part 2 (Revelation 10:1–11:14)



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” (2 Kings 17:13; cf. 2 Chronicles 36:15). Prophets such as Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah, and the others confronted both wayward Israel and sinful Gentile nations. In the future, God will raise up two exceptional and powerful preachers.

The Fearless Witnesses

These two witnesses will fearlessly proclaim the gospel during the last half of the seven-year tribulation. During that time of horrific divine judgments on the earth, their gospel preaching will be part of 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. They will declare that the disasters falling on the world are the judgments of God. They will participate in fulfilling the words 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” (Matthew 24:14). They will also be used by God to bring salvation to Israel.

The Measured Temple

"Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, “Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.” (Rev. 11:1–2)

After his renewed commission to write the prophecies yet to come in Revelation (10:11), John again became involved in one of the visions he was recording. He was given a “measuring rod like a staff,” by either the same angel in 10:8 or the strong angel in 10:9–11. The Greek word translated “measuring rod” refers to a reedlike plant that grew in the Jordan Valley to a height of fifteen to twenty feet. It had a stalk that was hollow and lightweight, yet rigid enough to be used as a walking staff or to be shaved down into a pen. 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 (Ezekiel 40:3–43:17).

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. It could have indicated, as in the Old Testament, that God sometimes marks things out for destruction (2 Samuel 8:2; 2 Kings 21:13; Isaiah 28:17; Amos 7:7–9). However, John’s measuring is better understood as signifying ownership, defining the parameters of God’s possessions (21:15; Zechariah 2:1–5). This measuring signified something good, since what was not measured was evil (verse 2). It is best to see it as God’s measuring off Israel for salvation and His special protection, preservation, and favor. The prophecies yet to be given to John will distinguish between God’s favor toward Israel and His wrath on the world.

The Greek word for “temple” does not refer to the entire temple complex, 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. The people were never permitted into the inner temple. Only the priests could enter the Holy Place. The worshipers in John’s vision depict a remnant of believing Jews worshiping God during the tribulation.

The tribulation temple will be built early in the first half of the tribulation under the influence of Antichrist. Many orthodox Jews today dream of rebuilding their temple, but its site is now occupied by the Islamic Dome of the Rock. 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. For the Jews to take that site from the Muslims and build their temple there would be unthinkable in today’s political climate. But during the tribulation, under the protection of Antichrist (Daniel 9:24–27), they will be able to rebuild the temple.

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.” The reference is to the court of the Gentiles, located outside the courtyard containing the brazen altar. It marked the boundary where 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. For a Gentile to do so was to defile the temple (Acts 21:28–29).

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.” The forty-two months (three and one-half years) correspond to the overtly evil career of Antichrist, which dominates the last half of the tribulation (13:5). 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 Jerusalem.