Old Jerusalem and the Measuring of the Temple
1And 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.
John is given a measuring device and is told by Christ to measure three things:
- The temple of God
- The altar
- The people that worship in the temple
The altar is of particular importance in this symbol because it represents the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. With Christ as the perfect sacrifice, there is no more sacrifice for sin and the altar is not needed. This is the first indicator that the people within the temple depicted here are the Jews. More on the nature or the reason for the measuring below.
2But 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.
A. The Outer CourtEdit
That the outer court of the temple, the only place where Gentiles were allowed according to the Mosaical law is not measured. A contrast is made here between the people that worship in the temple and the Gentiles, further proving that this is a measurement of the Jewish system of things and the Jewish people.
B. The Holy City Tread UnderfootEdit
Even more potent is this phrase. No other city in scripture besides Jerusalem is referred to as “the holy city” (Nehemiah 11:1; Isaiah 52:1; Daniel 9:24; Matthew 4:5; Matthew 27:53). None. So Jerusalem then is the city that “they” (the Gentiles) would tread under foot for forty and two months. The forty and two months is again a literal time period, as all specific time periods like this are in Revelation. (The 1000 years later is an exception to be dealt with in chapter 20). It is equal to the time, times, and half a time or 3.5 years as well as 1260 days. This is also the middle of Daniel’s 70th seven (Daniel 9:27) in which he prophesied the sacrifice and the oblation to cease and the abomination of desolation that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24:15 to take place, the completion of the covenant which is represented in the rainbow from chapter 10. The 1260 days, 42 months, 3.5 years is the intensifying of the Roman attack and the lead up to the destruction of Jerusalem in the Jewish Wars and is the essence of the second woe. Again, with all of these signs pointing directly to the destruction of Jerusalem, it is utterly beyond me why anyone would consider any other interpretation!
3And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
The two witnesses are are clothed in sackcloth shows their state of mourning for the former people of God, their people, physical Israel whose end is come. Their prophesying for 1260 days in the clothes of morning indicates their restatement of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the events unfolding. They were bearing witness to God as a keeper of all His promises.
4These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
The candlesticks represent giving light (like the churches in Revelation 1). The olive trees represent a continuous supply of oil for the lights. Of course the allusion is back to Zechariah 4 and Zerubabbel the governor and Joshua the high priest during the building of the second temple and re-establishing the nation of Judah after captivity. These two men were types representing the civil government and the priesthood which eventually were combined in Christ. Specifically Joshua is connected to Christ in Zechariah 3:8. These stand before God as duly appointed representatives to the people having authority from God to enact His will within the nation, just as in Zechariah.
5And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. 6These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
The capacity of these two witnesses are here associated with Moses (plagues) and Elijah (drought), indicating that they are not literal individuals, but representative entities. In these men (Zerubabel, Joshua, Moses, Elijah) we have represented the establishment of the nation of Israel (twice), the preaching to the people concerning the ramifications of the nation when wicked, and the witness of the true purpose of Judaism, which was to bring about the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham. The history of the Jews pointed directly at their purpose, but was completely lost on the Jews of the first century who thought the nation of Judah to be the end purpose in and of itself. God’s chose people, was the limit of their understanding, but not what they were chosen for. Ultimately the two witness point to the cause of Christ and the establishment of the final temple (the church) and the new system of things.
7And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
This is the first that we see the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit. It is not the same as the locusts from chapter 9. This beast is the persecuting power of the Jews against the Christians. The Jews have increased the intensity of their persecution, killing as many Christians as they can (in fulfillment of Revelation 6:11) to the point that they believe they have purged the city of Christians and cut off the head of the movement (which is the congregation of Jerusalem where most of the Apostles were – Acts 15).
8And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
Here the city “where also our Lord was crucified” is without a doubt Jerusalem. To make it any other city the city where Jesus was crucified is 1) to ignore explicit teaching of all four gospel accounts, 2) to require external sources to supersede internal scriptural sources, 3) frankly Proverbs 12:1 (NKJV). Jerusalem is the great city. Jerusalem is the city spiritually called Sodom and Egypt in the Old Testament (e.g. Isaiah 1; Isaiah 19). The “dead bodies” of these two witnesses lying in the streets of the great city, represents the last martyrs killed by the Jews and the church leaving Jerusalem before its destruction. The Jews believing they had finally destroyed those which they hate so much, those that represent an end to the Old System and the rise of the New System to replace the Jews as God’s people.
9And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
A. they of the people and kindreds [tribes] and tongues and nationsEdit
These terms all describe the Jews scattered throughout the Roman empire (as opposed to being in Jerusalem).
B. shall see their dead bodies three days and an half...Edit
The Jews will see the apparent defeat of the church and continue to laud their hollow victory by continuing to dishonor what they perceive to be the remnants of the movement they now think is dead. The surviving Christians were still hunted persecuted throughout Judaea by elements of the zealous Jewish leadership as they fled.
10And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
Thinking that Christianity is gone, the Jews celebrate elaborately. It is a false joy, a nervous joy when someone believes they have beaten down an enemy and left them for dead, but aren’t really sure because of what they know of that enemy.
11And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.
At the end of this short period of a few days God resurrects the cause represented in these two witnesses by bringing on the full siege of Jerusalem, vindicating all that Christianity has taught about such a thing thus far. The establishment of the New Temple, the New System that the Jews hated, happens anyway. That God stands behind the church and denies the Jews is evident not only to the scattered Jews who had been rejoicing with false joy, but is a show of God’s reality and power to the entire world.
12And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
The last of the martyrs from Jewish persecution have joined those under the altar (Revelation 6:11) and are now beyond persecution. The Jews begin to see the real effects their persecutions are having in spreading the church rather than crushing it. But because of the Roman incursion have no more capacity to do anything about it. They must now turn their full efforts to defense.
13And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
A. At the same hour.Edit
At the same time. While these events were going on, the beginning of the end happens. Jerusalem itself comes under siege.
B. was there a great earthquake...Edit
The earthquake spoken of in Isaiah 29:6; Zechariah 14:5; Matthew 24:7; etc. In this earthquake, the number of those slain was seven thousand. Thousand representing divine completion and seven representing all that is in creation, heaven (3) and earth (4). This is a complete destruction of the old heavens and earth, the old system of things to give way to the new heavens and new earth.
14The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
Again, keep in mind these trumpets, woes, etc. are topological, not chronological. The first woe was the initial foray of the Romans into Judah, the attempt to subdue and re-subjugate the Jews to Roman rule. The second woe is a stepping up of the intensity of the Roman attack, overwhelming the entire nation and attacking the heart of Judaism, the city of Jerusalem.
15And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
Christ and the church are triumphant. The promise to Abraham that all nations would be blest through his seed has been fulfilled. The Gentiles are free to enter the church without hindrance from the Jews and the Judaizers.
16And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, 17Saying, We give thee thanks, O LORD God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.
The kingdom entire giving praise to God for completing yet again a promise made.
18And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.
Looking at Matthew 25 the nations are herein judged, the old nation of physical Israel and the new nation of spiritual Israel. This is, in apocalyptic terms, the Day of the Lord, the Judgment Day. The reward given to the prophets and the saints is survival and the knowledge that God has kept His promises to Abraham, through the prophets, and those Christ gave during His earthly ministry. To destroy those that destroy the earth is as seen in the OT prophets, where the leadership of the Jews is assigned responsibility for leading the entire nation astray. God, in this third and final woe, destroys the Jewish leadership for the corruption of the entire nation. The third and final woe is the end of Jerusalem proper and the destruction of the old temple, the harshest of the woes for Jerusalem.
19And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
This is the new temple, the full establishment of the church with the end of the old system accomplished. The ark of the covenant here is a representation of the new covenant. The lightnings and all the rest are a preparation to reveal the second series of visions which is a repeat of the first series in different symbols.
In Truth and Love.