The Temple Measured

Revelation 11:1-2
The End Times

In my last post, we reviewed an introduction to Revelation Chapters 11-13 addressing the 1,260 Days.  In this post, we begin to explore Revelation 11 by examining verses 1-2 dealing with The Temple Measured.

“I was given a measuring rod like a stick and told, ‘Get up, and measure the Temple of God and the altar, and count how many people are worshipping there!  2 But the court outside the Temple, leave that out; don’t measure it; because it has been given to the Goyim, and they will trample over the holy city for forty-two months.’” ~ Revelation 11:1-2 (CJB)

Chapter 11 continues the interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpets. Yochanan is instructed to measure the Temple of God, the altar, and count the worshipers in the Temple. He is told not to measure the outer court, which was the court for the Goyim (Gentiles). We learn that the Holy City will be left to be trampled by the Goyim for 42 months.

“I was given a measuring rod like a stick and told, ‘Get up, and measure the Temple of God and the altar, and count how many people are worshipping there!  It appears that Yochanan is called upon to personally participate once again in the unfolding of this great drama. The angel gives Yochanan a measuring rod, and he is told to measure the Temple, the altar, and count the people who worship. This action tells us that our Lord is about to take possession with this gesture of ownership. This move is also significant because this measuring takes place in the last half of the tribulation period. The Antichrist has broken his agreement with Israel (Daniel 9:27) and is about to move into the Temple for his diabolical purposes (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

Keep in mind, that when Yochanan wrote this book, there was no Temple. The Temple had been destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.  Most interpreters date the writing of the Book of Revelation about 96 CE.

A natural question comes to mind: what Temple is this that Yochanan is to measure? Is it a symbolic Temple, or a heavenly Temple, or could it be a literal Temple? The answer is that this is a literal Temple and located in Jerusalem. This Temple is known as the Tribulation Temple, which will be built in the future with the approval of the Antichrist after he has made an agreement (Daniel 9:27) with Israel for seven years.

Depending upon definition and description, there are references to seven Temples in the Bible.

  1. Solomon’s Temple. It was built by Solomon on a hilltop in Jerusalem west of Kidron and north of the ancient city of David. This Temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BCE.
  2. Zerubbabel’s Temple. This Temple was built under the authorization of Cyrus after Zerubbabel led some fifty thousand Jews back to Jerusalem. It was begun about 520 BCE and was about four years in construction. Although this Temple was functional, it was not nearly as elaborate as its predecessor. It was, for the most part, destroyed by Antiochus Epiphanes around 168 BCE.
  3. Herod’s Temple. Herod the Great, to gain the favor of the Jews, promised them a new Temple. Work on this new Temple began in 19 BCE. It would prove to be the most elaborate and the costliest of the three Temples thus far mentioned. It was not completed until 64 CE, and then, according to the prediction of our Lord in Matthew 24:1-2, it was destroyed in 70 CE by the Roman army.
  4. Temple of the Holy Spirit. Obviously, this is not a building. God’s attention is moved from Israel to the world. The new covenant is for everyone who calls on the name (see John 3:16; Romans 10:13; Matthew 28:19-20, etc.). A Temple is always symbolic of the presence of God. In the Church Age, attention is shifted from a building to a body! Every Believer represents a body in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, making that person a Temple in which Deity is housed (I Corinthians 6:19-20). This places grave responsibility upon every one of us who claims to be a child of God (John 14:17; 1 John 4:4).
  5. Tribulation Temple. Before the Tribulation, the Church has been removed by the Rapture. The Antichrist has appeared on the scene; he has made a covenant with the Jews and approved the building of this Temple.
  6. Millennial Temple. When Yeshua returns with His saints at the close of the Tribulation Period, the Battle of Armageddon shall occur. This battle will leave little that doesn’t need to be repaired or rebuilt. The Tribulation Temple will not be spared. With its destruction, the most magnificent Temple ever built will be constructed (Ezekiel 40-43). It is this Temple from which our Lord will rule and reign for one thousand years.
  7. Our Lord will be the Eternal Temple. In Revelation chapter twenty-one, verses 10-21, Yochanan is given a description of the Holy City. He then notes that there is no Temple (verse 22), but, then, quickly realizes why! Jesus will be all the Temple that is ever needed in that eternal state of heaven.

About the 5th Temple, the Tribulation Temple, Clarence Larkin writes: [1]

It is clear that there will be a Temple in Jerusalem during the reign of the Antichrist, for he shall sit in it, and proclaim himself GOD. II Thess. 2:3-4. And he shall cause the “ABOMINATION of DESOLATION” spoken of by Daniel the Prophet (Dan. 9:27), probably the “Image of the Beast,” to be set up in the “Holy Place?”There is one other Temple found in Scripture. It is God’s Temple (Revelation 11:19) in heaven. This is an actual Temple in heaven and has been around for thousands of years (Exodus 25:9). This Temple is the prototype from which instructions are given in the Bible for the building of the earthly Temples.

The Millennial Temple comes the closest to a reproduction of the prototype. Note the additional places where this Temple is mentioned: Revelation 14:15, 17; 15:5, 6, 8; 16:1, 17.

But the court outside the Temple, leave that out; don’t measure it; because it has been given to the Goyim, and they will trample over the holy city for forty-two months. The measuring of the Temple proper involves ownership; however, the court being left out certainly implies coming judgment.

The city of Jerusalem has been trodden down by the Gentiles from the time of their Babylonian captivity unto this present hour. This situation will continue until the close of the tribulation.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 11:1-2 [2]

Historicist Approach:

Historicists believe the Temple of God throughout the Brit Hadashah. The distinction between the Temple and the court outside the Temple is that between the true church and the outward and visible institution of the Church.  [I have no idea what that distinction means!]  The phrase they will trample over the holy city for forty-two months refers to the persecution of the true church by the papal powers. [Going back to my last post, it appears by this added information that the true church are Protestants and the outward visible institution of the Church refers to Roman Catholics.]

Preterist Approach:

In Ezekiel 37-40 a man measures the Temple with a measuring rod. Now Yochanan is given a rod to measure for the same purpose. [Remember these are not the same Temples.] In both cases, the action depicts the defining of the true spiritual Temple given the impending destruction of the physical structure in Jerusalem (by the Babylonians in Ezekiel’s day and the Romans in Yochanan’s).

Futurist Approach:

Most Futurists believe that this Temple of God is the as yet unbuilt Tribulation Temple.  The measuring is a symbol of preservation and protection, conveying the idea that God will preserve and save the faithful remnant of the Jewish people.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists have an interesting twist on the Temple of God.  The Greek word for Temple here is naos, which most expositors apply to the Holy of Holies. It is significant that a reference is made to those worshipping there since only the Jewish High Priest was entitled to enter the Holy of Holies.  Symbolically, this must reference to the true Temple of God (the church) is measured for preservation.  They view the forty-two months means a limited time rather than literal time.

In my next post, we will explore Revelation 11:3-6 dealing with The Two Witnesses.

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[1] “A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation” by Don Jones.

[2] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

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