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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

August 13, 2014

Revelations 11:1-2

  1. One must have a good understanding of not only the Bible, but how our current Bible is arranged and a good knowledge of history. What we have tried to show in this study is that many of the teachings about the book of Revelations are formed not by good bible study, but by traditions and false teachings. Our goal is to help the bible student equip themselves with some good tools to study this book. We have said before that this book of Revelations shares with us from the very beginning that it is a book of symbols of things that took place back then and things that would later come (1:19). 2000 years later many of the things that were in the future for the original hearers are in the past for us reading it now. The writer was ministering to a persecuted people encouraged through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We must put on the perspective of a first century believer as we read these words. We must also not forget that Jesus predicted a judgment to come on Israel soon after his death in 33AD (Luke 21:20-23, Matthew 24:2). To a major degree, this book speaks to the destruction of Jerusalem and events in the future as well.

  2. Recapping from a few weeks ago. Revelation 10 revealed that when the seventh trumpet sounded the things spoken by the prophets would be fulfilled (v.7). The book of Revelation has shown us partial judgments occurring against a nation for its sins. Chapter 9 revealed the Roman Empire being unleashed by Satan to be the instrument of this destruction (chap 9:7-11, 17). Chapter 10 showed us the angel who took an oath about this disaster saying there would be no more delay. In Daniel 12:7 the angel said that there would be “a time, times, and half a time” before the shattering of the power of the holy people would be complete. Revelation 10 told us that this shattering would be fulfilled when the seventh trumpet sounded which would mean that Daniel 12:7 was not too far in the future from the time of the original writing of this book.

  3. Chapter 11 verse 1. John is instructed to measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. John is given a measuring rod to do this measuring. The image of measuring is used in a number of places in the scriptures. In this verse the writer uses that imagery with regards to doing a new things see (Zechariah 2:1–5 and Revelations 21:15-17). In Ezekiel 40:3 the prophet Ezekiel sees a vision of a person with a measuring reed in his hand. He is measuring the new temple of God and Ezekiel is to prophesy about the coming glory of the new temple. The temple in the New Testament represents the true, holy people of God. In Revelation 3:12 we read that those who conquer will be made “a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it.” Paul also repeatedly taught that the people of God are God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16, 2 Corinthians 6:16). This is one of the great interpretative failures of those who take a futurist method of interpretations to the book of Revelation. They see the images of the temple in Ezekiel 40-48 and Revelation 11 and declare that a physical temple will have to be rebuilt one day to fulfill these prophecies. They fail to see that what Ezekiel prophesied had found its fulfillment through Christ and being joined to him. (1st Peter 2:4-8, Ephesians 2:19–21) Christ is the cornerstone of this temple. The apostles and prophets are the foundation of the temple. We are being built into the holy temple of the Lord. We should not think that only a small group of Christians see this temple as a spiritual temple to the Lord. Therefore, we read about the temple of God in Revelation 11:1 we are reading about the true people of God. They are measured for protection from spiritual harm. As we have already seen in the book and will see again later in this chapter, the measuring cannot mean that they will not be killed. The seals have revealed that the servants of God would be killed but their salvation is secure even if they die. The measuring of the worshipers is a guarantee that they are members in the heavenly spiritual temple no matter what happens to them on the earth (see Revelations 21:15-17). This was good news to the hearers, judgment is coming, but God has prepared an eternal home for his saints who will suffer.

  4. Verse 2. Notice that John is instructed not to measure the court outside the temple. The reason is that the court outside the temple has been given over to the nations and the nations will trample the holy city for 42 months. If the temple of God is a reference to the servants of God, God’s holy people, then the holy city cannot be spiritualized to also mean the holy people of God. The holy city must be a reference to the physical city of Jerusalem. To be more accurate, the holy city represents the physical nation of Israel. The nation of Israel is coming under God’s judgment, but the true people of God (the temple) are spiritually preserved. This interpretation fits what we have seen in Revelation 9-10. In chapter 9 we saw the locusts, which the scriptures use to represent a world power/nation destroying another nation, being unleashed against a nation. The world power at the time of the writing of the book of Revelation is the Roman Empire. Chapter 10 showed that the angel promised that the power of the holy people would be shattered, referring to the Jewish nation (Daniel 12:1, 7). Revelation 10:6-7 shows the angel saying that there would no longer be any delay for this national judgment. Chapter 11 clearly reveals that the city of Jerusalem, symbolizing the nation of Israel is destined for national judgment. Revelation 6:12-17 predicted lights out for the nation. Now we know the nation is the Jewish nation. The Jewish nation will be given over to the Roman Empire for judgment. The writers of the scriptures also made this distinction between the true people of God and the physical nation of Israel. Paul made this distinction in Galatians 4:21-31. Hagar represents Mount Sinai and physical Jerusalem (Galatians 4:24-25). Sarah represents the Jerusalem from above who are the children of promise (Galatians 4:26, 28). Paul distinguishes the physical nation from the spiritual people of God (see Romans 9:6). The writer of Hebrews makes the same distinction. In Hebrews 12:18-29 the writer contrasts Mount Sinai with Mount Zion. Zion represents the new covenant and heavenly Jerusalem. Mount Sinai represents the old covenant and the physical nation. According to Luke 21:20 we notice that Jesus spoke of the same event, the destruction of Jerusalem and the judgment of the physical nation of Israel, in the same terms that is revealed to the apostle John in Revelation 11:2. We must be reading about the same event in Revelation 11:2.

    1. The trampling of the holy city is going to take place for 42 months. It is certainly fascinating that the time of the invasion of the Roman Empire against Judea was approximately three and a half years (70 AD-73 AD with the Jewish fortress of Masada being destroyed in 73 AD). But we cannot begin to take some numbers literally and some figuratively simply because we want one number to be literal and another to be figurative. We must keep with our interpretation model given to us in the first three verses in chapter 1. The book was put into symbols and we must take the numbers as symbolic unless something in the text demands otherwise. Forty-two months, 1260 days, and a time, times, and half a time all represent a limited period of time that will be full of tribulation, distress, and persecution. For example, there are seven actual churches in Asia because each city is named. All other numbers has been symbolic. The same is true concerning the 42 months. This is especially the case because the same time marker is used repeatedly in scriptures to describe different events. We read in Daniel 12 about “a time, times, and half a time” where a time equals one year. Therefore, “a time, times, and half a time” represents three and a half years. We read in Revelation 11:2 about a 42 month time frame. Revelation 11:3 speaks of 1260 days which is also 42 months. Three and a half is half of seven, and seven represents perfection. Notice that when three and half years, 42 months, or 1260 days is declared, it is referring to a time of distress, tribulation, persecution, or destruction. Notice in Daniel 12:7 that the time, times, and half a time refers to the time of the shattering of the power of the holy people. In Revelation 11:2 the trampling of the holy city is 42 months. In Revelation 13:5 we read about the beast exercising authority for 42 months. In a limited period of time, the physical temple will be destroyed, and no longer would people of faith look to a physical place, but to a spiritual place. For the old must be removed for the new. See Hebrews 8 and 9.

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