Thursday, 4 February 2021
Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, “Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. Revelation 11:1
As Revelation is 22 chapters long, we are approaching the halfway point of the book. Chapter 11 begins another interlude between the sixth and seventh sounding of the trumpets, and the words of this opening verse trace a thought back to what is said in Daniel 9:27 –
“Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
But in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
Even until the consummation, which is determined,
Is poured out on the desolate.”
Without going through all the details, determining who the pronoun “he” is will define what one believes about the entire eschatological scenario of the Bible. If one incorrectly assumes it is Jesus, then what is being looked at now in Revelation will mean something entirely different to that person than to someone who rightly deduces that the “he” is referring to the antichrist.
The study is too long to include in a single line of Revelation commentary, but the details conveyed to Daniel refer to a seven-year period that is still future to us now. The details speak of Israel’s time under the law, granted to them by the Lord in order for them to finally come into a right relationship with Him through the New Covenant.
In this coming time, a temple will be built. Israel will conduct temple rituals as prescribed by the law. In the middle of that “week,” or seven-year period, the antichrist will end those sacrifices and offerings. Paul refers to how this will come about in 2 Thessalonians 2 –
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4
The temple rites will be ended when the antichrist (called by Paul “the man of sin”) proclaims himself God in the temple of God. It is an event future to us now, and the identity of this antichrist will be unknown to believers who will be taken at the rapture. Paul’s words concerning the rapture, and the timing of these end times events, reveal this to be the case.
Understanding these things, John begins Chapter 11 with the words, “Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod.” In Chapter 9, the war was waged by a real air force and army that John described using terms he understood. It was something future to our time.
What John is seeing is something also future to us now. He is being given a reed that is intended to be used as a measuring rod. The measuring of something in the Bible is normally used to indicate either destruction of something, preservation of something, or a mixture of both. In the time of King David, in 2 Samuel 8, we read this –
“After this it came to pass that David attacked the Philistines and subdued them. And David took Metheg Ammah from the hand of the Philistines.
2 Then he defeated Moab. Forcing them down to the ground, he measured them off with a line. With two lines he measured off those to be put to death, and with one full line those to be kept alive. So the Moabites became David’s servants, and brought tribute.” 2 Samuel 8:1, 2
The measuring rod was used in a prophecy in Ezekiel concerning the layout of a temple different than the temple Ezekiel knew during his time as a priest. That is seen in Ezekiel 40 –
“In the visions of God He took me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain; on it toward the south was something like the structure of a city. 3 He took me there, and behold, there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze. He had a line of flax and a measuring rod in his hand, and he stood in the gateway.” Ezekiel 40:2, 3
The line of flax was used for longer measurements; the rod is for shorter ones. John is being given a rod for shorter measurements. After that, John says, “And the angel stood.” These words are not found in many manuscripts and are considered spurious by some scholars. Assuming they are meant to be here, it is probably then an allusion to Zechariah 3:5 –
“So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the Lord stood by.”
If this is so, then the angel now being referred to by John is the Lord Jesus, just as it was in Chapter 10. Either way, John next says that this angel stood, “saying, ‘Rise and measure the temple of God.’” Scholars of the past assumed that this must be a symbolic measuring. This is because the dimensions of the actual temple were surely known, even if it had been destroyed by the time of John’s writing out the book of Revelation.
In other words, they could not conceive of a future temple being built. Christ had come and fulfilled all of the symbolism of the temple and annulled the law in the giving of the New Covenant. But the thinking is in error. The Jews rejected Jesus and did not come under the New Covenant. Further, Daniel’s timeline clearly indicates that the temple of the seventieth week must be a future temple, as confirmed by Paul’s words of 2 Thessalonians. It is a literal temple that John is measuring, along with “the altar.”
This would not be referring to the altar of incense which is within the walls of the temple. This is the altar of sacrifice located in the outer courtyard. It is the altar that Daniel implicitly refers to in Daniel 9:27 above when he said, “He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.”
In order to have “sacrifice and offering,” there must be an altar for those things. John is directed to measure those things “and those who worship there.” One does not measure “spiritual representations of worshippers.” Rather, these are literal worshippers that are given an area of the courtyard to worship in, as was the case in past times, such as –
“So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense.” Luke 1:8-10
This is what John is being asked to measure. It is a real temple. It is future to us today. It will have an altar of sacrifice and an area for worshippers to come to. It will be on the temple mount, and it will be built based on a peace agreement that will be made between parties as brokered by the antichrist. As it says in Daniel 9 (above), “Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week.”
Life application: What is certain is that the temple John is asked to measure is not the temple that was destroyed in AD70. It is a temple that is yet future to our time. Amazingly, the implements for this temple are already made and are on display in Jerusalem. Its cornerstone has been anointed, and it is safely kept in Jerusalem, too. The time for God’s plan to be completed is coming, and we are participants and spectators in the great unfolding drama.
As the antichrist is the one who will broker the deal that will allow for this temple to be built, and as Paul says that we will not know who the antichrist will be, it is an implicit note to us that we are not to bother speculating on who he is. Rather, believers in the church today are to fix our eyes elsewhere. We are to fix our eyes on JESUS!
Lord, looking at the world today we can see that the end of the ages is not far off. Israel, the people, have been returned to their ancient homeland. The implements for temple worship have been made and are awaiting the temple’s construction. And all of the associated tragedy with that happening is not far off. All because they missed their Messiah when He came. May many turn their hearts and minds to Him now before the terrible days of woe come. Amen.