Lesson 18 - The Measurement of the Temple and the Worshippers

Lesson 18 - The Measurement of the Temple and the Worshippers

(Revelation 11:1-14)

This passage is also parenthetical, as John paused to relate another event.  In Revelation chapter 10, John was recommissioned as a prophet in order to finish the recording of God’s judgments.  It is interesting to note that at this time, John is taking part in the action. 

John was given a measuring rod and told to measure the sanctuary of the Temple, the altar and its worshippers.  The measuring rod is a common measuring tool throughout the Bible.  It was a hollow reed that resembled a staff that a shepherd would carry. (Ezekiel 42:16-19)  The court outside the sanctuary was not to be measured because it and Jerusalem (the Holy City) will be trampled by the Gentile nations for 3 1/2 years.  (Isaiah 63:18; Zechariah 12:3)

It may be that the measuring that John was to do was not a physical, but a spiritual measurement.  Measuring is used in this sense in Matthew 7:2.  The fact that John was given a rod with which to measure could simply be symbolic of what God had asked him to do.  Remember that temple worship will be reinstated during this dispensation.  The Temple will be inhabited by and desecrated by the false messiah (the Anti-Christ) during this period, and it will be a place where people will worship this false messiah.  (Daniel 9:27, 12:11; II Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:14-15)

Since no actual measurements were given, it seems that God was asking John to evaluate the activities at the Temple in preparation for the Two Witnesses.  These two witnesses are sent by God to spread the Gospel during the final 3 ½ years of the Tribulation.  The ones who were worshipping there will most likely be unbelieving Jews who have been deceived by the Anti-Christ into worshipping him.  It is still God’s desire that all people of the earth come to know Jesus Christ as Savior.

Two witnesses were required under the Mosaic Law as competent legal testimony in order to convict a person. (Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15; Numbers 35:30; Hebrews 10:28)  Two witnesses were required to confirm a point of discipline, to verify truth or to validate a judgment. (Matthew 18:16; John 8:17; II Corinthians 13:1; I Timothy 5:19)    

The Two Witnesses are commonly identified as Moses and Elijah, but Revelation doesn’t name them as such.  These witnesses will have tremendous power to protect themselves, to stop the rain, turn “the waters” (rivers and seas) into blood and to smite the earth with plagues.

The “sackcloth” (and often ashes sprinkled on them) was a sign of mourning in the ancient world.  Symbolically, these prophets are clothed with “sackcloth” as a sign that they are bringing a message of judgment upon God’s people, which will be a mournful event. (II Kings 1:10; Jeremiah 5:14; Exodus 7:17-19; I Kings 17:1; Isaiah 22:12; Jeremiah 4:8, 6:26)

When these two witnesses finish their ministry of spreading the Gospel, the Beast, who had come up from the abyss, kills them.  Their bodies will be on display for all to mock and ridicule for 3 ½ days.  The unbelievers in Jerusalem will be so jubilant that they will give one another presents.  At the end of these 3 ½ days the Two Witnesses come back to life and are ushered into Heaven by God, as their enemies watch this happen.

At the hour these witnesses were being taken to Heaven, a tremendous earthquake erupted and one tenth of Jerusalem was destroyed and 7,000 people were killed.  Those who remained were struck with terror and then began to glorify God.  This could be a case where these people actually believe in the Messiah, Jesus Christ as a result of the testimony of the two witnesses, seeing them taken to Heaven, the city partly destroyed and seven thousand people killed. 

Revelation 11:14, closes the parenthesis with the announcement that the second woe has passed and the third is about to take place, very soon.  John was asked to evaluate the activities at the Temple, but God has commanded us to continually evaluate ourselves.

Never before in the history of the world has the believer in Christ had the privilege and the opportunity that is afforded him today.  The Church Age in which we live is an unparalleled dispensation with numerous advantages for the believer.  The privileges and opportunities that we have been given are not only unique, they are “above and beyond all that we could ever think or imagine.”  (Ephesians 3:13-21)

Jesus Christ has secured forever the strategic victory (the skillful planning and management in getting the better of the adversary) over Satan.  At salvation this victory places the believer in a place of maximum strength with the potential to win the tactical victory (the procedure for gaining advantage or success over the adversary) over Satan, the World (Cosmic) System and the sin nature.  Our union with Christ (Positional Sanctification) guarantees the opportunity to overcome the obstacles that are placed before us (or that we place before ourselves) in order to execute the Christian Way of Life and glorify God while we are on earth.

Many privileges are given to the believer at the moment of salvation and many are given after salvation.  However, opportunities must be seized by personal volition.  As a believer, you are the most privileged person on the face of the earth, but at the same time you may be missing the opportunities for fantastic blessing by not executing God’s plan, purpose and will for your life.  Tactical victory comes over a period of time as the believer makes thousands of right decisions regarding God, himself, others and circumstances.  Winning the tactical victory is done by the believer who is being empowered by God the Holy Spirit as he organizes his life around right priorities:  Jesus Christ must be the most important Person in your life, learning and applying accurate Bible doctrine must be placed above personal pleasure or your career, and virtue (a strict adherence to the truth) must drive every decision you make in life. (Ephesians 4:14-15)

Privilege in life is always accompanied by responsibility.  This is also true with the Royal Family of God.  Our first responsibility, of course, is to God as Royal Priests, and our second responsibility is to others as Royal Ambassadors.  Christ’s strategic victory secured only potential for the tactical victory.  As believers, we all have equal privilege and equal opportunity to execute the Christian Way of Life.  Some believers will choose to do so and some will not.  Those who fail in their responsibility to God will experience a life of misery and unhappiness.  Those who choose to embrace and fulfill their responsibility to God will experience a life of peace and happiness.

There are two types of believers: winners and losers.  Winners are the believers who win the strategic and the tactical victory.  Losers are the believers who win only the strategic victory.  Winning the strategic victory is done by a single decision to believe in Christ as Savior.  Winning the strategic and tactical victories is done by a single act of faith in Christ and many additional decisions thereafter to obey God’s Word and execute the Christian Way of Life. (John 3:36; Ephesians 5:15-18) 

The loser-believer makes a single decision to trust Christ as Savior and this brings God glory.  This person will also glorify God for all eternity.  Even though the loser-believer has won the strategic victory and possesses the righteousness of God, he will suffer divine discipline and self-induced misery because of his failure to win the tactical victory.  He lives in Satan’s “cosmic system” and constantly makes wrong decisions from a position of weakness.  The loser-believer makes self number one priority in his or her life.

The winner-believer, after trusting Christ as Savior, makes many right decisions that glorify Christ.  Therefore, he glorifies God both in time and in eternity.  The winner-believer has won the strategic victory and possesses the righteousness of God and is advancing to spiritual maturity where he will win the tactical victory.  The winner-believer does suffer, but it is for divine blessing and he shares the happiness of God.  He lives in God’s “power system” and constantly makes right decisions from a position of strength.  The winner-believer makes God number one priority in his or her life.

Being a winner or loser believer is determined by personal volition.  You make the choice to be a winner or a loser.  God does not force anyone to trust Christ as Savior, or to obey His mandates after salvation.  God is not a “puppet-master” manipulating the believer’s every thought and action and He is not a “magician” with a magic wand to wave in order to fix your problems.  However, God has designed the Christian Way of Life in a way in which all believers can become winners.  By following God’s predesigned plan for you as outlined in His Word, any believer can be a success.  It begins with making the right decision, as a believer, to learn, believe and apply Bible doctrine.  If you’re waiting for God to make you do something or to make you think a certain way, you’re waiting in vain.  God is ACTUALLY waiting on you to grow up spiritually and take control of your own spiritual life.  Of course, this can be done only through the power of God the Holy Spirit.

God is no “respecter of persons.”  His justice shows no partiality.  Any believer will succeed if he follows God’s system.  The only equality in life is found in God’s system. Any believer can succeed, regardless of social background, current social status, I.Q., education, gender or race.  For those believers who desire to advance beyond salvation and logistical grace there is the opportunity to receive an “abundance of grace.”  There has always been a “remnant according to grace.”  A remnant is a small portion of the whole and so it is with those who are serious about spiritual growth. (Romans 11:1-6)

For those positive believers who desire to know truth, God has guaranteed that they will receive accurate doctrinal information. (John 7:17)  It is this accurate doctrinal truth that can catapult the believer from childhood to adulthood in a relative short period of time, if a lifestyle of consistent and persistent study and application of God’s Word is followed.  This spiritual advance increases the believer’s capacity to receive more of God’s grace blessings (abundance of grace).