Counting and measuring are the brushstrokes of the mathematicians to illustrate and colour the world into a comprehensible picture. I am in awe of the astrophysicists, the astronomers, the geologists, archaeologists and numerous other disciplines that count, name and number our universe. Our sciences are expressed in the results of the measuring rods of our time, becoming more sophisticated as technology develops into smaller and more accurate measuring devices and calculators.
In the garden of Eden it all started as God commanded Adam to name his world. Our earth and universe are constantly being discovered over thousands of years. For all the years and complexity of our sciences, most of the academic world would agree that there remains so much to learn, and so the measuring and calculating are continuing. The passion of a learned man or woman, lying in the dust of some ancient site, paintbrush and dental tools in hand, never ceases to amaze me. The call of our universe from the ruins to the stars is so strong that the brightest minds devote their entire lives to the discovery of a part of the incalculable whole and find fullest satisfaction therein. A wonderful example of this is the passion and talent portrayed in the movie: The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015).
Measuring was common in the prophets of the Old Testament. It is no surprise that we find a command to measure in the first verses of Chapter 11. The measuring rod to measure and seal was for the protection from demonic powers. God knows exactly the extent of His own. Every heart that whispers and flutters towards Him is measured. Nothing slips; none is lost. It is always exact and precise.
A measuring rod was a reed marked in cubits (elbow to tip of middle finger).
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. 4 And the man said to me, “Son of man, look with your eyes and hear with your ears, and fix your mind on everything I show you; for you were brought here so that I might show them to you. Declare to the house of Israel everything you see.” 5 Now there was a wall all around the outside of the temple. In the man’s hand was a measuring rod six cubits long, each being a cubit and a handbreadth; and he measured the width of the wall structure, one rod; and the height, one rod. (Ezekiel 40:3-5)
To Ezekiel comes the command to measure and declare the magnificent Temple of the Lord, which I think was a majestic description of the universal church of Jesus. More probably Zechariah’s description was in John’s mind when he describes the measuring in this part of the vision.
Then I raised my eyes and looked, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand. 2 So I said, “Where are you going?”
And he said to me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length.” (Zechariah 2:1,2)
A few verses further God promises His presence in the midst of what is measured. This is the core quality of the true church.
For I,’ says the Lord, ‘will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’ (Zechariah 2:5)
Amos (7:7-9) also saw the Lord with a plumb line in his hand. Measuring takes place in preparation for building but also for destruction. Here it means preservation and protection. It is the sealing of the servants of God as described in Revelation 7:2-4. The seal is for the Temple, a symbol of the invisible church of Jesus.
The Temple in Jerusalem had 4 courts before the Holy of Holies. A balustrade to the rest of the space where only Jews were allowed divided the Court of the Gentiles. Transgression meant death. The Court of the Women was also restricted. The Court of the Israelite for ordinary Jewish men and then the Court of the Priests, where we found the Altar of the Burnt Offering made of brass and the water bowl for cleansing.
The Temple described here in Revelation, is the church of Jesus – universally. We are the living stones (1 Peter 2:5). Jesus is the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20-21). According to 1 Corinthians 3:16,17 and 2 Corinthians 6:16, we are the Temple.
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
A time, times and half a time is mentioned in Daniel 7:25 and 12:7. It is 42 months, which is 1260 days – a 3,5 year limited period of suffering.
As far as the Jews were concerned, the peak of the manifestation of evil was connected with one terrible episode in their history. This is commemorated in Daniel’s picture of the little horn. The little horn was Antiochus Epiphanes [215BC – 164BC], a Hellenistic Greek king of the Seleucid Empire who reigned over Syria. His name means “God Manifest”. His original name was Mithradates, but he assumed the name Antiochus, after he ascended the throne. He was determined to introduce Greek ways, language and Greek worship into Palestine. He regarded himself as the most important missionary of Greek culture. The Jews resisted. Antiochus Epiphanes invaded Palestine and captured Jerusalem. It was said that eighty thousand Jews were either slaughtered or sold into slavery. To circumcise a child or to possess a copy of the Law was a crime punishable by death. It was a deliberate attempt to wipe out the religion of a whole people. He desecrated the Temple. He erected an altar to Olympian Zeus in the Holy Place and on it sacrificed swine’s flesh. He turned the rooms of the Temple into public brothels. The gallantry of the Jewish commander, Maccabees with his five sons, leads to the first religious war in history. The Maccabean revolt restored the Temple and conquered Antiochus. Antiochus was the incarnation of all evil. The Jews called him “Epimanes,” which means “mad one.” His persecution of the Jews lasted exactly 1260 days (42 months or 3,5 years). The victory of Maccabees is the source of the Jewish feast Hanukkah, which is celebrated around Christmas. When the lamp was lit in the Temple after the victory, there was only oil enough for one day. This little oil lasted eight days, enough to give the priests a chance to restore the oil supply.
The two witnesses have various interpretations. Many scholars are of the opinion that they are the Law and Gospels or the Law and Prophets. Others say they are Moses and Elijah; the two figures on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:4) and associated with many miracles. Fire proceeded from Elijah’s mouth and burnt his enemies (2 Kings 1:9-10). He also commanded that no rain would fall in the time of Ahab. Moses is associated with the miracle of the staff turning into a snake and the plagues of Egypt as described in Exodus.
Jerusalem was a great city, but called by terrible names like Sodom (gross spiritual perversity) and Egypt (opposing God’s plans and purposes) in Isaiah 1:9,10. The symbols of sin present in the city were to make slaves of people. The wickedness of Jerusalem culminated in the crucifixion of Jesus. The name is taken away because there is a New Jerusalem – the church. The church of Jesus is the New Jerusalem
In ancient times it was a terrible thing not to be buried.
Their blood they have shed like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them. (Psalm 79:3)
…your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’” (1 Kings 13:22)
Even worse evil will be that their deaths will be celebrated as a festival. Even in the worst evil, God says today, redemption is available. His witnesses are killed and (their deaths) celebrated, just as the prophets who warned the people of their sins and Jesus were killed, as with all the martyrs over the centuries.
Like Jesus the witnesses are resurrected. Death has no power over truth. The witnesses, like the church, proclaim the truth. A natural disaster, a great earthquake, is the consequence. The earth shook when Jesus died, but still most of the people did not see and realize. Those who gave glory to God, were saved.
Repentance is the way to give glory to God. Here the story of the Cross and resurrection of Jesus is emphasized and confirmed. Life is sacrificed and then given again in resurrection.
Evil is conquered in the process, not by force but by sacrifice and suffering.
The seventh trumpet is a summary of things to come. It seems like the end, but so much more detail is given in following chapters. It is all mentioned in the worship song at the end of the chapter.
Victory of the Anointed One – Psalm 2:2
God’s supreme authority and the Millennium – 11:17.
Attack of hostile powers and their final defeat and judgment -11:18.
In verse 19 we are with John back in the vision as he is describing his experiences. The heavenly Temple is a mirror image of the church on earth. The Ark of the Covenant is a symbol of His presence and covenant relationship to everyone who believes in Jesus.
It is the picture of the full glory of God, defeating His enemies and an uplifting promise to the people of the Covenant.