1 I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers. 2 But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. 3 And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 They are “the two olive trees” and the two lampstands, and “they stand before the Lord of the earth.” ~ Revelation 11:1-4
The book of the Revelation is designed to reveal the Lord Jesus Christ to its reader. It focuses on His second coming, His return to earth in glory, with a twofold purpose: to judge the wicked, and to rescue those who have the righteousness of God applied to them. The book tells about the events leading up to His return and the events following His return. The Tribulation leads up to His millennial kingdom.
As we have already pointed out, Revelation 11 is part of an interlude or an intermission between the sounding of the sixth and seventh trumpets. The Apostle John is given a new assignment at this point. At the close of Revelation 10, the Apostle John was given a little scroll of prophecy to eat which he ate, symbolizing personal involvement with God's plan of restoration in the last days. From this point on in Revelation John is no longer a mere observer; now his involvement is unquestioned.
In v.1 we read, "I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers."
This measuring rod was used in ancient times for measuring. The word is kalamos. It refers to a reed that grew in the Jordan Valley, it’s the name of a reed. And they grew down in the lowlands of the Jordan Valley, and they grew to be somewhere between ten and fifteen feet high. They were a hallow stalk, like a bamboo stalk; and because they were so very light they were cut down and cut into proper lengths, and used as measuring instruments like a yardstick.
There are two things that occur in the Bible with regard to God in measuring out things: one is judgment, and the other is ownership. God in Old Testament history has at times measured out something for destruction. This is a way of saying, “I’m confining My destruction to this particular area, or this particular city, or this particular location, or this particular people."
So, this act of measuring the temple is clearly, showing God's judgment and ownership. He is claiming the measured object as His to use, either for blessing or for judgment. That is the way we use measurement today. If we have a dispute with our neighbor over a property line, we hire a surveyor who measures the property and establishes the boundaries. So, here God has given the prophet a measuring rod with which he measures the temple and the altar, and even the worshipers who come there. But, John is told to exclude the outer court of the temple.
This appears then to be an act of defining the parameters of God’s property. In fact, God is measuring out the people of the temple, the people who worship in it, the people to whom it belongs, namely Israel. God is measuring off for Israel an earthly temple. Previously in the book we have seen a temple opened in heaven. It is clear from the mention of "the holy city" in v.2 that this is a temple in Jerusalem. Currently, there is no temple in Jerusalem. There has not been a temple there since the Romans destroyed it in 70 A.D. Obviously, a coming earthly Temple will be built by the Jews in Jerusalem. This will probably happen very quickly at the beginning of the Tribulation.
In v.2 we read, "But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months."
John is told to exclude the outer court because it has been given to the Gentiles for 42 months. This means there will be some non-Jewish control allowed of part of the temple mount for 42 months which is 3-1/2 years which is obviously one-half of the last seven years of the prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27. Of course, 3-1/2 years leaves two periods possible. This is probably referring to the first half of the Tribulation, for that would allow for the construction of a restored Jewish temple on the top of Mount Moriah.
God instructs John to measure out the temple, because He has plans for it, and those plans have to do with God’s purpose in the redemption of Israel. All of this is to say that the promises God made in the Old Testament to Israel will come to pass; there will be a future temple, not just a millennial temple, but even a tribulation temple in which God will accomplish His purposes.
This clearly underlines the fact that the church is not present on earth during the seventieth-seven, because this doesn’t feel like the church age anymore. In Colossians 3:11, and in Ephesians 2:14-16 we are told that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile. But here, all of a sudden, there is definitely Jew and Gentile, as God says, “Measure out the Jew as My people, but not those Gentiles.” And the middle wall of partition which was torn down by the Lord Jesus is back up again. And that’s another of the reasons why I believe the church has been removed in the Rapture.
In v.3-4 we read, "3 And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 They are “the two olive trees” and the two lampstands, and “they stand before the Lord of the earth."
Introduced into the coming unfolding events will be two witnesses. This is so characteristic of God. These witnesses come warning the people, telling them of the imminent impending blowing of the seventh trumpet. In fact, they start at the midpoint in the tribulation, warning the people during the seal and trumpet judgments that take place in the second half of the tribulation, the time known as the Great Tribulation.
These two witnesses will preach the gospel, calling people to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And they keep doing that right up until the end. This tells us that people will have many opportunities to hear and to respond to the gospel until the end.
God instructs John to measure out the temple, because He has plans for it, and those plans have to do with God’s purpose in the redemption of Israel and the fulfillment of His promises to them. All of this is to say that Israel was not permanently set aside, but the promises God made in the Old Testament are going to come to pass.
This is what the Lord Jesus told us in Matthew 24:14, “The gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
In the end, the grace of God will triumph for those who have willing hearts. To triumph in Christ means that only in Christ are we able to overcome the power of Satan and sin. By His death on the cross, Christ triumphed over sin. By His death on the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ disarmed the power of the devil. We triumph the same way we received forgiveness of sins, by faith. Victory is fixing our eyes by faith on the Lord Jesus Christ who has triumphed on the cross. God has immersed us in Christ’s victory! This is the truth that sets us free!