Saturday, September 10, 2016, 5:55 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “More Precious Than Silver.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 11:1-13 (ESV).
Measure the Temple (v. 1)
Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, …
The temple of God, at this point in time, was no longer a physical building built with human hands. God does not dwell in buildings. He dwells in human hearts and lives. Jesus Christ is the temple of God, and, as his body, we are also God’s temple in which God dwells in the person of the Holy Spirit. The altar, as well, is not a physical place where we kneel or where we offer physical sacrifices to God, but it is a spiritual place within our hearts where we meet God in prayer, in worship, and in the study of his Word. It is the place where we bring our requests before him, and we offer up sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving for all he has done for us. It is also the place where we sit at his feet and where we listen to him speak his words to our hearts, and where we offer ourselves to him as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him. Collectively we, the body of Christ, comprise the church, the temple of God.
So, what would it mean to “measure” this temple? And, with what is it measured? To measure something means more than just using a ruler to determine length, width and height or depth of an object. To measure something also means to examine, evaluate, appraise and/or to judge using a particular standard of measurement. As well, the instrument of measurement is not an actual measuring rod used for measuring feet and inches (or the like), but it has to do with authority and with a standard against which something is examined and evaluated (appraised). In this case, the authority and the standard of measurement is God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, his divine character and will, and his Holy Word, the Bible. So, John is actually being asked to evaluate and appraise the church, the body of Christ, God’s temple, using the measurement of God’s divine character and will for us, as well as using the Word of God, the Bible, i.e. the Holy Scriptures.
This brings to mind Revelation 2-3 where Jesus Christ wrote letters to seven churches in Asia, but which are for the church of all time, in all places, as is applicable to each individual congregation and/or location or individual today. In these letters the Lord Jesus used his standard of measurement to examine and assess the spiritual condition of these seven churches. Then he shared with them both the good they were doing, and the bad of which they needed to repent, where applicable. If they did not repent, then God would bring upon them some type of divine judgment, correction and/or discipline. If they did repent, then the blessings of God would be upon them.
If the Lord Jesus was to write letters to our churches today, what do you think he would see in them that was pleasing to him? Or displeasing to him? Remember, the measurement for his examination is his divine character and will, and the Word of God – the Holy Scriptures (the Bible). For one, I believe he would chastise the church here in America which has partnered with an evil government and has brought that government into the church as head over the church in place of God. I believe he would also rebuke the American church, though not all individuals or individual congregations, for their worldliness and for how they have brought worldliness into the church and thus have diluted the full gospel message of salvation in order to win the world to their organizations (of men). I believe he would reprove them for following a gospel according to men instead of following the gospel according to Jesus Christ and his NT apostles. And, he would scold them for their lukewarmness, their spiritual adultery, their desertion of their first love, and for putting up with false teachers who tickle itching ears and who give out “feel good” messages.
The Nations (v. 2)
“…but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months.
Now, John was given the task only to measure the temple, i.e. where the Spirit of God was present, i.e. this examination was for the church, God’s people only. The outer court is given over to the nations, i.e. this represents the world, i.e. the unsaved. They will trample the “holy city.” So, what is the “holy city” presently? In Galatians 4:25-26 we read this:
Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.
The physical city of Jerusalem is no longer the holy city. We, the body of Christ, are the holy city, a spiritual (holy) nation. 1 Peter 2:9 says this:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
We who are believers in Jesus Christ are true Israel. We are the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of God, God’s holy nation. The nations, i.e. the unsaved world, including within the institutional church, and including within the physical nation of Israel, will trample on us, and are trampling on us. Persecution of true followers of Jesus Christ is on the rise throughout the world, and now in America, too. It won’t be long before America begins to experience the kind of persecution Christians throughout the world have suffered for many generations, I believe. We are already being tagged as intolerant bigots, as hatemongers, and as religious extremists who must be silenced or reeducated in how to be more tolerant of people of all walks of life, i.e. in how to accept sin as normal, and in how to be united with the people of the world as one, i.e. in how to bring us all into a one-world religion.
The Two Witnesses (vv. 3-6)
“And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”
These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire.
There is a lot of speculation on who these two witnesses are. I tend to favor the idea that they represent the Old and New Testaments and those who are sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with the people of this world, who are confronting sin in sinful humans, and who are calling people to repentance. They are also those who are giving messages of hope and healing to the repentant, i.e. to those who put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
The Beast (vv. 7-13)
And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth. But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them. And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
We read in Revelation 13 that the beast will make war against the saints of God and will conquer them militarily. I believe we are already seeing this kind of thing taking place throughout the world. So, the saints of God are encouraged to patiently endure such persecution as this, and to remain faithful in their walks of faith, despite all opposition.
Jesus said that his followers would be hated and persecuted. He said that, just as they treated him, so would we be treated. So, we should anticipate that, if we truly follow Jesus Christ with our lives, and if we serve as his witnesses to the people of the world, and we share the truth of the full gospel message of salvation with the lost, that there will be those who will not like us. We should also anticipate being hated, rejected, ostracized, ridiculed, falsely accused, arrested on trumped up charges, and killed for our faith and for our testimonies for Jesus Christ. And, yes, I anticipate that upon our deaths that there will be those who will throw a party, because we are no longer confronting people with sin and calling people to repentance and to faith in Jesus Christ, so we will no longer be here to be an offense to those who are perishing in their sins.
We can be encouraged, though, knowing that Satan and his hordes, although they may persecute and even kill us, can’t take away our faith or our testimonies for Jesus Christ. They also have no power to destroy the eternal Word of God or to remove Christ’s followers from their relationship with Jesus Christ. We who are in Christ Jesus by faith will one day be resurrected to glorified bodies and we will reign with Christ on the earth. The Word of God might be stomped on and may be silenced for a short period of time, but it will rise victorious over all attempts to squash or to silence it, as Jesus, the Living Word, was resurrected from the dead. One day the enemy of our souls will be destroyed instead. So, we never need to fear the enemy and what he does, for God’s will and purposes will always prevail. In the strength and power of the Spirit of God within us, we will be victorious!
More Precious Than Silver / Lynn DeShazo
Lord, You are more precious than silver.
Lord, You are more costly than gold.
Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds,
And nothing I desire compares to You.