The Book of Revelation with commentary by Dr. Henry M. Morris and paintings by Ramona Lowe
The paintings are a work in progress and the finished pieces are highlighted in red on Page 2

Page 77

God’s Two Witnesses

(Revelation 11)

     In the eleventh chapter of Revelation we encounter one of the most extraordinary events and one of the most fascinating chapters in the book.  The chapter division is arbitrary, since the scene is a continuation of that in Chapter 10.  The second woe (the plague of demonic horselike creatures) is just finishing its thirteen-month course, and the Lord Jesus Christ, appearing as the angel with the rainbow over his head, is still speaking to John.

The New Temple

     At the time of John’s experience on Patmos, the magnificent temple that had once been the beauty of Jerusalem was merely a twenty-five year old memory.  John, in fact, had been present on the Mount of Olives when Christ had prophesied its destruction, saying: “There shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2).  The prophecy had been fulfilled by the Roman armies in A.D. 70.

     And yet the old prophets had often written of the holy temple as it would be in the last days (Ezekiel 40-48; Amos 9:11; Micah 4:1; Haggai 2:9; and Zechariah 6:12,13).  Somehow the temple must therefore some day be built again.

     Though John could not know this when he wrote, over nineteen centuries would come and go after his death, before the temple would reappear.  The holy city would be “trodden down of the Gentiles,” even seeing a Moslem mosque erected where the temple should be, for year after long year.

     But one day it would be built again, and this is the temple in the Book of Revelation that John was allowed to see.

Revelation 11:1.     And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.

     The angel, as shown before, is Christ, and he is ultimately the one who has allowed the new temple to be constructed.  However, on earth, it will apparently be authorized by a treaty made by the Israeli government with the head of a confederation of European nations.  As noted in Chapter 6 (see page 41), this coming king will make a seven-year covenant with the Jewish leaders (Daniel 9:27), allowing them to rebuild the temple and reinstitute their ancient worship, including the sacrificial offerings.

     Orthodox Jews have long dreamed of this day and have been making plans for decades to rebuild the temple when opportunity allows.  The miraculous defeat of Russia and her Moslem allies (Ezekiel 38) will provide the opportunity and they will make the most of it.  Construction crews will quickly raze the Islamic “Dome of the Rock” which now stands on the temple site and then erect a magnificent new temple edifice as rapidly as possible.  When it is completed and dedicated, the Levitical rituals and offerings will be restored, and many of the faithful orthodox Jews will begin to take part.

     But this will all seem like a strange anachronism to many, not only to the Gentile world at large but no doubt even to many of their Jewish brethren.  That sophisticated modern men and women would actually start offering the blood of bulls and goats on a sacrificial altar once again will be too much for many to take.  Even though the period will have begun with Israel held in worldwide awe because of her miraculous deliverance from the Russian hosts, the old prejudices and resentments will soon surface again.

     It is questionable whether all, or even most, of the Jews will actually practice the ancient worship.  Although even the most atheistic of the Zionist Jews had been profoundly impressed by God’s intervention on their behalf, many will be unwilling to participate in the animal sacrifices that will be instituted by the ultraorthodox.

     There are many who will, however, and it is these to whom the angel directs John’s attention.  By the time the temple is built, and the sacrificial offerings activated, much of the first three-and-a-half-year period of the tribulation will have been completed, and it is at this point that John is sent to the scene.

     He had just been told that he would have to prophesy again of peoples and kings – this time of those who would be prominent in the last half of the tribulation, during the time of the sounding of the last trumpet.  And the first of the nations of whom he must prophesy is Israel.

     The instruction is somewhat cryptic: “Measure the temple, and the altar, and the worshipers.”  The measuring “reed” with which he was to do this (Greek kalamos) was commonly grown in the Jordan valley, and had many uses, one of which was as a measuring rod.  In smaller lengths it was used as a “pen,” and the word is so translated in 3 John 13.  In the Septuagint, it was used to translate the Hebrew kaneh, meaning “rule.”

     There is obviously more to this measuring process than merely determining the size of the temple.  The latter is not given at all.  Furthermore, the worshipers were to be measured as well as the temple.

     But how does one measure a worshiper?  Evidently this type of measurement has to do with spiritual standards rather than physical.  The temple and its altar and its worshipers are to be evaluated in terms of their conformity to God’s spiritual criteria, and John is to be the one who measures (or judges) them.

     This responsibility is evidently given because, as a joint-heir with Christ, John is (along with all the redeemed) to participate in the work of judgment (see the discussion in the preceding chapter).  Just as Israel is the first nation of whom John is to “prophesy again,” so Israel is the first to be judged.  “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17).

     This is always the order.  God judges His own people first to cleanse and purify them.  Then He judges His enemies to punish and banish them.  The judgment seat of Christ, where Christians are purged and prepared for eternal service in the kingdom of God, takes place a thousand years before the judgment of the great white throne, where unbelievers are separated from God forever in the lake of fire.

     The reconstructed temple in Jerusalem is based on a covenant made by Israel with a godless dictator.  The new altar is an insult to the Lamb of God, who had offered one sacrifice for sins forever; and the worshipers in the temple, though professing to honor God, have rejected Christ.  Therefore, all come short, when the measuring rod of God’s standard is applied.

     Israel is, therefore, about to enter the time of her greatest suffering.  God will use the heavy hand of wicked Gentile nations to chastise His people, but the process will purify them.  It will be the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), the “time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation” (Daniel 12:1), the “great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world” (Matthew 24:21).  This final great judgment on Israel is initiated in Revelation 11:13, but most of the rest of the book is devoted to God’s judgments on the Gentiles.  The details of Israel’s judgment had already been outlined in the prophets (Zechariah 14:1) and by Christ Himself (Mark 13:14-20).

Revelation 11:2.     But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.

     Traditionally, Gentiles were allowed to enter the outer courtyard surrounding the temple but never into the temple itself.  This area, therefore, was not to be included in John’s measurement.  That is, it was the judgment of Israel, not that of the Gentiles, with which he was to be concerned at this point.  Jerusalem first, Babylon later, would feel God’s wrath.  Purification of His people first, then punishment of His enemies.

     Gentiles, furthermore, would retake Jerusalem and would still “tread it under foot” for three and a half years.  All the time the sounding of the seventh trumpet continued to echo across the world.  The Jews had finally possessed the temple site and much of the city itself but now the Gentiles would wrest it all back once more.

     This temple, in fact, is the fourth temple built in Jerusalem – the first by Solomon, the second under Zerubabbel, the third by Herod.  Each in turn had been destroyed by invading Gentiles, with the third temple (the one in which John himself had worshiped) having been leveled to the ground by the Roman armies commanded by Titus in A.D. 70.  Ever since that time, the temple and Jerusalem itself had been under Gentile domination.

     Christ had prophesied of the Jews’ long exile in the following words: “And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24).  Israel had finally been reestablished as a nation in 1948 and had regained most of the city of Jerusalem itself in the Six Day War in 1967. However, the temple site, the most vital part of Jerusalem, remained under Moslem control.

     Then, finally, it had seemed that the great prophecy was fulfilled when the Western Prince made a seven-year covenant with the Israeli government allowing them to build their temple and reinstitute their ancient worship.  By the time of Revelation 11, the pact had been in operation for three and a half years, and the Jews no doubt were feeling happy and secure.

     Nevertheless, the city and the temple were theirs only by sufferance of the great Prince who was rapidly gaining control of the world’s nations.  Furthermore, he was becoming increasingly irritated with them; their worship of their Creator (even though they still had not identified Him as Christ) was inimical to the humanistic worship promoted by the dictator, and their bloody sacrifices were an offense.  Furthermore 144,000 of these Israelites had actually accepted Christ and were preaching the gospel everywhere, seemingly immune to all the plagues and persecution that were afflicting the world.

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