Revealing Revelation – The Temple

05Feb11

Rev. 11:1-2 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, [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.

There is quite a bit of information crammed into these two short verses. John is given a measuring rod and told to measure the Temple. We also learn of the city and Temple’s destruction, especially when compared to the Olivet Discourse and Jesus’ pronouncement of not one stone being left upon another. There is a severity in the term “trample” that should not be missed.

But first let us consider the common Dispensational expectation of this passage. This, the Dispensationalist argues, proves that there will be a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. This is argued despite the fact that no where is Scripture is a case made that there will be a rebuilt Temple. The only mention of a Temple being rebuilt is in Daniel and that was fulfilled during the time of Ezra under the proclamation of King Cyrus of Persia. No other mention of a rebuilt Temple can be found. In fact, Jesus’ declaration is one of complete desolation!

On other major problem with the rebuilt Temple ideology is that it is clear both here and in Jesus’ discourse that the Temple is going to be destroyed during the Tribulation. This is a problem for Dispensationalist since they also believe there will be Temple standing during Jesus Millennial reign on earth. This means there must be a fourth Temple. And actually, since the Temple in existence during Jesus’ day was the Herodian temple, rebuilt under King Herod and not the Temple built after the return exile, that would make the Millennial Temple the fifth Temple!

But since the Bible does not ever mention a third, fourth or fifth Temple, we must limit our speculation to what the Scriptures provide. So, rather than looking at the Temple in John’s vision as a future, rebuilt Temple, it is best to see it for what it was; the actual Temple Jesus referred to that was around at the time John saw the vision and wrote the Revelation!

The measuring of the Temple is patterned, like so much of the book of Revelation, after the book of Ezekiel. In Ezekiel we are shown an angel of the Lord measuring the Temple representing the future for Jerusalem and God’s Holy people after a return from exile. Conversely, John measure’s the temple to determine it’s soon coming destruction and it’s being “trampled” for 42 months.

One interesting linguistic note is that the term “leave out” actually is closer to the term “throw out.” We find a similar usage when we are told to excommunicate and avoid the sinner in our midst. The same term is used to describe how the Jews “threw out” those who proclaimed the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So, here we have an image of God’s preserving work regarding those who are covenantally faithful to Him while “throwing out” those who are not, leaving them to be trampled underfoot for 42 months.

What John does, though, is give us a beautiful, symbolic picture of God’s preserving work, for only the outer courts of the Temple are seen as being trampled, while the Temple Proper (Holy Place and Holy of Holies) is preserved. This would be God’s remnant preserved through the soon coming wrath and destruction. The physical Temple faced the wrath of God and His judgment, but His true Temple – the Church – survived and thrived amidst the persecution and tribulation.

There is no longer a need for a physical Temple and Holy of Holies, for now, with a new and better mediator (Hebrews) the man of God can enter into the real, spiritual Holy of Holies. This is truly one of the great mysteries of the Gospel: The physical represented the reality, while the spiritual is the reality. That which can be touched is the shadow and that which cannot be seen is the reality!

God here, in this interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpets, is once again showing His protection of His people. He has measured them out and has determined to protect them through the 3 1/2 year time of judgment set against apostate Israel and the physical representation of the old and obsolete Covenant, the Temple.

The last important note involves the introduction of the time span of 3 1/2 years. We will also see an identical time span described as 42 months and 1,260 days. There are five listings of these identical time spans in the book of Revelation. Oddly enough, there is no mention of the ever popular “seven” year tribulation. Given the five timing passages we have in Revelation should we best assume the tribulation lasts 17 1/2 years?

This gets quite confusing when futurist and Dispensationalist try and piece those five mentions of the 3 1/2 years into the seven year tribulation timeline they have created. Some place the first mention in the second half and the second mention in the first half, while others argue the exact opposite. Perhaps the best way to deal with the timing passages is to take them for what they are and the context with which they are placed.

This also best matches the similar declaration of Jesus in the Olivet Discourse.

Luke 21:20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23 Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

3 1/2 years is also a common Biblical time period of limited wrath or difficult times of trouble.

Dan 7:25 He shall speak words against the Most High,
and shall wear out the saints of the Most High,
and shall think to change the times and the law;
and they shall be given into his hand
for a time, times, and half a time.

James 5:17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.

Though we will later see a persecution of the people of God under the actions of the Beast we see here in this first representation of the 3 1/2 years it is obviously most easily representative of the time leading up to the destruction of the city of Jerusalem. This time also symbolically represents the time under which Jerusalem was under the control of Antiochus Epiphanes. The time of the siege and sack of Jerusalem lasted roughly 42 months.

Though the city was originally under what would be called Marshall Law beginning sometime in 65 AD, it wasn’t until Vespasian received the declaration of war from Nero in February of 67AD that the city was under true siege and trodden under and ruled by the Roman army. This trampling lasted until the fall of Jerusalem and the burning of the city under Titus in August of 70AD, some 42 months later.

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One Response to “Revealing Revelation – The Temple”


  1. 1 Revelation Chapter 11 « Pursuing Truth at 2909 (Minneapolis)

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