Sometimes passages in Revelation make me scratch my head and wonder what John was smoking! Such is the case today. Two verses at the beginning of chapter 11 that do not seem to fit in with the rest of the chapter. However, I believe the Lord will connect these verses for us before the end of our time together today. So, hang onto your hats and let’s dive into Revelation 11.
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, 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.
In this passage John becomes a workman being told to take a measuring rod and measure the temple of God. He is told to measure only the inner portion, the parts known as the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. At this point, we need to attempt to establish the identity of the referenced temple. In the history of the Jewish nation, there have been a few temples. The first place of worship for the Israelites was the wilderness tabernacle. The earliest temple was that begun by Solomon around 958 BC. It was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 586 BC. Zerubbabel built a temple after the Jewish exile. The third temple was the temple of Herod, built around 515 BC and destroyed by Titus in AD 70. There has never been another temple built for the Israelites to use for worship. Is the temple referenced in verse 1 one of these temples? Another option is that a heavenly temple is being referenced. We will see a reference to the heavenly temple later in the chapter.
So, is the temple of Revelation 11:2 any of these, or is it a completely new temple, yet to be built in Jerusalem? I would submit to you that there is yet a temple to be built in Jerusalem in which the Jewish people will, one day, worship and sacrifice.
I believe during the time of the tribulation antichrist will make a covenant with the Jewish people. He will encourage and allow them to build a temple in which they can worship. At the midpoint of that seven years of tribulation, antichrist will break that covenant and set himself up as god in the Jewish temple. Check out Matthew 24:15, 2 Thessalonians 2:4, Daniel 9:27, and Daniel 12:11 for references for future temple worship and sacrifice. We will touch on these later.
If you know anything about Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, you know it is currently occupied by Muslims and is the site of two of the most holy places in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the gleaming Dome of the Rock. Christians and Jews are forbidden to worship on the Temple Mount. The Mount is not a large patch of ground and there is little room to accommodate a Jewish temple of the size and scope that is anticipated for the tribulation temple.
None of this has hindered Jewish people from planning the re-building of the Temple. Even today, devout Jews are diligently working to construct everything necessary to completely equip a future temple. I’ve seen with my own eyes the work they are doing, and people, they are serious about it. They believe that there will be another temple on the Mount in Jerusalem. I believe it too.
I cannot tell you how it will happen, nor can I tell you when, but it is my firm conviction that a temple will be built on the Mount in Jerusalem, and the Jewish people will worship and sacrifice there.
In verse 2 we come to a very important time reference. Forty-two months. We will see this time reference several places in our study, but in different wording. In Daniel 12, this time period was described as ‘a time, times, and half a time’. Elsewhere in Revelation we will find ‘3 ½ years’ and ‘1260 days’ referenced. Every reference like this seems to be part of the time of tribulation that will come upon the world…either the first half or the last half, which is also known as The Great Tribulation. More on that later.
The ‘nations’ is usually a reference to Gentiles, or everyone who is not Jewish. Such is the case here. The temple would be only for those of Jewish descent. The nations’ trampling of the outer court is highly significant, and is the link to why John wrote these two verses and placed them in chapter 11. We will study that next week and visit with two very interesting characters. Until then, keep your eyes on Jesus.
This post contains affiliate links.
My goal with providing these links at the end of my posts is to offer you something to expand your study of the book of Revelation. Dr. David Jeremiah has written a great book on the players that will emerge in the end times. I think you would really enjoy this book. Click the picture below or THIS LINK to learn more.
When I was a tiny child I had horrible tonsils that kept me sick with a sore throat for most of the first five years of my life. At the age of 5 I underwent surgery to remove the offending tonsils and suddenly I could eat. I ate and ate and ate. In fact, I gained no small amount of weight in a short period of time.
At that point, my sweet Mother, whose intentions were pure and good, began her campaign to make certain I did not become ‘fat’. ‘Fat’ became a word that eventually engulfed me like a disease.
“You cannot have that. It will make you fat.”
“Bread…corn…potatoes…dessert… is fattening.”
I adored food, but food soon became the enemy. By the time I was 18 I was in the throes of an eating disorder, and the demons of anorexia quickly took the message that my Mother had spoken to a whole new and devastating level.
Fat = unacceptable = unlovable
Suddenly love had strings attached to it which led me to do things that I should never have done in order to obtain ‘love’ from humans. I brought my strings-attached love into my marriage and that was disastrous on many levels. Thankfully, my marriage survived and I eventually understood that ‘I will love you if….’ is not genuine love.
In Romans 12:9 Paul speaks of the kind of love that should be part of the life of an authentic Christian.
Let love be genuine. (ESV)
Love must be completely sincere. (GNV)
Love must be sincere. (NIV)
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. (NLT)
Obviously Jesus is our model for this kind of love. He loved sincerely, without strings or hypocrisy. He did not pretend to love those with whom He came in contact. He loved them in spite of. He loved them…..
when they were fat.
when they were tall or short.
when they complained.
when they were filthy rich.
when they were dirt poor.
when they were sick.
when they were legalistic.
when they were dirty rotten sinners….like me.
Jesus loved sincerely.
Perhaps you, like me, have a history of love with strings attached. Guess what? Jesus can take that kind of love and turn it into a love in spite of. That is the kind of love Jesus has for you and me. Surely you and I can love other people in the same way.
So, tell me. What kind of love resides in your heart? Be honest now!
NOTE: This post may contain affiliate links.
Here a few links to some great books that go along with my post theme today.
When I was a child my Daddy was the primary disciplinarian. Oh, my Mother would not hesitate to discipline my sister and me, but very often Daddy was the one to whom the task fell. My parents were big believers in corporal punishment, and did not hesitate to pull out the bolo paddle when we needed to be reminded of the straight and narrow. We never got spanked with a belt or a spoon, but rather that esteemed toy of childhood, the bolo paddle. Do you remember it?
It was a thin piece of wood with a rubber-band like attachment that had a small ball placed on the end of it. When used as a toy, the joy in it was to be able to successfully bounce the ball off the wood. When applied as a paddle to the backside of a child, the rubber string and ball were removed and no joy was found in the using of it!
My parents utilized spanking in a very appropriate way. They did not beat us, harm us, or injure us. What they did was enforce the idea of appropriate behavior in a way that got our attention and effected a change.
My Daddy was a very strong man. Because he had contracted polio at the age of 16, he walked with crutches the rest of his life, making his arms and shoulders quite strong. When Daddy spanked you, there was not a doubt in your mind that you had been spanked! A spanking from my Daddy was a major deterrent to future bad behavior.
In our passage today, we will see mankind refusing to change their ways in spite of horrendous judgment being rained down upon them. But, before we get to that refusal, we have quite a bit of material to cover.
Did you download the Revelation 9 drawing? If not, go here to download and print it. We will likely spend 2 weeks, maybe three, in Revelation 9:13-21, so settle in. Let’s go ahead and read the entire passage, then we will dive in to just the first verse.
13 Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God,
14 saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”
15 So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind.
16 The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number.
17 And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths.
18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths.
19 For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound.
20 The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk,
21 nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
Let’s begin by considering what happens immediately following the sounding of the sixth trumpet. John hears a voice, and it is important that we not rush past the location of this voice. It comes from ‘the four horns of the golden altar before God’.
Recall with me that there are two altars in the Old Testament tabernacle. The brazen altar (Exodus 27:1-8, 38:1-7) which was outside the tabernacle proper. This was the altar on which sacrifices were made to atone for sin. The other altar was the golden altar (Exodus 30:1-10, 37:25-29) that sat just in front of the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies inside the tabernacle. It was on this altar that the High Priest burned incense twice daily. Then, once each year, the Priest would make atonement using the blood of the sin offering on the horns of this golden altar.
This is not the first time in our study that we have run across this golden altar. Let’s take a quick look back.
When we studied the 5th seal (Revelation 6:9), we learned that there were martyrs beneath the altar crying out for justice. Scholars are mixed regarding which altar is being referenced. Given today’s verses, I tend to believe the reference is to the golden altar of sacrifice. There would be no need for an altar of sacrifice in heaven….Jesus has already been the perfect sacrifice.
Then, in Revelation 8:1-5 the 7th seal was broken and we saw the golden altar before God’s throne. The angel took incense, placed it in a censer and hurled it to earth, causing thunder, lightening, and an earthquake.
In view of the fact that the golden altar is always mentioned in conjunction with incense which represents the prayers of the saints, and the prayers of the saints in Revelation 6 were asking God for judgment on those who had taken their lives, it seems that judgment is now being meted out on mankind in the sounding of the sixth trumpet.
K…..enough for now. We will be back in this passage next week. I hope you will take some time to read through it between now and then. There is much here to ponder.
Last week in our Sharing Life series we began a look at suffering and how to prepare ourselves for it. We explored the fact that LIFE IS HARD, BUT GOD IS GOOD. Y’all, no one is exempt from suffering. It is simply part of the human experience in a world that is tragically and fatally broken because of sin. Today we finish by considering two more thoughts that lend courage and perseverance when we are in the heat of suffering.
Experiencing a heart attack, stroke, or cardiac bypass surgery is a life-altering event, physically and emotionally. I know this, not because of personal experience, but because I worked in cardiac rehab for a few years late in my career at Emory University.
When individuals walk through one of these events, they often come out on the other side feeling frightened, isolated, and unsure of how to move forward. One lady shared with me that she was terrified that even the simple act of walking up her stairs at home might cause another cardiac event. Fear crippled her so much that she was unable to make herself go up her stairs to the bathroom the day she was released from the hospital. She said, “I wet myself because I was too afraid to try the stairs.” After participating in a cardiac rehab program, she emerged confident in her physical abilities and ready to move forward.
These very feelings are the reason cardiac rehabilitation programs are such a blessing. Not only do cardiac patients receive coaching and monitoring for exercise, stress management, and diet, they receive something else that enables most to journey on. They are surrounded by others who have walked the same road; others who can come alongside of them and encourage them to keep moving forward. So often this camaraderie, this coming alongside of, reminds the patient that others have experienced what they are experiencing. They are not alone!
This is the second thought that I want to share about preparing ourselves for suffering seasons.
We Are Never Alone
While suffering may cause us to feel distraught and alone, the truth is that we are not. There are other people who have walked a similar road…maybe not the identical one, but a road similar enough to be able to show empathy and understanding. Our tendency in the middle of suffering seasons is to withdraw and hide, thinking that no one understands or cares. But, the truth is that there is always someone out there…a person with skin on, as well as Jesus….who will walk with us.
Paul, the apostle, knew the truth of this and shared it with the Corinthian church in 2 Corinthians 1:3-9. He told the church of the utter despair that he and others felt in a suffering season…despair that caused them to be certain they would die. They did not die, and the lesson he taught the church as a result of his suffering season was that God allowed that season so he could come alongside others who suffer. I’ve linked to the passage because it is an absolute go-to passage for me in times of suffering. I hope you will read it.
We are never alone in our suffering seasons, friends, but we must not isolate ourselves. We must be willing run to Jesus with our hurts, and allow God to bring others alongside us for comfort.
There Will Be An End
The final thing we need to remember as we go through suffering is that there will be an end to it. That is why it is called a ‘season’. Seasons come and seasons go. In Isaiah 43:1-3a (ESV) the prophet told Israel:
1 Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (emphasis mine)
Every person in Scripture experienced a suffering season. Even Jesus, especially Jesus. But, there was always an end. If God has allowed suffering in our lives, there is a reason…a purpose, and He will bring it to the desired end.
Are you in a season of suffering? I hope these two posts will provide comforting reminders of the love of God toward you. Reminders that
- God is good, even when life is hard
- You are never alone in suffering seasons
- Your suffering season will have an end
So, friends, I leave you with the wisdom of the writer of Hebrews. For those of us who are in a suffering season,
1 let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Here I offer you my Amazon Affiliate link to another of Dr. Charles Stanley’s wonderful books on suffering. This book is one that you will want for your library.
In the waning days of 2014, I experienced great losses. The particulars of what and how and why of the losses are not as germane to our time together today as the effects upon my soul. Like tidal waves, one loss piled upon another until I could barely breath or function. For months there were times I felt such despair that I prayed for Jesus to take me home. Never in my entire life have I experienced such suffering and pain. Not physical pain, although I was certain that my heart had been ripped to shreds and would never recover. The pain and suffering were emotional and mental. Two years later, my heart aches at the thought of it and tears still come easily, even though much healing has taken place.
No one seeks out suffering, yet everyone experiences it. There is not a soul on planet earth who has not endured some kind of suffering, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual. Are we ever prepared for it? Is there even a way to prepare for suffering? Do we set our children up for failure and despair by not preparing them for suffering?
Even though I experienced intense suffering of the heart, there were some things that I knew to be true; things that I held onto with everything within me. It was those thing that kept my faith from being ‘greatly shaken’. I would love to share those with you today and next week.
The first thought is one that we hear pretty often in the Christian world, but it really is true.
LIFE IS HARD, BUT GOD IS GOOD
We do our children a huge disservice by not preparing them for the inevitable suffering they will experience. Whether it is another child at school making fun of them or the loss of a special grandparent early in the child’s life, we must prepare kids for the fact that life is hard. Flitter, we must prepare ourselves for that fact.
In John 16:33, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.”
So, what do we do with that? Trouble does not come to us because God is vengeful or sadistic. The fact is that we live in a fallen world and because of it hard and painful things happen. We don’t need to walk around like Eeyore always bemoaning the misery of life or blaming our troubles on other people, although sometimes they are a result of other people’s actions or words. We do, however, need to have a proper perspective on life.
My Daddy developed polio at the age of 16. The doctors told him he would never walk again. He overcame those predictions and walked, with the aid of crutches and a full leg brace, for the rest of his life. Life was not easy for him. He could not do many of things that young men do. He could not run, play sports, ride a motorcycle, or even walk normally. Yet, he knew that God had spared him from death for a reason, and while certain parts of his life would be hard, God was good to him. He became a successful businessman, married my mom and had two daughters. Sure there were times when he would physically fall, but he always got back up and went on. He had a proper perspective on suffering that kept him from losing his faith or feeling sorry for himself.
Throughout my 2014 ordeal, I always knew that God was good and that He was with me. The faith muscles that I had developed over the course of the years of my walking with Jesus gave me a solid foundation on which to abide even when so much of my world was shaken.
Christ followers can be assured that nothing, absolutely nothing, happens to them that has not been sifted through the will and purpose of God’s divine knowledge. Yes, life can be hard, but God is good and He will never allow anything to happen to us that is not part of His ultimate good for us. I liken this to a parent taking their sick child to the physician. The sickness is miserable and painful, both for the child to experience and the parent to watch. The physician diagnoses the problem and suggests an injection of antibiotics.
Queue up the hysterics! Crying, flailing about, screaming. Anything to avoid the injection.
Yet, the physician and the parent both know that the injection is what will restore good health. It may require bringing in back-up to help hold the child still, but the injection is given and health is restored.
So it is with our good God. Sometimes when He allows pain and suffering in our lives to accomplish His will for us, He knows there is no other way to bring about what is for our good. In those times, we must remember that life is hard, but God is good.
Next week we will consider two other very important lessons we must learn in order to properly walk through suffering. For now, would you share your thoughts on suffering? What are some lessons you have learned during suffering seasons?
Go here to read the second part in this series.
Linking up at:
NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.
Dr. Charles Stanley has written some excellent books on the topic of suffering. I’m giving you my Amazon Affiliate link for one of them so you can check it out if you feel led.
Happy New Year! We find ourselves in Revelation 9 as we begin our journey through 2017. In 2016 we studied Revelation 1 through 8, and I hope you learned much to encourage and strengthen your faith. I am grateful for your patience as we study. I had anticipated getting through the book of Revelation in one year. Ha! Was I ever naïve? We will likely not even finish in 2017. I’m thinking more like 2018, should Jesus not come back first. If He does, He can teach Revelation much better than I!
Would you like to go back and read some of the past teachings? I have created a page on my website where I link to each post in this series chronologically from the beginning of 2016 to the end (Revelation 1-8). CLICK HERE and you will be taken to that page. Once there click on the picture associated with each post and you will be directed to the specific teaching.
As we return to our study we pick back up with the trumpet judgments. The first four trumpet judgments were found in chapter 8, but at the end of chapter 8 we were given a dire warning by an eagle flying overhead. Let’s step back to the end of chapter 8 and refresh our memories:
Revelation 8:13 (ESV): Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!”
We cannot say that we have not been warned. Things are about to go from bad to worse, and we have a bird’s eye view. Let’s read our passage from Revelation 9:
1 And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit.
2 He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft.
3 Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth.
4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
5 They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone.
6 And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them.
7 In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces,
8 their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth;
9 they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle.
10 They have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for five months is in their tails.
11 They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon.
12 The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come.
This would be a great place for you to stop for a moment and download the drawing of Revelation 9 by my friend Lisa. I think it might give you a visual of a very busy chapter.
Let me give you a brief overview of what goes on in these verses, then next week we will really dive in.
- A star falls from heaven
- Star (demon) given the key to the bottomless pit and opens it
- Smoke and locusts boil out of the pit
- Locusts torment unbelievers for 5 months but cannot kill them
- Description of locusts
- This is described at the ‘first woe’
The sounding of the fifth trumpet brings a serious escalation to the judgments that take place. In all likelihood John uses significant symbolism to describe what he sees, because no less than ten times does he say that what he is seeing is ‘like’ something else. He simply used what he knew to describe something that he probably had no idea about.
Next week we will return and peel back the layers on this fifth trumpet judgment. Until then, friends, stay faithful. Jesus could return at any moment!
I would like to offer you a link to one of the commentaries I use in my study of the book of Revelation. Warren Wiersbe’s “Be Victorious” is an easy to read commentary that adds so much to my study time. Here is my Amazon affiliate link in case you would like to pick up the book.