Chapter nine ended at the blowing of the 6th trumpet, the second of the last three "woe trumpets". For my post on those first 6 trumpets see my post HERE. Before the seventh trumpet (the third of the three "woe trumpets"), there is an interlude called the Trumpet Interlude. Revelation 10 thru Revelation 11:1-14 is a gradual transition from the sixth to the seventh trumpet. The end of chapter nine says that despite the warnings, wraths and the extension of God's mercy to save even in the midst of judgment, they didn't repent. To repent means to have a change of heart and to turn away from evil and turn to God. These people refused to repent, they have refused every opportunity to turn to God. Men are no nearer to God so the last final punishment must now fall.
Some have suggested this "mighty angel" is Christ Himself. But this angel is described as "another mighty angel" so others say he is but one of God's created angels.
He is described as:
- Mighty angel
- Coming down from heaven
- Robed in a cloud
- Rainbow over his head
- Face like the sun
- Legs like fiery pillars
This "another" angel would be to distinguish from the seven angels who had trumpets given them. Jesus Christ is sometimes called an Angel of the Lord. Sometimes the "Angel of the Lord" appears to be Jehovah himself as the second Person of the Trinity (Genesis 16:7, 22:11, 31:11, etc). The Son of God, who appeared in a human form, and spoke with an voice we can hear in the Old Testament. Sometimes the Angel of God's presence (63:9). Angel, or messenger, of the covenant (Malachi 3:1). God is mighty, strong, stronger than any other.
"Come down from heaven". Jesus came to earth as a human being. He took on the human form as God incarnate. A human that we could see, hear, touch, and who had the complete human experience, yet without sin. Jesus promises to come back for us, His return from heaven. But His incarnation as a human was in the past to John and His return to establish His eternal kingdom is in the future. As a contrast, satan's representative comes from the bottomless pit, but Jesus would come down from heaven. This may be Jesus spiritually coming to those who have accepted Christ during this, the darkest time in history to encourage and strengthen.
"Clothed with a cloud" refers to His celestial dignity and majestic presence but also veils His glory as humans cannot yet see Him as He is. Also shows that the unrepentant man cannot see Him and His Work and understand. Mankind is blind in the times of anti-Christian darkness. Spiritual blindness. A cloud was a sign of God's presence among His people in the Old Testament. When Moses came to the burning bush, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of the bush. (Exodus 3:2) When God gave manna to the Israelites, the “glory of the Lord appeared in a cloud”. (16:10) When God came to Mount Sinai to give the covenant, there was a cloud, lightening and smoke. (Exodus 19) When God’s presence came to the Tabernacle, there was a cloud by day and fire by night. (Exodus 40:38)
"Rainbow over his head" The Rainbow is a sign of the Covenant and Jesus is the Head of His church and His people. His New Covenant is always on His mind and He will not allow the gates of hell to prevail against them. John described the throne of the Father as having around it a rainbow in Revelation 4:3 “rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald”
His "face like the sun" reflects God's glory. He is glorious as part of the Holy Trinity. Each person of the godhead is holy, glorious, pure, perfect and complete. They work in perfect unity. Christ's countenance would reflect this with a radiance of glory we can only imagine!
His "legs like fiery pillars" could represent that we, as His people, find Him well able to support us and they are like fire because He consumes His enemies and trods upon them, they are easily consumed. This being seems to stand as triumphant owner taking possession, the whole world under his feet.
Although Jesus might appear as an angel in some places in the Old Testament, it is odd that He would be called "another mighty angel" here. Other angels have been called forth, given authority and power to do God's bidding. A “strong angel” is referred to three times in Revelation (here, Revelation 5:2 and Revelation 18:21).
Is this "another" angel like those before? The Greek word translated “another”, means one of the same kind, that is a created being. After Jesus' resurrection, would He appear as an Angel of the Lord any more? Wouldn't He appear as Himself if this were indeed Him. John was one of the original disciples and had known Jesus as a close friend, one whom Jesus loved. He had seen Jesus as a human being AND after His resurrection in His glorified body.
"Coming down from heaven" - This angelic messenger seems to have come with the mission of revelation, dispensing understanding and strengthening those who have accepted Christ during these dark days. It reminds me of when Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and God sent angels to strengthen Him so that He could endure what was coming. Luke 22:43-44 43 "An angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him. 44 And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground."
A cloud has always been a sign of divine presence. See Exodus 13:21; Ezekiel 1:4; Matthew 17:5; Acts 1:9. It could also be representative of God's presence with Israel, God's people in the Old Testament. When the Israelites (Hebrews, Jews) left Egypt, God's presence in their midst was a cloud in the day and a pillar of fire at night.
The rainbow is a token of God's love and covenant with His people. His covenant faithfulness. When God makes a covenant, He doesn't break it! In Noah's time God had sent wrath and judgment against mankind because in Genesis 6:5 "The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time." So he rescued Noah and his family by instructing him to build an Ark. Then he sent the Great Flood to destroy all the rest of evil mankind. After the Flood, Noah and his family safely debarked from the Ark. God sent a rainbow as a sign of His covenant with Noah and his descendants. It confirmed God's righteous judgment but also of God's mercy in saving mankind through Noah. Today, our Ark is Jesus Christ who saves us from God's righteous wrath and judgment. The message the angel is carrying is so important that it is surrounded by the presence of God.
"Face like the sun" could be from the angel being in God's presence! Moses had a similar change to his countenance.
Exodus 34:29-35 29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai. 33 When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. 34 But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the Lord.
"Legs like fiery pillars" is the angel's treading the earth in judgment at God's bidding like the other angels. Meaning a worldwide message with global implications.
Further in Revelation 10, at verse 6, we see this being swears by "Him who lives forever and ever". He doesn't swear by himself.
"And he swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and everything in it, the earth and everything in it, and the sea and everything in it..."
According to Hebrews 6:13, "When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself,"
So if this were Jesus, wouldn't He swear by Himself rather than swear by the One who lives forever and ever? If this is a created angel, he would not swear by himself but by the One who lives forever and ever!
We have a similar description in Daniel 10. Daniel has a vision and scholars aren't sure if it's a theophany (a revelation of Jesus Incarnate; a visible manifestation to human beings of God) or angelophany (a revelation from God but through an angel)
Daniel 10:5-6 5 I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. 6 His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.
Revelation 10:2(Berean Study Bible) 2 He held in his hand a small scroll, which lay open. He placed his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land.
Revelation 10:2(King James Version) 2 And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,
What is this little book, or small scroll? The Greek word βιβλαρίδιον (biblaridion), "little book," is a rare word and only found in the Bible in Revelation 10:2. In Revelation 5, another scroll, or book, was described. That Greek word is βιβλίον (biblion) "book" or "scroll", a document with writing.
Revelation 5:1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.
The book, or scroll, in Revelation 5:1 contained all God's plan and purpose and no one but the Lamb was able to open it, it was closed to man. The Lamb took it from God's hand and began opening the seals and we saw the seven seal judgments.
Ezekiel 2:1-4, 9-10 1 He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” 2 As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. 3 He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day. 4 The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn... 9 Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, 10 which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe.
Ezekiel 3:1-4. 14-15 1 And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. 3 Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. 4 He then said to me: “Son of man, go now to the people of Israel and speak my words to them... 14 The Spirit then lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of the Lord on me. 15 I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Aviv near the Kebar River. And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days—deeply distressed.
What is actually contained in the little book is another matter of discussion. The book is open so it's contents are meant to be known. Could it be a prophetic revelation that has not yet come to pass? It being smaller indicating that a goodly portion of the End Times prophesy has already occurred.
Or could it be the message of salvation through Jesus Christ? He is the only way and John is being commanded to take this message to the world. Is it the whole New Testament? Or one/all of the gospels in the New Testament? Or the whole Bible, both Old and New Testament? The entire Bible is God's revelation to mankind of who He is and how much He loves us, enough to give His Son as a sacrifice so that we may be saved and have a relationship with God once again. That truth is a summary of the entire Bible. "That sums it up". Jesus is in every book of the Bible, front to back. He IS God's revelation of love. John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God". The Word was Jesus Christ. The name, "Jesus," is not in every book, but the revelation of Christ is in every book. For example:
in Genesis, He is the Seed of the woman
in Exodus, He is he Passover Lamb
in Leviticus, He is the High Priest
in Numbers, He is the Cloud and the Fire
and I could go on through every book.
The "sweet" message of salvation is offered to all men and is sweet to those who accept the offer of salvation through Jesus Christ. But it is bitter with judgment for those who reject Jesus Christ. It also reveals how sin can taste sweet to the sinner but it's results are bitterness. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Satan deceives us by making sin look good. Because of our evil human nature, we enjoy sin. But sin takes hold of us and is destructive, the consequences are bitter in every way with the final result being eternal damnation. For those who accept the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, we are forgiven and set free from our sins. That is the good news!
In Ezekiel, the Prophet Ezekiel is commanded to tell Israel about the coming judgment for their idolatry. The message is the book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel told the people and wrote it down for them. Ezekiel did not write the entire Bible but only the book of Ezekiel. Here John is the Prophet receiving revelation from the Lord and in verse 11, he is told to prophesy to the people of the world. So maybe this book represents the book of Revelation? The book John wrote is what God revealed to him: the coming judgment and the establishment of Christ's eternal kingdom. Those who are saved during these judgments (after the Rapture of the Church) will have to endure the bitterness of this time of wrath as more judgments are poured out. But they are saved with the hope of eternal life with God before them. They will not face the final judgment of being sent to the Lake of Fire and eternal punishment.
Whichever way you look at it, the people of the world are able to know the contents. It is revealed. We have the Bible in every language, it has been revealed and people have the opportunity to read it. The prophesies it contains reveal coming judgment for sin, satan, and those who reject Jesus Christ and His salvation. The End Time prophesies are written and can be read by anyone. The message of salvation has been given and is known to all. What is the message? The way of sin is destruction and eternal damnation. The way of salvation through Jesus Christ, is forgiveness and eternal life with God.
The angel has his feet set on earth, one on the land and one on the sea. This indicates triumphant ownership and is meant that the message of the little book/scroll is a global message, a message for all people.
Revelation 10:3-4 3 and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. 4 And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.”
The angel's voice was roaring like a lion and his thunderous voice gave a message that John was not allowed to write down.
Psalm 18:13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens. and the Most High uttered his voice, hailstones and coals of fire.
Joel 3:16 16 The LORD roars from Zion And utters His voice from Jerusalem, And the heavens and the earth tremble. But the LORD is a refuge for His people And a stronghold to the sons of Israel.
Jeremiah 25:30 The LORD will roar from on high; he will thunder from his holy dwelling and roar mightily against his land. He will shout like those who tread the grapes, shout against all who live on the earth.
Isaiah 42:13 The LORD will go forth like a warrior, He will arouse His zeal like a man of war. He will utter a shout, yes, He will raise a war cry. He will prevail against His enemies.
The secret things are God's mysteries and God, alone, deals with these matters. There is knowledge related to human events and history that is not meant for man to discern or to recognize when it occurs. This restricted knowledge means what God has revealed to us belongs to us for our edification but those things which God has chosen not to reveal, belong to God alone. There are things that man is not permitted to know and man should not seek to know.
Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Apostle Paul speaking about something that happened to him: 2 Corinthians 12:3-4 And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.
Paul means that there are certain things which God had chosen to reveal to individuals but it was not permissible to reveal to others. The point being that there is knowledge and wisdom that only God knows and it must remain a mystery to us, at least for the time being. We must have faith and trust that He knows what He is doing and that what He is doing is to His children's best benefit. He is a God of love and everything He does is derived from that love. There is no need for us to seek to know and understand EVERYTHING. We know the One who knows everything and we are His children and thus He reveals, or conceals, according to His sovereignty and for our best benefit. Just think, if suddenly everything God knows was poured into my finite brain, my brain would explode. It is not possible for my finite mind to understand the infinite ways of God. So let us trust in Him and let Him be God!
The number 7 always indicates perfection and completeness. God's word here is perfect and whole or reveals perfection and completeness. The seven voices are describing judgments to come upon the earth during the second half of the Tribulation, the darkest days man has ever faced.
Perhaps the thunders are withheld because the exact details of the judgment was too horrible to share. There will be no further delay. The final judgments are not limited like the previous ones, to give people a chance to repent. They have proven that the judgments don't bring them to repentance. Therefore, final judgment will now come and it will be the worst mankind has ever seen.
Revelation 10:5-7 5 Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. 6 And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, “There will be no more delay! 7 But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.”
Earlier in this post we discussed that this being swears by "Him who lives for ever and ever, who created..." This leads me to think that this being is a created angel rather than Christ Himself. Jesus was with God from the beginning as part of the Holy Trinity: God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit. There has never been a time when the three Persons of the godhead didn't exist. And They created all things.
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
"The Word" here is Jesus Christ the Son of God:
John 1:1-2 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made.
Jesus speaking in John 10:30 "I and the Father are one.”
Colossians 2:9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity dwells in bodily form.
Colossians 1:15-17 15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
So, if this being were Jesus Christ, would He not swear by Himself rather than swear by "Him who lives for ever and ever"?
Deuteronomy 32:40 "Indeed, I lift up My hand to heaven, And say, as I live forever,..." (Also notice the similarity here in Deuteronomy with the angel in Revelation 10. Here God swears by Himself whereas the angel swears by the One who lives forever and ever.)
Psalm 90:2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
Job 36:26 Behold, God is exalted, and we do not know Him; The number of His years is unsearchable.
Revelation 1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Psalm 102:26-27 Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. "But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.
Psalm 103: 17 But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children's children,
Psalm 9:7a But the LORD abides forever
Daniel 7:14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
Psalm 90:1-4 Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You turn men back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, O sons of men.” For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.
Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is your refuge
Nehemiah 9:6 You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.
2 Peter 3:5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God,
Acts 14:15 Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.
Hebrews 1:2-3 But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Amos 9:6 Who builds his upper chambers in the heavens and founds his vault upon the earth; who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out upon the surface of the earth— the Lord is his name.
Psalm 89:11 The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them.
This angel has his feet solidly planted on earth, with one foot on land and one on the sea. He has the open book in one hand and lifts his hand to swear that "There will be no more delay!"
"There will be no more delay" means no more waiting. God has given men their chances to repent and be saved. The judgments so far have not turned the majority back to God so there is no need to delay any further. It is time for God's plans to be accomplished.
Revelation 10:8-11 8 Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: “Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” 9 So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but ‘in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.’a ” 10 I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. 11 Then I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.”
The prophet, in this case, John, was to carefully receive the Word from God, digest it thoroughly in order to deliver it faithfully.
Ezekiel 2:1-2,4b-5,7,9-10 1 He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” 2 As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me... Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ 5 And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them... 7 You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious... 9 Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, 10 which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe.
Ezekiel 3:1-4,10,14-15 1 And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. 3 Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. 4 He then said to me: “Son of man, go now to the people of Israel and speak my words to them... 10 And he said to me, “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you"... 14 The Spirit then lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of the Lord on me. 15 I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Aviv near the Kebar River. And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days—deeply distressed.
Both John and Ezekiel receive the Word of God with pleasure as it is sweet. But once they realize the purport of the message, it turns to grief at the terrible judgment they are to declare. God's Word is wonderful and brings life for those who receive it and repent. But it brings judgment on those who refuse to receive it and refuse to repent.
Imagine being the prophet, God revealing Himself and His plans to you. How full of wonder and awe you would feel. Then God gives you instruction and tells you to go and prophesy to the people and tell them what is coming. Can you then imagine how you would begin to be distressed? Afraid? Grieving? Overwhelmed? You would be sent to your family, friends, co-workers, countrymen with a message from God. A message that they don't want to hear. A message that is anathema to them. A message that says, "Turn to God, repent, or be judged and experience horrors you cannot even imagine"! In the books of the major and minor prophets in the Old Testament, as well as, the current book we are studying (Revelation) you can read what some of those judgments are and they are quite frightening. You and I both know human nature. People will look around and say, "I don't see any judgment coming" and go on about their business as usual. Before long, you may be just written off as a nut case. These have to be the thoughts that go through your minds. God knows what goes through our minds and He knew exactly what Ezekiel was thinking in Ezekiel 2-3 so He told Ezekiel:
Ezekiel 2:6-8 6 "And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people. 7 You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. 8 But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”
and Ezekiel 3-9: 7 "But the people of Israel are not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for all the Israelites are hardened and obstinate. 8 But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. 9 I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people.”
All those who are prophets called by God, have a message to the people and the audience is a hostile audience. Sin looks too good and we want our sin. We enjoy it for a time until it get's it's claws deep into you and then you have a monster that destroys your life and sends you to hell for eternity.
Cuteness is well-established and a very prevalent part of their culture. The word "kawaii" is derived from a phrase that means "a radiant face" which refers to the blushing of an embarrassed person. But it has taken on the meaning of "cute" and the Japanese written word for it is "able to be loved." Teenage girls would add cute little drawings to their handwriting which became emojis. Women and men partake of the culture of cuteness.
Kimo-kawaii (“gross cute”) is a newer phenomenon in Japanese television, music, and even local government in the last few years. A set of dwarf-like creatures with weird faces became popular. Think of the famous cartoon children's movies today such as Shrek, Monsters, Inc., Minions! Then video-game characters like the mushroom-come-alive Nameko and the American cartoon characters like Sponge Bob Square Pants. I mean, even poop is cute!
But we all know that monsters don't stay cute and little!
There is nothing wrong with cute. It brings a smile to your face and scientifically they say it helps you focus and makes you more productive. But, sin is not cute! Don't let sin take over your life!
God is in the business of dealing a death blow to sin. If you find that you are being controlled by sin and it's making a hell on earth for you, turn to Jesus Christ. Repent, ask His forgiveness and ask Him into your life. Allow Him to begin the process of sanctification - killing off the desire for sin in your life. As you allow the Holy Spirit in you to work, you will find sin less and less "cute" and you lose more and more of your desire for it.
Revelation 11:1-2 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.
We are not told here who commanded John to measure or who it was that gave him the measuring rod. It may be the same angel who had given him the book. The measuring rod, for Jews at the time, was 6 cubits long. For the Romans and Greeks it was 10 cubits long. A cubit is the length from the elbow to the tip of middle finger which is generally 18 inches, give or take, maybe up to 24 inches.
God gave specific instructions, down to the last detail, for Moses to make a Tabernacle which was also called the Tent of Meeting. It was a mobile temple that was carefully carried wherever God directed the Israelites to go and set up wherever God told them to stop. I've done an extensive study on the Tabernacle and it's accessories so I won't go into all that detail here. God wanted to dwell amongst His people.
During King David's time, at his peak, he established himself in Jerusalem, the capital of his empire. But he had such a heart after God and he wanted to build God a permanent place. So he began accruing the materials to build a gorgeous Temple on the highest place in Jerusalem. This story is told in 2 Samuel 7 and repeated in 1 Chronicles 17.
2 Samuel 7:1-2 1 King David was living in his palace, and the Lord had given him peace from all his enemies around him. 2 Then David said to Nathan the prophet, “Look, I am living in a palace made of cedar wood, but the Ark of God is in a tent!”
2 Samuel 7:4-16 4 But that night the Lord spoke his word to Nathan, 5 Go and tell my servant David, "This is what the Lord says: Will you build a house for me to live in? 6 From the time I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until now I have not lived in a house. I have been moving around all this time with a tent as my home. 7 As I have moved with the Israelites, I have never said to the tribes, whom I commanded to take care of my people Israel, 'Why haven’t you built me a house of cedar?’" 8 You must tell my servant David, "This is what the Lord All-Powerful says: I took you from the pasture and from tending the sheep and made you leader of my people Israel. 9 I have been with you everywhere you have gone and have defeated your enemies for you. I will make you as famous as any of the great people on the earth. 10 Also I will choose a place for my people Israel, and I will plant them so they can live in their own homes. They will not be bothered anymore. Wicked people will no longer bother them as they have in the past 11 when I chose judges for my people Israel. But I will give you peace from all your enemies. I also tell you that I will make your descendants kings of Israel after you. 12 ‘When you die and join your ancestors, I will make one of your sons the next king, and I will set up his kingdom. 13 He will build a house for me, and I will let his kingdom rule always. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he sins, I will use other people to punish him. They will be my whips. 15 I took away my love from Saul, whom I removed before you, but I will never stop loving your son. 16 But your family and your kingdom will continue always before me. Your throne will last forever.’”
Why didn't God allow King David to build His Temple? 1 Chronicles 22:8 “You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight.” and 1 Chronicles 28:18 But God said to me, "You may not build a house for my name, for you are a man of war and have shed blood."
God didn't want a man of war to build His Temple.
Isaiah 56: 7 7 "these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
God loved King David. Not because David was sinless or perfect. We all know how badly King David did sin. But God called David "a man after His own heart". Why? Because David was humble, trusting, devoted, repentant, obedient and he worshiped God from sincere love and devotion. When David did sin, he turned back to God, truly repentant and sincere in his acknowledgment of sin. He accepted God's work and trusted in God to do what was best for the nation of Israel, the Jewish people, himself and his family.
1 Samuel 13:14 (parenthesis mine) But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart (King David), and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou (King Saul) hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.
Acts 13:22 And when he had removed him (King Saul), he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.
But as King David accumulated the materials, his son, Solomon, was growing up. When Solomon became king, he was the one, as prophesied, who built the first Temple of God. It was called Solomon's Temple (also referred to as the First Temple) and was one of the wonders of the world. It stood for over 400 years.
It was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II, King of Babylon c. 605 BC – c. 562 BC, after the Siege of Jerusalem in 587 BC. The Book of Jeremiah contains a prophecy about Nebuchadnezzar as the "destroyer of nations" (Jeremiah 4:7) and gives an account of the siege of Jerusalem (587 BC) and the looting and destruction of the First Temple (Jeremiah 39:1–10; Jeremiah 52:1–30). After destroying the Temple, Nebuchadnezzar II, deported thousands of Jews in several mass deportations. God used Babylon as His agent of judgment against Israel for their sins of idolatry and rebellion against Him.
After 70 years of captivity, exiled Judeans were permitted to return to Judah and Jerusalem. (After King Solomon, eventually David's kingdom split into Israel and Judah. Judah had the capital city of Jerusalem.) Babylon fell to the Persian king, Cyrus the Great, in 539 BC. As prophesied in Scripture, the Jewish people would be allowed to return to Jerusalem and they rebuilt the Temple, called the Second Temple. The books of Nehemiah and Ezra tell the story.
Ezra 1:1-7 1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:
2 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. 3 Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. 4 And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’”
5 Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites—everyone whose heart God had moved—prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. 6 All their neighbors assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings. 7 Moreover, King Cyrus brought out the articles belonging to the temple of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his god.
The Jewish Holy Temple, the Second Temple, which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period, between 516 BC and 70 AD. The Second Temple was originally a modest structure built by Jewish exile groups who returned.
Some of the original artifacts are not mentioned again after the destruction of 597 BC. They are presumed lost:
The Ark of the Covenant containing the stone tablets that had the Ten Commandments written on them by the finger of God, the jar of manna and Aaron's rod
The Urim and Thummim
The holy oil
The sacred fire
During the reign of Herod the Great, the Temple was completely refurbished and added to and made into a magnificent structure again. It was enlarged to about 35 acres. This is called the Herod's Temple and was the Temple that Jesus would have gone to.
Titus, the Roman general, besieged Jerusalem and burned down the temple in AD 70. The gold melted and ran between the stones so the Roman soldiers took the gold as they tore the Temple apart, stone by stone. The Temple was deliberately left in ruins. Technically, this is not the Third Temple as it's the Second Temple re-done.
The Jews today say that there will be a Third Temple built on the Temple Mount one day. Right now, the Temple Mount is known as the Dome of the Rock and is the third holiest place to Islam. The Muslim conquest of the city by the Caliph Omar ibn al-Khattab in 638. He ordered the clearing of the site and the building of a house of prayer. Fifty years later, the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik built the Dome of the Rock to enshrine the outcrop of bedrock believed to be the place of the sacrifice on Mount Moriah where Abraham took Isaac. After the conquest of Jerusalem by the crusaders, the Dome of the Rock was converted into a church and called Templum Domini (the Temple of the Lord) and al-Aqsa became a church called Templum Solomonis (Solomon's Temple). They were reconverted into Muslim houses of worship after Saladin's conquest of Jerusalem in 1187 and have remained so ever since. It is the most fought over piece of land in the world.
The literal temple at Jerusalem shall be the typical forerunner of the heavenly Jerusalem.
What Temple is John suppose to measure? Let's look at another time when God commanded a prophet to measure the Temple.
Ezekiel 40-42 40:1-51 In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the fall of the city—on that very day the hand of the Lord was on me and he took me there. 2 In visions of God he took me to the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, on whose south side were some buildings that looked like a city. 3 He took me there, and I saw a man whose appearance was like bronze; he was standing in the gateway with a linen cord and a measuring rod in his hand. 4 The man said to me, “Son of man, look carefully and listen closely and pay attention to everything I am going to show you, for that is why you have been brought here. Tell the people of Israel everything you see.”
The East Gate to the Outer Court
5 I saw a wall completely surrounding the temple area. The length of the measuring rod in the man’s hand was six long cubits, each of which was a cubit and a handbreadth. He measured the wall; it was one measuring rod thick and one rod high... (The angel takes Ezekiel throughout the Temple to measure it all.)
Ezekiel 42:15-20 15 When he had finished measuring what was inside the temple area, he led me out by the east gate and measured the area all around: 16 He measured the east side with the measuring rod; it was five hundred cubits. 17 He measured the north side; it was five hundred cubits by the measuring rod. 18 He measured the south side; it was five hundred cubits by the measuring rod. 19 Then he turned to the west side and measured; it was five hundred cubits by the measuring rod. 20 So he measured the area on all four sides. It had a wall around it, five hundred cubits long and five hundred cubits wide, to separate the holy from the common.
Ezekiel 43:6-7 6 While the man was standing beside me, I heard someone speaking to me from inside the temple. 7 He said: “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet. This is where I will live among the Israelites forever.
Ezekiel began his prophetic ministry before Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by Babylon in 586 BC. Jeremiah and Ezekiel warned the people that God’s judgment was coming. Ezekiel went into exile to Babylon probably in 597 BC. In exile, he encouraged Israel that judgment would not last forever, but that God would restore Israel and once again live among them.
So what Temple was being measured in front of Ezekiel in chapters 40-42? It wasn't King Solomon's Temple, the Second Temple or Herod's Temple as the measurements are far larger.
So it seems there is another Temple that Ezekiel saw and now John is seeing. Is it a future Temple built on earth? Groups such as The Temple Institute believe it is incumbent upon them to make all possible preparations in advance (like King David did for Solomon) - and to build the Third Temple when the freedom to do so is gained on the Temple Mount. Other Jews believe only the Jewish Messiah will rebuild the Temple. So will the Jews be able to take the Temple Mount back and build a fabulous Temple according to these measurements?
Is it to be fulfilled in the millennial kingdom, a 1000-year reign of Christ upon the earth?
Or is this "Temple" representing God's People. Those who are saved through Jesus Christ become the Temple of God.
1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
2 Corinthians 6:16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
1 Peter 2:4-5 4 Come to Jesus Christ. He is the living stone people have rejected, but which God has chosen and highly honored. 5 And now you are living stones being used to build a spiritual house. You are also a group of holy priests, and with the help of Jesus Christ you will offer sacrifices that please God.
Ephesians 2:19–21 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
Christ is the cornerstone of this temple. The apostles and prophets are the foundation of the temple. With the Holy Spirit living in us, we are the Temple of God. I am a living stone!
There are various opinions then on what John (and Ezekiel) saw. For me, I believe it is another one of those dual fulfillment prophecies. I believe there will be a real Temple built to these measurements. I mean, Ezekiel's recorded measurements are very detailed just like the details God gave Moses when he built the Tabernacle. But I also believe that God has made clear that true Christians are His People and we are His Temple. He lives in us! He knows each one of us (we are measured and He knows the first one and the last one) and there will not be one of us lost to eternal judgment and punishment. Jesus is our rescue and through Him we are saved. God will once again dwell with His people in a perfect relationship.
Let me say, again, that studying this is not scary to me because I AM SAVED through Jesus Christ! I am safe and secure in the Ark of Christ. I may experience some pain here on earth but my eternity is secure in Jesus. I will experience none of the judgments, wrath or eternal punishment. You can too. The more I learn about God, the more in love with Him I am and it's exciting to think of how things will be set back to perfection and I will be able to enjoy it forever!
Jesus is the chief cornerstone that holds us all together.
Revelation 11:2 2 But don't measure the courtyard outside the temple building. Leave it out. It has been given to those people who don't know God, and they will trample all over the holy city for 42 months.
What God has measured is preserved and safe. But He says not to measure the courtyard outside the Temple building. Looking at a diagram again of the Temple grounds. Look for the Courtyard of the Gentiles.
It is the largest area within the walls. Surrounding the Court of the Gentiles were a series of "porches" or cloisters through which ran double rows of Corinthian pillars, each cut from marble and measuring 37 feet in height and covered by a flat roof. The entire court was paved with marble. The southern of these porches was known as "Solomon’s Porch" (Acts 3:11). Herod began re-construction of the Temple in Jerusalem began in 20 BC and included this large courtyard around the original Temple. It was not there originally. By Jesus' time, this courtyard had become a market place with vendors selling souvenirs, sacrificial animals, food as well as there being currency changers present.
This was where Mary and Joseph took Jesus
22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord” ), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismissd your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” 36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.e She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.
This was the place that Jesus was when his parents found Him missing when He was 12 years old. They found Him teaching in the Temple courtyard.
Luke 2:41-50 41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” 49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
This would have been where Jesus overturned the tables of the cheating money makers and drove them out with a whip.
John 2:13-17 13 When the Jewish Passover was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts He found men selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and money changers seated at their tables. 15 So He made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle. He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those selling doves He said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn My Father’s house into a marketplace!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for Your house will consume Me.”
Matthew 21:12-13 12 Then Jesus went into the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those selling doves. 13 And He declared to them, “It is written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer.’ But you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”
Luke 19:45-46 45 Then Jesus entered the temple courts and began to drive out those who were selling there. 46 He declared to them, “It is written: ‘My house will be a house of prayer.’ But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”
Anyone was allowed into the Court of the Gentiles. The Court of the Gentiles was the outer Court around the Temple. Despite the whole of the Temple being considered holy, this was the least holy court in the Temple. This was where pagans could discuss issues of faith with Jews. Here were the rabbis and teachers of the Jewish law ready to listen to people's questions about God, and to respond. Gentiles (anyone who is not Jewish) were permitted into that area only but were forbidden to go any further upon penalty of death.
As far as selling and merchandising in the Courtyard of the Gentiles, that was a fairly recent development. Not only was the Court of the Gentiles a rather new addition but it may have only been allowed to accommodate vendors around 30 AD, about the time Jesus would have come into His ministry. It was probably Caiaphas, the High Priest during Jesus' ministry, that opened up the courtyard to vendors and money changers. When Jesus came for Passover, Jerusalem would have been crowded with pilgrim Jews from out of town coming to worship according to the Jewish Laws. With the glorious new Temple to see, and a religious holiday, the place would have been crowded with Jews and Gentiles. Jesus was was making a point by challenging the authority of the High Priest; he was accusing Caiaphas, the High Priest and chief custodian of the Temple, of defiling the Temple. This courtyard could have been a place of learning about God and His Ways, His Laws for those who were not born Jewish. Instead, it had become a sight seeing stop and money making "mall" catering to those from out of town who were being taken advantage of. Those people from out of town had not been able to bring their own sacrifices with them. They had to purchase them once they got there. But those selling were asking exorbitant prices during the religious feasts and holy days and taking advantage of people. I'm sure they paid rent to the priests or gave them part of the profits or kickbacks in order to be allowed to set up a booth in the courtyard. It reminds me of an amusement park. Once you park and walk all the way inside, buy your ticket, then you are at the mercy of the vendors. You can't take a cooler inside and it's too far to walk to the car so you have to buy drinks and food inside the park and we all know that a $3 hamburger becomes a $8 hamburger and a $2 drink becomes a $4 drink.
You see, there was a whole system set up for "worshiping God" in Jerusalem. When Jesus came on the scene there was a lavish Temple, a powerful priesthood, the Levites who made their living in the Jewish Temple system. The sacrifices meant people could make money breeding, raising and selling animals for sacrifice. The priests lived/ate/made a living within the Temple system as some of the offerings were for their food and maintaining them. They had a tolerable agreement with the Romans so everything was peachy keen. Then Jesus comes striding into Jerusalem to say that He was the Son of God and there was no need for the Temple, the High Priest, the priesthood, the levitical system, sacrifices, etc. He could wipe all that out so that everyone who would accept Him could be saved. As Christians, people would no longer have to make pilgrimages throughout the year to Jerusalem (money). No longer have to purchase and present sacrificial animals (money). No longer have to have a High Priest, priesthood or Levites to mediate between the people and God. No longer have to maintain an expensive Temple as we become God's Temple. No longer have to learn, memorize and follow all the Laws. Jesus was threatening their power base, their political base, their economical base, their livelihood, their careers! So He wasn't just upsetting tables in the Court of the Gentiles, He was upsetting the whole system! No wonder the High Priest, Caiaphas grew to hate Him. Accepting Jesus Christ as the Jewish Messiah (yes, the Jews were, and are still, waiting for their Messiah) meant Caiaphas, and many underlings, lost everything! They all thought the Jewish Messiah would come and set up a world empire with Jerusalem and the Temple as the center of everything. Surely, the Jewish Messiah would work with the priests and make Judaism the world religion giving them even more power and money! But Jesus was going to wipe it all out so that God was accessible to anyone and everyone who would believe! They could not accept Him as the Messiah and still remain in control. That was why they felt so threatened and hated Him so much.
Lest we be too hard on the Jewish leaders, let us think about how this has happened in our Christian denominations. Most denominations started out with a love and zeal for God. But it doesn't take long for us to slide into our own pride, idolatry and greed. The first church began after Christ died and the Apostles (formerly called the Disciples) began starting churches. Within just a few years after Christ's death, that churches began having petty problems and the Apostles had to deal with them. When you read the letters written by the Apostles in the New Testament, like 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, etc. you see the Apostles dealing with problems cropping up, so among their teaching are admonitions and guidance. This church eventually became the Catholic Church. Catholic means "universal". If you know any European history, you know how much power the Catholic church garnered and it wasn't used well. Frankly, they built themselves an empire with money, real estate and power and it was all based on greed, lust, pride and control. You see, back in the ancient days, people weren't all educated. So they had to rely on the priests to tell them about God and the priests could make up anything and tell the people that if you don't do this or that, you were going to hell for eternity. Sure enough the Catholic leadership began making up all kinds of things such as the worship of saints, crusades, services only in Latin, Bible only in Latin, etc, etc, etc. Basically whatever brought in more money. "We will pray your loved one into heaven for (so many dollars)"; "Buy a candle and say a prayer and you will get (whatever you are praying for)"; "Go on this crusade and no matter how much you sin, you are guaranteed a place in heaven"; "Give us this property and we will allow you to divorce your wife (called an annulment)", ad infintum.
Eventually, the Catholic Church became so corrupt and evil that people began to look more closely. Educated men, who could read the ancient languages and Latin began to read the Bible for themselves. Desiring God and accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior (Catholics can be just as saved, or lost, as you and I) meant the Holy Spirit was living in them to teach them through the Word. It took great courage to buck the money making power system of the Catholic Church! But finally some did. It cost many lives. It was the Protestant Reformation. What really helped was when the Bible was interpreted into their language, instead of just being in the ancient Hebrew and Greek, or Latin. Very few people could read Hebrew, Greek, Latin but more could read English. The King James Bible was commissioned by KING JAMES and was to translate the Bible into the language of the day, the King's English. He appointed scholars to translate it. The Catholic Church was livid because this meant they would have less control over what people thought and did. No longer did they have to rely on a priest to interpret for them, giving the priest all control. So people died so that we could read the Bible in English! The Catholic leadership said the Word of God shouldn't be handled and misinterpreted by every Tom, Dick and Harry. It should only be handled by church educated men. To make the Bible "common" was anathema. But, it happened and more and more people learned the truth about grace and love and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Just like the Jews, the Catholics had such a stronghold in the world, running things like their own empire, with money, power, control... and Jesus ruined it all for them. You see, with Jesus as our High Priest, we no longer need a priesthood to tell us about God, mediate between us and God. We no longer need to be slaves to win our salvation and eternal life. We don't have to pay our way into heaven. People began to realize that the Catholic Church had them in a bondage that they didn't have to submit to in order to be saved, they were set free in Jesus Christ!
Lest we be too hard on the Jews and the Catholics, let's look at what happened with the Christian protestant denominations. Whether Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Lutheran, etc. they each started with those who were on fire for the Lord and had a zeal for God. But each denomination begins to force God out of their sanctuary and into some kind of box. As long as God stays in that box and only comes out when the preacher/priest tells Him to come out, then everything is good. We have people who write liturgies, prayers, sermons and everyone has to read those liturgies, prayers, sermons. That way they can control what is being read, prayed and sermonized. We have hymnals so we can control the words people sing about God. We have an order of service and we must follow that order regardless of what God may want to do. Heavens, we must be finished at 11:55am so the congregation can go to the restaurants! We must have a hierarchy or bureaucracy in order to take care of any problems and control the churches. We have to have a printing company so that we can print all the Sunday School books, Books of Prayer, Devotionals, denominational magazines, etc so that everyone reads the same things. We have to control what they read and think! We have denominational universities so we can turn out ministers that are under our control! It just goes on and on. And each denomination has become just as greedy, power hungry, controlling and prideful as the Jews and the Catholics. I believe it's just the way of man. Due to our sin natures, we have such a problem with pride, greed, control and lust that it can get out of control in a NY minute. Pastors are under such pressure to become mega-church pastors in order to be considered successful. And once the numbers go up and money starts coming in, it's very easy to slip into controlling and pride that all the rest fall into.
We need Jesus and Him only! Jesus wants to wipe out the bureaucracies, the legalism, the politicking, the power struggles, the greed for money. None of that is needed to be saved and to have a relationship with God, our Father! Jesus took care of all of that for us and we have access to God through Him! In fact, one of the tenets of the Baptist faith is "the priesthood of the believer". I.e. we don't need anyone to mediate between us and our Father God. Jesus is the only Priest we need. He sits at the right hand of God making intercession for us. All we need is to be saved through Jesus Christ and we have a relationship restored with our Father! No need for a preacher/priest. No need for a big church building. No need for a Bible college degree, etc. Once saved, the Holy Spirit moves into our hearts and He teaches us if we let Him. We must read the Word to get it into our heads and we must dialogue with God so that He can guide our thoughts through the Holy Spirit. So if I was marooned on a desert island, I could still get saved, and I could still have a relationship with God and I could still learn about God with no one else to guide me!
Now, that doesn't mean I shouldn't go to church. Because church can be a good thing. We learn so much from the trained preachers and Bible teachers and materials and resources. But they are not necessary for us to be saved and have a daily relationship with God. They are wonderful resources and give us relationships that can strengthen our walk in the Lord and Jesus wants us to be a part of a church. What I'm saying, is that we don't have to have the denomination organization and bureaucracy to have a relationship with God. And too many times, it can actually get in the way of God's move. For instance, let's say that God knows each person in the congregation and knows there are some very heavy hearts. He wants to meet with them and touch their hearts and relieve their anxieties. But the pastor has to follow the order of service, he feels he has to present his sermon (to justify his salary) and everyone must be cleared before 12:00pm or he will have complaints that the service ran too long. And you don't want members upset because they will go to another church and take their money with them. So basically God has to stay in His box and out of the way. If the pastor let's God out of the box, the service might run too long, he won't get his sermon in, there will be complaints from members and his minister of music has had the choir rehearsing the cantata for 2 weeks now and won't take kindly to not presenting it today. So, yes, it's better to leave God in the box and hope everyone will go home and do their praying and meeting with God at home.
But what if God has enough of being stored in a box? If He isn't welcome in His church to do as He sovereignly pleases, then He might just walk out the door. And that's the one thing you DON'T want to happen. You don't want God to walk out of your church, your denomination. It's hard for us humans to understand that there are more important things than money, power, control, our pride, our ego, our organization, our talents, our schedules, goals and agendas.
It's also hard for us to understand that success has a different meaning to God than it does to the world. We think a mega-church pastor with 5,000 people, a multi million dollar budget, 25 people on staff, a big salary, $2,000 suits and $75 ties, drives a $75,000 Cadillac Escalade is a "successful pastor". That equals success in our world and therefore he must be blessed by God and more spiritual. We think if the church has a fancy building, a megatron screen in front, computerized graphics and videos, a youth building all it's own and a children's wing that has a hallway made into a Wild West street scene... we've arrived! It's a success. And as long as 5,000 people come every Sunday and we are having to have 2-3 services and can pay for all the staff it takes to keep people entertained and happy, then it's a success. Maybe it is. But too often we are finding out that behind the scenes, behind the curtain, there are problems with ego, pride, greed, etc just like in any secular organization. There are marketing strategies, consultants on "how to build your church", seminars, training weekends, how-to books on how to get your church back on track. There are gimmicks to try to draw people to the big church! Remove the book store and make it into a coffee house! Add some strobe lights! Hire a media person to make videos and snatchy grabs to get people's attention! Buy the latest hymnals or the most impressive choir robes! Make sure the head pastor has a stylist, an expensive wardrobe, a makeup artist and get him on TV! Do podcasts, live streaming on Facebook! It's become a never-ending, money-making scheme.
None of this, on it's own, is sinful. Using Facebook to inter-relate with your members is great. Live-streaming your service for your shut-ins is wonderful! Having a pastor who is clean, dressed and presentable is a good image. Nothing wrong with a coffee shop, seeing as I love coffee! Strobe lights don't bother me. What I'm saying is that it can become just as much a circus that has nothing to do with God, as the Jewish system and the Catholic system. The Baptists can fall into it just like the Lutheran and the African-Methodist-Episcopal denominations. One church can fall into it but the next one hasn't. Once the bureaucracy, the organization, the money base is involved, it becomes real hard for any leader to be willing to give it all up for Christ. The pastors begin to feel like they would be letting the congregation down, that they are failures. By all means, let's keep the slick, shiny surface looking slick, shiny and problem-free. But pastors shouldn't feel like that. Congregations shouldn't put those expectations on pastors. Pastors should be seeking God and ministering to their members and then if GOD tells them to add a 2nd service, do it. But be sure it's from God. And keep checking with God to make sure that God is in control of the service.
To be quite honest (and I could be wrong), I have to wonder if it's not the small churches that give their members more sustenance from God than the big churches and the mega-churches. They may have more money and facilities to offer your family a cafeteria of choices for fun and entertainment. But I have to wonder why so many people go there. If it's for ANYTHING other than to worship, meet with and learn from God, it's idolatry. Church is for worship, meeting with God, learning about God and making relationships with those in the church so you can edify them and they can edify you in Christ. It's not to entertain you; to give fun amusement park babysitting service for your children; it's not to give your teenager a long list of "fun" activities to keep them safely occupied and out of your hair; it's not a place to go take a morning nap on Sunday morning; it's not a social club; it's not a network of potential customers for your business. And it's especially not a place for getting your ears tickled, making you feel special and like you've wracked up points with God.
If you see yourself, or your church, as being like the Jewish system in Jesus' day, then liken it to the Court of the Gentiles. What you need is to go past the outer court and into the Holy Place. You need to humble yourself before Jesus and be willing for Him to do away with any religiosity, legalism, organization and bureaucracy. Let Him be the One and Only need that you have in life and let Him, and Him only, fill that need. If you can do that in your church, then you have a good church. But if your church doesn't allow you to get on your face before God, then think about where you are going to church. You don't need more busy-ness. You need more one-on-one time with God. Of course, you don't need church to spend that time with God. You can do it right now in your car, your home, your garage even! But if you are a member of a church and yet you don't feel like you could go to God while you are in that church, then something is wrong and out of balance. If you don't feel like you can worship God in freedom of expression then something is out of balance in you or your church. The only thing that is absolutely necessary in a church meeting is that God be first and He be worshiped with all our heart, all our mind and all our strength. All else should flow from that.
Let's get back to the Court of the Gentiles and what it means in the context of Revelation. True believers go through the outer court and into the Holy Place, the Temple proper. Has your church or denomination become a Courtyard of the Gentiles? Go past it and into the Holy Place with God. The only access to this Holy Place is through Jesus Christ. Once inside, this is where you will be counted as measured within the Temple. If you are with God through Jesus Christ, then you are saved. You are in the Ark of Jesus Christ and you are safe and will be rescued! You are a true worshiper of God!
1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with Him.
The Courtyard of the Gentiles will allow anyone in and it will be trampled by sightseers and gawkers and those who have no real relationship with God. It will even be taken over by those who hate the true God. They will set up their idols but have nothing to do with the only living God!
But those true worshipers are counted, measured, within the Temple of God and are safe.
Revelation 11:2 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.
Whether this is a real Temple on earth or a spiritual Temple made up of true believers (and I personally believe it's both), it will be measured. But the Courtyard of the Gentiles will not be measured and is "given to the Gentiles." The Gentiles in this context are non-believers. Not just non-Jews. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are God's People. We've been adopted into the family of God. The Jewish nation had been selected as God's people in the Old Testament through Abraham. But, when Jesus Christ came as the Jewish Messiah, He was rejected by the Israelites. Not all, of course, but the nation as a whole, rejected Jesus as their anticipated Messiah. So then, the offer was made to the Gentiles and the Gentiles could then be saved and adopted into the family of God.
Romans 6:14-17 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery that returns you to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 And if we are children, then we are heirs: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified with Him.
Galatians 3: 5-9 5 God gives you his Spirit and works miracles in you. But does he do this because you obey the Law of Moses or because you have heard about Christ and have faith in him? 6 The Scriptures say that God accepted Abraham because Abraham had faith. 7 And so, you should understand that everyone who has faith is a child of Abraham. 8 Long ago the Scriptures said God would accept the Gentiles because of their faith. This is why God told Abraham the good news that all nations would be blessed because of him. 9 This means everyone who has faith will share in the blessings given to Abraham because of his faith.
Galatians 3:26-29 26 You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 Now if you belong to Christ, then indeed you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise.
John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name
Ephesians 1:5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
Romans 4:11-14 11 Abraham let himself be circumcised to show he had been accepted because of his faith even before he was circumcised. This makes Abraham the father of all who are acceptable to God because of their faith, even though they are not circumcised. 12 This also makes Abraham the father of everyone who is circumcised and has faith in God, as Abraham did before he was circumcised. 13 God promised Abraham and his descendants that he would give them the world. This promise wasn't made because Abraham had obeyed a law, but because his faith in God made him acceptable. 14 If Abraham and his descendants were given this promise because they had obeyed a law, then faith would mean nothing, and the promise would be worthless.
Sonship does not depend on physical descent any more. It is not based on a bloodline but a faithline. The Jewish religious leaders of Jesus' time took pride in the fact that they were Abraham’s seed. By blood they were descended from Abraham through Isaac, the son of promise. But they didn't recognize Jesus as the promised Messiah. You see, the Jews believed that the Jewish Messiah that was promised by the prophets would be a world leader. He would come and lead the Israelites in victory and set up a world empire and the Jewish nation would be exalted here on earth. Jesus didn't do that so He must not be their Messiah. They believed that instead of doing away with the Temple, the priesthood and the sacrificial system of worship, that their Messiah would make it a worldwide religion and the Jews, because of their bloodline descent from Abraham would be in the cat bird seat! They would rule the world!
But here came a lowly Savior, who insisted on being a servant by washing His disciples feet. A Messiah who came into the city of Jerusalem (which every Jew believed was the navel of the world and would be the world's capital city when their Messiah took over) riding a donkey's cold wearing a ragged coat. A Messiah who plaited a whip and went into the Temple's outer Courtyard of the Gentiles and began driving out the vendors and overturning the money changer's tables. He said the Temple was suppose to be a House of Prayer, a place to worship, not a "den of thieves"! Jesus died on the cross to give us unfettered access and restored communication with Jehovah God. If we are saved, we are children of God. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are sons and daughters of God! We are royalty. We are princes and princesses! As children of the God of the Universe, the only God, we are of higher royalty than any descendant of a royal line on this earth! We think Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, President Trump are some type of royalty. But think of who we are! We have been adopted in the family of GOD! The Holy Spirit dwells in us as our mark of royalty!
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 21 Now it is God who establishes both us and you in Christ. He anointed us, 22 placed His seal on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a pledge of what is to come.
Now, so we don't think too highly of ourselves, this relationship with God is open to anyone who will accept Jesus as the only way to salvation. If you accept Jesus in faith that He is the Son of God, the Messiah, and the one who died to forgive us our sins and give us eternal life, then you can be saved and be adopted into the family of God. The only thing required of you is to humble yourself, ask forgiveness and believe on Jesus Christ. You cannot work your way into the family. You cannot buy your way into the family. You cannot be talented enough to become part of the family. It doesn't depend on who you know. We all come to the same place for adoption. On our knees, in humility, with sincere desire and faith in Jesus Christ. That's how we all became Christians. There is no other way, no shortcut. The work was done by Jesus Christ. He, and He alone, could do what was required for us to be saved and He did it. So, based on what He did, we can come to the Father and have a relationship with Him and be a prince/princess of royal lineage. To God we are His Children.
Circumcision was a sign that a person was an Israelite, a Jew. Every Jewish male baby was, and is, circumcised. The first to be circumcised was Abraham and his family. God commands Abraham to circumcise himself and his offspring as a sign of faith in the covenant of God with Abraham and his descendants. The circumcision ceremony, the brit milah or bris, takes place on the 8th day. A mohel (pronounced like boil) is the person who performs the circumcision. A mohel is trained in the Jewish laws concerning circumcision, as well as in surgical hygiene. In the Mosaic law, a spiritual interpretation was imposed upon the procedure when the Israelites were instructed to circumcise their hearts (Deuteronomy 10:16). They were to recognize that the physical mark of covenant membership, circumcision, was just a mark. They were also to manifest spiritual qualities of commitment and obedience to the Lord's will.
Jeremiah 4:4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD And remove the foreskins of your heart.
Circumcision was just a mark but it should be more than that, a consecration to the Lord and holiness (Leviticus 11:44). A true covenant member is not just physically circumcised but would be motivated by love of God (Deuteronomy 6:5) and love of fellow man (Leviticus 19:18) and, therefore, the heart is circumcised. John the Baptist was circumcised (Luke 1:59), as were Jesus (Luke 2:21) and Saul of Tarsus, later called Apostle Paul (Philippians 3:5). When uncircumcised Gentiles received God's outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 10:44-48, the Apostles saw that the prophecies of Ezekiel, in which the Lord promised a clean heart and an indwelling of his Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:25-27) were now being fulfilled. Through the prophet Joel God promised He would pour out his Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28 ; Acts 2:17). The spiritual circumcision had been achieved by divine grace without the physical circumcision. Peter opposed Judaizers who were insisting that new Christians be circumcised. He embraced faith in Christ alone (Acts 15:8-11), and denied the necessity now of circumcision for the Gentiles. But there was dispute. To resolve it Paul and Barnabas consulted with the elders in Jerusalem, where it was agreed that Gentiles should not have to be circumcised (Acts 15:13-21). What was important to God was being a "new creation" (Galatians 6:15) and keeping God's commandments (1 Corinthians 7:19). Circumcision or uncircumcision are meaningless but allowing faith to work through love is what is important.
Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Paul taught that the new covenant made salvation by grace and faith alone and not through works (Ephesians 2:8). What really counts was faith and obedience. This is what characterizes the covenant between God and man.
Romans 4:11 [Abraham] was circumcised later, and his circumcision was a sign to show that because of his faith God had accepted him as righteous before he had been circumcised. And so Abraham is the spiritual father of all who believe in God and are accepted as righteous by him, even though they are not circumcised.
So the Courtyard of the Gentiles in Revelation 11:2 will be "given over to the Gentiles and They will trample on the holy city for 42 months". This means those who are unsaved and are not true believers in Jesus Christ. It could mean all of mankind who are lost or it could mean those who rely on the Church but who are not true believers themselves. They would say they are Christians but they are not true believers. I call them cultural 'christians' and some call them nominal christians or carnal christians. In Ellicott's Commentary on this verse, he says, "Church life there will be 'the ebbing and flowing mass,' who 'sit in the way of knowledge,' who 'stand idle in the market-place,' who have no oil in their lamps, and who indirectly pave the way for utter worldliness and practical heathenism". Gill's Exposition of the Bible says, "who have only the name, but not the nature of living Christians, have a form of godliness, but deny its power, are Jews outwardly, but not inwardly, and worship only in an external manner, attend to outward forms and ceremonies, but know nothing of true doctrine, pure worship, or spiritual religion". Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary says, "The holy city, the visible church, is trodden under foot; is filled with idolaters, infidels, and hypocrites".
Psalm 79:1 A psalm of Asaph. O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble.
Luke 21: 23b-24 For there will be great distress upon the land and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive into all the nations. And Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
This trampling of things sacred will last for 42 months, half of 7 years (3 1/2 years), or 1260 days. Some times this is called a "time, times, and half a time". See Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7; Daniel 12:11. There will be no respect for our God or His people.
11 “The multitude of your sacrifices—
what are they to me?” says the Lord.
“I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure
in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
12 When you come to appear before me,
who has asked this of you,
this trampling of my courts?
13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals
I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I hide my eyes from you;even when you offer many prayers,
I am not listening.
Your hands are full of blood!
16 Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.
18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the good things of the land;
20 but if you resist and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the historicists, who believe this has already happened, they point to this time as 1,260 years and that this refers to the length of the Roman Empire. Others say it refers to the Catholic church's empire. When the Catholic church had such power that they crowned kings, ran governments and Popes had control over Europe. The papacy began its reign in 538 AD under Emperor Justinian. If you add 1260 years to 538 AD, you get 1798 AD. On February 10, 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte sent General Louis Alexandre Berthier, with his army into Rome, Italy. "In 1798 General Berthier made his entrance into Rome, abolished the papal government, and established a secular one." -Encyclopedia Britannica 1941 edition. The Pope at that time died soon in exile.
For those who see details in Revelation as symbolic rather than literal, the numbers have symbolic meaning. It's an indefinite period but indicates there is an ending at some point. They don't take it as literally 1260 days (or months or years) but a a certain time period that has a beginning and end.
Revelation 11:3-12 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.” 5 If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. 6 They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want. 7 Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. 8 Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city—which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt—where also their Lord was crucified. 9 For three and a half days some from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. 10 The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth. 11 But after the three and a half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on.
First, the Lord says, "I will appoint MY two witnesses". The personal pronoun, "my", indicates ownership. There is a definite relationship between God and the two witnesses. They belong to Him and are put here on this earth to serve Him. So anyone who tries to harm them has to deal with God.
The two witnesses have been variously identified by theologians as two individuals, as two groups of people, or as two concepts. Do the two witnesses refer to the Churh and Israel? In Romans 11:24-25, the Apostle Paul refers to Israel as the tame olive tree and to the Gentiles as a wild olive tree. Both witnessing about God. But then, this prophecy goes on to say they will be killed, lie in the public square and resurrected to ascend to Heaven. So can this very specific description be the Church and the Jews?
The Anti-Christ and False Prophet are satan's two witnesses. But there will be God's two witnesses. They will preach the full truth of God’s Word as a counterbalance to the lies of satan. Once again, in mercy, God makes sure the truth is made known. They will witness and testify God's divine truth. They will prophesy, or speak forth, a message from God. It will be a foretelling of the wrath and judgment to come, but also giving God's message of salvation still available for those who will repent and turn to Jesus. Is their message directed just towards the Jews or to everyone that some may receive?
Malachi 4:5 Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.
Some believe these two witnesses are Enoch and Elijah because they were two individuals whom God took to heaven without experiencing death (Genesis 5:23; 2 Kings 2:11). They were raptured to heaven. Both were prophets, and one was a Gentile (Enoch) and the other was a Jew (Elijah). Others see Moses and Elijah as the two witnesses because the witnesses' have power to turn water into blood (Revelation 11:6), which Moses is known for (Exodus 7), and they have power to destroy people with fire (Revelation 11:5), which Elijah is known for (2 Kings 1). They were present at Jesus’ Transfiguration (Matthew 17:3). Others believe God chooses two new individuals to be witnesses. I.e. two men who will come in the power, spirit, and character of Enoch and Elijah or Moses and Elijah. John the Baptist was the prophesied forerunner of Jesus Christ. The prophecy had said the prophet Elijah would prepare the way for the Messiah (Matthew 17:10-13). But it was John the Baptist who fulfilled this prophecy. He came as a virtual Elijah, not a reincarnated Elijah. He came in the power, spirit, character of Elijah.
Exodus 25:31-40 "You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece. And six branches shall come out of its sides: three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side. Three bowls shall be made like almond blossoms on one branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower, and three bowls made like almond blossoms on the other branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower-- and so for the six branches that come out of the lampstand."
I answered. “On the stand are seven lamps, each with seven flames. 3 One olive tree is on the right side and another on the left of the oil container. 4 But, sir, what do these mean?”
5 Then he asked, “Don't you know?”
“No sir,” I replied.
6 So the angel explained that it was the following message of the LORD to Zerubbabel: I am the LORD All-Powerful. So don't depend on your own power or strength, but on my Spirit. 7 Zerubbabel, that mountain in front of you will be leveled to the ground. Then you will bring out the temple's most important stone and shout, “God has been very kind.”
8 The LORD spoke to me again and said: 9 Zerubbabel laid the foundation for the temple, and he will complete it. Then everyone will know that you were sent by me, the LORD All-Powerful. 10 Those who have made fun of this day of small beginnings will celebrate when they see Zerubbabel holding this important stone. Those seven lamps represent my eyes—the eyes of the LORD—and they see everything on this earth.
11 Then I asked the angel, “What about the olive trees on each side of the lampstand? What do they represent? 12 And what is the meaning of the two branches from which golden olive oil flows through the two gold pipes?”
13 “Don't you know?” he asked.
“No sir, I don't,” was my answer.
14 Then he told me, “These branches are the two chosen leaders who stand beside the Lord of all the earth.”
A lamp is a symbol for the Word of God, "Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105). Olive oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit. It takes the olive oil of the Spirit to illuminate the lamp of God's Word. It is the fuel. The two witnesses will be anointed and full of the Holy Spirit shining God's truth in a dark world. God will give them whatever they need to fulfill their task and accomplish their purpose. The Lord always provides the resources necessary to accomplish whatever He sends us to do.
Deuteronomy 19:15 states: “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established”
In the Law, it took two witnesses to convict someone of a crime. Not one, but two. God sends TWO witnesses. He is following His own law as He warns people to repent through the two witnesses.
When the Church is raptured, the Holy Spirit no longer indwells every Christian as He does today. This universal indwelling won't happen again until the Millenium. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit will be selective to certain believers. These two witnesses will be continually filled with the Holy Spirit, a steady stream of God's Spirit poured into them to enable them to do what they are purposed to do.
Their ministry is characterized in conduct by four great miraculous powers:
- They can kill their enemies with fire
- Withhold rain for three and a half years
- Turn water into blood
- Bring plagues upon the earth
These powers not only defend and protect the two witnesses until their work is done, but they are also significant to Israel and the Jews and would be used to turn the hearts of the Jews to God in preparation for the coming King.
The Beast of Revelation 13 is the one who kills the two witnesses. We will look at the beast later. But, for now, their work is accomplished and the Beast is let off the chain to kill the two witnesses. Their bodies are left on display for the world to see. Probably via 24 hours news channels, the obscene event will be played out all over the world on TV.
Revelation 11:11-13 11 But three and a half days later, God will breathe life into their bodies. They will stand up, and everyone who sees them will be terrified. 12 The witnesses then heard a loud voice from heaven, saying, “Come up here.” And while their enemies were watching, they were taken up to heaven in a cloud. 13 At that same moment there was a terrible earthquake that destroyed a tenth of the city. Seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were frightened and praised the God who rules in heaven.
Malachi 2:2 If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name," says the LORD Almighty, "I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not resolved to honor me.
Not only has God raised the two witnesses up from the dead and translated them into heaven right before their eyes, He also sends a great earthquake killing 7,000 people. Israel sits on a large fault line. The last major earthquake to hit Israel was in 1927, which killed around 500 people and damaged every house in Jerusalem or Hebron.
For the historicists, they see the earthquake as the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, where the Lord is taking His “tithe” (tithe is 10%) of Jerusalem and warning His people of further judgment. Of 70,000 people, 10% would be 7,000 people, leaving 63,000 people.
The word translated as persons is the Greek is anthrōpōn, literally, “names of men.” It's possible that 7,000 people can be named who died. Or it could be that 7,000 titles of men are destroyed. Such as during the French Revolution where the nobility of France fell. Seven is a symbol of completeness in the Bible. Is it literally 7,000 or symbolically meaning everything or a completion.
Is the earthquake a reference to the political upheaval that shook Europe after the Reformation? Or is it the shaking caused by false religions, false gods, false teachings that cause many to go to hell. Those who would have called themselves Christians but have not truly accepted Jesus as their Savior, fall out of the church by this great shaking.
For those who see it as symbolic it could mean the shaking and persecution of the saints; a political upheaval like the Fall of Rome or the French Revolution that brought in the "Enlightenment"; or, a spiritual upheaval like the Inquisition, Crusades, the Reformation.
Sodom and Egypt are symbolic of the wickedness of people. A great city is later, in Revelation, named as Babylon, a symbol of a wicked world power that deceives the nations. Or is it Jerusalem where the two witnesses were based? Jerusalem is the capital of the world in God’s sight.
”..The remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.” Remnant=loipos and means the rest of those that remain. So the ones who are left, "gave glory to the God of heaven". Does this mean they are saved and are the remnant? Or do they "praise the God who rules in heaven" but without repentance and asking for Jesus Christ to save them. They know there is a God but they refuse to repent and accept Him as Lord of their life?
Comparing the three earthquakes in Revelation:
Revelation 6:12-17 - A great earthquake; Every mountain and island were moved out of their places; who shall be able to stand on the day of His wrath?; Men hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains, wishing to hide from the face of the One who sits on the throne
Revelation 11:13 - A great earthquake; The tenth part of the city fell; 7000 men were slain; The rest were frightened, and gave glory to the God of heaven
Revelation 16:18-21 - A great earthquake; The great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell; Great hail out of heaven fell upon men; men blasphemed God
Are these different occurrences of 3 separate earthquakes or telling of the same earthquake but with three different voices?
In Revelation 11:1, the Jews have been worshiping for three-and-a-half years in their rebuilt temple. In Revelation 11:2, the Gentiles will overrun Jerusalem. The two Witnesses are warning the Jews about the false covenant they made with the Antichrist, or Satan incarnate. The Two Witnesses were testifying to win men to Christ as their Messiah. Their message could be God’s last warning to Israel, to the world, before the Antichrist breaks his covenant and seeks to destroy them.
A lot of questions, but don't be afraid. We, who are saved, are safe in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our Ark. We don't have to have any fear of God's wrath or judgment. If you are not saved, what are you waiting on? Accept Jesus and come into His ark of safety!
Revelation 11:14-19 14 The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon. 15 The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.”
16 And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying:
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. 18 The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small—and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”
19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm.
The interlude between the 6th and 7th trumpets is over. The seventh trumpet sounds. Remember in chapter 8, the last three trumpets of the seven are called the Woe Trumpets. So the seventh trumpet is the third Woe Trumpet.
Revelation 8:13 I looked and I heard an eagle flying in mid heaven saying with a loud voice, "Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound."
The fifth trumpet was the first Woe Trumpet and when it sounded, demon hordes were released. The sixth trumpet was the second Woe Trumpet and when it sounded, the 200 million man army was released from the Euphrates River. What happens in the seventh trumpet extends all the way through the rest of the book of Revelation to chapter 20
Revelation 10:7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be fulfilled, just as He proclaimed to His servants, the prophets.
The mystery of God will be fulfilled! When we pray the Lord's Prayer, there is a phrase that says, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven". The prayer, "Thy kingdom come", is about to be answered! This 7th trumpet blows the final judgment which stretches all the way through the judgment to come. It will encompass five pairs of visions, both on earth and in heaven that will lead us all the way to the end when Christ establishes His kingdom. You have seven seals and then out of the seventh seal comes the seven trumpets, and out of the seventh trumpet comes the seven bowl judgments. This is a judgment trumpet like Joel 2:1
Joel 2:1 1 Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy hill.
Let all who live in the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming.
It is close at hand—
We can see this from two different perspectives. From the perspective of the unsaved and lost, all these judgments are horrific and terrifying, signaling their punishment and eternal damnation. From the perspective of the saved, those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, all these events are leading up to what we've hoped for! Christ bringing in His Kingdom. His glory being shown forever! Jesus reigning as King and ushering us into an eternity of wonder and delight. We will be worshiping at His feet for all that He has done for us, as you can see from our passage. Those who are saved will be worshiping, "We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign...The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small". But for those who have refused Jesus Christ, it will be a time of horror, "The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead,...and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”
Which perspective will you see it from? You can be saved by accepting Jesus Christ.
Once you have repented, asked for forgiveness, accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior and and as the Son of God, then two things happen. You see, we were originally meant to be a tri-part being: body, soul, spirit. Just like God is a tri-part being: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. They are three distinct individuals but they work in such harmony, unity and perfect completeness that they are as one - the God head, three in one. It should be the same with us. We have our physical body. We have our personal being, our soul, what makes us who we are as a distinct individual. But, because of Adam and Eve's sin, the spirit part of their being died. When they sinned, their spirit died. And it is with the spirit that we communicate with God. Every human being since then has been born with body and soul but no spirit. When we accept Jesus as our Savior and He forgives our sins, our spirit it born! That is why Christians call it being "born again". So the first thing that happens is our spirit is born the minute we repent, believe and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. We are back to being a tri-part being! Our spirit can commune with our God once again! No longer separated from our Creator and Father! Jesus made that possible.
The second thing that happens is the Holy Spirit - that part of the God head - will enter into you. He comes to dwell in your heart to help your new spirit to grow and become strong. It is the Holy Spirit within us that helps us to learn more about God, shows us how to pray, teaches us through the Bible, warns us of danger to our spirit and empowers us to overcome the dangers when we cooperate with Him.
Now, will you walk through the rest of your life without sinning? No. We still have our human bodies and souls and are tempted and we fall. Does that mean we aren't saved? NO! Our salvation is not based on our performance (thank God!!!) but rather on the saving work done by Jesus Christ and He didn't fail! If we are saved through Jesus Christ, and we were to die right in the middle of a sin. We are still saved and would go to Heaven. His grace and His work are sufficient to cover all sin. Does that give us a license to sin? No. You see, we have been changed. Our spirit has been born again and the Holy Spirit now dwells in us. We won't be happy in our sins. We will know we are doing something wrong and there will be an internal struggle because we know we aren't behaving right. We may try to ignore the warnings of the Holy Spirit because we want to sin. But eventually, we will humble ourselves and ask forgiveness and try to do it right the next time. And we are forgiven. We may have some consequences to our sin that we have to face. And God may allow us to go through those consequences in order to teach us so we don't repeat the problem. But our relationship with God and our eternal security in Him are not in jeopardy because it's based on Christ and what He did on the cross. It's not based on how good or bad we are, or how much we do or don't do for God. That would be salvation through human works and we can't be good enough to trust in our own works for salvation. We must trust that Jesus' work was good enough. We have to have faith that Jesus paid the price once and for all on the cross and that He took all our sins, and the punishment and wrath that sin brings, upon Himself.
This lifelong process of spiritual growth is called sanctification. It's the work of the Holy Spirit and He teaches and empowers our spirit to grow up, mature, get stronger. If we cooperate with the Holy Spirit then our baby spirit doesn't stay a baby. It grows up. Some people get saved but they leave it at that. Their spirit stays immature, weak, and there is little cooperation with the Holy Spirit. This is sad. There is so much to God, we can never plumb the depths of Him and it's a wonderful experience to grow, commune with Him, to learn more and more about Him. The more we grow in Him, the less worldly minded we are and the more spiritual minded we become. Sin is less attractive, the demands and attractions of the world are less attractive. The more we will want God and the more we will desire His kingdom come and His will be done!