The Lord will never let His church perish from the earth, and He will never lose one of His children. He will guard and keep you and all who find shelter in Christ eternally secure so that you do not have to fear those seeking to trample the church underfoot.
Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, 2 but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. (Revelation 11:1-2, ESV)
It is not an easy time to be a Christian. In some parts of the world, believers operate in secret, seeking to avoid the intrusive arm of governments committed to controlling or eliminating the church. In other places, hostile citizens burn and kill to terrorize Christians into leaving or quitting. In our own country, believers face extreme societal pressure in the form of cancellation or public attack for holding to biblical norms on a whole host of issues. In the wake of the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, many of our cultural elites are openly questioning whether any person of true Christian faith could be qualified for the highest court.
The book of Revelation reminds us that the hostility of the world toward Christians is nothing new. In fact, that hostility is a hallmark of the entire period of time between the Advent of Christ and His Second Coming. Revelation uniquely uses symbols drawn from the Old Testament to communicate the reality of the battle in which the church exists throughout the entire church age. The symbols are not reality; they are pictures of reality. The visual nature of Revelation is designed to press these realities home to us with greater force. In this series of posts, we have been looking particularly at how the images of Revelation portray the church. Revelation shows us how God views the church, reminding us that the view from God’s perspective often differs that the view from our perspective.
In Revelation 11, we have two wonderful images of the church. The second of the two (the two witnesses) is one of the more complicated passages in the whole book, and we will save our discussion of that until next time. For this article we will take up the first image in the chapter – that of the measured temple.
Chapter 11 begins in a way that is reminiscent of Zechariah 2 and Ezekiel 40-48. The recipient of the vision is invited to participate in the measuring of the temple. Significantly, in each of these cases, the physical temple is not actually standing. The temple is a picture of something else. Here in Revelation, John is handed something like a long cane pole of a known distance. John is to use this “measuring rod” to “measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there” (v. 1). At the same time he is told not to measure the court outside the temple as that is to be “given over to the nations” so they can “trample the holy city for forty-two months” (v. 2). Given the fact that the temple is a well-established image for the people of God in the New Testament (see 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:21-22; and 1 Peter 2:5), that the “holy city” (New Jerusalem) is a reference to the church used in the book of Revelation (see 21:2), and the fact that the vision actually mentions worshipers, it seems clear that this is another picture of the church.