Saturday, 17 June 2017 13:10

70. The measuring: A reed that could measure the temple of God, the altar, and the worshipers * Revelation 11:1 - Part 1 of 2

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

 

PART 1

 

*** The measuring reed ***: The reed was a plant which was used as a measuring rod. It was long and straight. Once again, John was given an active role in the vision. He was supposed to rise and measure different items. The word measure in this verse comes from the Greek metreó. This word is also used in Matthew 7:2 and Mark 4:24: "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you again." (Matthew 7:1-2). 2 Corinthians 10:12 also gives us an insight of what the word metreó means in the Biblical context: "For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." According to this verse, the members of the church in Corinth were "measuring themselves by themselves", and that was not a wise thing to do. We are not qualified to measure ourselves because "not he that commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends" (2 Corinthians 10:18).

This measuring rod is very special because it can measure not only the temple of God, but it can also measure the altar, as well as the people. In light of the verses we've read in Matthew 7:1-2, Mark 4:24, and 2 Corinthians 10:12, we can see that metreó was used as a measurement which should not be done according to human standards. Measurements, when it comes to spiritual assessment, should only be done by God's measuring device. He is in charge of the reed that can accurately assess things as well as people. In the Old Testament, we also see measuring as a symbol of judgment, to decide who would live and who would die (2 Samuel 8:2).

*** Measure the temple of God ***: Ezekiel was also called in a vision to take notes on the measurements of the temple (Ezekiel 40-42). In the case of Ezekiel, the goal was to restore the actual temple and the people as a nation (Ezekiel 39:25-29). The Israelites had been taken into Babylonian captivity because of their apostasy and disobedience. At the appointed time, God was going to allow them to return and restore the temple, the sacrificial rituals, and the nation of Israel. The sacrificial ritual was a tangible way which the people connected to God. Restoration of the Temple meant a reconnection with the Creator. In Revelation 1:1, the first item in the list of things to be measured was the Temple of God. John was being called to measure the naos (or naon), which is the Greek word for the innermost portion of the temple, the Most Holy Place. That is where the Arc of the Covenant was placed (representing the throne of God). The hieron is the name used for the Holy place, the first room in the temple, where the altar of incense, table and the candlesticks were. The word hieron is not mentioned in Revelation, but its contents are.

By instructing John to measure the very place where God dwells, God was calling John to verify that God's promises are true. John would be able to check that the connection God was offering to the people was genuine. God wants to re-establish and solidify a relationship with His people. Some scholars interpret the measuring of the temple as a symbol of the church. Even though the expression can refer to the church in some occasions, the church in this passage is already represented on the list of things that John had to measure: the worshipers. Others suggest that the temple in this verse referred to the actual temple in Jerusalem. However, by the time John wrote the book of Revelation, the temple had been destroyed about twenty years earlier. The passage in Ezekiel is certainly clarifying as to the purpose of the measuring of the temple: "When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, who caused them to be led into captivity among the nations: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there."(Ezekiel 39:27-28).

*** Measure the altar ***: There were two altars in the actual temple: the altar of sacrifice (located in the outer court), and the altar of incense (located in the Holy Place). At a first glance, Revelation 11:1 does not appear to specify which one John was supposed to measure. But when we read the next verse (Revelation 11:2), we can see that John was not supposed to measure the outer court. We can conclude that John was supposed to measure the altar of incense. That is the same altar where the prayers of the saints were offered to God (Revelation 8:3-6). The altar represents the connection itself, between God and the people. It makes sense that John had to first measure the source (God), then measure the means by which the source establishes a connection (the altar/prayers), and lastly the receiving end of the connection (the people).

*** Measure the worshipers ***: As the receiving end of the channel God had opened for them, the worshiper has the option to initiate communication with the Creator. It is up to the worshiper to decide if they want to establish a connection or not. God's measurements as well as the measurements of the channel (the altar) don't change. The variable in this scenario is the worshiper. The measuring reed will determine if the person being measured is willing to connect with God or not. Being that both the measuring of the people and the sealing of the people happen in the interlude section of the trumpets and seals, respectively, we can understand how they must be connected. As we studied in lesson #46, the seal is what identifies those who belong to God - those who have accepted the saving grace of Jesus Christ. God's measuring reed of Revelation 11:1 is the means by which this identification takes place. The measuring device belongs to God. He is in charge of assessing the information. John's measurements are a way to reassure all of us that God's methods are true and accurate.

*** The Sanctuary language ***: As we read in the Old Testament, on the Day of Atonement, the priest was supposed to offer a special sacrifice, in order to cleanse the sanctuary from all the sins that had been recorded there throughout the year. The sins had been forgiven, removed from the people, but they were "stored" in the sanctuary until the Day of Atonement. This ritual served to point to the work the Messiah would one day do, for the salvation of the human race, from the cross to the end of times, when the enemy of God is defeated. The ceremony of the Day of Atonement included the sprinkling of the blood of the sacrificed offering over the items being cleansed (Leviticus 16:14-16,18-19), the ram as burnt offering (Leviticus 16:5), and the bull and the two goats as sin offerings (Leviticus 16:5-6). The cleansing of the sanctuary, the altar, and the people was accomplished by the sprinkling of the blood over some of the items inside the sanctuary. The cleansing (Leviticus 16) and the measuring (Ezekiel 40-43) in the Old Testament were all related to the Day of Atonement. They targeted the same points mentioned in Revelation 11:1. Let's compare the verses:

 

Measuring in John's vision
(After Christ)
Cleansing of the Sanctuary
(Ancient Israel,  Before Christ)
Measuring in Ezekiel's vision
(Ancient Israel, Before Christ)
Ezekiel 40, 43, 44
The temple of God (in the Most Holy place) The mercy seat (in the Most Holy place)  - Leviticus ; Leviticus The temple (Ezekiel 40:3 to Ezekiel 43:12)
The altar of incense The altar of incense (In the Holy Place) - Leviticus ; Leviticus The altar of incense (Ezekiel 43: 13-27)
The people The people - Leviticus ; Leviticus The people (Ezekiel 43:18-27; Ezekiel 44)

 

*** Overview ***: The measuring of the temple, the altar, and the people mentioned in Revelation 11:1, must be understood in light of the verses in the Old Testament, where all the three elements to be cleansed are included. The passages of Leviticus and the passages of Ezekiel refer to the Day of Atonement, when the sanctuary was cleansed from the sins of the people which had accumulated there throughout the year. The sin no longer remained on the repenting individual, but the sins which were confessed, remained in the temple until it was cleaned. The blood Jesus shed (symbolically through the sacrificial ritual or literal with His death on the cross) is enough to cover sinners and cleanse them completely. The feast of the Day of Atonement served as a symbol for God's plan of salvation, which will come to completion at the Second Coming of Jesus as the well defined determination of who will be saved and who will be lost. That determination is made by God, based on what type of relationship we want to have with Him. By measuring the temple of God and the channel of communication (the altar/prayers) he made available to us, we can be assured that He keeps His promise to stay with and protect His people. What we need to do is to come to Him in prayer, repent, and accept Jesus' sacrifice for us.

   
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