Revelation 031 – God’s Temple: Past, Present, Future

Revelation 031 – God’s Temple: Past, Present, Future
Revelation 11:1-2 • Dr. Andy Woods • March 10, 2019 • Revelation


Dr. Andy Woods

God’s Temple: Past, Present, Future      3-10-19

Revelation 11:1-2        Lesson 31

Good morning everybody.   I hope you guys all managed to get your clocks set right, spring ahead, fall back, right.  I like fall better.  Let’s take our Bibles this morning and open them to the Book of Revelation, chapter 11, taking a look this morning at verses 1 and 2.  The title of our message this morning is The Temple of God, Past, Present and Future.  If you have been tracking with us through the Book of Revelation we are in a section of the book where the various trumpet judgments, at least six of them, have been sounded bringing various judgments to the earth.  Now one of the things I tried to warn everybody about is when you hit a six in a series look for a pause in the action.  I kind of call these lunch breaks, where John sort of stops with the chronology and he sort of pauses and highlights something that’s happening in the sequence.  And then once the pause is over he gets right back on the beaten path and the chronology continues.

When you hit a six look for a pause and that’s where we are, in between trumpet six and trumpet seven and we have a pause there in Revelation 10 and 11.  You might remember that the first pause was in seal six and seal seven where we had sort of a pause in the action related to the 144,000 Jewish evangelists, Revelation 7.  And now the same thing is happening.  In between trumpet six and trumpet seven we’ve got a pause and we’ve got a pause in the action, chapter 10, verse 1 through chapter 11 verse 13.  Chapter 10 we covered last week, it’s the announcement of no more delay.

And this morning we find ourselves in chapter 11 verses 1 and 2 where we get some information about the end of the time period called the times of the Gentiles.  And it’s here we learn that God is only going to put up with so much.  We sort of look at the progress of the evil in our world and we think it’s just going to go on and on and on and yet in our passage today we learn that that is not true.  God has evil on a very tight leash.  And next week, assuming the rapture doesn’t happen first, we’ll be looking at chapter 11 verses 3-13, the ministry of the two witnesses, the last part of that pause in the action between trumpet six and trumpet seven.

So this morning we’re trying to tackle two verses and you guys know me, I can make two verses go on probably three months [laughter].  But we have the command, verse 1, the court, verse 2, and then finally the second part of verse 2 the contempt.

Notice how it begins here, Revelation 11:1, notice the command.  At this point it says this, “Then there was given to me” that’s John, “a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, ‘Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it.’”  You’ll notice this word “temple.”  The Greek noun for temple is ναός, [naos] and I don’t think it’s talking about the entire temple complex but I think it’s talking about the actual temple building itself.

And this raises an interesting question.  Which temple are we dealing with here in Revelation 11:1-2?  In Jewish history there are a total of four temples, two past, two future.   The first temple, as you probably know, was built by Solomon around 966 B.C.  1 Kings 6:1 talks about that.  [1 Kings 6:1, “Now it came about in the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.”]  And that temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon just prior to or during the days of the Babylonian captivity.  And so Israel was out of their land without a temple for about 70 years.  And then they came back into that same land under the days of Ezra and Zerubbabel, etc. and they began to work on temple number 2 and that temple was refurbished by Herod and that was the temple that Christ was interacting with in the Gospels.  I had a chance to visit recently the remains of that temple and what did our Lord say.  The disciples were so impressed with the temple what did the Lord say?  It’s going to be taken apart brick by brick, and that’s exactly what happened.  In fact today in Israel you can go and see the remains of what once was a temple there, a beautiful temple torn apart stone by stone, brick by brick; you get the impression that when Jesus gives a prophecy it’s meant to be literal… Amen!

And you’ll find Jesus making that prediction about the destruction of the temple at the hands of the Romans in A.D. 70 and how that was literally fulfilled about 40 years later; you’ll find His prediction in Matthew 24:1-3.  [Matthew 24:1-3, “Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. [2] And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”  [3] As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”]

And so ever since that point in time the nation of Israel has not had a temple.  And yet Bible prophecy, like the passage we’re looking at today, makes it very clear that some way somehow a third temple must come into existence.   You’ll see this prediction in many places, like Daniel 9:27, it’s the temple that the antichrist will desecrate.  It’s hard to do that without a temple being there.  Daniel 12:11 predicts the same thing.    [Daniel 9:27, “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.’”  Daniel 12:11, “From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.”]

And the fact our Lord, quoting these prophecies, says this in Matthew 24:15, “Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),” “holy place” is a reference to temple three that the antichrist will desecrate.  Paul, the apostle, speaks about this third temple when he says of the antichrist, “who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.”  [2 Thessalonians 2:4]

And we know that that temple, I think will probably be destroyed with the seventh bowl judgment and it will be replaced by a glorious temple, a millennial temple, in the kingdom age (when it starts).  That’s the temple that the Shekinah glory of God will return to and you’ll see Ezekiel chapters 40-48 going into great detail of this millennial temple.

Now the criticism that people like myself face is well, you’re taking this coming temple stuff too literally, I mean, don’t you know that the Book of Revelation is a symbolic book, dah, dah, dah dah!  Well, can I ask you a basic question?   Were the first two temples literal?  I mean, if temple one and temple two are very literal structures why wouldn’t temple three and temple four be literal structures.

This is a chart from one of my professors in seminary and it shows how the Book of Ezekiel is symmetrically structured.  The things happening at the beginning of the book repeat themselves at the end of the book.  The Shekinah glory of God leaves the Solomonic temple but at the end of the book the Shekinah glory of God returns to the millennial temple.  So when people say well, I don’t believe that the temple’s coming is literal my question is well, do you take the first temple of Solomon literally?  If so then why wouldn’t you take the rest of the book literally as well?

The reality of the situation is we don’t have permission to go through God’s Word and take whiteout and cancel out things that don’t make sense to me.  The Bible tells you very clearly there will be temple three and temple four just as literally as there was temple one and temple two and as the maxim we like to follow “God says it, I believe it, that settles it.”  Or maybe better said, “God said it, that settles it!”  Whether God gets my assenting vote or not is irrelevant; God is going to do what God is going to do.  Amen!

So two temples past, two temples future BUT, and here’s some diagrams I found of the various temples that are on the horizon.  As exciting as all of that is, and it’s very exciting to study, there are three temples of more of a metaphorical nature that God is doing right now.  Did you know that?   And sometimes I find that as Christians we can get so excited about the Jewish temples coming that we forget about the temples that are right now in our midst.  One of those temples is the Lord’s body.  Remember what the Lord said in John 2:20, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up?  And what does it say in verse 21, “But He was speaking of the temple of His” what? “His body.”

And did you know that according to 1 Corinthians 6:19 that your body, as New Testament Christian is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  [1 Corinthians 6:19, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”  And you see, that is Paul’s whole basis for morality in the Christian life.  The Corinthians were joining themselves to prostitutes in sexual immorality, as Christians!  And rather than second guessing their salvation what you’ll find Paul doing in 1 Corinthians 6 is reminding them that when you join yourself in that sin you’re bringing the Lord in with you because don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  By the way, how long is the Holy Spirit in us for?  Forever.  Talk about an incentive for godly living, every sin I commit, sexually, gossip, bitterness, whatever it is I’m involving the Lord in it because the Bible says my body is “the temple of the Holy Spirit.”

And there’s another temple, and that temple, 1 Corinthians 3:16, is the local church.  “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”  I think in context there it’s speaking of the local church.  How do we treat the local church as Christians?  You know, a lot of Christians it’s hard to get them to commit to a local church.  It’s hard to get them to get behind a local church.  It’s hard to get them to contribute to the local church, to use their gifts in the local church, to attend the local church.  And we need to understand that is dishonoring to the temple of God just as much as dishonoring the Solomonic temple in Old Testament times.  Two temples past, two temples future, and three temples in the interim, the Lord’s body, our body and the local church.

But our focus this morning is on the third temple that’s on the horizon, Revelation 11:1-2.  [Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, “Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. [2] “Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.”]  I don’t claim to have the whole prophetic jigsaw figured out but I know this much: some way, somehow, in the middle of the coming tribulation period that temple must be functioning with a sacrificial system for the antichrist to betray the Jewish people in and desecrate.

And I look at the prophecies and I kind of compare it to our recent trip to Israel and I say you know what, we must be getting pretty close.  Why?  Because in the nation of Israel, in the city of Jerusalem you can go to a place called the Temple Mount Institute under the direction of Rabbi Chaim Richman and what you discover in the Temple Institute is the whole layout and blueprint for the third temple is already in existence amongst unbelieving Israel.  They don’t let you take any pictures when you’re inside of there so most of the real pictures that I took are of us standing outside the Temple Institute but there’s a picture of my wife and myself, the beauty and the beast as I like to call it [Laughter] standing in front of that Temple Institute.  Here are some sort of things that you find online in that Temple Mount Institute.  You’ll notice that giant globe, Menorah there on the left, a Menorah that weighs half a ton, it contains 45 kilograms of 24 carat gold and its estimated value is approximately $3,000,000.  The nation of Israel has built that and they plan on using that or displaying it in temple number three which I believe is on the horizon.  There’s a layout of what it’s supposed to look like and the priestly garbs that have been picked out, etc. etc. etc.

And even within the nation of Israel you have a mindset where they want to start offering animal sacrifices again.  A recent headline reads as follows: “With priests blowing silver trumpets a group of religious Jews slaughtered a sheep on Thursday in Jerusalem’s old city to demonstrate the traditional pascal sacrifice, the first time in such a reenactment has been held inside the city walls in 2,000 years.”  The desire for a temple, the desire for sacrifices in the temple, all of that is jumping off of our headlines if you know what signs to look for.

Now I’ve been through this Temple Institute, probably four times, once in 98, once in 2014, once again in 2018 and once again in 2019, and I’ve been listening very carefully to how they promote this third temple when you go through that sort of museum that they have set up.  In the old days this is what they used to say:  We’re waiting for our Messiah to come to build the temple.  You know what they say today?  We need to build the temple so that our Messiah can come.

It’s a completely different psychology at work today demonstrating the urgency amongst many within the nation of Israel to rebuild this third temple.  And we believe in a coming seven-year tribulation period, we believe that this temple will be part of that coming seven year tribulation period; it’s got to be functioning midway through the tribulation for the antichrist to desecrate and we believe the rapture of the church precedes the tribulation period.  And so if God is so busy setting the stage for the tribulation period, as I think He is, and the rapture of the church precedes the tribulation period, then the rapture of the church can’t be far away, can it?  And it’s a perpetual reminder of the fact that we are living, as Christians, literally on borrowed time.  If there’s a ministry God wants you to do you should do it.  If there’s somebody He wants  you to reach out to in terms of evangelism then you should do it now because it’s highly likely, I can’t guarantee this, it’s highly likely that many of us in this room will not experience the full expectancy of our life spans; they could be cut short at any moment.  And I believe God has wanted every Christian generation to live with this expectation.  And we in the time period we’re living in have more evidence than any other generation that has preceded us.

The stage is being set.  The illustration I like to use for this is the signs of Christmas. Santa Claus, Christmas music, Christmas sales, Christmas trees, Christmas ornaments, and when you enter that time of the year and you see all this Christmas stuff go up in terms of decorations in the department stores, etc. you say to yourself you know what, Christmas is approaching fast.  But if you’re seeing these things in November you say to yourself something else, you know what, Thanksgiving is coming even faster because the signs of Christmas indicate not just Christmas but Thanksgiving which is coming even more rapidly.  And I believe this is how the Lord wants us to look at these things, these various signs; He wants us to understand that the tribulation period is coming and if the rapture of the church precedes the tribulation period (and it does) then the tribulation period is coming… or the rapture is coming even faster.

And how unpopular this type of message is today, even within the evangelical church.  There is sort of a prophetic agnosticism that has descended over the body of Christ.  A lot of people say oh, don’t bother me with that stuff, I’m a pan-millennialist, it’s all going to pan out in the end, etc. etc. etc.  You know, it’s interesting that when I leave the house my wife, when I go on a trip, she wants to know when I’m coming back, what airline I’m going to be on, does she need to pick me up or am I renting a car or a cab, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.  These are all details that she’s interested in; she’s interested in the details surrounding my return to the house.  Why is that?  Because she loves me.  Think if I walked out the house and she could care less when I’m coming back, care less what airline I’m on, care less about whether I need to be picked up at the airport or not.  I think if it ever got to that point we’d need some marriage counselling… amen!

And a lot of people are like that with Jesus, not understanding that He is the groom, we are the bride, and if we are in a love relationship with the Lord there ought to be an automatic interest and curiosity in these things.  And if it’s something that we’re just pushing out of our minds and we don’t want to be bothered with I would take that as sort of a warning of our love relationship with the Lord.  Are we really in love with the Lord Jesus or not?  And it’s gauged largely by the interest that we have in the signs of the times.  Some way, somehow temple three much be functioning.  I don’t know how it’s going to come about, I just know it’s got to exist.

And so we have a problem, don’t we?  You say what is that?  That is what is called the Dome of the Rock, it was built by the Muslims in the seventh century, 691 A.D. to be exact, and they placed that over the site where they believe Solomon built the first temple.  And this is all very interesting because this has become the third holiest site in Islam.  Now is this really the third holiest site in Islam, this Dome of the Rock?  I would say no because when you go through Hebrew Bible how many times do you find the word “Jerusalem,” Old Testament New Testament; probably about 800 times.  You go through the Quran how many times do I find the word Jerusalem?  Any guesses?  Zero, not a single time!  But isn’t it interesting how Islam suddenly got interested recently in that part of the world it’s where they today think it is the place where Mohammed allegedly ascended back to Allah.  And yet Jerusalem itself is not found in the Quran but just some vague reference to the furthest mosque, and they make that into Jerusalem, even though your Bible 800 times talks about Jerusalem as the city of the Lord.

And so what is modern day Islam doing?  They’re rewriting history and they’re pretending that the Jews were never there and nothing of biblical significance ever happened there.  Solomon didn’t build the first temple there.  The problem is they produced some literature in 1924; the Rose  Guide to the Temple, written by Dr. Randall Price, is this: “The propaganda that accompanied the Palestinian Intifada uprising beginning in 1987 included an official Islamic denial that the Jewish temple existed and Jerusalem was ever a Jewish city.  However, the denial of the Jewish temple is a recent phenomenon.  In the English addition of a guidebook to the Temple Mount written by Islamic authorities in Jerusalem entitled A Brief Guide to al Haram al-Sharif Jerusalem published in 1924, an unchanged in all later editions through the 1950’s we find the following declaration.” This is what the Muslims themselves said.  “The site” referring to the Dome of the Rock “is the oldest in the world.  It’s sanctity dates from the earliest, perhaps from prehistoric times,” look at this, I’ve got it underlined, 1924, Islamic Authorities.  “Its identity was beyond dispute.”  That’s not what I say, it’s not what your Bible says, (it does say that), this is what they say.  And this is what they were saying in 1924, “This too is the spot according to universal belief on which David built there an altar unto the Lord and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings,” as I like to say, hung by the tongue.

Randall Price says this: “This document provides evidence to show that despite the present public denial of the historicity of the Qur’an as the Jewish Temple Mount Islam did not hold this opinion for most of its existence.”  We’re in the middle of a propaganda war where we’re hit with propaganda after propaganda after propaganda denying the Jews were ever in that land, denying that the Solomonic temple once stood there and yet if you know where to look in terms of literature you’ll see the Muslims themselves conceding the fact that the Dome of the Rock stands over the location of the Solomonic temple in 1924.

How in the world is this third temple going to be rebuilt without causing World War Three?  Ever asked yourself that?  There are several different possibilities.  Again quoting Dr. Price, he writes: “There are three main theories about the exact location of the temple.  One theory, put together by a Tel Aviv architect, says that the temple was situated at the southwestern corner of the platform where the Al-Aqsa Mosque is today.”  Ahah.  One theory is the Solomonic temple was in a slightly different location than the Dome of the Rock.

A second theory is from Hebrew University physicist Asher Kaufman, who concludes that the temple was built on the northwest corner of the platform about 350 feet or 100 meters from the Muslim Dome of the Rock.

A third theory says that the temple stood exactly where the Dome of the Rock is today.  How in the world is temple number three going to be rebuilt which prophecy demands?  (A) somehow the Dome of the Rock has to be moved, I don’t know how that can happen without causing World War III, do you?  But there are two other possibilities.  The first theory and the second theory that I gave where the Dome of the Rock is at a slightly different location than the Solomonic temple and the third temple could be rebuilt there.

I know this much, and this is sort of my working theory, I don’t know this for certain, but it’s my leaning.  I expect two functioning holy sites side by side, very soon.  You have the Dome of the Rock already there and perhaps the Solomonic temple will be rebuilt nearby.  If that doesn’t happen then somehow the Dome of the Rock has to be moved to make way for temple number three.  And you say well how in the world can any of these scenarios take place?  I don’t know other than the fact that God doesn’t lie and some way, somehow, temple number three must come into existence and must be functioning midway through the tribulation period.  In fact, this may be the work of the rider on the white horse, seal number one.  Remember we studied him.  Revelation 6:1-2, we believe this is a reference to the antichrist coming forward.  He brings peace to the earth, he has a bow, he goes forth conquering and to conquer.

Can you imagine a political leader coming forward and solving this problem?  You can see how fast the world would embrace such a person.  He has fixed the unfixable.  He has solved the unsolvable.  In fact, what kind of language would he use to fix this problem?  Maybe a language like this: the deal of the century!  The art of the deal!  The ultimate real estate deal!  You say wait a minute pastor, you’re going too far now.  I mean, you’ re not saying what I think you’re saying are you?  Well, the Bible does mention the last trump [laughter] and maybe that has something to do with it.  I’m not trying to get into the political situation, what I’m saying is the psychology… the psychology for the erection of temple number three is already in place.  And if there’s something you need to be watching very carefully as an evangelical Christian is the Trump Middle East peace plan.  Regardless of partisan loyalties you should be watching that like a hawk.  And it’s interesting that this peace plan is very secretive, only five people know about what’s in it we’re told, and I’m wondering why is it so secret.  And catch this, according to recent news reports it’s going to be released after April 6th. Why is that?  Because April 6th is the Israeli elections.  Apparently, they don’t want the information about this peace plan coming out prior to the Israeli elections. Is there something in this peace plan that would go against the nation of Israel.  I hope not!

You say well, come on, Pastor, you’re just really going out on a limb here.  I mean, Trump, he’s the guy that moved our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  And he did!  And I applaud him for that.  But can I ask you a basic question?  Do you think that embassy move was a freebie?  Do you think He just did that out of the goodness of his heart?  I mean, this is the President that wrote the book The Art of the Deal.  Are you telling me that a move of that magnitude is not some kind of bargaining chip in this arrangement?

You see, it’s interesting, a lot of Christians take the view that the historic election of Donald Trump has slowed down the end times.  I’ve heard that from many, many people and part of me believes it myself, he’s slowed down the progress into the New World Order, he wants to build a wall around America and all of these things.  Can I offer you another suggestion?  Maybe the historic presidency of Donald Trump has not slowed down our progress into the end times, maybe he’s sped it up because I know this, at the end of the day that God is totally sovereign.  Amen!  Proverbs 21:1, God says, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.”  Daniel 4:35 says, “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?”

God is not somehow limited to using a leader of one party but not the other; He’s using everything to advance His plan and His purposes on the earth.  Have you seen this?  The half shekel, recently minted in the nation of Israel.  It’s got a picture of our current President on it and who is behind him?  A man named Cyrus.  You say well who is Cyrus biblically?  Cyrus was the Persian king that let the Jews return from Persia back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple.  And according to a coin like this, this is how many within the nation of Israel view the current President—as a modern day Cyrus. He’s the guy that’s going to come along and allow us to rebuild temple number three.

What did the Lord say?  [Matthew 16:1] The Pharisees and the Sadducees came up testing Jesus, and they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven, [2] But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’  [3] And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?”  You know how to interpret weather, “red sky in the morning” what? “sailor take warning.”  You know how to figure out the stock market.  You know how to, in the month of March put your favorite team on the bracket to see if they’re going to get to the final four.  You know how to figure out interest rates.  Why is it that you can’t see what’s happening right in front of you?  That’s what Jesus is saying to first century Israel.

And one of my concerns about the body of Christ today is the body of Christ has become so partisan in terms of its loyalty, which I don’t necessarily have a problem with, but it’s almost as if partisan loyalty has almost become an idol, to the point where we are not recognizing the times and the seasons in which we live.

  1. E. Blackstone in 1908, a very important date, that’s forty years before Israel became a nation, said this: “Israel is God’s sundial. If anyone desires to know our place in God’s chronology, our position in the great march of events, look at Israel. Israel has been, is and always will be God’s timepiece.”  You want to know where we are?  You want to know where we stand?  You want to know where we are in the chronology?  Look at the activity in Israel.  It’s been analogized this way: Israel is a clock, it’s the hour hand; anything related to Israel shows you what hour it is.  Jerusalem is more specific, that’s the minute hand.

And then, the temple Mount itself, what is that?  That’s the second hand.  I’m watching very carefully the Middle East peace plan because our Lord tells us to monitor the signs of the times. I don’t know everything there is to know about the future but I know that God cannot lie; it’s contrary to His nature, and some way somehow temple three must go up and be in existence.  And is this going to go up in existence prior to the rapture?  That’s a definite possibility and if it does it shows me how borrowed time we’re living on.  And yet you keep hearing evangelical sermons today around the United States of America, how many pastors do you know that will even touch this issue?  Most of them just avoid it like the plague.  And yet we’re living in times that to my mind are mindboggling in terms of prophetic reality.

Let me tell you something.  If the older guys, J. Dwight Pentecost and others that taught me these things, were alive right now and could see the same things on their newsfeed that I see on my newsfeed they would be screaming at the top of their lungs.  And yet the evangelical church today has largely fallen asleep; we’re no longer yearning but we’re basically yawning, bored with the whole thing.  We’re not even talking about it at all.

You’ll notice, back to Revelation 11:1 it says, “There was given to me a measuring rod like a staff,” and you’ll notice what John is told to do with this staff, he’s told to measure something.  Number one, he’s told to measure the temple.  [Revelation 11:1, “Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, ‘Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it.’”]   Number two, he’s told to measure the altar.  Now what is the altar?  The altar could be the place where the sacrifices were offered, the brazen altar, some would say the altar is the alter of incense sort of connected with the most holy place. But John is told to measure the temple measure the altar, and it’s very interesting here, he’s told to measure those who worship inside of it.

Isaiah 29:13, God says this to the prophet Isaiah, “Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote.”  I was just there at the Wailing Wall and it’s very interesting to watch how the Jews worship at the Wailing Wall.  When we worship it’s an intelligent exercise; it’s not a ritual.  They have all these sort of books set up there that you can sort of bring down there to the wailing wall and recite books.  I mean, how do we look for books as evangelicals? We look for our favorite commentator, our favorite Bible passage.  You know how they do it (and you can sit there and watch them do this over and over again) they just grab the first book off the shelf without even thinking about it, going down to the wall saying their thing, putting the book right back.  What do you call that?  That’s a ritual devoid of reality; that’s what that is!  That’s the kind of thing I used to do as an unregenerate Episcopalian.  And this is what the third temple will be like.  That’s why God says the whole thing needs to be measured; measure the temple, measure the altar, measure the worshippers.

The concept of measuring goes back to Zechariah 2:1-2, where it says this, “Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a man with a measuring line in his hand. [2] So I said, “Where are you going?” And he said to me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see how wide it is and how long it is.”  Isn’t it interesting that the Lord is using a plumb line here to determine what kind of temple this is, temple number three.  Why is that?  Because I think prophecy indicates that it’s a temple built out of nationalistic pride.  It’s built for every reason other than a right relationship with God.  It’s very different, this third temple, from the fourth temple in the millennial kingdom, that the Shekinah glory of God will enter into.   Why is that?  Because Jerusalem at this time, with temple number three functioning, is in unbelief.  All you have to do is leave verse 2 and go down to verse 8 and you’ll see it.  What does it say, “And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called” what? “Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.” What city would that be?  That’s Jerusalem.

And at this time of the third temple Jerusalem is being described as that of Sodom; I mean, they have gay rights parades in Jerusalem just like they have them in San Francisco today.  Israel today is primarily an atheist nation; that’s why they’re described here as “Sodom.”  But you have the very orthodox Jews who are trying to put everybody back under the Mosaic Law, not understanding therefore Galatians 3:24, “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to” who? “to Christ….”  Once you’re in Christ the Mosaic Law has done its job.  And going back into it is putting oneself in bondage.  That is the state and that is the condition of the nation of Israel today.  There probably isn’t anybody more excited about God’s work in Israel today than myself; I love how God is giving His Word and recycling the Jews back into their own land.

But you know what?  There’s something missing in Ezekiel’s prophecy… the breath, the Ruah, the Holy Spirit has not yet come into that nation.  And isn’t it interesting that Jerusalem and Israel and the temple, even in this backslidden state (did you catch it there in verse 1) is still called “the temple of God.”  Did you notice that?  How could it be “the temple of God,” I thought they built this in nationalistic pride?  Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 calls it also “the temple of God.  [2 Thessalonians 2:4, “who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.

Did you catch this, we didn’t read it yet, actually we did read it a little earlier, did you catch how Jerusalem is described, even in this backslidden state?  “the holy city.”  [Revelation 11:2, “Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.”]  But wait a minute, I thought they were Sodom and Egypt, I thought they were building this out of nationalistic pride, how could this be a holy city?  How could this be the temple of God?  And here’s basically the answer—the nation of Israel has something that no other nation in the history of the world has ever had.  Do you know what that thing is?  It’s a covenant with God.  Not them making a covenant to God; God making a unilateral binding covenant to them.  You won’t find that in any other workings of any other nation on planet earth.

And Jerusalem may be a spiritual mess at this time but God still looks at it as a holy city.  We have to learn to look at the Jewish people the way God does.  They have the Abrahamic Covenant, and what did Paul say in Romans 11:28.  “From the standpoint of the gospel they” Israel, “are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are” what? “beloved for the sake of the” what? “the fathers.”  Who are “the fathers”?  Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to whom the Lord gave a contract or a covenant.  This is why you have all of this sin documented here in chapter 11 concerning the temple and Jerusalem, but God still says that’s My temple, that’s My holy city.

And the great drama of human history is how is God going to take this unbelieving nation and bring them to faith?  How is God going to do that?  That’s the whole point of the seven-year tribulation period, because the best piece of theology I’ve ever gotten in my life comes from the man that led me to Christ in 1983.  This is what he told me, he said “God knocks us down so we look” what? “up!”  Has God not worked in your life that way?   We probably wouldn’t even be sitting here unless God had done that.  And there is a massive knocking down coming for the nation of Israel.  As they rebuild temple three out of nationalistic pride thinking that the antichrist is their Messiah and he walks into that temple and rips them off, and repeats what one of their villains in their history did, a man that every Jew knows about, Antiochus Epiphanes, and betrays the Jewish people and desecrates the temple.  And what does the Lord do?  He knocks them down so they look up, and they figure you know what, we’ve had it wrong; we’ve had it wrong for two thousand years.  Our Messiah is not the antichrist, It’s Yeshua, Jesus, who we rejected.

And Zechariah 12:10 talks about how they will begin to mourn as one mourns for an only son.  [Zechariah 12:10, “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”]   And here we are at the end of the age of the church and these events are right around the corner.  I mean, we’re privileged to be living in the time period and the season that we’re living in.

We move away from the command and now look at the court, look at verse 2, “Leave out” as John is measuring this, “Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it,” why would it say that? It’s the outer court, the outer court is where the Gentiles came in, the inner court is where the Jews went it.  The Gentiles weren’t supposed to go into the inner court.  In fact, Paul, in the Book of Acts, chapter 21, verses 28-29 was falsely accused of bringing a man, Trophimus, a Gentile, into that inner court.  [Acts 21:28-29, “crying out, “Men of Israel, come to our aid! This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people and the Law and this place; and besides he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” [29] For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple.”]

Why is the inner court measured but not the outer court?  It’s very simple, Israel has a plumb line, the Gentiles don’t.  Israel has a standard, the Gentiles don’t.  What’s the standard?  The standard is the Abrahamic Covenant.  “To whom much is given, much is” what? “much is required.”  [Luke 12:28] We’re going to measure Israel to ascertain its unbelief, to ascertain its disobedience; I’m not going to bother with the Gentiles, they don’t have a plumb line.

Psalm 147:19-20 says this, “He declares His word to Jacob,” who is Jacob?  Israel.  “…His statutes and judgments to Israel. [20] He has done this for no other nation; And as for His ordinances, they have not known them. Praise the LORD!”  Israel was God’s chosen people but as some of the Jews like to say, I wish the Lord would choose someone else for a while because the more the favor of God is on a person’s life, the more truth they have, in this case the only nation with a unilateral contract from God to them.  They have a very high standard of accountability.  Not so the Gentiles; they’re not even counted.

We move from the court to the contempt.  Look at the second half of verse 2, “Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it” why? “for it” outer court “has been given to the nations;” which comes from a Greek translation of the noun ethnos, meaning ethnicity.  What is happening here is the end of the time period called the times of the Gentiles.  The times of the Gentiles represents a period of time when the nation of Israel had no functioning Davidic king and she was being trampled down by various Gentile or pagan powers.  It started in the days of Daniel with Babylon followed by Medo Persia, followed by Greece, followed by Rome, followed one day by the antichrist kingdom, which is coming, the new world order.  And it will end, not with the rapture, the rapture ends the church’s earthly mission.  It will end with the second advent of Christ, at the end of the tribulation period where He, Matthew 25:31, takes His seat on David’s throne and ushers in His thousand-year kingdom.  [Matthew 25:31, “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.”]

Why is there a reference here to these forty-two months?  Because we are at that point in the Book of Revelation where there’s only forty-two months left before the kingdom comes.  We are the tail end of the times of the Gentiles and during that time period what does it say?  It’s been “given to the nations.”  [Revelation 11:2, “Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.”]  The nations are going to get their upper hand over the Jews.

Isn’t it interesting that when you look at United Nations resolutions, roughly two-thirds of them go against Israel.  I mean, every time the United Nations meet that’s why Israel calls the United Nations the United Nothing, U.N.  You can rest assured they’re going to make some decision against the nation of Israel.  Why is it? Why is it so bias?  Because of the time period that we’re in now and will continue until the end of the seven-year tribulation period called the times of the Gentiles.

Isn’t it interesting that in June of 1967, when the nation of Israel and what is called the Six Day War, got control for the first time, of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, Moshe Dayan, acting political leader of Israel, turned the Temple Mount back over to the Muslims.  And today the Temple Mount itself is under Islamic rule.  You can’t go up there unless you have their permission. And by the way, don’t be holding hands with your wife or your husband up there because you’ll get someone screaming at you through a loud speaker saying “Don’t touch holy site.”  I was up there in 98 and I heard that voice saying that, that scared the daylights out of me, don’t touch what? The walls?  No, they meant each other, “holy site” they kept saying.  And by the way, when it’s their time to get up and pray and do their thing they want you off that Temple Mount fast and they’re not very polite about getting you off there.  Get off there and get off their yesterday is their mindset.

And so why would Moshe Dayan, in June of 1967 after the nation won a miraculous war, got control of Jerusalem, got control of the Temple Mount, why would he just turn around and give the whole thing back to the Muslims?  Well, there’s a practical reason for it; I asked this of our Israeli tour guide and he said if he didn’t do that it would have enflamed the Muslim sentiments worldwide… holy site, usurper.  But there’s a second reason I think Moshe Dayan gave it back, to fulfill this prophecy.  God is very clear that the times of the Gentiles, the outer court would continue to be trampled on by the Gentiles for the remaining forty-two months of the tribulation period.

And what are the Gentiles going to do with their freedom during this time period.  Look at the very end of verse 2.  “…and they” that’s the ethnos, or the nation, “will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.”  Now this word “tread” I found interesting, it’s the Greek word πατέω (pateó) which means to harm severely through subjugation.  Another way of saying it is to treat something holy disrespectfully, because God views it this way because remember, thanks to the Abrahamic Covenant the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem is still a holy city.  And so during this final forty-two months the Gentiles have the upper hand and they just take the things of God and they treat it like absolute garbage.  And God only lets them get away with it for another forty-two months.

And I thought to myself, Lord, do we have any illustrations in Your Word of this happening?  And I sensed the Holy Spirit leading me this way.  Look at the basement.  You see the Book of Daniel is the basement, the Book of Revelation is the ceiling.  The Book of Daniel, which we’ve already studied in this church, is the foundation for the Book of Revelation. And in the Book of Daniel, chapter 5, you have something that the Gentiles are doing, something that God calls sacred.  It has to do with the temple vessels that were taken in by Nebuchadnezzar in the Babylonian captivity, Daniel 1:2.  [Daniel 1:2, “The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.”]

And Nebuchadnezzar came and went, he died.  Remember what his son was doing?  Belshazzar?  The last reigning king of Neo-Babylonia, Daniel 5:2.  [Daniel 5:2, “When Belshazzar tasted the wine, he gave orders to bring the gold and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them.”]  Let’s take those vessels that my father brought to Babylon and let’s have a drunken bash with those vessels.  Let’s take something that God says is holy or sacred and let’s use it for profane reasons.  And the moment he did that the handwriting appeared on the wall, “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN” what does that mean?  Numbered, numbered, weighed divided.  Belshazzar’s Neo Babylonian kingdom was to be taken away from him because he had been weighed in the balance of God’s justice and found wanting.  [Daniel 5:25, “Now this is the inscription that was written out: ‘MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.’”]

You see, you can push God to a certain degree because of His grace, but He gets to a point where we’re not going to do this anymore God says.  You’ve pushed long enough; grace is over.  And you see, this is what is being narrated for us here in Revelation 11:1-2 as these Gentiles are trampling all over the temple and treating it disrespectfully.  [Revelation 11:1, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, [2] who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, as much as he saw.”]   Something happening right now, and God reaches a point where He says that’s it.

And what happened to Belshazzar?  He died that very night and his kingdom was taken.  That’s what’s in store for the United Nations, the Gentile nations of the world, CNN News, MSNBC, and all of these groups that act like the Jews shouldn’t be there and they’re transgressing and that territory really belongs to the Palestinians…  By the way, I can’t find the word “Palestine” in the Bible, someone help me with that, if you find it let me know, because it’s a manufactured term is what it is.  It’s a propaganda piece!  And we’re living in the time of the Gentiles where these things are happening all the time, and we think it’s never going to change.  No, it’ll change all right.  Forty-two months and you’re done!  Just like God said to Belteshazzar, you’ve got one night and you’re done because you went too far.

What did Jesus say in Luke 21:24 concerning the times of the Gentiles?  “and they” Israel, “will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles” notice the verse doesn’t stop there, until, until, “until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”  The progress of evil is on a leash folks, it’s limited.  And one of these days God steps back into history and corrects things.  Really the issue for people today is which side of the ledger are they are on, that’s really the issue because there isn’t a lot of middle ground here the best I can tell.  There’s no compromise position.  I mean, you’re either with God or you’re not.  And Jesus is very clear, if you’re not for Me you’re against Me.

And so here at Sugar Land Bible Church we like to give people the opportunity to get right with the Lord through what we call the gospel.  The gospel means good news because Jesus did all the work on our behalf.  He did everything that could possibly be done to bridge the gap between sinful humanity and a holy God.  In fact, what were His final words on the cross?  “It is finished!”   The translation of the Greek word tetelestai, which means paid in full.  How do you get right with God?  How do you get on the right side of history?  You receive what He has done for you as a free gift.  If you’re coming boasting your credentials God is not interested in that any more than He was interested in Cain’s offering in Genesis 4.  You come by way of faith because “without faith it is” what? “impossible to please God.”   [Hebrews 11:6] You either receive what he’s done as a gift by faith, which is the only way to receive a gift from God, or you can’t be made right with God.

And so as we look at this confrontational information here in Revelation 11:1-2 our exhortation to folks, anybody within the sound of my voice, listening or watching on social media is the best you know how, in the quietness of your own heart, as the Holy Spirit places you under conviction to trust in Christ and Christ alone for salvation.  And once that issue gets resolved you’re on the winning side of history and now it’s just a matter of monitoring the signs and monitoring the trends because you know what folks… I’ve read the last chapter, you can sum it up this way, WE WIN!  And I hope this week as we go into our lives and challenges and difficulties you’ll go through it with optimism knowing that we are on the winning side of history.  Shall we pray.

Father, we’re grateful for these two verses and the things that they reveal about the future.  Help us to be good stewards of these things as we walk these things out by way of faith this week.  If there’s anyone here today that’s unclear of their eternal destiny we pray that they will come talk to somebody, the staff, myself, whoever, so that we can lead them into the glorious gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ.  We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…. Amen!