Good evening and welcome to EBible Fellowship's Bible study in the Book of Revelation. Tonight is study #1 of Revelation, chapter 11, and we are going to read Revelation 11:1-2:
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. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
We are still in the interlude of this “second woe” and sixth trumpet and the mighty angel which appeared to the Apostle John, having the “little book having been open” in His hand and He commanded John to eat of it. John did so and in his mouth it was sweet as honey, but it made his belly bitter. Then the last verse of Revelation 10, in verse 11, God commanded, “Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.”
And now, in chapter 11, it says in Revelation 11:1:
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.
What God is going to do in Revelation 11 is that He is going to go back and cover the entire church age. Then He is going to get into the Great Tribulation period when the “two witnesses” are slain. Then He will lead back up to Judgment Day and then the completion of the “second woe” and then the “third” woe comes quickly and the seventh trumpet sounds. It just cannot be emphasized enough that the Book of Revelation is not chronological in order. We will get into all sorts of trouble and come up with all kinds of wrong conclusions if we think one thing must follow another. For instance, if someone says, I know that “six” follows “five” and “seven” comes after “six,” so how can you tell me that things are not progressing in a chronological way? But, you see, that kind of thinking is not Biblical. Yes – it is true in the world that we have a progression of numbers and “five” does come after “four” and “seven” follows “six” and things are chronological in their time sequence and we like to relate things that way. However, God does not have to be held to what we think is logical and reasonable. God wrote the Bible with the purpose of hiding truth and God does not, therefore, present things in an orderly fashion to make it easy for the reader to understand. He can do as He pleases, from one seal to the next, or from one trumpet to the next. We must read the Bible, verse by verse, and allow that particular verse or passage and the Words that God has given us to direct us as to where they fall within God’s overall timetable – His timeline of history.
And, here, in Revelation 11, in the first couple of verses God is going to get into a discussion of the wheat and the tares; He is going to emphasize that the timetable for the world is based upon the elect – God is concerned about the elect people He has chosen and history unfolded so that God could save each and every one of His elect. Once He accomplished this, then He would bring Judgment Day. This is exactly what He has done.
Here, it says in Revelation 11:1:
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…
So the reed, like unto a rod, is being used as a measuring tool to measure the temple of God. The Greek word translated as “reed” is also found a couple of times in Revelation 21:14-17. There we find the thing that is being measured is the temple of God, which consists of the whole company of God’s elect. It says in Revelation 21:14-17:
And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
Once again, we find that a golden reed is used to measure the city and the city which is in view is the “elect.” God is measuring His people and that is exactly what Revelation 11:1 is talking about, where it says, “Rise and measure the temple of God.” It says in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17:
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
Also, clearly referring to the elect, it says in Ephesians 2:20-22:
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
God speaks in other places in the Scripture where He says we are “living stones” and when He saved someone, it was as if He were adding a “living stone” to the temple of God. In Hebrews 3, it speaks of the house of Christ and then it says, “whose house are we.” We are that temple. The Lord Jesus is the One that is commanding the Apostle Paul to measure the temple of God and he is doing so with a reed like unto a rod. This Greek word “reed” is translated as “pen” in 3 John, verse 13:
I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee:
The word “pen” is the same Greek word. It was probably a small reed or a portion of a reed that they would use in those days; they would dip it in the ink and then write on their scroll or letter, as John was being moved by God to write the Word of God. And this is really what the “reed” points to – the Word of God. It is the Word of God which is to be used as a “measuring device” to measure the temple of God. We can understand that, in one way, because it is through the hearing of the Word of God that God did save His elect. Upon salvation, those individuals were added to the temple and, therefore, it is as if they are being measured in that sense, but it also relates to God using His Word to reveal to us that He will save all whose names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and that the entire history of the world revolves around that. Remember what God said in Deuteronomy 32:7-8:
Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee. When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.
This is really an unusual statement God is giving us here and, yet, it fits perfectly with Revelation 11:1: measure the temple of God. God’s focus and concern is on saving those He obligated Himself to save from the foundation of the world, as the Lord Jesus died for their sins. The entire history of the world is God’s application of that atoning work of Christ to each of the elect in every generation, until He found and saved them all, which God finally accomplished before He closed the door of heaven on May 21, 2011. Again, Deuteronomy 32:8 says, “When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.” The limit or bounds of man has to do with the “number of the children of Israel.” There is a good possibility that God determined to save two hundred million; but whatever that number is, the door of heaven was open and the Gospel was sent forth until all the elect people were saved and brought into the kingdom of heaven, and then the Lord brought Judgment Day to pass.
Let us go back to Revelation 11:1:
And there was given me a reed like unto a rod:
Again, the “reed” was translated as “pen” in 3 John and it related to the Word of God and, so, too, the word “rod” relates to the Word of God. This word translated as “rod” is the same word we find in Revelation 19:15:
And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron…
Revelation 19:15 is quoting from the Old Testament. Actually, the Lord Jesus ruling with a “rod of iron” is mentioned at least three times in the Book of Revelation and since it is a quote from the Old Testament, we have an equivalent word and we can go back to the Old Testament and look up that word; then we can search that word in the Old Testament to help us define the New Testament word. It says in Isaiah 11:4:
But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
In Revelation 19:15 it did not say “rod of his mouth,” but it said, “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron.” So the “rod” is related to the sharp sword which proceeded out of the mouth of the Lord Jesus and, of course, that is the Word of God. Here, in Isaiah 11:4, it says, “He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth.” It expressly identifies the “rod” with the “mouth” of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is obviously the One doing this action. The “rod of his mouth” or the sharp sword which protrudes from His mouth is the Scriptures. The Bible is the “rod.” We read in Micah 7:14:
Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage…
We are very interested in this kind of verse because God has commanded us to feed His sheep. God is saying, “Feed they people with thy rod,” and He is referring to the Lord Jesus, in the first instance. But how do you feed someone with a “rod”? Well, you cannot literally do this, but if the “rod” is pointing to the Word of God, you can feed them, spiritually, with the Word of God and that is the idea in our verse in Revelation 11:1: “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod.”
So both words (“reed” and “rod”) identify with the Word of God and the angel stood and said, “Rise, and measure the temple of God and the altar, and them that worship therein.” This is all language referring to the true, eternal temple or eternal church. The “church” that is so often confused, especially by the corporate church, with the earthly outward congregations. When Jesus made the statement that the “gates of hell” should not prevail against His “church,” He was not talking about the Baptists, the Lutherans, the Reformed, the Episcopalians, or the Catholics. He was talking about the eternal “church” that is made up of everyone that God has saved. Every time God saved someone, they were added to the eternal “church,” like a living stone, and they became part of the “temple of God.” Yet, the Bible also speaks of the corporate church and you may find, on occasion, the word “temple” refers to the corporate church; or the house of God can also refer to the corporate church; they are His church in name because they call themselves Christians and they say they are the people of God. But today, of course, the church age is over and God has none of His people in any of the churches of the world – they are not the true church. Actually, the next verse in Revelation 11 refers to them; it says in Revelation 11:2:
But the court which is without the temple leave out…
We naturally get an image in our minds of a historical temple and the cour without, but we should really not think of it that way. Just think of the “temple” as the eternal church, in verse 1, and what is “without” or outside that eternal temple? It is all those that are unsaved. They can inhabit and populate the churches of the world (and they do), but they are not part of the eternal temple which is made up only those that God has chosen and applied the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ and given them born-again souls. The rest are called Christians; they have Bibles; they go to church on Sunday; they may do many religious things and they may be knowledgeable about the Bible to a certain degree, but they are “without.” They are the ones we read of, for instance, in Revelation 22:15. It says in Revelation 22:14-15:
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
This is speaking of the true children of God that enter into that holy, eternal city through salvation. But then it goes on to say in Revelation 22:15:
For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
Again, this is every unsaved person. You could have two people standing next to one another and, yet, one is “in the holy city” and the other, perhaps, knows the Bible and thinks he is saved, but he is “without the city,” because God is the only One that can bring an individual into the holy city of the kingdom of God. So in Revelation 11:1, we have the wheat and in Revelation 11:2, we have the tares: “But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles.” The Gentiles would be a reference to the nations.
…and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
Here, God is specifically bringing a time reference into view and the “forty and two months” relates to the Great Tribulation period and that is the time when the churches…and remember, the word “temple” or “house of God” or “holy city” can refer to the spiritual reality or they can refer to the earthly reality, Jerusalem below…and, here, the “holy city” is to the corporate church and it is “tread under foot forty and two months,” which represents the duration of the Great Tribulation period of 23 full years or 8,400 days, from May 21, 1988 to May 21, 2011.
Well, this is a good overview that God has given us. First, the “wheat and the tares” applies to the church age, but it does have special application to the end of the church age when God began the process of separating the wheat from the tares and all the tares have been bundled for the fire and the wheat are being gathered in this Day of Judgment.