Announcement Of Retribution, 10:1 to 11:13 (Continued)
The measuring of the Temple (11: 1-2) is the third symbol in this interlude.
A measuring rod was given to John and he was told to measure the temple and the altar
and the worshipers.
The outside court was not to be measured since it had been given over to the nations
and the holy city was to be trodden underfoot forty-two months.
This should not be taken to mean that the Temple at Jerusalem was still standing,
nor that the Temple is to be restored before the end of the world and the second coming of Christ.
This language, as elsewhere in this book, is purely symbolical.
The Temple is to be measured four special care and preservation.
The meaning of the symbolism is that of the true spiritual Israel will be protected and preserved by God
in the troubles that are ahead.
It is a vision of consolation for God's own in contrast to the condemnation threatened for their oppressors.
The great bulk of the Gentile world dominated by persecuting Rome will suffer.
This is symbolized by the fact that the court of the Gentiles was not measured for protection.
This period of distress is pictured as lasting forty-two months.
In round numbers that is three and one-half years.
Three and one-half was the indefinite number.
It symbolized uncertainty, restlessness, turmoil which had its turning point either to the good or to the bad.
So here is symbolized God's protection over His own during an indefinite time of turmoil
and difficulty while people generally are in the hands of godless Rome.
However, this is not always to be.
There is a turning point.
God will see to that.
The Two Witnesses to (11:3-13)
The identity of the two witnesses has been variously interpreted.
Larkin, representing the futurist, interprets it literally.
He says that they are to be men who will be witnesses of the end of the world.
They will have supernatural power and divine protection for a while.
Then they will be killed by the representatives of the ruling Antichrist but after three and one-half days
will be brought back to life.
He identifies them as Moses and Elijah.
Carroll, representing the continuous-historical interpretation, applies this vision to the apostasy of the church
during the dark period from the third century to the Reformation.
He follows the year-day method of the interpretation, which makes the 1,260 days
of the three and one-half years equal to 1,260 years, thus reaching from about the end of the third century
to about the reformation.
The two witnesses according to this view are the true church and the preacher who never cease
to witness during this dark period.
Same question arises as with the literal view.
What comfort to the Christians of John's day could have been found in this?
They needed something to help them right then.
They knew and cared nothing about an apostate Roman Catholic Church in the West
nor an apostate Greek Catholic Church in the East.
They knew of a beaten and broken church in their own day and needed something to assure them
of divine help and strength.
Neither of the above interpretations answers that need.
The criterion in every attempt is to rediscover John's message must be,
" What meaning did this message have to Christians in John's day?
He was writing in a time of supreme and urgent need.
His message had to be intended to meet that need.
The passage under consideration must be approached from that viewpoint.
When viewed in its proper place in the book, this vision is seen to be a part of an interlude
between the sixth and seventh symbols of a series.
The interlude is made up of four parts.
The other three parts are clearly apocalyptic images.
This also must be regarded as a symbol rather than a prediction.
What does it it symbolize?
The number " 2" in Oriental symbolism carried the idea of strength
-- two men were much stronger than one man.
In this instance, the two witnesses appeared to symbolize a testimony or witness of great power.
In this God seems to be saying, " Be assured of the fact that though the world in which you live
is dominated by evil men, you will be protected and the gospel will be preached;
and a Christian witness will be maintained."
Every word that is used to describe the two witnesses and their function show that John is writing allusively.
The task of the church is the universal publication of the gospel.
This will be carried out even if it is in the face of adversity.
The witnesses represent the militant spirit of true Christians and their testimony.
This vision naturally divides itself into three parts in which the remarkable progress of the gospel
during the the apostolic age is reflected.
First, there was the period when the gospel was preached with remarkable success.
It was attested by evident divine approval as seen in the miracles which was performed by the apostles.
This period is symbolized in verses 4-6 where the two witnesses are spoken of
as being possessed of divine power.
It seemed that nothing could destroy them.
They had power to perform miracles in the material world.
They had power to bring evil upon those who opposed them.
Second, there was a time when a power arose which attempted to crush this testimony of the gospel.
It was temporarily successful, and at the time this book was written, the gospel was
going through this crucial stage.
It seemed that imperial Rome would be able to crush Christianity and then rejoice over its destruction.
This is symbolized in verses 7-10.
The beast, symbolical of Rome embodied in the emperor, made war against the witnesses
and put a stop to their remarkable work.
They were killed and to heap indignities upon them, their bodies were left unburied
so that all people might gape at them.
The world against which the two witnesses had preached held great rejoicing over the fact
that these men were out of their way and would trouble them no more.
It requires no stretch of imagination to see this as the attitude of the Roman Empire in this period
when it seemed that Christianity was being crushed so that it could never rise again.
Third, there was the period of the progress of the gospel which proved that Rome
had not considered the power of God.
His power caused Rome to be overthrown and enabled the redemptive message of the gospel
to live with greater triumph.
This is the period; reflected in verses 11-13, which was just ahead of the Christians.
The symbolism shows the restoration of life to the two witnesses.
When life returned, after they had been crushed for three and a half days,
an indefinite period of turmoil and trouble, even their enemies recognized that it must have been
divine power which brought it about.
They were victorious.
The truth of their message was vindicated as their enemies saw them rescued by God's power.
In connection with this there was such an evident demonstration of God's power
that many were led to acknowledge Him and give glory to Him.
This, too, was evidenced in the triumph of Christianity over its persecution during the Domitianic reign.
When it came victoriously through that experience, many were led to turn to embrace Christianity.
Thus ends the interlude, a message of divine retribution.
There is to be delay no longer.
God's message of judgment is to be proclaimed in all its bitterness.
God's People are known and protected by Him.
There will be a strong witness of the gospel during this period of distress just ahead.
When it is all over, Christianity will have been thoroughly vindicated in the sight of men.
(7) The Seventh Trumpet, Transitional: God's Covenant, 11:14-19.
It was stated at the close of the sixth trumpet that two visions of a consolatory nature
would be observed before the next general vision.
One of these consolatory visions was the interlude (10:1 to 11:13) which consoled the Christians b
y the assurance of God's righteous retribution upon those who were persecuting them.
The second is this vision of the ark of the covenant which is transitional, leading over into the next vision.
In verse 14 the third woe is announced.
Is introduced by the ark of the covenant and embraces the destructive forces which follow,
beginning with chapter 12.
When the trumpet sounded, a host of voices from heaven declared,
" The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ:
and he shall reign for ever and ever."
This is a song of victory and rejoicing.
Dark days have been experienced, but Christ was victorious.
In the conflict between the Christians and the world, beginning with chapter 12,
there will be experienced darker days.
The outcome of the struggle is announced before the beginning of the conflict is pictured.
The outcome is victory for Christ.
As a comfort to His people before the conflict begins, God reveals the ark of His covenant
in the temple in heaven.
This symbolizes the fact that God has not forgotten His people or His covenant with them.
The church will be in conflict with the world, and satanic persecution will rage,
but God's covenant with His people is still secure, and they will be victorious.
This was a very encouraging way to introduce the conflict.
Many times it appears that the enemy has the upper hand and will win, but all the time we know
that victory is ours because we have seen the headline announcing victory.
John used this method many times in Revelation -- always very effectively.
This is the end of " The Lamb Opens The Seals."
Next is The Lamb and the Conflict, Revelation 12:1 to 28:10.