Tuesday, August 18, 2015, 11:22 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Fully Ready.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 11:1-13 (NASB).
A Measuring Rod (vv. 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. 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 temple of God is no longer a physical building built by human hands, in which dwelt the Ark of the Covenant within the Holy of Holies, in which was the presence of Almighty God. We who are followers of Jesus Christ, both individually and collectively, are God’s temple in which his Spirit dwells. The altar is the spiritual (not physical) place where we meet with God in prayer, for worship and fellowship, where we listen to him speak his words to our hearts, where we receive our calling and instructions for godly and holy living, and where we sacrifice our lives to God for his service according to his plan and purpose for our lives.
So, when John was instructed to measure the temple and the altar, this was not speaking of measuring physical length, width or height, but it had to do with an examination and an evaluation of the body of Christ, the church, and its relationship with Jesus Christ. As well, the instrument of measurement is not an actual measuring rod used for measuring feet and inches (or the like), but it has to do with authority and with a standard against which something is examined and evaluated (appraised). In this case, the authority and the standard of measurement is God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, his divine character and will, and his Holy Word, the Bible. The church, God’s temple, and her relationship to her Lord must be examined and evaluated, and then witnessed to the church, calling for some type of heart response to God with regard to the results of the evaluation (See: Rev. 2-3).
The measurement (evaluation) was for the church, the body of Christ, but was not to include those outside of genuine faith in Jesus Christ, which comprises Jews who do not believe in Jesus, the institutional church – which is not the body of Christ, but is a corporation (business) of human origin – and the world at large as a whole. Those outside of faith in Jesus Christ, including within the institutional church, will tread (trample, stomp on) and are treading underfoot the “holy city.” The “holy city,” though, is not physical Jerusalem, but is the church, the body of Christ, the city on a hill, the heavenly Jerusalem. Physical Jerusalem is now associated with Hagar, the slave woman, but the Jerusalem from above is of the free woman (See: Gal. 4:22-31; Matt. 5:14; Heb. 12:22).
As Applied to Today
So, what is this saying, and how does it apply to the church and to the world today? For one, the Bible teaches that judgment must begin with the household (family) of God (1 Pet. 4:17). And, the book of Revelation bears this out in that it begins, as well, with an evaluation of the church, with a call for the church to respond to the declared results of the examination and to the instructions given, and with many warnings of judgment if the church does not repent, but also many words of encouragement and affirmation for the church which endures and is faithful to Jesus Christ and to his Word to the end of time (See: Rev. 2-3).
So, in examining the church (the body of Christ) of today, we learn that there are those who are faithful servants of the Lord Jesus, who are following him with their lives, but the vast majority of the westernized church, in particular, has strayed away from their pure devotion to their Lord, and has gone off to follow after the gods of men. And, they are being trampled underfoot by the nations, including within the institutional church, either physically or psychologically. In other words, some of the church today is being severely persecuted and even murdered for their faith in Jesus Christ by the nations, which, again, includes unbelieving Jews, the world at large, those in government within nations, and those within the institutional church who are not truly part of the family of God, the body of Christ. There is a global movement underway to silence “individualism” and anything which divides the people of the world, such as the gospel, and also to silence ministers (servants) of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who are now classified as “extremists” and/or as the “radicalized.”
Yet, in the westernized church, the “trampling” of the “holy city,” so far, has largely been in the way of deception and manipulation, the distortion and dilution of truth, and the incorporation of other religious beliefs in with Christianity and in with the teachings of scripture. It has also come through the partnering of the church with an unholy and ungodly government, and via turning the church into a marketplace where the church is marketed just like any other business of human origin, and through convincing followers of Christ to follow humanistic teaching and business marketing plans oftentimes over the Word of God. The gospel of Jesus Christ has been diluted to make it more palatable (acceptable, pleasing) to the world, sin is encouraged or is allowed to go on unchecked, and there is not much of a distinction between the world and the church anymore, at least not here in America (USA). And, the plan presently underway is to convince the church to become a civic organization where the world at large is united together as one, for one common purpose, under a one-world government and religion, and to blend Christian beliefs with pagan beliefs.
The Witnesses (vv. 3-13)
And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.
When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.
But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them. And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
There is much speculation as to who these two witnesses actually are or will be, but I will not venture there only to say that I favor the idea that they represent the Old and New Testaments or the Law and the Prophets, i.e. the Word of God. So, in a sense, all who serve as the Lord’s witnesses in teaching the truths of scripture, as they relate to those of us who are under the New Covenant, might fall underneath this category of the “two witnesses.”
I don’t think, though, that we have to resolve this in our minds in order to understand what this is teaching us here. The point is that the Word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ and the servants of the Lord who are witnessing to the church with regard to its spiritual condition, and who are calling for the spiritually adulterous church to repent and to turn back to her Lord, are under attack by the nations, including within the institutional church. Yet, we are under God’s protection, and nothing can harm us but what God allows it, and he allows it for a specific period of time and for a divine purpose. We have the power and wisdom of God dwelling within us in the person of the Holy Spirit, and we have the written (God-breathed) Word of God, the Bible, so when we speak the Word of God, we speak with authority, but it is the Word which declares the judgments of God on humankind.
Satan and his hordes may persecute and even kill us, but they can’t take away our faith or our testimonies for Jesus Christ, and they have no power to destroy the eternal Word of God or to remove Christ’s followers from their relationship with Jesus Christ. We will be resurrected to glorified bodies and we will reign with Christ on the earth. The Word of God might be stomped on and may be silenced for a short period of time, but it will rise victorious over all attempts to squash or to silence it, as Jesus, the Living Word, was resurrected from the dead. One day the enemy of our souls will be destroyed instead. So, we never need to fear the enemy and what he does, for God’s will and purposes will always prevail. In the strength and power of the Spirit of God within us, we will be victorious!
Fully Ready! / An Original Work / June 19, 2013
Based off Acts 20-22, 26; Mt. 28:18-20; Ac. 1:8
Why are you weeping and breaking my heart?
I’m fully ready to suffer for Christ.
If I must die for the sake of His name,
I am convinced it will not be in vain.
Glory to God and to His Son Jesus,
Who has redeemed us; bought with His blood.
May I speak to you? Jesus came to me;
Asked of me, “Why do you persecute me?”
He said, “Now get up and stand on your feet.
Go, and you’ll be told all I have for you.
I have appointed you as a servant,
And as a witness; you have been sent.”
“Go into the world and preach the gospel.
Open the blind eyes. They will receive sight.
Turn them from darkness to the light of Christ;
From power of the evil one to God,
So they may receive forgiveness of sins,
And a place among those who’re in heav’n.”