Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Revelation Bible Study - Lesson 29 - Revelation 11:1-3

Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told: "Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample over the holy city for forty-two months. And I will grant my two witnesses power to prophesy for one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." (RSV) 

The Temple

What is the purpose of measuring the temple?

So he measured the length thereof, twenty cubits; and the breadth, twenty cubits, before the temple: and he said unto me, This is the most holy place. (Ezek 41:4 KJV)  
Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: (Ezek 43:10a)
In Ezekiel chapters 41 and 42, Ezekiel watches in a vision as a “man” measures the temple that was supposed to have been built some time after the Babylonian captivity. Ezekiel is finally told that the detailed description in his vision is to inspire the Israelites to be ashamed of their sins. The inner temple and the outer temple are carefully measured and a detailed description of the temple is provided. Only the priests could enter into the inner temple for it was holy. When they returned to the outer temple areas they even had to remove their holy clothes and put on common clothes. The holiness of the temple was in stark contrast to the sins of the people.
Why is there a distinction between the inner and outer areas of the temple and how does that relate to believers today?
What might this tell us about the existence of believers on earth during this part of the end times?

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (1 Peter 2:9 NASB)
Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Cor 3:16 NASB)
The distinction was a reminder that access to God was only available to holy people. Holy people are separated or set apart. Today, all Christians are members of the priesthood. We are temples with God living in us and not in a physical building. This all leads me to believe that when John measures the temple and counts the worshipers, God is showing us that there are still true Christians left on earth at this time. They have separated themselves from the “world” and kept themselves holy.
Excluding the outer temple and giving it to Gentiles to trample could then indicate that God has not yet intervened to bring about His kingdom on earth. He is still letting evil trample over all that is holy. Christian persecution will be increasing and if everything continues the way it is going, Christians will be eliminated from the earth. However, we need to remember our previous lesson that explained God will shorten the days so that His elect will survive. It also shows that the Anti-Christ hasn’t yet been given permission to wage war against the saints and conquer them.
Measuring the temple also confirms one thing that must happen before the end-times start. What is that requirement?

There will also be a physical temple in Jerusalem during the end-times and measuring it is an indication that God will protect it to accomplish His purposes and fulfill Scripture. The exclusion of the outer temple and trampling of the holy city means that Jews are not in control of Jerusalem. They may lose what they now have in that area or it may remain a divided city.

Forty-two Months

When the Bible uses measurements of time simply with the word “time” or “times,” how do we know what it means?

… It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king, that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will. (Dan 4:24-25 ESV)
The use of the word “time” was used to represent a year. The prophecy about King Nebuchadnezzar came to pass and substantiated this. How do we know that it was seven years and not seven months, days, hours, or seconds? It isn’t recorded in any history books that I can quote even though I’ve heard some ancient references indicate a large gap in Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. However, if we look at what happened in Dan 4:33, we can see that his hair was long as eagle’s feathers and fingernails grew long like bird’s claws while he was in exile. This would have taken much longer than seven months.
How does the three and a half years of Daniel 7 relate to the forty-two months of Revelation 11?

As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them, until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom. (Dan 7:21-22 NIV)
He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time. But the court shall be seated, And they shall take away his dominion, To consume and destroy it forever. (Dan 7:25-26 NIV) 
The vision Daniel received clarifies that there will be a future time of three and a half years when the Anti-Christ will subject Christians to persecution. But the war ends when God steps in, takes the Anti-Christ’s power away, and hands the kingdom over to the saints. The 42 months described in Revelation 11 appears to be the first half of the tribulation.
Because Revelation now introduces a specific period of time, it is appropriate to dig further into the book of Daniel and try to get a better handle on the time line of events of the tribulation and why it is seven years, or two sets of 42 months.
24 Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.
24 Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.
26 And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate. (Dan 9:24-27 NKJV)
What is the main concept presented in verse 24?
What role do Jews have in this?

The main concept of verse 24 is that God has set a time limit on bringing salvation to the world. Salvation is from the Jews as Jesus told the woman at the well. This was not something new.
Some think that because Jesus has atoned for wickedness, that there is nothing more for the Jews to do. These verses would indicate otherwise. Transgression must be finished and all sin ended. This will only be accomplished when Jesus comes back again. However, in accomplishing this, there are many promises to the Jews that still need to be fulfilled.
How are these seventy weeks to be interpreted?

By looking at history, we can discern that these weeks are groups of seven years. From the time of the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to its accomplishment was 49 years. These were years of 360 days (Jewish calendar of the time), not our year of 365 days. In 455 BC the decree was given. From then until 32 AD was 447 years as we count. Converting to 360-day years, it comes out to 483 years. This is exactly 7 “weeks” plus 62 “weeks.” This is the very year that Jesus, the Anointed One, was crucified. The title “Anointed One” is the Hebrew word from which we get the word Messiah. The Greek word used in the New Testament is Christ.
 Mashiyach (maw-shee’-akh); anointed; usually a consecrated person (as a king, priest, or saint); specifically, the Messiah:"[1]
Christos (khris-tos’); from NT:5548; anointed, i.e. the Messiah, an epithet of Jesus:"[2]

Is there any question that Daniel’s vision was referring to Jesus? 69 “sevens” passed by from that decree to rebuild Jerusalem until Jesus was crucified. There has been many more than one “seven” since then.
What happened to the 70th “seven” and the promise to put an end to sin?

Even though Jesus died to pay the penalty for sin, sin still exists. For some reason God has interrupted this timetable for the Jews.
I want you to understand this mystery, dear brothers and sisters, so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ. (Rom 11:25 NLT)
That reason is so that the full number of Gentiles (most of us) will have an opportunity to be saved and come to Jesus. At some point, God will determine that it is no longer the time of the Gentiles and will again focus His attention on the salvation of the Jews. When that happens, the timetable will start again. This leads many to believe that the rapture must take place before the last seven years as a mark that the time of the Gentiles is finished. While that sounds very attractive and makes sense, it is not a reason that the rapture would have to mark the end of the time of the Gentiles.
Consider these verses in Daniel along with previous ones we’ve examined in this lesson.
Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. Because of rebellion, the host [of the saints] and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. (Dan 8:9-12 NIV)
He said to me, "It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated." (Dan 8:14 NIV)
As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. "Son of man," he said to me, "understand that the vision concerns the time of the end." (Dan 8:17 NIV)
What are some distinct prerequisites that must occur before the last seven years and after Jesus is crucified as we’ve seen in Daniel?

1.                  Jerusalem and the temple must be destroyed. The people of the ruler who is to come will destroy it. This ruler can be identified in the verses above as the Anti-Christ. History has already recorded this destruction was done by Rome in 70 AD. This first requirement has already been fulfilled and also identifies that the Anti-Christ has to be of Roman descent. Some well known Christian leaders have said the Anti-Christ will be Jewish. In light of these verses, I have no idea how they determine this.
2.                  There must be a time of unprecedented peace. This would be the covenant that the Anti-Christ establishes with “the many” (see Dan 9:27 and the white horse in Lesson 20). It is possible that part of this peace is what enables Israel to rebuild the temple.
3.                  Also, the temple must be rebuilt. It could be rebuilt after the last “seven” starts or anytime before. We know the temple is rebuilt because the Anti-Christ will stop the sacrifice and offering, which can only be done in the temple. He also sets up an abomination in the temple. By implication, Israel must be restored as a nation. The only way to build a temple in Jerusalem would be for Jews to be in control of the nation and the city.
How do the 2,300 morning and evening sacrifices in Dan 8:14 fit in the end-time scenario?

In the vision recorded in Daniel 7, Daniel was also given information about the end times. The additional information in chapter eight can either clarify or confuse the time line, but they are part of the puzzle. From his vision in chapter seven, we are first introduced to a three and a half year period that ends with the Anti-Christ losing his power forever. These verses specifically indicate that 2,300 mornings and evening sacrifices will be made to the Anti-Christ rather than to the “Prince of the host.” After these stolen sacrifices, the sanctuary will be reconsecrated which can only happen after Jesus comes back and the Anti-Christ is defeated.
One explanation is that the removal of the sacrifices mentioned in Daniel 8 is what happened when Antiochus Epiphanes invaded and took away the elements in the temple. The confusion occurs because this prophecy is very much like the prophecies against the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14 and the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28. There is a near term fulfillment and as well as an explanation of what happened to Satan in the past.
When we look back at history, we can see that, in accordance with the interpretation of the vision, Alexander the Great conquered Persia and one of the four generals that succeeded him, Antiochus Epiphanes, fulfilled some of it – removing the sacrifices for 1,150 days. However, the prophecy also speaks of reaching the host of heaven and throwing them down to the earth. This is clearly not Antiochus.
The prophecy also says that the sacrifices were given over to him. This appears to be a reference to a future instance not, what happened with Antiochus, which is why I’ve included this reference in the time line of the tribulation.
Another explanation and to find a logical time when the sacrifice is taken away requires that we count backward from the end of the tribulation by 2,300 sacrifices, one in the morning and one in the evening. To confuse the issue, some Bible versions translate this as 2,300 days, which is incorrect. Since the reference is to both morning and evenings it would be 1,150 days. This is roughly the “middle” of the seven when the sacrifices are stopped would be about 38 months. The word used for middle is also used to mean divide into more than two parts or even in the midst. So it doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be exactly in the middle of the “seven” or at 42 months.
This means that from the time the Anti-Christ breaks the covenant, it will be 110 days before he sets himself up in the temple as god.
Now look at these verses in Daniel twelve that also refer to the end.
The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream, raised his right hand and his left hand toward heaven; and I heard him swear by him who lives for ever that it would be for a time, two times, and half a time; and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be accomplished. (Dan 12:7 RSV)
And from the time that the continual burnt offering is taken away, and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he who waits and comes to the thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. (Dan 12:11-12 RSV)
How do these references to 42, 43, and 43.5 months fit in the time line?

 When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, then it will be three and a half years. Looking back at the other descriptions of the end times ties together these events so that we can only know that they start somewhere around the middle of the tribulation or the last “seven.”
Time line for the last “seven” or the Great Tribulation.
·         The Start of the Seven Years
o   Covenant With Many (Dan 9:27)
o   Gentiles Trample Outer Court for 42 Months (Rev 11:2)
o   Two Witnesses for 1,260 Days (Rev 11:3)
·         The Second Half of the Seven Years
o   Saints Handed Over to Anti-Christ For 3 1/2 Years (Dan 7: 25-26)
o   Daily Sacrifice and Saints Handed Over to Anti-Christ for 2,300 sacrifices (Dan 8:12,14)
o   Sacrifice Stopped and Abomination Set Up for 1,290 Days (Dan 12:11)
o   Woman Flees to Desert For 1,260 Days (Rev 12:6, 14)
o   Beast Given Authority for 42 Months and Wages War Against Saints and Conquers (Rev 13:5, 7)
o   Start Abomination That Causes Desolation Continues Until His End (Dan 9:27)
o   Power of Saints Broken After 3 1/2 Years (Dan 12:7)
·         After Second Half
o   Temple Reconsecrated (Dan 8:14)
o   1,290 Days After Sacrifice Stopped and Abomination Set Up (Dan 12:11)
o   Blessing for Those Who Reach the End of 1,335 Days (Dan 12:12)
How do you explain the 1,290 days and 1,135 days that extend past the end of the tribulation (Dan 12:11)?

The sacrifices aren’t restarted immediately after Jesus comes back at the end of the tribulation. Dan 12:11 clearly says that they are stopped for 1,290 days implying that they are restarted. Many believe that there will be sacrifices offered during the millennial reign of Christ as described in the book of Ezekiel. This would support that. It is possible that cleaning and restoring the temple will take 30 days.
These sacrifices will obviously not be to remove sin, since Jesus has already done that once for all time. They will be ceremonial feasts that will proclaim all that Jesus has done. Some think that during the millennial reign, we will all be vegetarians and not kill animals for food. However it looks like we will be enjoying meat and that will be part of the festivals as they were also enjoyed in the Old Testament.
The second part of the question is the introduction of 1,335 days, which is a real mystery. Does something happen 75 days after the end of the tribulation, 45 days after the sacrifices are reinstated? The answer to this seems to be the things that have been sealed up.
Where does the rapture fit into this picture?

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. (2 Thess 2:1-4 ESV)
For God has not destined us for  wrath, but  to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10  who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thess 5:9 ESV)
These are probably the most compelling verses to suggest that the rapture occurs at the middle of the tribulation. The timing says that it will not occur until the rebellion happens. Dan 8:12 ties the rebellion and the persecution of the saints to the last half of the tribulation. The man of lawlessness or the Anti-Christ isn’t completely revealed until he establishes his worship in the temple.
I believe the reason for the rapture is to remove all believers so that they won’t suffer God’s wrath. If I’m right, then I would expect that God’s wrath would begin at the same time. The power that the Anti-Christ has over the saints will be over those who come to Jesus after the rapture. However, I’ll be hasty to add that I could be wrong. I have gone over these verses many times and there is enough ambiguity to say that no one can be 100% sure. I could even change my mind next week after more study.
This lesson has been a bit cerebral, so what is the point? How does it help you in your Christian walk?

Hopefully, this lesson points out that God has known exactly what will happen long before it occurs. He is the One who knows because He is the One that ensures it will happen. If He can ensure that Jesus came at exactly the right time, He will also be able to bring all the rest of these events at the right time. The Anti-Christ will try to change the set times but he will fail. If you have put your trust in Jesus, then you can also know that you will be with Christ forever. If you haven’t, then you can know that you will be with the Anti-Christ for eternity – in hell. If you are waiting for the right time to turn your life over to Christ, then, think about the fact that we can’t determine the exact time of the events at the middle of the tribulation much less the time the tribulation will start. In the same way, you can’t be certain you will have an opportunity in the future to trust Christ. You must do it now while you have the chance!
May we be comforted by His control and may we be even more urgent in sharing the good news so that as many as possible will join us in the rapture and escape God’s wrath.

[1] Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.
[2] Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.

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