Revelation 11:1-14 Part 1


1)    Then a reed like a measuring rod was given to me saying, ‘go and measure God’s temple and the altar and the worshippers in it.

2)    And cast out the exterior courtyard of the holy place; you shall not measure it, for it and the holy city have been given to the nations and they shall be trampled forty-two months.

3)    And I will give to my two witnesses and they will prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days having been clothed in sackcloth;

4)    these are the two olives and the two lamps standing before the Lord of the earth.

5)    And if anyone wills to harm them, fire goes forth out of their mouth and consumes their adversaries; this is how anyone who wills to harm them is doomed to be destroyed.

6)    The authority to shut the heaven belongs to them in order that it might not rain during the days of their prophecies.  And they have the authority over the waters to turn them into blood and to smite the land in every plague as much as they wish.

7)    And when they have completed their testimony, the beast which is coming up out of the abyss will wage war against them and will overcome them and will kill them,

8)    their bodies on the street of the great city (which is called, spiritually, Sodom and Egypt where also their Lord was crucified),

9)    their bodies being observed for three and a half days from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations suffering not their bodies to be entombed.

10) And those dwelling on the land rejoice and are gladdened; and they will send gifts to one another, for these two prophets did torment those dwelling on the land.’

11) Then after the three and a half days Breath of Life from God did enter in to them, and they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon those beholding them.

12) Then they heard a great sound from the heaven saying to them: ‘Come up here!’  And they did go into the heaven in the cloud, and their adversaries beheld them.

13) And in that hour great shaking did arise, and the tenth of the city fell.  And killed in the shaking were names of men… seven thousands.  And the rest became terrified and gave credit to the God of heaven.

14) The woe, the second, did go forth; lo, the woe, the third, comes quickly.


I have to keep reminding us all about several matters of concern that always come up when we begin a new text.  I know that you need reminding, because I have to remind myself… hey, go back and see how this fits!

We need it because otherwise we could go off into speculation, or into our own imaginations, very quickly; and that would be the course in chapter eleven if we didn’t stop and take note of how we do things; because it’s not an easy passage.  Once more we have to think with the mind of God and see things from His perspective.  And, of course, that’s always point one… the first matter of concern.

The second issue once again is the context… going back.  And we’ve been warned more than once about taking a new chapter as a new thought process (just because a chapter ends and a new one begins).  And we just can’t do that, because surely we’ll go off on one of those imaginary tangents.  Chapter eleven is clearly a continuation of what we have just heard in chapter ten.  And it also has a much broader context as well.

So, related to that immediate context and its continuation from chapter ten (and before) is the fact that the Word of God to John in chapter eleven (the first fourteen verses of it anyway) continues to be content that’s associated with the sixth trumpet sound, which sounded part way through chapter nine; and, as should be expected, there’s no change in the contextual content associated with the sixth trumpeter until the seventh trumpet sound at verse fifteen of our new chapter (eleven).

That’s very, very important for us to keep clear.  You’ll see why shortly, because the last part of chapter nine, and all of chapter ten, determine to some extent how we attain to God’s perception of His covenantal decree and how chapter eleven is to be understood. 

So, without that continuation of the context, we would, to a great degree, be at a loss as to what our Lord reveals here in chapter eleven.  That loss would be a tragedy, for without it, in order to have something to say, we would then have to be adding something “alien” to The Revelation of Jesus Christ.

And then our most important issue is the nature of John’s Revelation.  Since it is the capstone of the entirety of God’s Word and the fullness of its prophecy, therefore there is a “majesty” here that’s unattainable, and a comprehension that’s unattainable, without some prowess and maturity with respect to the “whole” of the written Word!  That’s daunting, isn’t it?

There is a dimension and scope to the whole corpus of Scripture that leaves us breathless and bewildered – especially since there is, with our limited abilities, an element of incomprehensibility of the Person and Mind of Almighty God.  Thankfully He has given us the “written” Word so we can read it, and ponder it, and make the connections; and there is the work of God the Spirit in teaching and enlightening His people concerning the Person and work of our Savior and Lord – Jesus Christ.

But I just can’t imagine John’s letter being simply “read” from the pulpits of the Churches in the nations without further exposition!  Even though the Lord’s people had been taught apostolic doctrine, and even though they would have been apprised as to what was happening and what would happen shortly, it would seem to be an inordinate expectation that they would have received this letter without many, many questions.

But anyway, we should have hope that we can appropriate and retain a significant grounding in the breadth and depth of the whole of Scripture.  That’s the goal, anyway.

So in order that that might be the case, we have to go over and over numbers of things in order that there be some “retention” of things we’ve learned previously.  Retention is difficult since there’s so much to remember.  And it’s especially difficult for you I know, since you have only one expositional hour a week in the text.

So I know how “formidable” this is for you.  It’s not easy for me, because I have not only to understand it as best I can, but I have to preach it in such a way that the “light bulbs” come on for you. But just remember what we’ve heard from our Lord’s great commission… that we are to “keep” the Gospel – that is, we are to obey our Lord and keep His Word intact and inviolable.  And in order to do that we have to have “heard” it; and we have to “know” it; and we have to “remember” it.  And then we have to “speak” it in order to make disciples of the nations and tribes and tongues of the world.

Chapter eleven is difficult; but its difficulty arises from the amount of prophetic material that’s required, and our ability to grasp and retain all of it in its context.

However, the arduous task of developing some future labyrinthine plot from what is recorded here would be infinitely more difficult, and all of it would have to be imaginary and whimsical (and alien to the text).  Those who are familiar with premillennial and dispensational “musings” about the text will understand when I say that reading those is painful and embarrassing.

Now, the context is where we need to begin this morning.

In chapter nine John hears the sixth trumpeter sound; and all the horrific plagues prophesied by Moses and the prophets are revealed as having transpired (and continuing to transpire) against the twelve tribes (or nations) of Israel.  And the text of the Revelation says that, even in the midst of those catastrophic events, they did not repent.

And at the beginning of chapter ten John sees the appearance of Mighty God, the risen and ascended Jesus Christ, clothed with the glory cloud, the bow over His head, and having the opened scroll in His hand (the same one previously sealed at the time of the prophecy of Daniel – the prophecy of these very events).

And He places His right foot (the pillar) upon the turbulent waters of the nations, and His left foot (the pillar) upon the land of Israel, raises His right hand into the heaven and declares (swears) that there will be no more delay.  But in the days of the sounding of the seventh trumpeter the great mystery of God would be fully accomplished.

That mystery of God, spoken first by Daniel with respect to the fifth and eternal Kingdom over all the nations of the earth, was revealed also to Ezekiel in chapters two and three of his prophecy.

And there in chapter ten of the Revelation it is that great mystery that shall be fully accomplished in the days when the seventh trumpet sounds. 

And obvious from the two prophets, Daniel and Ezekiel (a connection the apostle John most surely made), is the catastrophic decreation of God’s “heaven and earth – Israel” and the moving of the mountain of God, and the inauguration of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ over all the mountains (or authorities) of the earth.  The salvation wrought in Christ would thereafter be inclusive of all the Gentile nations and tribes and kingdoms (along with His elect “lost sheep” of the twelve tribes of Israel – the promise of the salvation of Israel having been declared many times).

Then in the last part of chapter ten our Lord presents John, as He had previously to Ezekiel, with the opened scroll and tells him to eat it.  And exactly as He told the former prophet, John would find it sweet, as honey, in the mouth; but it would utterly embitter him; for John must further prophesy that which our Lord would show him next; and that which is about to transpire.

Then our Lord gives John a measuring rod and tells him to measure God’s holy place (chapter eleven)!  That’s the immediate context.  There’s no “break” here, you see… it’s the same scene.  There’s no transition to another one.  John has just consumed the scroll… the words of his prophetic task, and he is embittered; and now he’s given a measuring rod with which he is to further prophesy… just as it occurred with the prophet Ezekiel!

And while you’re incorporating that context into your understanding, you must also see the broader context as well; for John is seeing and hearing all of these things in the sixties, some thirty or thirty five years after our Lord’s resurrection, and after the “filling” and “baptism” of the new temple of Holy Spirit – the body of Christ!

The baptism of God’s “Holy of Holies” took place at Pentecost, fifty days after the resurrection, ten days after our Lord ascended to the throne room to be crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords (having been given all authority in the heaven and upon the earth), and then having poured out His Spirit, constituting and endowing His new Holy Temple.  All of this being foreshadowed and foretold in the older Scripture!  As we read this, the New Temple has already been cleansed and baptized, you see.

Now.  Since we have an immediate context of the sounding of the sixth trumpeter and our Lord’s revelation of the great mystery of God and John’s further prophesying of the sweet and the bitter; and since we have a broader context of the former “constitution” and “endowment” of the Lord’s new Holy Temple (the old one that was built with hands being now full of idolatry and readied for destruction), how do we read the beginning of chapter eleven?

Well, it would be deadly, considering all that we already know, to suppose that there’s a new topic or the introduction of another event here.  It would be even deadlier to think that this is something to occur sometime in the distant future.

And it would militate against the entire Gospel of God concerning His Son Jesus Christ should we not know that, at His resurrection and at the baptism of Holy Spirit at Pentecost, there is a new Holy Place – a Holy of Holies made without hands.  After all, Jesus Himself said He would raise it up in three days… a new Holy Temple of God; for the old one was filled with idolatry and about to be left with no stone on another.

And John is given a reed like a measuring rod with which to measure God’s new Holy Place.  And he was to “cast out” everything else.  And these two actions required of John is where we must spend the rest of our time this morning, for there is plentiful Biblical precedent for what John is to do.

John has been told that he was to further prophesy (end of chapter ten).  And the prophet is to make clear boundaries and distinctions as to what is holy and what is not holy.  He is to “measure” with the Lord’s measuring rod.

God gave specific directions to Moses at Sinai to build His tabernacle “in the very likeness” of the heaven.  And because it was the man-made likeness of the heaven, all the measurements were to be exact.

From the placements of the tribes outside the court, to the boundaries of the courtyard itself, to the meticulous size and placement of the altar of whole burnt offering, to the precise size of the tabernacle proper and the holy objects inside, to the scrupulous attention paid to the size and content of Holy of Holies… and those who worshipped inside, everything was measured and built explicitly to the directions given; for it all resembled in many ways that which is in the heaven.

And please note that only those chosen to be inside were allowed.  All else were excluded.  Only the priests, anointed ones, were permitted inside to offer the blood of the sacrifices and the prayers of the people, and only then under limited conditions.

And it was the anointed priests, representing the One High Priest to come (the Anointed One of God) who measured and judged and guarded all the boundaries of the tabernacle of the Most High.

It was in about 900 BC when King Solomon built the temple of God on the dome of the rock in Jerusalem to the exact measurements given to Moses at Sinai.

But Israel never believed; and the priests desecrated the temple in the likeness of the heaven with all their idolatries and whoredoms and hypocrisies.  And so a great nation was called up out of the sea of humanity to rule all the known world, a nation which God drew against Israel because of the continuation of its idolatry.

The armies of Babylon destroyed the city and the temple, and they took the best of all the land into captivity for seventy years.  That was in 586 BC.

Twenty five years after their captivity the prophet Ezekiel was transported from the scene of his captivity by Holy Spirit to the top of Mt Zion (remember that the temple and the city were destroyed twenty five years before.  So, no man-made temple existed on the mountain), and there on the dome of the rock was the temple of God in the likeness of the heaven.  One that had NOT been desecrated!

And there was a Man there, One described by Ezekiel as the appearance of bronze, with a linen cord in His hand and a reed like a measuring rod in the other, with which He methodically measured everything in every detail, including those who worshipped inside, separating everything holy from anything outside the temple complex that was profane (or common).

Ezekiel, having watched the entire measuring, then heard a great Voice from the Holy of Holies inside the temple; and here’s what he was told:


"Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the people of Israel forever. And the house of Israel shall no more defile My holy name, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoring and by the dead bodies of their kings at their high places,

8)    by setting their threshold by My threshold and their doorposts beside My doorposts, with only a wall between Me and them. They have defiled My holy name by their abominations that they have committed, so I have consumed them in My anger.

9)    Now let them put away their whoring and the dead bodies of their kings far from Me, and I will dwell in their midst forever.

10) "As for you, son of man, describe to the house of Israel the temple, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities and have measured the measurement.

11) And if they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the temple, its arrangement, its exits and its entrances, that is, its whole design; and make known to them as well all its statutes and its whole design and all its laws, and write it down in their sight, so that they may observe all its laws and all its statutes and carry them out.

12) This is the law of the temple:  the whole territory on the top of the mountain all around shall be most holy.  Behold, this is the law of the temple.


“That they have measured the measurement….”

“Show them the measurement that they be ashamed of all their iniquities and measure the measurement.”

“Because of the perfections of My Holy Place Ezekiel, I’m sending you to prophesy the measurement.”  The one that has been desecrated with Israel’s whoredoms and idolatries I have destroyed; but this one with the perfect dimensions is the one in which I will live amongst My people forever.

You see, this is the prophetic Word regarding the new temple of God; and the “Man” measuring it is described in the same terms as other pre-incarnation appearances of God the Son.  It is God the Son measuring His New Holy Temple.  And Ezekiel is to prophesy the measurement.

And what do we see in our text here in chapter eleven?  John sees the Incarnate Jesus the Christ, with the pillars of His legs and feet standing upon the waters and upon the land of Israel, having given John the scroll to eat.

And now He gives him the measuring rod with which He Himself had measured the perfections of the New Temple in Ezekiel chapters forty through forty-three!

And having told John (at the end of chapter ten):  “It is again necessary that you prophesy about many nations and peoples and tongues and kings”; and He gives John the same measuring rod with which to do it; and it is the New Temple of God that he is to measure!

But now, having been cleansed by the blood of the Christ, and having been baptized in Holy Spirit, it is the inside of the Holy Place and the altar before the throne and the worshippers in it that John is to measure and prophesy, which now will include (according to our Lord at the end of chapter ten), the Gentile nations!

Which brings us to the second command that the Lord Jesus gives to John:


“And cast out the exterior courtyard of the holy place; you shall not measure it, for it and the holy city have been given to the nations and they shall be trampled forty two months” (verse two).


So John has two commands from the crucified, risen, ascended and crowned Jesus Christ.  First is to measure the new Holy Place of God with all its worshippers and its altar (and do so with the same measuring rod used to send Ezekiel on his prophetic task).

And, second is to “cast out” everything that’s outside… that is, the courtyard of the temple complex.  (And please note that the altar of whole burnt offering was in the courtyard; it is now obsolete since Jesus was sacrificed.)

The two terms here are of great import:  “measure”, and “cast out”.  The translations sometimes bandy them about and give them “dynamic equivalents” as if they have insignificant meanings.  But they don’t.

They’re very significant; we’ve already seen the Biblical content of the term “measure” from God’s perspective in the prophecy of Ezekiel… and now here in the Revelation.

Now we need to hear what He means by “cast out”.  The Lord says to John, “cast out the exterior courtyard… don’t measure it (don’t include it in the measurement)”.  But why use that term?  What’s the Lord’s perspective here of His Holy Place – His New Temple?  Why the decree :  “Cast it out….”?  And why must we retain that language?

Let me give you some examples of the usage of this very specific terminology.  Here’s the Gospel of Mark at chapter one, at which point Jesus had just healed Peter’s mother-in-law; and many in Capernaum there in Galilee were bringing their sick to Him.  Here’s what Mark writes:


32) And evening having come, when the sun did set, they brought unto Him all who were ill, and who were demoniacs,

33) and the whole city was gathered together near the door,

34) and He healed many who were ill of manifold diseases, and many demons He cast out, and was not suffering the demons to speak, because they knew Him.


So the first example of “cast out” has to do with these creatures which, as part of the curse upon the earth, had been “cast out” of the heaven from the Presence of God.  They had been “excommunicated” from God’s Presence in the heaven.  And now Jesus “cast them out”.

Here’s another example… one even more pertinent.  In Matthew chapter twenty-one Jesus entered Jerusalem with the thousands of His followers (just a few days before His crucifixion); and He went directly to the temple.  Here’s what Matthew writes:


12) And upon His having entered Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken, saying, “Who is this?”

13) And the crowds affirmed, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee.”

14) And Jesus came into the temple, and cast out all of those selling and buying in the temple (that is, in the temple courtyard), and threw down the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those selling the doves….


Jesus “cast out” of the temple courtyard all those who didn’t belong there.  They had made the likeness of the heaven like a den of thieves; but He called it a “house of prayer”, for He alone is the Mediator of the prayers of the saints at the altar before the throne.  He is, alone, the great High Priest of the new Holy Place.

And then lastly, Jesus warned that unbelieving, adulterous, idolatrous Israel would be “cast out” to be trampled under, while believing Gentiles would stream into the New Temple and the New Jerusalem, receiving the blessings promised to the seed of Abraham.  Listen to the Gospel of Luke at chapter thirteen:


22) And He went on his way through cities and villages, teaching, and journeying on unto Jerusalem.

23) And a certain man said unto him, Lord, are they few that are saved? And He said unto them,

24) Strive to enter in by the narrow door:  for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

25) When once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and you begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, “Lord, open to us; and He shall answer and say to you, I have not known you whence you are”;

26) then will you begin to say, “We did eat and drink in your presence, and you did teach in our streets”;

27) but He shall say, “I tell you, I have not known you whence you are; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity.

28) There shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth, when you shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves cast out without.

29) And they shall come from the east and west, and from the north and south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.”


“Are they few that will be saved?”  “No.  You will be cast out; but they will stream in to the Kingdom from all the nations.”


And what does the Lord tell John in verse two?


“And cast out the exterior courtyard of the holy place; you shall not measure it, for it and the holy city have been given to the nations and they shall be trampled forty two months.”


All that is outside the New Holy Place of God (i.e. the courtyard and the city) shall be trampled by the Gentiles!  And what does Luke say in His Gospel at chapter twenty one?


20) "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.

21) Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it,

22) for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.

23) ‘Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the land and wrath against this people.

24) They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.’


 Measure the new Holy Temple of God, John; measure it, and the altar before the throne, and the people worshipping in it.  But “cast out” the courtyard; for it and the city will be trampled underfoot.

Measure My Holy Temple that I raised up at My resurrection; the one filled and baptized by My Spirit at Pentecost.  See its perfections and the ones worshipping in it.

But cast out the courtyard; it and the city will be trampled forty-two months (three and a half years; twelve hundred and sixty days).  There will be weeping and gnashing of the teeth and knocking at the door wanting to get in.  But all those in the courtyard and the city are cast out (excommunicated).  I will not open the door.

Measure it, John; and you must once again prophesy about many peoples and nations and languages and kings (the great mystery of God).  Measure all the entrances.  Each side of My Holy Temple has perfect entrances; for they will come into My House, My New Holy Temple from the east and from the west and from the north and from the south.

Measure it; for you must prophesy its perfections.  It is a “holy” temple, for there are no desecrations as with the old one made with hands.  This one is cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.  All its worshippers are anointed priests in fine, white linen; and they offer up prayers directly from the hands of Jesus Christ our High Priest at the altar before the throne.  (His house, the New Holy Place, is indeed a “house of prayer”, isn’t it?).  And there is no veil.  The prayers of His saints go directly to the throne of God mediated by the Lamb.

There is one passage of Scripture which is so specific in its promise regarding the house that John is now to measure.  In First Chronicles chapter seventeen, David has it on his mind to build a house in Jerusalem for the Ark of the Covenant.  Heretofore the “house” was the “tent”; the tabernacle.

But God said no.  That He would build His House.

Here is His Word to David through the prophet Nathan:


10) … I declare to you that the LORD will build a house for you:

11) When your days are over and you go to be with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons; and I will establish His Kingdom.

12) He is the One who will build a house for Me; and I will establish His Throne forever.

13) I will be His father, and He will be my Son.  I will never take My love from Him (as I took it from your predecessor).

14) I will set Him over My house and My Kingdom forever; His Throne will be established forever.