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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


Rev 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.

The vision from heaven revealed by the sounding of the sixth trumpet, as seen by the apostle John, continues with these two verses. They are filled with symbolic meaning for readers to understand soon after they were written as well as for understanding in the present age. Here we learn that John was given ...a reed like unto a rod, probably by the mighty angel (Vs. 1) noted the previous chapter. This was a measuring stick that had been cut to an exacting size from a marsh-grown reed, having a size similar to a measuring rod. The being who gave the reed to John was omitted in many translations of the bible and thus has been debated extensively. However, the debate is fruitless, and for purposes of this study, we assume that it was, indeed, an angel as noted in KJV from which the lesson text was taken.

The instructions from the angel directed John to Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. Because John was an exiled prisoner, he was not physically able to return to Jerusalem where the Jewish temple was located. Also this order could not be fulfilled by John because the Jewish temple had been destroyed at the time of this writing. Therefore we must assume that this angelic instruction had a symbolic, rather than a literal meaning. We know that under the Jewish law the temple was the abode of God and the scriptural place of worship. However, considering the symbolic inferences in this text, one must conclude this instruction to John was to "measure" the New Testament abode of God in existence at that time. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 that God dwells in the church of Christ: 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. Unlike the physical temple structure of the Jews, the church of Christ is made up of the individuals that obey the same gospel call delivered on the Day of Pentecost, by the Holy Spirit-inspired apostles immediately following the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into heaven by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Considering the revelation of this symbolism, John was directed by the angel to accurately "measure" the New Testament church of Christ. In other words, John was to use what was revealed in these visions to assess the strength and numbers, that relate to the church during the trials and tribulations of the future time indicated by the sounding of the sixth trumpet. Without any doubt this was the historical period known as "the dark ages of religion," which was brought on the faithful body of Christ, by the persecution and restriction of bible access, by the governmental influenced apostate actions of Roman Catholicism. Just as the temple could not be literally measured, neither could the altar used in Jewish worship services. The sacrifices made upon this altar were for a temporary atonement of sins which typified the atoning blood of Christ shed on the cross of Calvary for the permanent atonement of the sins of the world, which was God's plan of salvation from the beginning of time. This tenet formed the basis on which the New Testament church of Christ stood. John was to examine the church, and them that worship therein, to assure this scriptural requirement steadfastly remained within its Holy Spirit-inspired doctrine.

The court that surrounded the Jewish temple was reserved for the Gentile world. Just as it was excluded from Jewish worship, so the symbolism of John's vision represented the unrepentant men and women of the world today, which are excluded from the God-given New Testament benefits derived from scriptural worship within the body of Christ. Gentiles are not symbolically condemned as a people, but merely represent the anti-Christian people of the world whom God has always condemned. There was no need for those that reject God's Son, as the promised Savior, to be spiritually measured. Symbolically the text tells us that the New Testament church will be trodden under foot, that is, defiled and persecuted by the unbelieving people of the world, for a period of forty and two months. Again, referring to the scriptural table of symbols, a day carries the meaning of a year. Therefore, this period, represented by 1260 days of persecution, would have the fulfilled meaning of 1260 years.

Does history reveal the fulfillment of this prophecy found by the sounding of the sixth trumpet? Indeed it does! Did corruption of the church of Christ take place during the period historically depicted before that symbolized by the seventh trumpet? Indeed it did! Looking back at the history of the New Testament church, it can easily be seen that the primary man-made tenet, which led to its apostasy and corruption, was the intentional false teaching that Peter, having been given the keys to the kingdom of Christ, was the first pope of the "universal," or Catholic Church. This led to the appointment of papal successors having infallible powers to add to, delete from, and alter God's word to meet their personal desires, without being challenged by the members of their human-established "religion."

With the possible exception of a few faithful Christians, the original church of Christ, which was measured during this era, was found to be totally corrupted by human organization and doctrine. When the New Testament sacrificial altar of Christ Jesus was measured, the Lord's Supper had been changed by papal decree to substitute the "remembrance" of the death of our Savior to the rite of "transubstantiation" - a rite which states that emblems of bread and fruit of the vine are actually changed into the body and blood of Christ. The scriptural name of "preachers," given to teaching ministers of God's word, was changed to priests. And with the elimination of "elders" ruling over each congregation of the church of Christ, authoritative teachers and leaders were humanly established for this purpose, namely Priests, Bishops, Archbishops, and Cardinals, all culminating in the supreme power of the Pope. Although there were other papal decrees that superceded God's New Testament law, the one that brought the most corruption was that of purchasing forgiveness, and spiritual justification, through the meritorious giving of money into the coffers of the Catholic treasury. All of these papal edicts imposed on the church reduced the true worship of God into one consisting of observances of man-made rites and ceremonies, without having access to the Holy Spirit-inspired New Testament gospel.

Indeed, for hundreds of years the church of Christ had been measured by the Bible, but at the time of the complete fall of the Roman Empire, it was measured by the decrees and councils of men as directed by the Pope. However, from this time forward, according to the vision seen by John at the sounding of the sixth trumpet, Christ's church was to be measured by the divine "reed" - the New Testament gospel of salvation. The apostle Peter would not be deified as the sole holder of the keys to the kingdom of Christ. Rather the standard under which the church would be measured was to be the gospel message taught on the Day of Pentecost by all twelve apostles, and by the teaching of the Holy Spirit-inspired apostles and teachers, who penned the scriptures of the New Covenant between God and mankind. B. W. Johnson, in his New Testament commentary, gives us this statement of truth regarding these two verses of Revelation. He says that the church of Christ from this time forward would not be measured by "the traditions of men, not the decisions of councils, not the decrees of synods, or conferences, not the creeds of any uninspired body that ever met on the face of the earth, but the standard of measure is the New Testament."

This vision from heaven, as seen by the apostle John, foretells of this particular time in history when the true church of Christ would, once again, be measured by the divine word of God, the Bible. It was to abide by the doctrine established by Christ Jesus and His apostles. Human minds are not to add anything to it that does not agree fully with their teaching, nor are they to compromise any of its tenets. Just as the temple which the prophet Ezekiel measured, according to chapter 40, contained chambers of the same size, so must individual congregations comprising the universal New Testament church of Christ be equal in "spiritual" size to one another. The true doctrine of the church of Christ was to be fully restored to that established on the Day of Pentecost following the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension back into heaven, of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. When restored, the New Testament church was to have one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all (Eph. 4:4-6).

The period known as the Reformation began in 1517, with the principles established by Martin Luther, who separated himself from Roman Catholicism. Although his doctrine still maintained many errors, his rebellion, and all that followed it, established, once and for all, the fact that Christianity must use, as its final standard of measurement, the New Testament Word of God.