"VERSE 1. 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. 2. 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." p. 497, Para. 2.
We here have a continuation of the instruction which the angel commenced giving to John in the preceding chapter; hence these verses properly belong to that chapter, and should not be separated by the present division. In the last verse of chapter 10, the angel gave to John, as a representative of the church, a new commission. In other words, as already shown, we have in that verse a prophecy of the third angel's message. Now follows testimony showing what the nature of that message is to be. It is connected with the temple of God in heaven, and is designed to fit up a class of people as worshipers therein. The temple here cannot mean the church; for the church is brought to view in connection with this temple as "them that worship therein." The temple is therefore the literal temple in heaven, and the worshipers the true church on earth. But of course these worshipers are not to be measured in the sense of ascertaining the height and circumference of each one in feet and inches; they are to be measured as worshipers; and character can be measured only be some standard of right, namely, a law, or rule of action. We are thus brought to the conclusion that the ten commandments, the standard which God has given by which to measure "the whole duty of man," are embraced in the measuring rod put by the angel into the hands of John; and in the fulfilment of this prophecy, this very law has been put, under the third message, into the hands of the church. This is the standard by which the worshipers of God are now to be tested. p. 497, Para. 3.
Having seen what it is to measure those who worship in the temple, we inquire further, What it meant by measuring the temple? To measure any object requires that we give especial attention to that object; so, doubtless, the call to rise and measure the temple of God is a prophetic command to the church to give the subject of the temple, or sanctuary, a special examination. But how is this to be done with a measuring rod given to the church? With the ten commandments alone we could not do it. When, however, we take the entire message, we find ourselves led by it to and examination of the sanctuary on high, with the commandments of God and the ministration of Christ connected therewith. Hence we conclude that the measuring rod, taken as a whole, is the special message now given to the church, which embraces the great truths peculiar to this time, including the ten commandments. By this message, our attention has been called to the temple above, and through it the light and truth on this subject has come out. Thus we measure the temple and the altar, or the ministration connected with the temple, the work and the position of our great High Priest; and we measure the worshipers with that portion of the rod which relates to character; namely, the ten commandments. p. 498, Para. 1.
"But the court which is without the temple leave out." As much as to say, The attention of the church is now directed to the inner temple, and the service there. Matters pertaining to the court are of less consequence now. It is given to the Gentiles. That the court refers to this earth is proved thus: The court is the place where the victims were slain whose blood was to be ministered in the sanctuary. The antitypical victim must die in the antitypical court; and he died on Calvary in Judea. Having thus introduced the Gentiles, the attention of the prophet is directed to the great feature of Gentile apostasy; namely, the treading down of the holy city forty and two months during the period of papal supremacy. He is then directed to the condition of the word of God, the truth, and the church during that time. Thus by an easy and natural transition, we are carried back into the past, and our attention is called to a new series of events. p. 498, Para. 2.
These days are the same as the forty-two months of the preceding verse, and refer to the period of papal triumph. During this time, the witnesses are in a state of sackcloth, or obscurity, and God gives them power to endure and maintain their testimony through that dark and dismal period. But who or what are these witnesses? p. 499, Para. 2.
"VERSE 4. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth." p. 499, Para. 3.
Evident allusion is here made to Zech. 4:11-14, where it is explained that the two olive trees are taken to represent the word of God; and David testifies, "The entrance of thy words giveth light;" and, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Written testimony is stronger than oral. Jesus declared of the Old Testament Scriptures, "They are they which testify of me." In this dispensation, he says that his works bear witness of him. By what means do they bear witness of him? Ever since those disciples who were personally associated with him while on earth passed off the stage of life, his works have borne witness of him only through the medium of the New Testament, where alone we find them recorded. This gospel of the kingdom, it was once declared, shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations, etc. p. 499, Para. 4.
These declarations and considerations are sufficient to sustain the conclusion that the Old and New Testaments, one given in one dispensation, and the other in the other, are Christ's two witnesses. p. 499, Para. 5.
"VERSE 5. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed." p. 500, Para. 1.
To hurt the word of God is to oppose, corrupt, or pervert its testimony, and turn people away from it. Against those who do this work, fire proceedeth out of their mouth to devour them; that is, judgment of fire is denounced in that word against such. It declares that they will have their portion at last in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone. Mal. 4:1; Rev. 20:15; 22:18, 19, etc. p. 500, Para. 2.
"VERSE 6. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will." p. 500, Para. 3.
In what sense have these witnesses power to shut heaven, turn waters to blood, and bring plagues on the earth? Elijah shut heaven that it rained not for three years and a half; but he did it by the word of the Lord. Moses, by the word of the Lord, turned the waters of Egypt to blood. And just as these judgments, recorded in their testimony, have been fulfilled, so will every threatening and judgment denounced by them against any people surely be accomplished. "As often as they will." As often as judgments are recorded on their pages to take place, so often they will come to pass. An instance of this the world is yet to experience in the infliction of the seven last plagues. p. 500, Para. 4.
"VERSE 7. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. 8. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified." p. 500, Para. 5.
"When they shall have finished their testimony," that is, "in sackcloth." The sackcloth state ended, or, as elsewhere expressed, the days of persecution were shortened [Matt. 24:22], before the period itself expired. A "beast" in prophecy, denotes a kingdom, or power. [See Dan. 7:17, 23.] The question now arises, When did the 1260-year period of the witnesses close? and did such a kingdom as described make war on them at the time spoken of? If we are correct in fixing upon A.D. 538 as the time of the commencement of the papal supremacy, the forty-two months being 1260 prophetic days, or years, would bring us down to A.D. 1798. About this time, then, did such a kingdom as described appear, and make war on them, etc.? Mark! this beast, or kingdom, is out of the bottomless pit; it has no foundation, is an atheistical power, is "spiritually Egypt." [See Ex. 5:2: And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that they should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go."] Here is atheism. Did any kingdom, about 1798 manifest the same spirit? -- Yes, France; in her national capacity she denied the being of God, and made war on the "Monarchy of heaven." p. 500, Para. 6.
"Spiritually" this power "is called Sodom." What was the characteristic sin of Sodom? -- Licentiousness. Did France have this character? -- She did; fornication was established by law during the period spoken of. "Spiritually" the place was "where our Lord was crucified." Was this true in France? -- It was, in more senses than one. A plot was laid in France to destroy all the pious Huguenots; and in one night (Aug. 24, 25, 1572) fifty thousand of them were murdered in cold blood, and the streets of Paris literally ran with blood. Thus our Lord was "spiritually crucified" in his members. Again, the watchword and motto of the French infidels was, "CRUSH THE WRETCH," meaning Christ. Thus it may be truly said, "Where our Lord was crucified." The very spirit of the "bottomless pit" was poured out in that wicked nation. p. 501, Para. 1.
But did France "make war" on the Bible? -- She did; and in 1793 a decree passed the French Assembly forbidding the Bible; and under that decree, the Bibles were gathered and burned, every possible mark of contempt was heaped upon them, and all the institutions of the Bible were abolished; the weekly rest-day was blotted out, and every tenth day substituted, for mirth and profanity. Baptism and the communion were abolished. The being of God was denied, and death pronounced an eternal sleep. The Goddess of Reason, in the person of a vile woman, was set up, and publicly worshiped. Surely here is a power that exactly answers the prophecy. But let us examine this point still further. p. 501, Para. 2.
"VERSE 9. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and a half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves." p. 502, Para. 1.
The language of this verse describes the feelings of other nations besides the one committing the outrage on the witnesses. They would see what war infidel France had made on the Bible, but would not be led nationally to engage in the wicked work, nor suffer the murdered witnesses to be buried, or put out of sight among themselves, though they lay dead three days and a half, that is, three years and a half, in France. No; this very attempt on the part of France served to arouse Christians everywhere to put forth new exertions in behalf of the Bible, as we shall presently see. p. 502, Para. 2.
"VERSE 10. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts to one another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth." p. 502, Para. 3.
This denotes the joy those felt who hated the Bible, or were tormented by it. Great was the joy of infidels everywhere for awhile. But the "triumphing of the wicked is short;" so was it in France, for their war on the Bible and Christianity well-nigh swallowed them all up. They set out to destroy Christ's "two witnesses," but they filled France with blood and terror, so that they were horror-struck at the result of their own wicked deeds, and were soon glad to remove their impious hands from the Bible. p. 502, Para. 4.
"VERSE 11. And after three days and a half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them." p. 502, Para. 5.
In 1793, a decree passed the French Assembly suppressing the Bible. Just three years after, a resolution was introduced into the Assembly superseding the decree, and giving toleration to the Scriptures. That resolution lay on the table six months, when it was taken up, and passed without a dissenting vote. Thus, in just three years and a half, the witnesses "stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon them which saw them." Nothing but the appalling results of the rejection of the Bible could have induced France to take her hands off these witnesses. p. 502, Para. 6.
"VERSE 12. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them." p. 503, Para. 1.
"Ascended up to heaven." -- To understand this expression, see Dan. 4:22: "Thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven." Here we see that the expression signifies great exaltation. Have the Scriptures attained to such a state of exaltation as here indicated, since France made war upon them? -- They have. Shortly after, the British Bible Society was organized ; then followed the American Bible Society ; and these, with their almost innumerable auxiliaries, are scattering the Bible everywhere. Since that period, the Bible has been translated into nearly two hundred different languages that it was never in before; and the improvements in paper-making and printing within the last seventy-five years have given an impetus to the work of scattering Bible which is without a parallel. p. 503, Para. 2.
The Bible has been sent to the destitute, literally by shiploads. One vessel carried out from England fifty-nine tons of Bibles for the emancipated slaves in the West Indies. The Bible has risen to be respected by almost every one, whether saint or sinner. Within the last century, translations of the Scriptures have increased fivefold, and the circulation of the Scriptures thirtyfold. --  No other book approaches it in cheapness or number of copies sold. According to the Missionary Review of September, 1896, it has been translated into languages embracing nine tenths of the human race. And the American Bible Society, in its eightieth annual report, dated May, 1896, gives the number of Bibles and parts of Bibles issued by that society alone, as 61,705,841. Add the issues by the British Bible Society and other publisher, and how vastly would the number be increased! What other book has the world ever seen which approaches the Bible in this respect? It is exalted as above all price, as, next to his Son, the most invaluable blessing of God to man, and as the glorious testimony concerning that Son. Yes; the Scriptures may truly be said to be exalted "to heaven in a cloud," a cloud being an emblem of heavenly elevation. p. 503, Para. 3.
[ Increase of Crime, by D. T. Taylor, p. 5.] p. 503, Para. 4.
"VERSE 13. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven." p. 504, Para. 1.
What city? [See chapter 17:18: "And the woman which thou sawest is that great city which reigneth over the kings [kingdoms] of the earth."] That city is the papal Roman power. France is one of the "ten horns" that gave "their power and strength unto the [papal] beast;" or is one of the ten kingdoms that arose out of the Western Empire of Rome, as indicated by the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar's image, the ten horns of Daniel's beast [Dan. 7:24], and John's dragon. Rev. 12:3. France, then, was "a tenth part of the city," and was one of the strongest ministers of papal vengeance; but in this revolution it "fell," and with it fell the last civil messenger of papal fury. "And in the earthquake were slain of men [margin, names of men, or TITLES of men] seven thousand." France made war, in her revolution of 1789-98 and onward, on all titles of nobility. It is said by those who have examined the French records, that just seven thousand titles of men were abolished in that revolution. "And the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven." Their God- dishonoring and Heaven-defying work filled France with such scenes of blood, carnage, and horror, as made eve the infidels themselves tremble, and stand aghast; and the "remnant" that escaped the horrors of that hour "gave glory to God" -- not willingly, but the God of heaven caused this "wrath of man to praise him," by causing all the world to see that those who make war on heaven make graves for themselves; thus glory redounded to God by the very means that wicked men employed to tarnish that glory. p. 504, Para. 2.
For the statistics and many of the foregoing thoughts on the two witnesses, we are indebted to an exposition of the subject of The Two Witnesses, by the late George Storrs. p. 505, Para. 1.
"VERSE 14. The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly." p. 505, Para. 2.
The series of seven trumpets is here again resumed. The second woe ended with the sixth trumpet, Aug. 11, 1840; and the third woe occurs under the sounding of the seventh trumpet, which commenced in 1844. p. 505, Para. 3.
Then where are we? "Behold!" that is to say, mark it well, "the third woe cometh quickly." The fearful scenes of the second woe are past, and we are now under the sounding of the trumpet that brings the third and last woe. And shall we now look for peace and safety, a temporal millennium, a thousand years of righteousness and prosperity? Rather let us earnestly pray the Lord to awaken a slumbering world. p. 505, Para. 4.
"VERSE 15. And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever. 16. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshiped God, 17. Saying, We give thee thanks O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned." p. 505, Para. 5.
From the 15th verse to the end of the chapter, we seem to be carried over the ground, from the sounding of the seventh angel to the end, three distinct times. In the verses last quoted, the prophet glances forward to the full establishment of the kingdom of God. Although the seventh trumpet has begun to sound, it may not yet be a fact that the great voices in heaven have proclaimed that the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, except it be in anticipation of the speedy accomplishment of this event; but the seventh trumpet, like the preceding six, covers a period of time: and the transfer of the kingdoms from earthly power to Him whose right it is to reign, is the principal event to occur in the early years of its sounding; hence this event, to the exclusion of all else, here engages the mind of the prophet. [see remarks on verse 19.] In the next verse John goes back and takes up intervening events as follows:-- p. 505, Para. 6.
"VERSE 18. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldst give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldst destroy them which destroy the earth." p. 506, Para. 1.
"The Nations Were Angry." -- Commencing with the wonderful revolution in Europe in 1848, that spontaneous outburst of violence among the nations, their anger toward one another, their jealousy and envy, have been constantly increasing. Almost every paper shows the fearful degree to which they are now excited, and how tense has become the strain on the relations between them. p. 506, Para. 2.
"And Thy Wrath Is Come." -- The wrath of God for the present generation is filled up in the seven last plagues [chapter 15:1], which consequently must here be referred to, and which are soon to be poured out upon the earth. p. 506, Para. 3.
The Judgment of the Dead. -- "And the time of the dead, that they should be judged." The great majority of the dead, that is, the wicked, are still in their graves after the visitation of the plagues, and the close of this dispensation. A work of judgment, of allotting to each one the punishment due to his sins, is carried on in reference to them by the saints, in conjunction with Christ, during the one thousand years following the first resurrection. 1 Cor. 6:2; Rev. 20:4. Inasmuch as this judgment of the dead follows the wrath of God, or the seven last plagues, it would seem necessary to refer it to the one thousand years of judgment upon the wicked, above mentioned; for the investigative judgment takes place before the plagues are poured out. p. 506, Para. 4.
The Reward of the Righteous. -- "And that thou shouldst give reward unto thy servants the prophets." These will enter upon their reward at the coming of Christ, for he brings their reward with him. Matt. 16:27; Rev. 22:12. The full reward of the saints however is not reached till they enter upon the possession of the new earth. Matt. 25:34. p. 506, Para. 5.
The Punishment of the Wicked. -- "And shouldst destroy them which destroy the earth," referring to the time when all the wicked will be forever devoured by those purifying fires which come down from God out of heaven upon them, and which ;melt and renovate the earth. 2 Pet 3:7; Rev 20:9. By this we learn that the seventh trumpet reaches over to the end of the one thousand years. Momentous, startling, but yet joyous thought! that the trumpet is now sounding which is to see the final destruction of the wicked, and to behold the saints, clothed in a glorious immortality, safely located on the earth made new. p. 507, Para. 1.
Once more the prophet carries us back to the commencement of the trumpet, in the following language:-- p. 507, Para. 2.
"VERSE 19. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail." p. 507, Para. 3.
Having introduced the seventh trumpet in verse 15, the first great event that strikes the mind of the seer is the transfer of the kingdom from earthly to heavenly rule. God takes to him his great power, and forever crushes the rebellion of this revolted earth, establishes Christ upon his own throne, and remains himself supreme over all. This picture being completed, we are pointed back, in verse 18, to the state of the nations, the judgment to fall upon them, and the final destiny of both saints and sinners. This field of vision having been scanned, we are taken back once more in the verse now under notice, and our attention is called to the close of the priesthood of Christ, the last scene in the work of mercy for a guilty world. The temple is opened; the second apartment of the sanctuary is entered. We know it is the holy of holies that is here opened, for the ark is seen; and in that apartment alone the ark was deposited. This took place at the end of the 2300 days, when the sanctuary was to be cleansed, the time when the prophetic periods expired, and the seventh angel commenced to sound. Since that time, the people of God have seen by faith the open door in heaven, and the ark of God's testament there. They are endeavoring to keep every precept of the holy law written upon the tables therein deposited. And that the tables of the law are there, just as in the ark in the sanctuary erected by Moses, is evident from the terms which John uses in describing the ark. He calls it the "ark of his testament." The ark was called the ark of the covenant, or testament, because it was made for the express purpose of containing the tables of the testimony, or ten commandments. Ex. 25:16; 31:18; Deut. 10:2, 5. It was put to no other use, and owed its name solely to the fact that it contained the tables of the law. If the tables were not therein, it would not be the ark of his [God's] testament, and could not truthfully be so called. Yet John, beholding the ark in heaven under the sounding of the seventh trumpet, still calls it the "ark of his testament," affording unanswerable proof that the law is still there, unaltered in one jot or tittle from the copy which for a time was committed to the care of men in the typical ark of the tabernacle during the Mosaic dispensation. p. 507, Para. 4.
The followers of the prophetic word have also received the reed, and are measuring the temple, the altar, and them that worship therein. Verse 1. They are uttering their last prophecy before nations, peoples, and tongues. Chapter 10:11. And the drama will soon close with the lightnings, thunderings, voices, the earthquake, and great hail, which will constitute nature's last convulsion before all things are made new at the close of the thousand years. Rev. 21:5. [See on chapter 16:17-21.] p. 541, Para. 4.
© S. D. Goeldner, February, 2011. Last updated October, 2019.
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