Revelation 10 ended with a message to John of something terrible that would happen to the New Testament church. He was commanded to eat the little book and was informed it would be sweet to the taste but bitter to the stomach. Revelation 11:1-14 very likely contains the prediction that caused bitterness to John's stomach and mind. Revelation 11 contains one of the most amazing visions in the book, and it may symbolically predict the chief event discussed in chapters 12 through 19. The vision tells of some terrible invasion of the old city of Jerusalem by great numbers of Gentiles. John is commanded to measure the inner court of the temple of God, the altar, and them who worship therein. Please note that he was to measure the inner court which included a small number of true worshipers, but he was not to measure the outer court of the Gentiles who also surrounded the Temple as worshipers. This was a Gentile invasion of the city. They have surrounded the Temple and have conquered the holy city of Jerusalem. They continue to trample the city under their feet for a period of 1260 days or three and one-half years. The Gentile form of worship is imposed on Jerusalem, and most Jews accept it and thus corrupt the true form of Jewish worship.
It is quite clear that this entire vision of a Gentile invasion of the old city of Jerusalem is based on a similar invasion of Jerusalem in the days of Jezebel, Elijah and Elisha. Jezebel and Ahab imposed the religion of Baal on Israel and nearly wiped the true religion of God out of existence. This terrible event lasted for 1260 days, a period of three and one-half years. Elijah and Elisha fought this take-over of Jezebel, and these two prophets valiantly fought this take-over at the risk of their lives, but they failed. For three yeas and a half an apostate Gentile religion ruled almost the entire nation of Israel. For three and a half years the true Jewish religion practically ceased to exist.
Before I make my personal assessment of this vision, I would like to present the interpretations of some outstanding Bible scholars on this chapter. The Pulpit Commentary, a widely recognized commentary on the entire Bible, makes these statements about this chapter: “It can scarcely be doubted that the temple is here figuratively used of the faithful portion of the Church of Christ...May not the command have been given to John in order to direct his attention to the size of the Church of God? ... It therefore seems probable that the temple must be interpreted symbolically. It is the dwelling place of God, the place in which He is worshiped, that is , the multitude of true believers or the faithful church... The holy city–Jerusalem–is always
used in the Apocalypse as the symbol of the New Testament church.” F..D. Smith(Church of God} in his book, “The Last Reformation, makes this comment, “We have in chapter 11 of the Revelation a brief history of God's true people that existed during the Dark Ages. It is clear that two powers in the Christian era are here represented, the one continuing forty two months, and the other 1260 days or years.” John T. Hinds(Church of Christ) says, “The words could not mean literal Jerusalem, for that has been trodden down by Gentiles practically all the time since it was taken by the Romans in A.D. 70 till the present, which is more than 1260 years. To be trodden under foot would be fulfilled when Gentiles would corrupt and devastate the church. This had already been d one when the measuring of the temple began with the Reformation. How long the church had thus been corrupted by worldly influences is stated here to have been forty and two months.' If taken literally, it would be three and one-half years. This would be entirely too short a time to correspond with the period when the church was corrupted by worldly influences and devices. With the year-day theory the time was 1260 years. This is substantially the length of time Roman Catholicism ruled with absolute authority, and therefore the time that religious corruption completely permeated church life”( A Commentary on the Book of Revelation, P. 154). There are many other Bible preachers and scholars who hold the same view on this chapter. This commentator agrees with the above views on Revelation 11.
Permit me now to make a personal assessment of this extremely difficult chapter. In the symbolical code language used in this chapter, the temple John the apostle measured in verse 1 is the New Testament Church. Paul said to the Church in Corinth, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Holy Spirit dwells in you(I Corinthians 3:17)? God has had only two temples in the history of the world, the temple of Solomon and the Church of Christ which is His spiritual temple. The old temple of Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D., and there is no command in the Bible to rebuild it. There is but one holy temple today in the world, and that is the New Testament church. God no longer dwells in temples made with hands. No building should be called a temple today, for God does not dwell in any material structures called temples. That includes all so-called temples, cathedrals and religious buildings. God's dwelling place in the Christian religion is the Church of Christ, God's called out people. I would suggest that the invasion in verse 1 took place about 500 A.D., shortly after the fall of the Pagan Roman Empire of the Caesars in 476 A.D. At this time it
seemed that Rome would disappear forever, but as strange as it may sound, Rome was destined to have a second greatness, a supremacy more powerful and absolute than any city or nation has enjoyed in all the history of mankind. The Roman Empire of the Caesars was replaced by the Empire of the Popes of Rome. The church of Papal Rome is one of the most distinct and powerful factors in world history. The original Church of Christ in Rome became unfaithful, fell away from the truth and took the lead in the great falling away from the church predicted in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. Please read that passage. That prediction came to pass about 500 A.D. At this time another form of Christianity came into existence that did not exist for the first 300 years of the Christian religion. As all Bible students know, the Roman Catholic form of Christianity in many ways is not in accord with the original New Testament form of Christianity. The New Testament recognizes Jesus Christ as the only head of the church on earth. Shortly after the Pagan Roman Empire came to an end, the Bishop of Rome became the religious and political Ruler of the whole world
and he also became the High Priest of the Christian religion and the Head of the church on earth.
The amazing thing about this new form of Christianity is this great Empire was established by the priesthood. The Church of Rome re-established the priesthood of the Old Testament which included a High Priest and ordinary priests. The local elders in the church began to assume the title of priests. This was a radical departure from New Testament teachings, for Peter in I Peter 2:5 stated that all Christians are priests in the Christian religion. The only true priests on earth today are men, women and children who have become Christians. When a penitent believer is immersed in the baptismal waters, all sins he ever committed are forgiven, and he is made holy and added to the church . In being made holy, that qualifies him to be a priest to to all Christians and to all unbelievers. There are no priests authorized by God in the Christian religion other than the priesthood of all Christians. The apostle Peter wrote that the church is a royal priesthood and a holy nation. All faithful Christians should be honored and respected
as priests of God.
Among other changes made to the original church had to do with marriage. Papal Rome forbids men they appoint as priests to marry. The word of God says, “Marriage is honorable in all.” Who shall we believe, Papal Rome or God? It is not wrong for any Christian or any unbeliever to marry. God said so. This was a departure from the teachings of the New Testament, and it should be rejected. . In addition,
the New Testament does not admit babies into the church. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” Only penitent believers are allowed to be baptized and received into the church. Babies have no sin and are in no need of forgiveness. Another departure from the truth is the worship of Mary, and praying to Mary and to departed saints. From 500 to 1500 A.D. these are just a few of the changes made to the Christian religion which were never part of the teachings of the apostles. Because of these innovations, including worshiping God by idols and statues, the Protestant world parted ways with Papal Rome in 1500, 1600, 1700.
Many expositors of the Historical Interpretation see in this chapter a prediction of these unauthorized changes that were going to be introduced into the church a few hundred years in the future. The plausibility of this interpretation will become more evident as you pursue the study of the Revelation in chapters 12-19. They also see a prediction of the restoration and return of the original teachings of New Testament Christianity in this chapter. They suggest the two witnesses of God who were killed in this invasion of Jerusalem, but later came back to life(verses 7-12) referred to gospel preachers, and to the restoration and return of New Testament teachings to the world. It cannot be denied that a momentous change of attitude toward Papal Rome occurred in 1500 A.D. when Martin Luther challenged the Papal Church of Rome for unscriptural teachings. Luther rejected the Pope as the head of the church. He started a movement called the Protestant Reformation that quickly spread all over Europe in 1600 and 1700, especially Great Britain. It was some of these Protestants who believed in Christ who left Great Britain and other countries to come to America to serve Christ as they understood the scriptures to teach. The Protestant Reformation demanded that all believers in Christ take a stand on the Church of Rome, either for it or against it. All must do the same today. Every believer in Christ must make up his or her own mind. I have presented this study to help us better able to make some decisions as we continue to study the book of Revelation.