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by Kristen C. Strocchia
“But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. And I will give power to my witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. They are the ‘two olive trees’ and the two lampstands. ‘They stand before the Lord of the earth.” Revelation 11:2-4
In addition to the Temple proper, John is also told to measure the altar and to count the number of people who are worshipping therein–with the exception of the outer courts, the court of Gentiles. This area was quite large, approximately 26 acres. It was all the area surrounding the Temple since the Gentiles were not aloud to enter the building. However, the great mystery of the gospel is that Jesus came to save the Gentiles too. So why would they be excluded here?
Remember that 144,000 Jews, living during the end times, have been sealed and that the church–Jews and Gentiles alike–have been raptured into heaven [Revelation 7]. So these Gentiles are those who have rejected God. And they will continue to defy Him in all their earthly power by trampling His holy city of Jerusalem for 3 1/2 years. A similar historical trampling is mentioned in Daniel 7:25, and Jesus prophesied to this end times trampling during His time on earth [Luke 21:24].
While all this religious chaos is happening, God will empower two witnesses for a period of just about 3 1/2 years. And they will prophesy in sackcloth–the dark, itchy clothes of mourning or great grief. These two witnesses were foreshadowed in the construction of Solomon’s Temple. He had two olive-wood doors constructed to enclose the inner sanctuary [1 Kings 6:32]. Here also, a golden lampstand was kept full of oil and burning night and day. The inner sanctuary was where the ark of the covenant–an image invoking the very throne room of God–was kept. So the olive-wood doors–or twin witnesses–allow access to the mercy seat even in these late End Time days.
Again, Zechariah 4 first mentions these two End Times witnesses and calls them both olive trees and lampstands [verse 1, 3 & 11]. These witnesses are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth [Zechariah 4:14]. Anointed meaning that they were chosen, set apart, prepared and empowered for their specific ministry–to preach the gospel when the people of God have been removed from the earth. Without doubt the most harrowing experience in the history of the planet if not for being imbued with God’s Spirit from on high to carry out the work.
God has also empowered us–with His Holy Spirit–to be His witnesses today. We do not need to clothe ourselves in grief and mourning, rather we’re called to put on joy and to wear Jesus like a robe. So that the whole world may know Him whom we have believed.
Are you a faithful witness of Christ? When people meet you, do they see Jesus in your life?
by Kristen C. Strocchia
“I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, ‘Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count the worshipers there.” Revelation 11:1
John becomes present in his vision again and is told to take measurements. New Testament time readers would have envisioned a bamboo-like cane known as a reed that usually grew to about 20 feet tall. They were straight, light and grew in abundance on the banks of the Jordan so they were a very handy tool. We find similar rods used in the visions in Ezekiel 40 where the Temple is, once again, being measured and in Zechariah 2 in which the city of Jerusalem is measured.
Again, the Ezekiel passage contains a vision given during the Babylonian captivity and a great international upheaval. After prophesying to the exiles that Jerusalem would be sacked and the Temple burned to a pile of rubble, Ezekiel receives a vision of restoration and new life. This Temple measuring is part of the hope that Israel received.
Zechariah’s ministry was to the returned exiles back at home in Jerusalem. He had the joy of prophesying growth into the new life breathing again in the heart of Israel. The measuring line herein showed that Jerusalem would grow until it outgrew itself. Then, only the Lord God of Israel would be able to surround and fortify the city. He Himself would be there protection. However, Zechariah was also given the message that the Messiah would come and be rejected, and then later, that the Messiah would return and be acknowledged as Lord of all by all.
Measuring, then, serves two purposes to show what has been and what will be. To prophesy destruction–a demolition–making way for new construction and new life. So when John is told to measure, we can be sure that God is going to, once again, oversee a heavenly reconstruction project. The earthly Temple, while certainly sacred, was just a copy and a shadow of the real Temple to come in heaven. Heaven will not be limited by earthly measurements, but God wanted the readers of Revelation to wrap their heads around something tangible. Jerusalem would, as it has so many times before, face overwhelming hardship and desecration even, but God already has the renovation plans well in hand. And we can trust Him to do the work that needs to be done. Beyond anything that we could ask or imagine [Ephesians 3:20].
Has God applied His measuring reed to your life? Likely if you’ve read His word and accepted His Holy Spirit, then He has asked you to measure with His intent to renovate your life. Do you trust Him?
by Kristen C. Strocchia
“The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.” Revelation 8:8-9
Beat two, trumpet two enters. The result? Something like a huge mountain. Something like? John is seeing things he has to explain with words he knows, even if he has no words for the reality. Though God doesn’t correct Him as He could have.
So a blazing mountain-thing is hurled to the earth–like the censer and the hail-fire-blood mix–but this time into the ocean. Jeremiah 51:25 speaks of a destroying mountain that will repay Babylon for her idolatrous ways, leaving behind a pile of burnt rubble. Remember that Babel first introduced and spread false religions [Genesis 11:4-6], so false religion will be blotted out from the earth in the reversal of sin in the new creation at the end of time.
But Jesus also told believers that, with a mustard seed of faith, we could tell a mountain–an obstacle in our lives–to throw itself into the sea. And if we believe, it will happen [Matthew 11:23 & 21:21]. This something like a mountain being thrown into the sea, could very much represent the faith of believers moving the hindrance of false religion from the world, not by might, not by power, but by the spirit of the Lord [Zechariah 4:6].
And fire is used to refine [1 Peter 1:7]. It burns away the impurities, leaving behind pure gold, silver, and other precious metals. In scripture, a fire coal is also used for figuratively cleansing, in much the same way, the prophet Isaiah’s lips or his words/speech [Isaiah 6:6-7]. Any part of our life that is built on anything or anyone other than Christ will burn away in the refining fire of judgment [1 Corinthians 3:11-15].
Here again, we see a repeat of the first Exodus plague, water turned to blood [Exodus 7:14-24]. Just as in Egypt when the Nile’s fish died [Exodus 7:21], so the effected ocean life will die as a result of the fiery mountain turning one-third of the sea to blood. Not only that, but one-third of all the world’s ships–a creation of human hands–will also be destroyed.
Now you could probably name a dozen movies that glamorize this much ecological and nautical carnage. And many people have no problem attaching this type of thing to governments at war either. But one mention that God is involved and, all of a sudden, He is unjust. On the contrary, it is because God is just and holy and good that false religion cannot continue eternally. It is because of who He is that sin and death cannot exist eternally. And why would we want it to?
But if death is to be destroyed, then its root–sin [James 1:15]–must also be destroyed. And we each are responsible for choosing how the sin is removed from our lives. We can either accept Christ’s sacrifice to cleanse us from sins–as simply as believing in Him–or we can reject His sacrifice and accept the wages of our own sin [Romans 6:23], death in whatever form it takes.
Have you accepted Christ’s sacrifice for your sins? Do you have a faith in Him that moves mountains? Or do you intend to face death without Jesus?
by Kristen C. Strocchia
“Look, he is coming with the clouds,’ and ‘every eye will see him, even those who pierced him’; and all peoples on earth ‘will mourn because of him.’ So shall it be! Amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:7-8
Here John’s vision invokes Old Testament scriptures, Messianic prophesies given pre-Christ.
Daniel saw one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven [Daniel 7:13] in a vision given in a dream. But the verses that follow make it clear that Daniel did not understand what he saw; so he approached one of the angels in his vision for an interpretation. John, however, receives a more complete revelation. He knows who this one like a son of man is–Jesus–and he passes on the angelic prophesy of Christ’s future return [1 Thessalonians 4:17].
Zechariah also prophesied pre-Christ that they [Israel] will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn [Zechariah 12:10]. Now Zechariah was given many Messianic prophecies, however, it is not clear whether he knew the full extent of his own message. But John, again, knows the one who was pierced–Jesus–and he speaks to the people’s response when they recognize what they have done.
Then John stamps these Old Testament revelations with a so let it be done, meaning, let God’s word come to pass as it is written.
Jesus speaks in verse 8, calling himself the Alpha and Omega. He’s not talking about wolf packs or lion prides though. When he says Alpha, he means the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and Omega is the last letter. That is to say that Jesus was the beginning of all things and he is the end of all things. He reaffirms this title by defining his eternality, saying, who is, and who was, and who is to come. In John’s gospel, he wrote that Jesus was at the Creation [John 1:1-10]. He was here before everything and everyone else. And in Revelation, we learn that Jesus’ kingdom will have no end. He will exist after everything else on this earth has passed away and after our earthly bodies have been made a new creation.
Not only that, but speaking of himself as letters, Jesus reminds us of the Creation being spoken into existence. Jesus is that word. John 1 tells us that through him all things were made.
Jesus alone is the Almighty–all powerful, sovereign Son of God.
Have you recognized Jesus as such? Do you worship him as sovereign of your life?