Don't measure the court
"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." (Rev. 11:1, 2)
Why not measure
In studying the seals we discovered four classes in the preadvent judgment: those who are dead at the end of the judgment period, righteous and wicked, and those who are alive then, righteous and wicked 0601b. So the worshippers in the temple here are the same four classes. Judgment reveals the difference between righteous and wicked for both dead and living. Do you remember the story of the wheat and the tares representing those who profess to be "wheat"? Both classes grow together until the harvest. Then the reaping would come 1415.
Who are in the courtyard? Those who have chosen to be outside the temple, the ones who have directly or indirectly rejected the offer of salvation. The term "Gentiles" is symbolic of this group. Compare ro0229.
". . . . he that believeth not is condemned [judged] already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:18)
Only the righteous (the "dead in Christ") are raised when Jesus comes. This is at the blowing of the trump of God — the 7th trumpet. 1th0416,17, 1118. All the wicked are raised at the end of the thousand years and are judged again at that time. 2004, 2012. (They were judged by Christ and the righteous but were dead so this final review gives them opportunity to see that the judgment was fair.) More on all this when we study chapter 20 2000.
Judging or learning?
I explained earlier that John, continuing to represent the disappointed ones, was to measure temple, altar, and worshippers in the sense of studying them. This would provide the message for him to "prophesy again." Here we are discussing measurement as judgment. In fact, it's both. 1101c.
May we each be among the
righteous at the coming of our Lord.
Oppression for 42 months — Does God care?
"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. And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth." (Rev. 11:2, 3)
The time period of 42 months
or 1260 days is also seen as 3½ "times." It is mentioned in seven
places in the Bible, twice in Daniel da0725,
and three more times in Revelation 1206,
in addition to the two here. That these all refer to the same time period
in history becomes evident by careful comparison. Considering the year
as 12 months of 30 days and that a "time" represents a year, we can see
the mathematical equivalence. Looking at the first of the seven verses
helps us begin to understand what happens during this time. In fact, the
time is counted as 42 months for the woman in the wilderness as well as
for the trampling of the holy city making a closer link between the two
identifying them as the people of God or the church. God's people enter
the temple through the agency of Christ their priest he0416,
"Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth [Rome, which followed Greece (Dan. 8:21-24)], which shall be diverse from all kingdoms [next phrase tells how], and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise [in the breakup of the Roman empire]: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first [or "former," which were political powers], and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times [as a set time] and laws [rather "law" singular]: and they [the saints] shall be given into his hand until a time [of duration (different word in the original language, Aramaic here) or "year" cf. Dan. 7:14] and times [2 years] and the dividing of time [half a year]." (Dan. 7:23-25)
You might want to read the passage again ignoring all the interruptions.
So the court was given to
the Gentiles for 3½ symbolic years. They would trample the city
during that time. In our passage in Revelation, the Holy Spirit is showing
John symbols based on the captivity of the Jews by the Gentiles. Jerusalem
was left broken down and desolate. This was the concern of Daniel, expressed
in the prayer of his 9th chapter. The symbolism here is apparently drawn
from that experience.
The imagery of the court being given to the Gentiles is from Matt. 24. Mt24ab
The holy city represents the holy people (Isa. 62:12; Rev. 21:2b) who, as we saw by comparing the verses about the horn power above, were the saints who were persecuted. In the time prophecies, a day stands for a year 0610da-yr. Thus 1260 symbolic days equals 3½ times or symbolic years of 360 days or years.
During the dark ages (or middle ages) anyone who had a religious idea different from those held by the established church was considered a heretic. Many of these were forced to conform to the standard or face death. Others were killed in mass because they were standing in the way of church control. This bit of history is not popular these days so we don't hear much about it. Considering the untold millions who died, we may ask, didn't God care? Could He not have preserved them? 1308
God in control
One word in our passage here gives a little clue. The court was given to the Gentiles who trampled the city. This word is also in Dan. 7:25. The saints were given into the hand of the horn power. And we will see in Rev. 13:7 that "it was given unto him [the beast from the sea] to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations" 1305a. Thus God was in control.
The beast was given authority to be in power for 42 months. In Rev. 12, the woman fled from the dragon for that same period — 1260 days or 3½ times (verses 6 and 14) — but we are getting ahead of our story. Earlier we gave the dates of 538 to 1798 for this time but even without seeing the specific dates, history clearly shows that the western world was dominated by the church power for over a thousand years.
As we continue to study God's Word, we see that the suffering of His faithful people is permitted to refine them (Dan. 12:10) and unmask the evil forces of oppression (Mal. 3:18). Satan told Eve that he had a better way. Was he right? As God allows him to demonstrate his way, everyone will understand and, when Christ takes over at the sounding of the 7th trumpet, no one will ever again question that His way is best.
"What do ye imagine against the Lord? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time." (Nahum 1:9)
We have a Lord we can trust. I long for that "utter end" of affliction with its hate and greed and selfishness.