“There was given me [John] 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.” (Revelation 11:1)
The people in the first century AD who read John’s account would have filtered them through the Old Testament histories and analogies, and so should we. The first account of re-building God’s original temple destroyed in 586 BC by Babylon is key to recognizing the pattern of events in the last account of re-building the temple destroyed in 70 AD by the daughter of Babylon / Rome.
“I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand. Then said I, Whither goest thou? And he said unto me, To measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof.” (Zechariah 2:1-7)
We get a better grip on the message when we apply the same abstraction about the “tools” used to “measure” the degree of function vs dysfunction of individuals when we apply this concept to those used by clinicians to assess for problems.
Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9)
Over the last 2 weeks, how often have you been bothered by any of the following problems (a-h)?
Not at all (0) Several days (1). More than half the days (2). Nearly every day (3)
The size of the temple provides a statistical measure of the magnitude of the problem.
The measure of “them” determines the extent of the problem.
The first occasion creates the template for us to recognize the final.
And David said…the house that is to be builded for the LORD must be exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries: I will therefore now make preparation for it…Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD…And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice…
- But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them;
- Then…this house, which I have sanctified for MY name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations. (I Chronicles 22:5-6, II Chronicles 7)
- “all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem.
- And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place:
- But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.
- Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees…
- And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire…
- And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia:” (II Chronicle 36:14)
As God’s servant, guided by the prophet Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar and his heirs were as accountable to YHVH as the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem.
- Mene; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.
- Tekel; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.” (Daniel 5:26-28)
So his kingdom was taken away and given to the Medes and Persians who did serve God’s purposes.
After conquering Babylon and absorbing its territories into its empire, Persia not only allowed, but supported the rebuilding of the temple and re-establishment of temple worship by
- suppression of opposition from Israel’s enemies,
- security around the perimeter,
- and financing.
“Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem…(Ezra 1:1-3)
Notice how God doesn’t work anything single-handedly. After Cyrus completed his assigned task of enabling the rebuilding of the temple, Zerubbabel and Joshua pick up the reins of leadership to ensure the completion of the project, which naturally encounters opposition.
“Now these are the children of [Babylon’s] province [of Judah] that went up out of the captivity, of those which had been carried away…and came again unto Jerusalem and Judah…
About 25 years later In the second year of Darius the king came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel…governor of Judah, and to Joshua…the high priest, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts…Consider your ways. Ye looked for much, and, lo it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.
Then Zerubbabel…and Joshua…the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet…and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God.” (Haggai 1)
“And he shewed me Joshua / Yeshua / Jesus [the human High Priest] standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?…And the angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts;
- If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge,
- then thou shalt also judge my house,
- and shalt also keep my courts,[instead of having them given over to the Gentiles to tread down] and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.
- Hear now, O Joshua / Yeshua / Jesus the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold,
- I will bring forth my servant the Branch and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.”(Zechariah 3)
- If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge,
“And the angel that talked with me came again, and…said unto me, What seest thou? And I said…a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof….
This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel / son of David, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain [symbol of insurmountable obstacle]? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone [of the temple] thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it…The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.” (Zechariah 4:1-10)
“Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? And…What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? And he answered me and said…These are the two anointed ones / Messiahs, that stand by the LORD of the whole earth.“
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
“And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying…take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua / Yeshua / Jesus the son of Josedech, the high priest; And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying,
Behold the man whose name / identity is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:
Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear [endure] the glory [struggle],
- and shall sit and rule upon his throne;
- and he shall be a priest upon his throne:
and the counsel of peace shall be between them both positions of Priest and King in one Vicar of God. And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD, and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God.” (Zechariah 6:9-15)
“Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the LORD God of Israel; Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither. But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God.
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (II Corinthians 6:14-18)
Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until…the days of Artaxerxes…king of Persia…
Compared to Solomon’s temple, all that the poor refugees could cobble together with their limited resources was just a paltry little house.
“many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice… Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?” (Ezra 3:12, Haggai 2:3)
The struggle under Zerubbabel and Jeshua to maintain purity stands in marked contrast to the priests who welcomed Alexander the Great as their Savior from Persian taxation.
And when [the High Priest] Jaddus understood that Alexander was not far from the city, he went out in procession, with the priests and the multitude of the citizens. The procession was venerable, and the manner of it different from that of other nations…Alexander, when he saw the multitude at a distance, in white garments, while the priests stood clothed with fine linen, and the high-priest in purple and scarlet clothing, with his mitre on his head, having the golden plate whereon the name of God was engraved, he approached by himself…saluted the high-priest. The Jews / priestly rulers also did all together, with one voice, salute Alexander, and encompass him about…And when he went up into the temple, he offered sacrifice to God, according to the high-priest’s direction, and magnificently treated both the high-priest and the priests…the next day he called them to him, and bid them ask what favors they pleased of him; whereupon the high-priest desired that they might…pay no tribute on the seventh year. He granted all they desired.
Allowing Alexander to act as priest in offering sacrifice is a pagan custom demonstrating the sonship of the acting priest to the god to whom sacrifice is being made. Alexander’s presumptuous self-identification with the God of Israel, and the priests’ collaboration with it, was blasphemy.
“Sixteen years old was Uzziah when he began to reign..And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper…And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong. But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense. And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the Lord, that were valiant men: And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed…Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, from beside the incense altar. And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests…thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him. And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land.” (II Chronicles 26)
History records that King Herod I remodeled the Jewish temple in hopes of creating an eternal legacy focused on him. Because of the magnificence of the remodeling, the second temple is most often referred to as Herod’s Temple. This temple stood until destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Roman General Titus.
Clearly this was not the house of the God of Israel. It was an abomination, a hybridization of God’s chosen – humanity in general and the nation of Israel in particular – with the pagan Roman rulers.
King Herod put a golden eagle outside of the Temple of Jerusalem. Like other military standards, this eagle was carried into battle. The presence of the eagle meant the presence of the Roman Legion. By placing one at the gates, Herod was making a powerful statement regarding Jerusalem’s sovereignty under Rome.
Making idols was forbidden to the Jewish people, even if there was no attempt to worship them. Yet the Romans regarded eagle standards as holy symbols, anointing them on special days. Two respected teachers of the law, Judas and Matthias, spoke to religious scholars about this violation.
A group of these men pulled down the golden eagle and cut it into pieces. The king’s captain detained 40 participants, along with Matthias and Judas, and brought them before Herod…Herod had those responsible for the sedition burned alive. He appointed a new high priest: one subordinate to Herod and Rome…
The eagle standard accompanied Titus during his siege of Jerusalem. This led to the demolition of the Second Temple. As for Herod, his heirs continued to rule, even after the destruction of Judea and the Diaspora of the Jewish people.
You may remember that Jesus Christ also rebuked the temple rulers. In his case, not paganism exactly, but capitalism. But he, too, was put to death.
According to biblical prophecy, the end of the world, AKA the Day of the LORD, explodes into action when his two chosen ones / messiahs – like Zerubabbel and Joshua – speak out for him at a newly built temple.
We can be sure that this latest temple will, like the previous, be built by permission of Israel’s current military ally which procures concessions from hostile opponents to allow construction, provides military protection against attacks, and promotes itself as the Savior from War and Securer of Peace. This will be another monument to hubris, no house of prayer, another den of thieves raking in a fortune from tourism.
“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 [1,240 days].” (Revelation 11:1-2)