The Visions of Revelation; the 10th & 11th visions

The tenth vision; The sixth trump sounds,

Rev. 9:13-21

13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, 14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. 15 And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. 16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand:[1] and I heard the number of them. 17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. 18 By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. 19 For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.
20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:
21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.

The sixth trump now sounds and John describes another demonic horde being released upon the earth. Unlike the locusts that were unleashed from the Abyss and were allowed to torment those without the seal of God, this army has no such restriction. This evil force is allowed to kill a third of mankind. If the world’s population at this time is seven billion that would be a death toll from this single event at a staggering 2.1 billion people! John does not state how long this mass killing takes.

The massive death toll has led some to speculate that this vision is describing an extensive nuclear exchange occurring, citing the mention of smoke, fire and brimstone as the attempt of a first century individual attempting to describe nuclear weapons. While there is no mention of how long this event requires if a short period of time was indicated then weapons of mass destruction would be the obvious earthly culprit. However while later visions do talk of the armies of earth engaging in combat this vision is not speaking of mortal armies but of demonic ones.

Let us first compare John’s description of the locusts that came from the opened Abyss and the horsemen he sees. While he calls the beings that are released from Abyss as locusts he also said that they “were like unto horses prepared unto battle” (Rev. 9:7). While he does not mention any riders on the locusts he tells us that “and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men “. He next tells us that, “they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. 9 And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron “. In talking about the horsemen he sees released we find, “having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions “. While in the first group he describes the locusts as having “hair as the hair of women“ and the horsemen are described as having“as the heads of lions” not an exact match, but being similar (i.e. both having long hair) and both compared to a lion. Also it needs to be recalled that in describing these demonic creatures John says that they “were like” the item he mentions. It should also be pointed out how the devil is compared to a roaring lion in I Peter 5:8 and that he is seeking whomever he may devour. Also it is interesting that both of the creatures (the locusts and the horses) their tails are mentioned and that they both have the power to hurt with their tails.

Further evidence that this huge army John is describing is a spiritual, albeit demonic, army is present in the brief vision. First off there is no mention of where this army comes from, John just suddenly tells us that this army was present after God directs the four angels bound at the Euphrates to be released. Recall just prior to this he had observed the Abyss being opened and the locusts being released. It should also be recalled that we saw how the demons are held in a condition of restraint, whether they be confined to the Abyss or not.

We first need to gain a clearer understanding about these four angels before we can advance a theory as to the origin and nature of the horsemen John mentions. As was said above, despite what some have claimed there is no time limit upon these horsemen to achieve their designated mission as was placed upon the locusts. Some claim that the phrase that the four angels are “prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year“ indicates that there is a slated time span for them. Some claim that this phrase indicates that they will be allowed to operate for a period of 391 years. This determination is based on prophetic manner of equating one day to one year. However this determination is based on an improper understanding of the grammar of the passage.

A truer understanding of the passage is achieved when we understand the original wording;

This rendering is wrong, since it conveys the idea that the four periods mentioned are to be combined as representing the length of the preparation or of the continuance of the plague. But it is to be noted that neither the article nor the preposition are repeated before day and month and year. The meaning is that the angels are prepared unto the hour appointed by God, and that this hour shall fall in its appointed day and month and year.[2]

Some have also postulated that these four angels are demonic beings themselves citing that they are bound at the Euphrates River.[3] But a careful assessment may cause one to doubt this claim against the angels.

First the Greek word that is rendered as “loose” is “lyō” and is defined as meaning “to loosen, undo, dissolve, anything bound, tied, or compacted together…b) laws, as having a binding force, are likened to bonds.”[4] Recall how we have learned that the angels that rebelled were placed in a condition of restraint. So does this confirm the belief that these four angels are demonic? Again we must inquire a little further to see if we can decide based upon the available Biblical evidence. The second word we need to consider is “bound” this can mean “to bind, tie or fasten” but it can also mean to be “put under obligation, of the law, duty etc”. So the fact that they are mentioned as being bound in and of it self does not denote evilness; it could simply indicate that they are duty bound to be at the Euphrates River. Also the word rendered as loosed can mean that a law or a binding force is annulled or removed.One may also wonder as to why they are stationed at the Euphrates River. Recalling that the Book of Revelation is heavy with symbols this may be such a case; that is that they are not actually at the Euphrates River, but it symbolizes where they are, maybe in the spiritual realm. The Euphrates is the north-eastern bounder of the Promised Land (i.e. the land that God promised to Abraham and his descendents Gen. 15:18). Also the Euphrates was symbolic of Assyrian power (Isa. 8:7; Jer. 2:18). It should be pointed out that the city of Babylon plays a crucial role in the later parts of the Book of Revelation, symbolizing the evil Satanic systems political and religious of the world. In this regard it should also be pointed out that the city of Babylon was situated on the banks of the Euphrates.

So based on what the Bible says and how it is said we might infer that the four angels are duty-bound to be at the Euphrates maintaining the God-ordered restraint upon this vast demonic horde until the time that God ordained for them to be released. This vision; while somewhat daunting, in that it tells of a third of mankind being killed, ends on a positive note. We have seen in the last two visions how a huge demonic group is loosed upon mankind, but God has not abandoned us. After telling of the horsemen and the death toll they inflict upon the human population we are told that; “And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands” (Rev 9: 20). The hope is what wasn’t said; see where it speaks of those that refuse to repent so it would stand to reason that some will repent of their evil behavior and turn to God for forgiveness and salvation. But as we shall see mankind can be a very stiff-necked group and will not easily submit to God’s loving care and guidance.

The eleventh vision; the angel and the small book,

Rev. 10:1-11:2

And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: 2 And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, 3 And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.
4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not. 5 And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, 6 And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer: 7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. 8 And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. 9 And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.
10 And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
11 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. 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.

The next vision comprises the entire tenth chapter of Revelation and as we shall see it actually continues into the next chapter. It provides a pause in the narrative of the events, but is also the precursor for the dramatic climax of the Day of the Lord.

John provides a fascinating description of this mighty angel he sees descending from heaven; telling us that he is “clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire “. By reviewing John’s brief description we will see that this is certainly a mighty angel.

A cloud was considered a symbol of glory and majesty and is often associated with the Lord’s presence (Ex. 16:10, 24:16, 34:5; Num. 11:25; I Kings 8:10; Ps. 97:2). The rainbow seen above his head recall that descriptions of God’s throne described a rainbow arching over it (Ezekiel 1:28; Rev. 4:13); it is also a sign of the covenant that God made with man after the flood that he would never again destroy all life with rain (Gen. 9:8-17). In that his face shone like the sun one only needs to recall how Moses’ face shone after he had been with the Lord on Mt. Sinai (Ex. 34:29-30, 35)[5]. John concludes his description of this mighty angel by mentioning that he is holding an open small book in his hand. Although, initially, he comments only briefly about this open small book it assumes significance for John and his mission as we shall see.

John then writes that the mighty angel stands with his “his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth” (vs. 2). Some have been puzzled by the angel’s stance and if there is any possible symbolic meaning to it. His stance probably indicates God’s divine rule over all the earth (Ex. 20:4, 11: Ps. 69:34). He then cried with a loud voice and to emphasis the forcefulness John adds that it was “as when a lion roareth”. The lion is mentioned a number of times throughout the Bible; he is described as the strongest of beasts (Proverbs 30:20), courageous (II Sam. 17:10) and fierce (Job 10:16, 28:8). So John’s comment of the mighty angel’s cry being like when a lion roars underscores the majesty and force of his cry. Recall also that Jesus is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:6).

Seven thunders

Immediately after this mighty angel cries out seven thunders “uttered their voices”. Some have wondered just who these seven thunders are and what they said. The Bible does not identify who these seven thunders were, but one may venture a guess. Recall that John mentioned there were seven spirits before the throne of God (Rev. 1:4) and he also tells how when one of the four creatures that is also before the throne spoke it was like “the noise of thunder“(Rev. 6:1). So while it really isn’t necessary to determine who or what it was that John heard a logical guess would be it was the seven spirits.

There is also a fair amount of assumption and confusion about what it was that these thunders said. This confusion and assumption is unnecessary if we allow the Bible to guide us. John relates that after the seven thunders “had uttered their voices” he began to write down what they had said (vs. 4). But before he can he is directed by a voice from heaven to “Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not” (vs. 4). This is the last mention of these seven thunders, at least by that appellation, and what they said. Some have contended that what they uttered is contained in the small book the angel is holding, actually titling it as the Small Book of the Thunders. Some cite the direction that Daniel received in the final vision recorded in the book of Daniel where he is directed to:

But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased…And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.

(Dan. 12:4, 9)

Notice that Daniel is told to shut up his words and seal the book and later that the words are closed up and sealed unto the time of the end. However to make the contention that the same thing is said to John one must completely ignore what is said. John is explicitly told to seal up the words and not write them down. The Greek word rendered as seal is ‘sphragizō’ and the most pertinent meaning means to conceal, keep secret.[6] In the direction to Daniel, while he is told to shut up his words[7] notice he is also told to seal up his book; he is allowed to write down what he observed, he was simply denied understanding. This is reinforced a little later where he is told that his words are sealed until the time of the end. In John’s case with what the seven thunders uttered he is essentially told to not write it down and to forget what he had heard. This concealing of whatever it was that the seven thunders uttered has mystified some; wondering why John even mentioned it if we are not to be told what they said. It could be that while God is revealing what will happen he has not revealed everything. That this might be the case is suggested in the book of Enoch where he tells the angels that disobeyed him that:

You have been in heaven, but all the mysteries had not yet been revealed to you

(Enoch 16: 3)

The mysteries of God

This is the last mention of the seven thunders and their utterance and so this must remain a mystery for us. With that slight aside John returns to the mighty angel where he swears an oath “by him that liveth for ever and ever” that there should time no longer. Actually this is an awkward translation; a more apt rendering would be that there would be no more delay[8]. He then informs us exactly what delay he is speaking of in the next verse where we are told “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets” (vs. 7). It would seem that the prophesied events of the Day of the Lord will be fulfilled and with no further delay; in other words, this is the point of no return.

The next question we need to answer is what mystery of God is the angel referring to that will be finished when the seventh angel begins to speak. First we must understand what the Bible means when it says mystery. The Greek word rendered here as mystery is ‘mystērion’ and unlike today’s meaning, which is something obscure or incomprehensible, difficult or impossible to understand, the Greek word denotes something “outside the range of unassisted natural apprehension, can be made known only by Divine revelation, and is made known in a manner and at a time appointed by God”.[9] It should also be pointed out that closely associated with the word mystery are the terms “manifested,” “revealed,” “preached,” “understand,” “dispensation.””[10]

So is it possible to glean an idea of what the mystery that will be finished is. It should also be noted that it says that this mystery will be finished during the “days of the voice of the seventh angel” which would indicate that it will take some time to be finished, but also we need to note “when he shall begin to sound” indicating that it will probably be finished in a relatively short amount of time.

The Bible tells us of number of mysteries;

1.The kingdom of God; Mark 4:11

2.The blindness of Israel; Rom. 11:25

3.The manifestation of Christ; Rom. 16:25-26

4.The wisdom of God; I Cor. 2:7

5.The change from physical to spiritual; I Cor. 15:51

6.The will of God; Eph. 1:9

7.Gentiles to be co-heirs in salvation; Eph. 3:2-6

8.Marriage as a symbol of Christ and the church; Eph. 5:32

9.The gospel; Eph. 6:19

10.The spirit of Christ in the believer; Col. 1:26-27

11.God himself and Christ; Col. 2:2; 4:3

12.Iniquity; II Thess. 2:7

13.Faith; I Tim. 3:9

14.Godliness; I Tim. 3:16

15.The seven stars and seven candlesticks; Rev. 1:20

16.The woman and the beast; Rev. 17:7

A possible clue may be found in what the angel proclaimed where he said the mystery was “declared to his servants the prophets” this is very similar to the opening line from the Book of Revelation where it says “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass”. So the mystery that will be fulfilled is probably the mystery of God reveling himself, his majesty and forgiveness to the world. Remember that Revelation is concerned with, primarily, the events of the Day of the Lord; a time when God reestablishes his rule over the earth and punishes, first off, Satan and secondly those sinners that refuse to repent and turn to God. Another possible explanation is that the angel is referring to what was told the souls of those that had been killed for the word of God mentioned in Revelation 6:9 and they ask how long until God avenges their deaths (vs. 10) and they are told they must rest a little longer (vs. 11) until their brethren and fellow workers are killed as they were (vs. 11).

Some have advanced the belief that this mighty angel is actually either God himself or Jesus Christ, but a simple review of the vision, guided by the Bible, will dispel this idea. The possibility that this mighty angel is God can be rejected based mainly upon the angel’s own actions. We are told that after he cries out he raises his hand to heaven (vs. 5) and makes a proclamation (vs. 6). It is by whom this angel swears this proclamation; implying that it has come from the other being. The angel swears by “him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein” (vs. 6), in other words Almighty God. If this mighty angel was actually God why is he swearing to himself and in the third person? Recall what Paul said, in that;

For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,

(Heb. 6:11)

That this mighty angel is Jesus Christ is a rather dubious claim in that John makes it quite clear when he is speaking of Christ (Rev. 1:13-16, 5:6, 7:17, 14:1, 14; 17:14, 19:11-16). John uses a number of images to refer to Christ, but never refers to him as an angel. In fact nowhere is Christ referred to as an angel in the Bible.

The small book

John is now directed to go and take the small book from the angel (vs. 8) and John does as commanded. When he receives the small book from the angel he is given a puzzling order; he is told by the mighty angel to “Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey” (vs. 9). To many this is a very puzzling directive, but again if we allow the Bible to explain itself the confusion will disappear.

Upon investigation one finds that this vision regarding the angel and the open book is quite similar to what Ezekiel experienced when God selected him to take his message to the House of Israel. First a little bit of background regarding Ezekiel’s vision. It happened while he was among the Jewish captives that had been exiled by the Babylonians to “by the river of Chebar” (Ezek. 1:1). He tells how “in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month“ the heavens were opened and he “saw visions of God “(vs. 1:1). He details seeing the four cherubs that support the throne of God (vs.. 1:5-24) and also the magnificent throne of God (vs.. 1:26-28). He tells of a voice that speaks to him, but does not identify who is speaking (vs. 25). We then read of God’s mission for Ezekiel;

And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day. 4 For they are impudent children and stiffhearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD.
5 And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them.
6 And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.
7 And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear: for they are most rebellious. 8 But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee. 9 And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein; 10 And he spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe.

1 Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. 2 So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. 3 And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.

(Ezek. 2:3-3:3 emphasis added)

Again while whose hand is holding the roll and whose voice Ezekiel is hearing is not identified we know that the roll is coming directly from the throne of God. Some have noted the similarity of the roll that Ezekiel sees and the book that John sees when he first sees the throne of God; the one sealed with seven seals (Rev. 5:1) in that both are written on the front and back of the parchment. In ancient times they did not have books as we do now, they were in rolls, wrapped around a stick usually and had to be unrolled to be read and it was rare that there would be writing on both sides. Some have speculated that the book seen by Ezekiel is the same seen by John. This is doubtful since Ezekiel does not mention anything about the roll he saw being sealed in any way. Also recall when John was shown the sealed book it was found that there was no one on heaven and earth that was qualified to undo the seals (Rev. 5:3-4) but then it was announced that Christ had “prevailed to open the book “ (vs. 5). Obviously these two rolls can not be the same roll since Ezekiel lived well before Jesus did and it was through Jesus sinless life and death that he Christ prevailed.

In both incidents they are directed to eat the roll/small book and this has caused its fair share of discussion and confusion. Many question as to why John and Ezekiel are directed to eat the roll they see. This confusion may be attributed somewhat to a poor translation, but more to a people taking it too literally and not figuratively. A better rendering of these phrases should be a command to take and devour what is written. The analogy of the Word of God being like food, primarily honey, is found in a number of places throughout the Bible;

Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

(Jer 15:16)

More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb

(Ps. 19:10)

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

(Ps. 119:103)

So it would appear that John was not to actually eat the small book, but devour its contents metaphorically. This view is supported by a passage a little after Ezekiel was told to take and eat the small roll;

Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears.

(Ezek. 3:10)

The second item relating to this part of John’s vision is how he is told that it would taste like honey in his mouth, but would make his stomach bitter (vs. 9) and John confirms this in the next verse. As we have seen God’s words are described as being like honey and so one might wonder if the bitterness John is afflicted with is an upset stomach or something different. Again a better understanding of the word rendered as bitter may help clear the confusion.

The Greek word rendered as bitter is “pikros“ and according to the International Bible Encyclopedia it can have four different meanings or applications:

(1)the physical sense of taste;

(2) a figurative meaning in the objective sense of cruel, biting words; intense misery resulting from forsaking God, from a life of sin and impurity; the misery of servitude; the misfortunes of bereavement;


(3) more subjectively, bitter and bitterness describe emotions of sympathy;

(4) the ethical sense, characterizing untruth and immorality as the bitter thing in opposition to the sweetness of truth and the gospel;

(5) Numbers 5:18 the Revised Version (British and American) speaks of "the water of bitterness that causeth the curse." Here it is employed as a technical term.

So we see that while it can essentially mean an upset stomach it can also refer to one being emotional distressed (see James 3:14 and Col. 3:19). That John was probably dismayed at what he read (consumed) in the little book that he had taken from the mighty angel is probably the correct assumption here. This is supported when we look at Ezekiel’s reaction after he had “eaten” the small roll. A few verses after he is given the small roll we read that:

So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me.

(Ezek. 3:14 emphasis added)

One may ask what might have caused this bitterness in the two men summoned by God. The small roll that Ezekiel was given and ordered by God to pass on to the House of Israel was “written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe. “ (Ezek. 2: 10) but what about the small book that John was given?

The following verse may provide us with a clue as to what had upset John. The mighty angel tells John after he has consumed the small book that he must “prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings” (vs. 11). While it is doubtful that that mission was what upset John (i.e. that he must prophesy some more), but the message he was going to have to give. The chapter ends here and is really a bad break as we shall see because the vision is not yet finished; it is concluded in the first few verses of the next chapter.

Measuring the temple

The placement of the chapter break is a poor one; it cuts off the last part of the previous vision. John is given a measuring stick (a reed like unto a rod) and is directed to “measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein” (vs. 11:1). He is also told “the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not” because “it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread[11] under foot forty and two months” (vs. 2).

To gain an understanding of these two verses we must begin by looking at some specific words in it and then by understanding the parts we might then understand the whole. Let us begin with the word ‘measure’. The Greek word translated as measure is metreō and means;

1) to measure, to measure out or off

a) any space or distance with a measurer's reed or rule

b) metaph. to judge according to any rule or standard, to estimate

2) to measure out, mete out to, i.e. to give by measure

Measuring has been used elsewhere in the Bible as symbolizing coming judgment (II Sam. 8:2; II Kings 21:13; Isaiah 28:13; Lam. 2:8; Amos 7:7-8. It would seem that this is the intended meaning here; that the Temple, the altar and possibly the most importantly the people worshiping there were being judged. As was mentioned there is debate as to when the Book of Revelation was written, with the currently popular opinion being that it was written sometime in the 90s AD. However if one accepts an earlier time for its writing (i.e. the late 60s AD) then this brief statement tends to make sense and is fact a warning to its readers. It is possibly some of the “things which must shortly come to pass” (Rev. 1:1).

We are speaking of the destruction of the Temple, actually the devastation of the nation of Judea and the destruction of Jerusalem, including the Temple. Jesus Christ spoke of this event (Matt. 24:1-3, 15-20, Luke 19:42-44; 21:5-7, 20-24; Mark 13:1-4, 14-18). Many tend to attribute an end-time fulfillment of these passages, but for this to happen this way the Temple must be rebuilt on the Temple Mount and the daily sacrifice must be reinstituted. But a careful examination of the events that happened after Christ’s death and with these scriptures in mind we will see that, while the end-time occurrence might happen, it appears these events already have. Before we examine the fulfillment of these two scriptures we need to finish our examination of the words that compose the verses.

While John is told to measure the Temple, the altar and the people that worship in it he is told “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.”. As we have seen above the word ‘measure’ can mean to compare to a standard. The Greek word that is rendered as ‘court’ is ‘aulē’.[12] The word is found 12 times in the King James and yet is rendered as court only once. It is rendered also as; palace seven times, hall twice, sheepfold once and fold once. It is interesting that the word can also be used as referring to sheep or a herd of sheep and both of these times it was Christ that was using the term as an analogy of the true believers;

1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber…16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

(John 10:1, 16)

So John here is not being told to physically measure the courtyards outside of the Temple, but to see how the people outside of the Temple measure up. The next word we wish to look at confirms this. The next word is leave and the original Greek word implies more then just ignoring or not including, but actually a more forceful act. The Greek word is ‘Ekballo’ and it means; [13]

1) to cast out, drive out, to send out

a) with notion of violence

1) to drive out (cast out)

2) to cast out

a) of the world, i.e. be deprived of the power and influence he exercises in the world

b) a thing: excrement from the belly into the sink

3) to expel a person from a society: to banish from a family

4) to compel one to depart; to bid one depart, in stern though not violent language

5) so employed that the rapid motion of the one going is transferred to the one sending forth

a) to command or cause one to depart in haste

6) to draw out with force, tear out

7) with implication of force overcoming opposite force

a) to cause a thing to move straight on its intended goal

8) to reject with contempt, to cast off or away

b) without the notion of violence

1) to draw out, extract, one thing inserted in another

2) to bring out of, to draw or bring forth

3) to except, to leave out, i.e. not receive

4) to lead one forth or away somewhere with a force which he cannot resist

Returning to our examination of these verses having been fulfilled in 70 AD there are some other scriptures that speak of this traumatic event. In the Book of Daniel we read how he is conversing with the angel Gabriel (Dan. 10:4) about a dream he had had a short time earlier and was seeking understanding about it. Gabriel explains to Daniel that his dream showed the fate of the Jewish people in the latter days (Dan. 10:14). His explanation begins at the start of the eleventh chapter and makes up the eleventh and twelfth chapters making it the longest prophecy recorded in the Bible.

However this prophecy starts off by quietly referring Daniel and hence the reader back to an earlier prophecy that Daniel had received. This prophecy is known as Daniel’s 70 week prophecy. In a brief overview of this prophecy; Daniel, after studying the prophecies in the Book of Jeremiah, came to understand the length of Jerusalem’s desolation would be 70 years (Dan. 9:1-2). As commanded by God’s written word, Daniel prayed and confessed the sins of his people to God (vs. 4-19). In response to this the angel Gabriel was sent to Daniel and gave him the 70 weeks prophecy (vs. 24-27). This prophecy was essentially a time line that detailed for Israel when the Messiah would arrive. So it is within the context of that first prophecy that this second much longer prophecy fits.

The lengthy prophecy in Daniel 11 and 12 details the major world events that will swirl around Jerusalem starting about 530 BC and culminates with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD[14]. In regards to the prophecy in Revelation we read in Daniel, “And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” (12:7) It should be pointed out the period of a “time, times, and an half” is the same length of time that John mentions, forty two months or 3 ½ years.

It should be pointed out that John is directed to measure the Temple and the altar and the people that worship there; no reference is made as to it being God’s temple, in truth God’s temple exists in Heaven and the earthly temple was only a shadow of it. The point is it seems that God is measuring the worthiness of the temple and its occupants. A brief aside about the significance of the temple prior to the life of Jesus Christ is needed.

The temple was the center of religious life for the people of Israel, except when the northern ten tribes split away. The temple remained the foundation of religion for House of Judah however. It was where people came to confess their sins and to redress the transgression through the appropriate sacrifice.

Remember that God says that all souls that sin must die (Ezek. 18:4, 20) and we know that all souls have sinned (Rom. 3:23). But God has also said that a person could offer a substitute to take the death penalty for them; an animal sacrifice. It had to be a clean and perfect sacrifice of the kind specified for sin. They could not bring money or fruit or anything except a blood sacrifice.

Where this sacrifice was given was on the bronze altar located in the outer court of the temple. The person would lay his hand on the head of the sacrifice and confess his sin. Then the priest gave him a flint knife and he would cut the throat of the sacrifice. The priest, then, caught the blood in a basin and dipped his finger in the blood and put it upon the four horns of the altar and splashed the blood on the side of the altar and the person's sin was forgiven.

And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

(Heb. 9: 22)

This was how an individual atoned for their sins, God had also instituted an annual holy day where the sins of the nation were confessed and forgiven and that is the Day of Atonement. Part of this annual holy day required that two goats be selected by lot by the high priest. One of the lots was marked “for YHVH” and the other was marked “for Azazel”[15]; the goat which had been designated "for YHVH" the high priest would slaughter and its blood was used to purify the Most Holy Place from the uncleanness of the Israelites. The goat that was for Azazel would then be brought to the high priest; he would place his hands on the goat’s head and confess the sins of the people, placing them on the goat. The goat was then lead out of the city and killed (Lev. 16:1-34), its death atoning for the sins of the nation of Israel.

The Priests used to bind a shining crimson strip of cloth on the outside door of the Temple. If the strip of cloth turned to white, they would rejoice; if it did not turn white they were full of sorrow and shame (Tractate Yoma 67a). Jewish literature explains the glory of God left the Temple forty years prior to its destruction. Three signs occurred to show evidence of this: the western candle of the menorah refused to burn continually, the doors of the Temple would open by themselves and the red wool no longer turned white supernaturally. This indicated that God was no longer forgiving the sins of His people. The people were sorrowful because they began to realize more and more that the sacrifice of Yom Kippur did not have the power to cleanse their sinful hearts.

Most experts agree that Jesus Christ was crucified on Passover in 30 AD, some 40 years prior to its destruction.The very year Jesus died, the blood of bulls and goats was no longer accepted as a sacrifice for the atonement of sin!

The fact that this occurred 40 years before the temple’s destruction is significant. Repeatedly in the Scriptures, the number 40 is associated with testing and trying (Ex. 24:18; 34:28; Num. 13:25; 14:33-34; 32:13; Deut. 8:2; 10:10; 25:3; I Sam. 17:16; Jon. 3:4; Matt. 4:1-11; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:2). Recalling the signs that indicated that the annual Yom Kippur sacrifice was no longer being accepted by God we see that the Jews had forty years to accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah. But due to their refusal they brought the destruction upon the temple, their land and themselves. This was prophesied by Daniel;

and the people of the Prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. (Dan. 9:26)

Many erroneously equate the prince as being either Titus the Roman general who commanded the Roman armies that surrounded and conquered Jerusalem or others, favoring an end-time fulfillment of this prophecy, say it is the Antichrist. But to accept either of these conclusions one must totally ignore the context and subject of the prophecy and that is the coming of the Messiah; who coincidently is called Messiah the Prince (Dan 9:25). One might argue that it was the Romans that destroyed the temple and not the Jews and one would be partly correct; yes the Romans were the ones that actually destroyed the temple, but it was the actions of the House of Judea that caused the destruction to occur.

Scripture tells us that it was their disobedience towards God that caused the destruction;

27 And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me;
28 Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. 29 And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat. 30 And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you. 31 And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours. 32 And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. 33 And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.

(Lev. 26:27-33 emphasis added)

Christ reiterated the punishment that Jerusalem would receive for its refusal;

37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

(Matt. 23:37-39)

Jesus spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem in his Olivet prophecy (Matt. 24:1-51, 25:1-46; Mark 13:1-37; Luke 21:5-17) and in Luke’s account he specifically mentions how the Gentiles will tread down Jerusalem (Luke 21:24), just as mentioned in Revelation. In fact Luke and John use the same Greek word to describe this event and that is pateō and it means;

1) to tread

a) to trample, crush with the feet

b) to advance by setting foot upon, tread upon: to encounter successfully the greatest perils from the machinations and persecutions with which Satan would fain thwart the preaching of the gospel

c) to tread under foot, trample on, i.e. to treat with insult and contempt: to desecrate the holy city by devastation and outrage[16]

In the ancient world, the ultimate image of triumph was the placing the enemy “under the feet” of the conqueror. This was a literal custom in Biblical times (Joshua 10:24; II Kings 7:17, 20, 9:33; Isaiah 14:19). It was also a metaphor for dominion, conquering, possession, judgment, shame, defilement, oppression, and victory (Deut. 11:24; Judges 20:43; I Kings 5:3; Joshua 14:9; Psalms 18:38; 47:3; 74:21; 110:1; Lam. 1:15; 3:34; Isaiah 14:25; 41:2; 63:6; 66:1; Jer. 25:30; Dan. 8:7; Joel 3:13; Amos 2:6-7; 4:13; Micah 1:3; 5:5-6; Malachi 4:3; Matt. 7:6; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:43; Acts 2:35; Rom. 16:20; I Cor. 15:25; Eph. 1:22; Heb. 1:13; 2:8; 10:13).

In the Olivet prophecy Jesus describes this period as “the days of vengeance” (Luke 21:22) and he also describes as “the times of the Gentiles” (vs. 24) which supports John’s description. This time of vengeance is where God pours out his wrath on Jerusalem for its disobedience. Again while it was their disobedience that caused the destruction of the temple it was the Romans that God used to extract this vengeance as he has done at other times in dealing with Israel.

The war began in 66 AD and culminated in the destruction of the temple on the Jewish Sabbath, August 10th, 70 AD; three and one half years as prophesied. Jewish historian Josephus claims that some 1,000,000 perished in the siege, 347,000 perished in other places. Of the remainder, 97,000 were carried into captivity and 11,000 starved through neglect.

Finally it should be noted how in Revelation this event (i.e. the destruction of the temple) is spoken of in a future tense “and the holy city shall they tread under foot” (vs. 11:2). This is odd if, as many claim that Revelation was written in the 90s AD, some twenty years after the event. However this would make sense if an earlier date for the writing of Revelation is accepted, sometime around 60 AD. Along with the other supernatural signs that were occurring in and around the temple in the years leading up to its destruction this could have been another warning. The destruction of the temple could also be one of those items alluded to by John in the opening of the book where he is told the purpose of this revelation isto shew unto his (Christ’s) servants things which must shortly come to pass… for the time is at hand” (Rev. 1:1, 3).

The words preceding this part of the prophecy, But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles, (vs. 11:2) is still being fulfilled, in that this outer court is still occupied by the Gentiles. Built atop the earlier location of the Temple, the Dome of the Rock was erected by the Muslim ruler Abd el-Malik in 688-691. While some consider the Dome of the Roc a mosque it is not, actually it is a shrine. Muslims believe that this is the place where Abraham nearly sacrificed his son Ishmael[17]. It is rather ironic, but surveys and using the Bible as a guide it ahs been determined that the fears and claims by some it is not situated over the location of the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s Temple. In fact the location of the Holy of Holies was some 300 feet south of the Dome of the Rock. In fact the Dome of the Rock is in the area of Solomon’s Temple that was known as the outer court; a location where even unwashed slaves were allowed.


[1] i.e. 200,000,000

[2] Vincent’s Word Studies

[3] The KJV renders it as they are bound in the Euphrates while most others render it as bound at the Euphrates.

[4] Strong’s Concordance; 3089 - lyō

[5] See also Luke 2:9 where it speaks of an angel being illuminated by the glory of God.

[6] Strong's G4972 - sphragizō

[7] The Hebrew word rendered as shut is catham and means essentially the same as the Greek word use in the NT.

[8] Notes on Revelation, 2010 edition; Dr. Thomas L. Constable, pp 98

[9] Vine’s Greek New Testament Dictionary; mystery

[10] IBID

[11] pateō 1) to tread

a) to trample, crush with the feet

b) to advance by setting foot upon, tread upon: to encounter successfully the greatest perils from the machinations and persecutions with which Satan would fain thwart the preaching of the gospel

c) to tread under foot, trample on, i.e. to treat with insult and contempt: to desecrate the holy city by devastation and outrage

[12] Strong's G833 - aulē

[13] Strong's G1544 - ekballō

[14] Actually some of the latter verses do refer to true end-time events and the second coming.

[15] One might refer back to the discussion about the 9th vision and the identity of Azazel.

[16] Strong's G3961 - pateō

[17] http://www.bibleplaces.com/domeofrock.htm



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