THE TEMPLE OF GOD AND THE ALTAR (11:1). The prophet writes a lengthy description of measuring the future kingdom’s Temple in Ezekiel 40:3-48:35. The Temple has been rebuilt on its original site in Jerusalem and the Dome of the Rock is destroyed. The Antichrist most likely permitted this rebuilding in the terms of the seven-year covenant, which he breaks in the middle of this period. The altar indicates Israel has returned to the OT sacrificial system, which ended with the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. Israel is still spiritually blind.
The Temples of Scripture
Destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C.
Built After the Babylonian Captivity
HEROD THE GREAT’S TEMPLE
Refurbished Zerubbabel’s Beginning in B.C. 19
Destroyed by Titus in A.D. 70
TEMPLE OF THE TRIBULATION
Built Before or at the Beginning of the Tribulation
Destroyed during the Seventh Seal
TEMPLE OF CHRIST
Built at the Beginning of the Millennial Kingdom
Destroyed at the New Creation
NO TEMPLE IN THE ETERNAL STATE
The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are Its Temple
Spiritually, the Church and believer are the Temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 2:16).
A REED LIKE A MEASURING ROD (11:1). John is told to measure three things: (1) the Temple; (2) the Altar; and (3) the worshipers. At first, it would seem that this measuring signifies God’s promise for the restoration and rebuilding of the Temple and Jerusalem, with greater emphasis on extension and enlargement.
The measuring line will stretch from there straight to the hill of Gareb and then turn to Goah (Jeremiah 31:39).
Therefore, this is what the LORD says: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,’ declares the LORD Almighty (Zechariah 1:16).
Yet, this measuring rod is bad news for Israel since John is told to “count the worshipers there. 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.” Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome all oppressed Jerusalem in ancient times and the Revived Roman Empire will afflict the city in the last days.
The counting of the worshipers is a reversal of the Ten Plagues on Egypt, where Israelites were excluded and the Gentiles included. This marks the beginning of the second half of the Tribulation foretold in Christ’s Mount Olivet Discourse:
First half of 42 months: “Beginning of Birth Pains” (Matthew 24:8)
Second half of 42 months: “Great Distress” (Matthew 24:21)
The only other time 42 months is used is for the exact time of the reign of the Antichrist, who is the Beast out of the sea (Revelation 13:5-7). Hence, this time measurement marks off the last half of Daniel’s Seventy Seven:
He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him” (Daniel 9:27).
Three things the Antichrist does will open the eyes of Jews to God’s Word: (1) he will break a seven year covenant in the middle; (2) he will put an end to sacrifice and offering; and (3) he will set up the image of the beast on a wing of the Temple (Revelation 13:13-15; 2 Thessalonians 2).
A preview of this prophecy occurred in the spring of 168 B.C., when the armed forces of Antiochus Epiphanes stood as guards at the Temple and regular worship was discontinued. On the Sabbath day, the city was attacked, women and children were captured and multitudes were slain. His army occupied the citadel overlooking the Temple. Heathen idolatry was made mandatory, and the Hellenic culture was enforced on Jewish life. The climax of blasphemy was the erecting of the image of Zeus on the Temple’s altar of burnt offering (2 Maccabees 6). Antiochus Epiphanes did not fulfill Daniel 9:27 according to Jesus:
So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation’, spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains (Matthew 24:15-16).
From what Jesus told His disciples, three things are clear:
1. The Temple will be rebuilt
2. The abomination that causes desolation lies in the future
3. Terrible times will come upon Jerusalem
This will be the fourth time God puts an end to the sacrificial system through His instruments: (1) Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C.; (2) Antiochus Epiphanes in 168 B.C.; (3) Titus in A.D. 70; and (4) now the Antichrist at the middle of the Tribulation. Israel’s return to the sacrificial system shows they are still rejecting Jesus Christ, the once for all Sacrifice. Therefore, the Jews will be judged while the Gentiles are used as a source of their judgment as in the previous stoppages.
Jesus describes what will happen to the land and people of Israel during these 42 months:
When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. This is the time of punishment, fulfilling all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luke 21:20-24).
Measuring is a symbolic action used in Scripture to divide between the holy and ungodly, and thus, to indicate divine protection or destruction (Ezekiel 40-43; Zechariah 2:1-5; Jeremiah 10:16; 51:19; Revelation 21:15-16). Measuring also signifies God’s ownership of the Temple.