'This one was born in Zion'

The Little Book of the Revelation - Eleventh in a series

In the final verse of Chapter 10 John is told he must prophesy again about many peoples and nations and tongues and kings. (Rev 10:11) This instruction is given after he has eaten the booklet and developed a sour stomach.

We begin now to consider the message of the Little Book (Rev 11:1-14), verse by verse.

  • Rev 11:1
    And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and one said, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.

John is asked to measure his fellow Jews. Scholars generally agreed that The Revelation was written in AD 95, so the temple that John had known no longer stood— it had been destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. The temple in John’s vision with its altar, was symbolic of those Jews who continued to look to the practice of ritual in worship. Or if he saw a third temple, one not yet constructed, it remained devoid of the light of the Gospel.

John saw that the Jews fell short of their prophesied renewal of heart and mind. (Ez 34:15) They did not measure up to God’s standard of enlightenment through embracing Christ’s atonement for their sin.

[An aside: In Revelation 21, an angel with a golden reed measures the new Jerusalem and it is 12,000 furlongs in enclosure, with its wall measuring 144 cubits—that number again! (Rev 21:15-18 KJV) Perhaps the wall speaks of those 144,000, the remnant who protected God’s law, who would also be protected by the Lord during the Tribulation. (Rev 12:14; Deut 32:11-12)]

John is told not to measure the outer court of the temple:

  • Rev 11:2
    And the court which is without the temple leave without, and measure it not; for it hath been given unto the nations: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.

The Temple's outer courts are thus envisioned as occupied by gentiles, and beyond these courts, they tread on the holy city as well.

Herod the Great embellished the Temple Mount as a building project during the generation before Christ was born. More about Herod’s temple can be read here. A model of it is shown.

Conrad schik 6070220 (cropped).JPG
By Ranbar - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Perhaps John saw the Temple as he knew it, with its environs as Herod had embellished them. Herod had made it a crossroads of humanity for trading and a vacation spot for travelers, a place of international repute which some called the Eighth Wonder of the World.

If the practicing Jews fall far short of God’s standards and enlightenment, how much more deficient are those who live and reside outside of them? To try to measure their demonstrated ignorance would take a reed too long for anyone but the Lord to grasp. (Hab 3:6) Many cultural Jews reside today in the outer courts, figuratively, and they did in former generations as well. (Rev 2:9; Rev 3:9)

Who or what is in view?

Some would point out that Jerusalem today is under the rule of Jews, not Gentiles. Retaking Jerusalem from the Arabs in the Six Day War of 1967 returned its governance to the Jews. So, does John’s vision portend a new turn of events for us today, where gentiles overtake Jerusalem? Or, is the Jerusalem of the Little Book a symbolic one?

Upon whom or what are these gentiles (heathens) treading for 42 months? Are they simply occupying the ‘holy city’— the city of Jerusalem in some future political turn of events? Are today's Jews to be viewed as gentiles?

Zechariah 12 states that Jerusalem ‘in that day’ (the time of the end of days) will become a burdensome stone for all people— “All that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” (Zec 12:3) This seems to state that the Jews will be in control of the ancient city at that time. This chapter also prophesies a glorious victory for the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the day when they realize Christ is Lord.

It may be significant that later in the Little Book, Jerusalem is referred to as the ‘great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.’ (Rev 11:8) So, is the ‘holy city’ of verse 2 also the ‘great city’ of verse 8? Maybe not. Or, yes, and no.

In a broad sense, Jerusalem is the city of God, Zion, where all Christians are born and reside. This imagery is introduced in the Psalms:

  • And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her. (Ps 87:5)

Two Jerusalems

Paul speaks of two Jerusalems, one on earth still in bondage with her children (Gal 4:24-25), that is, those measured by John in the Temple or perhaps in the outer courts, who adhere to the covenant of Mount Sinai, and one above which is free, the mother of the children of the promise. (Gal 4:26-28) In the Little Book both Jerusalems, their inhabitants, are in view.

We had read that the ‘peoples, tongues, nations and tribes’ had emerged from the great tribulation in Revelation 7. We will also read in the Little Book that ‘the people and kindreds and tongues and nations’ hate the people of God. (Rev 11:9) A dilemma of language is in play. Yet, this confusion of groups may assist to contrast the Jerusalem that is trodden under by gentiles (Rev 11:2) with the Jerusalem that is a holy city. Those in bondage despise those who are free. This points us to a view of Jerusalem as a symbol that is a duality.

In Posts 5 and 6 two groups were described, and a contrast was drawn between the Jews and the Christians, with the Jews having a mark from God to protect them, but the Christians would not need such a mark, for they are already marked for security by the blood of the lamb.

But would this special relationship denoted by ‘the blood’ protect them from persecution? Their security in the Lord prevented them from going to hell, but did it prevent them from dying as martyrs?

Were they not the witnesses that the Jews needed to see, to understand what it means to be saved?

We will consider the portion of Scripture that describes the two witnesses in the next post.

Looking back, and looking forward to Zion!

A stronghold overtaken - Sixth in a series

By choice and by destiny, Jerusalem was the first victory for King David and became his home. He began to build and repair Zion, surrounded and helped by his "Mighty Men." (see 1 Ch, chapters 11-12)

Yet, some Jebusites remained in Jerusalem, as we know from the account in 1 Chronicles 21, when David had sinned against the Lord by taking a census. A threshing floor owned by a Jebusite was purchased by David as a place to sacrifice to the Lord. When the Jebusite saw the Lord's angel, he gladly sold the property to David, and it became the site for the temple.

Jebus, a former name for Jerusalem, means threshing. The city was at one time also called Salem or peace and was reputed to be the residence of Melchizedek, the king-priest to whom Abraham tithed.*

In the topography and history of Zion and Jerusalem, the two are not the same in specific aspects, yet they are together in our common usage. In the Old Testament there is often a blurring of the two, for example, Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem… (Ps 51:18) In the New, there is a blurring of the earthly and heavenly cities, But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering… (Heb 12:22)

Thus it is: to Christians, Zion is a heavenly home and to the Jews today, it is Jerusalem about which they lament as they did when exiles in Babylon, If I forget thee, O Jerusalem! let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy. (Psalms 137:5) Somehow, these two must be brought together.

During a six-day war in 1967, the Jews fought in hand-to-hand combat and took Jerusalem's Old City, the walled area under Arab rule, and later proclaimed Jerusalem the capital of its modern state. The following year the government proclaimed a new holiday—Jerusalem Day— and in 2017 its jubilee was celebrated.

Many people consider such Zionists to be unreasonable, and view Jerusalem as an international city. These forces are joined and aligned against the nation of Israel today.

Recently (Spring 2017) Israel determined to withhold $1 million in payments to the United Nations after a UNESCO resolution declared the country's claim to Jerusalem "null and void." President Trump had planned to move the U.S. embassy there, but later delayed the transition.

The Jews will persist in their view of Jerusalem as their capital; Scripture states that in the last days, this city will be the world’s bellwether for God’s final judgments. Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it. (Zec 12:3)

Some facts (and if these are of interest, read more here.)

  • Years that Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish People: (3,000).
  • Number of times Jerusalem is mentioned in the Hebrew bible: (657).
  • City to which all Jews are required to make pilgrimage: (Jerusalem).
  • Years that Jerusalem has been the capital of any Muslim or Arab people: (0).
  • Number of times Jerusalem is mentioned in the Koran: (0).
  • City to which all Muslims are enjoined to make pilgrimage: (Mecca).
  • Family considered the Guardian of Muslim Holy Places: the Al-Saudis, Rulers of Saudi Arabia. Number of times leading members of this family prayed at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem when Jordan controlled the city: (0).
  • Number of synagogues in the Jewish Quarter at the time of Jordanian conquest in 1948: (58).
  • Number of synagogues in the Jewish Quarter destroyed or desecrated by the Jordanians: (58).

It was always Jerusalem

As noted above, the place where Abraham in obedience sought to sacrifice his only son was the area where the Temple was built. Also, Jerusalem was the site of Pentecost where the Holy Spirit came like a mighty, rushing wind, and lit upon the believers like tongues of fire (Acts 2:3); and it was where repentance and remission of sins were first preached in Christ’s name among all nations. (Luke 24:45-49) In these facts we see the continuity of God’s vision for Zion.

Though Jerusalem has its ups and downs, is won and lost, beautified and desecrated, ultimately the Zion of God will be established. A timeline shows she was destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times, she yet stands. She will come under attack in a final war (Zec 14:1-4) but will she not be rescued? (Rev 20:4-9)

Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. (Ps. 48:2) Of Jerusalem it is written, This is my rest for ever; here will I dwell; for I have desired it... (Psalms 132:14). Or, was that not written of our heavenly home? (Rev 21:2)

For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. (Gal 4:22-26)

*Jewish commentators affirm that Salem is Jerusalem, on the ground that Jerusalem is so called in Psalm 76:2.  - Smith's Bible Dictionary

Attention Readers

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Learn more. The conscience cannot function without facts.


Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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