Chapter Four of this Commentary
The Sixth Trumpet of Revelation 9
Also called "the second woe."
Chapters 8, 9, 10, and 11
of the Book of Revelation
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Scene 5. Scenario 2. Revelation 11:2
Satan-deceived “nations” take over
the “court outside the temple.”
The “holy city” is trampled over
“for forty-two months.”
What does it all mean? Literal or symbolical?
The formatting of Scenario 1 is continued.
II. "But do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample over the holy city for forty-two months." Revelation 11:2
This is truly an intriguing celestial instruction to the apostle John, with an explanation equally fascinating given by the messenger. “Don´t measure the court outside the temple.” Why? Because “it is given to the nations.” What will they do? “They will trample over the holy city for forty-two months.” What does it all mean? Is the vision to be interpreted and applied literally or is it metaphorical and, if so, what entities are represented?
Certainly, the literary metaphors invoke the earthly Israelite temple in Jerusalem with its Court of the Gentiles. See the layout of the Temple and Courts in the rendering above.
However, when the apostle John received the vision in 95 or 96 CE (Common Era, or Christian Age) the literal, earthly city Jerusalem lay mostly devastated, its Temple built by King Herod the Great burned and thrown down. All in fulfillment of Jesus’s prophecies in Matthew 24. The court, or courts, for there were several, of the Temple Mount complex, together with their elegant porticos, were also destroyed, as were the various protective walls and most of the very foundation, leaving only that famous portion known today as the “Wailing Wall,” which is not a part of the Herodian temple itself but of an immense retaining wall built to extend and support the foundation for the Herodian temple, courts, and porticos.
“Measure the temple, the worship, and the worshipers,” instructed God’s messenger in Revelation 11:1. But a literal temple and altar did not exist in Jerusalem when John received that instruction, and the Jewish worshipers were forbidden by their Roman conquerors even to set foot in the city. We saw, then, as we observed and studied Scenario 1, that the measuring was not of a literal temple, but rather of the spiritual one established by God the Father and Christ. Therefore, logically, “the court outside the temple” would not be the literal Court of the Gentiles of the earthly Temple Mount complex but a spiritual one outside God’s new spiritual "temple" made of “living stones… built into a spiritual house.” 1 Peter 2:5
Let us continually keep in mind that the “spiritualization” of words and concepts associated with earthly Israel by writers of the New Testament was already being implemented even before the destruction of earthly Jerusalem and the temple in 67 – 70 CE. Such as in the apostle Paul’s epistles to the Galatians, written at some time between 45 and 60 CE, to the Ephesians, about 62 CE, and to the Hebrews, written probably in 63 or 64 CE. In these inspired writings, Christians are the new “Israel of God.” Galatians 6:16. They are the “holy temple in the Lord.” Ephesians 2:19-22. And the new “city of the living God” is not a restored earthly city of Jerusalem but “the heavenly Jerusalem.” Hebrews 12:22
In addition to these weighty considerations, we take note of the fact that this Scenario 2 belongs to the Sixth Trumpet prophecies and visions, these covering the period just previous to the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet which signals the end of the world and material time. This is the precise and unmistakable timeframe of Scenario 2. Naturally, there is where we should search for the correct interpretation and application of the vision about “the court outside the temple.” In the timeframe of Scenario 2, and not way back in times previous to it, for example, in the Middle Ages, the 4th century, or the 1st century of the Common Era.
We might be inclined to reason that, since the literal, earthly Court of the Gentiles and the whole city of earthly Jerusalem had already been taken over in 70 CE by Roman Empire forces, references in Revelation 11:2 to “the court outside the temple” and the “holy city” must surely be to earthly Jerusalem and that Court. However, such reasoning would be faulty, for the 1st century CE is definitely and definitively not the timeframe of Scenario 2, nor do a “literal, earthly Jerusalem, temple, and court” fit the context of the vision in Revelation 11:2. Besides, the literal temple in the earthly Jerusalem in the 1st century had also been destroyed in the first century, yet in the combined Scenarios of Revelation 11:1-2 John is told to measure a “temple” that, obviously, existed.
We might also reason that the phraseology of Revelation 11:2 is somewhat similar to Jesus’ prophecy in Luke 21:24 where he says: “…Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled,” and that, therefore, both texts are prophecies about the same entities and the same period of time. However, we would be overlooking the fact that the contexts and focuses of the two are definitely not the same. Because, while the prophecy of Jesus is, unequivocally, about earthly Jerusalem, that of Revelation 11:1-2 is about a spiritual temple and, consequently, a spiritual “holy city,” by inference “not of this world,” an expression used by Jesus before the Roman proconsul Pilate when he attempted to explain to a Gentile ruler the basic nature of God’s spiritual Kingdom-city-church.
“…will be trampled on” is the verb used by Jesus in his prophecy and “will trample over” is the verb used by the messenger who instructed John. The use of the same verb in both prophecies might induce us to conclude that the same event is the subject of both. Yet, closer scrutiny of the texts highlights the fallacies of such a conclusion.
For Jesus uttered his prophecy in about the year 30 CE when earthly Jerusalem was approaching its apogee of material development and its magnificent earthly temple shown forth as one of the most marvelous buildings of the 1st century, surrounded by equally impressive courts and columnated porticos. That was forty years before they were destroyed in 70 CE, together with the entire earthly city of Jerusalem. The language of Jesus prophecy is unmistakably about earthly Israel and their earthly religious buildings. The Jews of his prophecy would “fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” Luke 21.24
On the other hand, the prophecies of Revelation 11:1-2 were proclaimed 65 years after Jesus spoke his, and 25 years after the total destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.
While the time-parameter of Jesus’ prophecy is “the times of the Gentiles,” that of Revelation 11:2 is “forty-two months,” or “one thousand two hundred sixty days.” Revelation 11:3.
Again, while Jesus’ prophecy begins to be fulfilled in 67 – 70 CE with the total destruction of earthly Jerusalem and is completely fulfilled in 1967 when “the times of the Gentiles is fulfilled,” and earthly Jerusalem is no longer ruled by Gentiles, the prophecies of Revelation 11:1-2 begin to be fulfilled with the sounding of the Sixth Trumpet, continue to be fulfilled during “forty-two months,” and are completely fulfilled when the “two witnesses” are caught up to “heaven in a cloud while their enemies watched them,” and in “that moment there was a great earthquake…” (Revelation 11:3-14), followed immediately by the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet proclaiming the arrival of “the time for judging the dead.” Revelation 11:15-19
The reader may wish to consider again the information in Scenario 1, Part “F,” where the time parameters for these prophecies are concisely defined.
With this “timeframe factor” firmly established, I respectfully invite you, dear reader, to analyze the following interpretation.
An interpretation and applications
in the context of the 21st century
A. "…the court outside the temple" is where the masses of unbelieving congregate. Atheists, skeptics, scoffers, Darwinian evolutionists, secularists, humanists, hedonists, social engineers, new agers, pagans, idolaters, worshippers of demons, slaves of vices, criminals, and all other unbelieving, unrepentant sinners.
1. In our world of the 21st century, there are only two major spiritual places: the beautiful, spiritual “temple” of this text and the dark, ugly, dangerous “court outside.”
2. The "temple" is, as we saw it in Scenario 1, the true church of Christ and the "court outside" is the total conglomeration of all deceived practitioners of false religions, plus all the other great multitudes of sinners.
B. "…do not measure” it; “leave that out…”
Well, there would really be no reason to measure the “court outside” since it is the gathering place of all the enemies, great and small, of God, Christ, and their people on Earth. It goes without saying that they do not have the vital, precise “measurements” that would make them be pleasing to the Master Architect and Builder of the universe with all its inhabitants. Measuring them might even be
considered a waste of time. Just so, I interpret the sense of “…do not measure” it; “leave that out,” in its metaphorical, spiritual context.
C. "…for it is given over to the nations…” Many versions translate “Gentiles.”
1. In the spiritual language of the New Testament, the general sense of “Gentiles” is the “unbelieving,” that is, those who do not believe in the true God and Creator nor in his Son Jesus Christ.
“You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry.” 1 Peter 4:3. Among these “Gentiles” are atheists, scoffers, and worshippers of demons. Revelation 9:20
2. "…it is given over to the nations …" means that the unbelieving would, effectively, exercise perhaps almost universal dominion over the world when they take the audacious step of lining up behind the standard of Satan and begin to resolutely march to “that place which in Hebrew is called Harmagedon.”
a) At the present time (third decade of the 21st century), a majority of the secular governments of the world profess, generally speaking even if not legally, some kind of faith in the God of the Bible. A strong influence of Christian norms and ethics is evident in the constitutions and laws of many nations. That is so even today, despite concerted efforts by many people and organizations to diminish or eliminate their presence and impact.
b) Notwithstanding, during the phase leading up to the very last days of time, an inverse state of the world is projected by the prophecies we are studying, for they say the nations will again deceive themselves to the extreme of uniting in war against God. Specifically, the secular rulers of the nations are projected to be mostly atheists and purely secular humanists with very few, if any, moral values, Christian ones having been diluted, forgotten, or just plain discarded, as:
Contrary to the public wellbeing
Against the common desire and wishes of the general populace
A violation of the will of the rulers and the courts of law.
Left. A massive meeting of atheists in Washington, DC, United States, with a huge banner saying: “IMPEACH GOD!”
c) According to my understanding, there is perfect concordance between this interpretation and the rest of the prophecies about the “little while” we have analyzed.
D. "…they will trample over the holy city…"
1. "...they" are the obstinate unbelieving completely bereft of Christian convictions and values.
2. The "holy city" is the true church built by Christ, also called "Jerusalem above" (Galatians 4:26) and "beloved city." Revelation 20:9. In Revelation 11:1-2, “temple of God” and “holy city” are one and the same. The “holy city” is not “the present Jerusalem” (Galatians 4:24) located in the Near East, this one not being “holy” according to the criteria of the “new covenant” ratified by Jesus Christ.
3. "…will trample…" From their “court outside,” that is, the whole world outside, separated from the spiritual “temple of God,” which is the church Christ built, synonymous with the “kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 1:13), they will rise up against the spiritual “city of the living God” (Hebrews 12:22), represented on earth by true Christians, and “will trample” it.
a) "…will trample…" is the translation of the Greek verb πατησουσιν in Revelation 11:2.
“The word πατησουσιν is the 3rd person plural form of the verb marked similar below. Its tense is future (which indicates future action, and sometimes a command - you will do this or that), its voice is active (which indicates that the subject performs the action, instead of receives it), and its mood is indicative (which describes a situation that actually is — as opposed to a situation that might be, is wished for, or is commanded to be).” https://www.abarim-publications.com/DictionaryG/p/p-a-t-e-om.html
Henry Thayer gives the meaning in Revelation 11:2 as: "To tread under foot, trample on, treat with insult and contempt. To desecrate the holy city by devastation and outrage." Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. American Book Company. Page 494
“Trample” as defined by the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. “To tread heavily so as to bruise, crush, or injure. To inflict injury or destruction especially contemptuously or ruthlessly.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/trample
b) According to these definitions, “will trample” does not necessarily include “bodily damage.” The “nations,” especially the unbelieving rulers of the nations, may “trample” on the true church in many ways without actually physically harming its members. They may treat it “contemptuously or ruthlessly,” despise it, humble it, and even destroy its properties, without going to the extreme of bodily harming its members or killing them.
These considerations are important for the correct interpretation of Revelation 11:5 where the following is said of the “two witnesses:” “And if anyone wants to harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes; anyone who wants to harm them must be killed in this manner.” A text to be studied in a future "Scene" of this Commentary.
E. "…forty-two months."
According to the temporal parameters this writer has fixed for the fulfillment of the Sixth Trumpet prophesies, guided by very strong reasons as I understand them, these “forty-two months” would transpire during the culminating phase of the “little while,” when the consummation of the “mystery of God” would be on the verge of occurring.
1. The sequence of events revealed by the Fifth and Sixth Trumpets virtually obligates us to come to this conclusion. Let us review the principal events.
a) “The shaft of the bottomless pit” is opened “and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace…”
b) “Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth” to torment for five months those who do not have the “seal of God.”
c) When the “first woe” (of the Fifth Trumpet) had passed, the “second woe” (of the Sixth Trumpet) follows and as a result of the “three plagues” a “third of humankind was killed.”
d) After the “three plagues,” the vision of the “little roll” plays out and the “mighty angel” proclaims the consummation of the “mystery of God” and the end of time for the moment when the Seventh Angel begins to sound the Seventh Trumpet.
e) It is then that the order to measure the true church, its worship, and the worshippers is given.
f) After that order is given comes the proclamation that the "holy city" (the holy people of God, the called out, the church) would be trampled on by the unbelieving nations during “forty-two months.”
2. Given this sequence of events and the entire context of the Sixth Trumpet, surely it would be correct to say that extracting this prophecy on the “forty-two months” from its natural position in the context would be completely unjustified.
Isolating the context of the two “woes” that immediately precede the end of time (subject of the third Woe), to then apply it to the Middle Ages or any other period that is not the “little while,” appears to me really unreasonable.
a) The prophecy on the “forty-two months” belongs to the Sixth Trumpet.
b) The Sixth Trumpet contains prophecies for the time immediately previous to the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet, whose voice signifies the end of time, an interpretation fully sustained, in my own estimation, in this Commentary.
c) The Sixth Trumpet does not announce prophecies for the Millennium, nor for the period that precedes it, for example, the Middle Ages.
d) Therefore, this prophesy on the "forth-two months" is definitely not applicable to the Middle Ages nor to the time of the Roman Empire.
e) In addition to these considerations, it is good to keep in mind the fact that, during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the true church built by Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:18) was not “trampled on” so much by atheists, the purely secular, hedonists, and humanists, as mostly by deceived, false “Christians” with the corrupt Roman Catholic Hierarchy over them and by “Christianized” secular rulers dominated and coerced by the politicized, secularized, apostate “Great Mother Church,” in her role as the “Great Whore, Babylon the Great.” Revelation, chapters 17 and 18. Chapter Eight of this Commentary
Notably different from that situation is that of the true church during the “forty-two months” of Revelation 11:2. She will be trampled on mostly by atheistic, purely secular rulers and their multitudes of supporters who do not profess belief in the Creator God revealed in the Bible, also made known by his vast material and physical creations. Romans 1:18-23. They will all come together in ferocious, unrelenting battle against God and his people “in that place which in Hebrew is called Harmagedon.”
3. In the light of all these factors, I personally do not interpret the “forty-two months” to be one thousand two hundred “prophetical years.” Rather I understand them to be a relatively short time that immediately precedes the voice of the Seventh Trumpet.
My conviction is that the times of Revelation should be interpreted, each one of them, according to its own particular context. The context of the “forty-two months” is that of the Sixth Trumpet.
NEXT. The Two Witnesses of Revelation 11. Scene 6 of Trumpet 6. The Two Witnesses (Two Prophets) identified as Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. They are the Two Olive Trees and Two Lampstands of Zachariah 2. Much biblical evidence cited.
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Category. Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment. Commentary.
Revelation 10:6. Going out into the FUTURE to the LAST DAY of TIME. Looking back at planet Earth in the 20th and 21st centuries.