Revelation 11:1

Sermon preached on April 21, 2013 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

Men and their toys. You've all heard that expression. I don't understand it myself. We don't have toys. They're not toys, they're serious things. Well, unless they're train sets. Some men love train sets. I've seen videos of men who have these elaborate train sets that run through their houses. Some of them are incredible and the tracks run from room to room and they have little miniature villages and stations set up. When they interview these guys it seems that they have certain things in common. When they are asked about their train sets they talk about them with great affection. They have put years in developing them and it's like part of them exists in their train sets, like the train sets are an extension of them. When they're asked about a certain favorite engine they will perhaps pick it up and talk about its dimensions and tell you all the details. They might tell you that it's 1/87 scale, or 1/160
scale. They will tell how many inches it is long and wide and high and will show you very little details to show how closely it is modeled on a real train engine. Their attention to detail is incredible. These guys love their sets and can describe everything about them in great detail. They have a passion about them.

In our text John was given a measuring rod and told to go and measure the temple, the altar and to count the worshipers there. Why? God knows everything and he knows the dimensions of the temple beforehand. So why is John told to measure it? And what exactly is measured? At the time that John wrote this there was no temple in Jerusalem. It had been destroyed. There was no temple. So what is this measuring all about? It's obviously symbolic and is designed to teach us something.

In our society things are measured mostly when we are building things or changing things. But in ancient Israel—like those guys that measured train sets and knew all the dimensions—measuring showed knowledge, love and care. For example, in Zechariah 1:16 we read,

"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."

That passage is typical. Measuring in the Old Testament often indicated God's protection. Another example of this is in chapters 40 to 43 of Ezekiel we see that in a vision the prophet was taken back to the land of Israel and he saw the temple measured. He was to tell the house of Israel everything he saw. The temple was measured in great detail and Ezekiel saw the glory of God return to the temple. God told him that it was the place for His throne and for the soles of His feet—that He would live among the Israelites forever. That showed God's love for His dwelling place and intimate knowledge of it and told the His people in exile that He cared for them and would bring them back to the land of Israel.

Another text shows us that measurement is often an indication of safety. In Revelation 21 we read about the new Jerusalem. It's dimensions are measured and its walls are found to be 144 cubits thick. This is the number 12 squared. It harkens back to the 144,000 in Revelation 7 who were sealed. The 144 cubits in Revelation 21 shows that all of God's people are safe—protected forever.

So what we should understand from our text is that

the measuring of the temple indicates God's love for and protection of His people.

God cares for His church. He cares for His people. He cares for you. You must never forget that.

The temple represents us.

The temple was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 A.D. So the temple mentioned in our text is symbolic. It represents God's people. God dwells in us. We are His temple. He cares for us. In 1 Corinthians 3:16–17 the apostle Paul wrote,

"Don't you know that you yourselves
are God's temple and that
God's Spirit lives in you?
If anyone destroys God's temple,
God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred,
and you are that temple."

The 'you' there is plural in number. Together we are God's temple. Ephesians 2:21-22 tells us the same thing, that in Christ,

"the whole building is joined together and rises
to become a holy temple in the Lord.
And in him you too are being
built together to become a dwelling
in which God lives by his Spirit."

Collectively we are God's temple.

This is also true of us as individuals. In 1 Corinthians 6:19 the apostle wrote,

"Do you not know that your body
is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you,
whom you have received from God?"

Each one of us has the Holy Spirit.

So when John is told to measure the temple it means that we, God's people, are measured. It means that we are very dear to God, that He knows every detail about us and loves us very deeply. The temple being measured shows us in very concrete terms—that God cares greatly about His people, about every last one of them.

We get a glimpse of this truth in Matthew 10:30. Jesus is speaking to His disciples and telling them not that they would be persecuted. But He tells them not to be afraid. In the midst of urging them to be without fear He said,

"And even the very hairs
of your head are all numbered."

Jesus said that to assure us that He cares for us. Knowing the number of hairs on our head is not a mere Trivial Pursuit question for Jesus. No. He told us this great truth so that we would realize that nothing in the details of our lives escapes His notice. He knows what is happening to us. He cares for us. He will protect us and keep us safe. So Jesus continued, (Matthew 10:30–31)

"So don't be afraid;"

Christians, are you aware of how intimately God knows you and how deeply and passionately He cares for you? You should. Take to heart these things. You are in Christ. Because of Jesus' work for you, dying for your sins and being raised for your justification, you are intimately related to Him. God measures you. He cares for you.

The second thing we should see from our text is that

God's loves His dwelling place.

He loves His temple. If you look at the last chapters of Exodus you'll see how God gave Moses specific instructions about the tabernacle and its furnishings. After everything had been made according to God's instructions, the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting and (Exodus 40:34)

"the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle."

God loved His dwelling place on earth. It was the place that was exceedingly special, where God drew near to His people to bless them. When Solomon dedicated the temple, the Lord appeared to him and said, (1 Kings 9:3)

"I have heard the prayer and plea
you have made before me;
I have consecrated this temple, which you have built,
by putting my Name there forever.
My eyes and my heart will always be there."

God put His name there. He said that His eyes and heart would be there. The reference to His eyes being there denoted Him watching over His people. The reference to His heart being there shows His love for His dwelling place among His people. This was an incredible blessing to the people of Israel.

Solomon's prayer of dedication shows in 1 Kings 8 shows us that it was a special place where the prayers of God's people were presented. God came near to hear the prayers of His people to bless them. As such God delighted in that place. He said that His heart would always be there.

But with the Old Testament physical temple, God's presence was conditional. God made that very clear to His ancient people. Right after God told them about His name and His eyes and heart being there, God said, (1 Kings 9:6–9)

"But if you or your sons
turn away from me and do not
observe the commands and decrees
I have given you and go off
to serve other gods and worship them,
then I will cut off Israel from the land
I have given them and will reject this temple
I have consecrated for my Name.
Israel will then become a byword
and an object of ridicule among all peoples.
And though this temple is now imposing,
all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff and say,
'Why has the Lord done such a thing
to this land and to this temple?'
People will answer,
'Because they have forsaken the Lord their God,
who brought their fathers out of Egypt,
and have embraced other gods,
worshiping and serving them—
that is why the Lord brought
all this disaster on them.'"

And that's exactly what happened. We read about God's glory leaving the Old Testament temple in Ezekiel 10. In verses 18–19 we read,

"Then the glory of the Lord departed
from over the threshold of the temple
and stopped above the cherubim.
While I watched, the cherubim spread
their wings and rose from the ground,
and as they went, the wheels went with them.
They stopped at the entrance
to the east gate of the Lord's house,
and the glory of the God of Israel was above them."

God's glory left the temple.

But with us, God's living temple—His glory will never depart from us.

Now of course there are some who seem to be Christians and who depart from the faith. The Bible gives us all kinds of warning to pay attention and to not drift away. It is certainly true that some seed falls on rocky soil and dies when the sun comes up.

But having said that, for true Christians, God will never take His glory from us. You are His temple in a way that is beyond that of the Old Testament temple. For instance, in John 17:22–23 Jesus prayed to the Father about His people and said,

"I have given them the glory that you gave me,
that they may be one as we are one:
I in them and you in me.
May they be brought to complete unity
to let the world know that you sent me
and have loved them even as you have loved me."

What words! We have Christ's glory given to us. Jesus is in us and the Father is in Him. The Father loves us with the same love that He has for Jesus!

These things are incredible. How close you have been brought to God. What an intimate relationship we have with Him. The Father loves us with the same love He has for His Son! As the apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:17,

"Now if we are children, then we are heirs—
heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ."

The Spirit does this. It is through Him that we have union with Christ. As we read in 1 Corinthians 12:13,

"For we were all baptized
by one Spirit into one body—
whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—
and we were all given
the one Spirit to drink."

The fact that we are in Christ, that we are His body, that we have the Spirit—means that God's presence will never leave us. As we are told in Hebrews 13:5, God has said,

"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

Or as the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:21–22,

"Now it is God who makes
both us and you stand firm in Christ.
He anointed us,
set his seal of ownership on us,
and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit,
guaranteeing what is to come."

You are united to Christ. You are in Him. You are His temple.

When did this occur? It obviously happened when we believed in Jesus. Ephesians 2:3 tells us that by nature we were,

"objects of wrath…"

But God called us to Christ and made us alive. It was then that salvation was applied to our lives.

But one of the great Scriptural truths about union with Christ is that there is an aspect of it that is outside of time.

In Ephesians 1:3–4 we read,

"Praise be to the God and
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in the heavenly realms
with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
For he chose us in him
before the creation of the world
to be holy and blameless in his sight."

We were chosen, 'in Christ' before the foundation of the world. John Murray writes, (Redemption: Accomplished and Applied, p. 162)

"that means that those who will be saved were not even contemplated by the Father in the ultimate counsel of his predestinating love apart from union with Christ—they were chosen in Christ. As far back as we can go in tracing salvation to its fountain we find 'union with Christ'; it is not something tacked on; it is there from the outset."

Not only that, but because we were united with Christ when He gave His life, the Bible represents us, Murray, p. 162)

"as united to Christ in his death, resurrection, and exaltation to heaven. (Rom. 6:2-11; Eph. 2:4-6; Col. 3:3,4)."

That's why Paul can speak of us being 'glorified' in Romans 8:30 in the past tense. We read,

"And those he predestined,
he also called; those he called,
he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified."

So great is our union with Christ that John Murray writes, (Redemption: Accomplished and Applied, p. 164)

"It is not confined to space and time; it has the expanse of eternity. Its orbit has two foci, one the electing love of God the Father in the counsels of eternity, the other glorification with Christ in the manifestation of his glory."

Murray goes on to say of the Christian,

"Why can he have confident assurance with reference to the future and rejoice in hope of the glory of God? It is because he cannot think of past, present, or future apart from union with Christ."

We are God's temple. We are united to God. We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. How greatly beloved we are by God. He has made His dwelling in us and will never leave us.

Now what does this mean for us?

First of all, for you Christians,

you should have great assurance of God's love and care for you.

You have this truth and it give you great assurance.

If you didn't have this truth and you looked at the world and the troubles you have, if you consider that the beast out of the sea is going to make war on the saints and conquer them (Revelation 13:7), if you consider that the beast out of the earth is going to give everyone his mark and unless you have that mark you are not going to be able to buy or sell—then you could doubt God's love for you and be afraid.

But you have this great truth. You are safe. God knows you intimately. God cares so deeply for you. He will never leave you. He will lead you to glory. Know this and be convinced of it no matter what troubles come. Never waver. Never doubt.

Secondly, you should understand that

if you're a Christian, this applies to you.

In the NIV our text reads,

"I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told,
'Go and measure the temple of God and the altar,
and count the worshipers there."

I like that translation because it shows us that every one of the worshipers are counted. The original Greek doesn't have the word, 'count', literally, John is told to 'measure' the temple, the altar and the worshipers. Measuring the worshipers means counting them. Every one of us is important to God. In John 6:39 we read,

"And this is the will of him who sent me,
that I shall lose none of all that he has given me,
but raise them up at the last day."

And in John 17:11–12 Jesus said,

"Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—
the name you gave me—
so that they may be one as we are one.
While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe
by that name you gave me.
None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction
so that Scripture would be fulfilled."

Who is counted? Is it the great saints, the heroes of the faith who worship there? Is it the priests? Is it the elders? Is it the men? Is it the adults?

No. All the worshipers are counted, every one of them. If you're a worshiper of Jesus you are included. God knows the number of the hairs on your head. You should take this truth to heart. You should know that this applies to you.

Lastly, if you're not a Christian, this means that you are going to be left out. You will not be in glory. Instead of being counted and included, you will be told to depart, into everlasting darkness. You need Jesus. Go to Him for salvation. Do it now.