Friday, May 17, 2013

The Bible and the Temple

I) A Little Book

 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,
   Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, “Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth.”
   So I went to the angel and said to him, “Give me the little book.” And he said to me, “Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.”
   Then I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter.
   And he said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.” 

The Bible

   The little book we read of here, is not the Book of Life, found in 3:5, nor is it the book of future events of 5:1.  

   Based on what follows in chapter 10 it would appear that this little book is the Holy Scriptures.  Symbolically, by standing on the sea and on the land, the messenger is saying that the message of God is for all people, both seafarers and land dwellers. The fact that the book is open is significant, because, as was said, this book is the Bible and it is open because the spirit of God has revealed its truths to Christians. It is the free, open gospel to all inhabitants of earth and sea.

  1.  This little book was introduced; he had in his hand a little book10:2,  
  2.  John heard a voice telling him to seal what he had heard, 10:4,
  3.  John hears that same voice again and the voice told him to go and take the little book. 10:8  
   The words, the voice which I heard from heaven, indicate that John is not in heaven at that time.   The last location given for John was heaven;  one of the four beasts in heaven said, Come and see. 6:1

   Therefore, we could surmise, that John had left heaven in the meantime, because now he says, that the voice he hears is from heaven

   As already stated the word heaven has various meanings, and at this point, John is probably referring to the spaceship, which he had already described for us in chapter 4.

  After John took the book (as he was told to do), from the hand of the messenger, he was told to eat it.  That is, to take it in, partake of it, and ingest it.  Jeremiah said, Thy words were found and I ate them. Jer. 5:16.  As Foster*** points out, even though Bible study is sweet afterwards it lays on us the bitterness of responsibility.

The Temple

Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, “Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there.
“But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.11:1-2  

   In chapter 11, there are two distinct temples: one on earth (the one that John measures) and the other, in heaven, which is recorded in 11:19.  

   In writing of the temple on earth, Wuest# puts it this way, the temple of God, the altar, (the Holy place and the Holy of Holies).   John is to measure, or count, those who worship in the temple, but not those in the outer court.  The reason that John was not to measure the outer court is because the Gentiles will desecrate it and they will wreck havoc in the holy city; they will tread the holy city underfoot for three and a half years, or, as stated, forty-two months.

   The holy city is Jerusalem, but this poses a problem.  Did John indeed write this before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD so that there was still a temple to measure?  Tradition says that The Apocalypse was written around the turn of the first century.  If that is true, what is John to measure?  Mr. Foster***, quoting B.W. Newton says, In reading this chapter, therefore, we must imagine Jerusalem again restored to seeming dignity and greatness. Its temple rebuilt, its worship re-established.  This answer raises a new question; how could John measure it before it was built?

     Asimov^ says that John uses the word temple to refer to the church at large. Concordia uses the same reasoning, but defines the inner court as representing the true believers and the outer court as being the false church.  However, that is an unlikely interpretation because Christ, in speaking of this particular time, limited the events to Jerusalem, not to the worldwide church; false or otherwise. Luke 21:24.

As before, the term, forty-two months (or three and a half years), could be an unspecified length of time.


*** Shadow of the Antichrist, Ivan Foster
# An Expanded Translation, K.W. Wuest.
^ Guide to the Bible, Isaac Asimov

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