Measuring the Church

After John is re-commissioned, the scene intensifies. He is given a measuring rod and told to measure the temple of God. This can’t be the temple of Jerusalem, for that has already been destroyed. Measure means to count, that is, John is told to take a census of the people of God, but not of those outside. Two witnesses will prophesy for a period of time. They are referred to as olive trees and lampstands, thus disclosing that the witnesses are indeed the churches. The churches of John are to the the prophets in the new age, and whoever harms the church will be killed in the end. This prophesy is lost on the Beast from the bottomless pit, the destroyer. He makes war on the church, kills its members, and leaves their bodies for all to see. After a brief period of time, those dead in the streets are are given a breath of life and invited into heaven, that is, they are raised from the dead. This resurrection is the new creation. Just as the enemies of the church saw the bodies in the streets, so also they see them rise. The enemies are witnesses to the resurrection. Immediately there is an earthquake, accompanied by massive destruction. The scene is reminiscent of the crucifixion of Jesus. The remaining people give praise to God. The meaning of this vision is that God will continue to sustain the church through times of suffering and persecution. John is reminding the people that their suffering will be brief, and that the church will be renewed. Even the enemies of God will begin to give praise to God. John continues to call the world to faithfulness. It is a call that will be repeated through the rest of the Apocalypse.

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