This section presents something which acts again to date the events and point to the current issues looking forward to and predicting (once more) the destruction of the Jewish state. It does not follow the form of the previous visions and rather than another vision as such, it seems to be a discourse upon or explanatory of some events which fit with the previous signs.
The first portion of the chapter except for the first verse and the narrative of the sounding of the seventh trumpet, (v.15 -19) is an account of some parallel events given to expand the understanding of some of the previous sections and introducing new figures of these signs. As noted, these help to fix a time frame upon the prior events and those to follow. The events begun in C.11 are concluded in C.12. What did I suggest concerning repetition: that it has two twins – repetition and repetition.
The angel who appears in the first verse speaks all of what is recorded. There is no action beyond the words which is a little different than what we have experienced to this point. The narrative now directly takes up the destruction of Jerusalem. The time for any warnings is over.
Verse 1: John is given a reed and told to “Rise and measure the Temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there.” With this statement begins the narrative that encompasses the bulk of the chapter. Note the instruction is to measure the temple, altar and the worshippers in the temple, but nothing outside or aside from the temple.
Some teachers state that the Temple indicated here is the Church. As I mentioned in the introduction: If so, then who are those that make up this church? The word church is defined as a “called out or called together group” – an assembly, not a location. Others state the church is a spiritual presence here but not a physical one. Both notions are not well thought through and are contrary to everything we know about the Church of Christ. First: there is no need for a church or assembly in heaven on the same level as we have here. Second: the symbol of the temple might work for the church if there had been no mention of worshippers. Last (but not least): Where does authority for an altar in the church come from? Only apostate churches (those still focused on the Law of Moses, the buildings, and the fellows in robes and hats) have such things. Answer if you can (scriptures please). Though we prefer gazing off sleepy-eyed into the distance, the text clearly points at Jerusalem here; and no other place or nothing else should be considered because nowhere and nothing else fits the text or makes sense.
The court of the temple is left off from the measuring as it is to be given over to the “Gentiles” for some time (a definite period as indicated by the number). The Holy City is to suffer the same fate. Many commentators prefer to swallow the camel here too, and state that the temple and city are not to be confused with the Temple and Jerusalem. Yet, the text flatly states that it is indicating Jerusalem in both v.1 and 2, (“Holy City” etc.). In case anyone was busied pulling the two-by-fours out of their eyes and missed the point, doubt is removed completely when the text plainly states this city is the same “…where our Lord was crucified” (v.8). Now, what city is that? Some resist and continue scratching holes right through their heads rather than listening to and seeing what is right in front of their eyes. Some have stated and written that you cannot positively say whether the text is identifying Jerusalem and its temple; or further, to suppose these were yet in existence when this was written.
Friends, of course you can say that it is identifying Jerusalem (which was still in existence when this was published). That is exactly what the text does indicate; and how many Gentiles do we suppose might make it into Heaven to make offerings on that brazen altar? Read it aloud a few times if necessary. It plainly states it is Jerusalem.
This sort of confusion ends up in impossible and contrary theories. They should be avoided. The angel and the writer does everything except hit us over our wee little heads with the correct answers.