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.
In verse1: 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 commentators state that the Temple indicated is the Church. As I mentioned in the introduction, if true, then who are those who make up the church?
The Church of Christ is a called together group – an assembly, not a location. Others state the church is a spiritual presence and not a physical one. Really? 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 level we have here and now. Second: the symbol of the Temple might work for the Church if there had been no mention of the worshippers. Last (but not least): Where does authority for an altar in the church/temple come from? Only the apostate churches (still focused on buildings/cathedrals, and people in fancy robes with high hats), have such things. Answer if you can (scriptures please)? But though we like gazing off sleepy-eyed in the opposite direction, the text clearly identifies Jerusalem here. No other location ought even to be considered because no other place fits the model or makes any 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 decide to swallow a camel here too, stating the temple and city are not to be confused with the Temple and Jerusalem. Yet, once again the text flatly states that it is indicating Jerusalem in both v.1 and 2, (“Holy City” etc. etc.); and in case anyone was busied pulling the beams out of their eyes, and missed the point, doubt is removed completely as the text states clearly that this city is the same “…where our Lord was crucified” (v.8). Now, what city would that be? Some continue to scratch holes into their heads and resist what is right in front of their eyes. They write that you cannot positively state 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 then must have been in existence when Revelation was published). That is exactly what the text states. How many Gentiles do we suppose might make it into Heaven to make offerings on that altar? Read this part aloud a few times if necessary. It is not talking about any place other than Jerusalem, and its temple is still standing, when this was circulated.
This kind of confusion ends in impossible and conflicting theories. They should be avoided. The angel and the writer does everything except hit us over our wee little heads with the correct answers.