6. a. John was asked to measure the Temple and the altar.
The angel gave John a reed to use as a measuring device. (Ezekiel 40:3) The voice out of heaven instructed John to count the number of worshipers.
“But do not measure the outer courtyard, for it has been turned over to the nations (Strongs: Gentiles, heathen, people).” Revelation 11:2 NLT
This directive must refer to the temple in Jerusalem and presumes it still existed at the time of the vision and at the time the events prophesied will take place. (In my view as well as others.)
b. The Courtyard
“It has been turned over to the nations. They will trample the holy city for 42 months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will be clothed in burlap and will prophesy during those 1,260 days.” Revelation 11:2b-3 NLT
Adam Clarke’s Commentary. (He thought the time period was symbolic.)
But the court—is given unto the Gentiles—The measuring of the temple probably refers to its approaching destruction, and the termination of the whole Levitical service; and this we find was to be done by the Gentiles, (Romans), who were to tread it down forty-two months; i.e., just three years and a half, or twelve hundred and sixty days.
This description details exactly what happened during the Jerusalem siege by the Romans from 66-70 AD. Daniel prophesied the destruction of the Jewish nation in the vision of the 70 weeks (Daniel 9:24-27). The prophecy concerns the Jews and Jerusalem according to Daniel 9:24, “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city.” Notice verse 26 in particular.
And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. (Daniel 9:26 ESV)
7 . God gave the two witnesses power to defend themselves with deadly force.
They have power to shut the sky so that no rain will fall for as long as they prophesy. And they have the power to turn the waters* into blood, and to strike the earth* with every kind of plague as often as they wish. Rev 11:5-6 NLT
The Greek word translated as rivers and oceans in some versions just means waters according to Strongs.
The Greek word translated as earth in most versions again also means soil, land, country, and ground according to Strongs. Should we assume it meant the entire planet?
Who are the two witnesses? (The assignment does not include this question.)
“I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl of oil on top of it. Around the bowl are seven lamps, each having seven spouts with wicks. And I see two olive trees, one on each side of the bowl.” Zechariah 4:2-3 NLT
Then I asked the angel, “What are these two olive trees on each side of the lampstand, and what are the two olive branches that pour out golden oil through two gold tubes?”
“Don’t you know?” he asked.
“No, my lord,” I replied.
Then he said to me, “They represent the two anointed ones who stand in the court of the Lord of all the earth.” Zechariah 4:11-14 NLT
The context of the passages above may refer to Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest. The angel expected Zechariah to know what they represented.
We will likely deal with this in a future lesson. But I’m curious now!
8. It’s encouraging that God gave the two witnesses power to defend themselves.
God also defended Paul. He survived shipwrecks, prison, stoning, snake bites, beatings, cold, hunger, etc. 2 Corinthians 23-27 Paul persevered and God preserved his life until he completed his assignment.