And there was given me a reed like to a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar…
I. ITS PECULIARITY. By "the temple of God," which John is commanded to measure, understand the true Church of Christ. The altar of incense is named, to denote the militant state of the Church, whose employment is prayer; in distinction from that of the Church triumphant, which is praise. The censer is in the hand of the "kings and priests unto God" below, the harp is in the hands of those above. That the measurement is to be confined to the altar and worshippers within the temple is obvious also from the refusal of its extension to the court; "But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not." If whatever is without the temple be precluded from the measurement, all that to which it applies must of course be considered within.
II. ITS MEASUREMENT. Rise and see how far we have proceeded with the prophecies. Observe in what state we left the Church l Let a correct measurement be taken before we proceed further. Measure how far the building is advanced, and see what remains to bring it to perfection. See what injuries the temple of God has sustained from fierce and sanguinary attacks. It has suffered much, but behold it still abides. See now what the work is, after weathering its storms. "Rise and measure the temple of God." Measure too the altar. Take the dimensions of the altar of incense which has been reared for prayer and praise. Take the degree of faith in the everliving Intercessor. Measure the devotions of the sanctuary. Mark the plenitude and purity of the incense rising before the throne. Measure too the worshippers. Observe the number of professing Christians. Measure the spiritual stature, and gauge the heart of each one. Measure them that worship therein. There must be a certain breadth, and length, and depth, and height of character. There must be a certain depth of humility and self-renunciation, a certain height of faith and devotion, a certain length of integrity and zeal. View them as worshippers, and there is a certain height to which they must attain, in feeble imitation of the dignity of Him that sits upon the throne. The breadth of the believer's principles, the depth of his emotions, a certain breadth of sincerity and charity, the length of his hopes, the height of his joys, are far beyond the narrow bounds within which his whole being was formerly confined. His soul is enlarged. He is created anew in Christ Jesus. He has risen above this earth, and has attained a spiritual stature that brings him into fellowship with the Father, and with His son Jesus Christ. His conversation is in heaven.
III. THE DESECRATION OF THE COURT BY THE GENTILES is the remaining particular in relation to this temple. This court is nominal Christianity, which now, for the first time, began to assume a distinct character. It was the necessary consequence of an alliance between the Church and the world, it has been far more prejudicial to the real interests of the Church than the most virulent persecution. This court is further said to be "given unto the Gentiles." It remains only to speak of the court being given unto the Gentiles, and the holy city to be trodden under foot. "I will give power," it is afterwards said, "unto My two witnesses and they shall prophesy clothed in sackcloth." It brings before us the permission of the awful reign of anti. christian darkness, for the development of the whole principles of evil in contrast with good. It coincides with the surrender of the Church by God, to that ardent desire for worldly conformity which the severest chastisements had failed to repress. They would not retain the gospel in its simplicity, but would rely upon an arm of flesh; therefore God suffered them to be spoiled by thieves and robbers, who entered not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbed up some other way.
Parallel VersesKJV: And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.