It’s important to note that throughout the Tanakh and within rabbinical thought, numbers are seen as having both literal and metaphorical meaning. There is no need therefore to hold extreme positions where we require numbers to always be metaphorical or on the other hand always literal.
An examination of Revelation 11.
Revelation 11:1-14 both continues and concludes the interlude of the previous chapter in preparation for the blowing of the seventh shofar, which is the catalyst for the reign of G-d and His Messiah on earth.
This chapter of Revelation takes us from a place of preparation in anticipation of the seventh shofar, to an overview of the remainder of the book of Revelation. From verse 11 onward the writer changes to the past tense, as if all these things had already happened, however, with the exception of the anti-Messiah Antiochus Epiphanes (215 BCE – 164 BCE), there is no correlation to past events. Yochanan is speaking of events that will happen in his future with such assurance that he considers them to have already happened. This certainty is born of the consuming of the scroll and the subsequent stomach ache. Yochanan now continues with the task of prophesying according to the command of G-d through the voices of the thunders.
Seeing this chapter as a synopsis of the remainder of the book helps us to understand its role as a summary of future events and eliminates confusion over the tense usage and the chronology of the reign of G-d and His Messiah on earth.
a.) Verses 1-2: Yochanan is tasked with measuring the earthly temple (3rd physical earthly temple) with the exclusion of the court of the Nations. This is symbolic of G-d’s protection of the temple service and the Jewish people in the last days.
b.) Verses 3-6: The preaching of the two witnesses who come to challenge Israel and the world. Their subsequent deaths, followed by a miraculous resurrection, are the catalyst for the redemption of the remnant of Israel (The Jews, ethnic Romans 11:25).
c.) Verses 7-10: Details the first mention of the Beast and his emergence from the abyss. He is allowed a temporary victory, resulting in the death of the two witnesses.
d.) Verses 14-19: A first outline of the final triumph of the Messiah and the initial part of His reign. We then observe the rising up of the nations and their defeat, the judgement of the dead and the final establishment of G-d’s kingdom and of His Anointed One Yeshua the Messiah.
These events are explained succinctly here as an outline for the remainder of the book of Revelation.
11:1 Then there was given me a measuring reed like a staff (approx. half a metre); and someone said, “Get up and measure the temple of G-d and the altar, and those who worship at it. 2 Leave out the outer court of the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread underfoot the holy city for forty-two months (3 ½ years).
The meaning and symbolism of the act of measuring is found in the visions of the prophets Ezekiel, Zechariah and Amos (Ezekiel 40:3-6; Zechariah 2:1-5; Amos 7:7-9).
“In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was taken, on that same day the hand of HaShem was upon me and He brought me there. 2 In the visions of G-d He brought me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, and on it to the south there was a structure like a city. 3 So He brought me there; and behold, there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze, with a line of flax and a measuring reed in his hand; and he was standing in the gateway.” –Ezekiel 40:1-3
Ezekiel’s vision of measuring took place while he was in exile with the house of Israel, as a promise of future restoration. Yochanan is in the same position, exiled on Patmos while the remainder of Israel has fled the land of Israel following the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of Rome (70 AD). Yochanan’s vision, like Ezekiel’s, is a promise of restoration, both physical and spiritual (eternal).
“Thus He showed me, and behold, Hashem was standing by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand. 8 HaShem said to me, ‘What do you see, Amos?’ And I said, ‘A plumb line.’ Then HaShem said, ‘Behold I am about to put a plumb line
In the midst of My people Israel.
I will spare them no longer.
9 “The high places of Isaac will be desolated
And the sanctuaries of Israel laid waste.
Then I will rise up against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.’” –Amos 7:7-8
Amos’s vision prophesies destruction and desolation against Israel.
“Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a man with a measuring line in his hand. 2 So I said, “Where are you going?” And he said to me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see how wide it is and how long it is.” 3 And behold, the messenger who was speaking with me was going out, and another messenger was coming out to meet him, 4 and said to him, “Run, speak to that young man, saying, ‘Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls because of the multitude of men and cattle within it. 5 For I’ declares HaShem, ‘will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’” –Zechariah 2:1-5
Zechariah’s vision speaks of protection and of G-d coming to dwell among His people. G-d Himself will be a wall of fiery protection around Jerusalem.
Therefore measuring is used in a number of ways in the Tanakh:
1.) It’s used in preparation for destruction and desolation.
2.) It’s used in preparation for building and restoration.
3.) It’s used to designate an area and its people for protection and reconciliation.
While it’s true to say that all three meanings find some correlation in the events that follow, the primary meaning here is linked to the sealing of Rev. 7:2-3, which is a sealing of protection and identification (of the Jewish people) as a precursor to Israel’s reconciliation to G-d. Yochanan is instructed to measure the designated area of G-d’s protection over those who are faithful among the Jewish people. This is further inferred by the instruction not to measure the court of the nations which refers to those who resist both G-d and His purposes for His chosen people Israel (ethnic), the Jewish people.
Notice that the prophet is commanded to measure not only the temple and the altar (of sacrifice) but also those who worship at it. The purpose of the measurement is not to protect stone buildings but to defend the people (here specifically Jews who will become Messianic following the testimony of the two witnesses, their death, resurrection and ascension) who will become part of the body of Yeshua’s temple, both individually and corporately.
The, “someone” who gives Yochanan the measuring reed is most likely the Mighty Messenger of Revelation 10, Who is the nearest humanoid representative of HaShem in the text. A Messenger is inferred by the correlation to Ezekiel’s vision, where a man/messenger brings a measuring reed and is seen standing at the Temple gate:
“Behold, there was a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a levelling line
of string made from flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate.” –Ezekiel
The Psalmist speaks of the declaration of the glory of G-d as a measuring line that reveals the Word of G-d. This links the measuring of the Temple to the Messiah, Who is Himself the goal of the Torah (Romans 10:4) and the living Word made manifest.
“Their (The heavens) measuring line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of
the world. In them hath He (G-d) set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of
his chamber, and rejoices as a strong man to run his course. His going forth is from the end of the
heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. The
Instruction of HaShem is perfect, restoring the soul: the testimony of HaShem is sure, making wise
the simple. The precepts of HaShem are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of HaShem is
pure, illuminating the eyes. The fear (Awe) of HaShem is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of
HaShem are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yes, than much
fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is Your servant warned: in
keeping of them there is great reward.” –Tehilim/Psalm 19:4-11
The Temple of Verses 1-2:
The temple of verses 1-2 is the third earthly temple which has yet to be built. At some point in the future Israel will have re-established the sacrificial system, hence the text refers to the altar of sacrifice which is to be measured by Yochanan. The fact that this is an earthly temple is also qualified by the trampling of the outer court by the nations (Something that doesn’t occur in the heavens). This should not be confused with the time of the nations spoken of by Yeshua (Luke 21:24), which covers the last several thousand years since the destruction of the temple by Rome in 70 AD. In the context of Luke 21:24 Yeshua gives no reference to the number 42 months or to any of its correlations (3 ½ years, 1260 days, time, times and half a time).
The present context uses the phrasing 42 months rather than the idiom, “time, times and half a time” (Daniel 7:25, 12:7), because the text is describing a literal 42 months of rather than a metaphorical period. A metaphorical interpretation is unlikely because there has been no temple in Jerusalem for thousands of years, nor does the Church (who are referred to individually—1 Corinthians 6:19—and corporately—1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:21—as the temple) qualify as the temple of verses 1-2, because the context shows a sacrificial practice (something that from a Messianic perspective, was spiritually completed at the sacrificial death and resurrection of our Messiah). Additionally, there is a clear distinction made between the temple and it’s worshippers (Who we understand as being located in the land of Israel) and the Gentiles (not Jews); these distinctions are almost exclusively made throughout Scripture to show Israel (ethnic) as separate from the unbelieving nations (Gentile Christians don’t qualify for either group). It is also of worth noting that unlike the following chapter where the allegorical symbolism is called a, “sign”, the present text simply records an ongoing conversation with G-d (through His emissary). Therefore this temple is not metaphorical or allegorical. We know that Yochanan is referring to a temple yet to be built because the temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed some 20 years prior to the writing of the Revelation. This makes sense because like the prophet Zechariah, Yochanan is in exile with the knowledge that the temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed.
It’s important to note that throughout the Tanakh and within rabbinical thought, numbers (in this case, 42 months, 1260 days, 3 ½ days) are seen as having both literal and metaphorical meaning. There is no need therefore to hold extreme positions where we require numbers to always be metaphorical or on the other hand always literal. The context itself will qualify the correct interpretive method for the number in question. This is why we interpret the same number used in verse 3 (1260 days) to be metaphorical in the following chapter. It’s the prophetic platform and the greater meaning behind it (3 ½ is half complete—7) that links the various forms of the number 3 1/2, rather than their interpretation.
A wider understanding of the temple as a physical entity and a spiritual concept is helpful for contextualizing events in order to come to a logical interpretive conclusion.
The temples mentioned in the Scriptures are as follows:
1.) Solomon’s temple 1st (1 Kings 5-8)
2.) Z’rubabel’s temple 2nd (Haggai 1-2; Ezra 3:4-13)
3.) Herod’s temple, known as the rebuilt second temple (Matthew 21:21, 24:1-2; John 2:19-20)
4.) A future physical temple in the days of the Anti-Messiah, this is the temple referred to in verses 1 and 2 (Daniel 9:27, 11:45, 12:7; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 11:1-2)
5.) A future temple in the days of the Messiah (Ezekiel 40-48; Zechariah 6:12-15)
6.) The heavenly temple (Rev. 7:15, 11:19, 14:15-17, 16:17)
The noun temple is also used figuratively in Scripture:
1.) The community of believers (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:21)
2.) The physical body of a believer (1 Corinthians 6:19)
3.) G-d and the Lamb in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:22)
The picture of the nations defiling the temple and trampling on Jerusalem is a familiar one:
“O G-d, the nations have invaded Your inheritance;
They have defiled Your holy temple;
They have laid Jerusalem in ruins.” –Psalm 79:1
“Your holy people (Ethnic Israel) possessed Your sanctuary for a little while,
Our adversaries have trodden it down.” –Isaiah 63:18
Speaking of the abuse that the nations will bring against Israel Yeshua says:
“And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the nations until the times of the nations are fulfilled.” –Luke 21:24
This has been Israel’s experience perpetually through the centuries, however, in the present text we are reading about specific future event, a time when the opportunity for salvation among the people of the nations has come to an end. This is also the time Shaul/Paul spoke of when he said, “a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the nations has come in then the whole of Israel (ethnic Jews) will be saved.” Romans 11:25.
The trampling of the outer court and the city of Jerusalem may be a reference to the Anti-Messiah Antiochus Epiphanes who, along with his army, imposed great suffering upon the holy city and her people for approximately three and a half years circa 168-165 BCE. These are events that Yochanan was all too familiar with, events that were celebrated by Israel during the extra biblical feast of Chanukah (Feast of Dedication). One of the customs of this celebration is the giving of gifts to celebrate the destruction of Antiochus and his tormenting of the people of the land (Eretz Israel). The practices of Chanukah illuminate 11:10, where we see people of the land (of Israel), Jews, celebrating the deaths of the witnesses who had tormented Israel by giving gifts. The 3 ½ year historical reign of Antiochus doesn’t negate the future fulfilment of a final desecration of this type. Hebrew prophecy has a cyclical rhythm that allows for repeated fulfilments.
The three and a half year period is half of seven and symbolizes the inability of the nations to complete their goal of destroying G-d’s people and their worship practices. This number corresponds to the 1260 days (Rev. 11:3; 12:6), which is 30 days x 42 (According to the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar) and is also linked to the idiom, “time (1 year), times (2 years) and half a time (6 months)” of Daniel 7:25 and 12:7 (Rev. 12:14).
The number 42 is the number of the encampments of Israel in the wilderness, that is, Israel camped in 42 places during their sojourn (Numbers 33:5), it’s therefore a symbol of a temporary sojourn that envisions an eternal promise, that being the future time when G-d will dwell with His people in the New Jerusalem. That temple is outside of time and space and is revealed in the final verses of this present chapter, a temple that is G-d Himself.
Therefore the Daniel passage is the marker for qualifying the meaning, both literal and metaphorical, of the length of time for the trampling of the holy city by the nations, the prophesying of the two witnesses, the woman’s stay in the wilderness, and the Beast’s limited exercising of authority. All of these events leave the power of the enemy insufficient and fallen far short of the completion found in the number representing G-dly perfection and fulfilment (seven).
3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days (3 ½ years of 30 day months), clothed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the L-rd of the land.
The two witnesses are commonly thought to either be a metaphor for the Tanakh (OT) and the Gospels (NT), or the literal return of Elijah and Moses. However, both interpretations have their problems. A metaphorical reading can’t answer the death and resurrection of the two witnesses, nor can it properly qualify the subsequent conversion of those who see these events. With regard to the literal interpretation Moses doesn’t qualify for this role because the witnesses are killed and the Scriptures allow for a human being to die only once prior to the judgement (Hebrews 9:27, yes, even Lazarus died eventually and will be judged). We know the two witnesses did not come down from heaven like the messengers of previous chapters, however we’re not told where the two witnesses come from. We are told that they are reflected in the two olive trees of Zechariah’s vision and in the Menorot that stand before the L-rd of the land, which is a reference to the title given to HaShem (Zechariah 4:2, 3, 14).
Zechariah 2-4 show that the two olive trees are the, “anointed ones” (The two anointed positions in Israel are that of King and Priest: where a King was not in power the Governor of the time held the anointed position that a king would usually hold), those being Joshua the High Priest and Z’rubabel the governor of Israel (Haggai 2:2) who lived at the time of the return from exile and the building of the 2nd temple (Ezra 5:1-6:16). Joshua the High Priest is a type for Messiah (G-d with us) and it’s worth noting that Z’rubabel, whose name means, “pressed out for anointing” was absent from the story of the dedication of the 2nd temple (Ezra 6:16). These two figures died and were buried and are therefore types for the two witnesses rather than the witnesses themselves.
The symbolism of the olive trees is clear, the trees provide the oil for the temple Menorah and that oil is produced by the crushing of the olives. The two witnesses will be crushed (killed) and as a result will act as a catalyst for the provision of oil (The Ruach ha-Kodesh Holy Spirit) for the living temple Menorah of the people of Israel (ethnic Jews). There are two Menorot because having yet to die the witnesses have dwelt with Yeshua (outside of time) in the reflected light of HaShem’s heavenly Menorah (That is the sevenfold Spirit of G-d Himself) and having been given a ministry of witness on earth to the Jewish people they also reflect the earthly Menorah of the Jewish temple.
The two witnesses are clearly two literal people who, at G-d’s command, will become prominent as preachers in Jerusalem in the last days. We’ve determined that Moses can’t be one of the two witnesses. We’ve also agreed that the two witnesses must be human beings who have not yet tasted death. This leaves only two possibilities, Enoch (Dedication: Genesis 5:21-124; Hebrews 11:5) and Elijah (My G-d is YHVH: 2 Kings 2:1, 9-12).
The names of these two men correspond with the anointed olive trees of Zechariah’s vision in this way:
Enoch, whose name means, “dedication” stands in the place of Z’rubabel, who was not able to be present at the dedication of the 2nd Temple. This is a redemptive undertaking on the part of Enoch.
Elijah, whose name means, “My G-d is YHVH” is surely a representative of the Messiah, “YHVH with us”. He is also said to come before the return of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5-6).
5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way.
While it’s true that G-d can manifest any miracle He chooses in the lives of His servants, it’s unlikely that the fire from the mouths of the witnesses is literal fire. There is no physical correlation with any of the miracles of the prophets or the miracles of Yeshua. The one Scriptural reference that best identifies the fire from the witness’s mouths is found in the book of the prophet Jeremiah:
“Therefore, thus says HaShem, the G-d of hosts,
‘Because you have spoken this word,
Behold, I am making My words in your mouth fire
And this people wood, and it will consume them.’” –Jeremiah 5:14
Therefore, the fire is the word of G-d’s judgement in the mouths of the witnesses and those who seek to harm them fall prey to the hand of G-d’s wrath as spoken by the witnesses. Meaning they may die in many different ways based on the judgements spoken against them by G-d’s word in the mouths of the witnesses.
6 These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the land (eretz) with every plague, as often as they desire.
The ability to shut up the sky and prevent rain reflects the miraculous works of G-d through the prophet Elijah and the ability to turn the water to blood and strike the land with plagues refers back yet again to the plagues of Egypt (the land of bondage). These miraculous powers are important because they reflect the miracles that were intended to bring Israel to repentance and deliver her from bondage.
The fact that the miracles performed by Moses are mentioned does not in itself qualify Moses as a witness. Similar miracles are referred to in the previous chapters, those being delivered by angels (who are clearly not Moses). The purpose of the correlation to the miracles of Egypt is not to identify Moses (who died and was buried and is therefore awaiting the resurrection), but to remind the reader that the subplot of Messiah’s revelation is the freeing of Israel from bondage to slavery in Egypt, here shown as slavery to sin.
7 When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. 8 And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their L-rd was crucified.
There will be a set time for the testimony of the two witnesses and they will not be harmed until they’re finished, it is G-d that determines the time. The Beast, who, like the demonic hordes before him comes up out of the abyss, seems to be the same as the Anti-Messiah/Son of perdition (1 John 1:7, 2:18-19, 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Rev. 13:1-18; 14:8-11). This makes sense because the Beast’s form is spiritual from the Abyss and inhabits the humanoid form of the Anti-Messiah who is a physical person.
The death of the two witnesses is marked by the desecration of their bodies. Jewish tradition requires prompt burial, the leaving of the bodies on the land is considered by Jewish tradition to bring a curse on the land. Added to this is the fact that these events are taking place in Jerusalem, the holy city, where Jews are living and looking on, thus compounding the effect of the desecration. This is the type of treatment given to false prophets and vile rulers. The blood of these tzidikim (righteous ones) cries out to HaShem from the ground (Genesis 4:10: Deut. 21:1-9).
The city of Jerusalem, “where also their L-rd was crucified” is figuratively likened to Sodom and Egypt. This is a reference to the sinful, debauched lifestyle of many in Israel and the bondage that it brings them under.
Isaiah the prophet rebukes Israel with these words from G-d:
“Hear the word of HaShem,
You rulers of Sodom;
Give ear to the instruction of our G-d,
You people of Gomorrah.” –Isaiah 1:10
While the phrase, “their L-rd was crucified” could refer to the two witnesses, it’s more likely that it refers to the inhabitants of the city of Jerusalem, in other words, the Jewish people.
9 Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb.
The Gentiles who are present in Jerusalem will prevent any would be faithful Jews from burying the bodies (This brings to mind the Hassidim who collect body parts from the land following suicide bombings in Israel, in order to honour both G-d and the bodies of the victims).
10 And those who dwell in the land (Eretz Israel-Jews) will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the land.
The Greek, “ge” meaning, “soil, region, land, earth” is best rendered in terms of its Hebrew equivalent, “eretz” meaning, “land” and in this context refers specifically to, “Eretz Israel”, the Land of Israel.
A distinction is made here between the Gentiles of the previous verse and the Jews of the land. This is why the phrase, “those who dwell in the land” is used, it is synonymous with the Jewish people. The Am ha-aretz (people of the land). This means that many Jews will celebrate the deaths of what they perceive to be false prophets because of the plagues and resulting torment that the witnesses have prophesied over the land of Israel in order to bring her to repentance. This emulates the extra Biblical celebration of Chanukah, where gift giving is prominent. Remembering that Yochanan wrote in the first century AD, we must be careful not to attach modern Arab customs to this section of the text.
11 But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from G-d came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them. 12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them. 13 And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the G-d of heaven.14 The second woe is past; behold, the third woe is coming quickly.
“The breath of life from G-d” is a reference to the creation of Adam (Genesis 2:7). This is significant because G-d is about to bring to completion a new creation, which is secured in the Olam Habah (World to come).
“Then HaShem G-d formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” –Genesis 2:7
The resurrection of the witnesses causes great fear in their enemies because it demonstrates the reigning power and authority of G-d (1 Corinthians 2:14, 4:20, 6:14, 15:54-57). The ascension of the witnesses in the clouds reflects their Messiah’s ascension (Acts 1:9-11) and affirms their connection to Yeshua, Who Israel had mourned (Zechariah 12:10; Revelation 1:7). It’s also interesting to note that the 3 ½ days corresponds to the 3 ½ years of Messiah’s earthly ministry.
This resurrection miracle and the signs from G-d that follow are the catalyst for the redemption of Israel (Jews, ethnic) which was prophesied by Shaul/Paul the Apostle in Romans 11:25. Notice how the response of the people of the land (Jews) differs from that of the pagan nations of Rev. 9:20-21. The people of Israel understand these events to be signs from G-d and give Him glory as an act of contrition and repentance.
The phrase, “gave glory to G-d” is only used in Revelation to describe those who are either already in or are coming in to right relationship with G-d (Revelation 1:6; 4:9; 11; 5;12-13; 7:12; 15:4; 19:1, 7).
This mass repentance of the Jewish nation will dissolve the blindness of centuries of Jewish objection to Yeshua’s status as Messiah and will usher in the resurrection of the dead, the judgement and the Olam Habah (World to come).
The phrase, “coming quickly” is a reference back to Rev. 10:6, which tells us that following the sounding of the seventh shofar time will be up, “there will be time no more”.
15 Then the seventh messenger sounded (the seventh shofar); and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our L-rd and of His Messiah; and He will reign forever and ever.”
The Messianic kingdom promised at Revelation 1:5-8 and 6:10 is now being made manifest. The judgements and other events that bring about the overthrow of the world system begin here and continue through chapter 19, coming to a head at Revelation 19:6 with the words, “Hallelujah, HaShem the G-d of Heavens armies has begun His reign!”
16 And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before G-d, fell on their faces and worshiped G-d, 17 saying, “We give You thanks, O L-rd (YHVH - Merciful) G-d (Elohim - Judge), the Almighty (Shaddai – Guardian of Israel), Who is and Who was, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.
The cry of the 24 elders differs from their former praises in that they have removed the, “and is to come” from the Hebrew idiom denoting G-d’s eternal nature. This is because, “He has come” and, “there is time no more”, therefore He is and was!
The phrase, “Have begun to reign” doesn’t mean that G-d was not already King of the Universe, it simply refers to the manifest reign of G-d’s Kingdom on earth and the restoration of all things.
18 And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the set apart ones and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the land (Ha-eretz Israel).”
Verse 18 is a drash on Psalm 2 juxtaposing the wrath of G-d against the futile wrath of the nations who rage against Him and His people Israel (ethnic). The final phrase doesn’t refer to those who destroy the earth but to those who destroy the land of Israel (Eretz Israel).
“Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against HaShem and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs,
HaShem scoffs at them.
5 Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.” –Psalm 2:1-6
19 And the temple of G-d which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm.
This temple is the original form upon which the earthly temple (mentioned in verses 1-2) is modelled. The Ark of the Covenant is the symbol of G-d’s covenant promises to Israel and the representation of His guidance, mercy, glory and presence with her.
The earthly Ark (Exodus 25:10-22; Hebrews 9:4-5) is thought to have either been moved by Shishak King of Egypt or destroyed by the Babylonians, however, extra Biblical Jewish tradition says that it’s, “Hidden in its place” –Talmud, Yoma 53b
It is recorded that when the first Temple was destroyed, either Jeremiah (2 Maccabees 2:4-8) or an angel/messenger (2 Baruch 6:5-10) rescued the ark with its pot of manna, and both the ark and the manna are being kept for the days of the Messiah, when G-d’s people will eat manna once again.
The sighting of the Ark of the Covenant means the revealing of the heavenly holy of holies, which means G-d is revealing His hidden glory. This is an allusion to the fact that G-d is about to fulfil the promise He made through Jeremiah, saying that the people of Israel would no longer yearn for the return of the Ark of the covenant (physical earthly Ark) because G-d Himself would live among them.
“It shall be in those days when you are multiplied and increased in the land (Ha-eretz Israel),” declares HaShem, “they will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of HaShem.’ And it will not come to mind, nor will they remember it, nor will they miss it, nor will it be made again. 17 At that time they will call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of HaShem,’ and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of HaShem; nor will they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart. 18 In those days the house of Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers as an inheritance.” –Jeremiah 3:16-18
The G-d of Israel (ethnic Jews) has come to judge both the Land of Israel and all the earth in power, and unlike Sinai where the mountain was covered in cloud to protect Israel from His glory, this time the entire earth is the mountain and He is appearing with unveiled face. Hence, “there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm.”
The fullness of His glory will be made known to humanity and we will all stand before His unveiled face. Those who’re in Messiah will experience His radiant glory in the same way a shivering child experiences the warm light of the sun, and those who have rejected G-d will experience His glory like a fiery furnace in a waterless desert.
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” –1 Corinthians 13:12
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” –1 Corinthians 13:18
© 2015 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.