The Investigative Judgment
The last verse of chapter 10, states that the Advent Movement “must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings” (Rev. 10:11). The next chapter begins with the word, “And…” In this case, grammatically, the word ‘and’ is a conjunctive, which means two things are being joined together. The two things that are being joined together are; 1. The commission to prophesy again, and 2. The message that needs to be prophesied. In other words, there should not be a chapter division here. The first verses of chapter 11, contextually are an integral part of chapter 10. [There were no chapter or verse divisions in the original Greek, these were put in later, by scholars using their best judgment. However, sometimes the divisions chosen, hinder the understanding by making an artificial division, where there should be no division].
Measuring the Temple
The message that needs to be preached to the whole world is the ‘measuring’ of the temple and those who are in the temple:
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 alter, and them that worship therein. Rev. 11:1.
In the Old Testament, the temple was literal. In the New Testament, the temple is spiritual/symbolic. In the New Testament the temple is a symbol for the people of God (see; Acts 15:1-16; 1 Cor. 3:16, 17; 6:19; Eph. 2:11-22). And the New Testament temple is constructed of people, each individual portrayed symbolically as a ‘living stone’ in the edifice (see 1 Pet. 2:5).
Therefore, because the New Testament temple is the people of God, when the instruction is given to measure the temple, it is not a literal temple that is to be measured – it is the people of God, that are to be measured. In other words, because we are dealing with a spiritual temple, the ‘measuring’ is also spiritual/symbolic – the ‘measuring’ is symbolic of judgment. That the ‘measuring’ is judgment, is confirmed elsewhere in Scripture. For example, we already know that prophecy is organized along the lines of type and anti-type. And there is a clear and obvious type, in the Old Testament, that teaches, at a certain time in the history of the plan of salvation, that judgment would begin. That Old Testament type, is the Day of Atonement. All the Jewish festivals were commemorative, but they were also prophetic, pointing forward to antitypical fulfillments in the future. The Day of Atonement is no exception. The Day of Atonement teaches us that at some point in the history of the world judgment of God’s people would begin. The prophecies of Daniel, especially the prophecy of the 2300 years (see Dan. 8 & 9), tell us when Jesus would move His location, from the holy place to the most holy place and the judgment would begin. This is the message (and as a consequence of the judgment, the soon coming of Christ), that the Advent people have been commissioned to preach to the whole world.
It is evident, that judgment is being carried out, because John is given a measuring instrument, and instructed to measure, the temple of God, and the altar, and the people around the altar. The altar is where the sinner obtains forgiveness for his sins. It represents the cross where the antitypical Lamb was sacrificed. Therefore, the people in the temple around the altar, are those that are trusting in Christ for their salvation. The command to ‘measure’ them must refer to finding out whether their faith, in Christ, has been genuine or not. Jesus said:
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matt. 7:16-23.
At some point in the history of the world, it must be determined, who are the genuine believers in Christ [those who do the will of the Father, as Christ Himself did]. It is not enough that we claim to know Jesus. The more crucial question is: “Does Jesus know me?” And the only way, that Jesus is going to acknowledge us, is if we have kept His commandments. Therefore, it has to be determined, whether we have done the Father’s will and kept His commandments. James agreed with Jesus, “faith if it hath not works is dead” (James 2:17). There has to be an investigation, to see if faith produced the right works (the right ‘fruit’) – because the works, are the evidence of a genuine faith in Christ.
Rebuilding the Temple
The instruction to measure the temple, is reminiscent of the measuring of Jerusalem, presented in visions to Zechariah (see Zech. 2:1-13, cf. Eze. 40:3; Rev. 21:15). The purpose of the measuring in Zechariah, is the rebuilding and restoration of Jerusalem, and it particular the temple. The reason for the measuring by John, is the same as in Zechariah. This is also a time of rebuilding. But in John’s case it is not the rebuilding of a literal temple but the spiritual temple. In John’s case it is the fulfillment of the prophecy announced by the prophet Amos (see Amos 9:11; Acts 15:1-16). It is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah (see Zech. 6:12, 13). As prophesied by Zechariah, Jesus is the Priest/King, sitting on the throne in Heaven, rebuilding the temple.
The rebuilding of the temple, has two major components. The people of God are scattered everywhere. A major portion exists scattered among the four churches that exist now and continue to the end of time – Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. Another portion exists in the world, because the close of probation has not closed yet, and all in the world still have a chance to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and accept Jesus. The rebuilding of the temple is achieved by directing all who accept Jesus to congregate in the Philadelphia Church. The Philadelphia Church is the Temple of God:
Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. Rev. 3:12.
Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. Rev. 7:15.
And as we were about to enter the holy temple, Jesus raised His lovely voice and said, “Only the 144,000 enter this place,” and we shouted, “Alleluia.” EW 18.
These verses are all telling the same story. The Philadelphia Church, the 144,000 and the Great Multitude are all the same people (as are the Remnant and the Advent Movement). These verses tell us that the Philadelphia Church, the 144,000, the Great Multitude, the Remnant and the Advent Movement all have a special relationship with Jesus and the Temple (not only on earth, but also in heaven and the new earth). The reason is because the Philadelphia Church, the 144,000, the Great Multitude, the Remnant and the Advent Movement are the ‘first fruits.’
The First Fruits
Scripturally, the first fruits of the harvest were dedicated as an offering to God (see Ex. 23:16; Neh. 10:35-37). The first converts in a city or regional area were also called the ‘first fruits’ (see Rom. 16:5;). The original disciples, who joined and established the Church of Jesus Christ considered themselves as ‘first fruits’ (see James 1:18). We are told that Jesus Himself is also a ‘first fruit’ – “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). Finally, we are told that the 144,000 are ‘first fruits:’
These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they w hich follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. Rev. 14:4.
They are called the ‘first fruits’ because they are the first fruits of the harvest (see Rev. 14:12-20). They are also the ‘first fruits’ from the earth. But they are also the ‘first fruits’ of the re-building of the Temple. This is why they are called the ‘first fruits’ – “unto God and the Lamb” – because they represent the finished construction of the Temple. Because they are the ‘finished’ construction, they obtain special recognition and privileges, such as being the only redeemed to enter the temple, with Jesus.
Discovering the Investigative Judgment
The Advent believers calculated, the 2300-year prophecy in Daniel 8:14, to end on October 22, 1844. The mistake they made was not the time period. It was the event to take place in 1844, that they got wrong – they got the time right, but the event wrong. They understood the phrase “then shall the sanctuary be cleansed” (Dan. 8:14), to refer to the earth – they mistakenly believed, that the sanctuary was the earth. And the only reference to the earth being cleansed, that they could find in Scripture was by fire – which they equated to the second coming of Christ. Therefore, they reasoned, that the cleansing of the sanctuary, must refer to the second coming of Christ.
God held His hand over this mistake, to test the people’s faith. John was not allowed, to write down what the seven thunders said. Nevertheless, diligent Bible study, enabled the Advent believers to reconsider their position and enabled them to understand the mistake they had made. Subsequently, they understood, that Jesus had indeed moved His location – not to earth – but from the holy place to the most holy place in heaven. They discovered further, that the reason Jesus entered into the most holy place, was to begin the final phase of His ministry in heaven – the investigative judgment.
They also understood, that they were fulfilling the prophecy of Revelation chapter ten and the first verses of chapter eleven. John was told to, “Rise and measure the temple of God.” This was a command to put the ‘great disappointment’ behind them and to study and understand the sanctuary service, and when the Advent believers did this, they also understood that the reference to: “and the altar and them that worship there” is referring to the beginning of the investigative judgment. Ellen White’s comments on measuring the temple include:
The grand judgment is taking place, and has been going on for some time. Now the Lord says, Measure the temple and the worshippers thereof. Remember when you are walking the streets about your business, God is measuring you; when you are attending your household duties, when you engage in conversation, God is measuring you… Here is the work going on, measuring the temple and its worshippers to see who will stand in the last day. Those who stand fast shall have an abundant entrance into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. SDABC Vol. 7, p. 972.
Only those who have professed a faith in Christ, appear in the investigative judgment. Those who remain (spiritually) in the courtyard are excluded from the judgement.
The Court Which is Without the Temple
While those who congregate around the altar (those who profess faith in Christ) are judged at this time. Those who congregate in the “court which is without the temple,” are not judged:
But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles. Rev. 11:2.
The “court which is without the temple” is not the courtyard of the sanctuary. We are specifically told that this court, is ‘without the temple,’ which means it is not part of the temple complex. The altar (where the people are worshipping) is in the temple courtyard, which makes this courtyard an integral part of the temple complex. Thus, the prophecy is making a clear and distinctive difference between two courtyards.
The reason why the prophecy wants to make a clear distinction between the two courtyards, is because each courtyard contains two distinctly different congregations. The two distinctions between these two congregations are, that one is judged, at this time and the other is not.
When the original sanctuary service was set up, there was a wide gap between the wall of the sanctuary and the first line of tents. The purpose of the wide gap was to emphasis the distance between heaven and the world – the distance between sin and holiness – the distance between God and man. This wide gap is the “court which is without the temple.” When the permanent temple was built in Jerusalem, this wide gap was incorporated into the construction in the form of a preliminary courtyard. It became known as the ‘outer courtyard’ whereas the courtyard containing the altar and the wash basin was known as the ‘inner courtyard.’
There were strict rules and regulations governing conduct and ceremony in the temple. One of the rules was that Gentiles were allowed into the outer courtyard, but they could not proceed further. Entry into the inner courtyard was strictly forbidden. Only God’s people could enter the inner courtyard and congregate around the altar and worship there. Therefore, the prophecy says that the “courtyard which is without the temple” is ‘given’ unto the Gentiles. This means that those who have not professed faith in Jesus are congregated there, in the outer courtyard. Therefore, because they have not professed faith, they are not judged at this time. Their time for judgment comes after the second coming and after the millennium (see Rev. 20:4, 12-15).
The 1260 Years
The period of papal supremacy, was the period of 1260 years, foretold by the prophets, seven times in Scripture (twice in Daniel and five times in Revelation). Two of these references to the 1260 years are included in the beginning of chapter 11:
But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. Rev. 11:1-3.
One of the chief purposes of prophecy is to outline the struggle between God’s Kingdom and Satan’s Kingdom (see Eph. 6:11, 12). The purpose of the 1260 years prophecy, is to bring this struggle into sharp focus 9this is why it is mentioned seven times). When Jesus started His ministry on earth, He sowed the seed of the Kingdom of God, for three and a half literal years. Satan is ‘given’ (allowed) three and a half spiritual years to destroy the seed. Jesus spoke about this time as being a ‘time of tribulation:’
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Matt. 24:21, 22.
It is because of this intense 1260 years of death and destruction, that the prophecy in Rev. 11, speaks of the two witnesses ‘prophesying in sackcloth,’ because sackcloth is a symbol for death and mourning. It is also because of this death and destruction that the prophesy says, that the Holy City is trodden underfoot.
The Treading of the Holy City
The literal Holy City (Jerusalem) becomes a symbol for the Church or the people of God: “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2). And just as the Gentiles trod down the literal Holy City (the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans 70AD), so too, do the Gentiles tread down the spiritual Holy City (God’s people/church) for 1260 years.
There are two parts to the treading of the Holy City. The first one is physical/literal. The physical/literal treading down was prophesied by Daniel:
I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them… and shall wear out the saints of the most High… and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time… and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. (Dan. 7:21, 25; 8:24).
The other aspect of the treading down was doctrinal. Even in Paul’s time he wrote: “For we are not as many which corrupt the word of God” (2 Cor. 2:17). And this too, was prophesied by Daniel:
And he shall speak great words against the most High,,, and a mouth that spake very great things… and think to change times and laws… and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered. (Dan. 7:20, 25; 8:12).
Thus, the treading down, was done during the supremacy of the ‘Little Horn’ power and it had great success. However, Jesus said the 1260 years would be cut short (see Matt. 24:22). The Little Horn power received a ‘deadly wound’ (see Rev. 13:3), which caused the intensity of the persecution to cease. This persecution pause, allowed Bible distribution and Bible study to prosper and grow, and this revival of interest in the Bible, was the impetus for the Advent Movement. And the Advent Movement has now become the ‘tip of the spear’ for the preaching of the last message (present truth) to the world.
Just as God’s last church, is depicted as the sixth, in the series of seven churches, and just as the same church is depicted as the sixth, in the seven seals, so too, is the same church depicted as the sixth in the time periods of the seven trumpets. The Bible is telling the same story in different ways. In the seals, God’s people, are presented in a parenthesis, between the sixth and seventh seals, in the same manner, God’s people are presented in a parenthesis, between the sixth and seventh trumpets. The purpose is to inform us, that when the seventh trumpet begins to ‘sound’ the work depicted as, “you must prophecy again” would begin. This ‘work’ conducted by the Advent people would result in the ‘mystery of God’ being finished. To facilitate the ‘mystery of God’ being finished, first adds the role of Judge to His role as High Priest, then He changes roles again from Judge to King. As King, He then come back, take the Philadelphia Church, the 144,000, the Great Multitude, the Remnant, the Advent people and all the resurrected saints home.