Monday, June 3, 2013

Measure the Temple of God and Those Worshipping Therein, Revelation 11:1-2

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.
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. (Revelation 11:1-2)
The rod given to John was a tool to measure distances in the temple to see how big or small it was.  Measuring the temple and the altar was meant to symbolize testing the people who worship there, which we see is also told us—“ measure…them that worship therein.”  The saints were to be tested to see if they would live up to their covenants and stay faithful to their testimony.  That the saints are to be tested is not new information at all, so this should be familiar.

In thinking a little bit more, it seems like the measuring and testing of the temple and altar has additional specific meaning.   Measuring the temple may mean that the temple is tested to see if it really can stand up to the forces of natural disasters around it. The temple may be spiritually tested to see if it really is a place of peace, rest, and refuge from the world.

In John’s day, the altar was a place where worshipers offer their offerings, so to measure the altar may mean that the offerings are tested to see if they are offered with real intent.  It may also mean that saints are tested to see if they are willing to give of their offerings amid so much difficulty.  In modern temples, the altars are a place where families are united for eternity, so to test the altars may mean that the marriages and families formed there are tested to their limits to see if they have the power to last.  Covenants are made at altars, so the strength of covenants will be tested.

We are also told that the court outside the temple is not to be measured and that it belongs to the Gentiles.  This is meant to tell us that what tests the saints will not even be noticed by the rest of the world; they won’t be tested by whatever it is because they won’t even care about the principles under question.  We are told the Gentiles will tread the holy city under foot for a period of time, which sounds rather violent and scary, but there are additional ways of viewing it.  Nephi has something to say about one meaning.
For the things which some men esteem to be of great worth, both to the body and soul, others set at naught and trample under their feet. Yea, even the very God of Israel do men trample under their feet; I say, trample under their feet but I would speak in other words—they set him at naught, and hearken not to the voice of his counsels. (1 Nephi 19:7)
Nephi equates trampling or treading under the feet to mean setting at naught, hearkening not, ignoring, and disregarding the importance of something.  We know what that is like; we have seen how the principles of consecration, chastity, obedience, and sacrifice are ignored in society today.  Part of the test is to stay true to our covenants even though others around us don't share our values.

I just hope that if/when the day comes that we are tested with threats of violence like the saints in Missouri, we can pass the test and be just as true.