Verses 1–3: The Sanctuary
The Sanctuary is the key to understanding: This disappointed yet blessed movement could not prophesy again unless they first measured or studied the temple of God, its furniture, and services. The light resulting from this study would furnish the inspiration for the giving of the new message. The command to “rise” indicates that the Advent people were cast down with sorrow and disappointment. They were to “rise” up and measure, study, investigate, and critically examine the subject of the temple of God.
The study was done by a “reed like unto a rod.” With this reed, they were to “measure” the temple, its furniture, and its worshipers. The only way they could measure the heavenly Sanctuary was to study the furniture, services, priests, and penitents of the earthly Sanctuary. We are told that the earthly Sanctuary was but a type or shadow of the heavenly.
“For if He were on earth, He should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things [the earthly temple being a shadow or copy of the heavenly temple], as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith He, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee on the mount [Mount Sinai.” Hebrews 8:4, 5
Their study of the Sanctuary question revealed that there was a heavenly Sanctuary and that Christ had entered the Most Holy Place on the day of their great disappointment. They now knew that their Savior and Lord had embarked upon the special work of judging humanity and cleansing His people from every defilement.
The court not included: The faithful Advent believers were commanded not to measure the court, for it was given to the Gentiles, having been trampled by them for 42 prophetic months. The court of the heavenly Sanctuary was not measured because it was disconnected with the Sanctuary proper, and would be under the control of the enemies of God for 42 prophetic months, or 1260 literal years. This period of time is always applied to the Papacy. See Daniel 7:25, 26; 8:10–14; Revelation 12:6, 14; 13:5–7.
What was given into the hands of the Papacy for 1260 years, and what did they trample under foot? It was the saints that were given into their hands and were trampled or persecuted for 1260 years. See Daniel 7:21, 25. In Daniel 8:13, we are told that they would trodden under foot the Sanctuary and the host. Here again we see them trampling the people of God (the “host”). In addition, they are said to be trampling upon the Sanctuary of God.
How did the Papacy trample upon the heavenly Sanctuary?
They did so through a false priesthood, false temple, and false services. After all, did not Paul warn us that the “man of sin” would sit in the temple of God pretending that he is God? See 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4. The Papacy has a counterfeit system to the priestly ministry of Jesus Christ. Instead of directing the attention of worshipers to the true tabernacle which the Lord built, the Papacy draws people’s attention to the Mass and confessional, a false mediatorial system.
Clothed in sackcloth: For those 1260 years of Papal control the “two witnesses,” the Old and New Testaments, were clothed in sackcloth. This indicates that the work of the Papacy greatly restricted the light of the gospel. In fact, the Papacy was so antagonistic to God’s Word that the true church needed to flee into the wilderness during this period of time. See Revelation 12:6, 14.
“The sublime and simple theology of the primitive Christians was gradually corrupted; and the monarchy of heaven, already clouded by metaphysical subtleties, was degraded by the introduction of a popular mythology, which tended to restore the reign of polytheism ... The Christians of the seventh century had insensibly relapsed into a semblance of paganism; their public vows were addressed to the relics and images that disgraced the temples of the East; the throne of the Almighty was darkened by a cloud of martyrs, and saints, and angels, the objects of popular veneration.” Gibbon’s Roman Empire, Volume 4, chapter 49.
“The suppression of the Scriptures under the dominion of Rome, the terrible results of that suppression, and the final exaltation of the Word of God, are vividly portrayed by the prophetic pencil. To John the exile on lonely Patmos was given a view of the 1260 years during which the papal power was permitted to trample upon God’ Word and oppress His people. Said the angel of the Lord: ‘The Holy City (the true church) 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 three score days, clothed in sackcloth.’ The periods here mentioned are the same, alike representing the time in which God’s faithful witnesses remained in a state of obscurity.” Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, page 267, 356.
During the Dark Ages the true church of Christ was “cast down to the ground and stamped upon” by the same apostate Papal power that has also “cast down the truth to the ground.” See Daniel 8: 10–13.
The two witnesses: The two witnesses are said to be represented or symbolized by “the two olive trees” and “the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.” These are symbols drawn from Zechariah 4:1–6; 11–14. They are said to represent “the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” The power that anoints is the Holy Spirit. The two things that the Holy Spirit has anointed to help God’s people see are the Old and New Testaments.
“From the two olive trees the golden oil was emptied through the golden pipes into the bowl of the candlesticks, and thence into the golden lamps that gave light to the sanctuary. So from the holy ones that stand in God’s presence His Spirit is imparted to the human instrumentalities who are consecrated to His service. The mission of the two anointed ones is to communicate to God’s people that heavenly grace which alone can make His word a lamp to the feet and light to the path.” Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, 408
“The Word is the preacher’s light, and as the golden oil flows from the heavenly olive trees into the bowl, it makes the lamp of life flash with a clearness and power that all will discern.” Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers, 340
Jesus is the “faithful witness,” and it is the Word of God that testifies of Him. Jesus is the Word of God, “and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1:14. We are God’s witnesses, who live and breathe by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. See Luke 4:4. David said, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105.
Verses 5, 6: Word of God
Divine Retribution: To war against the Word is to war against God, and specifically against Jesus whom the Word testifies of, and the Holy Spirit who inspired it. Imagine someone warring against Jesus, the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit!
By trampling upon the Word and the people of God, the Papal power faces an awful day in the day of judgment. This would be true of any power or individual who performs such devilish work. The Bible says, “he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword.” Revelation 13:11. Whatever the enemies of God’s Word mete out, it will be returned to them. The Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword and will triumph over anything evil and false.
Sackcloth removed: The prediction that the two witnesses would testify for 1260 years in sackcloth indicates that at the close of that period the restriction would be removed and light from God’s Word would be shed abroad. As soon as the Papacy received her deadly wound in 1798, Bible societies in both Britain and America sprang up. The Word of God was spread throughout the world as never before. Then, of course, there was the great Advent movement inspired by the book of Daniel being opened and the increased light shed upon Christ’s high priestly ministry.
Verses 7–11: Atheistic Power
Just prior to the deadly wound of the Papal power in 1798, another power would emerge to war against the Word. It was a beast or political power that rose out of the bottomless pit. Any nation that comes from the bottomless pit proves that it has no foundation upon eternal principles. In other words, it has a false foundation or premise. It is not based on the Word of God. Other powers said to come from a bottomless pit are the Papacy described as a scarlet colored beast (Revelation 17:3, 8), and the Mohammedan powers described under the fifth trumpet (Revelation 9:2).
The Papacy has as its foundation their own traditions. These she places above the Word of God. The Mohammedans have as their foundation the Koran, a religious book that they place above the Bible.
This political power that comes out of a bottomless pit is symbolically or spiritually called “Sodom and Egypt.” Sodom is symbolic of moral degeneration. Egypt is symbolic of an atheistic nation. Ever since Pharoah of Egypt denied the existence of the God of Israel (Exodus 5:2), Egypt has been used in Bible prophecy to represent atheistic powers like the Soviet Union. See Daniel 11:40.
“The ‘great city’ in whose streets the witnesses are slain, and where their dead bodies lie, ‘is spiritually Egypt.’ Of all the nations presented in Bible history, Egypt most boldly denied the existence of the Living God, and resisted His commands. No monarch ever ventured upon more open and highhanded rebellion against the authority of heaven than did the king of Egypt. When the message was brought him by Moses, in the name of the Lord, Pharoah proudly answered, ‘Who is Jehovah, neither will I let Israel go.’ This is atheism; and the nation represented by Egypt would give voice to a similar denial of the claims of the living God, and would manifest a like spirit of unbelief and defiance.
The ‘great city’ is also compared, ‘spiritually,’ as Sodom. The corruption of Sodom in breaking the law of God was especially manifested in licentiousness. And this sin was also to be a pre-eminent characteristic of the nation that should fulfill the specifications of this scripture. . . . This specification of the prophecy was also fulfilled by France. In no land had the spirit of enmity against Christ been more strikingly displayed. In no country had the truth encountered more bitter and cruel opposition. In the persecution which France had visited upon the confessors of the gospel, she had crucified Christ in the person of His disciples.” Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, 269. 273
Towards the end of the 1260 years of Papal supremacy, the atheistic French Revolution denied the existence of God, ushered in the Age of Reason, and in 1793 passed a resolution forbidding the use of the Bible. Exactly three and one-half years later the resolution was abolished and the Bible was again permitted in France. Amazingly, Inspiration predicted the death of the two witnesses for three and one half prophetic days. See Revelation 11:9, 11.
“By the decree of the French Government, declaring that the nation acknowledged God, the Old and New Testaments were slain throughout the limits of Republican France.... On the 1st of November, 1793, Gobet, with the Republican priests of Paris, had thrown off the gown, and abjured Religion.” George Croly, The Apocalypse of St. John, 175–177.
“In 1793, the decree passed the French Assembly suppressing the Bible. Just three years after, a resolution was introduced into the Assembly going to supersede the decree, and giving toleration to the Scriptures. That resolution lay on the table six months, when it was taken up, and passed without a dissenting vote .... On the the 17th of June.” George Storrs, Midnight Cry, May 4, 1843, vol. 4, num. 5–6; 47.
Support for the atheistic French Revolution fulfilling the power here spoken of is:
It is a beast or political power.
It is an atheistic power.
It was known for her moral degeneracy.
She appeared at the end of the 1260 year prophecy.
The main topic under discussion is the Word of God, which this atheistic revolution fought against.
The Bible was symbolically killed for exactly three and one half years in France.
The atheistic French Revolution certainly was founded upon a bottomless pit.
Verses 11–13: The Triumph of God’s Word
Immediately after the death of the two witnesses in France, the Word of God fell like the leaves of autumn in the following century. The British Bible Society was organized in 1804; the American Bible Society followed in 1816. Translated in over 1500 languages, the Bible remains today the world’s number one best-seller.
Following the atheistic French Revolution, the Bible was symbolically resurrected and ascended to heaven. The enemies of God could not keep it from becoming the most popular book ever written. As a result, a tenth part of the city fell. In other words, France, one of the ten divisions of Rome, was defeated by the Bible.
Verses 14–19: The Seventh Trumpet
When does the seventh trumpet begin? These verses are discussed in Revelation chapter nine.
The great Advent movement has started. God does have a people in the world that have eaten the book of Daniel. They are proclaiming His soon return. They have studied the Sanctuary and the mediatorial work of Christ in the heavenly Sanctuary. They are cooperating with heavenly agencies to rid themselves of all sin. How about you?
Would you like to be part of God’s last-day movement?
Are you willing to eat God’s Word and make it a part of you?
Are you willing to share the truths that you find with others?