What does Revelation mean when it says to measure God's temple?

The book of Revelation is one of the most enigmatic and mysterious books in the Bible. It is filled with vivid imagery, symbolic language, and apocalyptic visions that have puzzled scholars and readers for centuries. One of the most intriguing passages in Revelation is found in chapter 11, where John is instructed to measure the temple of God. But what does this mean, and why is it important?

In Revelation 11:1-2, John writes: "Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, 'Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.'"

At first glance, this passage seems to be describing a literal measuring of a physical temple. However, many scholars believe that the temple referred to in this passage is not a physical building, but rather a symbol for the people of God. The temple is often used in the Bible as a metaphor for the community of believers, and this interpretation is supported by other passages in Revelation that use similar language to describe the people of God.

So what does it mean to "measure" the temple of God? In ancient times, measuring was often used as a way of marking out a boundary or claiming ownership of a piece of land. By measuring the temple, John may be symbolically marking out the boundaries of the community of believers, and claiming them as God's own possession. This would be consistent with other passages in Revelation that describe the people of God as a chosen and protected group.

Another possible interpretation of the measuring of the temple is that it represents a call to purification and sanctification. The temple was a place of worship and sacrifice, and was considered to be holy and set apart for God. By measuring the temple, John may be indicating that the people of God need to be purified and set apart for God's purposes. This interpretation is supported by other passages in Revelation that describe the people of God as a "holy nation" and a "royal priesthood."

Finally, the exclusion of the outer court and the reference to the Gentiles treading the holy city underfoot for forty-two months may be a reference to a period of persecution or testing that the people of God will undergo. The outer court may represent those who are not truly part of the community of believers, and who will be excluded from the protection and blessings of God. The reference to the Gentiles treading the holy city underfoot may be a reference to a time of persecution by non-believers, during which the people of God will be tested and refined.