A Journal for Bible Teachers

Being Measured at the Altar

Being Measured at the Altar

“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” (Revelation 11:1).

The temple that the apostle was told to measure did not exist in his day. In fact, there was no temple at the time of John’s exile to Patmos. The temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed 15-20 years earlier. The temple being referred to here is literal, and it has literal implications for Israel just prior to the Second Coming.


The Spiritual Temple

The application that we want to glean from this text is for the church. The church is the spiritual temple. The Lord has carefully measured His temple throughout the generations. We see an example of this when the Lord made His first appearance in the temple (John 2:14-16). Christ went into the temple with a whip, driving out the beasts and the moneychangers. There were many things that were out of order in this “house.” Three years later, Christ returned to take another measure – to see if things had been corrected (Mark 11:11). Nothing had changed, thus sealing their fate as a nation.

Christ has measured His temple from the foundation that the apostles laid, through the end of the first century and even to this present time. Yet, in these last days it is with particular attention that Christ measures His “House.” The reason, of course, is that this House must come to completion and radiate the splendor of its Builder. I think that we could draw a parallel to our days by a statement that the prophet Amos made in Amos 7:8: “I will set a plumb line in the midst of my people…” What the Lord was saying was that He would not overlook their sins, nor gloss over their errors any longer. The Lord demands a house that measures to His standard!


The Altar is Measured

In the second part of our text, the altar is measured. The altar speaks of God’s standard of worship. God is very precise about the type of worship that He receives, and He gave very precise measurement to His altar. In the beginning of Israel’s journey (at Sinai), an altar was constructed that measured 5 x 5 x 3 cubits (Exodus 27:1). At the end of their journey, (Solomon’s temple) another altar was constructed that was 20 x 20 x 10 cubits (2 Chronicles 4:1). The altar at the end of their journey was of far greater dimension than at the beginning. The (latter) measurements speak of maturity, completeness, and order.

The point is that God demands a far greater commitment from His saints at the end of their experience than at the beginning. God is expecting more from the last-day church, than the early church (Ephesians 4:13).


The Worshipper is Measured

In the third part of our text verse, the worshipper is being measured. Does he measure to the dimensions that the altar demands? Today, some of the worship that is being offered up is deplorable ,and yet the reason for this is because the life of the worshipper is deplorable, – they are not a true worshipper! At the end of the first century, Christ was measuring the various churches of Asia province.

He commends the church at Ephesus for their character. He lauds their hatred of evil, their labor, and their patience. Indeed, this was a very good church. Their walk was flawless. However, it was not their character that needed amending. It was in the area of their worship. They were falling short in their devotional life – their communion life. “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Revelation 2:4).

So serious was this flaw that the Lord urged them to amend, lest their lamp go out. The devotional life is what keeps our lamp burning bright! We are living in a time when the communion life is being crowded out more and more. Ministerial demands, family demands, job demands, and educational demands, not to mention the “legitimate” things of the world, sap our time away.

The woman in the Song of Songs laments: “..They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept” (Song of Songs 1:6). We can be so sidetracked by being a “Martha” (cumbered with serving) that we neglect the Master of the universe who is sitting in the front room (Luke 10:38-42). Throughout the Song of Songs, the woman is seeking to regain her “first love” experience.

Perhaps our walk is circumspect, but our devotional life needs attention. The woman in this poem cries out: “Draw me, we will run after thee…” (Song of Songs 1:4). We do not generally perceive the work that God is doing in us as we are following after Him, nor do we understand what God is doing in others as they follow on to know Him. But this we know: at the end of the story, she is just like Him. May the Lord draw our hearts in fresh devotion to follow on to know Him.

About the Author

Rev. Daniel G. Caram and his wife, Jane, have pastored in Erie PA, for over 25 years. Together they have two children and two grandchildren. He has authored several books and articles, which have been published in many nations and languages. Rev. Daniel Caram has taught at Zion Ministerial Institute for 22 years, as well as participating in leadership seminars throughout the world. He received a Bachelor of Theology (Th. B.) from Vision Christian Bible College.