August 12th, 1962 @ 10:50 AM
Consummation, Gentiles, Holy City, Jerusalem, Seventy Weeks, Revelation 1961 - 1963, 1962, Revelation
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-12-62 10:50 a.m.
On the radio and on television, you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the morning message from the eleventh chapter of the Book of the Revelation. As you know, I have been preaching through the Bible for about eighteen years. And after the passing of these years, we have come to the last and the climactic book, the Apocalypse. And we have been preaching in the Revelation now for a little over a year and seven months. Because of the great interest in the book, I began preaching when we came to the Revelation at both morning hours these expositions from the volume. The sermon at the 8:15 o’clock service and the sermon at this 10:50 o’clock service are the same – supposed to be the same. Now, this morning at the 8:15 o’clock service, I spoke for forty-five minutes of the message I had prepared and found that after forty-five minutes, I had just finished a portion of the sermon that was prepared. Now, what I have to do is to admit I cannot deliver that sermon I have prepared in this length of time. I would have to have a full hour for it. Therefore, the sermon this morning is just a piece. During the Sunday school hour, I tried to think of a name for the piece, but I could not even think of a name for it. It is just a piece. And the sermon will be finished next Sunday morning, so all of you will have to be especially attentive next Sunday morning to reach the conclusion of the message.
Now, we are in a difficult place. This is no easy assignment. I never heard anybody in my life preach anything or even talk about anything or even discuss anything such as we are trying to do, going through this Book of the Revelation. Therefore, there are a whole lot of things that had a man given his life to it, to him it would be second nature. He would just know all of these things that are referred to. But to us, who for the most part, are being introduced to this, there are a thousand instances that might otherwise be glossed over. But to us, they need and demand and cry for an explanation. What does this refer to? What does this mean? Well, when you stop to study and to find out as God would put it in your heart to find out, it takes time. It takes time to study beyond anything an ordinary man would realize. It takes time to study it. Then what breaks my heart is, after I have studied it and labored over it so long and diligently, I do not have time to say it. So when I try to speed it up, for these teenagers as I told you, they say to me, "Pastor, the Lord is going to come again before you get through with this Revelation. Now, you better hurry!" Well when I try to hurry, then I do not succeed. So let us just remember now, what this morning is presented is a piece; it is a beginning. And then we will finish it as God shall help us. Now, this is the reading of the first part of the eleventh chapter of the Revelation:
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.
And I will give power unto My two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days
– a thousand two hundred sixty days –
clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in like manner be killed. These have power to shut up heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ariseth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
Now that is the first part of this chapter.
One of the most learned and able of all of the Greek expositors of all time is named Dean Alford. And Dean Alford said that this chapter is undoubtedly the most difficult in the Book of the Revelation. Well, there are many of them about like this. But this certainly is one of them. Now, so many of the interpretations will go like this – just endless numbers of them. Now you look at this: one man will say the temple here is figuratively used of the faithful portion of the church of Christ. All right, another one: the command is given to John to measure the temple of God in order to call attention to the size of the church. All right, another one: the altar is the church. Now, another one: the outer court signifies a part of the church. Now, another one: the Holy City is always, in the Apocalypse, the type of the church. Now, another one: the two witnesses represent the elect church of God, embracing both Jew and Christian, and the witness she bears concerning God especially in the Old and the New Testament. Now, another one: the one thousand, two hundred sixty days constitute a period during which the church, though trodden under foot, will not cease to prophesy. Now, another one: the whole vision of the war of the beast against the two witnesses is symbolical and the intention is to convey the idea that the church in her witness for God will experience opposition. All right, another one: the death of the witnesses is the fate of the church pictured in the life of Christ. Now, another one: in the ascension of the witnesses to heaven, the church is triumphantly vindicated. And then another one: the elders who worship God after the sounding of the seventh trumpet, which is in the eleventh chapter, is the church.
Well, every diverse expression, every delineation, every symbol, every pattern, every presentation is "the church." Now, when you look at that and when you read this carefully, there are many things in there that are in the great prophetic pronouncements of those men of God who by the Holy Spirit spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. And to make every diverse and expression and every delineation and every symbol just to say these same identical things – whether it means it or not, whether it has any reference to it or not, whether the prophet has used that same thing to outline a program in the elective purpose of God, to force it all to mean just the same thing – is to lose all opportunity to listen to the mind of the Holy Spirit at all. So, what we are going to do is just to look at this, and in the light of what God has written already, to see what the Lord hath said.
Now, when I look carefully, and read it earnestly, the first impression that I have is this: that here, we are distinctly and unmistakably upon Jewish ground. Now, look: "Their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually, symbolically, is called Sodom and Egypt." But,he says, I am referring to the city "where our Lord was crucified" [Revelation 11:8]. Our Lord was not crucified in Damascus. Our Lord was not crucified in Memphis or in Thebes. Our Lord was not crucified in Gaza or Ashkelon. Our Lord was not crucified in Philippi or Antioch or Rome. Our Lord was crucified in Jerusalem. Now, he describes the sinfulness of that city by saying that spiritually it is Sodom and given to sin, and Egypt in worldliness. But I am talking about Jerusalem. The symbolical word is "Sodom and Egypt," but he was referring to Jerusalem.
All right, look at it again. In this second verse it says, "Now the court of the temple leave out, it’s given to the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months" [Revelation 11:2]. "The holy city" is a word, an expression that is used in the Bible for one city alone. There is no other city in the earth that is called "the holy city" except Jerusalem. None other is ever mentioned as being a holy city except Jerusalem. The only exception to that would be in the twenty-first chapter of the Book of the Revelation where the New Jerusalem is called "the holy city, come down from God out of heaven" [Revelation 21:2], and certainly it will never be trampled by the armies of the Gentiles. All of the other references, and there are many of them, all the other references in the Bible to the holy city refer to Jerusalem – always. For example, in the eleventh chapter of Nehemiah and the first verse, Nehemiah says, "One-tenth of the people he placed in the holy city – in Jerusalem" [Nehemiah 11:1]. Nine-tenths of them were placed out in the cities of Judah, but one out of ten were asked to live in "the holy city." Take again, that marvelous, beautiful expression of praise and glory in Isaiah, chapter 52, verse 1: "Awake, arise. Put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city" [Isaiah 52:1]. Take again, when our Lord was tempted in His second temptation, the devil took Him to "the holy city" and sat Him on top of the pinnacle and asked Him to fall down and let the angels bear Him up as a sign to the world of His deity. Take again, in the twenty-seventh chapter of the Gospel of the Matthew – there is the record, after the resurrection of Jesus, of the saints being raised out of their graves. And they appeared to many in "the holy city," in Jerusalem. Now, these references are undoubtedly to Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is a city that dwarfs all other cities in the world. There is none like it. There is none in the elective purpose and economy of God that can even begin to approach it. I listened to one of our illustrious ministers one time who said, "Take a map, or take a globe, and put a pin there in the Levant, in the Near East, in its heart, in Jerusalem. And when you do that, you will find that all of the nations to the right of it, to the east of it, all of those nations read from right to left. Then, keeping your center there, all the nations to the left of it, to the west of it, will read from [left] to [right]. We are in the western part. We read from the [left] side of the page to the [right] side of the page. But when you go to all of the nations to the right of it, to the east of it, the Chinese, the Arab, on and on, all of them, they read from right to the left. That place is centered, as Ezekiel says. God placed it in the center of the nations." Three great continents center there in that country: Africa, Asia, Europe. It is a great land-bridge between those three great continents. It is also the dividing of time. What happened there in that place divides all time. Before the crucifixion of our Lord, in that place, it is B.C. After the crucifixion of our Lord, in that place, it is A.D.
There is an increasing interest through the years and the years, in all of that area around there. The most stupendous, indescribable, immeasurable reservoir of oil is in that great area. And will becoming increasingly prized through the years that unfold, that’s why the terrific drive that you find among the nations of the world, and especially our enemies for the control and for the grasp and for the possession of the riches in that great, tremendous area. That is why the government under which we, by God’s grace, abide – that is why the governments of the free world, that is why all of those who love God and love God’s people and love what God hath given to us, in our liberties and in our freedoms – why we have no other choice but to seek to do our best, to preserve those immeasurable wealth and riches for the people of the earth to enjoy in freedom and in liberty. You will never get away, however history may turn, you will never get away from what God has said, that the center of the nations is found in that place. History may turn in many directions, and we may be interested in Latin America, and we may be interested in the Orient, and we may be interested in many, many other places, but the interest that God has focused upon that area in the Middle East abides forever and forever. So when I read these things in the Bible, they are not any different things than I read in our daily newspapers, than I read in the books of history, than I see unfolding before my eyes every day.
Now, in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Romans, Paul is discussing what God hath elected for this whole world. And he begins "Now this I say, that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision" [Romans 15:8]. He was a preacher of Israel. "Salvation," He said, "is of the Jews" [John 4:22]. He is a minister of the circumcision; to confirm the promises made unto the fathers, that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy. "As it is written, for this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles" [Romans 15:9]; and again, "Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with His people" [Romans 15:10]. Now, do you see that? There is no such a thing as a blessing upon us that does not also call for a blessing upon His people. As God said, "Rejoice, ye Gentiles." That is we. "Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with His people." It is not the elective purpose of God that we shall come into great blessings and God forget His covenant promises to Israel. All of us are in the purposes of God to be blessed. And all of us in God’s elective program shall be blessed; but that also includes God’s people. The Psalmists said, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. They shall prosper that love thee" [Psalm 122:6]. We cannot, in the Bible we cannot find a great program of God that in its consummation, in its ultimate, leaves out the covenant promises the Lord made to the fathers of Israel.
Now, you have another tremendous indication of this same thing in the time element that is written here in this chapter. Not only the place, right there in the heart of that country, in Jerusalem, but you also have a very definite pointing in these time words used here, "And the holy city [Jerusalem] shall they tread under foot forty and two months" [Revelation 11:2], forty-two months. Now, in the next verse: "I will give power unto My two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days,” forty-two months [Revelation 11:3]. When I turn the page, I read over here in the twelfth chapter, in the sixth verse, "And the woman, persecuted, shall find a refuge and shall be fed of God a thousand two hundred and sixty days" [Revelation 12:6]. Then I turn the page and in that same twelfth chapter, in the fourteenth verse, "She shall be nourished for a time, time, and half a time," for three and a half years, "time, time, and half a time" [Revelation 12:14]. And then in the thirteenth chapter and the fifth verse:, "Forty-two months." Now there are one, two, three, four, five in that little space of time, there are five references always to the same length of time: forty-two months, one thousand two hundred and sixty days, three and a half years. Well, did he just get that out of his mind? Did he just imagine that? If he did, why didn’t he write it in one spot forty-eight months? In the next place, why didn’t he say one thousand two hundred and two days? In the next place, why didn’t he say five and a half years? Why, always is it that same period of time: one thousand two hundred and sixty days, forty-two months, three and a half years – time, times, and a dividing of time, time, times and half a time? Well, evidently it means something and something profound.
Well, it is very plain what it refers to. For that thing I have met before and several times. When I turn to the Book of Daniel, I see there those same expressions and those same time limits. And by reading it in Daniel and turning to the Apocalypse, I can see exactly what it is that God hath given to John as he delineates the future of the consummation of this age. All right, listen to it. In the ninth chapter of the Book of Daniel, verse 24, "Seventy sevens," you have it translated "weeks." In the Revised Standard Version, this newest edition of the Bible, they translate that "weeks of years," which is correct. In the Hebrew it means "weeks of years." The Hebrew word is seven, “seventy sevens," four hundred and ninety years, "seventy sevens are determined upon Thy people and upon Thy holy city, to finish transgressions, to make an end of sins, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up the vision and prophecy,” to bring it to its final conclusion, “and to anoint the most Holy," God, Christ our Lord, King of heaven and earth [Daniel 9:24]. Now, that is a very plain prophecy. Seventy sevens, four hundred and ninety years are determined to make an end of sin, to make an end of transgression, to bring in everlasting righteousness, “the kingdom wherein dwelleth righteousness forever,” to seal up the visions and the prophecies, to bring them all to pass – they are concluded, the Book is closed – and to anoint as King and Lord of heaven and earth, the great Christ of glory.
Now, he takes that “seventy sevens,” and he divides it up into two parts. "Know therefore that from the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem" [Daniel 10:25]. Now that came to pass in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes in  BC. From the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, "from the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince,” until the coming of Jesus, “shall be sixty-nine weeks,” seven weeks and threescore and two weeks, sixty and nine weeks. And after threescore and two weeks,” after that seven weeks and threescore and two weeks, after sixty-two plus seven, after the sixty-nine weeks, “Messiah shall be cut off" [Daniel 10:26]. So, starting at the twentieth year of Artaxerxes and reading forward four hundred [eighty-three] years, sixty-nine sevens, you come to 30 A.D., when Jesus was cut off – when the Messiah was cut off. Then he separates that last week, that seventieth week. And that seventieth week is an unusual thing, for that seventieth week brings in the everlasting kingdom of God. It brings in consummation of the age. It brings in the fulfillment of all God’s purposes in the earth. It fulfills all prophesies and all visions. And the everlasting kingdom comes and Christ reigns forever and thereafter as Lord of heaven and earth.
Well, what about that seventieth week, that last week that is set apart here by itself? “He,” that prince, that anti-Christ, that one who wars against God;
he shall confirm a covenant for one week – for that week –
And in the midst of that week he will turn and these with whom he has made a covenant
– God’s people, talking to Daniel about God’s people –
he will break that covenant in the midst of the week and cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease
And then follows the terrible prophecy here of the Great Tribulation.
So that final week, Daniel divides into two parts – God divides into two parts: three and half years and three and a half years, forty-two months, one thousand two hundred sixty days, time, time and a dividing of time, time, times and half a time. That last week in the Book of Daniel, is divided into those two parts: the week of seven years into three and a half. For example, in Daniel 7:25: "A time, times, and the dividing of times,” half a time. In Daniel 12:7, "And he swore, lifting up his hand to God, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time." Now, that’s where that number comes from. It comes from Daniel’s seventieth week, God’s seventieth week, that God divided into three and half years: half of seven, three and a half years, forty-two months, one thousand two hundred sixty days, time, times and a dividing of times.
That last week, that seventieth week of that prophecy, brings the great consummation of the age. And what happened in this Bible is this: that between those sixty-nine weeks in which the Lord came and was cut off – at the end of that sixty-nine weeks – between that sixty-nine weeks and that seventieth week, which brings in the consummation, there was a great interlude, a great intermission. And Paul says, in the third chapter of Ephesians and elsewhere in his epistles, Paul says that great intermission in which we now live, that great interlude, he says, that was a musterion. It was a secret hid in the heart of God and the prophets never saw it. And the prophets never dreamed of it, but God revealed it to His holy apostles – to Paul, to John – to His holy apostles. So between the sixty-ninth week which brought the crucifixion of our Lord, between the sixty-nine weeks and the seventieth week, the last week, is this great period of a vast interlude and a vast intermission: the period of the church, of the preaching of the gospel, of the resounding of the good news of the forgiveness of sin in our Lord Christ, of the building up of the great household of faith. That is in that vast intermission that was hid in the purposes of God and the prophets never saw it. And the prophets never knew of it. Daniel, being an Old Testament prophet, he did not see it. This seventieth week, this last week of Daniel, that week is the revelation, the recounting, the delineation, the unveiling of that great final consummation of the age – is the Apocalypse.
When that was told to Daniel, Daniel said, "I hear what you say, but I don’t understand what you mean." God said to Daniel, "You seal it up until the time of the end" [Daniel 12:9]. That sealed book that was closed to Daniel is the open book that is laid before the prophet and the seer, John. And what was closed and not revealed in Daniel is now revealed in the Book of the Revelation – that great and final and climactic seventieth week, the end time, the consummation of the age – and that is what the Apocalypse is about. The Apocalypse is not a description of the day of man, the Apocalypse is a description of the day of the Lord. The Apocalypse is not an unveiling of human history; the Apocalypse is an unveiling of the glorious reigning King, it is an Apocalypse of Jesus Christ. It is an uncovering. It is that we might see what is the ultimate and final consummation of the age, and that is what you read in the Revelation. And when these numbers are used such as forty-two months, a thousand two hundred sixty days, three and half years, time, times and half a time; it is referring to that great, last, climatic week that is described in the Book of Daniel, that brings in the kingdom of God and the consummation of the age.
So when I read in the eleventh chapter of the Book of the Revelation and the rest of these chapters, I am in an altogether different world than the world in which I now am in. It is a different age. It is a different – some people call it dispensation. It is a different era. Right now, there is no holy city. There is no city holy above any other. And of all of the cities in the world today, I think Jerusalem would qualify as being the most wretched. There is a vast section of Jerusalem, the old Jewish quarter that is in ruins. It is a shambles. It is where bats and vermin and owls and darkened creatures of the night live. It is a wreck. It is a ruin. It is a wretched city now. There is no holy city today above any other city. Not now. Not in our day. Not in our era. Nor is there any sanctuary in the earth today where a man is to worship God. A kitchen corner now is just as good as a great cathedral in which to worship God now. Any where that a man will call on the name of the Lord God now is a sacred place. There is no sanctuary here on this earth. Our Lord said to the woman at the well, to the Samaritan harlot, He said: "Believe me, the hour cometh and now is, when neither and Jerusalem nor at this mountain will they worship God. God seeketh those to worship Him in spirit and in truth" [John 4:24]. And any where is a sacred place for a man to call on the name of his God; you can go to your bedroom, you can go to the kitchen, you can go any where. It is a fine thing to call upon God any hour of the day. At a desk, while you are working on – while you are riding in a street car, while you are going to work in an automobile, any where in the world is a good place to call upon God. Our sanctuary, according to the tenth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, is in heaven. Our High Priest is in heaven. And according to the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, our sacrifices are praises to God and benevolence to man. This is the age in which we live. And in this age, in which we live, there are no people favored above any other people. There may be Jews and Gentiles, there may be Greeks and Barbarians, there may be Romans and Provincials, there may be indigenous and aliens, but in God’s sight we are all alike. All of us are alike. In the great brotherhood of the Christian faith, in the church of Jesus Christ, we are all brethren, no one favored above the other. That’s the age in which we live.
But the Book of the Revelation is Romans [chapter] 11 – beginning at the twentieth verse and to the end of that chapter: "Don’t you be high-minded," Paul says to us who are Gentiles, "don’t you be high-minded, but fear: for if God took out those natural branches" of the olive tree in Israel, “and engrafted thee and made thee a member of the household of faith,” don’t forget that God can also, God can also take out these engrafted branches and put back the natural branches, “I don’t want you without knowledge, my brethren,” he says, “that you be without knowledge of this musterion, this mystery,lest ye be wise in your own conceits; for blindness avails,” has happened, to the people of God. It happened to Israel “until the pleroma,” fullness, “of the Gentiles be come in.” And when that comes in, then God will save Israel. As it is written, "There shall come out of Zion the deliverer and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. For this is my covenant that I made with them,concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sake." They crucified the Lord Jesus, that we might have atonement in Him. But concerning the covenant, they are beloved for the Father’s sake; concerning the election purposes of God, they are precious in His sight. “For the gift and calling of God are without turning.” God does not change. "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance" [Romans 11:17-28].
Now, what the Lord says is this: that there is a pleroma of the Gentiles. And all through the Word of God, that same thing is used and expressed time and again. There is a pleroma – there is a full complement of the Gentiles who are to come in. Before the foundation of the world, God had written there before Him the Lamb’s Book of Life. And these that are to be saved are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. And when that full complement of Gentiles comes in, when all of these that are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life are saved, when that last one that is known in the elective purpose of God comes down that aisle and gives his heart to Jesus, when the last one is in, then we enter that great and final consummation, that last and seventieth week of Daniel, when God shall remember the covenants that He made with the patriarchs and with the fathers. And when God, according to the Revelation in the Apocalypse, according to the unveiling of Jesus Christ, when God shall bring His kingdom into this earth and when we shall rejoice in the glorious incomparable appearing of Christ our Savior, who will reign visibly, openly, personally as the incomparable King of heaven and earth; that is what the Revelation is about. "Oh," as Paul closed the eleventh chapter, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out. . . For of him, and through him, and to him are all things: to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen" [Romans 11:20-36].
And that we might have an assurance and that God in His purpose, that God could make known to us, how this great consummation will come to pass, this is the reading of the Revelation. Oh, I can hardly believe that these mortal eyes of mine some day should see these things, that this poor weak frame of dust shall some day share in these things that God hath given to us – to us, a fellow heirship in the incomparable coming kingdom of the Lord God. We seem so poor. We seem so wretched. We seem so sinful. Made out of the dust of the ground, we are like worms of the earth. But God – but God in His elective purpose hath in His heart to elevate us above the highest angels. Oh, blessed be His name that we should be included in the family of faith and in the household of those who are to possess the eternal riches of glory in Christ Jesus. We do not realize – but that we might realize God wrote it out in the Revelation, the uncovering, the Apocalypse that we might see and rejoice.
Oh, I hate to stop. We must. We sing our song and while we sing the song, somebody you give his heart to Jesus. Somebody you put his life into the fellowship of the church. While we sing the song, while we make appeal, you come and stand by me. In the balcony round, somebody you, on the lower floor, somebody you, coming to take your stand; your decision, your public avowal of the commitment of your life to Christ, “Here I am, Preacher, and here I come.” Or a family you, coming into the fellowship of the church, “Here I come. Here I am.” On the first note of that first stanza, make it now. Make it this morning, as God shall say the word and lead the way, come, while we stand and while we sing.