PMT 2015-124 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
Here in Rev the temple speaks as an image of the emperor-god. When the Pharisees rebuke Christ for not stopping those who praise him at the triumphal entry, “He answered and said, ‘I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!’” (Lk 19:40). This probably signifies that the stones of the temple will declare him when not one is left on another in AD 70 (cp. Lk 21:5-6) (See: R. C. H. Lenski, Luke, 966; E. E. Ellis, Luke [NCBC], 226). Prosopopoiia clearly appears as a major feature in the later chapters in Rev where two cities are presented as women, one an evil harlot, the other a righteous bride (Rev 17; 21).
Beckwith (Apocalypse, 680) surmises that the altar speaking in 16:7 really represents the voices of the souls at the altar (6:9) or the prayers of the saints at the heavenly altar (8:3-5). If this is preferred, then the image speaking (which represents the physical temple speaking) would indicate decrees from the temple authorities. It could suggest either the deceptive liturgy of the temple that keeps the Land-dwellers under control or the death decrees sent out from it against “apostate” Christians.
On many occasions the Lord rejects his own worship forms when the people are in sin. “So when you spread out your hands in prayer, / I will hide My eyes from you, / Yes, even though you multiply prayers, / I will not listen” (Isa 1:15). Israel must “not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord’” (Jer 7:4). In fact, Jeremiah repeatedly denounces lies and deception from false prophets at the first temple’s destruction (Jer 14:14; 23:21; 27:14-15; 28:15; 29:8). In the face of unbelief and abuse, the temple liturgy becomes a statement offering false comfort — even the well-known, God-inspired Aaronic benediction: “The Lord bless you, and keep you; / The Lord make His face shine on you, / And be gracious to you; / The Lord lift up His countenance on you, / And give you peace” (Nu 6:24-26).
We know that the temple authorities give orders that Jesus be seized (Jn 11:47, 53, 57; 18:3, 12–14). These religious leaders seek his death in order to protect their own positions (Jn 11:48, 53; cp. Jn 5:18; 7:1, 19; Mt 17:23; 26:4// ). And after his death they command the apostles to quit preaching Christ or suffer flogging or death (Ac 4:1-3, 5-7, 17-21; 5:17-18, 21, 25-28, 33, 40; 9:2; 22:5; cp. 28:21). And floggings (Mt 10:17-18; 2Co 11:23) are official actions of a court (Dt 25:2; m. Mid. 2:2; m. Moe’ed Qat. 3:1-2), not mob actions. While the temple stands with its religious rulers it has the power to destructively “speak” against the Lamb and his followers.
Those who do not follow the temple authorities, separate from the temple, and cease the (now) empty liturgy must face the land beast who will “cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed” (13:15b). This refers to the Jewish followers of the Lamb. According to John in his Gospel, Jesus warns his first disciples that “they will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service [latreia] to God” (Jn 16:2). The word “service” (latreia) is employed “in cultic usage” (BAGD 586) as in temple ministrations. In fact, the verb form occurs “only of the carrying out of religious duties, esp. of a cultic nature” (BAGD 587).
Christ’s statement implies that killing a disciple of his is used “in the sense of offering a sacrifice” (EDNT 2:344, 345). Carson (1991: 531) points out the following as “evidence that some rabbinic authorities held that slaying heretics could be an act of divine worship”: Num. Rab. 21:3 (191a) and Sanh. 9:6.
Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert (by Rosaria Butterfield)
Remarkable testimony of a lesbian professor who was a leading spokesperson
for the feminist movement, but whom Christ saved.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
E. Corsini (The Apocalypse, 1983: 252) explains that: “the allegory of the statue which speaks and issues sentences of death at the wicked suggestions of corrupt religious authorities which stands at its shoulders (13:15), it is not difficult to see the complex intrigue which grew between the High Priest and the Roman authorities which led to the death of Jesus. John sees this as happening daily in his own situation. . . . In fact, as Jesus himself recalls (Matt 23:29ff), the prophets and those sent by God were stoned and slain always with the direct or indirect approval of Jewish religious authority.”