1 Then I was given a measuring reed like a rod, with these words: “Go and measure God’s sanctuary and the altar, and count those who worship there.
Most likely this is a reference to the third temple that will be built before or during the 7-year tribulation.
2 But exclude the courtyard outside the sanctuary. Don’t measure it, because it is given to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for 42 months.
The phrase “Don’t measure it, because it is given to the nations” refers to 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 which says, 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way. For that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. 4 He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he sits in God’s sanctuary, publicizing that he himself is God.
Matthew 24:15-16 which says, 15 “So when you see the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place” (let the reader understand), 16 “then those in Judea must flee to the mountains!
The Antichrist will rule over the third temple by trying to make himself to be like God, for a time period of 42 months which is the last 3 1/2 years of the great tribulation. For those who refuse to worship him as God will either go to prison or be put to death. The way that the Antichrist is worshipped is by bowing down to his image that will be in the third temple and receiving his mark (666).
3 I will empower my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, dressed in sackcloth.”
The phrase “I will empower my two witnesses” refers that they will have supernatural powers.
Wearing sackcloth is a reference or a picture of humility and great distress.
The two witnesses’ clothing is a sign of what the people should do, repent and humble themselves in the sight of God. The two witnesses will prophesy for 3 1/2 years during the great tribulation.
4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.
The phrase “the two olive trees and the two lampstands” point back to Zechariah 4:1-14 and Haggai 1:1. They are Joshua and Zerubbabel whom God used to build the second temple after the 70 years of Babylonian captivity to bring the people back to the true Living God.
The Scripture does not disclose the names of the two witnesses in Revelation but what seems to be clear is that they are coming to build a spiritual temple, meaning to bring Jews and Gentiles to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.
5 If anyone wants to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and consumes their enemies; if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way.
Fire is a refiner and eliminates all impurities Proverbs 25:4. For those who go against the message of the two witnesses by trying to stop them, they will meet their end by being consumed like dross in the fire. God’s plan cannot be stopped.