The church is the Temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:21). What better symbol of a fallen away church where TARES trample its God-fearing minority, and where all protection against unrestrained spiritism is restricted to those having the seal of God or potentially so (Rev. 9:4)?
1 A reed like a rod was given to me. Someone said, “Rise and measure God’s temple, and the altar, and those who worship in it.
2 Leave out [1544 ἐκβάλλω] the court which is outside of the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations. They will tread the holy city under foot for forty-two months. (Rev. 11:1-2) RPTE
This is not Herod’s Temple, this Temple conforms to Solomon’s design as also did the Temple in Ezekiel, a oblong inner court (Ezek. 40:23) and a square outer court (Ezek. 40:17-20). That this symbolizes the church is deducible from the plural “those who worship in it,” for only the high priest entered the Holy of Holies but the entire born again church is now in the presence of God (1 Pet. 2:5). Confirming this identification is the command to “cast out” [1544 ἐκβάλλω into the outer darkness Mat. 25:30] the area not measured to receive God’s protection.
This Temple represents the Church Worldwide, but it does so in the end time week after the false Christ has been accepted into the fallen away Church. And the False Christ must fit the prophecies regarding Jesus returning to Jerusalem as well as he can (Zech. 14:4-5; Acts. 1:9-12; compare warning in Mat. 24:23-27)
Hence “holy city” is a reference to Jerusalem, not the church. Those who know their God will realize this is the abomination of desolation Christ warned of. Its time to flee Judea, to Jordan where God providentially does not allow the False Christ “King of the North” Syrian Jewish Christian any control (Dan. 11:41). He is about to betray Christ and all his profession of Christianity, and become the Antichrist Beast Son of Destruction denying the Father and the Son (2 Thess. 2:3-4).
Moses and Elijah will appear at the beginning of the end time week preaching in Jerusalem against the False Christ (Rev. 11:3-4). Fire and plague allusion to these OT prophets confirms their identity (Rev. 11:5-6). They have an inexhaustible supply of the Holy Spirit (=oil, Rev. 11:3; Zech. 4:11-14) to overcome the energy of Satan (2 Thess. 2:9-11) spirit of antichrist arrayed against them.
But at mid-week the False Christ political ruler of the remnants of a revived Roman Empire will declare himself God and slay the two prophets:
7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
8 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. (Rev. 11:7-8) KJV
Notice the details, this can’t refer to the “holy city” in Jerusalem as Jesus was NOT slain in Jerusalem, he was outside its gate in Golgotha (John 19:17, 20; Heb. 13:12). This city is where the Temple of God the Church has its headquarters. Whether that is in literal Jerusalem, Rome or elsewhere is hard to determine from the vision.
Jesus was crucified afresh (Heb. 6:4-8; 10:28-31) in the Church when the fallen away church received the Man who teaches Sin, whose miracles authenticate lies as truth (2 Thess. 2:9-12). By the spirit of prophecy this city is called Sodom and Egypt no doubt because sexual perversity and idolatry then reigned.
So the vision shifts from “the holy city” to that “great city” which in the book of Revelation always refers to Babylon the Great (Rev. 14:8; 16:19; 17:18; 18:10, 16, 18, 19, 21).
So the two cities are in apposition, whether superimposed on one another or separated in distance, they are named whether the presence of God is in them or not. The Church is the Temple (NAOS: dwelling place) of God (2 Thess. 2:3 cp. 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:21). Jerusalem is “the Holy city” because the presence of God in the “holy of holies” in the Temple is within its boundaries.
When the Beast ascended from the abyss to slay God’s prophets in Jerusalem, he did so while seated in the Church the figurative Temple of God doing satanic signs and wonders claiming to be God. That is the abomination of desolation (Ezek. 8:6; 20:7-8), changing whatever city its in into “the great [unholy] city” (Rev. 11:8) of the Harlot Babylon the Great.
As we see from John eating a “little book” that would be a speck in the hand of a giant angel (Rev. 10:8-9), we can’t press the vision to account for a literal transition from the holy city wherein the Temple of God the Church resided to the great city of Babylon the Harlot. I consider it likely the False Christ locate his regime in Jerusalem and therefore the two prophets Moses and Elijah appear in literal Jerusalem the “holy city”. As Christ was NOT crucified in Jerusalem, the “unholy great city” is being superimposed upon “the holy city Jerusalem” in the vision. Therefore, if we work backward, the NAOS remains, but the courtyard is being superimposed upon the entire and is prominent receiving all the attention. The protected believing community remains, albeit powerless (cp. Dan. 12:7).