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ch. 11:1-14      ch. 11:15-19


The Two Witnesses (ch. 11:1-14)


The angel in the last section gets us prepared for the sounding of the seventh trumpet, but before we see that trumpet sound we learn about the two witnesses here in chapter 11.


In verse 1 John was told to measure the temple.  What temple is he supposed to measure?  You might think that it is a temple in Heaven but in verse 2 we see that the outer court of this temple was given to the Gentiles and therefore he was not to measure that part of the temple.  Therefore, this temple is not in heaven but on earth.  It's clearly a temple in Jerusalem.   


Some believe that this temple is symbolic of the church because the church is seen as a temple in the New Testament.  John was told to count the worshippers.  Was the counting of the worshippers the same as measuring the temple?  If you believe that this is the church, you might think so.  I don't view it this way because I do not allegorize, symbolize, or spiritualize, the book of Revelation. 


Those who do allegorize, symbolize, or spiritualize, the book of Revelation view the outer court as the liberal church.  Again, I don't believe that.  When viewing Revelation, or any part of the Bible, in this way, it is a free for all of personal view points.  At this point, anyone can make the Bible say anything he wants it to say.   


Many Prophetic Futurists believe that this temple is a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem that certain Jews build at the end of this age.  Many Prophetic Futurists believe that Israel makes and alliance with the anti-Christ and the rebuilt temple is supported, at least for the first half of the tribulation, by the anti-Christ.  This is my view.


At present, the Muslim Dome of the Rock, the third holiest Islamic structure, is situated exactly where the Jewish temple once was.  Some scholars and archeologists of late believe that the original Jewish temple was actually built slightly north of the Dome of the Rock.  Therefore, many Prophetic Futurists believe that the temple could be rebuilt beside the Dome of the Rock which would make the Dome in the outer court of the temple and that would mean the Gentiles would hold claim to the outer court, just as this passage states.


This rebuilt temple has nothing to do with Christianity because Christians don’t need a temple, but for the Jews this would be important.   It is the Jews that will rebuild this temple and not God.  By this I mean it is not God's will for this temple to be built.  It is simply the will of man, and in this case, non-Christian Jewish man.  There are Jews today who are in the planning stages of rebuilding the temple.   


Some scoff at the idea of a rebuilt temple, thinking that God would have nothing to do with it.  Let me remind you that the temple in Jerusalem when Jesus was on earth was far from a godly temple.  It in fact was built nothing like Solomon's temple by Harod the Great who was only part Jew.  It's often called Harod's Temple.  Even though it was so named, Jesus called it the house of God which was to be a house of prayer, not a house of commerce as it had become.  I simply say this to point out that this rebuilt temple during the last seven years of this age could well be seen as the house of God in a prophetic sense, just like the temple in first century Jerusalem was seen by Jesus as the house of God and prayer even though it wasn't.  


This temple might well be the temple the Paul speaks of in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 where he says the anti-Christ will sit in the temple of God.   Some interpret the temple that Paul speaks of here as the church.  I don't see it that way.  In context, it appears to me to be the rebuilt temple during the last seven years of this age.         


In verse 2 we see that the Gentiles will trample on the holy city for forty two months, which is three and a half years.  I believe that this is a literal three and a half years.  At the moment, I view this 42 months as the first half of the seven year tribulation period.  In part, I hold to this position because I don't think that satan has entered the anti-Christ as yet, as seen in chapter 13.  On the other hand, there are many who see this period as the last half of the seven year tribulation period.  It's either one or the other.


Jesus speaks of the abomination of desolation in Matthew 24.  Many believe that this abomination takes place in the last half of the tribulation when the anti-Christ sets up his image in this rebuilt temple, which in Jewish thinking would be a great abomination.       


In the NIV we read that John was to count the worshippers.  In my opinion this is a misleading translation.   The Greek text simply says that John was to measure the holy place, the altar, and the worshippers.  There is no corresponding word in the Greek that should be translated as "count", as in, "count the worshippers".  E W Bullinger puts it this way.  John was to take note of or simply give account of the worshippers he saw.  I'm not convinced he was to count them.          


Just why John was to measure the holy place of the temple and take note of the worshippers is unknown to me at present.  It might simply be for us to know that there will be a temple with worshippers in it at this point of time in history.      


We should also note that the Gentiles will trample on the city of Jerusalem for 42 months.  This might well be what Joel speaks about in Joel 3 when the nations of the world come to attack Jerusalem .  


In verse 3 we see the introduction of the “two witnesses”.  These two witnesses prophesy for 1260 days, which is three and a half years, or, forty two months.  We should note that forty two months, one thousand two hundred and sixty days, or three and a half years are all mentioned to denote the same period of time.  I would suggest then that because of these three designations for the same time period, we should understand this time period to be literal, not spiritual or symbolic.


These three and a half years may be the same three and a half years just spoken of when the Gentiles will take over the holy city.  That makes contextual sense to me.  So once again, I believe numbers to be literal, especially in reference to this three and a half year period of time.  It seems that Jesus goes to great lengths in describing this three and a half year period.  He does it in months.  He does it in days, and he does it in years.  We should thus take these numbers at face value.


When thinking of 1260 days we should understand these days to be in the sense of the Jewish calendar that had 30 days in each of the twelve months.  Three and a half years is 42 months of a 30 day month.  I therefore suggest that when it comes to dates and times we need to think of them in Jewish calendar terms, not western calendar terms as many do.  Really, when attempting to understand the book of Revelation one of our biggest mistakes is to ignore the Jewishness of this book.  This book is totally written in Jewish terms because it is all about the Jews and the days in which the Old Testament calls the "time of Jacob's trouble". (Jeremiah 30:7)       


Most Prophetic Futurists believe that the anti-Christ will make a treaty with Israel at the beginning of the seven year tribulation period, help them rebuild their temple, and then turn on them in the last three and a half years.  He will set up his image in the temple and desecrate the temple, as Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2:4.  


In verse 3 we see that the two witnesses are dressed in sackcloth.  This is clearly in reference to the Old Testament Jewish tradition of wearing sackcloth as a demonstration of repentance.  The prophets often dressed this way when in intercession on behalf of Israel.  These two witnesses are in fact acting as Old Testament style prophets to Israel. 


In verse 4 these two prophets are called the olive trees and lampstands that stand before the Lord.  Since they stand before the Lord, that means they must have come down from heaven to prophesy on earth.  There has been much speculation over the years to just who these men are.  Some say they are Enoch and Elijah since they never died, but were simply taken to Heaven.  Others would say Moses and Elijah.  Still others would say that these two men come in the spirit of Moses and Elijah, much like John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah. They are not really Moses and Elijah.  I've tended to believe these two men are at least come in the spirit of Moses and Elijah if they are not Moses in Elijah themselves.  I've said this for one reason because on the Mount of Transfiguration Jesus met with both of these men.

Also, we know that Elijah never died but was taken up to heaven, and, we know that Moses, although he did die, God took his body.  It was not buried.                     


The terms olive trees and lampstands are clearly Old Testament Jewish style words.  Once again, this shows us the Jewish nature to the book of Revelation.  I suggest that the thing that olive trees and lampstands have in common is oil, and, oil in the New Testament speaks of the Holy Spirit and His power to the believer.  These two men came in the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit.                   


Whoever the two witnesses are, and, I see them as Moses and Elijah, they presently stand before the throne of God write now according to verse 4.  This gives us a bit of a clue about those of us who die and are in heaven.  At least these two men, and probably us to when we die, have a particular role to play in heaven.    

These two men were given much power.  The two specific plagues mentioned that they can perform are stopping the rain and turning water into blood.  For this reason, some say the two witnesses are Moses and Elijah.  Moses turned water into blood, and Elijah stopped the rain in the Old Testament. These are not the only two plagues these men can perform.  There are many others.  They are very powerful men.  No one can kill them, although many will try.  Fire will actually proceed from their mouths and destroy their enemy.  Many think this fire is symbolic but once again, anything is possible with God, especially in this time of the supernatural. 


At this point I'd like to suggest that in dispensational terms, the seven year tribulation period is a dispensation in itself.  It's just as much different as the age of grace is from the age of works.  The means it is just as much different as the New Testament is from the Old Testament.  In the New Testament Christians are not to kill in the process of proclaiming God's will.  This is clearly not the case here since these two prophets will kill people who attempt to kill them.  This is clearly a different and distinct era from the New Testament.  


In verse 7 we see the beast coming out of the great pit, or the Abyss, to kill these two men.  As I stated earlier, the Abyss seems to be the lowest part of Hades.  This appears to be the understanding of this word in the first century.


Many think that the beast is the anti-Christ.  Others say it is satan himself.  We see a beast described in Revelation 13 which Prophetic Futurist understand to be the anti-Christ.  He is not satan because the text states that satan gives this beast his power, authority and throne.  So, it is clear to me the beast of Revelation 13 is the anti-Christ, who I believe is the beast here in this verse. 


From this passage and the Revelation 13 passage it seems to me that it is satan himself, of course with Jesus' permission, who calls the anti-Christ into world wide prominence.  This is interesting in light of 2 Thessalonians 2:7 where Paul says that someone is restraining the anti-Christ from coming on the seen and only when this restrainer is taken out of the way can the anti-Christ appear on the world seen.  Most Prophetic Futurists believe the restrainer to be the church.  They see the rapture of the church in 2 Thessalonians 2:7.  Let me suggest at this point in time, and it's just a thought, that the restrainer might well be satan himself or a fallen angel designated by satan to restrain the anti-Christ from appearing on the world scene.  Just for your information, I'm not the only one in history who has thought of this idea.       


Verse 7 states that these two witnesses will only be overpowered by the beast when their witnessing is finished.  God has predetermined just how long these two men will witness for him.  I believe every part and every aspect of these last seven years have all been planned out in advance by God.  Things will happen just as He planned and when He planned.       


As I said earlier, in chapter 13 we see the beast coming out of the Abyss.  He is given power by the dragon who is satan.  Here in verse 7 it might be debatable if the beast has been empowered by the dragon as yet.  That is to say, if the anti-Christ has been given power from the devil.  If I believe, which I do at present, that these two witnesses appear in the first half of the seven year tribulation, then, I suggest that when the dragon gives the beasts his power, as we see in chapter 13, this is when we see these two witnesses killed.    


In verse 8 wee see these two men will be dead for three and a half days and everyone in the world will see their dead bodies in the street.  Three and a half days is obviously and important number.  They will not be buried but will actually rise from the dead at the end of the three and a half days.  Everyone will see their dead bodies lying in the streets, possibly on twenty four hour news television, computers, hand held devices, or, whatever is available during the days described here. This could not have happened in and around 66 A D as those holding to the Preterist view believe.  Only in today's world or the days to come, can everyone in the world see this happening in real time.  


It’s clear that their death is God’s will, because up until now they had the power to resist death.  It is clearly God's will because they will be resurrected, just as Jesus was.


In verses 8 and 9 the two witnesses lie dead in the city that is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt.  The verse states that this is where Jesus died.  So, the city has to be Jerusalem.  I believe Jerusalem is portrayed as Sodom and Egypt because of the corruption and godlessness that it will become by this time.  Sodom speaks of sin and Egypt speaks of man's sinful nature.  Both Sodom and Egypt are typified, or, symbolized, as sin and human nature in the Old Testament.             


Another way to view Sodom and Egypt here is that Sodom represents sexual sin and Egypt represents bondage.  Thus, Israelis will be in bondage to sin, especially sexual sins.  


At this point I'd like to insert an article I wrote concerning why Jerusalem is associated with the wicked city of Jerusalem .   


Revelation 11:8 states that the dead bodies of the two witnesses "will lie in the public square of the great city - which is figuratively called Sodom ... (NIV)."  Knowing this great city is Jerusalem , you might wonder why God associates the city He loves (Psalm 46:4) with the wicked city of Sodom .  The answer to this question is found in Ezekiel 16.  I quote from the NIV.                

"This is what the Sovereign Lord says to Jerusalem : Your ancestry and birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.  On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths.  No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised."

Canaanite tribes who occupied the land that would become Jerusalem saw no inherent value in the property, so they left it undeveloped.            

"Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, "Live!"  I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew and developed and entered puberty. Your breasts had formed and your hair had grown, yet you were stark naked."

Leave it to the Lord to take unwanted property, develop it into something beautiful, and claim it for His own.

"Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your naked body.  I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you … I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you.  I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put sandals of fine leather on you … I adorned you with … gold and silver … your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty …" 

The Lord not only rescued the land that would become Jerusalem , He married Himself to that land. 

"But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favours on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his ...  You took the … gold and silver … I gave you … and you made for yourself male idols and engaged in prostitution with them ... You took your sons and daughters whom you bore to me and sacrificed them as food to the idols ... You slaughtered my children ... At every street corner you built your shrines and degraded your beauty, spreading your legs with increasing promiscuity to anyone who passed by ... You engaged in prostitution with … neighbours with large genitals."

Jerusalem gave herself to any guy with a large penis.   That's pretty vivid language.   

"You adulterous wife!  You prefer strangers to your own husband!  All prostitutes receive gifts, but you give gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from everywhere for your illicit favours."

Prostitutes are normally paid for their services, but not so with Jerusalem .  She was so enamoured with her God given beauty that she paid men to have sex with her. 

This is just a sample of Ezekiel 16.  You might want to read the whole chapter.  Jerusalem is portrayed as a pitiful, discarded, baby who the Lord rescued and eventually took for Himself in marriage.  He transformed her into a gorgeously attractive woman, but she took her beauty and gave herself to her pagan neighbours.  For this reason Revelation 11:8 associates Jerusalem with Sodom , but the story doesn't end here.  

Ezekiel predicted the day when God would punish Jerusalem for her sin.  "Therefore, you prostitute … this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because you poured out your lust and exposed your naked body in your promiscuity with your lovers … I am going to gather all your lovers, with whom you found pleasure … I will gather them against you from all around and will strip you in front of them, and they will see you stark naked.  I will sentence you to the punishment … I will bring on you the blood vengeance of my wrath and jealous anger.  Then I will deliver you into the hands of your lovers, and they will tear down your mounds and destroy your lofty shrines. I will put a stop to your prostitution, and you will no longer pay your lovers." 

All of the Old Testament prophets predicted the day when God's wrath would be poured out on Jerusalem .  The nations to whom Jerusalem gave herself in times past will become, and I suggest have already become, her enemies.  Although Jerusalem has experienced God's anger in past centuries, she has yet to experience His wrath as predicted by the Old Testament prophets.  Joel 3:2 will be fulfilled when all nations invade Judah and Jerusalem as an act of divine judgment.  It's known as the time of Jacob's trouble (Jeremiah 30:7). 

Judgment isn't the end of the Jerusalem story either.  Ezekiel 16 ends by saying; "This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will deal with you as you deserve, because you have despised my oath by breaking the covenant.   Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you … I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord.  Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed and never again open your mouth because of your humiliation, declares the Sovereign Lord".

Ezekiel echoes all of the prophets when he predicted the restoration of Jerusalem as God's beloved wife.  If the word everlasting in this text means everlasting, and, if God hates divorce, then His remarriage to Jerusalem will be both certain and eternal.


Verse 10 says that all those living on earth will throw a great party because these two men who have tormented them are now dead.  They exchange gifts as if it were Christmas.  This clearly shows us how ungodly the world will be at this stage in human history.  The mentality that causes those alive in the world at this time to send gifts to each other because of the death of two of God's prophets is with us today.  Those who stand for God are being ridiculed more and more as time goes on, and, when it gets to this point in history, the ridicule will turn violent.      


In verse 11 we see these men don’t stay dead.  They are raised from the dead when the breath of life from God comes back to them.  The words "breath of life from God" reminds me of the creation account in Genesis 1 and 2.  God breathed the breath of life into Adam and he became a living being.  God breathes the breath of life into these two men and once again, they become living beings.  The very breath that we breathe comes from God, whether we are Christian or not.  The Apostle Paul states this as well in Acts 17:25.           


In verse 12 God calls these two prophets up to heaven to be with Him once again.  Some suggest that this is a second rapture.   They say that the tribulation saints are raptured at this point, but I don't see it that way.  If I am going to be consistent and say that only John and not the church was caught up into heaven in chapter 4 verse 1, then, I've got to say only these two men were caught up to heaven here.  


We note that the world was shocked with terror when these two witnesses came to life, and now the world sees them raptured to heaven, just as Jesus and the church was raptured to heaven.  This is going to be just another very dramatic moment during this period of time.


In verse 13, while the two witnesses were being taken up to Heaven there was another great earthquake.  If you do a study of earthquakes in the Bible, you will note that they often associated with God's judgment. 


Whoever saw the resurrection of these two men were struck with fear, and why not.  This would put fear into any one, but, it did not put the fear of God in those who saw this miracle.  We see throughout the book of Revelation that no matter what God does, many still reject Him, even though they know it's Him behind what is happening on earth.


Verse 13 speaks of the earthquake I've just mentioned.  One tenth of the city was affected, that's the city of Jerusalem.  Clearly, this judgment is towards the Jews for rejecting the two prophets of God.  We should realize that these two prophets prophesied in Jerusalem only.  I suggest their ministry was to the Jews in Jerusalem and when the Jews rejected them, God took them and caused this great earthquake.  That being said, the survivors gave glory to God.  This is the beginning of the prophecy that Paul spoke of in Romans 11:26 where he said all Israel would be saved.     


The earthquake we see here is part of the refining process of Israel as seen in Zechariah 13:9.  Part of the reason for the tribulation period of time is to being Israel to her knees so she will return to her God.  Since the residents of Jerusalem praise God after this earthquake, I suggest that the process of repentance is now beginning to be seen in Israel .       


Verse 13 tells us that seven thousand people died.  Again, I take this number to be literal and not symbolic.  Is this number a rough estimate because it is a rounded off number?  Maybe it is, but there is no reason why we can't understand this to be a literal seven thousand people.       


In verse 14 we see that this is the end of the second woe.  So what we’ve just seen is actually part of the sixth trumpet sound because the sixth trumpet sound is the second woe.         


The Seventh Trumpet (ch. 11:15-19)


The scene in this section takes place in Heaven.  This is an interlude between the two halves of the tribulation period.  Some call the first half of the tribulation the tribulation and the second half as the Great Tribulation because of the severity of what takes place on earth.  Some even say the tribulation period is strictly the last three and a half years, not all of the last seven years.  I tend to see the tribulation as lasting seven years, with the last three and a half years being the worst.


In verse 15 we see the seventh trumpet sound.  It is very similar to the seventh seal being opened.  What you see from here on out is the wrapping up of the tribulation period that takes place over the last three and a half years.    


In verse 15 you see that John hears a loud voice.  As I've said before, it seems that every time John hears something in heaven it is very loud to his ears.  It might well be that being human, with frail human ears, heavenly sounds are very loud.  Once we get there, these sounds may not be so loud since we will no longer  be in our earthly frail bodies.  


A loud voice says many things that make us think that this is the end of the age; the end of the tribulation is right around the corner at this point in the narrative.  The voice says “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord …”  This has to suggest the end.  It tells us that the thousand year rule of Jesus is not far off when the Kingdom of God will replace the kingdoms of men here on earth.


We should note that verse 15 states that the rule of Jesus will be for ever and ever.  We know that the thousand year rule on earth will end after one thousand years, but, the rule of Jesus will go on for ever and ever on the new earth as we see in the last two chapters of Revelation. 


Verse 15 states that the kingdoms of men will be replaced by the Kingdom of Christ.  We should realize that how good a nation and its government might be, in the eyes of God it still needs to be replaced.  We should view the nation in which we live as God views it, and God views it in opposition to Him.  We must also realize that Christians are first and foremost citizens of the Kingdom of God.  We may be citizens of the nation we live in, but the Kingdom of God should take priority over the nation in which we live.     


In verse 16 we also see the twenty four elders once again worshipping God on their thrones as we saw them in chapter 5 and after the opening of the seventh seal.  Note how these elders worship.  They fall on their faces.  This is an act of humiliation.  No matter whom we are, whether human or angelic, before the God of all there is there is nothing we can do but fall in total humility before Him.               


In verse 17 we see the elders saying that Jesus has begun to reign.  This too has to be seen as the end of this age and the beginning of the next age, even though there is still three and a half years left of the tribulation.  The point to be made here is simple.  Even though the thousand year rule of Christ has not official began, Jesus is ruling on earth.  His judgments as seen in Revelation prove that to be true.      


We also note in verse 17 that the Lord God exists in the past, the present, and the future and I might add, all at once.  Again, God lives outside of our time zone.  Time as we know it does not exist in heaven.  Eternity is timeless.    


People holding to the Historic view suggest that this is actually the ascension of Jesus and the reign is when He sits on the throne in Heaven in the church age.  I certainly don't believe that.   


Verse 17 is spoken to the “Lord God Almighty”, who I believe is God the Father.


In verse 18 it says “the nations were angry and your wrath has come”.  I would think the wrath spoken of here is the wrath of the Lamb.  The nations of earth will be angry at Jesus as He shows His wrath to those who have not submitted to Him and His rule.  This does not make them repent.  It only makes them angrier.  Some decide to hold off giving their lives to Jesus to a future date, but the future might not be so kind to them, making them angrier at God and less willing to give their lives to Him.


Verse 18 sounds very much like Psalm 2, which is worth reading in light of this chapter.  The nations will rage against Jesus as Psalm 2 predicts, but also as Psalm 2 predicts, God will sit back and laugh.  He is in total control 


We also see in verse 18 that the twenty four elders acknowledge that it is now time for judging the dead.  At the moment, I think this is in reference to the Great White Throne judgment found in Revelation 20.  In that judgment, the wicked are judged for their deeds and thrown into the Lake of Fire . 


Verse 18 also tells us that God's prophets will be rewarded.  Since Revelation is all about Israel first and then the nations of the world, I take the prophets mentioned here to be Old Testament Jewish prophets.  For the most part, they lived lonely and difficult lives.  They will be rewarded for their faithfulness.   


Verse 18 also states that the saints and those who reverence the name of God will be rewarded.  If we carry on in the vein that the prophets spoken of here are Old Testament Jewish prophets, I suggest the saints spoken of here are Old Testament Jewish saints.    


The last phrase in verse 18 says, “and for destroying those who destroy the earth”.  The time has now come to destroy the ungodly who have destroyed the earth.  A lot of destruction has come to the earth in the last seven years, during the Great Tribulation.  This destruction came from God but was done because of wicked men.  This verse might also suggest that these wicked men destroyed the earth.  In the Garden of Eden God told Adam to subdue the earth and look after it.  Well, as the end approaches we see that man has not done that. We have destroyed much of the earth through war, pollution and mismanagement.   


In verse 19 we see that there is a temple in heaven.  This temple is clearly situated in Heaven, not on earth.  For the first time in the vision we see the doors of this temple opened.   Inside the temple can be seen the ark of the covenant and from the ark comes lightning and thunder. Once again the lightning and thunder show us the majestic power of God and all that is in Heaven.  


You might recall that the Old Testament tabernacle was to be a mere image of the temple in Heaven.  We see that to be true in this verse.  We now get a glimpse into what Moses was told about so long ago, when in great detail he was given instructions to build a temple looking like the one we see here.       


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