Chapter 11 continues the parenthetical information concerning the time of the seven trumpets.
When the 7th trumpet is sounded, the Lord Jesus is coming. In chapter 11, we will study the two witnesses.
1. ¶ 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.
Here we have the setting of the two witnesses. A reed like unto a rod – this is a surveyor’s instrument shaped like a rod. The rod is a reed of the common type grown in the Jordan Valley. It is light weight, probably ten or twelve feet long, and ideal for a measuring reed. John is told to measure the temple, the altar and even the worshipers. This is the temple which will be rebuilt in Jerusalem; the same temple in which the Man of Sin will demand to be worshiped and overthrow Jewish worship (2 Thess. 2:4). This temple will be built by unbelievers in the first part of the Tribulation. This temple will be sponsored by the false prophet, who is a Jew and dictator of Palestine along with the beast, who is dictator of the revived Roman empire. The measuring is an act of claiming or staking out. It is symbolic of God’s possession of the temple. The fact that even the worshipers are measured indicates that God is beginning again to deal with the nation Israel. This is Daniel’s 70th week (Dan. 9:27).
It is in this temple, in the middle of the Tribulation, a golden statue of the dictator of the revived Roman Empire will be placed.
This is the abomination of desolation (Matt. 24:15; Dan. 9:27, 11:31, 12:11).
1. There are 2 dictators involved in this worship during the Tribulation. One is a Gentile who is dictator of the revived Roman empire, and the other a Jew who is dictator of Palestine.
2. The Gentile dictator will be head of the ecumenical religious movement and ruler of the revived Roman empire.
3. In Revelation 11:1-4, we have the two witnesses of Christ and in Rev. 13, we will study the two witnesses of the devil.
The altar in verse 1 speaks of the death of Christ on the cross, and this is meaningless to the two evil dictators. They ignore Christ completely. Them that worship – refers to the unbelieving Jews, who constantly worship the fake dictator during the Tribulation. They are apostate Jews.
The believing Jews fled to the mountains. The believing Jews during the last half of the Tribulation are told to stand their ground and fight.
Matt. 24 gives exact instructions for these Jews during the Tribulation period.
During the first half of the Tribulation, they are to run to the mountains (Isa. 16). But during the last half, they are told to stand and fight. They are converts of the two witnesses.
2. 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.
But the court – there are courtyards around the temple. He was not to measure the Gentile court. The angel specifically instructs John not to measure the court of the temple, for it is outside the Holy Place and given to the nations who shall tread it under foot 42 months. Read Ezekiel 42:20. The profane place in this verse may be the present Mosque that is there.
The dictator will run Jerusalem 42 months.
42 months is 3 ½ years. The two witnesses (Moses & Elijah) will preach for 3 ½ years minus two weeks, and during that time, they will be killed and will be resurrected. Here we are told that the Gentiles will tread the outer court of the city underfoot for three and one half years after the covenant of peace with Israel is broken. (Dan. 9:27)
3. ¶ And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
At this time chronologically, the Lord’s power or authority will be given to 2 witnesses. During the first half of the Tribulation, God’s spokesmen are the 144,000 sealed servants of Israel. However, after these servants finish their ministry and flee to the mountains (12:6), God does not leave this earth without a messenger of the gospel. Two powerful preachers are raised up at the middle of the Tribulation Period and prophesy 1,260 days. It is the ministry of these two preachers which incites the wrath of the Antichrist. The 2 witnesses will be preaching almost 3 ½ years – 42 months – 1,260 days minus two weeks. They will preach every day. These witnesses are clothed in sackcloth and are said to be the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth (vs. 4). Clothed in sackcloth – black goatskin – this is the badge of the prophet. We are dealing with the Jews here, but millions of Gentiles will be saved.
The battle is between religion and the truth of Christ.
4. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
Two olive trees – old covenant – represents the testimony of Israel – the oil of the olives represents the Holy Spirit. The figure of olive trees is brought over from Zech. 4:3, 14 and simply means that they are anointed ones. Two candlesticks – new covenant – represents the testimony of New Testament. The wick burning of the candlestick represents the Holy Spirit. The figure of the two candlesticks or lampstands refers to the witnesses’ character as the bearers of God’s light in the dark days of judgment. Moses and Elijah understood the working of the Holy Spirit better than any two men that ever lived.
5. 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 this manner be killed.
Here we have their protection and provisions. Their ministry for the Lord is outstanding.If – is a first class condition and means many will try to hurt them. It is a fact, a true situation.
Religion will try to kill them because of their emotions. The word for will here is thelo and means the will that comes from emotions. Remember it was religion that killed Jesus Christ.
But God is going to keep these two witnesses alive until they have finished their work.
6. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
This shows the power God gives these two witnesses. They will have power (1) to kill their enemies with fire; (2) to withhold the rain; (3) to turn the waters to blood; and (4) to bring plagues upon the earth. Moses and Elijah are these two witnesses. In the days of their flesh, it was Elijah to whom God gave power to shut up the heavens so that it didn’t rain. It was Moses to whom God gave the power to turn the Nile River into pure blood and cause the plagues of Egypt.
HOW WE CAN IDENTIFY THESE TWO WITNESSES
1. Many say one was Enoch. The flood would start when 120 years of Noah’s preaching was concluded. Methuselah died and Enoch went up. So people guess it was Enoch and they say Elijah was the other. The problem with Enoch is that he was a Gentile, and Jesus was a Jew and a Jew would have two Jewish heralds. So we can eliminate Enoch.
2. In the Jewish age, the Jews refused to give the gospel. In the Tribulation, Jews will refuse to give the gospel.
3. Jesus revealed the names of these two witnesses in Matthew 16:28-17:3. On the Mount of Transfiguration, the two heralds are there, Moses and Elijah.
4. The real problem is John the Baptist. In Malachi 4:4-6, we have a prediction of the coming of John the Baptist. John is the herald of the first advent, and Moses and Elijah are the heralds of the second advent.
5. If Christ had been accepted in the first advent, there would have been only one herald. But we have two heralds at the second coming to give emphasis to the importance of the second advent.
6. Therefore, we conclude Moses and Elijah are the two heralds of the second advent.
7. Look at the Scripture. In Luke 1:16, 17, we are told John the Baptist will have the same spirit as Elijah. In John 1:21, John is not Elijah and he said so. If Jesus had been accepted in His first advent, Elijah would have been herald of the first advent rather than John the Baptist. In Matthew 17:10-13, we have Scripture that tells us John took the place of Elijah in the first advent.
8. We have definite identification of the two witnesses:
a. Acts 3:21, 22 – Moses
b. Matthew 17:11 – Elijah.
Many believe the two witnesses will be Israel and the church, and they lay in the streets of Jerusalem. Others believe the two witnesses will be the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, but how would you kill the Holy Spirit and the Word, and lay in the streets of Jerusalem.
Some think John the Baptist will be one of the two witnesses, but John was the herald of the first advent of Christ. In Revelation 11:1, 2, we have the setting for the work of the two witnesses. We saw the restoration of the Jewish temple in the Tribulation. The temple was so distorted, that no truth could come out of that temple, so it was necessary for God to send Moses and Elijah to do their work. The phrase in verse 1 “measure the temple of God, and the altar” spoke of salvation, which had been rejected by most of the Jews in Tribulation. The temple speaks of Jesus Christ. “Them that worship” refers to the unbelieving Jews. The temple was built in the first 3 ½ years of the Tribulation and in the middle of the 7 year Tribulation the anti-Christ put up his statue in the temple and demands the world to worship him. Matthew 24:15 speaks of this as well as does Daniel 9:27.
So here, we find the two witnesses bringing their message in the worst of times. Satan will use his ace trump which is religion against these men. The two dictators agree to put the statue up in the temple, the Gentile dictator of the revived Roman empire and the Jewish dictator of Palestine. The dictator of Palestine aligns with the power of the west which is the revived Roman empire against the powers of the north, which is the former Soviet Union, the powers of the south, which are the Arab block countries, the powers of the east, which are the oriental countries. The Palestine dictator makes this alignment with the west by using the riches of Israel including the wealth of the Dead Sea.
In verse 2 of chapter 11, the court of the Gentiles is to be omitted. A great struggle develops over Judaism, legalism and Christianity. Also, it may be omitted because of the Dome of the Rock (Ezek. 42:20). Chapter 11 tells of the intense struggles. Zechariah 12 and 14 tells the story of how converts of Moses and Elijah stand their ground and fight in Jerusalem. In verse 3 of chapter 11 the ministry of Moses and Elijah are described. Their dress is sackcloth, the prophets’ badge.
Moses represents the Law and Elijah represents the prophets. The reason these two witnesses are not names is because the men are not important, the important thing is their message.
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.
At last the ministry of these two great prophets will come to an abrupt and brutal end. When they have finished their ministry, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
“Ascendeth out of the bottomless pit” – This anti-Christ arose from the pit of the people and speaks of his hellish actions. “Make war” – against the witnesses of Christ. To overcome them and kill them. Notice that absolutely nothing happens to these two witnesses until they have finished their testimony. They are invincible up to that point. Nothing can thwart the purposes of God. But, as in the case of many other great prophets of God, when their ministry is finished, God permits their enemy to overcome 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.
Two witnesses are killed and lay in the streets. As if the murder of the two witnesses isn’t enough for this godless beast, he also allows their dead bodies to lie in the street of that great city, Jerusalem, here spiritually characterized by Sodom and Egypt. Sodom stands for moral corruption; Egypt for the spiritual darkness of the world. You can imagine the hatred that would allow these two bodies to lie in the street until the stench is unbearable.
9. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
Tells us here that millions and millions will see their bodies. These dead men will evidently get world wide television coverage. Spirit left their bodies, but the bodies are not permitted to be buried.
10. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
These could be called the devil’s people. So great is the antagonism toward their preaching of repentance that the whole earth will be jubilant at the news of the death of the two witnesses. Every time a prophet of God preaches to people about their sins there is a certain amount of resentment on the sinners’ part. But just imagine, the death of these two invokes rejoicing throughout the earth to such an extent that a holiday is proclaimed, and they that dwell on the earth will actually send gifts to one another in rejoicing over the prophets’ deaths. So here we see the reaction of religion to the two of the greatest believers who ever lived.
“These two prophets tormented them” – means that they were tormented mentally and physically.
11. And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.
The forces of Satan will not have long to glory in their deaths; however, for in 3 ½ days God will raise to life these two witnesses and shall call them to come up to Him. The will ascend to heaven in a cloud as their enemies behold them. Here is another great victory for God. Fear fell on the unbeliever, but please notice fear did not bring them to faith in Christ.
12. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
This is the ascension of the two witnesses to Heaven. God gave them a promotion. Come up hither – means they were raised into Heaven. Their enemies beheld – Religion and the world watched as these men went to Heaven but they didn’t believe.
13. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
Within the hour, Jesus hits Jerusalem with judgment. So great is the impact of this resurrection that in the same hour, a great earthquake destroys a 1/10 of the city of Jerusalem. 7,000 men are swallowed up as those who remain give glory to the God of heaven out of fear. Thus the second woe dramatically comes to a conclusion. Those that were left were afraid and recognized and gave glory to God, but did not believe.
14. ¶ The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
The second woe is the 6th trumpet and the aftermath of the work of the two witnesses. The worst is yet to come.
15. And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
This resumes a narrative of future events with the dynamic announcement that Christ shall reign forever and ever. This is the beginning of the end, and even though some additional events must take place before the kingdom is established, nevertheless the announcement is made, for victory is in the air. This will be the fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies (e.g., Ps 2:2; Isa 9:6-7; Dan 2:44). This is the 2nd coming of Christ to David’s throne. The 7th angel sounded the 7th trumpet. God keeps His word. Great voices in heaven – this is the voice of God’s redeemed. Kingdoms of this world of which now the devil is the god of. Matt. 4:1-11, the god of this world made Christ a bonafide offer. A shortcut – a crown without a cross. To have a kingdom, you must have a king. Christ in this verse will take the world’s kingdoms.
Points on the kingdom
1. The kingdom is promised (2 Sam. 17:8-15)
2. The kingdom was prophesied (Isa 66:11; 2; 65; 35).
3. The kingdom was presented. The true king was born (Luke 2).
a. He presented His credentials and was not received.
b. King was rejected and after a few years, He went back to Heaven. He left the church in His place.
4. The kingdom was proclaimed. Moses and Elijah proclaimed His kingdom (Rev. 10; 11).
5. The kingdom is perfected. The King of kings comes and sets up His kingdom (Rev. 11:15).
Remember, God will keep His word – His covenant with the Jews.
1. Abrahamic Covenant
2. Davidic Covenant
The Jews will gather back to their homeland (Zech. 8:23). Christ will come back in person to rule from David’s throne. Christ will rule a thousand years. Why will we have the thousand year reign? There will be no evil, no religion, nature change, but God will show that perfect environment is not the solution to man’s problems.
TWELVE THINGS THAT WILL TAKE PLACE WHEN CHRIST COMES
1. When Christ comes and His feet stands on the Mount of Olives, religion will be the first to go. It will be gone forever.
2. There will be great spirituality on earth. Now we have false spirituality, emotions.
3. The land will be restored – land will be regenerated – we will visit Jerusalem and we will walk arm and arm with the Jews.
4. War will be over, we won’t need them anymore.
5. There will be universal prosperity (Psalm 72; Isa. 65). Perfect production – desert will bloom – the land will give its total production.
6. There will be universal knowledge of God. Everyone will know God (Isa. 11:9).
7. There will be perfect government. We don’t have it now. All the government programs will not bring perfection, but Christ will. Everyone will be dealt with perfectly.
8. There will be a radical change in nature (Isa. 65). The lion and lamb shall eat together.
9. There will be perfect justice prevailing in the earth (Isa. 11:3, 4). Righteousness will cover the earth as water covers the sea.
10. Satan will be in a pit.
11. Life will be extended – many will live 1,000 years (Isa. 65). The cure for cancer, heart trouble will be in the millennial reign.
12. Church age saints will rule with Christ during the Millennium.
16. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshiped God,
The 24 elders represent God’s resurrected, immortalized, raptured, transfigured saints in Heaven. Sat before God on their lesser thrones. Fell on their faces only place in the Bible we find this clause, never before, but at the announcement of the coming of Christ, they fell upon their faces and did reverence to God.
17. Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.
Here is what they said. They gave thanks to God. Which art this is a present active participle and means you have always been the Son of God. You are not the coming one, you are the one already here. Wast means you were the Son of God in the past. You took on human flesh and continued to be the Son of God and now you are still the Son of God. Art to come. – means Christ has fulfilled His promise of coming again. Taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned – means that Christ is now in His rightful place and is the true King.
18. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.
Between verses 17 and 18, 1,000 years past. This is speaking of the Great White Throne Judgement. Thy servants, the prophets means Moses and all the prophets. And to the saints – means the Tribulation saints.
19. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
In the midst of the elders’ praise, John sees the temple of God as the heavens open, and in the temple is the ark of His covenant. Lightnings, voices, thunder, an earthquake, and great hail are seen as well. This is the temple in Heaven. The earthly temple in Jerusalem was a symbol of the heavenly temple. This event just precedes the final outpouring of judgment and, as has been noted, the judgments are gaining in severity. Since the temple in Jerusalem has been defiled by the beast, it is not surprising to see a heavenly temple from which God rules in holiness.
Ark of the covenant – And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go aft it (Josh. 3:3). The priest was to go to the middle of the Jordan River and wait till all passed over. This was a token that the Lord was with them. The ark of the covenant represents the presence of God. The ark of the covenant in Heaven suggests that the worship of God is directed toward a new center. Under the old dispensation, the ark of the covenant was a witness to the principle of true worship. The ark in Heaven contained within it those facts and truths which contained the covenant ties woven between God and His people.
The ark in Heaven is the pledge of eternal salvation and victory to all of God’s people.
The ark of the covenant contained:
a. Broken law.
b. Aaron’s rod that budded.
c. Pot of manna.
There were lightnings – this is symbolic of God’s power and presence.
The presence of the ark of the covenant indicates that the judgements about to take place are based on the law, and God always keeps His covenants. As God is faithful to us who will be raptured before this period of tribulation, so too He will be faithful to those who trust in Him during this hour of trial.
Clark, Neal. Survey of the Book of Revelation. Pensacola, Florida: Thee WFBI Press, 1999. Print.
Falwell, Jerry. Liberty Commentary on the New Testament. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty Press, 1978. Print.