|Two Witnesses Chapter
Ch 11:1-2 Most likely an angel (most believe Jesus) gave John the measuring rod. In the KJV and the ancient Aramaic Bibles, the term "and the angel stood" before "said" or "saying". Most versions of the New Testament have rejected those words. That is not as important and will not destroy the understanding. With what we know, it probably was an angel. This rod is similar to that in other passages (Ezek. 40:3). Ezekiel's rod was a reed or staff that was about 10 feet long. It was used for measuring in Biblical times. Then John is told to measure the Temple. This must be the earthly temple because of the context and following verses about the two witnesses. This also confirms the need for a third earthly Temple before the rapture and tribulation begin. There are some who believe that the Moslem regime will be overcome and the new Temple will be built during the first 3-1/2 years of the tribulation. After it is built, it will then be used for profane purposes. Remember, if we accept the 7 year tribulation period, it will start at the point of a very charismatic man leading an agreement with the Jews for peace. Is part of the agreement a new Temple?
The measuring of the Temple appears to be the same significance as it was in Zecharia (Zech 2:2-4). The measuring informs us that God is going to possess the Temple and control the people in it. It could be referring to the measuring or documenting for posterity and memory because the Temple will be taken over by the gentiles and profaned. This will be for a total of 42 months or 3-1/2 years (Great Tribulation). "and the Holy City" refers to Jerusalem. So the gentiles will tread on, destroy, and profane the Temple and Jerusalem. It is only fair to say, there are some scholars that say the 3-1/2 years may be prophetic years which translates to 1260 years (year/day). That argument comes from Dan. 7:25 which refers to "time plus times plus 1/2 time" statement. Most scholars still say this term means "year plus years (2) plus 1/2 year".
Although one can actually measure the Temple, what does is mean to measure the people? Most likely this is meant to "measure" the spirituality of the people. How are they worshiping? Who are they worshiping?
John was told NOT to measure the area surrounding the formal Temple. The Greek ethnos for "nations" means gentiles, pagan, or non-Jewish. The KJV uses the word "gentile". That area is not a part of the true Temple. The Temple tradition is: the inner court for only priests (4), the next court for only Hebrew Men (5), the next court for only Hebrew Women (9) (and Hebrew men) (5), then the Outer court (the court which is outside the formal temple area) for the Gentiles. The Gentiles shall still dominate the outer court for 42 months (3-1/2 years). This appears to be the last 3-1/2 years of the Trib. Since God is measuring to possess- the Antichrist must now have possession of the Temple. The Antichrist's possession was only in the 2nd half of the Trib.
The Two Witnesses:
Ch 11:3 Now God causes two mighty prophets to arise. They are called "My two witnesses". Therefore, it is Jesus who is declaring the two witnesses will be on earth with powers and authority over anyone else. Their ministry is clearly 1260 days (42 months; 3-1/2 years). They will be clothed in sack cloth. Sack cloth is made of coarse material fashioned from goat or camel hair. It is usually worn as a sign of mourning or anguish, also used during fasting and sitting on an ash heap (Isa. 58:5). Jonah 3:8 notes even animals mourned in sack cloth. The shape of the garment could have been either a loose-fitting sack placed over the shoulders or a loin cloth.The sack cloth is a sign of humility and bad times (i.e. evil times requiring repentance). The witnesses give testimony to God's salvation.
Let's discuss who these witnesses might be. The most common choices by scholars are Elijah and Moses or Elijah and Enoch. A likely pair is Elijah and Moses because they were with Jesus at his ascension. The only thing we know for sure is they will be, as a minimum, like Elijah and Moses. Only time will tell. The two witnesses stand for the Law and the Prophets. That would fit Moses and Elijah. From "my witnesses", one knows they are known to Jesus and have been serving Him. They are definitely men and not angels. This is known because later on the witnesses are killed. Angels do not get killed.
Elijah was chosen because the Old Testament says Elijah will be sent back to us before the coming of the dreadful day of the Lord. Some have said the witness is John the Baptist. However, John the Baptist, himself, said he was not Elijah. "preceding the coming of the Lord" is for the second coming; not for His birth or His death (Mal. 5:5-6). Elijah was taken into heaven without dying (2 Kings 2:11). Therefore, Elijah would not die twice when the witnesses are killed. Remember, to be saved, one must be born twice (body life birth and acceptance of Christ). If one is born twice, he will die only once. Since Elijah did not die, he would fill that criteria.
Some say one witness is Moses. Moses did die once (Deut. 34:5-6). Since the witness died, Moses would have to die twice. One reason to believe it could be Moses is his ability to perform the miracles. The witnesses perform many miracles similar to those of Moses. However, anyone that God would put in the position of the witness would have the powers necessary to stay alive.
Enoch was the only other person who did not die. He was taken by God (Gen. 5:24; Heb. 11:5). Neither Enoch nor Elijah were given immortal bodies when they were taken or translated into heaven because immortality in the form of new bodies can not come about until Jesus comes, dies, and rises (1 Cor. 15:22-23). Elijah and Enoch could be the witnesses to be sent to complete their work on earth.
Ch 11:4 It is apparent that Jesus is using the symbolism that is similar to Zechariah (Zech. 4:2-14). The witnesses are called olive trees and candlestands or lampstands. The olive tree lives very long, is very strong, and delivers fruit. If you visit the Holy Land near the Garden of Gethsemane there are olive trees there that they say could actually have been there at the time of Jesus. KJV calls the witnesses candlesticks; other versions refer to the witnesses lampstands. The better Greek translation for Luchnia would be better called lampstands (similar identity as earlier in Revelation when Christ was amid the 7 lampstands). The witnesses will be two bright lamps, burning and shining lights for God amid as diabolical age.
Ch 11:5 For their time of 3-1/2 years, they will be protected by God. They will be feared and hated above all men and many attempts will be made to kill them. However, They will be able to strike down their assassins. They will have all the powers of the old age prophets. Such power is only available to the Christ (2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 2:16; 19:15). Remember that Elijah could call down fire from heaven (1 Kings 18:37-38; 2 Kings 1:10, 12). He was also invulnerable at that time.
Ch 11:6 The witnesses will have much power to show signs. In addition, they will be preaching and trying to get people to come to God. They will be able to shut off the rain. This obviously would create a famine because crops could not grow. They will be able to turn waters into blood. This was, of course, very similar to the abilities of Moses. So the witnesses will be able to bring plagues on earth (Rev 9:20). Elijah predicted a 3-1/2 year drought in Israel(James 5:17).
IMPORTANT POINT - When are the witnesses on earth??: There has been a question on when the witnesses will be on earth. Were they in the first half or the second half of the Tribulation? There are those who believe the witnesses show in this place in the end of the world prophecy. However, since this part of the study is an interlude, the chronology may not be in the sequence in Revelation. In fact, they were in their work of 3-1/2 years in the first half of the Tribulation. A challenge to you is to go back and read the seals and trumpets. Now with the knowledge of the witnesses and their power, look at the God given powers to the witnesses as the causes of the drought, fire, famine, war, etc. It is very logical God used the witnesses because that was their purpose. In addition and most important, the antichrist cannot have total power with the witnesses on earth. The witnesses cannot be killed. Therefore, the witnesses are thorns in his side until the witnesses are vulnerable to be killed (after 3-1/2 years). We will be learning that in the last 3-1/2 years the antichrist has total power with no major power capable of overpowering him. Therefore, the witnesses must die at the end of the first 3-1/2 years.
Ch 11:7 Now for the first time, the "beast" is mentioned. This is an important character in the direction of the world history. Scripture says that after the two witnesses completed their work or completed their testimony, the beast descended on them with war. The protection they had from God is now gone. For purposes we shall see shortly, the witnesses are now at the mercy of the new regime. The witnesses have now completed their preaching and converting.
Who is the beast? At this point we can say scripture says it is a creature out of an abyss or bottomless pit. This beast is important from now on. The beast has been called everything from just an bad idea that emerges all the way to an actual beast. In the context of Revelation, this beast comes out of the depths of evil, from a bottom-less pit. One thing we can say, this is not a man but a demon of a type. This beast is definitely Satan controlled. That can only be true because of the evil he does. Later on, John tells more about the beast. At this time, it almost looks as if John expected or knows of this beast. In fact he does. Daniel told him all about him (Dan. 7; 9:26). John apparently recognized the fourth creature in Daniel as the evil one to come at the end times. In Daniel, the "Prince that shall come" makes a seven year covenant with the Jews. So, during the first 3-1/2 years, the beast is setting up his kingdom and world of power. Satan, himself, will shortly show himself. This beast now, after the 3-1/2 years, is allowed to show his power. This person has been known as the antichrist. At about the same time this is happening, the demonic "horsemen" are slaying 1/3 of the world's population. Now the antichrist must stop the "horsemen" and the two witnesses. He now is given the power and kills the two witnesses.
There are people that say this antichrist is a resurrection of a past evil character. Some of these people are Nero, Mussolini, Hitler, Judas, and others of evil past. However, the important thing here is Satan does not have the power to resurrect. God created; God can resurrect. Therefore, these cannot be resurrected. God is not going to resurrect evil. There will be a resurrection of a type when the antichrist is apparently killed and comes back to life. This would be a counterfeit of the resurrected Christ; i.e. he could be called the antichrist.
Ch 11:8 The dead bodies of the two witnesses are left in the streets. This is not only a show of power but a celebration period for all followers of the antichrist. Up until this time, the witnesses win every battle in which they are involved. Now, the antichrist actually kills them.This is a big show of power. Moral decay will occur in Jerusalem. Now there is a symbol of how bad it has become. The "great city" of Jerusalem is now called a Sodom and Egypt. Jerusalem is further identified as the place where Jesus was crucified. How evil can they get? Sodom is connected with illicit behaviors and sexual perversion. Egypt is known for the terrible evils and persecution that came about during the 400 years of Israel captivity.
Ch 11:9-10 To leave a body unburied is to treat it with contempt, and among the ancients nothing was regarded more dishonorable than such treatment. For 3-1/2 days the body is left on the ground. The bodies start to decay and smell. This is somewhat analogous to Jesus and His preaching. He was preaching and causing many problems for certain people for about 3-1/2 years. The people are now so happy they literally will have celebrations and exchange presents. If the great prince has overcome the witnesses, how great is his power, possibly even greater than God. As a matter of fact, maybe he IS God. Some people have coined the term "The Devil's Christmas" because of the type of celebrating that will go on.
Ch 11:11-12 Now a very strange thing will happen in front of all the people. Remember, also, at this time, there will be world wide coverage. Also, communications are sophisticated enough that any event can be viewed in real time. This event is seen. Now the "partying" people, drunk and all, see the bodies begin to stir. Slowly the bodies rise up from death to apparent life. The TV cameras zoom in on this. All the rejoicing stops. The people are frightened to death. Hysteria occurs. A great voice from heaven calls the witnesses. They ascend in a cloud while all their enemies watch with their mouths open.
Ch 11:13 When the resurrections of the witnesses occurred, there will be something like an earthquake and 1/10 of the city will fall. There will be 7000 men killed from the earthquakes. An earthquake could also be a symbol of commotion, agitation, change; of great political revolutions, etc. There is no question that this occurs because of the death and resurrection of the witnesses. A similar thing occurred when Jesus was crucified. There was black, earthquakes, and the curtain of the Holiest of Holies was torn open. The witnesses will witness for the Lord; now the Lord God will witness for the witnesses. It appears the remnant or remainder of the people will be so frightened that they will be to the point of turning to God (Luke 5:26). However, it appears this will be short lived as will later be studied. The text implies that only men will be killed. This could be literal or just referring to "mankind". With 7000 men killed, the population of Jerusalem will be about 300,000 at the time of this resurrection. Ch 11:14 Now the third woe is announced. How much worse could it get? The first two woes had been announced (Rev. 8:13). The first woe occurred in Rev. 9:1-12 (plague of demonic scorpion locusts). The second woe occurred in Rev. 9:13-21 (scourge of 200 million devil horsemen plus judgments of the two witnesses). If is thought this will be about the end of the first 3-1/2 years. The witnesses are now dead. The full reign of the beast can now occur. Ch 11:15 Important: Now the seventh angel blows the seventh and last trumpet. The interlude sections are what cause a lot of confusion in Revelation. It is important to look at the big picture when studying this book. The interludes are not necessarily placed in chronological order. They are scenes or views or visions that John has; however, they are not necessarily written or seen in the order in which they occur. I don't know why, for sure. I suspect John sees much more than can be written at any one time. For example, he may see the end result during his heavenly journey. However, he may not always see how God is getting there. Also, when something seems to have happened earlier, such as the two witnesses, John may not have seen exactly how God was instigating the judgments. John only saw the judgments. This is something that will remain unanswered for awhile.
This information is very critical in understanding the next part of the interlude in chapter 11. This interlude section goes through chapter 14. What we see now is a rejoicing in heaven of the kingdom or kingdoms of the world being the Lord's. We know the earth is God's and He has total control. But, who is dominating the earth. At this time, Satan is controlling the people on earth. So since we know this is about the middle of the tribulation, there has to be more. Yet, it seems as if this verse is saying the end is here. Rewording this in our context: the end is Near. You will see the words kingdoms (KJV) and kingdom (most others) in this verse. The Greek word basileia is better translated and more often translated as singular. There is a meaning difference between the singular and the plural. If one uses the plural, one is referring to multiple kingdoms on the earth. In this verse, it says the kingdoms are all the Lord's. That is true. However, it is important to look at the context and chronology of the seals and trumpets. We have just discussed the two witnesses dying. With their demise, the antichrist has no resistance. In other words, he has total control of the whole world, one kingdom. So it really depends on the context of middle of the tribulation.
The voices in heaven are probably everything that can express the glory of God. The control is now God's. Since this verse infers God is controlling the earth (not allowing, but requiring), BUT we know we are in the middle of the tribulation, this must not be in chronological order. As we further study, we will find out God isn't even remotely finished. Now the antichrist has control of the earth. There has to be more to overcome the antichrist and followers. There is more; it comes in chapter 15.
One should not let the trumpet of 1 Cor. and 1 Thess. and the last trumpet of this verse get confused. It is important to realize this trumpet is the ending of the trumpet judgments. As we shall see later, this "blow" also initiates the seven vials or bowls, horrible judgments. The "last trumpet" with which we are most familiar is a different trumpet than this "last trumpet". We will get into this toward the end of Revelation.
Ch 11:16-17 These verses give the account of what the 24 elders will do. They will fall prostrate on their faces and worship God. They give thanks that God has used His power to take over and reign. Even though the Lord is not yet literally reigning, the resurrection of His two witnesses has demonstrated beyond question to those in heaven that He has the power to do so. The last judgments will accomplish the end. The Greek word basileuo can be better translated to mean "shown thyself as king". These words explain a little better the description just discussed, that God has shown Himself as the controller; but, He has not yet taken total control.
This verse is written a little differently in the KJV and most other translations. There could be a difference of the thought process and translations. The KJV says "..which art, and wast, and art to come,...". The other versions say "...who are and who were,...". The difference seems to indicate the context of when this verse takes place (the Lord takes over, i.e. no more antichrist). The KJV is saying there is more to come after now. The other translations say the present is now and equivalent to forever. This is subtle; but there is a difference on the forever existent, non-changing God Almighty.
Ch 11:18 John sees this now. But, as discussed above, it is yet to come. The nations (pagans) are going to be very angry when God's wrath ends and they are time for judgment. This end of judgments is the time for judgment of the dead. The bond-servants or followers of God should now receive their rewards, also. The great powers will be destroyed on earth. The Revelation Record, referenced in the bibliography, says there are seven events anticipated by the elders as they worship on their faces:
Ch 11:19 Here this shows the end when the temple of God in heaven is opened. We will see the Ark of the Covenant. This temple in heaven is real. The Ark disappeared when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple in 586 B.C. There is no mention of this very valuable possession (laden with solid and plated gold). It seems this would have been exploited by Nebbie. There will be the normal show of power and majesty by flashes of lightning and peals of thunder. More is yet to come. In addition, it just does not appear that God would have allowed that very important article of God's to disappear. Therefore, we will see it again.
It appears the storm and earthquake is in addition to the earthquake in Jerusalem at the resurrection of the two witnesses. The people were crying for rain; God sent hail. The winds and rains suddenly release resulting in an earthly storm. This is still under God's control.
Zech 2:2-4; 4:3,11; Ezek 40:5; 2 Thes 2:3-4;
Mat 24:15; Dan 9:27; Isa 8:2; 14:16,20- 43:10; 55:4; Gen 37:4;
2 Kings 1:9-14; 19:1; John 5:35; 1 Kings 19:1; James 5:17-18;
Exod 7:20; 1 Sam 31:9-1 0; Jer 8:2
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