(Revelation Chapter 11:1-14)
Down through the long history of the Church Bible scholars, prophecy teachers and the Church Fathers within wider Christendom have tried to understand the Book of Revelation. For most part the Body of the Messiah has found the Book of revelation difficult to understand and interpret and so they have put it into the “to hard basket.” But did God intend His people not to understand it? Why would the Lord Jesus have given the Book of Revelation to John to bless the wider Body of the Messiah if it was not to be understood by the average believer? Of course it applied to John’s time as he wrote to the seven churches that existed. It also has applied to the Church down through history and especially in these last days it applies to us.
Before 1948 when Israel became a nation after almost 2,000 years of exile, the Apocalypse of John started to be revealed in a way not previous to 1948. Down through the centuries of the Church the Lord Jesus has been peeling back the layers of the Book of Revelation and revealing its message through the Holy Spirit. He has been revealing progressively its meaning and application as the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus gets nearer. As we get closer to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus the things prophesied in the Bible for the last days become clearer. This is also true concerning the Book of Revelation
Is it Moses and Elijah?
For centuries Bible Prophecy teachers have been trying to identify these two witnesses. Some are saying that they are Moses and Elijah who both did deeds of power in the Holy Spirit in their service for God. Moses was able to bring down plagues upon the Egyptians and destroy the occult power of Pharaoh’s magicians. Elijah was able to call down fire from heaven. Moses and Elijah appeared with the Lord Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration and they all shone with the same glory and brilliance. Because of these events these two may be considered as candidates for the two witnesses in Revelation Chapter 11. But are they the two witnesses? These two witnesses in Revelation are not named. Clearly what happened on the Mount of Transfiguration was linked to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus and the rapture and resurrection of the faithful Body of the Messiah. The apostle Peter writes about this event and relates it to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. (2 Peter 1:16-21)
Is it Enoch and Elijah?
Some others say that the two witnesses are Enoch and Elijah who were both caught up to heaven without dying physically and that they are the prime candidates to be the two witnesses. Yet is it a feasible interpretation?
A third alternative
However there is a third explanation which can be established by scripture itself. When John was writing the Book of Revelation He had only the Old Testament scriptures and undoubtedly knew them very well. When reading the Book of Revelation we see much of the symbolism and language and terms used in the apocalyptic writings of the prophets Zechariah, Ezekiel, Isaiah and Daniel. In fact when you look at the Two Testaments they are interwoven and interconnected with each other. To understand much of the doctrine of the New Testament we need to understand the Old Testament because the Old Testament was the scriptures used by the apostles and the first century Body of the Messiah. Scripture always affirms scripture.
The New Testament is a commentary on the Old Testament. As it has been said; “The New is in the Old concealed, and the Old is in the New revealed.” The same principle of interpretation applies when looking at the Apocalyptic writing by John in the Book of Revelation. The way the Old Testament prophets approached eschatology including the terminology is the same way John approaches it. One example is in Daniel where he uses the term “beasts” to describe empires. John writes about two “beasts” in Revelation which is referring to an empire not to a specific man as such. In Daniel “horns” are rulers or kings and the ones ruling over a beast empire. The Beast in Revelation that is resurrected is not a man but an empire. (See “The Two Beasts of the Apocalypse” on this website) So while we cannot exclude a king or a ruler as part of a beast empire, beasts in Bible prophecy are primarily empires.
The key to understanding the two witnesses in Revelation Chapter 11 is found in verse four where the two witnesses are identified. “These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.” This gives us a clue to the third alternative and in light of scripture itself seems to be the correct interpretation. These are the same ones mentioned in the prophet Zechariah and so the prophet writes…
“Then the angel who talked with me returned and woke me up, like someone awakened from sleep. He asked me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lamps on it, with seven channels to the lamps. Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left… Then I asked the angel, “What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?” Again I asked him, “What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?” He replied, “Do you not know what these are?” “No, my lord,” I said. So he said, “These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth.” (Zechariah 4:1-3, 11-14)
It is clear that there are two witnesses according to John but in light of scripture used here in Zechariah are the two Olive Trees two individuals or are they two groups of people, one being Jewish and directly related to another group who are Gentile, separate yet one when we see the oil from both Olive Trees flowing into the Menorah? The oil from these olive trees gives light to the seven channelled lampstand (Menorah) the lampstand is connected with the two Olive Trees. In the Bible the Olive Tree is a symbol of Israel and the seven channelled lampstand symbolic of the Church. So as we will see the two witnesses are not two individuals but two people groups who are one and together form the living Temple of God indwelt individually and corporately by the blessed Holy Spirit who unites the two as one.
Added to this we see mentioned in Zechariah chapter 4 verse 10 a reference to “the chosen capstone” within the Temple being built by Zerubbabel. Prophetically The Chosen capstone or the cornerstone is the Messiah who supports and spiritually sustains the living stones of God’s Temple being believers in Him as revealed in the New Testament. (Isaiah 28:16) (1 Peter 2:4-6) (1 Corinthians 3:16) (1 Corinthians 6:19) With these things in view let’s now look at the text of Revelation 11:1-14…
(Vs.1-2) “Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff and I was told, “Come and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count those who are worshiping in it. But exclude the outer court of the temple; do not measure it, for it has been handed over to the Gentiles, who will trample the holy city for forty-two months.
God is always measuring His Temple. It is not measuring a literal building but the hearts of the people within it. In the Old Testament God always wanted His people to worship Him and the Lord Jesus made this clear when He said to the woman at the well. “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is Spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24)
In the Old Testament worship in the Temple God was always looking for people’s hearts to be right before Him. The actual building itself and the ceremonies and sacrifices and praises and worship of the people were not acceptable if there was sin and idolatry among them. (Isaiah Chapter 1) In light of the New Testament God’s Temple is His corporate body of believers both Jewish and by extension and inclusion Gentile believers in the Messiah. (Ephesians 2:11-22) John also mentions the temple of God as His people elsewhere in the Book of Revelation. (3:12; 7:15)
In the Temple Structure in the Old Testament you had the outer court for the Gentiles which were accessible to Jews, Gentiles, foreigners, and the ritually impure. Here, you could mill about, exchange money, and even buy doves or oxen. Judaism regarded images as forms of idolatry, and coins with images had to be exchanged for temple currency. God’s real Temple is made up of all who have been spiritually circumcised in the heart by the Holy Spirit. True Jews in the Bible were those who had been circumcised in their hearts by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 2:28-29)
While Satan has the Gentile nations at his disposal God has His elect people who do not belong to Satan but to God. These are those who have access to Him through the blood of Jesus into the Holy of Holies, being a royal priesthood. (Hebrews 10:19) (1 Peter 2:9) Now the Holy City is Jerusalem on earth but in its prophetic context in the Book of Revelation it is a reference to the New Jerusalem being a city where the redeemed Body of the Messiah both Jew and Gentile believers are identified as the Bride of the Messiah. The Holy City is God’s Temple, being His elect bride corporately among whom He dwells by His Spirit and those who will ultimately descend from heaven at the end of the Millennium. (Revelation 21:1-4)
These who belong to the Lord John is told to measure, to see what will happen to the true worshippers in the last three and a half years of this present age. The city of Jerusalem is going to be trampled by pagan Gentile nations for three and a half years and faithful Jewish and Gentile believers in the Messiah also persecuted by the beast empire of the Antichrist. (Matthew 24:15) (Daniel 7:21, 25; 8:24; 12:7) (Revelation 12:1-6; 13:5-7) The “outer court handed over to the Gentiles” is the pagan unsaved world. So then God is measuring us spiritually as His people both Jewish and Gentile believers knowing that the time of the Great Trouble is coming upon Israel, upon the Church and upon the world. It also needs to be said that God will cut those days short for the sake of His elect saints being both Jewish and Gentile believers in the Messiah and for the very survival of the planet. (Matthew 24:21-22) Now let’s continue…
(Vs.3-4) “I will commission my two witnesses to prophesy for those twelve hundred and sixty days, wearing sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. “
In Bible times the oil from the olive tree was used in the seven-lamped Menorah in the Temple with its seven channels for the oil. Through these channels the oil flowed to keep the light burning. Without the oil the lights would go out. The two Olive Trees and the two lamps represent Israel and by extension and inclusion the faithful Church. The New Testament has its roots in the Old Testament. True Biblical Christianity has its roots in Israel. In the New Testament we see that Gentile believers in the Messiah (wild olive shoots) are grafted back in to the Olive Tree (Israel) amongst the natural branches (Jewish believers in the Messiah) and the root that spiritually sustains them both causing them to bear spiritual fruit for God is the Messiah the true vine. (Romans 11:17-19) (John 15:1-8)
Both Israel and the Church are unique; they are distinguishable from one another yet one, much like two sides of the same coin. In the Messiah believing Jews and Gentiles are one new man in Him and the middle wall of partition separating the two has been broken down through the blood of the Messiah. (Ephesians 2:11-22) There are two Olive Trees representing Israel and by extension and inclusion the faithful Church and two lampstands representing Jews and Gentiles in the Body of the Messiah being the faithful Church.
In the Book of Zechariah we see the two olive trees feeding oil into the seven- lamped menorah causing it to burn brightly. In Revelation Chapters 2-3 we see the seven-lamped Menorah representing seven churches that existed in John’s time but it has a prophetic application to the Church corporately in every age, especially in the last days. The number seven in the Bible always represents a perfect and complete work that God does. Also we see the Lord Jesus walking among the lampstands and using His spiritual measuring rod, the blessed Holy Spirit to gauge the spiritual temperature of each Church. Our New Testament is like the light shining in the Menorah and the Old Testament like the oil that feeds the light enabling it to keep burning. In the same way the faith we profess and the light we have from the New Testament has been fuelled by the oil of the Old Testament.
In light of these things we see that the two witnesses prophecy, declaring God’s message for 1,260 days being 42 months or three and a half years. These witnesses I would like to suggest are not two individuals as such but two people groups distinct from each other, yet one with no ethnic barriers. (Galatians 3:28) The word “men” is not in the Greek text. Having said this does not do away with God’s prophetic purposes for Israel as a nation. The Church has not replaced Israel. In the Millennial Kingdom both saved Jews and Gentiles will be one family under the Messiah and co-reign with Him on earth with His headquarters at Jerusalem on Mount Zion in the City of David, the site of the original temple. (John 10:16) (Matthew 8:11) (Luke 13:29) (Jeremiah 30:8-9) (Isaiah 2:1-5; 4:2-6) (Micah 4:1-5) (Revelation 5:10) (Isaiah 24:23b)
Notice that these two witnesses prophecy for 1,260 days being also 42 months or a time, times and half a time. This is the last three and a half years of this present age. This time period is mentioned several times in scripture. (Daniel 12:7) (Revelation 12:6, 14, 13:5) This is the time Daniel and the Lord Jesus specifically mention. (Daniel 12:1) (Matthew 24:21-22)
Notice also that the two witnesses are clothed in sackcloth. In the Bible in the Old Testament when one wore sackcloth it was a sign of mourning. (Genesis 37:34; 42:25) (2 Sam. 3:31) (Esther 4:1 -2) (Psalms 30:11) It was also a sign of repentance. (Matthew 11:21) (Jonah 3:5) In the Bible true repentance is a change of mind and heart leading to a changed lifestyle but also involves mourning. Sometimes one repenting in sackcloth would sit in the ashes of a past fire signifying that a purifying work of God was going on in their life and this act of sitting in ashes acknowledged this work of God in that person’s life. These two witnesses are clothed in sackcloth signifying that they are in a continuing state of repentance and complete consecration to God and not ‘clothed’ with the ways of the world.
Notice that they are described as “the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. “ This is taken directly from the Book of Zechariah.
The number “two” is significant as we have already seen they represent two people groups that are separate from each other, yet one. God has a faithful believing remnant in Israel and within wider Christendom. (Romans 9:27-29) His elect company of people are Jews and gentiles saved in the same way through faith in the Lord Jesus and one new man in Him. (Ephesians 2:15-16) According to the Apostle Paul a true Israelite is one who has been circumcised in the heart by the Holy Spirit and one whose praise comes from God and not man. (Romans 2:28-29) Having said this does not do away with the complete national and spiritual restoration of Israel as a nation at the end of this age. However, it will only be a remnant in Israel that will be saved. They, along and together with the Body of the Messiah, will all co-reign with the Messiah in His Messianic Millennial Kingdom on earth. (Isaiah 2:1-5) (Jeremiah 30:8-10) (Micah 4:1-8) (Revelation 5:9-10)
So then when you look at Zechariah alongside of Revelation the two witnesses are defined as two people groups rather than two individuals. Once again we interpret the Old Testament in light of the New Testament. In chapters two and three of Revelation John clearly defines the lampstands as seven churches made up of Jewish and Gentile believers spiritually linked through faith in the Messiah. These seven churches were seven literal churches that existed in John’s time and what we see happening in each Church can apply to any church down through Church history but especially in the last days. Seven of course is a perfect number in scripture signifying a complete and finished work of God. The number seven appears all through the Book of Revelation. It is God’s Book but more so the revelation given to John personally by the Lord Jesus Himself. Now let’s continue…
(Vs.5) “If anyone wants to harm them, fire comes out of their mouths and devours their enemies. In this way, anyone wanting to harm them is sure to be slain.
These two witnesses, being Jews and Gentile believers in the Messiah as one family that stands before the Lord of all the earth (God), have supernatural power. Their testimony is powerful in that the Holy Spirit bringing about conviction of sin. This “fire” that comes out of their mouth and “devours their enemies” is the fire of God’s word burning in their hearts and coming out of their mouths in words of power. They are preachers of holiness. Their words are as fire in a woodpile that ignites everything that it touches. The Bible itself speaks of God’s word being released as fire that consumes the adversaries of God. As God said to Jeremiah the prophet; “Therefore this is what the Lord God of Hosts says: “Because you have spoken this word, I will make My words a fire in your mouth and this people the wood it will consume.” (Jeremiah 5:14) See also (Jeremiah 5:14; 11:16)
The “fire” coming out of the mouth of these two witnesses is not literal fire but the sanctifying and convicting power of God’s Word accompanied by the Holy Spirit igniting the conscience and the heart of unsaved people to turn to back God and repent or perish. God’s Word is like a fire that devours all the pretentions and philosophies of man. God’s Word demolishes spiritual strongholds and these witnesses will have this kind of power as we see exhibited in the apostles and the first century Body of the Messiah. As God says through Jeremiah; “Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” And again God speaks through the prophet Hosea; “Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of My mouth, and My judgments go forth like lightning. (Hosea 6:5) Now lwt’s read on…
(Vs.6) “They have the power to close up the sky so that no rain can fall during the time of their prophesying. They also have power to turn water into blood and to afflict the earth with any plague as often as they wish.”
The prophet Joel spoke of a time when God would pour out his Spirit upon all flesh and that God’s servants both male and female, young and old alike would prophecy, speaking His word with power but doing so in the midst of blood and fire and vapours of smoke and with the constellations being effected. In that day anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Joel 2:28-32) On the day of Pentecost this was partially fulfilled as there was no blood, fire, vapours of smoke or the heavenly constellations being effected. Peter said concerning what had happened that this was to fulfil what was prophesied by Joel, however in the Greek text it says “this is like that” which was prophesied. In other words what happened at Pentecost was a partial fulfilment that would be completely fulfilled at the end of the age. (Acts 2:17-21) The former “rain” of the Spirit fell on the Day of Pentecost and the latter “rain” will fall again at the end of the age.
What happened at Jerusalem at Pentecost will happen again and once more the gospel of the kingdom will go forth to the nations but it will not be a Kingdom dominion message but a message of repentance and coming judgement and the urgency for men and women to repent and be saved. It will be occurring in the midst of blood, fire and vapours of smoke with the very heavenly constellations themselves being effected. (Joel 2:30-31) Also at this time both Israel and the faithful Church will be suffering terrible persecution at the hands of the man of sin’s beast empire. (Revelation 13:5-7) When we are reading the past history of the faithful Body of the Messiah in the Book of Acts we are also reading the future history of the last century Body of the Messiah, the faithful Church. The spiritual power that was seen in the first century Church will be seen again in the last century Church.
The oil will cause the lampstand to shine brightly for all to see! Added to this, the same genuine Spirit empowered supernatural miracles, signs and wonders seen after Pentecost will be a conspicuous feature of the last days Body of the Messiah, being both Jews and Gentile believers. When we see the plagues and fire God released through Moses and Elijah we see what God will do through His end-time servants being the two olive trees and lampstands. The believers will be so anointed with power that they will actually afflict the unsaved on the earth that do not want God to reign over them and through prayer and faith see God afflict the earth with all kinds of ecological disasters. The plagues seen in the Book of Exodus are replayed in the Book of Revelation.
Today our world is affected by the pandemic COVID-19 and we see floods, locust plagues, famine and earthquakes in various places increasing in frequency and intensity. God’s judgements are already increasing in the earth. He wants men to repent and be saved and His people clothed with the sackcloth of repentance and unreservedly consecrated to Him. He has a chosen remnant that will fulfil His will and they will be hated by all nations on account of his name. This hate will come to its fullest expression during the time the two witnesses are prophesying. Even family members will turn against believers even as they are doing today in Muslim countries. As the Lord Jesus Himself said; “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rise against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone on account of My name, but the one who perseveres (has persevered) to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:21-22)
One other thing we also need to see is that during the time of the Big Trouble when the two “witnesses” are prophesying the man of sin will be actively persecuting all of these faithful believers both Jews and gentiles in the Messiah. Daniel the prophet tells us this. (Daniel 7:21, 25; 8:24; 12:7) Already faithful believers in the Messiah are suffering terrible persecution and in some countries we are already seeing God judging those who are persecuting His saints. The Coronavirus it would seem is just the beginning of the ‘birth pains’ of the Messianic kingdom to be born on earth. So then these “two witnesses” will have the same power to change the weather patterns and call down plagues that will affect the environment just like Moses and Elijah had. The same Spirit that rested on Moses and Elijah will rest upon the two witnesses! While people will be saved even in the midst of blood and fire and vapours of smoke, and with the very constellations themselves starting to shake, the majority of mankind will still not repent. Now let’s continue…
(Vs.7) “When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the abyss will wage war against them and conquer them and kill them.”
The time will come when it will look like Satan has won the day and for the most part the faithful Body of the Messiah will suffer martyrdom at the hands of Satan’s man of sin and his beast empire. One thing we need to keep in mind was that not all of God’s people are killed, some will escape. We see this in the time of Elijah when Jezebel had killed all of the prophets and Elijah was the only one left. The prophet was quite discouraged by this and tired and weary and even fearing for his very life at the hands of Jezebel. However, God not only cared for and protected Elijah but also had reserved in Israel 7,000 faithful Israelites who had not bowed the knee to Baal or kissed his statue in homage and worship of him. They had refused to bow down to the image of Baal. Prophetically, Elijah, the prophets who were killed and the 7,000 faithful believers still alive during the time of persecution by Jezebel, can represent the end-time body of the Messiah. According to John the two witnesses are killed. Satan’s age old agenda to wipe out God’s people it seems will have been accomplished. (Daniel 12:7) (Revelation 13:5-10) Let’s continue…
(Vs.8) “Their corpses will lie in the main street of the great city, which has the symbolic names “Sodom” and “Egypt,” where indeed their Lord was crucified.”
Some believe that Sodom and Egypt refers to Jerusalem and Biblical commentators are divided on this. Comparisons of Israel, Judah, or Jerusalem to that of Sodom (and Gomorrah) are frequent and direct in the Old Testament. (Deuteronomy 29.23) (Isaiah 1.9-10; 3.8-9) (Jeremiah 23.14) (Ezekiel 16.1-2, 44-58) (Amos 4.11) (Lamentations 4.6) However, in verses 1-2 it is called “the Holy City.” God is not only measuring the people in the Temple in the city of Jerusalem but also by extension and inclusion the Church. He is not concerned about the unsaved even though He loves them, so much as He is concerned with the spiritual state of his people both in Israel and in the Church. We see this demonstrated in chapters 2-3 where the Lord Jesus is walking among the churches weighing up the spiritual condition of each church. God was measuring His temple. Scripturally Sodom in the Bible is a type of the world at the end of this age and Egypt itself a type of the world. While the Lord Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem it was the sin of the world that He bore at the cross.
When you consider the city of Babylon, tracing its roots back to Nimrod, we see an empire in rebellion and seeking to build a tower that would reach the heavens to dethrone God if that were possible. Of course we know what happened at the Tower of Babel. Babylon itself is mentioned in Revelation but it is not literally a resurrection of the Babylonian empire as such but it is a literal city located in a desert by the Sea whose destruction is heard at the Red Sea. (Isaiah 21:1-2) (Jeremiah 49:21) John himself was taken out into the desert to see this city of Babylon but what he sees is not just this city but sees it also in a much wider context as affecting the whole world. (Revelation 17:1-3) The city would have to be Mecca which is located in a desert by the Red Sea and a city that trades with the nations via the sea. (See other studies on this website related to Babylon)
While Babylon was a historical city that was never destroyed but atrophied over the centuries, the Bible uses it in a much wider context referring to the whole world that reflects the character of Ancient Babylon. John also writes about the Great City in the Book of Revelation referring to the Babylon of this world. (Revelation 16:19; 17:18; 18:10-19) The world has no time for God, for the Lord Jesus, for His followers or for the Commandments and statutes written in His Word, the Bible. When we see the lifestyles, the pleasures, the pursuits, the obsession with possessions, grandeur and opulence, the entertainment industry and the immoral lifestyles it is all Sodom and Egypt. Today Israel as a nation by and large are living just as the world lives and it is primarily a secular nation with a religious component and with its toleration of sodomy and un-Biblical lifestyles it is the same as Sodom and Gomorrah and pagan Egypt and God is going to use applied pressure and arrange things in such a way that Israelis will have to decide will it be God’s city or the city of Sodom and Egypt. The same thing will happen within Christendom. People will have to choose God’s way or the way of Sodom and Sodomy is a conspicuous feature within wider Christendom especially in the Roman Catholic Church. Judaism itself in Israel today is not the Judaism of Moses and the Torah. Like Roman Catholicism it is a mixture of truth and error. Sodom and Egypt is well entrenched within Israel and Christendom.
Now the Lord Jesus Himself said that those who follow Him would be persecuted just as He was and history has shown this to be true. (John 15:18-21) Reading Foxes book of martyrs clearly establishes this truth. Today in our world most of our faithful brothers and sisters in Islamic countries and in other countries like North Korea, China and Russia are being persecuted and killed for their loyalty to the Lord Jesus. Their “lampstands” have been burning brightly for all to see. In the last three and a half years, which John is seeing in Revelation chapter 11, we see the last end-time people of God being martyred for the sake of the Lord Jesus and to the point of extinction, yet the world will be in for a shock! Now let’s continue…
(Vs.9-10)) “Those from every people, tribe, tongue, and nation will gaze on their corpses for three and a half days, and they will not allow their corpses to be buried. 10 The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and be glad and exchange gifts because these two prophets tormented the inhabitants of the earth.”
Today everything that happens of any significance especially certain events that affect the world it is the media that is on the ground with their cameras reporting every little detail they can. Any event that affects the whole world such as we see with the Pandemic Coronavirus makes the headlines. These two witnesses, faithful Jewish and Gentile believers in the Messiah will be killed on mass in every nation under the control of the beast empire of the man of sin. They will have afflicted the unsaved in the nations of the world with their testimony and the supernatural power of God affirming their words that have brought ecological disasters upon the earth. People’s very lifestyles will have been turned upside down. It would seem that these faithful believers have been killed in so many large numbers that their corpses will lay in the streets of many cities unattended.
All of this most likely will be seen on television and over the internet and in every nation people will be relieved that these people have been eliminated. Video footage will be ‘the flavour’ of the unsaved just like we saw in the days of pagan Rome when the masses went to the arena to see faithful believers killed for their faith. Of course not all faithful believers will have been killed but to all intent and purpose the world will be relieved that those ‘Bible nuts’ who prayed down disasters and tormented their consciences with God’s Word are now dead. These events will be unique to this period of 1,260 days. The ‘apparent annihilation’ of faithful believers by the Beast Empire of the man of sin will be Satan’s final solution to the Jewish and Christian ‘problem’. Celebrations will be in order but not for long!
(Vss. 11-12) “But after the three and a half days, a breath of life from God entered them. When they stood on their feet, great fear fell on those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven say to them, “Come up here.” So they went up to heaven in a cloud as their enemies looked on.”
Now some commentators who see a seven-year period of tribulation and believe in a mid-tribulation rapture see this event as the rapture and resurrection of the Body of the Messiah being faithful Jews and Christians. They try to make the three and a half days a period of three and a half years being the second half of the seven year tribulation period. However you can only prove from explicit scriptures a time period at the end of this age for three and a half years, 42 months, a time, times, and half a time or 1,260 days. These two witnesses lay dead for only three and a half literal days and are resurrected and raptured. The Lord Jesus Himself was in the tomb for three days and nights and then resurrected.
Now we are told that when the breath of God comes into them they will stand up alive and well to the astonishment and fear of the world’s unsaved people that are looking on. The news media will have captured it all and people in every city will see the corpses literally coming to life. Then we are told a loud voice from heaven is heard saying “come up here” and they went up in a cloud as the whole world looked on. Clearly this is a reference to the rapture (harpazo) and physical resurrection of all of the saints both those who have died physically and those who have managed to escape martyrdom. They are all caught up together instantly in the twinkling of an eye and receive their brand new immortal glorified sinless bodies. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
The language and description John uses clearly identifies this awesome event being the rapture and resurrection of the saints. They have come out of this time of Great Tribulation. To come out something means you have already been in it. The faithful Messianic Jewish and gentile believers go into the time of Great Tribulation but are rescued out right at the end of it just before the wrath of God is poured out on a Messiah hating, Messiah rejecting world. (Jeremiah 30:7) (Revelation 7:14) The “loud voice from heaven” is also mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and in Revelation 11:15)
(Vs.13) “At that moment there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell in ruins. Seven thousand people were killed during the earthquake; the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.”
As the faithful Jewish and Gentile believers go up to meet the Lord Jesus in the air a great earthquake like nothing before it will circumnavigate the world and great cities and skyscrapers on this day of great slaughter will fall. (Isaiah 30:25) The whole world of man and every level of society will be shaken. (Isaiah 24:1-3) (Haggai 2:6) (Hebrews 12:26) Those who survive will see the Son of Man our Lord Jesus coming on the clouds of heaven with His powerful angels and with all of the redeemed saints of God. (Zechariah 14:3-5) (Matthew 24:30; 25: 31) (Mark 14:62) (2 Thessalonians 1:6-8) (Jude 1:14-16) (Revelation 14:14) (Revelation 19:11-16)
Everything that God has not established will be shaken. This last great earthquake will move everything out of its place, Cities and mountain ranges will all be affected by this shaking. People from every walk of life and level of society will seek to hide from the wrath of the Lamb of God. (Revelation 6:12-17) There will be nothing ‘secret’ about the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. Every eye will see Him arrive on earth. (Revelation 1:7) Some have suggested that television cameras will capture this event but we are told every eye will see Him. The shaking and devastation will be such that the networks will no longer function. People will not be hanging around looking at things but be running to hide from Him. His Second Coming will be like a sudden flash of lightening that will light up the sky from east to west. (Matthew 24:26-27)
Now we are also told that a tenth of the city fell in ruins and that 7,000 people were killed during the earthquake. An earthquake of global proportions would devastate a great portion of the cities of the world. The tenth may represent a significant portion of those cities but not all of them as we know that nations will survive to enter into the millennial Messianic kingdom but be governed by the Messiah from Jerusalem. (Zechariah 14:16-21) (Isaiah 9:6) Also we are told that 7,000 people die in the earthquake. Such an earthquake as described would take more than 7,000 lives. In the Book of Revelation we have many sevens and the number itself represents a final and finished work of God. These 7,000 would represent a portion of the earth’s population destined by God to be destroyed and yet there will also be people who will survive to be judged after the Lord Jesus has come back to earth. (Matthew 25:31-46) Those who survive the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus to earth will be forced to give glory to God. It does not mean they have repented but they most certainly have recognised the sovereign power of the Lord Jesus over all of creation.
This account in Revelation 11:1-14 is an interlude between the sixth and the seventh trumpet. When the sixth trumpet is sounded it announces a war where a third of mankind are killed and that this war to end all wars is sent by God to get men to repent but they do not repent (Revelation 6:13-20) This war announced by the sixth Trumpet corresponds with the sixth bowl of God’s wrath where we see the same war culminating with the armies of the man of sin pitted against the armies of the Lord Jesus in the battle of Armageddon in which the Lamb and the saints Win! (Revelation 16:12-16) (Revelation 17:14)
When the seventh trumpet is sounded it announces the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus to take possession of the nations and to establish the Messianic Kingdom of God on earth. Clearly it is His Second Coming. (Revelation 11:15-19) The seventh bowl corresponding to the seventh trumpet sees this great earthquake hitting the whole world as the Lord Jesus returns. (Revelation 16:17-21) This earthquake is also mention along with lightening, thunder and great hailstones falling from the sky in Revelation 11:19. (See also Revelation 6:12) The great city of Babylon collapses but it is not a local city but the Babylon being the whole world in rebellion against God as we saw in the Tower of Babel. Nimrod the founder of Ancient Babylon was the first type of the man of sin and his end-time empire in scripture. We are told that the great city splits into three parts signifying its total demolishment.
To Sum up.
The Book of Revelation is a wonderful book in that it is a direct revelation given to John personally by the Lord Jesus Himself. It was given to strengthen and encourage all of His faithful servants to persevere to the end even though tribulation and martyrdom in this life would be the lot of all who follow after Him. (John 15:18-21) The vision opens with a glorified Messiah reigning over the whole universe and the earth and in total control and sovereignty. The Book ends with the New Heaven and earth after all of God’s enemies have been destroyed. This Revelation given to John by our Lord Jesus is needed today for the faithful Body of the Messiah afflicted by tribulation more than at any other time in Church history.
While the Church in the affluent western democracies is by and large spiritually backslidden, (not all of course) for the most part the Body of the Messiah is suffering terrible tribulation. It has been estimated that more believers died in the twentieth century than at any other time in past history. In this 21st Century the numbers are rapidly increasing every day. The time is coming when the western church will need the Book of Revelation and the hope it produces. It will be a beacon of light and refuge in the days to come for all those who remain faithful to the Lord Jesus in an atmosphere of wickedness and lawlessness increasing in intensity and frequency.
The two witnesses then will be a faithful remnant of Jewish and Gentile believers on fire for the Lord Jesus and with a burning fire in their bellies coming out of their mouths in powerful testimony. It will be a powerful assembly of believers globally, small in number compared to the world’s population, a faithful remnant, but so endued with spiritual power and authority that they can even shut up the heavens from rain or call down plagues. This assembly of believers globally are almost wiped out by the empire of the man of sin and after being killed their bodies lay in the streets. However, after three and a half days they are raised to life to gather around their Lord Jesus in the sky and to accompany Him back to earth. They will see all of His and their enemies destroyed and the inauguration of His Millennial Messianic Kingdom on earth. Indeed at the sound of the seventh and the last trumpet and at the sound of a great shout from the heavens, the saints will be raised to life and the announcement made; “The Kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign for ever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15)