REVELATION CHAPTER 11

THE TEMPLE, THE TWO WITNESSES, AND THE 7TH TRUMPET

In Revelation 11, John is obeying the command he was given in Revelation 10:11 to “prophesy again," i.e., to provide us with additional details about the events of Daniel's 70th Week discussed in Revelation Chapters 1 - 9. In Chapter 11, John reveals fresh information regarding two key End Times events: (1) the future temple in Israel; and (2) the Two Witnesses. At Revelation 11:14, John resumes his discussion of the consecutive events of the Day of the Lord with the sounding of the 7th trumpet.

THE FUTURE TEMPLE IN ISRAEL

The Temple in Israel plays a key role in Israel’s history and Daniel's 70th Week. In the history of Israel there have been two temples; First, the temple of Solomon was completed in 959 B.C. and destroyed in 586 B.C. by the Babylonians led by Nebuchadnezzar.    See 1 Chron 28, 2 Chron 3 and Daniel 1:1-2. The second temple was built after the nation returned to Jerusalem around 520 B.C. This is the temple Christ came to, and is called Herod’s temple in the N.T. It was destroyed in 70 A.D. by General Titus and the Roman Legion.   In Revelation 11 John is told to measure a future third temple. It will be rebuilt prior to the End Times, and it will be there that Antichrist will declare himself to be God at the mid-point of Daniel's 70th Week. See 2 Thes 2:3-4.   This Abomination of Desolation will trigger the Great Tribulation. See Dan 9:27, Mt 24:15. During this time, Antichrist will set up the seat of his empire in Jerusalem, and he and his followers will desecrate the rebuilt temple through the worship of Antichrist and an image of the beast.

1  I (John) was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, (by the mighty angel from Revelation Chapter 10) Go and measure (John’s act of measuring signifies God’s ownership as he surveys the temple area - but only the temple proper) the temple of God (Gk = hieron, the complete temple building) and the altar, (Gk = naos, the holy of holies, where the ark of the covenant resides) and count the worshipers there. (The temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt during the End Times. See Mt 24:15, Dan 9:27, 11:31. Here, the mighty angel from Ch. 10 is instructing John to literally measure the dimensions of the rebuilt temple. One measures when they are ready to build something.) 2  But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. (The "outer court" is the court of the Gentiles and is probably a reference to the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosques, which are holy sites for Muslims. Note that it is the proximity of Islamic holy sites to the temple grounds that has for so long kept the temple from being rebuilt) They (the Gentiles, and more specifically, the followers of Antichrist) will trample on the holy city (of Jerusalem) for 42 months. (During the second half of Daniel's 70th Week, which lasts 3 1/2 years, or 42 months, the followers of Antichrist will abuse and dishonor the holy city of Jerusalem by allowing worship of false gods upon the very holy site God calls His house. Specifically, once the Abomination of Desolation occurs, the rebuilt temple will become a site of idol worship for Gentiles. In Daniel 8, the prophet Daniel set forth a dual prophecy of desolation in the temple. The first prophecy was fulfilled by a Gentile ruler named Antiochus Epiphanies, a cruel Syrian king who in 168 B.C. plundered Jerusalem and murdered hundreds of Jews. Antiochus Epiphanies desecrated the temple by offering a pig – a dirty animal - upon the altar. Antiochus Epiphanies also had an image of himself placed in the holy of holies. Daniel's prophecy also describes the desolation that will occur during Daniel's 70th Week. See Dan 8:9-12)

THE TWO WITNESSES

In Revelation Chapter 11, we learn for the first time of the Two Witnesses. During the second half of Daniel's 70th Week, God will send the Two Witnesses to Earth. The Two Witnesses will be prophets to the World, warning of the evil that is Antichrist and preaching the Word of God. The Two Witnesses will minister to the Church and stand in direct opposition to Antichrist and his Kingdom. After the Rapture occurs, the primary role of the Two Witnesses will be to call the nation Israel to repentance and notably the 144,000 will come to accept Christ first. The Two Witnesses will remain on Earth until they are killed by Antichrist at the end of Daniel's 70th Week. Antichrist will use the death of the Two Witnesses to proclaim his ultimate power. However, three and a half days after they are murdered, the Two Witnesses will rise from the dead and ascend to Heaven.

3 And I (God) will give power (abundant supernatural power as described below in verses 5 and 6) to my two witnesses,and they will prophesy for 1,260 days (or 42 months - the Two Witnesses will prophesy during the second 3 1/2 years of Daniel's 70th Week. The ministry of the Two Witnesses will terminate with the blowing of the 6th Trumpet, which concludes the Day of the Lord), clothed in sackcloth. (Note that, like John the Baptist, the Two Witnesses will be clothed in sackcloth or camel’s hair, which is the Biblical mark of a prophet. See Mt 3:4, 2 Kings 1:8. This unusual dress will also make the Two Witnesses highly visible and easy to identify.)

THE IDENTITY OF THE TWO WITNESSES

We have a good idea of the identity of the Two Witnesses. We know for certain that one of the Two Witnesses is the prophet Elijah. In the final Chapter of the final Book of the Bible, the prophet Malachi offers an account of the Day of the Lord. Malachi is the last book of prophecy in the Old Testament, and the following verses describing the Day of the Lord are the last verses of the Old Testament. In these verses, God gives his last words to the nation Israel; He promises that the Prophet Elijah will come and minister to Israel prior to the Day of the Lord. Note that the Two Witnesses have a special relationship with the nation Israel; they are both Old Testament figures and during the End Times they will minister to the Jewish people, represented by the 144,000 Jews. Practicing Jews today continue to teach that Elijah will appear to announce the coming of the Messiah. In fact, Jewish tradition demands that a plate be set for Elijah at the feast of Passover.

Malachi 4:  [1] "Surely the day (of the Lord) is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming (the Day of the Lord) will set them on fire," says the Lord Almighty. "Not a root or a branch will be left to them. [2] But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. (A verse of great hope; We who have loved and served God look forward to a joyful celebration) [3] Then you will trample the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things," says the Lord Almighty.  [4] "Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel. (Moses was the great Law Giver - he gave the Ten Commandments        to the nation of Israel.) [5] See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes (the Day of the Lord). [6] He will turn the  hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse."

It is therefore clear that the coming of Elijah will precede the Day of the Lord. See also Matthew 17:11. The identity of the second of the Two Witnesses is less certain, and has been the topic of much scholarly debate.

Theory # 1 - Moses: Many scholars believe the second Witness is Moses. Elijah, representing the Prophets, and Moses, representing the Law, are linked together in this prophecy, leading many to suggest that the Two Witnesses are Moses and Elijah, or two men in the spirit of Moses and Elijah (representing the Prophets and the Law). Additionally, Moses and Elijah are linked in that they were both present at the Transfiguration.

Matthew 17:1-3 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. [2] There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. [3] Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. (The transfiguration was a vision, a brief glimpse of the true glory of the King.)

Theory # 2 - Enoch: Other scholars argue that the second Witness is Enoch. Enoch, the son of Cain, did not die but was taken directly to heaven. The Bible commands that every man must die once, and in the Old Testament, only two men missed their appointments with death; Elijah and Enoch. Therefore, some scholars believe that Elijah and Enoch are the Two Witnesses, and that they die as martyrs at the end of Daniel's 70th Week at the hand of Antichrist.

Genesis 5:24 [24] Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

Hebrews 11:5  By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.

Hebrews 9:27-28  [27] Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, [28] so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

THE TWO WITNESSES ARE CONTINUALLY FILLED WITH THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

4  These (the Two Witnesses) are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.

This is an Old Testament reference from the Book of Zechariah. See Zech 4:1-14. In Biblical times, one of the daily duties of the Jewish priests in the temple was to fill the seven bowls of the gold lampstands, or seven armed Menorah, with holy oil, in order to light the holy place of the Temple. The fire on the gold lampstands, symbolic of God's power, was the only light allowed in the holy of holies, and was never to be extinguished.

Zechariah has a vision of two olive trees next to two gold lampstands. Zechariah sees that oil from the olive trees is flowing through golden pipes directly to the gold lampstands, keeping its flames alive. This direct oil supply from the trees represents the continuous filling of the Holy Spirit and an unlimited supply of His strength. The two olive trees represent Two Witnesses, who, through the power of the Holy Spirit, will minister to the Church and Israel during the End Times.  They will be continually fed and controlled by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Two Witnesses will be mighty, they will be powerful, by not in their own strength, but because they will have an unlimited supply of the power of the Holy Spirit. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit.” See Zech 4:6. The Two Witnesses are also two lampstands, as they will reflect God’s light in the midst of the darkest hours on Earth. The Word of God as light is imagery that is repeated throughout the Bible. See Ps 27:1, 119:105, John 9:5.

Zech. 4:1-6  Then the angel who talked with me returned and wakened me, as a man is wakened from his sleep. [2] He asked me, "What do you see?" I answered, "I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lights on it, with seven channels to the lights. [3] Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left." [4] I asked the angel who talked with me, "What are these, my lord?" [5] He answered, "Do you not know what these are?" "No, my lord," I replied. [6] So he said to me, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty.

Zech. 4:13-14  [13] He replied, "Do you not know what these are?" "No, my lord," I said. [14] So he said, "These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth." (The Two Witnesses)

THE TWO WITNESSES HAVE INCREDIBLE POWER

5  If anyone tries to harm them (the Two Witnesses), fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. (The Two Witnesses are God’s ambassadors of terror and are given incredible supernatural powers. Like Elijah, the Two Witnesses will call fire down from heaven and consume any enemy who questions their authority. See 2 Kings 1:9-10) This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. (Quite literally, the Two Witnesses will have the power to kill anyone who challenges them. This is necessary both as a show of God's awesome strength but also as practical measure of protection; the Two Witnesses will be despised by Antichrist and his followers for preaching the Word of God.) 6These men (the Two Witnesses) have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying (John is further describing the supernatural powers of the Two Witnesses. Note that the power to stop the rain is an indication that one of the two witnesses is Elijah. Elijah, a powerful prophet, caused a 3 1/2 year drought in Israel by stopping the rain. See 1 Kings 17:1, James 5:17.); and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want. (The Two Witnesses will have the power to smite the Earth with an unlimited range of plagues. This is further evidence that Moses may be the second of the Two Witnesses; Moses exercised similar powers over the Egyptians in Exodus.)

THE ANTICHRIST WILL KILL THE TWO WITNESSES AT THE END OF THE WEEK

The final event of Daniel’s 70th week is the murder of the Two Witnesses by Antichrist.

7Now when they (the Two Witnesses) have finished their testimony (the testimony of the Two Witnesses will last 1260 days, or the last 3 1/2 years of Daniel’s 70th week. See Dan 7:25, 12:7, Rev 13:5, 12:6,14), the beast that comes up from the Abyss (Antichrist at the peak of his anger) will attack them, and overpower and kill them. (We are not told how Antichrist will kill the Two Witnesses)

8Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city (Jerusalem), which is figuratively called Sodom (symbolic of a city destroyed for gross immorality) and Egypt (symbolic of wickedness and slavery), where also their Lord was crucified (Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem). The once holy city of Jerusalem has become evil and wicked under the influence of Antichrist. Note that Jerusalem is compared to Sodom and Egypt, two cities that were judged severely by God in the Old Testament.) 9For three and a half days men from every people, tribe, language, and nation will gaze on their bodies (technology advances, like satellite TV, permit us to understand how such prophecies are to be fulfilled. Note that, as recently as 100 years ago, this verse was extremely difficult to comprehend) and refuse them burial (Antichrist will hate the Two Witnesses with a passion and leave their bodies in the street to rot).

10The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them (the world will be glad that the Two Witnesses are slain, believing that this demonstrates that their message of repentance was false and that Antichrist is indeed Lord.  It is likely that Antichrist had previously attempted to destroy the Two Witnesses, as they were preaching the word of God in Antichrist's city of Jerusalem and cursing the Earth with plagues, and that he was unable to do so. Doubtless, this undermined Antichrist's power, and therefore Antichrist's followers are glad when he kills the Two Witnesses) and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.

THE TWO WITNESSES ARE RAISED FROM THE DEAD

However, three and a half days after they are murdered, the Two Witnesses will be raised from the dead. At the time of their resurrection, a severe earthquake will judge Antichrist's city of Jerusalem for its wickedness, destroying 1/10th of the city.

11But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them (Could it be that Jesus, present upon the Earth, will personally breath life into their bodies?) and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. (The Two Witnesses will be resurrected 3 ½ days after their martyrdom, providing further evidence of God's omnipotence. This show of strength will cause His enemies to tremble.) 12Then they (the Two Witnesses) heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." (God is essentially saying, "Well done, good and faithful servants," and is calling His Two Witnesses home to heaven. See Matthew 25:21) And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on. (The Two Witnesses will ascend to Heaven.)

13  At that very hour (of their resurrection) there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. (To underline the significance of the end of Day of the Lord, the resurrection of the Two Witnesses, and the bowl judgments to come, God will destroy 1/10th of the city of Jerusalem with a severe earthquake. Note that God punctuated the crucifixion of Christ with a similar phenomenon; the sky went dark the temple curtain ripped in two. See Luke 23:24-25.) Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. (Note that this is only an immediate reaction of fear to the supernatural work of God. There is no heart-felt repentance or actual conversion. Think of the man who promises to life a holy life as the airplane is going down and then forgets his promise as soon as he believes the danger has passed).

THE BLOWING OF THE 7th TRUMPET

14The second woe (the 6th trumpet – the 4 demonic angels and the 100 million horsemen) has passed; the third woe (the 7th trumpet) is coming soon. (The 7th trumpet is the Third Woe and contains the 7 bowl judgments. This again demonstrates that the ministry of the Two Witnesses will occur between the Abomination of Desolation and the end of the Day of the Lord. In other words, the ministry of the Two Witnesses terminates with the 6th trumpet, prior to the blowing of the 7th trumpet) 15The seventh angel (the final trumpet angel) sounded his trumpet (the blowing of the 7th trumpet. John now resumes the sounding of the seven trumpets which he interrupted in Ch 10, but the details are not unfolded until chapter 15.), and there were loud voices in heaven (Angels), which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever." (With the sounding of the 7th trumpet, God is announcing, before the 7 bowls are executed - before the destruction of the Antichrist and his kingdom - that the kingdom of this world will be transformed into the kingdom of Christ. Jesus is about to regain His rightful rule over the Earth.)

GOD JUDGES THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE WICKED

The time has come for God to judge both the righteous dead and the wicked, and Heaven rejoices at the prospect. The righteous dead will receive a rewards judgment, and the wicked will be vanquished from the Earth.

16And the twenty-four elders (the 24 governing angels), who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17saying: "We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign (The angels celebrate and rejoice as all-powerful God is at long last beginning to resume his rightful place as the King of the Earth.)

18The nations were angry (Antichrist’s Kingdom is enraged. See Ps 2:1-2. ); and your wrath has come. (The seven Bowl Judgments are the final and undiluted wrath of God. God is no longer in the business of saving mankind - at this point, He will assume the role of judge. God’s wrath will be swift and sudden, like in the days of Noah. See Daniel 7:9-14. Matthew 24:37-39)

God's judgment will be two-fold: (1) he will reward the righteous dead; and (2) he will destroy Antichrist and his followers.

19The time has come for judging the dead (The time for judgment has arrived. First, this judgment involves rewarding the righteous dead), and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great (This is the judgment seat where only believers will appear. It is not a judgment of the believer’s sins, which Jesus has forgiven at the cross. This judgment is to see whether you will you will receive a reward or not. This judgment will focus on all the good works we have done for Jesus, after we were saved. This “Rewards” Judgment refers to all righteous people who have ever lived. It includes both Israel and the Church. MAY NEED SIDE BAR ON JUDGMENT SEAT?)

2 Cor. 5:10  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

1 Cor. 3:10-15  By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. [11] For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. [12] If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, [13] his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. [14] If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. [15] If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

- and for destroying those who destroy the earth. (And the time has come for God to destroy the wicked and refine evil. This is specifically a reference to Antichrist, the False Prophet, and his kingdom of unrighteous followers who took the mark of the Beast, persecuted Israel and destroyed His beautiful earth.) 19Then God's temple in heaven was opened (We are in the very presence of God. The final wrath of God will be preceded by the opening of the heavenly temple and the ark of God’s covenant being revealed to the entire world.), and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant (For the nation Israel, the ark was the supreme symbol of God’s power and covenant with them. The ark disappeared just before the time of the Gentiles began, and will reappear when the fullness of the Gentiles is complete.). And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm.

Go to Revelation Chapter 12