Bible: What Does Revelation 11 Teach Us About the Two Witnesses?
The Two Witnesses
The Identity of the Two Witnesses
Who do you think these two men are?
Revelation 11: The Ministry, Murder and Resuscitation of the Two Witnesses
Preaching for Three and One-Half Years
While standing outside the tribulation temple, John receives a reed from the angel with which he should measure the dimensions of the structure, its altar, and even its worshipers (v. 1).
[Measuring something must pertain to having ownership or control over it, for the angel tells the apostle not to measure the outer court which God had given to the Gentiles (v. 2a).]
The “nations” will control Jerusalem (“the holy city”) for three and one-half years (“forty-two months”) [v. 2b].
Jesus conveys through His angel that He has given His two witnesses authority to preach a message of repentance and judgment (“clothed in sackcloth”) during this same space of time (“one thousand two hundred and sixty days”) [v. 3].
John identifies these two witnesses with “the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth” (v. 4).
[Zechariah 4:14 speaks of two olive trees (lit. sons of fresh oil or anointed ones), but only of one lampstand; the anointed ones probably referred to Joshua and Zerubbabel, and the lampstand to Israel.]
Here, these witnesses carry on a similar temple ministry.
Apparently, their word of judgment (“fire proceeds from their mouth”) spoken against their persecutors causes the latter’s destruction (v. 5; cf. 2 Kings 1:10-12).
God also grants them authority to prevent rainfall, turn water into blood, and cause plagues (v. 6; cf. Ex. 8:1-12:29).
Associate of the Whore
The Length of the Ministry of the Two Witnesses
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The Roman Prince Murders the Two Witnesses
At the end of their three and one-half year preaching stint, the Roman prince (designated here as “the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit”) kills them (v. 7).
[Later, John identifies this beast with the one having seven heads and ten horns (cf. 13:1 and 17:7, 8).]
He allows the whole world (“the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations”) to witness their unburied bodies lying in a street in Jerusalem (“the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified”) for three and one-half days—a day for each year that they preached [vv. 8-9].
[Sodom represents sexual perversity and materialistic obsession; Egypt points to a place of bondage and suffering, and symbolizes the world system.]
John employs twice what has become a technical term—“those who dwell on the earth”—to indicate people whose values and mindset are permanently attached to temporal matters.
These folks treat the murders of the two witnesses as a reason to celebrate a holiday; it becomes like Christmas, complete with the giving of gifts (v. 10).
God Revives the Witnesses
An extraordinary event then occurs: the astounding resurrection of these two witnesses after three and one-half days had passed; John describes it as “the breath of life from God” entering them (v. 11).
Eyewitnesses on the scene exhibit “great fear” when they see the bodies not only rise to their feet, but also ascend in a cloud to heaven after a voice from that realm commands them, “Come up here” (v. 12).
Occurring simultaneously with this ascension, a great earthquake kills seven thousand people and causes a tenth of the city to collapse; those who survive this catastrophe fear for their lives, but they also give God glory (v. 13).
[Are these Jews who glorify the Lord?]
The apostle states the end of the second woe, and the rapid approach of the third (v. 14).
The Seventh Trumpet Sounds
As the angel blows upon the seventh trumpet, a great heavenly chorus affirms the long-awaited arrival of the Messianic kingdom which supplants “the kingdoms of this world” (v. 15; cf. Dan. 2:44).
The twenty-four elders, now seated, stand and then prostrate themselves in worship before the Lord, thanking the eternal, omnipotent One for assuming sovereignty (vv. 16-17).
Having opposed the angry nations with His own wrath, the Lord is about to sit in judgment upon “the dead,” reward all believers—ordinary and extraordinary—, and “destroy those who destroy the earth” (v. 18).
[Could this last group be the demonic hordes unleashed from the bottomless pit?]
God opens His heavenly temple, and people see the Ark of the Covenant there; frightening atmospheric events including a great hailstorm continue to assault the earth (v. 19).
© 2013 glynch1