The Two Witnesses and Destruction of Jerusalem - Page 1 of 3 (series: Lessons on Revelations)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Commentary on the Book of Revelation

By: Tom Lowe Date: 7-4-16



Lesson: III.C.9.b: The Two Witnesses and Destruction of Jerusalem (11:1-13)


Revelation 11:1-13 (KJV)

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.
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.
3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.


Introduction

In the first 14 verses, chapter 11 continues with the interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpets, and in the concluding verses, we have this blowing of the seventh trumpet. In this chapter we learn that 42 months remain of the Times of the Gentiles and that there are two witnesses who will prophesy for 42 months. We also have the second woe and then the blowing of the seventh trumpet.

This chapter brings us back to Old Testament ground. The temple, the dealing with time periods, and the distinction which is made between Jews and Gentiles all indicate that we are again under the Old Testament economy (beliefs and methods). Chronologically, the seventh trumpet brings us to the return of Christ at the end of the Great Tribulation Period.

Commentary
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.
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.

“And there was given me a reed like unto a rod.”(v. 1) Every time you see the beginning of measurements, in either the Old or New Testament, it indicates that God is beginning to deal with the nation Israel (see Jeremiah 31:38-39; Zechariah 2). This “reed” is like a “rod”; a “rod” is used by a shepherd. In psalm 2:9 we see that a rod is used for chastisement and judgment: “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” What we are dealing with here is a measurement of time given for the Time of the Gentiles, after which the judgment will come upon them. The rod is also for comfort: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4). Therefore, we have both judgment and consolation in this chapter.

Once again, the apostle mentions the “temple

of God, and the altar, . . . the court,. . . and the holy city” (v. 1, 2). That should alert the reader that the events in John’s vision continue to reflect Jewish thinking. Yet there are some eminent Bible students who claim that verses 1-14 are one of the most difficult portions of the Revelation. Much of the confusion is attributable to the fact that they inject the church here, even though she has been seen in heaven since chapter 4.

“The temple of God” is limited to the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. “The temple of God” places us back on Old Testament ground, for there is no temple given to the church. The church is the temple of the Holy Spirit today; that is, believers (not a building) are the temple of the Holy Spirit: “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth into an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21-22).

“The altar” refers to the golden altar of prayer since the alter for burnt offering was not in the temple proper but in the outer court.

Even the worshippers are to be measured. John is told to rise and measure, not only the Holy Place and the altar, but also “them that worship therein.” God does count the number of those who worshipped him.

This chapter, through verse 14, is the continuation of the parenthesis begun in 10:1 between the sixth and seventh trumpets. It is essential that we know the background of chapter 11 if we are to be correct in our understanding of this passage. The nation Israel had returned to their land in unbelief. They had made a covenant with a sinister political leader of the time (see Daniel 9:27), who promises them political protection and religious freedom. The Temple is rebuilt with an attempt at restoring the Mosaic rituals. It may be well to review the status of the Temple in Israel at that time and then touch on a preview of what is yet in store. The tabernacle of Moses (see Exodus 25) was the pattern for it, but greatly enlarged to be sure, for the majestic temple of Solomon (see 1 Kings 7-8). With its destruction in 586 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the subsequent exile, Israel was without a Temple. More than a score of years went by before the restoration Temple was built under Zerubbabel, an implant of the Davidic house, who built it with the spiritual motivation provided by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah near the end of the sixth century B.C. During the reign of Herod under Roman overlordship, that Temple was renovated over a period of time (see John 2:20), only to be destroyed by the armies of Titus at the end of the Judaeo-Roman War of A.D. 66-70. Israel has not had, and does not now have, a temple in Jerusalem. Judaism knows only worship in synagogues around the world. (Reformed Jews speak of their places of worship as Temples, but in no sense do they imply any relationship to the Temples already discussed here.) When the church has been taken to Heaven in the Rapture (an event that may transpire at any moment—“in a moment,” 1 Corinthians 15:52) and Israel has returned to their land, they will build a temple in Jerusalem. It may be called the “Tribulation Temple” (the Scripture references are clear: 11:1-2; Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11; Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). There is yet to be another temple constructed, and it will be built by the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the “millennial temple” (see Isaiah 66:20-23; Ezekiel 40-48; Zechariah 6:12-13). In the New Jerusalem there will be no temple—“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it” (Revelation 21:22).

And the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein”(v. 1). There was a “mighty angel come down from heaven” (Revelation 10:1), who commanded John to measure “the temple, the alter (v.1), and the worshippers.” “The altar” is that of burnt offering, God’s first provision for Israel’s drawing nigh to Him. The measuring reminds one of revelation 21:15; Ezekiel 40; and Zechariah 2. Measuring conveys the concept of marking off for one’s own possession. God does recognize and claim a godly, worshiping remnant in Jerusalem in the time of the Tribulation. The measuring must be symbolical since the worshipers are included. The purpose of the measuring is not revealed though there have been many theories offered by prominent Bible scholars; such as, preservation of the church in times of public danger; or for its trial, or for its reformation.

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