The Two Witnesses and Destruction of Jerusalem - Page 3 of 3 (series: Lessons on Revelations)
by John Lowe
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.
When they shall have finished their testimony, the beast . . . shall make war against them.” (v. 7) Once the testimony of the witnesses is completed, they will glorify God even to death, being slain by the beast, but they are invincible until they finish giving their testimony. This is the first mention of the beast of Revelation 13:1, He actually carries on warfare against them until they are martyred. They will be among the last to be martyred, but not the last of all. Evidently, the unbelievers will assent to the work of the beast because in their anger against the two witnesses they do not allow “their dead bodies” (v. 8) to be put in graves, an indignity of immense proportions in the East. With satanic cunning and deception, “the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit”(v. 7) has won over the masses to himself.
The witnesses will finish their testimony. In the midst of the week, the anti-Christ, who is the beast, the Man of Sin who is moving to power, will bring back first the Roman Empire. Then, when he gets the whole world under his control, he will not hesitate to overcome and destroy these two witnesses. At that time he will be permitted to do so. This is the temporary victory of darkness over light, evil over righteousness, hell over Heaven, and Satan over God, because God is going to let Satan loose during this period.
Jerusalem (called here, “the great city”) is characterized mystically (not literally), as Sodom (see Isaiah 1:10) because of its wickedness, and as Egypt, because of its opposition and enslavement of the people of God. Both names appear repeatedly in Scripture as the objects of God’s unrelenting wrath. In case any reader misunderstands the geographical place intended because of the use of symbolism, the passage identifies the place as Jerusalem, “where also our Lord was crucified” (v. 8). That Christ is designated as their Lord is proof that the two witnesses are not representative of masses of individuals, nor are they Angelic beings. They are redeemed men on earth.
The “three days and a half” of verse 9 are obviously intended to be literal days. Now the utter depravity of the dwellers on earth is obvious. To prevent the possibility of another empty tomb they refuse to provide a decent burial for the witnesses; but even more, they want to celebrate the death of that witness that was so irksome and tormenting to them in their encourageable godlessness. They will carry out their merriment in feasts, banquets, and exchange of gifts, so galling had been the testimony of the godly messengers. This reveals the crude, unfeeling, and calculated barbarianism of the last days which will be covered with just a thin veneer of culture.
The word used for bodies (carcasses) denotes the contempt and hatred the world will have for the two witnesses. They are treated like dead animals.
The expression “they that dwell upon the earth” may denote “earthly-minded men.” They “shall rejoice over them (the two witnesses), and make merry, as did the Philistines over Samson. “And shall send gifts one to another—Both Turks, and Jews, and heathens, and false Christians. Though it would appear to be a lovely occasion on the surface, it is more like the Devil’s Christmas. The modern celebration of Christmas gets farther and farther from the birth of Christ and closer and closer to paganism. The day will come when it will be anti-Christian—it is almost that now. Here is the celebration of what Anti Christ has done instead of the celebration of the coming of Christ to Bethlehem. Then something happens—
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.
“And after three days
and an half” (v. 11) is all we need to know in order to place this event correctly in the timeline leading up to Christ’s return. We can put it at the end of the second “three days and an half” of the Great Tribulation. This is the first resurrection On that day, Jesus will call all His sheep home and the millennial reign of Christ will begin with the resurrection of all the dead saints clear back to the creation of man.
“The spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet” (v. 11). While the world is celebrating in jubilation the death of these witnesses and while the television cameras are focused upon them, the witnesses will stand up on their feet. And all of the networks will regret that they had their cameras pointed at them, because they will not really want to give the news as it truly happened. That is, they do not want to report the great victory of Jesus Christ over death. But note: this is neither what is known as the first resurrection; nor is it the second resurrection. It is a special resurrection for two men only.
This is a good time to point out “A Wrong Conception” that is held by many people today. Many people, among them some Christians, have been taught to believe that there is only one “general” resurrection of all the dead at the end of the world. This is a serious error which has robbed many believers of joy and victory in this life. Nowhere in the Scriptures are we taught that the bodies of all men will be raised at the same time. It is true that all the dead will be raised and brought into judgment, but neither the time, the place, nor the judgments are the same. The Bible clearly distinguishes between a first and a second resurrection.
“. . . All that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth: they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28-29).
When men are raised, not all will be raised at the same time nor in the same condition. There will be two resurrections for two classes of men. One will be raised to eternal life and immortality, while the other will be raised to condemnation and banishment from the presence of the Lord. There is a “resurrection of life” and a “resurrection of damnation.”
“And great fear fell upon them which saw them” (v. 11), for now they knew that God was on their side.
“And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud” (v. 12).
The hour of vindication arrives at last. Their indecent merriment would recoil upon the heads of the insensitive wicked; but the righteous would be taken to Heaven “in a cloud.”
“And their enemies beheld them” (v. 12); and what was it they saw? They saw the two witnesses resurrected in plain view of all their enemies. But even more, a heavenly voice calls them into the presence of the Lord; they are afforded ascension in the presence of their foes. What an honor! Even Paul and the apostles were not so highly rewarded.
“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”(v.13). The ungodly experience a final stroke of God’s displeasure at the very hour of the ascension of the witnesses, an earthquake strikes the city of Jerusalem with lethal results: “7000” people are slain in the disaster. Even the blindest spiritually could not escape the meaning of the earthquake and the decimation of the population. The “remnant” mentioned are those who were spared. Their reaction was terror, the result of human fear with no practical outcome. Outwardly, they “gave Glory to the God of Heaven”; but their hearts are not genuinely touched, as future events will clearly attest.
The number of the slain was to be added to those already slain. A forth of the population of the world was slain at first, and then a third of the population of the world—totaling over one-half—and now “7000” more are killed. It is little wonder that the Lord Jesus said, “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved . . .” (Matthew 24:22).
The earthquake seems to be limited to the city of Jerusalem, just as it was when Christ rose from the dead (see Matthew 28:2), and also at his crucifixion (Matthew 27:51-52).
“7000 men were killed in the earthquake.” This is an expression to indicate that they were men of prominence. They were the ones who had gone along with Anti-Christ, men whose names got into the headlines when Anti Christ came to power.