We continue looking at imagery and prophecy, using both The Book of Revelation and The Old Testament words of Daniel. How do these prophecies align? What do they say of the Kingdom of God on Earth and The Kingdom to come? All of these heavenly occurrences, end-time events and fulfilled prophecies point to the eternal glory of God. We join Tim in the 11th chapter of Revelation.
Chapter 11. Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, “Rise and measure the temple of God—these guys have an interesting way of dialoguing with one another, don’t you think? They just order each other to do things. “Give me that book!” “Eat the book!” “Measure the temple!”
“Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.”
So, he’s told to give them this measuring rod and measure the temple, but leave out the outer court of the Gentiles. And what I find particularly interesting is we’re not told anything about what the measurements are.
Ezekiel was given a rod and told to measure the temple, and he goes through and measures it and gives us the measurements. You can see the Ezekiel temple, and it’s clearly not the same temple as has ever been before, and is certainly not this temple, because this temple is the temple in the millennial kingdom, it’s a whole different deal.
But here we’re not given what the measurements are. Why would the angel, why would God want us to know that John had measured something and then not give us the measurements? Well, it seems there are a few things we can know about this. Since we don’t know the measurements, what can we know?
One thing that we can know is that there is a temple. There is a temple. Now that’s very significant. Is there a temple there today? There’s not. So there is a temple. That means there’s going to be a temple during this time.
That is particularly significant because if we go back to the timing of all this, which is rooted in the book of Daniel, remember we had 70 weeks that were prescribed for the people of Israel, 70 weeks of years, 490 years. And 69 weeks of years started when there was an edict to rebuild the wall and ends when Messiah is cut off. So this time period when the wall was ordered to be rebuilt until Jesus is cut off, that’s the first 69 weeks. And now we’re in a pause. We’re on pause waiting for the 70th week to start.
Daniel goes on and says, the 70th week begins when there is a covenant between Israel and the antichrist. Then it says in the middle of that week there’s an abomination of desolations that takes place.
The middle of the week is three and a half years. Half of seven is three and a half. And we’re going to see here three and a half, three and a half, three and a half all through this thing. So the abomination of desolations spoken of in Daniel, there is already an instance in the period of the Maccabees, the Greek rulers sacrificed a pig on the altar and had put a statue of Zeus in the temple. So something like that is foreshadowed.
It makes sense that there would be a temple during this time so that the abomination of desolations could be made clear. That’s an interpretation, but it seems to fit.
He wants us to understand there is a temple.
Another thing that we can know from this even though we don’t know the measurements, I would say that’s the temple that the abomination of desolations takes place in because the next thing we can know is that the Gentiles are trampling over the outer court. And that is what happened during Antiochus Epiphanes. The Gentiles came in and took the place over. Then the Maccabees revolted and got it back. That’s basically what took place.
So we’ve got the temple. The temple has been rebuilt. And then the Gentiles come in and overrun it.
What else can we know? It is a real physical structure that can be measured. This is not a spiritual temple. I think that’s an important thing.
He will give power to the two witnesses
So he’s going to tread the holy city underfoot for 42 months, and he will give the power to his two witnesses to prophesy 1260 days.
This is interesting. Why would he say 42 months and 1260 days? 42 times 30 is 1260. The Jews used a lunar calendar, so it’s just 30 days. It seems like it’s the same time period, but he says it two different ways. Why would he do that?
Well, I’m not sure. I’m not sure why that is. Perhaps he wants to emphasize that these witnesses are witnessing every day. Because that’s how our witness happens.
The overarching message of Revelation is to be a great witness. Don’t fear death. When does our witness happen? Does it happen some day when something big happens to us? That’s a lie that we’re told. Someday I’ll go do something significant. I’ll go on a mission trip. Or I’ll be on TV and say, “Thank you Jesus for winning the Superbowl,” or something like that.
No! That’s not it! It’s every single day being faithful in the little things all day long. Maybe that’s what it is.
Maybe he wants us to know that the seventy weeks of Daniel are actually weeks of years because we know we’re talking about 30-day months to help us do some calculations or something. Some people do those calculations, figure out the dates. It’s close enough as far as I’m concerned since we don’t know exactly what events are prescribed.
What is clear is that there’s power to the witnesses. Now once again, power is issued from the throne room. You know the four horsemen of the apocalypse were given authority to go do all these plagues. The angels blow the trumpet, and only then do the plagues happen. We’re going to see in a little bit that the beast is going to be let out of the bottomless pit and given authority over the earth, even to kill Christians.
Well, here these witnesses are given power. Everything’s authorized. We keep getting hit with this over and over and over and over again because God doesn’t want us to forget: I’m in control. It’s hard to remember that when everything is spinning out of control.
They are authorized and given power. What are they given power to do?
Verse 5. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. I want to see this! This is very Marvel-comics seeming, don’t you think? It’s kind of like the Fantastic Four guys flame on and starts blasting people with the fire.
This could be something that is metaphorical, like they speak and people fall…Whatever it is, it’s clearly supernatural. You would think when people see this that they would want to repent. But remember, no matter what happens, the people just shake their fist at God.
And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. Verse 6. These have the power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.
It could be that the seven seals and the six trumpets are all intermingled with the commands from these two witnesses because, again, these are not necessarily sequential. They are just authorizations.
Verse 7. When they finish their testimony—their martyreo—the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them.
We have this beast that is the antichrist. And we’ll talk more about him. He’s going to become a key figure as we go forward here. And it’s very interesting because the beast very clearly is a man, and the beast very clearly is a demon. So exactly how that works, we will talk about.
The overriding point here is that this battle that’s going on between Jesus and Satan, with us as the intermediaries and Satan as our accuser, now breaks out. It’s mono a mono now. It just breaks out in full-scale warfare.
In fact, we’re going to see in a little bit, the angels and the demons are in open warfare in the heavens. Who knows what all this is going to look like.
Part of why all these superhero movies with the graphic animation may be coming out is to prepare people not to be surprised when they see all this stuff. You know, it might be Ironman, Fantastic Four all happening. “Oh yeah. I’ve seen that before.”
So, they have these plagues that they’re doing. In verse 7 they finish their testimony. Now this is important because do these witnesses know that they’re going to be here for three and a half years? I think the answer would be yes.
And who are these two witnesses? Well, we don’t know who they are. The best speculation I know of is that it’s Elijah and Enoch. I like that speculation because Hebrews says it’s appointed to man once to die, and Enoch and Elijah did not die. And I kind of like that because it’s kind of poetic, don’t you think? Because Enoch represents the period before the flood, when the earth was destroyed because it filled with violence, and Elijah represents the period after the flood, and the earth is about to be destroyed because it filled with violence.
Once again. First time with water, second time with fire.
Here’s these guys, what are they using to blast their enemies? Fire.
So we don’t know who they are. Some people speculate it’s Moses and Elijah because those are the two guys who came down and talked to Jesus when he was on the Mount of Transfiguration. And, there’s this thing in Jude about they fought over the body of Moses. So maybe that indicates that Moses’s body was put in a carbon freeze so he could come back and Han Solo this thing.
But they finished their testimony! They didn’t fear death! See how this is, once again, an example of the overriding theme. We are to be witnesses. Just to do the job God gave us to do. And don’t fear death. You know that we are invulnerable until our time is come. Nobody can hurt us until God has authorized something to hurt us, and then our time’s done, and we can declare victory if we’re good witnesses.
The term for finish there is the same word teleo which is what you were talking about earlier. The idea of fulfilled. It’s not just “Well, your time’s up;” but they have accomplished what God had for them to do.
Awesome. So when they finished their testimony…Our job is to teleo, to finish, to persevere all the way to the end. And don’t give up when you see all these terrible things happen, because life’s full of terrible stuff. This is not just in the period of Revelation. This is for his servants. It’s not just for his servants who are going to live through this time period. Remember he started with “what was” and “is” of the churches who were and have already been, and they have the same message that we have, that the people who are going to go through the tribulation have. Great point.
Teleo your martyreo.
—the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit (abyss) will make war against them, overcome them—Know what word that is? Nikao. It’s nike again. So now the beast is nike because it just means to have victory. And it’s going to be real clear here that death and Satan have victories, but they don’t have the final victory.
When we die, or when we experience death with a loved one, or we experience loss on this earth, that’s because Satan’s winning at that point in time. But that is not the final answer. It’s not the end of the story. The story keeps unfurling. And when it comes to completion, when the teleo happens, it’s all going to be made right. And this massive promise and this massive hope is what this book is about.
Finish their testimony…Overcome them, and kill them. So the witnesses are going to die. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
Here’s Jerusalem being called Sodom and Egypt. Isn’t that interesting? I’m not sure why those terms are used, but perhaps it’s because Sodom was very morally bankrupt, and Egypt was a political tyranny. When you have moral bankruptcy and political tyranny, you have just about the worst that you can have. And at this point in time, Jerusalem has sunk into that position.
Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies—these two witnesses who have now been killed by the beast, who’s the antichrist, who came from the bottomless pit. They—will see their bodies three-and-a-half days—isn’t that interesting how this three and a half keeps showing up? Forty two months. One thousand two hundred and sixty days. And now three-and-a-half days.
Now again, this time period where these witnesses are testifying is probably the last three and a half years, which Jesus called the Great Tribulation. It’s probably this last three and a half years.
If that’s the case, then at the end of that three and a half years, these guys are killed and their bodies are shown openly dead, like on TV, “Yay! This guy’s dead!” Kind of like we did with Osama Bin Laden. You know, “Yay! They’re dead! These guys who persecuted us. These guys who brought plagues and stuff.” Three and a half days.
And then those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another—so they start a new holiday because the two witnesses are dead. Kind of reminds me of the Wizard of Oz. “Ding dong, the witnesses are dead!” They send gifts to one another because the two prophets are dead.
(That’s a pretty morbid song, don’t you think? We show that to little kids. Have you ever thought of that? Yay death! Yay death!)
This is what’s going to happen. They make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.
This is not necessarily the end of the three and a half years because, one of the reasons why he might have said 42 months that the Gentile court will be trod under foot, which I’m pretty sure is the last three and a half years, and that the witnesses prophesy 1260 days is because they may be different time periods. It may be that these witnesses somehow start before the abomination of desolation. I don’t know. The times don’t matter that much. It’s the overall message, I think, we’re supposed to get.
Then after the three and a half days, the celebration, something really cool happens: the breath of life from God enters the two witnesses. They stand on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. For good reason! And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them.
So there they are in the street, and, suddenly, they get up and then shoot up to heaven. Beam me up! They’re gone. It’s a rapture. There’s at least one rapture during the seven-year period, and it’s the two witnesses.
Glory to God
In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. That would be Jerusalem. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven. Now they did not repent, but they gave glory.
It’s just always important to remember all glory is is something being recognized for what it is. That’s all it is. It’s something being recognized for all it is. It’s not some sort of a gift that something gives to something else. It’s just when you say, “That’s the way it is.”
And anything can give God glory. And in this case you’ve got unrepentant people shaking their fists at God saying, “We know that’s you!” And that’s giving glory to God because they recognize that they know it’s God, even though they’re shaking their fist at him and refusing to repent.
The third woe
The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming. The three woes are the last three trumpets.
So, we’ve finished the sixth trumpet, and the seventh trumpet is about to blow, the last woe. As we progress through these seals and then the trumpets and the bowls, the plagues and the judgments get progressively worse.
Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven—Remember, in the days of the seventh angel everything’s going to come to full completion, in the days of the seventh angel. Now, the seventh angel blows. This is what we’ve all been waiting for. This is what we’ve all been praying for: For this angel to blow.
And he blows, and he says, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” You just have to break out singing that if you’re capable! And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying,
“We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty,
The One who is and who was and who is to come,
This book, the things that were and are and the things that are to come. That’s also God. He is the one.
Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.
This word reigned here is in past tense which is confusing because the reign is beginning, and it’s given to us in past tense as though he had already started it.
Well, it’s because in the Greek, this is an aorist tense. We don’t have that tense in English.
So The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come.
And the time of the dead, that they should be judged,
And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints,
And those who fear your name, small and great,
And should destroy those who destroy the earth.”
You filled the earth with violence; I’m going to bring violence on you.
Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.
Now John is looking at earth. He’s still completely cognizant of what’s going on in heaven. And things happening on earth are happening because they are authorized in heaven.
Next time, what we’re going to see is a drama. There’s going to be a replay of human history that we’re going to be given to remind us of where all this came from and where it’s going and why this is all happening. Why is all this happening? Well, we’re going to see it in a summary of all human history, next time.