Revelation 11 is part of a parenthesis that last from chapter 10 – chapter 14. So far, seven seals opened, and six trumpets have sounded. God is about to measure up the Temple, and the people at the Temple.
THE JEWISH TEMPLE
A basic understanding of the Jewish Temple will help you to grasp Revelation 11 better.
Under the leadership of Moses, Israel used a portable tabernacle in the desert. Hebrew 8:5 “They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven.” It was the dwelling place of Yahweh, the God of Israel, on earth.
1st TEMPLE – SOLOMON’S TEMPLE
King David conquered Jerusalem, and his son Solomon build the first Temple there in 947 BC. It was twice as large as the tabernacle, and built with immense quantities of stone, cedar wood and gold. God gave very specific instructions and measurements for the building of this Temple.
The Babylonians, under Nebuchadnezzar, removed the treasures and destroyed the Temple. It happened in 586 BC.
2nd TEMPLE – ZERUBBABEL’S TEMPLE
The Persians concurred Babylon, and they inherit the Jewish captives. Their leader, Cyrus, sent the Jews back to Israel. Under Zerubbabel they rebuilt a very modest Temple, and completes it in 516 BC.
2nd TEMPLE ENLARGED – HEROD’S TEMPLE
Note! The Jews counts this as the 2nd Temple, but the Gentiles counts it as the 3rd Temple. To the Jew, the next Temple to be build is the 3rd Temple.
Herod began to renovate the Temple in 20 BC. And, he added a “Court of the Gentiles” to the original Temple area. The Herodian Temple was destroyed in AD 70. Thus, when John wrote Revelation in AD 90, there was no Temple.
3rd TEMPLE – TRIBULATION TEMPLE
This is the Temple talked of in Revelation. As of today there is a mosque standing on the Temple Mount.
Bible prophecy tells us a 3rd Temple will be build.
Daniel 9:27 “In the middle of the seven he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation.”
Note! The “seven” refers to the seven years of Tribulation. The “middle of the seven” refers to after 3.5 years, or 42 months.
Jesus said in Matthew 24:3 “the sign of your coming of the end of the age” 15. “So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation.” The holy place refers to the holy place in the Temple.
Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 “he (the Antichrist) sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
John wrote in Revelation 13:6 “Then he (the Antichrist)… blaspheme His name, His tabernacle…” The tabernacle refers to the Temple.
VERSE BY VERSE
Revelation 11:1 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.
The writing is impersonal. But, most scholars believe it is the same angel of chapter 10, speaking to John again.
The dimensions are not reported. This is God taking a measure of the Temple proper, “naos” in Greek. Furthermore, God is taking a measure of the people worshipping there.
PROPHECY OF MEASURING
Both Ezekiel and Zechariah saw a vision of this measuring too. Zehariah 2 “a man with a measuring line in his hand… to measure Jerusalem….” Ezekiel 40:1-6 “In visions of God he took me to the land of Israel…and I saw a man… I saw a wall completely surrounding the temple area. The length of the measuring rod in the man’s hand was six long cubits…”
Note! There are similarities between Ezekiel and John. Both ate a little book that was bitter and sweet, and both saw a vision of measuring. Perhaps, there is more to it. The “shekinah” glory of the Lord left the Temple during Ezekiel’s ministry. And now, John writes about the return of the glory of the Lord to the Temple, at the end of Revelation.
Revelation 11:2 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.
John is told not to measure the court of the Gentiles. This is a part that the Gentiles trample with contempt for 42 months, that is 3.5 years. It refers to half of the Tribulation period of 7 years.
THE TWO WITNESSES
Revelation 11:3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophey a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
God himself will give power to these two witnesses. Such power that they are able to witness for 42 months, or 1260 days, in spite of the contempt of the people.
The Greek nouns used is masculine, thus they are men. Most Bible scholars believe the two witnesses will be Moses and Elijah. Key factors for this view:
- The miracles performed by the witnesses are identical to the ones performed by Moses and Elijah in the Old Testament.
- Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.
- Both Moses and Elijah are mentioned together in the final chapter of the Old Testament. Malachi 4 “remember my servant Moses” and “I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.”
Revelation 11:4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
John is referring back to the prophet Ezekiel’s writing in the Old Testament. When Ezekiel saw a vision of the Temple measured in Jerusalem, he also saw “a solid gold lampstand” and “two olive trees, one on the right and the other on its left.” (Ezekiel 4)
Note! The two witnesses are like the lamp stand in Ezekiel’s vision. Furthermore, the olive oil flowing to the lamp stand is a picture of abundant supply from the Holy Spirit. This happened to Joshua and Zerubbabel, in Zechariah’s day too.
Revelation 11:5 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.
Fire, drought, and plagues reminds you of the miracles performed by Moses and Elijah in the Old Testament. Hence, one of the reasons scholars believe they are the witnesses.
DEATH OF THE TWO WITNESSES
Revelation 11:7 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.
The beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit in Revelation 9:11 kills the two witnesses, when the finished their testimony. Not before they have completed their task.
Revelation 11:8. 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.
The great city is Jerusalem. It is described here as Sodom, because of immorality. And, Egypt because of oppression and slavery.
Revelation 11:9. 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.
To leave the bodies of the two witnesses to lie in full view of the world, is to let them suffer the worst form of humiliation. In fact, it will be broadcast “live” to the whole world from Jerusalem.
EARTH DWELLERS REJOICE
Revelation 11:10. 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.
The earth dwellers did not want to hear the preaching of the two witnesses. It was like torture to them. Thus, when the two witnesses died, the world celebrates victory against God.
REVIVING OF THE TWO WITNESSES
Revelation 11:11 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.
The whole world see the humiliation of the two men, and now, the whole world watch them standing on their feet again. People became fearful, and horrified by what they see.
RAPTURE OF THE TWO WITNESSES
Revelation 11:12 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.
The words “come up hither” echoes Revelation 4:1, when John is being called up to heaven. This call carries the two witnesses up into heaven while their enemies watch.
Revelation 11:13 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.
More “live broadcasting” from Jerusalem. The people are watched the two witnesses laying dead in the street for three days. Now they watched as they are brought back to life. And, as they ascend into heaven, an earthquake!
Revelation 11:14 The second woe is past; and behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
The third woe is coming!
Revelation 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
In the Greek the “are become” indicates certainty. We hear great voices though the 7th trumpet is sounding. And, the joy is of anticipating for the promised kingdom of the Lord has come.
WORSHIP IN HEAVEN
Revelation 11: 16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, 17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and are to come; because thou has taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.
They worship God! In Revelation 1:8 it says “who is, and who was, and is to come.“ Here it says “the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.” The NIV translation shows it better, it is not future anymore. It is happening now!
ANGER ON EARTH
Revelation 11:18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.
The nations are coming face to face with God. They do not want God’s plan. They want there own plan. Their guilt is ever increasing, and their destruction at the door. But, those faithful to God will receive their rewards.
Revelation 11:19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
The Greek word “naos” is being used, and the Temple open to its very inmost. The inner sanctuary is open.
The lightnings and voices, etc. was at Mount Sinai too. (See Exodus 20:16) And, also in Revelation 4:5 and 8:5. It is the usual concomitants of God’s divine presence. God is moving!
THIS IS PART OF A SERIES:
- Revelation, Why bother?
- Revelation, Overview
- Revelation, Chapter 1
- Revelation, Chapter 2
- Revelation, Chapter 3
- Revelation, Chapter 4
- Revelation, Chapter 5
- Revelation, Chapter 6
- Revelation, Chapter 7
- Revelation, Chapter 8
- Revelation, Chapter 9
- Revelation, Chapter 10
SOURCES FOR REVELATION, CHAPTER 11:
- The Seven Letters to the Seven Churches by Dr. Chuck Missler
- Revelation by Dr. Baruch Korman
- The Unveiled Christ of Revelation by Dr. John Barnett
- A Light in the Darkness by Rick Renner
- 101 Answers to Questions About the Book of Revelation by Dr. Mark Hitchcock
- Revelation: A Chronology by Dr. Jimmy De Young
OTHER SOURCES FOR REVELATION, CHAPTER 11: