Much happens in Revelation 11 while we wait for the seventh and last Trumpet to sound.
God is about to measure up the Temple and the people at the Temple in Jerusalem. But wait, there is no Temple today. Revelation 11 opens the ongoing discussion about the Temple’s standing during the Tribulation.
A basic understanding of the Jewish Temple through the ages will help you to grasp Revelation 11 better.
Under the leadership of Moses, Israel used a portable tent in the desert. See Hebrews 8:5.
King David conquered Jerusalem, and his son Solomon built the first and most spectacular Temple there in 947 BC. The Babylonians, under Nebuchadnezzar, removed the treasures and destroyed the Temple. It happened in 586 BC.
The Persians conquered Babylon, and they inherited the Jewish captives. Cyrus, their leader, sent the Jews back to Israel. They rebuilt a modest Temple under Zerubbabel and completed it in 516 BC.
Herod began to renovate the Temple in 20 BC. And he added a “Court of the Gentiles” to the original Temple area. The Romans destroyed this temple in AD 70.
The Jews count this as the 2nd Temple, and the next will be the third Temple. But, the Gentiles count it as the 3rd Temple and the next to be the 4th Temple.
When John wrote Revelation in AD 90, and to this day, no Temple stood in Jerusalem. John saw a vision of the future.
Altogether, four prophesied about the coming Temple:
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.”
The “seven” refers to the seven years of Tribulation.
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.
2 Thessalonians 2:4, “He sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
“He” refers to the Antichrist.
John wrote in Revelation 13:6, “Then he (the Antichrist)… blaspheme His name, His tabernacle…”
“He” refers to the Antichrist, and “tabernacle” to the Temple.
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. However, most scholars believe it is the same angel from chapter 10 speaking to John again.
God measured the Temple and those who worshipped there. The act of measuring is speaking of ownership. Also, it is God taking a measure of things before He sends judgment. The same thing happened to Zechariah and Ezekiel before.
Zechariah saw the measurement of Jerusalem before the coming judgment on the city.
Zechariah 2:1 “I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand.
2Then said I, Whither goest thou? And he said unto me, To measure Jerusalem.”
And Ezekiel saw the measurement of Israel before judgment.
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…”
There are similarities between Ezekiel and John. Both ate a little book that was bitter then sweet, and both saw a vision of measuring. There may be 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.”
The angel told John to measure the court of the Gentiles, a part that they would trample with contempt for 42 months, that is 3.5 years. It refers to half of the troublesome seven years.
Revelation 11:3: “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.”
This verse introduces two exciting characters to us: the two witnesses. Their names are not mentioned, but we are told much about them. They prophesied and preached repentance while clothed in sackcloth. And God gave them the power to witness for 1,260 days despite the world’s antagonism towards their message.
So, who are they? Many Bible scholars believe the two witnesses are Moses and Elijah for the following reasons:
Malachi 4:4-5: “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 described the office of the two witnesses and the analogy of abundant oil piped directly from olive trees into the lamps. The two witnesses had a continual flow from the Holy Spirit. The prophet Zechariah was the first to use this analogy when he wrote about Joshua and Zerubbabel in his day.
“2 And he said to me, “What do you see?”
So I said, “I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps.
3 Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left.
14 So he said, “These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth.”
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.”
The two witnesses had special protection from God. They received power to bring fire, drought, and plagues down on earth, which reminds you of the miracles performed by Moses and Elijah in the Old Testament. Hence, one of the reasons scholars believe they are 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 ascended out of the bottomless pit in Revelation 9:11 killed the two witnesses. Not before they had completed their testimony but when they had finished.
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. Egypt because of oppression and slavery. And the great city applied to Babylon. See Revelation 18:16.
Revelation 11:9: “And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and a 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. The “live” broadcast from Jerusalem to the world is perhaps an oblique prophecy of modern-day mass media.
The call to repentance of these two witnesses was for many pure torment because they wanted to believe a lie.
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.”
They who dwell upon the earth are the earth-dwellers who loved this world and did not want to hear the negative talk of the two witnesses. And when they died, the world celebrated their death.
The act of “make merry and sending gifts to one another” eerily sounds like what we do at Christmas time.
Revelation 11:11: “And after three days and a 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 saw the dead and humiliated bodies of the two men. Now, the world as a whole watched them standing on their feet again. People became fearful and horrified by what they saw.
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.”
There follows more “live broadcasting” from Jerusalem. The people watched the two witnesses lying dead in the street for three days. They watched as they were supernaturally brought back to life and ascended into Heaven.
The words “come up hither” echo Revelation 4:1, when John was called to Heaven.
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.”
A huge earthquake! It moved many to give glory to God.
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. The joy is anticipating the promised kingdom of the Lord has come.
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.”
Everyone in Heaven worshipped God!
Revelation 1:8 says: “Who is, and who was, and is to come.”
And here, it says, “The One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.” (NIV) It is happening now!
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 earth-dwellers were coming face to face with God. They did not want Jesus to reign. They wanted to reign.
Luke 19:14: “We will not have this man to reign over us.”
Their guilt was ever-increasing, and their destruction was at the door. But, those faithful to God received 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 used to speak of the inner sanctuary, i.e., the ark of the covenant. In the Old Testament, this symbolised God’s faithfulness in bestowing grace on His people and inflicting vengeance on His enemies.
Lightning and voices are reminiscent of God’s presence. We saw it at Mount Sinai, too. See Exodus 19:16-19.
SOURCES FROM THE WEB:
Missler, Chuck at koinonahouse.org
Korman, Baruch at loveisrael.org
Barnett, John at dtbm.org
Ice, Thomas at pre-trib.org
Breaker, Robert at thecloudchurch.org
De Young, Jimmy at sermonaudio.com
Johnson, Ken. Ancient Church Fathers.
Missler, Chuck. Daniel’s 70 Week’s: Profiles in Prophecy.
Hitchcock, Mark. 101 Answers to Questions About the Book of Revelation.
I’m Louise Krüger, an introvert who enjoys getting lost in deep things, and my go-to place for this is the Word of God. Am I a theologian? By no means, but I love to study and unearth truths with the help of the Holy Spirit and scholars who know more than me. And then to serve them in bite-size pieces for those who cannot study for hours. Faith in God is not blind; it is evidence-based. Dear online friend, I would love to inspire, encourage, and walk with you on this journey.