Revelation 11 (NRSV)
In the passages of the Revelation which we are now about to approach we will on many occasions meet the figure of Antichrist. We may lay it down as a general principle that Antichrist stands for the power in the universe which is against God. Just as the Christ is the Holy One and the Anointed King of God, so Antichrist is the Unholy One and the King of all evil. Just as the Christ is the incarnation of God and goodness, so Antichrist is the incarnation of the Devil and of evil.
The Two Witnesses
The identity of the two witnesses has fascinated and intrigued commentators for centuries. Are they particular individuals (Moses / Elijah / Enoch), or the two blameless churches in the letters sent out early in the book (Smyrna and Philadelphia), or representative symbols (for the prophetic ministry of the church)? Opinions vary. Whoever they are, they are heralds of the end.
Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Come and measure the temple of God
Sometimes in the Old Testament, the idea of measuring communicates ownership, protection, and preservation. When Habakkuk prophesied, He stood and measured the earth (Habakkuk 3:6), the idea was that the Lord owned the earth and could do with it as He pleased. When this temple is measured, it shows that God knows its every dimension, and He is in charge.
God is in charge. This is one of the glorious, mighty themes of the Book of Revelation.
–David Guzik (and all further comments in red)
The temple: Of historical Jerusalem? Of heaven? Many scholars see the sanctuary of God and its worshipers as a symbol of the Church protected by God.
and the altar and those who worship there, 2 but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample over the holy city for forty-two months. 3 And I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophesy for one thousand two hundred sixty days, wearing sackcloth.”
Sackcloth would seem to indicate that their message is one of repentance.
4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes; anyone who wants to harm them must be killed in this manner. 6 They have authority to shut the sky, so that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have authority over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire.
7 When they have finished their testimony, the beast
Here is the first emergence of Antichrist in the form of the beast from the abyss, and the temporary triumph of Antichrist which results in the death of the two witnesses.
that comes up from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them,
The witnesses are killed, but their testimony is not cut short (“After they have finished their testimony . . .”). Death cannot take us too soon. This speaks again of the control God has over the world.
8 and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that is prophetically called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. 9 For three and a half days members of the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb; 10 and the inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and celebrate and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to the inhabitants of the earth.
I can imagine this playing out on television’s nightly news!
11 But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and those who saw them were terrified.
Here follows the restoration to life of the witnesses and the consequent repentance and conversion of the Jews.
12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud while their enemies watched them. 13 At that moment there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
14 The second woe has passed. The third woe is coming very soon.
The Seventh Trumpet
15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet,
The seventh trumpet leads, not to the end as one expects, but to worship that forecasts the end. So confident are those in heaven of God’s victory on earth, that they sing as though it were already accomplished.
–Robert H. Conn
and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord
and of his Messiah,
and he will reign forever and ever.”
Finally, here is the first sketch of the final triumph of Christ, the thousand years of his initial reign, the rising of the nations, the defeat of the nations and the judgment of the dead, and the establishment of the Kingdom of God and of his Anointed One.
The seventh seal brought forth a profound silence (Revelation 8:1); the seventh trumpet initiates joy at the inevitable resolution. There can’t be a more glorious proclamation than this: The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!
You are already singing it, I am sure! HERE is the Hallelujah Chorus, from Handel’s Messiah, performed by The English Concert and Choir.
16 Then the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 singing,
“We give you thanks, Lord God Almighty,
who are and who were,
for you have taken your great power
and begun to reign.
God is in charge. This is one of the glorious, mighty themes of the Book of Revelation. Revelation 11:17 again uses the title Almighty for God. The Greek word for Almighty is pantokrater, and it describes “the one who has his hand on everything.” Nine out of the ten times this word is used in the New Testament, it is used in Revelation. This temple will be the scene of great horror and great glory, but God is in charge, working through both the good and bad actions of man.
18 The nations raged,
but your wrath has come,
and the time for judging the dead,
for rewarding your servants, the prophets
and saints and all who fear your name,
both small and great,
and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”
19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.
HERE is Twila Paris and “God Is In Control.” The promise is sure!
Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)
Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.