6/05/18 Revelation 11:1-12 “A lot can happen in 3½ years / 1260 days / 42 months”
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.
reed – reed; staff made of a reed; measuring reed or rod; pen (writer’s reed)
like unto – similar to
rod – staff; walking stick; rod; branch; sceptre
temple – naos (used of the temple at Jerusalem, but only of the sacred edifice (or sanctuary) itself, consisting of the Holy place and the Holy of Holies) In Luke 1:9 Zachariah goes into the temple (naos) to burn incense. The other word used for “temple” is hieron (used of the whole of the temple sacred enclosure, including all buildings, balconies, porticos) This word is used of Jesus in Luke 19:47 where He taught daily in the temple.
In his vision John is given a measuring stick (but not told whom by). The rod is probably around 6 foot or 1.8m long. The angel directs him to measure (metreo) the temple of God (the Holy place & the Holy of Holies), and the sacrificial altar of the inner court. The inclusion of the sacrificial altar, indicates that this inner court might have been included. However, the trampling of the court by the Gentiles in Vs 2 does suggest that the altar is measured but not the court in which it was. (The golden altar in the Holy place was small, for burning incense, and would not have been easy to measure with a rod that was probably around 1.8m long.) Because the temple in heaven (in John’s vision) appears to have only the incense-altar and not the burnt-sacrifice altar, it indicates that this temple has to be interpreted as the one on earth in Jerusalem. But, it hasn’t ever been rebuilt! Then again, is it possible that it might be rebuilt sometime soon? These are questions that will have to wait further time to determine.
Some suggest that this symbolised the measuring of God’s people, a type of judgment, that it wasn’t a literal temple. Measuring in the Bible can signify this. But the giving of the temple court to the Gentiles (Vs 2) may also include the inner court, especially noting the abomination of Daniel 9:27 coming to the temple at this time. And who was actually worshipping therein at this time? Are they those before the throne of God, and was this measuring setting aside (as “off-limits”) these areas from satan’s people? This is likely given that the Gentiles were to have the rest, it seems.
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.
It might be assumed that this is talking about the outer court of the temple, sometimes known as the court of women. It was also for lepers and the maimed who were not permitted to enter the inner court. Gentiles were not allowed in here on pain of death by stoning. They were to stay outside the fence that surrounded the temple.
However, if the temple is naos, the actual sanctuary building (Holy place and Holy of Holies), then the court which is without (outside) would then be both inner and outer courts. Now this outside court (probably both inner and outer courts) is being given to the Gentiles to trample, the idea being that they will desecrate the holiness of such a place. During this 42 months (= 3½ years; 1260 days) the abomination (of Daniel 9:27 & Matthew 24:15) will be in the temple. In Matthew 24:15 Jesus says it stands in the holy place, and in Mark 13:14 it is standing where it ought not. Daniel says it occurs in the midst of the final week of years of Israel’s timeline, thus it is there for 3½ years (or 42 months); these 42 months of desecration are most likely the same as the 3½ years of the abomination. So, it is in the temple, but is it actually the Holy place or just a holy place because it is in perhaps the inner court? The “holy place” in Matthew 24:15 could refer to just being within the hieron temple, not necessarily the naos temple.
Many commentaries say that the abomination refers to Antiochus Epiphanes (Antiochus IV (175-164 BC) who sacrificed pigs on the altar.
And when the king had built an idol altar upon God's altar, he slew swine upon it, and so offered a sacrifice neither according to the law, nor the Jewish religious worship in that country. (Josephus in the Antiquities of the Jews (XII.5.4))
It is quite possible that this was merely a partial fulfilment of Daniel’s prophecy. However, it does suggest that Daniel’s abomination will be to do with false-god worship in the temple. The abomination is clearly the image of the beast which appears to have life and must be worshipped at pain of death, by order of the 2nd beast, sometimes known as the false prophet.
Revelation 13:14-18 – 14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by [the means of] those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. 15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. 16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number [is] Six hundred threescore [and] six.
We’ll learn more about the two beasts and the antichrist when we hit Ch.13.
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.
a thousand two hundred (and) threescore days (1260 days) – This figure (and its equivalents of 3½ years and 42 months) are very important during the 2nd half of the tribulation.
1260 days – the 2 witnesses; Israel kept in the wilderness (Revelation 12:6)
3½ years – just before all things are finished (Daniel 12:7); Israel kept in the wilderness (Revelation 12:14)
42 months – The Gentiles tread Jerusalem underfoot (Revelation 11:2)
All of these figures refer to the same period of time: the 2nd half of the last week of years on Israel’s time line (Daniel 9:24). All these events run concurrently with each other: the 2 witnesses in the streets of Jerusalem; the treading underfoot of Jerusalem by Gentiles; the abomination (the image of the beast) in the holy place in Jerusalem, and Israel in the wilderness. Therefore, during this time, Israel is not officially present in Jerusalem for 3½ years. While Israel is away for 3½ years, the antichrist sets up his power base there for 3½ years as per Revelation13, the 2 witnesses oppose the antichrist in Jerusalem for 3½ years, and the Gentiles (presumably the antichrist’s people) tread Jerusalem for 3½ years.
Sackcloth here signifies the mourning and sorrow by God’s people for what is happening in Jerusalem.
Tradition has these two as Enoch and Elijah, being 2 people who didn’t actually “die”, although some believe it is Moses and Elijah because of the emphasis on the plagues (see Vs 5 & 6 below), and also Malachi 4:4-5.
Note that “power” is not in the original, and therefore “I will give unto my two witnesses” is more correct. Power (= authority to act) might be assumed anyway; see Vs 6 below.
Revelation 11:4 – These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
Zechariah identifies these as the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth (Zechariah 12:14). They are anointed by the Holy Spirit for service to God’s people (the lampstands). The oil represents the Holy Spirit and the 2 witnesses are God’s channels of provision, so to speak. The lamps represent not only the light of God’s people to the world, but also Christ as the Light of the world.
Zechariah 4:11-14 – 11 Then answered I, and said unto him, What [are] these two olive trees upon the right [side] of the candlestick and upon the left [side] thereof? 12 And I answered again, and said unto him, What [be these] two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden [oil] out of themselves? 13 And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these [be]? And I said, No, my lord. 14 Then said he, These [are] the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
The 2 witnesses therefore are those who are anointed (appointed to service) to provide some continuing presence of the Holy Spirit in a city that has been literally emptied of God’s people. They are the remaining light that opposes the darkness that has fallen upon Jerusalem. They represent God’s continuing presence in Jerusalem.
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.
hurt – act unjustly; sin; be a criminal; do wrong; hurt; act wickedly toward someone.
If any man – Whoever, If anyone. If anyone wants to hurt them in any way, fire comes from their mouth (possibly not literally, but fire all the same).
Jeremiah 5:14 – Wherefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.
Elijah called down fire from heaven to destroy his enemies.
2 Kings 1:10 – And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I [be] a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.
In this manner will their enemies be killed. Whether this fire is symbolic (as per the speaking of God’s word) or literal (as per Elijah’s fire) is not certain. Possibly both may be true!
Revelation 11:6 – 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.
power – exousia (power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases; power of authority and of right; the power of rule or government; the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed)
smite – smite: with the sword, to afflict, to visit with evils, etc. as with a deadly disease; cut down; slay.
Moses turned the water to blood (Exodus 7:20) and brought many other plagues upon Egypt as well. Elijah commanded the rain to stop falling (I Kings 17:1) because of the sin of Israel.
The plagues of Moses were savage and extreme. and applied to Egypt. These plagues are also savage and extreme but apply to Jerusalem, which is also spiritually known as Sodom and Egypt – Revelation 11:8. The destruction of Sodom was absolute because of their terrible sin, and the destruction of Egypt was extreme because they stood up against God when He desired to set His nation of Israel free.
“all plagues” can also be translated as “every plague”.
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.
testimony – the office committed to the prophets of testifying concerning future events.
beast – animal; wild animal; wild beast; metaphorically: a brutal, bestial man; savage; ferocious.
the bottomless pit – abyssos (especially the abode of demons) The abyss is as noted in Revelation 9. A number of beasts are discussed in Revelation.
Revelation 9:11 – Abaddon comes up from the bottomless pit, but is unlikely to be this beast.
Revelation 13:1 – This beast rises from the sea and is probably the antichrist.
Revelation 13:11 – This beast (probably the false prophet) rises from the earth and could be this beast in Vs 7. He is responsible for setting up the image of the beast for worship, and apparently ensures that all who don’t worship the beast are executed.
Revelation 17:8 mentions a beast that comes up from the bottomless pit, and could be the antichrist, or a false religious system built around Babylon and the catholic church. It could be the beast of Vs 7.
The bottomless pit is the pit of hell, and all the beasts (therion) of Revelation originate from there. Note that the four “beasts” around the throne of God are zoon – “living creatures”, not “beasts”.
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.
This city, despite being called Sodom and Egypt (because of its wickedness), is clearly identified as Jerusalem (the crucifixion). It is a great city (megas-polis) but not necessarily in size, but because it is the city of the great King (Psalm 48:1). It is spiritually Sodom because of its great fornication with the world, and Egypt because of its rebellion against God. The bodies of the 2 witnesses remain in the street for 3½ days after they die.
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.
the people and kindreds and tongues and nations – laos – community, society, all those of the same stock and language; phule – all people descended from a common ancestor, tribe; glossa – tongues, languages; ethnos – ethnic groups. All kinds of people from every nation, language group, ethnic background, community.
3½ days sounds like 3½ years, but much shorter – a time of waiting until God avenges His enemies. Many commentaries say it means 3½ years! (But they cannot explain just how this might be so!) A literal 3½ days makes the only sense here.
The dead bodies of the witnesses shall be in the streets (“shall lie” is not in the original), not buried or treated respectfully in any way. In fact, the people refuse to bury them, or permit them to be buried! This is great disrespect (on purpose) to these witnesses of God.
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.
gifts – doron (gift; present; gifts offered in expression of honour; gifts and sacrifices offered to God; the offering of gifts)
The people of the whole world, apparently, throw a world-wide party to celebrate the death (removal) of these two troublesome witnesses. Finally the world has triumphed! Their torment is over. Now they can get on with their lives again. This is bigger than Christmas or Thanksgiving even! Some won’t have been celebrating, but they are a very small minority, and likely to endanger their lives if they make their views about the witnesses known. However, their time of victory is not far away!
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.
great fear – megas (great) phobos (dread; fear; terror)
After 3½ days the Holy Spirit comes upon the 2 witnesses, and they stand up, obviously in full view of all their enemies. Those who had been throwing the party to end all parties will cease their rejoicing. Great fear (a mega-phobia) will fall upon all those who were watching them. (Many of these watchers would be seeing it on electronic media such as TV or internet.) This will certainly be totally unexpected by those watching. This is like the calm that comes before the storm, and those watching probably have no idea of the storm that is about to hit them when the 7th trumpet sounds (Vs 15) soon after, and the 30 day countdown to Armageddon begins.
Revelation 11:12 – And they heard a great (megas) voice (phone) from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
enemies – hated; odious; hostile; opposing one another; enmity with God by their sin; the devil who is the most bitter enemy of God’s government.
Probably it is those watching who heard this great voice from heaven, but it’s uncertain as to whether they actually understood what was said.
God spoke in Matthew 3:17 – And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
and Matthew 17:5b – and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
Possibly the people around could understand this? But in the following passage, all the people can hear is a thundering noise.
John 12:28-29 – 28 Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, [saying], I have both glorified [it], and will glorify [it] again. 29 The people therefore, that stood by, and heard [it], said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.
The 2 witnesses are commanded to come up to heaven, and they ascend in a cloud in much the same way, it seems, that Jesus ascended to heaven.
Acts 1:9 – And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
It seems that only Jesus’ disciples and followers actually saw Him ascend to heaven, but here in Revelation 11:12 the enemies of the 2 witnesses will see them ascend to heaven. This must have given them no end of consternation, to realise that even though they had killed these tormenting people, they just wouldn’t stay dead. Seemingly they were immortal, and immortality always speaks of an authority or power far beyond the capability of mortal man. Man has always dreamed of becoming immortal, of the elixir of youth, a literal Shangri La (where people were alleged to be almost immortal). And here, in front of them, the 2 witnesses have demonstrated their immortality. It must have made some of those watching just wonder whether they were on the right side after all!
Somewhere around the time the 2 witnesses are killed (after 1260 days in the streets of Jerusalem) the time of the abomination also comes to an end, the treading of the Gentiles comes to an end, and Israel comes back out of their safety in the wilderness. Jerusalem has been in the hands of satan and his people for 3½ years, with only the 2 witnesses holding the fort for God, so to speak. Now the enemy and his people are out (how we are not told) and the proper citizens of Jerusalem are back. The enemy no longer holds power in God’s city; now God’s people are back. The stage is now set for the final run toward Armageddon. We’ll continue with this next week.