THE TWO WITNESSES
Revelation 11: 1-14
With chapter 11 here you have the continuation of the vision as well as the continuation of the interlude between the 6th and 7th trumpet.
And there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, “Rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and those who worship in it. 2 “And leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.
Here John is given a measuring rod and told to measure the temple of God the altar, and those who worship in it.
And notice, he is to measure the “temple of God.”
So when this is written, the Jewish temple in Jerusalem had already been destroyed in 70 A.D., and the only temple that existed was the church of God.
So John is told to measure for the purpose of setting it apart, the temple of God.
And so John is to measure the inner sanctuary, and the altar, and those who worship in the inner sanctuary.
Now, notice verse 2, John is told not to measure the “the court which is outside the temple.”
So what you have here is a measuring for the purpose of separation…and the inner sanctuary, and the altar, and the people who worship in the inner sanctuary are separated away from the court that is outside.
And what you have here is the inner sanctuary, and the altar, and those who worship in it are going to be protected.
You see, this whole building…the whole of the temple as well as the holy city all belongs to God.
And what is going to happen is, the church is going to enter into a period of persecution and suffering.
And we are going to see this developed more in the next few verse. In fact, look at the end of verse 2. John says that: the nations will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.
Notice the “forty-two months.”
Now, we know what the time is, it is 42 months or 1260 days, or “time, times, and half a time”…but what does it mean?
Look at this passage in Dan. 7:25. This has reference to the little horn and it says:
And he will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.
But now look at the next verse: But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever.
Look at Revelation 12: 6:
And the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she might be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
Notice, the woman flees into the wilderness.
Look here in chapter 11 again, in verse 3. The one speaking to John says: “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”
So the 42 months, or 1260 days, or “time, times, and half a time” always has associated with it: persecution or hardship…and protection.
Now, also, 42 months is half of 7 years.
So with all of that said, Lets read again the first two verses of chapter 11: And there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, “Rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and those who worship in it. 2 “And leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.
God is saying to these Christians at the time that there is good news and bad news.
Now, verse 3: “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”
Now, who are the “two witnesses”?
But let me give you who or what I believe the “two witnesses” are.
On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.
5 “A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.
As you can tell by these two verses it took two witnesses or more to confirm testimony.
In Matthew 18:16-17 you find the same thing…two witnesses to confirm what was taking place.
16 “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.
In John 8:17 Jesus says that two witnesses were needed to confirm the truth.
17 “Even in your law it has been written, that the testimony of two men is true.
Now, with this in mind “the two witnesses” of Rev. 11:3 seems to be those that God has sent forth to confirm what is true…during a time of great persecution.
And now look at verse 4: These (the two witnesses) are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.
So what I believe you have here is a description of all the saints…or the church…that speaks forth the truth of God’s word during a time of great persecution.
In fact, look at verse 5:
And if anyone desires to harm them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies; and if anyone would desire to harm them, in this manner he must be killed.
Rev 11:6 These have the power to shut up the sky, in order that rain may not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.
7 And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them.
Now, this happens at the end of the 1260 days mentioned back up in verse 3…and the thing that is confusing is we have just talked about how the “two witnesses” are unstoppable.
But let’s keep going: vs. 8:
8 And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.
So the idea that you get here initially is, God’s witnesses are defeated…the church has lost. Or has it?
Rev 11: 9 And those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb.
Notice the four terms: indicative of the world…or those who have not accepted Christ…those not part of the “two witnesses.”
Rev 11:10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.
So here you have the world rejoicing because they think the beast has been victorious over those who speak forth the word of God. But look now at verse 11:
And after the three and a half days the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were beholding them.
Here is what this said to the Christians at the time that this was written.
And notice at the end of the verse it says that “great fear fell upon those who were beholding them.”
But it has all changed now…and they are filled with fear because the one’s whose death they celebrated are now alive.
We may be persecuted…we may be disrespected…we may even be killed…but in the end we will be victorious…and the wicked who did those things to us…will have plenty of reason to fear.
12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them.
13 And in that hour there was a great earthquake (a manifestation of God’s judgment), and a tenth of the city fell (not final judgment); and seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake (7 as well as 1000 are symbolic of completeness or totality. What this seems to be saying is that all of those who reject God’s witnesses and their message will experience the judgment of God), and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
The second woe is past; behold, the third woe is coming quickly.