{Review and summary: Between the sixth seal, sixth trumpet and sixth bowl judgment there are interludes and/or some parenthetical material before the final (seventh) judgment occurs in each one of these. This interlude runs from 10:1 to 11:14 just before the seventh trumpet is blown opening the seven bowl judgments that brings the return of our Lord. (Ch. 16) These interludes and parenthetical comments by our Lord give us, as those who read Revelation now before these events occur, and especially for those who are left behind at the Rapture, great encouragement, that in spite of all hell breaking loose, God is still in control for His glory and the good of His people. Commentators think that these two witnesses will have a worldwide audience due to television and thus their message preached from Jerusalem will be heard by every tribe, tongue, and nation among the Gentiles as well. It is a message of warning, of judgment (which has already been experienced in a large degree but the worst is still to come) and yet an opportunity for repentance and salvation. "The gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations and then the end will come." (Matt. 24:14) Some commentators (e.g., MacArthur and Lindsey) believe that this event here in chapter 11 is when "all Israel will be saved" (Rom.11:26) (i.e., the Jews left on earth who have not been killed by God's wrath through the Antichrist.) "And the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven." (see v.13 KJV) "In the whole land," declares the LORD, "two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are my people,' and they will say, 'The LORD is our God.' "(Zechariah 13:8-9) This national repentance may occur immediately after the Antichrist desecrates the temple and those under his rule (the Gentiles) will trample on the holy city until the Lord's return. These saved Jews will then be supernaturally protected and cared for by God in the desert (or wilderness; Rev. 12:14) until Christ's return. The two witnesses will remain in Jerusalem for the rest of the Tribulation (v.3) and be supernaturally protected by God to preach to the Gentile nations through their world-wide audience perhaps on television. Since the parenthetical material here and in chapter 7 is not chronological, this could also be a part of what is seen in Revelation 7:9-14 where millions of Gentiles are saved.}

"They (the Gentiles under the dominion of Antichrist) will trample on the holy city for 42 months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth." These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. These men have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want."

Here in the worst time of agony for the city of Jerusalem, God will raise up two powerful witnesses to preach repentance and salvation and the soon return of Christ. Many Jews will turn to Christ (see summary above). The power God gives these two witnesses is astounding and reminds us of the combined power of Moses and Elijah together. Their powerful preaching of repentance is like that of Jesus and this along with their death, resurrection and ascension will remind the Jews of Christ and lead many to Him.

The clear identity of these two is unnecessary but some commentators have noted the similarity of their ministry with that of Moses and Elijah. Their power to turn the waters to blood and to strike the earth with all plagues reminds us of what Moses did in Egypt (Ex. 7:14-20; 8:1-12:29) and their power over fire and weather reminds us of Elijah's ministry (1 Kgs. 17:1; 18:41-45; 2 Kgs. 1:9-12). Moses and Elijah also appeared together with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. (Luke 9:29-31) Some argue against Moses because Hebrews 9:27 says "it is appointed for men to die once"; however, the entire living church at the time of the Rapture will go to heaven without dying and several people died twice as Jesus, His apostles and even Old Testament prophets, raised people from the dead.

Their description as lampstands (lights/witnesses) and olive trees (oil = the power of the Holy Spirit) comes from Zechariah 3-4 describing Joshua (the high priest after the exile) and Zerubbabel (the governor of Israel after the exile) and how they were filled with God's power to restore Israel after captivity in Babylon. The key verse is Zech. 4:6, "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty" as God makes it clear that all their power comes from Him as is true of the two witnesses here in Revelation 11.

"Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them." The word for finished is the same word used for Christ's triumphant cry from the cross (teleo) meaning God's call on their life has been accomplished. They are "immortal" until then as is true of all believers as seen in Psalm 139:16 and Eph. 2:10.

"Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified." Jerusalem is called Sodom because of its sinful indulgence and indifference to the needs of others (Ezek. 16:49) and called Egypt because of its idolatry and unrighteousness, and both names are seen in Scripture as the objects of God's wrath. This will be the state of Jerusalem under the power of Antichrist.

"For three and a half days men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth." The phrase "inhabitants of the earth " is often used in Scripture to denote unrepentant sinners.  The only prophets unrepentant sinners love are dead ones. (John 3:19-20; 7:7) They hate the truth and light that exposes their sin, and their evil and vileness is seen here as they treat these two dead men like animals on the side of the road. An unburied body was particularly offensive to Jews and in the East in general. It seems this is a worldwide celebration by means of television and communication satellites.

"But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. 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 looked on." THIS IS SO COOL!!!! Can you imagine the TV reporter who along with other unrepentant people are laughing as he points his camera over and over again at the two dead bodies and then all of a sudden right there on worldwide TV-  "they stood on their feet" and then a loud voice from heaven says, COME UP HERE, and they ascend to heaven as a shocked and unrepentant world watches in absolute terror.

"At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors (remnant in KJV) were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon." As I mentioned above, some commentators say the phrase "gave glory to God" is a sign of turning to Christ for salvation. (Compare Rev.14:7 to 16:9; also see Luke 17:11-19)

The final verses (14-19) give a panorama of the rest of the book, future events being seen as already happening; Christ's eternal reign, the judgment of raging nations/people (Psalm; Rev. 20:11-15) and the rewarding of God's people. (1 Cor. 3:10-15) "No doctrine in the whole Word of God has more excited the hatred of mankind than the truth of the absolute sovereignty of God. The fact that 'the Lord reigneth' is indisputable, and it is this fact that arouses the utmost opposition in the unrenewed human heart."   (Spurgeon)   "God's wrath comes upon man's rebellion, his rebellion precisely against his creaturely role; man cannot escape responsibility for his fitness for destruction; on the contrary, in striking free from God he assumed the primary responsibility for what he became." (Dunn, 567) {This is a quote from Matt Stone's paper at DTS on Romans 9}.



  • What did you learn from the Scriptures and the message today?    
  • What do you think will be the substance of what the two witnesses prophesy/preach(v.3) and how does it apply to us?  
  • According to vv. 5-6, what supernatural powers are God's two witnesses given?     
  • What strikes you or touches you the most in vv.11-13-the resurrection of the two witnesses?
  • Discuss what Psalm 139:16 and Ephesians 2:10 say about our "immortality" until we finish the work God has called us to do. What work has God called all believers to do? What work has He called you to do?    
  • The only prophet unrepentant sinners love are dead ones. (John 3:19-20; 7:7) Jesus, The Prophet, explained why the world hated Him.   "The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil." (John 7:7; also see John 3:19-20) Why do you think some people actually prefer an "imperfect" Savior (as in The Last Temptation of Christ and other movies)?  
  • What is your main take away from today's message and table discussion and how can you apply it to your life this week?

MacDonald, William ; Farstad, Arthur: Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995, S. Re 11:1

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