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The present chapter gives the contents of the little book expressed in two striking emblems, the measuring of God’s temple, and the prophesying of the two witnesses.
A reed like unto a rod-measure the temple-and them that worship ; compare Ezekiel 40:3 , etc. The holy city, Jerusalem, with its temple and court, represents the body of those who profess Christianity: measuring denotes God’s act of acknowledgment and approval; leaving unmeasured, his act of rejection. The temple and altar therefore, with their attendant worshippers, represent "the Israel of God," whom he owns as his true people; while the outer court of the temple and the city thronged with Gentiles, represent the multitude of both church officers and people who are Christian only in name. The whole symbol represents a period during which there would be some spiritual worshippers among the professed followers of Christ, while multitudes would be given up to spiritual darkness, idolatry, and death.
Forty and two months ; the period of the duration of the beast that rises out of the sea, chapter Revelation 13:5 , where see the notes. The time of the trampling under foot of the holy city, and that of the prophesying of the two witnesses, both agree with the continuance of the two beasts of chapter thirteen. The difference in character between sincere worshippers of God and those who oppose him or worship him only in name, he perfectly knows, and he will make a corresponding difference in their condition for ever.
My two witnesses ; representing the few who continued faithful to God during this long period of general apostasy. Two witnesses are probably named, because two were required by the Mosaic law to constitute valid testimony. Deuteronomy 17:6 ; Deuteronomy 19:15 .
A thousand two hundred and threescore days ; 1260 days, the same as "forty and two months," verse Revelation 11:2 , reckoning thirty days to a month.
Clothed in sackcloth ; expressive of their afflicted and persecuted condition.
The two olive - trees-the two candlesticks ; compare Zechariah 4:2-6 ; Zechariah 4:11-14 , from which the imagery is taken, but with free changes. Oil is a symbol of divine grace: a lamp replenished with oil and shining brightly, represents the light of a holy life and holy doctrine. The two witnesses are God’s two olive-trees and two candlesticks, because they are the repositories of his grace, and the lights which he has appointed to shine in this dark world.
The images of these two verses represent the jealous care with which God watches over his faithful servants, and the punishment with which he visits their persecutors.
Fire proceedeth out of their mouth ; an allusion to the act of Elijah in calling down fire from heaven. 2Ki 1:10 ; 2 Kings 1:12 .
To shut heaven , that it rain not ; as Elijah did by his intercession with God. 1 Kings 17:1 ; James 5:17 .
To turn them to blood-smite the earth with all plagues ; as Moses did at God’s command.
Exodus 7:1-25 ; Exodus 8:1-32 ; Exodus 9:1-35 ; Exodus 10:1-29 ; Exodus 11:1-10 ; Exodus 12:1-51 . Though God bears long, and for a time bestows many favors upon the wicked, not willing that they should perish, but that they should come to repentance; yet, in the end, if they turn not, he will whet his sword, his hand will take hold on judgment, and there will be none to deliver. Deuteronomy 32:41 .
The beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit ; Satan and his emissaries, or persecutors instigated by the evil one. See further on chap Revelation 13:1-18 . The word rendered beast here, and in chap Revelation 13:1-18 , is a different word in the original from that in chap Revelation 4:6 . There it means living creatures; here, a wild, savage beast.
Shall overcome them , and kill them ; the various conjectures concerning the slaying of the witnesses are uncertain. The time has not yet come for the clear understanding of this prophecy.
The great city ; the seat of the persecuting power; supposed to be Rome, or places distinguished for wickedness under her control.
Three days and a half ; a limited and short period.
Not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves ; showing the dishonor and contempt with which the faithful servants of God would be treated, not only while they lived, but after they were dead.
Make merry ; in prospect of being in future freed from the influence of those whom they hated, and had slain.
The Spirit of life from God entered into them ; they were spiritually resuscitated. New and faithful servants of God were raised up, religion greatly revived, and the number of those who embraced it so multiplied, that the blood of the martyrs was seen to be the seed of the church.
Ascended up to heaven in a cloud ; indicating the honor God bestowed upon them, and the special favor with which he treated them. The children of God, in bearing testimony for him, will live till their work is accomplished; and though they should come to a violent and ignominious death even in great numbers, yet God will raise up others to fill their places, cause his kingdom to triumph, clothe his friends with honor, and cover their opposers with confusion and disgrace.
The same hour ; with the resurrection of these witnesses.
A great earthquake ; see note to chap Revelation 6:12-14 .
Slain of men seven thousand ; literally, seven thousand names of men, representing a great destruction of the wicked high in power and place, who had hated and killed the saints. Chap Revelation 13:10 .
Great voices in heaven ; rejoicing over the rapid and triumphant spread of the gospel.
In the spread of the gospel and the multiplication of those who embrace it, in the honor of the saints and their triumph over all who oppose them, the inhabitants of heaven greatly rejoice, and render fervent thanksgiving to God.
The time of the dead , that they should be judged ; probably meaning the time when the pious dead, who have been slain for Christ’s sake, shall be avenged.
Reward-thy servants-and-destroy them which destroy the earth ; save his friends and destroy his enemies, especially those who had been engaged in destroying his people.
The temple of God was opened in heaven ; this verse belongs in all probability to the following series of prophecies, which it appropriately introduces. Compare chap Revelation 4:1 , "A door was opened in heaven." But here the holy of holies is laid open, where God dwelt between the cherubim of the ark; apparently indicating that the apostle is about to receive a more interior and spiritual view of the condition and conflicts of the church. See the remarks prefixed to the next chapter.
The ark of his testament ; the same as the ark of the covenant. Exodus 25:10-22 . It was the symbol of God’s immediate presence, and of the certain fulfilment of his promises.
Lightnings-thunderings-earthquake , and great hail ; emblems of God’s presence, and of the judgments about to be executed on the persecutors of his people.
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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 11". "Edwards' Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent