Attention!
Tired of seeing ads while studying? Now you can enjoy an "Ads Free" version of the site for as little as 10¢ a day and support a great cause!
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries

Hamilton Smith's Writings

Revelation 11

Verses 1-19

(Rev 11:1) Having been prepared for service, a reed is given to John, and he is told to "measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein." The mention of the temple and the holy city clearly shows that the events foretold in this portion of the Revelation have their centre in Jerusalem, and are in connection with the nation of Israel.

As a symbol the temple sets forth the dwelling place of God, and the altar the way of approach to God on the ground of sacrifice. Measuring would seem to set forth that the man of God is to take account of all that God has reserved for Himself as having His approval. Does not this action, and the figures used, tell us that during the time of these judgments God will have His people whom He delights to own as drawing near to Him in worship?Mat 7:6). So Peter warns us that in the last days men will act like the dog that returns to its vomit, and the sow to her wallowing in the mire (2Pe 2:22).

The mention of the forty-two months, or three and a half years, at once connects the Revelation made to John with the prophecies of Daniel. In Dan 9:24-27, we read of a period of seventy weeks, at the end of which everlasting righteousness under the reign of Christ will be established. We are then told that these weeks would commence with the command to rebuild Jerusalem, which we know was in the reign of Cyrus. Further we learn that after seven weeks and sixty-two weeks the Messiah would be cut off. It is evident then that each day of these weeks represents one year and that the first sixty-nine weeks of years were completed at the crucifixion of Christ. This leaves one week of seven years yet to be fulfilled. At the commencement of this last seven years Daniel tells us that the leader of the Roman Empire will enter into a covenant with the Jews for seven years, and in the midst of the seven years will cause the Jewish sacrifice to cease. In Dan 7:25 we further learn that he will wear out the saints of the Most High and think to change times and laws during this period of "a time and times and the dividing of time," in other words, for three and a half years.

(Vv. 3, 4) It is this last week of seven years that is brought before us in the Revelation, and more especially the last half of this week. Thus, in this passage, we learn that during this period not only the opposition of the Gentiles against God's ancient people will come to a head, but during this same time God will raise up two outstanding witnesses in accord with the principle of Scripture that "out of the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established." Being clothed in sackcloth may show that their message is one that calls aloud for repentance. In this case the period of three and a half years is stated in days, possibly to emphasise the fact that the witness will be daily. Zec 4:14 with Rev 11:4). As candlesticks they become witnesses before men. Their testimony is to the Lord who has claimed the sea and the earth and is about to establish His kingdom. In the day when those that dwell on the earth are seeking to claim the world for themselves, God will have His witnesses that testify that He is "the Lord of the earth."

(Vv. 5, 6) This witness will call forth intense opposition from the enemy which will be met by acts of Divine power. The two witnesses will be empowered to shut the heavens that it rain not during the days of their prophecy, even as Elijah acted in his day (1Ki 17:1); and as Moses smote Egypt with plagues, so again will these witnesses to the Lord of the earth "smite the earth with all plagues."

To-day God's people witness to the God of heaven in His sovereign grace saving sinners for heaven, through faith in Christ. Therefore, no outward signs of judgment accompany their witness. In the coming days of these witnesses, God will be giving testimony to the coming reign of Christ on earth, to be introduced by judgments that will clear the inheritance of evil. In consistency with this testimony solemn signs of coming judgment are given.Luke 12, is to eat, drink, and be merry without any thought of God or the future, find the testimony of these two witnesses a perfect torment to them, and rejoice when, as they judge, they are overcome and for ever silenced.

(Vv. 11, 12) However, the rejoicing of the world will be short-lived, for at the end of three and a half days God will intervene, and in the sight of the people will raise up His witnesses, and they will hear a great voice from heaven that will call them to "Come up hither." Php 2:10).

We thus learn from this deeply solemn passage that the closing events of this age will have their centre in Jerusalem and take place during a period of three and a half years. Further, we are told, that during the great tribulation of these last days there will be a God-fearing remnant, and amongst them two outstanding witnesses, whose testimony will be accompanied by mighty acts of power that will bring plagues upon men. Opposed to the people of God, and in contrast to them, there will be a great company of earth dwellers led by two pre-eminently wicked men - the head of the Roman Empire and the Antichrist (Rev. 13), whose opposition will be accompanied by "the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders" (2Th 2:9).

(Vv. 14-17) The solemn events brought before us in Rev 10-11:13 ends the period of the second woe and prepares the way for the establishment of the kingdom of Christ, brought before us in the third woe by the sounding of the trumpet of the seventh angel.

With the sounding of the seventh trumpet we are carried from earth to heaven to hear great voices in heaven announcing the glad tidings that "The kingdom of the world of our Lord and of His Christ is come, and He shall reign to the ages of ages." The great day will at last come when the government of this world will pass into the hands of the Lord Jesus. All heaven rejoices at the announcement, and the saints, represented by the Twenty-four elders, worship with thanksgiving to God. Rev 14:13, who will be recompensed for the sufferings they have endured at the hands of men? Further, in the days of Christ's reign, God's servants, prophets, saints, and all that have feared God's Name throughout the ages, both small and great, will receive their reward, while those who have destroyed the earth will themselves be destroyed.

10 The Dragon (Rev 11:19-12)

In the previous division of the Rev 6to11:18 we have had a prophetic unfolding of a series of judgments that will take place on earth between the rapture of the church and the appearing of Christ to claim His kingdom.

In the division that follows, from Rev 11:19 to Rev 19:10, we are given details concerning leaders, and great events in heaven and earth during this solemn time. Then, this parenthetical division being completed, we have in the division that follows, from Rev 19:11 to Rev 21:8, the unfolding of the future again continued from the appearing of Christ on to the eternal state.

In the opening section of this fresh division, Rev 11:19 to the end of Revelation 13, there pass before us the prime movers in opposition to God, to Christ, and to His people, during the period of the three woes, or last three trumpet judgments, a period, as we have learned, of three and a half years that will immediately precede the appearing of Christ. During this terrible time, when all wickedness comes to a head, there will be a trinity of evil in the forefront - the Dragon, or Satan (12); the first beast, or head of the revived Roman Empire (Rev 13:1-10); and the second beast, or Antichrist (Rev 13:11-18).

(Rev 11:19) This division of the Revelation would seem more properly to commence with the last verse of Revelation 11, as being introductory to the scenes that follow. In this verse we have a symbolic intimation that God is about to resume His public dealings with the nation of Israel, for we see the temple of God opened in heaven and discover the ark of the covenant. We know from the Old Testament that the temple speaks of God's dwelling, and the ark of the presence of God, in the midst of His earthly people. Does not this vision tell us that, in spite of Israel's long history of failure, God remains true to His covenant with His ancient people? Time was when the ark was in the temple on earth, the witness of God's covenant with Israel, and the token of His presence in their midst. Because of the idolatry of the nation the temple was destroyed and the ark of the covenant removed; and though after the captivity the temple was rebuilt, yet the ark, that spoke of God's immediate presence, was never restored. Now we learn that the ark abode, as it were, in heaven, and hence the covenant with Israel remains; though, on account of their low state, there has been no public witness to this on earth during long centuries. It was a secret cherished in heaven to be disclosed for the comfort of a godly remnant in Israel in the time when God is once more about to bring the nation into blessing.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Revelation 11". "Hamilton Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hsw/revelation-11.html. 1832.