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Bible Commentaries

Gray's Concise Bible Commentary

Revelation 11

Verses 1-19

THE SEVEN TRUMPETS

We have here another illustration of the law of recurrence, for in these chapters we are going over the ground of the last, though certain features are being added which were not then revealed. In other words, it is still the Tribulation Period.

INTRODUCTION (Revelation 8:2-5 )

In the previous lesson the Introduction included the vision of “The Throne, the Lamb and the Book,” while here it is the revelation of the angel and the incense. There is no satisfactory interpretation of this feature any more than of the “silence in heaven” revealed previously. Some would say that “the prayers of all saints” are those of the martyrs of the earlier chapter crying out for avenging, not for their own sakes but that the honor of God might be maintained in the face of His enemies. The incense is identified with the intercession of Christ on their behalf, and the answer is symbolized in what follows not only in Revelation 8:5 , but all which results therefrom in the remainder of this chapter and the next.

PROGRESSION (Revelation 8:6 to Revelation 9:21 )

The first trumpet (8:7) symbolizes a judgment falling on the earth through the ordinary powers of nature. The “blood” may be caused by the destructive power of the large hailstones. The second trumpet (Revelation 8:8-9 ) symbolizes judgments resulting from extraordinary acts of nature, volcanic and marine? The third (Revelation 8:10-11 ), seems to point to suffering superinduced by superhuman agencies “a great star from heaven.” Is it identical with the allusion to Satan (Revelation 12:7-9 )? The fourth (Revelation 8:12-13 ) is suffering caused by the diminished influence of the heavenly bodies, while the fifth and sixth trumpets (Revelation 9:1-21 ) again specifying superhuman agencies, indicate their tormenting power as particularly directed toward men. In the other instances while humanity felt the infliction yet it was indirect, whereas here it is direct.

PARENTHESIS (Revelation 10:1 to Revelation 11:14 )

In chapter 10, the revelation of the “mighty angel” and the “little book” does not easily lend itself to any definite interpretation. Some identify the “angel” with our Lord Himself, and make the “little book” mean the supplemental revelation of the “beast” soon to follow (Revelation 11:13 ) together with the whole story of the awful period of his reign. Chapter 11 is plainer. It refers to Jerusalem during the reign of the “beast” or “man of sin,” “forty and two months” being equivalent to the last 3 1/2 years of Daniel’s seventieth week already referred to. The two witnesses testifying with supernatural power during this time have been identified with Moses and Elijah returned to the earth in the flesh for that ministry. Revelation 11:6 , strikingly parallels the illustrations of their earlier power, while the mysterious manner in which they were taken away from earth, the one buried by God’s own hand and the other translated having never seen death, add their contribution to the probability of this application of the chapter.

CONSUMMATION (Revelation 11:15-19 )

Corresponds somewhat to the ending of the revelation of the seven seals (Revelation 8:1 ); i.e., it seems to bring us up to the end or final climax, and yet to halt just short to it in order to retrace the ground for fuller detail.

Throughout these visions frequent allusions are made to the destructive forces of the heavens, “the power of the air,” and also to conflicts of armies on the earth which suggests modern methods of warfare. Military airships stagger men not so much by their spectacle as by their slaughter. They seem to be faint gray linear objects silhouetted against the sky, but some of them carry torpedoes, and are able to pursue a battleship and send it to the bottom. Was Tennyson “also among the prophets,” when he wrote:

Men, my brothers, men the workers, ever reaping something new; That which they have done but earnest of the things that they shall do; For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see, Saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be; Saw the heavens filled with commerce, argosies of magic sails, Pilots of the purple twilight, dropping down with costly bales; Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rained a ghastly dew From the nations’ airy navies, grappling in the central blue; Far along the world-wide whisper of the south wind rushing warm, With the standards of the people plunging through the thunder storm.

Till the war drum throbbed no longer, and the battle flags were furled In the parliament of man, the federation of the world.

QUESTIONS

1. What familiar law of rhetoric is illustrated in this lesson?

2. How do some interpret what we call the Introduction?

3. Interpret the six trumpets.

4. How do some interpret the “little book”?

5. Locate the forty and two months.

6. With whom are the two witnesses identified?

7. What modern invention of warfare is suggested by a part of the vision?

8. What modern poet is quoted?

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Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on Revelation 11". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jgc/revelation-11.html. 1897-1910.