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Revelation 11

Grant's Commentary on the BibleGrant's Commentary

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Verses 1-19

We have seen under the sixth trumpet the desolating invasion of Israel by the King of the North, which takes place because of Israel's idolatrous image of the Beast set up in the temple at the middle of Daniel's seventieth week. Revelation 11:1 to Revelation 13:18 therefore deals with conditions in the last half of this seven year period, designated in scripture as "the Great Tribulation."

John is given a reed like a rod and told by the Angel (the Lord) to measure the temple, the altar and those who worship (v. 1). The court is given to the Gentiles who will tread it down for 42 months (3 1/2 years) (v. 2). This is not a literal measurement in feet or meters, for the worshipers also are measured. The reference is plainly to Israel's temple and altar, and at a time when these have been grossly desecrated by the Antichrist and the Jews themselves by the idolatry of the image to the Beast at the middle of Daniel's seventieth week, and then further desecrated by the Assyrian invasion which immediately follows.

The measurement speaks of a true spiritual discrimination that separates the godly minority in Israel who care for God's interests in His temple and in His altar, from the masses of the nation. The altar-the altar of burnt offering-speaks of the absolute necessity of the sacrifice of the blessed Messiah of Israel; and the temple, of the dwelling of God among His people. These things will be valued by the minority, though despised by the majority of the nation.

Two Unusual Witnesses in Jerusalem

(vv. 3-14)

Two remarkable witnesses, empowered by the Lord, will appear in Jerusalem during the Great Tribulation, but will be killed about the end of this 3-1/2 year period. Therefore, they are killed just before the Lord appears in glory. These prophets are only two of a large number who will also bear some witness in other parts of the land beside Jerusalem, but these will have particular power given them of God. Being clothed in sackcloth, they feel the shame of Israel's guilt. Their prophecy is specifically required in Jerusalem because of the idolatry prevailing there.

In verse 4 they are designated as the two olive trees and the two lampstands of Zechariah 4:2-3, the anointed ones (sons of oil) bearing testimony (the lampstands). Their testimony is to the fact that there is a true anointed Messiah of Israel (anointed as both King and Priest) who will be manifested to Israel. Indeed, "He shall build the temple of the Lord. He shall bear the glory and shall sit and rule on His throne, so He shall be a Priest on His throne" (Zechariah 6:13).

The fire from their mouths (v. 5) reminds us of Elijah's burning words to the two insolent captains who were immediately devoured by fire with their bands of fifty men (2 Kings 1:9-12). Power to restrain the rain from heaven (v. 6) was also given to Elijah (James 5:17). Power to turn the waters to blood is seen in the conflict of Moses with the Egyptians (Exodus 7:19-20) as well as smiting the earth with many plagues. It would be totally contrary to Christian character for us to attempt such things today (see Luke 9:54-56), for today is the day of grace, but when God initiates judgment, He will not be without clear witness. These two prophets then will be similar to Moses and Elijah, not the same individuals as some have wrongly supposed in reading Malachi 4:5, but coming in the spirit and power of Elijah as was true also of John the Baptist (Luke 1:17).

God allows nothing to stop them until their testimony is finished. He then permits the Roman Beast (the Western European dictator) who ascends from the abyss (Revelation 17:8), who is also said to rise out of the sea (Revelation 13:1), to murder them so that God's power over the Beast may become more clearly manifest (v.7). The fact of the Beast's ascending out of the abyss speaks of the direct satanic power by which he is influenced and energized. He will not be personally in Jerusalem, but will have many willing tools there to do his work. Yet very soon after this, the Roman Beast

personally, with the false prophet (the Antichrist), will be terrified by the sudden appearance of the Lord Jesus from heaven at Armageddon in the north of Israel, and the two of them will be captured by divine power and thrown alive into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 19:11-20).

The two witnesses suffer bitter rejection and apparent shameful defeat. Not content with murdering them, their enemies leave their dead bodies on the street in Jerusalem (called Sodom for its revolting corruption, and Egypt for its proud independence of God) (vv. 8-10). Gloating in fiendish delight over their horrible work, they send congratulatory gifts to one another. These dead bodies are observed for 3 1/2 days by other nations also, perhaps by means of television. There can be no doubt of their actual physical death.

However, this wicked folly of Israel's leaders causes them to witness their own defeat. In the sight of their enemies the two witnesses are raised from death and stand upon their feet (v. 11). If they had buried them, they would not have seen this great sight, but having morbid delight in observing their dead bodies, they expose themselves to the terror of seeing them come to life. These witnesses stand there long enough to impress men with the reality of their resurrection and then are called by a great voice from heaven to come up there. The voice also is heard by their enemies who observe them as they go up to heaven.

Immediately following this, "in the same hour," a great earthquake (literally as well as morally) shakes the city, destroying a tenth part of it and killing seven thousand (v. 13). This again is just preceding the appearing of the Lord in awesome majesty. It would seem that Jerusalem will have almost no time to recover from the earthquake before the King of the North returns from Egypt to besiege the city. The shaking does some good, however, for those who were not killed at least were terrified enough to give glory to the God of heaven. Whether they were really brought to God in faith is another question.

The Seventh Trumpet:

Christ's Kingdom Announced

(vv. 15-18)

The third woe comes with the seventh trumpet. Great voices in heaven announce, "The world kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ is come and He shall reign unto the age of ages" (v. 15, Numerical Bible). Far from being woe to the renewed heart, that great kingdom will bring unspeakable blessing, but to the ungodly rebel it is the worst of all woes, for each such rebel must now face the exposure of his accumulated guilt and be judged by the One whom he has despised and rejected-Jesus, the exalted Son of Man, the eternal Son of God. All other kingdoms fall "and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day" (Isaiah 2:11).

The redeemed in heaven (the 24 elders) respond in deepest adoration, falling on their faces to worship the living God, speaking of Him as the Lord God Almighty, the eternal Sovereign of the present, the past and the future (vv. 16-17). They make it clear that this great dignity fully belongs to the Lord Jesus who has asserted His right of absolute authority to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Their words in verse 18 encompass a long period of time and the events spoken of are not put in chronological order. The anger of the nations and God's wrath against them will be manifest at the time of the revelation of the Lord from heaven, but "the time of the dead, that they should be judged," anticipates the end of Christ's millennial reign. If He judges the living, there remains no doubt that He will judge the dead. All these things are connected with the kingdom of the Son of Man who will put all things in subjection before delivering the kingdom up to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24-28). Rewards also, to His servants, to prophets, to saints and to all who fear His name, are connected with the kingdom, as will be the destruction of those who destroy the earth. This will include the Tribulation judg- ments and the judgment by fire from heaven of Gog and Magog at the end of the thousand years (Revelation 20:7-9), and is completed with the Great White Throne judgment of all the unsaved dead (Revelation 20:11-15).

The Temple and the Ark

Verse 19 begins a new subject and is connected with Revelation 12:1-17. The trumpets take us to the end of all the judgments. The scene now reverts to consider the development of various details connected with the span of time the trumpets have embraced.

The temple of God opened in heaven is not itself a heavenly temple, for in the heavenly city there is no temple (Revelation 21:22). The temple and the ark seen here are connected with Israel at a time when Israel on earth is in a state of guilty apostasy, having deliberately turned from the truth they once claimed to believe, apostatizing from God and from any recognition of a coming Messiah. But God's counsels concerning her blessings are still established in the heavens, the temple speaking of God's dwelling among His people; and the ark, of Christ glorified, the center of all blessing for Israel. The literal ark will be forgotten (Jeremiah 3:16): its spiritual significance is the vital matter. Therefore, Israel will learn that "the heavens do rule." But the counsels of God in blessing will not be accomplished before the awesome judgments take place, of which the lightnings, thunderings, voices, an earthquake and great hail assure us.

Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Revelation 11". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/revelation-11.html. 1897-1910.
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