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Revelation 11:0 .
JEWISH TESTIMONY AND THE SEVENTH TRUMPET.
We have pointed out the mysteriousness of the Trumpets.Whatever difficulty there may be in a minute exposition of certain figures and symbols this, at least, may be granted, that the devastation of Gentile christianised lands and peoples is unmistakably graven on the Trumpet series of judgments as a whole; their general bearing, even though couched under a wealth of figure, is plain. It is the judgment of Christendom, which is in the main the subject of the Trumpets.
But now in the vision before us the situation is changed;we pass on to the ground of well-known prophecy. The Prophets and the Psalms have made us acquainted with the state of things in Judea and Jerusalem at the epoch referred to in our chapter, hence the interpretation is comparatively simple. We are on Jewish ground. But why is the interest of prophetic dealing transferred from the Gentile to the Jew, and why is Jerusalem so prominent in the vision, the centre of the situation? The reasons are not far to seek. Providential dealing with the apostate part of the Gentile world is now closing up. The government of the earth is about to be assumed openly, and it only remains to pour out under the Vials the concentrated wrath of God upon the guilty scene. But Israel is the centre of Gentile blessing and of judgment too. The course of judgment is drawing to a close. We are in the secondhalf of Daniel’s celebrated seventieth week of seven years. At that time man’s centre of earthly government will be Rome (Revelation 17:18 ). God’s centre and capital seat of earthly government is Jerusalem. There are many cities of note, but in importance Jerusalem dwarfs them all.“Thus saith the Lord God; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her” (Ezekiel 5:5 ). Jerusalem is the capital of themillennial world, and the centre from whence the Lord governs the nations (Isaiah 2:1-4 ), “the city of the great King.” When the Gentile world is brought into blessing it is not apart from but in direct connection with Israel. “Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with His people” (Romans 15:10 ).The settlement of the nations, the respective territory assigned to each, is in no wise dependent on conquest, or war, or purchase, but on the fiat of the Most High. When He “divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance” (Deuteronomy 32:8-9 ). The purpose of God to makeIsrael and her land the centre round which He shall gather the nations is not frustrated, but postponed. Our chapter presents the initial stages in the development of this glorious earthly purpose.
The Jews and Jerusalem are in the forefront of the prophecy, and viewed as trodden down of the Gentiles,. The circumstances in this most affecting period of their national history are touchingly described in Psalms 79:1-13 .Here we have first the storm, then the calm; the agony of Israel’s closing hours of unbelief are here depicted, but joy cometh in the morning, and on this latter the Hebrew prophets grandly descant.
In the beginning of the chapter we are introduced to the most familiar of Jewish imagery the temple, altar, court, holy city, etc.
THE TEMPLE AND JERUSALEM.
Revelation 11:1-2 . “ And there was given unto me a reed like a staff, saying, Rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship in it.And the court which (is) without the temple cast out, and measure it not; because it has been given (up) to the nations, and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty-two months. ” “A reed like a staff.” The reed was a measuring instrument, *In Ezekiel 40:3 the measuring rod is applied to the temple; then the city itself is measured (Zechariah 1:16 ). These both, i.e. , temple and city, are for God’s appropriation in millennial times. There seems two distinct thoughts connected with measuring. First, set apart for God, as in the foregoing passages; second, devoted to destruction by God, as Moab (2 Samuel 8:2 ), Jerusalem (Lamentations 2:8 ), Israe1 (Amos 7:8 ; ?Amos 7:9 ; ?Amos 7:17 ). and is frequently mentioned by the prophets of old. The temple,altar, and worshippers measured by the Seer intimate their appropriation, preservation, and acceptance by God. An angel with a golden reed measures the glorified Church (Revelation 21:15 ). The Seer with a wooden reed does a like office for the temple. “Like a staff,” or firm rod, signifies the strength, stability, and firmness of the emblematic action referred to.
“Rise and measure.” The Seer had been a passive yet deeply interested spectator of the scenes witnessed under the previous Trumpets, but now that Israel, his own nation, is in question he is commanded to “rise.” He is roused into activity by the divine mandate. It is more than a mere question of posture.
The temple, the altar, the worshippers, all are measured.Christian worship comes in between the suspension of Jewish worship in the past and its resumption in the future. Christians have no place of worship on earth;they enter no earthly temple. The holiest in the sanctuary above is their one and only place of worship (John 4:21 ; John 4:23 ; John 4:24 ; Hebrews 10:19-22 ); their sacrifices are praise to God and practical benevolence to men (Hebrews 13:15-16 ). But this is very different from Jewish worship both in the past and in the future. A temple and altar are essential to Jewish worship. While for the force of the figure it is not essential to suppose the existence of a material temple then in Jerusalem, yet prophecy demands the erection of a stone temple, and the reconstruction of the Jewish polity, both secular and religious, during that deeply solemn period between the Translation (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 ) and the Appearing (Jude 1:14-15 ).
The Jews as a nation are restored in unbelief both on their part and on that of the friendly nation who espouse their cause (Isaiah 18:1-7 ). They then proceed to build their temple, *The following are the material temples referred to in the Word of God: Solomon’s (1 Kings 7:1-51 ), destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, 588 B. C. Zerubbabel’s (Ezra 3:1-13 ; Ezra 6:1-22 )pillaged and dedicated to the heathen god Jupiter by Antiochus Epiphanes, 168 and 170 B.C. Herod’s (John 2:20 ), reconstructed and almost rebuilt in a style of surpassing magnificence, commenced in the year 17 B.C. Antichrist’s (2 Thessalonians 2:4 ).to be built by restored Judah. Christ’s millennial temple (Ezekiel 40:1-49 ), entirely new,grand and capacious. In all, five temples. The Church (1 Corinthians 3:16 ) and thebodies of believers (1 Corinthians 6:19 ) are each spoken of as the temple of God. Jerusalem is the only city on earth where a temple of stone is divinely sanctioned.The force of the word “temple” in Revelation 7:15 is that a vast crowd of worshipping Gentiles are recognised; probably these may pray and worship in the literal millennial temple then “a house of prayer for all peoples” (Isaiah 56:7 ). and restore, so far as they can, the Mosaic ritual.God is not in this Gentile movement for Jewish restoration, which is undertaken for political ends and purposes. But amidst the rank unbelief of these times there shall be, as ever, a true, godly remnant, and it is this remnant which is here divinely recognised. Gentile oppression and Jewish national apostasy but bring into bold relief the faithful and consequently suffering witnesses of that day,the closing hours of the unbelieving nation’s history. “The temple of God” is so termed, because He owns and accepts the true worshippers found therein. The altar refers to the brazen altar which stood in the court of old. It signifies the acceptance of those who in faith draw nigh to it, of course, as ever, on the righteous and holy ground of sacrifice. As to the moral value of the terms the “temple” would express the worship , and the “altar” the acceptance of the godly remnant of Israel. The unmeasured and rejected court given over to the Gentiles signifies the apostate part of the people, the mass in outward religious profession abandoned by God to the nations, who will wreak their vengeance on the guilty people, spite of the promised assistance of the Beast (Isaiah 28:17-22 ). The “Court” signifies Judaism in alliance with the Gentiles,and that in its most corrupt and apostate character.
JERUSALEM TRODDEN DOWN.
Revelation 11:2 . “ The holy city shall they tread under foot forty-two months. ” Jerusalem is here as elsewhere spoken of in its sacred character as “the holy city” (see Nehemiah 11:1 ; Nehemiah 11:18 ; Isaiah 52:1 ; Daniel 9:24 , etc.). She is to be trodden under foot for an exactly defined period, forty-two months. This denomination of time is elsewhere spoken of as 1260 days (Revelation 11:3 ; Revelation 12:6 ), a time, times, and half a time (Revelation 12:14 ), It is also referred to in Daniel 9:27 in the expression, “The midst of the week.” Now these periods refer to the last half-week of seven years of Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27 ). *See separate article. “The Celebrated Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks.”
The forty-two months during which Jerusalem is trodden down, trampled upon by the Gentiles, are months of thirty days each, thus corresponding to the 1260 days of sackcloth testimony borne by the two witnesses or prophets. Jerusalem’s coming hour of agony is limited to forty-two months.She will have to drink the cup of the Lord’s fury, and drink it for 1260 days. The Gentiles will tread down the people as mire in the streets (Isaiah 10:6 , etc.). Even those nations which at first politically befriended the Jew will turn round and glut their vengeance on the restored nation.“They,” Judah restored by Gentile intervention, “shall be left together unto the fowls of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth: and the fowls shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them” (Isaiah 18:6 ). Thus the Gentile enemies of Israelare let loose upon the people of Jehovah’s choice, then in open idolatry and apostate from God and truth (Matthew 12:43-45 ). “The last state of that man (Judah) is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation” (v. 45).
Revelation 11:3-4 . “ And I will give (power) to My two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred (and) sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lamps which stand before the Lord of the earth. ” The worshippers in the temple are a distinct company from the witnesses in the city. The worshippers and the prophets respectively set forth the truths of priesthood and royalty which unite in Christ in His millennial reign, “He shall be a priest upon His throne” (Zechariah 6:13 ); of this the witnesses testify.
On the question of the number of witnesses *“I concur with Lowman, Newton, Woodhouse, Cunningham, and others in the opinion that we are to understand by the two witnesses a competent number of faithful servants of Christ.“ “Notes on the Apocalypse.” Burder . conjectures innumerable have been advanced, such as the two Testaments,the law and the Gospel, Huss and Jerome, the Waldenses and the Albigenses, etc. Others with more show of reason, and with an apparent sanction of Scripture, suppose that Moses and Elijah are the two witnesses, quoting Malachi 4:1-6 in proof of their contention. *It was an ancient idea that some of the old prophets would reappear before the Second Advent of the Messiah. “As to the persons of these witnesses for the faith, it may be assumed as certain, as all the ancients allow, that the prophet Elijah is one of them, since the opinion was widely prevalent that he, having been carried up to Heaven without dying, would return at the time of the Messiah, or as His forerunner according to Malachi 4:5 . The ancients generally suppose the second to be Enoch, especially because it was assumed of him, according to Genesis 5:24 , that he was received up to Heaven whilst still alive.” “Bleek’s Lectures on the Apocalypse.” page 252. “ Remember ye the law of Moses My servant” (v. 4) would not imply a personal presence of the great lawgiver in the scenes of the last days; whereas verse five does seem a very express declaration that the distinguished prophet has again to reappear in Palestine: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” A full and adequate testimony is the thought purposely intended in the number of the witnesses. It seems to us that a larger number than actually two is called for in the solemn crisis before us,also that verse eight supposes a company of slain witnesses. But the point is immaterial. Jewish law, and here we are in the midst of Jewish circumstances, called for two witnesses to give competent evidence (Deuteronomy 17:6 ; Deuteronomy 19:15 ).Two angels bore testimony to the resurrection of the Lord (John 20:12 ), and two men to His ascension (Acts 1:10 ).
3. “ I will give. ” The Revised Version, Tregelles, and others omit the interpolated word “power.” The sense of the passage requires a word for its completion, and hence the translators of the Authorised Version rightly enough inserted in italics in the text, “I will give power unto My two witnesses.” Power or efficacy is imparted to the testimony of the witnesses. Such seems the obvious sense of the passage as demanded by the context.
The days of their testimony are carefully numbered.Theirs is not an intermittent testimony, but is continued daily till the allotted period is exhausted, not, however, a day longer. It will be observed that the 1260 days come short of three years and a half by seventeen and a half days. At the close of the period indicated the seventh Trumpet sounds, the Tribulation ends, the power of the Beast to further persecute God’s saints abruptly terminates (Revelation 13:5 ).
. “ Clothed in sackcloth ” would express the afflicted condition of the witnesses (Joel 1:13 ; 1 Kings 20:31 ;Jeremiah 4:8 ).
“These are the two olive trees and the two lamps.” Why are the two prophets so peculiarly designated? The undoubted reference is to Zechariah 4:1-14 . The olive,vine, and fig trees have each its distinctive signification. The olive is testimony (Romans 11:1-36 ). The vine fruitfulness (John 15:1-27 ). The fig Israel nationally (Luke 21:29 ). The witnesses in Jerusalem are termed “olive trees,” because in that day they represent the testimony of God, and maintain prophetically the royal and priestly rights of the Messiah. They are also termed “the two lamps,” for the light of the Spirit is in them. Their testimony is of no uncertain character, for it is carried on in the clear light of God. God is with them spiritually and in power.
But, further, the witnesses are said to “stand before the Lord of the earth,” not God , as in the Authorised Version.There is One and only One Who has right and title to all here below. Jehovah, the Saviour of Israel, has in Himself an indisputable right to the earth. It belongs to Him. The right is denied, of which the resistance and conflicts of apostate Jews and Gentiles detailed in the Apocalypse are the sorrowful witness. The prophets stand before the Lord of the earth; they know in whose presence they are, and they endure as seeing Him by faith, Who to mortal sight is invisible.
Thus, then, the witnesses, be they two or many, prophesy uninterruptedly for an exact 1260 days. Their office and the sorrowful circumstances under which their testimony is carried on are signified in their clothing of sackcloth. Their testimony is one of power, and also one of spiritual light in the midst of the gloom which settles down like a funeral pall over the guilty city of Jerusalem, the guiltiest city on earth.
MIRACULOUS POWER OF THE WITNESSES.
Revelation 11:5-6 . “ And if anyone wills to injure them, fire goes out of their mouth, and devours their enemies. And if anyone wills to injure them, thus must he be killed.These have power to shut the Heaven that no rain may fall during the days of their prophecy; *Elias-like (James 5:17-18 ). and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, *Moses-like (Exodus 7:17 ). and to smite the earth as often as they will with every plague. ” We have had the concentration of light and power in the witnesses; now they are empowered to protect themselves and accredit their mission to the“rebellious” of Israel (Psalms 68:18 ) by inflicting signaljudgment on their enemies, and by exhibiting signs of a supernatural kind. None, be they high or low, are beyond the reach of judgment. Death is the certain portion of those who “wills to injure” the witnesses. No doubt the testimony will be received by some, perhaps by many (Daniel 12:3 ); others, and by far the greater number,proudly and disdainfully reject the message; while another class will seek to injure (not hurt as in the Authorised Version) the witnesses by violence or calumny. On these last stern judgment is executed, not on the mass, but individually, as the opposition to the witnesses assumes a violent character. Now grace works in saving the souls of men, then judgment is active in clearing the earth of Christ-rejecting sinners. The difference of the dispensations must not be overlooked. The principle is illustrated in the two Psalms (22 and 69). In the first part of both Psalms we have the sufferings of Christ. But in the former the effect of His sorrows is blessing even to the ends of the earth and for all time to come (vv. 22-31); whereas in the latter judgment is invoked on those who contributed to the anguish of the suffering Saviour (vv. 22-28). Christ sufferedfor sin (Psalms 22:1-31 ) and also for righteousness (Psalms 69:1-36 ).When the day of grace has run its course the day of vengeance surely follows.
But while verse five asserts the possession by the witnesses of conferred authority (v. 3) to protect themselves and vindicate in stern judgment their mission a power which, without doubt, will be exercised verse six intimates a bolder and wider commission. The miracles of Moses when Israel was in subjection to the Gentiles (Exodus 7:1-25 ; Exodus 8:1-32 ; Exodus 9:1-35 ; Exodus 10:1-29 ; Exodus 11:1-10 ; Exodus 12:1-51 ),and of Elijah (1 Kings 17:1-24 ; 1 Kings 18:1-46 ) when Israel was apostate from God, are again to be witnessed in like character.Jerusalem will be the centre of these miraculous signs of a public kind. What a testimony to the apostate nation of that day! The miracles of Moses repeated, at least in character, will remind them of their ancient slavery to Egypt, and a token of their subjection to Gentile rule once again; while the miracles of Elijah, re-enacted before the public gaze, will surely lead their thoughts back to their former state of apostasy from God to Baal. Jehovah,the Lord of the earth, has again to assert His claims before His apostate people. Thus the condition of Israel, at least of Judah and in Jerusalem, is similar to that in the days of Moses and Elijah slavery and apostasy ,necessitating on the part of Jehovah a ministry adapted to both states with their corresponding miraculous signs. A Moses and an Elias character of ministry is predicated of the witnesses.
THE BEAST AND THE WITNESSES.
Revelation 11:7 . “ And when they shall have completed their testimony, the Beast who comes up out of the abyss shall make war with them, and shall conquer them,and shall kill them. ” The witnesses are invincible and immortal till their mission is completed. They have prophesied in Jerusalem, the centre of prophetic and political interest during the last half of the coming week,less a little over a fortnight, during which time the Vials are poured out. But now the Beast, i.e. , the revived empire of Rome, comes upon the scene. This is the firstmention of the Beast in these apocalyptic visions. He is named as one well known. In Daniel 7:2-3 and Revelation 13:1 the Beast, or Rome, rises from the sea, that is,out of the struggling masses of mankind, out of a scene of anarchy and confusion. The Antichrist rises after the historical formation of the empire, and out of a settled condition of civil and political government, spoken of as the land or earth (Revelation 13:11 ). But in our text the Beast is said to come “up out of the abyss.” That is to say that whilst its historical rise is human, its revival is satanic. The Beast has been ravaging in Christendom, aided by his political subordinate the Antichrist (Revelation 13:1-18 ). Judea has especially felt the cruel and relentless hand of the persecutor (Matthew 24:15-28 ; Revelation 12:13-17 ). But nowJerusalem itself is visited. The witnesses in the city were safe, while their brethren in the faith and companions in sorrow were passing through the horrors of the Great Tribulation, a period of affliction unparalleled in the annals of history (Mark 13:19 ). The wickedness of earth has risen to a height in the holy city. The man of sin is there. But God interposes and publicly vindicates His servants by miraculous signs and tokens of power and judgment. The testimony in Jerusalem (v. 3) is coeval with the existence of the Beast as a persecuting power (Revelation 13:5 ). The continuance of the Beast is for at least seven years, but his power to persecute is limited to 1260days, or forty-two months of thirty days each. The Beast is then permitted, at the close of his active career, to enter Jerusalem and slay the witnesses; “his last political act,” as one has said. The Beast has triumphed. He wars against the saints, conquers them, and kills them. Goodness and faith seem banished from the earth (Psalms 4:6 ;Luke 18:8 ). The question is asked whether they will then exist at all. But the story of the witnesses is not yet finished; God’s vindication, if delayed, is most sure. The triumphing of the wicked is short, and of that we are now to read, after which God’s approval of His faithful witnesses is publicly expressed. The Beast in cruelty and blasphemy exceeds every power which has ever appeared on the earth. His doom and that of his confederate is an awful one (Revelation 19:20 ).
SCORNFUL TREATMENT OF THE SLAIN WITNESSES,AND GENERAL REJOICING.
Revelation 11:8-10 . “ And their body (shall be) on the street of the great city, which is called spiritually Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. And (men) of the peoples, and tribes, and tongues, and nations, see their body three days and a half, and they do not suffer their bodies to be put into a sepulchre. And they that dwell upon the earth rejoice over them, and are full of delight, and shall send gifts one to another, because these, the two prophets, tormented them that dwell upon the earth. ” In the passage before us we have both the body and the bodies of the witnesses spoken of. In the use of the singular is intimated one common contemptuous treatment. Jerusalem is here termed “the great city.” Rome (civil) and Babylon (mystical), as also all human consolidated power within the limits of the empire, are similarly designated Revelation 17:18 for the first, Revelation 18:10 for the second, and Revelation 16:19 for the third. The moral degradation of Jerusalem is expressed in the title “the great city.” It is not named, but characterised as “spiritually Sodom and Egypt.” The former because of its filthiness and wickedness (Genesis 18:1-33 ; Genesis 19:1-38 ; Jude 1:7 ; 2 Peter 2:6-8 ), and the latterbecause it was the first enslaver and oppressor of God’s people (Exodus 1:14 ). “Where also their (not our) Lord was crucified.” This clause positively forbids a mystical application to the Church. *“ Jerusalem denotes the Church.” “Hengstenberg on the Revelation,” vol. 1 page 403. The historical city of Jerusalem is here identified by that which was the crowning act of her guilt, the crucifixion of “ their Lord,” i.e. ,the Lord of the slain witnesses.
It will be noted that there are three classes in this dark picture: (1) The Beast who murders the witnesses. (2)Those “of the peoples, and tribes, and tongues, and nations,” *This fourfold distribution of the human family expresses universality (see also Revelation 7:9 ; Revelation 10:11 ). In this latter reference “kings” are substituted for “tribes.” as supreme authorities are in view rulers as well as the ruled. who look upon the bodies of the prophets cast out upon the street or public places of the city, and thus exposed to the vulgar gaze; further, they express their hatred and scorn in forbidding the burial of the bodies, a shameful proceeding. (3) “They that dwell upon the earth,” *See on Revelation 3:10 . the worst amongst the apostate peoples of thatday. All the classes here named literally reside on the earth, but the phrase referred to is one of moral signification and import. They are apostates from Christianity, having deliberately and determinedly rejected the heavenly calling and chosen the earth instead. God may have Heaven, they are determined to have the earth as their place and portion.Bad, therefore, as the Beast and his allies are these dwellers on the earth are infinitely worse. The former, i.e. ,the Gentiles in alliance with the Beast, deny burial to the bodies of the martyred witnesses; the latter keep high and joyous holiday, and exchange gifts and congratulations on the slaughter of the prophets. It will be noted that the general rejoicing is in the present tense, whereas the sending of gifts is in the future. The sending of presents or gifts on occasions of public joy is an old and universal custom (Proverbs 19:6 ; Esther 2:18 ; Esther 9:1-32 : Esther 9:19-22 ). The voiceof the witnesses is hushed in the silence of death, and this is the cause of the public rejoicing. So long as the rights of God to the earth were pressed by voice and sign (vv. 3-6) the Christian apostates were “tormented” in their consciences and perhaps in their bodies as well. The Word of God wherever faithfully preached makes men unhappy. Sin with its awful consequences is a tormenting subject to even the most hardened and seared conscience.
GOD’S PUBLIC VINDICATION OF THE SLAIN WITNESSES.
Revelation 11:11-12 . “ And after the three days and a half (the) spirit of life from God came into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon those beholding them. And I heard a great voice out of the Heaven saying to them, Come up here; and they went up to the Heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them. ” The energy of life, eternal life, from God is put forth, and the witnesses rise in its power and stand upon their feet. Their witness borne, their trials past,they stand in the strength and stability of a life which death cannot touch. The effect of this publicly witnessed act of resurrection, proved in the sight and to the consciences of the apostate Gentiles to be of God , is to cause terror and alarm. “Great fear fell upon those beholding them.” The three and a half days twice mentioned (vv. , 11) are literal days. It is impossible to regard them otherwise. We are here on the eve of the events concluding the last prophetic week. Probably not many days have to run, much less years, ere the Lord returns to take to Himself His power and kingdom. He comes at the end of the week, and we are here about its close. There is neither room nor need to interpret the time specified other than literally. The four denominations of time mentioned in the chapter are literal and exact periods, and have their place not in the historical past, but in the coming crisis.
Revelation 11:12 . The Seer then heard “ a great voice out of the Heaven .” This was the voice of Jehovah or of one empowered by Him. The voice was addressed to the witnesses raised in bodies immortal and incorruptible (1 Corinthians 15:54 ), and standing in the presence of their enemies, thenovercome with fear. “Come up here.” In Heaven they are to find their place and portion. What an answer to earth’s scorn, reproach, and murder! What a sight for their enemies! We are to be caught up in the clouds (1 Thessalonians 4:17 ); they went up in the cloud, not in a cloud.Why “ the cloud?” Evidently a special and known cloud is referred to, probably that in which Christ descended (Revelation 10:1 ). The cloud is the symbol of the presence ofJehovah (Exodus 40:34-38 ). Only here and in Luke 9:34 do we read of persons entering into the glory cloud, the cloud of the divine presence.
12. “ And their enemies beheld them. ” Both the resurrection of the witnesses and their triumphant departure out of the scene of testimony and suffering were publicly witnessed (for the former see v. 11, for the latter see v. 12). In these two respects they differ from that of Christ and of the heavenly saints. No human eye beheld Christ emerge from the sepulchre; His disciples alone witnessed His ascension. There is not a hint afforded that our coming resurrection and translation are witnessed by any on earth. While the order in which the resurrection of the just, the change of the living, and the subsequent translation of both classes of saints (1 Thessalonians 4:1-18 ; 1 Corinthians 15:1-58 )is traced out even in minute detail, yet all is so quickly done that it would be impossible for the world to witness the sight. All is accomplished “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye ” (1 Corinthians 15:52 ).
Revelation 11:13 . “ And in that hour there was a great earthquake,and the tenth of the city fell, and seven thousand names of men were slain in the earthquake. And the remnant were filled with fear, and gave glory to the God of the Heaven.” “In that hour there was a great earthquake.” Under the sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12 ),as here under the sixth Trumpet, there is a “great earthquake,” great because of the appalling effect produced. Under the seventh Vial there is witnessed one even more terrible, one so disastrous as to overshadow all previous judgments of a like character (Revelation 16:18 ). It is without doubt a violent disruption of society, of all governmental and social order, that is referred to under the sixth Seal.But here in the narrow and circumscribed sphere before us we judge that a literal earthquake is meant, one which will destroy a part of the city and kill seven thousand a complete number devoted to death. Jerusalem has been the scene of similar visitations in the past, as it will be in the future (Zechariah 14:1-21 ; Matthew 28:2 ). An upheaval of the forces of nature, carrying in its train destruction of life and property, would be eminently fitted to impress the rest of the guilty inhabitants with the solemn fact that Jehovah’s intervention in judgment was a stern reality.
13. “ The tenth *For an elucidation of this and other numerals, see “Number in Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance.” by E. W. Bullinger, D.D. of the city fell. ” The hour of triumph for the witnesses was the hour of retributive justice on the city wherein they had testified, and in which their blood had been wantonly shed. We understand a “tenth” here as signifying a complete judgment. Thus the ten plagues upon Egypt were the sum of Jehovah’s completed judgments upon that land (Exodus 9:14 ). The ten commandments expressed the full measure of Jehovah’s demands upon His people the measure of their obedience (Exodus 20:1-26 ).
13. “ Seven thousand names of men were slain in the earthquake. ” In the Authorised Version and Revised Version “names of men” is omitted in the text but inserted in the margin. We have inserted the deleted sentence in the text. The definiteness of the judgment seems purposely intended in the peculiar phraseology employed, “ names of men.” We have already remarked on the analogous circumstances of the Jews in Jerusalem as shown in our chapter to the apostate times in which Elijah stood for God. The same character of miracles are here wrought. Compare the first part of verse six with James 5:17-18 . As to the number “seven thousand” here by God devoted to death, we are reminded of “the seven thousand in Israel” whom God had reserved for Himself (1 Kings 19:18 ), another allusion by contrast to the times of Elijah. An exact company of just seven thousand need no more be thought of than literal numbers mentioned in Revelation 7:4-8 ; Revelation 14:3 . What is before us is simply a full and perfect number, be it large or small. A certain defined number is doomed to death.
13. “ The remnant were filled with fear, and gave glory to the God of the Heaven. ” The remnant is in contrast with the seven thousand slain. Thus the mass of the guilty inhabitants of Jerusalem really form two classes, the slain and spared. This latter company tremble. The arm of God has been bared in judgment and the “remnant” fear. The effect of the appalling judgment on the city and people is not to lead the survivors to repentance and faith, but in their terror they give “glory to the God of the Heaven.” Till the conscience is thoroughly searched and the soul brought into the light there can be no communion with God. They wish Him away from the scene of their interests. They are willing enough when their souls are overwhelmed with terror to “give glory to the God of the Heaven,” because that keeps Him at a distance. But the special testimony of the Apocalypse is to God’s right and title to the earth, and that is the very question in dispute with these apostates, whether Jewish or Christian. Hence till God’s right and claim to the earth is recognised, further and severer judgment is needed.God’s claim is unqualified and peremptory, and He cannot forego nor abate one iota of His righteous demand. Glory given to the God of Heaven, in the manner of those affrighted apostates, cannot avert the stern course of judgment.
The first Woe, or fifth Trumpet, is announced as past in Revelation 9:12 ; here in verse 14 we have a similar intimation as to the second Woe, the prophet adding, “Behold the third Woe cometh quickly,” the final consummation is at hand.
THE WORLD KINGDOM OF OUR LORD.
Revelation 11:15-18 . “ And the seventh angel sounded (his)Trumpet: and there were great voices in the Heaven, saying, The kingdom of the world of our Lord and of His Christ is come, and He shall reign to the ages of ages. And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, saying, We give Thee thanks, Lord God Almighty, (He) Who is, and Who was, that Thou hast taken Thy great power and hast reigned. And the nations have been full of wrath, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead to be judged, and to give the recompense to Thy servants the prophets,and to the saints, and to those who fear Thy Name small and great; and to destroy those that destroy the earth. ” The seventh Seal and the seventh Trumpet are alike in this respect, that no immediate judgment is announced, no events directly fall under them (see Revelation 8:1 ; Revelation 11:15-18 ). The consummation so grandly celebratedin the verses before us do not record events properly falling under the sounding of the seventh Trumpet. Nothing is recorded as immediately resulting from the Trumpet being blown. This will be evident from even a slight examination of the passage we are now considering. The kingdom and the power taken, the doxology of the elders, the anger of the nations, the wrath of God, the judgment of the dead, and the reward to servants and saints constitute the great and distinguishing truths of the millennium kingdom during its whole course and even on till eternity. Compare “the time of the dead to be judged” with Revelation 20:12 . The last Trumpet sounds.Then the present mysterious ways of God with men are completed. God is about to act openly, and inflict a series of short, sharp, and decisive judgments on the vast consolidated and apostate power then dominating the earth, i.e. ,the Beast (Revelation 16:1-21 ). This concluding series of divine chastisements is seen to issue from God Himself. There is no mystery in them. But before these are inflicted, the world kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ is announced as come. Great voices in Heaven proclaim it. Not that the kingdom has actually come, but it is anticipated.The ruin of all opposing power and authority must necessarily precede the establishment of the kingdom, and to this Revelation 16:1-21 and Revelation 19:17 ; Revelation 20:3 conclusively witness.
The anticipation of the kingdom, and not the actual setting up of it, is the cause of the rejoicing in Heaven.When the kingdom is established in power earth as well as Heaven will unite in thanksgiving and song. We repeat, that it is in Heaven only where the kingdom is celebrated as come. Whilst rejoicing characterises the inhabitants of Heaven the angels and the redeemed the earth is preparing to enter into its last throes of agony ere the light of the millennial morning dawn and dispel the gloom. It is only in Heaven that our Lord and His Christ take the kingdom; only there is it celebrated. The seventh Trumpet does not bring in the kingdom, but intimates its nearness. The strong angel in Revelation 10:6-7 had solemnly sworn that at the sounding of the seventh Trumpet the mystery of God should be completed, and that without delay. He here makes his oath and word good. The Trumpet sounds, and open, public judgment seen by all to be from Heaven is the witness that now , God has risen up to publicly intervene in the affairs of men. But before we are called to see these last judicial chastisements on the apostate scene, Heaven in its calmness looks forward and exults in the near establishment of the kingdom.
The Authorised Version reads, verse 15, “ The kingdoms of this world ,” the Revised Version rightly substitutes “The kingdom of the world.” It may seem a trivial difference, but it is not really so. “The kingdoms of this world” at once suggest many kings, numerous conflicting interests, international jealousies, and the like, whereas “The kingdom of the world (or world kingdom) of our Lord and of His Christ is come” intimates one universal kingdom covering the globe; all parts of the earth brought into subjection to the One reigning monarch.The government of the earth will be exercised by One who will control all evil and establish righteousness. His beneficent sway will be in every respect in happy contrast to past and present kingly rule and government. One undivided and universal kingdom covering the whole earth and righteously and graciously governed is the thought intended.
Next, the duration of the reign is stated to be “ to the ages of ages ,” that is, throughout all time to come, so long as sun, moon, and earth endure (Psalms 72:5 ; Psalms 72:7 ; Psalms 72:17 ).The reign extends to eternity. It shall never cease.
The many voices of the heavenly host are answered by an act of profoundest worship on the part of the elders or representatives of the redeemed. Their normal place is as enthroned and crowned before God. Twice in chapter 5 the elders fall down and worship (vv. 8, 14). Here only is it said “They fell upon their faces, and worshipped God.” In no other instance do the elders so prostrate themselves. The occasion demands it. Then follows a doxology from the elders in which they not only rejoice, but give intelligent reasons for so doing *“Voices in Heaven announce the fact of the reign of Jehovah and of His Christ according to Psalms 2:1-12 , and that He (for, as ever, John unites both in one thought)should reign for ever and ever, and so it will be. But both the earthly and eternal kingdom are celebrated. Only in the eternal kingdom the distinction of the worldly kingdom and of Christ’s subordination is omitted. In the thanksgiving of the elders Jehovah Elohim Shaddai is also celebrated as the great king who takes to Him His power and reigns, for it is God’s kingdom.” “Synopsis of the Books of the Bible,” vol. 5, page 534, Morrish ed. (see Revelation 5:5 ; Revelation 5:8-10 ; Revelation 7:13-17 , etc.). There are seven doxologies mentioned in thecourse of these apocalyptic visions, of which this is one. These are introduced only on occasions of deep interest (Revelation 5:12 ; Revelation 7:12 ; Revelation 11:15 ; Revelation 12:10 ; Revelation 14:2 ; Revelation 15:2 ; Revelation 19:1 ).
Thanks are given to Jehovah (Lord) God Almighty, a strong combination of divine titles. Jehovah the self existing One; God (Elohim), Who as such is the Creator;Almighty too in power, in resources. Then the eternity of His Being is declared, “Who is ” ( eternal existence ), and “Who was ” in relation to the past. “And art to come” is in the text of the Authorised Version, but should be omitted, as in the Revised Version and other translations. “To come” would be out of place in the doxology before us, as the kingdom in its time and eternal features is regarded as present. The deleted sentence is correct in Revelation 4:8 .
Revelation 11:17 . “ Thou hast taken Thy great power and hast reigned. ” It is interesting to observe that while the kingdom is that of our Lord and of His Christ, or Anointed (Psalms 2:1-12 ), yet He takes it, not they. While Jehovah and Christ are here severally distinguished, yet they are united in taking the kingdom and in the subsequent reign, hence the use of the singular pronoun, where one might expect rather the employment of the plural.Well may it be termed “Thy great power.” The fulness of divine power, the might of the Eternal God, is put forth, and the kingdom in its widest sweep as embracing the heavens and earth, and as stretching on through time into eternity, has been wrested from the grasp of the enemy, and “ hast reigned” is the term employed, so sure that it is spoken of as past.
Next, the elders in a passing sentence historically summarise the feeling of the nations toward God and His people heavenly and earthly “And the nations have been full of wrath,” spoken of in the past tense.“And Thy wrath is come.” Note the difference in the tenses. The wrath of the nations has been. The wrath of God is come.
Revelation 11:18 . “ The time of the dead to be judged ” carries us on in thought to the close of the kingdom (Revelation 20:12 ).The judgment of the nations (Matthew 25:32 ) is at the commencementof the kingdom reign; that of the world, or inhabited earth (Acts 17:31 ), during its whole termor course; while the dead are judged after the earthly kingdom has passed away (Revelation 20:11-12 ).
18. “ And to give the recompense. ” Both the judgment and recompense are characteristic actions of the kingdom. The distribution of reward is both common and special. The recompense of rest and glory is bestowed upon all God’s saints alike. But there are special crowns and rewards. In the very conception of a kingdom varying degrees and stations of honour are necessarily thought of.“The recompense” is not only therefore God’s answer to the state of His afflicted people here, but embraces also the several and distinctive positions which they will occupy in the kingdom. The reward in this latter is proportioned to the faithfulness, suffering, and service of each individual saint.
18. “ Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints,and to those who fear Thy Name, small and great ,” are the persons specified to whom “the recompense” is given. There are three classes referred to: (1) “Thy servants the prophets” evidently point to those who have in all ages witnessed for God. The witnesses of our chapter are termed “prophets” (vv. 3, 10), hence the term “servants” must be understood in a narrower sense than that employed in Revelation 1:1 ; Revelation 2:20 ; Revelation 22:3 . It is used in Rev 7:3 to designate the sealed of Israel. “Servants” is here qualified by the additional noun “prophets.” “Thy servants the prophets.” To witness for God in a dark and evil day is a service which God never forgets. All such are peculiarly His servants. (2) “The saints.” This term is the common one in the New Testament to designate the general body of believers, and is nowhere used in the New Testament Scriptures to express a select company. It is the common appellation of the redeemed in both Testaments. (3) “Those who fear Thy Name, small and great.” This latter company embrace all so characterised who own the Name of the Lord. There are, no doubt, many hidden ones in all ages whose moral separation from the world is of such a feeble character that there may be grave difficulty in terming them saints. *The term saint , as used in the New Testament, does not at all signify a practical and advanced state of holiness its theological signification. A saint is a separated one, as the derivation of the word implies, but this separation from the world iseffected by the call of God. Called saints, or saints by calling (see Romans 1:7 : 1 Corinthians 1:2 ). “Called to be saints” is misleading. Delete the italicised words and the meaning is simple. When God’s call reached their souls and consciences that made or constituted them saints. But there are those who fear the Name of the Lord in all ranks and classes of society. The technical expression,“the small and great,” designates the respective status of each in the world and before God (see Revelation 13:16 ;Revelation 19:5 ; Revelation 19:18 ; Revelation 20:12 ). Thus those who fear His Name, whereverfound, be they amongst the low or exalted, come in here for their special reward.
18. “ And to destroy those that destroy the earth. ” That is, the time has also come when the destroyers of the earth, i.e. , the Beast, the Antichrist, and their followers,are themselves destroyed. This latter class is a contrasted company to the dead who are judged. The active workers of evil corrupting the earth are surprised in their terrible work, and are subjected at once to divine judgment. The earth is the Lord’s, part of that inheritance purchased by Christ and about to be redeemed by power (Ephesians 1:14 ),hence it must be cleared of all who are destroying it, whether physically by the Beast or morally by his coadjutor the Antichrist.
THE SITUATION REVIEWED.
The chapter opens with a temple and closes with one (vv. 1 and 19), only the latter introduces a new series of events, and resumes the general history. Verse 19 forms no part of the preceding vision. The subject-matter of the chapter closes with verse 18.
We pass from the interesting episode of the mighty angel and its attendant circumstances (Revelation 10:1-11 ) on to Jewish ground (Revelation 11:1-19 ). Our stand is Jerusalem, here termed “the great city.” *The expression “great city” occurs nine times in the Apocalypse, but not once in a good or holy sense. Revelation 21:10 is a seeming exception, but the epithet great should be deleted (see R.V.). God’s acceptance of the true worshippers is signified in the measuring of the temple and altar, whilst His rejection of apostate Judaism is expressedin the court being cast out (vv. 1, 2). The mass of the people ally themselves with the Gentiles, then in open revolt from God and truth. It must be remembered that we have not the heathen before us, but Christendom, which is infinitely worse. But God does not leave Himself without a witness in the midst of the seething mass of corruption in Jerusalem, then the sport and plaything of Satan. A special testimony is raised up in the city, distinct from that elsewhere. The witnesses, or prophets (for they are termed both), are endowed with miraculous power.They work miracles, and protect themselves by signs of a divine character for 1260 days. Slavery to the Gentiles and apostasy from God characterise the general condition of Judah, especially those in the city of Jerusalem. Hence the miracles wrought resemble those in the days of Moses and of Elijah. Both the miracles and the character of the times are alike (vv. 3-6).
The Beast who has found his way from Rome the capital seat of Gentile power, civil and ecclesiastical to Jerusalem, ravages and murders at his pleasure, but both his power and the period of its exercise are under divine control. We have not here his historical rise “out of the sea ” (Revelation 13:1-18 . l), but his satanic revival “out of the bottomless pit ,” or abyss (Revelation 11:7 ). Jerusalem ismorally described as filthy like Sodom, and idolatrous like Egypt, and the stigma is added, “where also their (not our ) Lord was crucified.” In the city thus characterised, the bodies of the slain are cast out on the places of public resort and cruelly denied burial. All classes and representatives of the apostate world gather in the city, feasting their eyes on the murdered dead, the worst being those morally spoken of as “they that dwell on the earth” (vv. 8-10). But in the midst of the universal scene of rejoicing God intervenes and vindicates His witnesses by granting them, in full view of their enemies, a public resurrection and translation to Heaven (vv. 11, 12). Judgment on the city and its guilty inhabitants follow. No saving effect is produced in the remnant spared, only that in their great fear they “give glory to the God of the Heaven” (v. 13).
The second Woe, or sixth Trumpet, is announced as past, “the third Woe comes quickly” (v. 14). The seventh angel sounds, and at once “great voices” break out in Heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world,” of Jehovah and of His Christ, is come. Separate nationalities and political organisations may exist under the reign of Christ, but they all own His sway, all are under His authority, and exercise their kingly rule in subjection to Him Who is “King of kings and Lord of lords.” The contest between God and Satan, as detailed in the Apocalypse, is not for any or all of the separate kingdoms of the world, but for the world as a whole; it becomes the kingdom of our Lord and of His Anointed. The sovereignty of the whole world is the question in dispute. His perpetual reign, i.e. , to the ages of ages, is celebrated, not as yet on earth, but in Heaven. The establishment of the world kingdom is anticipated, not actually come; when it does,then the earth as well as Heaven will join in celebrating its virtues and glories. “O clap your hands, all ye peoples, “ i.e. , Gentiles. If there is joy in Heaven as the kingdom is anticipated (v. 15), there is sorrow on earth.
The elders next take up the strain, and profoundly worship God in the greatness and eternity of His Being,thanking Him for taking His great power and reigning. The power of the kingdom is regarded as an accomplished fact, although not then actually come. Next, the elders proceed in a statement which, for boldness and fulness, leaves nothing to be desired. The great outstanding facts of the kingdom are mentioned. The nations angry, God’s wrath come, * Satan’s woe had been specially on Jews; man’s woe, specially on the men of the Latin empire; this is God’s woe when the nations are angry, and God’s wrath is come,and full reckoning and final deliverance come.” J.N.D. the judgment of the dead, the recompense to His people, and, finally, the destruction of those then corrupting the earth (vv. 16-18). These eighteen versesare replete with interest, and will well repay careful study. Much spiritual insight as to the condition of Jerusalem, and of the feelings and exercises of God-fearing Jews, both inside and outside the city, at the time of which this chapter treats may be gleaned from a careful study of the prophetic character of the Book of Psalms, a study which has been much neglected.
GOD’S REMEMBRANCE OF ISRAEL.
Revelation 11:19 . ” And the temple of God in the Heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake, and great hail. ” The Apocalypse, as we have noticed, is divided into three divisions a past, a present, and a future (Revelation 1:19 ).But besides this threefold division we have the contents of the book arranged under two great parts. The eighteenth verse of our chapter records the last historical action the judgment of the dead. There is no history beyond it. This last and most solemn assize has its place after the millennial heavens have passed away and the earth burned up, and before the new eternal Heaven and new earth come into view. The judgment of the dead (Revelation 20:12 )is, if we may so say, the link between time and eternity. In the first part of the Apocalypse (Revelation 1 11: 18) we have unfolded the general history of the Church, of Israel, and of the world from about the close of the first Christian century down to the close of the kingdom. The second part commences with chapter 11: 19, and occupies the rest of the book. In this part many interesting details are found, Satan is more openly in the foreground, the closing issues both in relation to the Church and the world are more fully unfolded than in the first part of the book. Verse 19 therefore is in relation to events about to be disclosed, and is not to be regarded as part and parcel of what has just been unfolded. Chapter 12 really commences with verse 19 of the previous chapter. In that which follows we have an entirely new prophecy, beginning with verse 19 and closing with chapter 14. It is one mainly relating to Israel, as the opening visions show. In chapter 12 are witnessed in Heaven the sources of good and evil. In chapter 13 Satan’s two chief ministers on earth are seen in active hostility against God and His saints. In chapter 14 a series of seven events is disclosed in which the activity of God in grace and judgment is shown.
19. “ The temple of God in the Heaven was opened,and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. ” Neither of these, i.e. , the temple and the ark of the covenant,so rich and sacred in Jewish history, is actually located in Heaven. “I saw no temple therein,” says the Seer in a subsequent vision (Revelation 21:22 ). What then do they signify? What are their moral value and lessons to “upon whom the ends of the ages are come?” The temple is the sign that God is taking up the cause and the interests of Israel, and when seen in Heaven, that it is there He is occupied with His people then on the earth. The ark of His covenant is the token of Jehovah’s presence with, and His unchanging faithfulness to, His earthly people. The rainbow round the throne (Revelation 4:3 ) and encircling the head of the angel of might (Revelation 10:1 ) is the sign to all who behold it of God’s covenant with creation, one of goodness and mercy. Here the ark, enclosing the tables of the law, and surmounted with its pure gold lid or mercy-seat, tells a rich tale of grace to Israel. What the rainbow was to creation, that and more the ark *Whether the ark shared the fate of the temple, which was burned a month after the sack of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans (Jeremiah 52:12-13 ), or whether it was hidden by Jeremiah according to Jewish tradition (for the prophet was in the city during the whole of the siege), or included amongst the vessels carried by the conqueror to Babylon, we know not. Certain it is that the ark in the future is not to be brought to light, spite of speculation and guess-work to the contrary. On this Jeremiah speaks with no uncertain voice (Jeremiah 3:16 ). The ark, the sign of Jehovah’s presence and faithfulness, will no longer be needed in the palmy days of the kingdom, for that which it signified will then be an accomplished fact. Jehovah will have made good His unchanging grace to His people, and His throne and presence in their midst will gloriously supersede the ark in the tabernacle and temple of old. To Israel the ark was the sign and token of grace (Joshua 3:14-17 ), to the uncircumcised heathen it only brought judgment (1 Samuel 5:1-12 ). In the former case the people were redeemed, hence Jehovah’s presence with them was a blessing; in the latter the people were not redeemed, and hence His presence was intolerable. was, and is, to Israel.
19. “ There were lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake, and great hail. ” These terms point separately and in conjunction to a storm of divine wrath, having its source in Heaven. We have already drawn attention to the signification of these terms in former parts of our Exposition. Hail from Heaven, here specially singled out by the epithet “great,” intimates the sharpness and suddenness of judgment on earth, as also its source as manifestly from God (Exodus 9:18-25 ; Revelation 8:7 ; Revelation 16:21 ). The combination of destructive elements isnot employed when the throne is set up. No need of it, as judgment will then proceed from the throne on earth, and not, as here, from Heaven.
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Scott, Walter. "Commentary on Revelation 11". "Scott's Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany