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Bible Commentaries

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Revelation 11

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-18

CHAPTER 11:1-18

Revelation 11:1-2.

We see at once how Jewish things come now into view. To apply these verses to the Church and make the temple the Church is absolutely wrong. The temple and the altar are Jewish; the holy city is Jerusalem. After the Church has left the earth the Jewish people will be fully restored to their own land, and their land restored to them. They will possess Jerusalem once more. When the Jews are once more masters in their own promised land they will erect another temple and then restore the Levitical worship as far as it is possible. Such a temple must be in Jerusalem. (See Isaiah 66:1-4.) In that temple the personal Antichrist, the beast out of the land of whom we shall read in chapter 13, will appear and claim divine worship. (See 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4.) Apostate Israel in corrupt alliance with equally apostate Gentiles is seen in the opening verses of this eleventh chapter, as the court without the temple. But in the midst of this corrupt mass, which will follow the delusion of the Antichrist and accept Satan’s man as their Messiah, there will be the God-fearing remnant. This remnant is here divinely recognized as worshippers. Therefore that coming is called “the temple of God,” because the Lord owns the true worshippers found in the midst of the unbelieving mass.

Revelation 11:3-12.

Much has been written on these two witnesses who will appear in Jerusalem. It is clear they are still future and their work will be in that city. Some make them Enoch and Elijah and others think they will be Moses and Elijah returned in person. Some have claimed to be a reincarnation of Elijah. Such claims are fanatical. No second coming of Moses is anywhere promised in the Word. Something, however, is said about the work of Elijah in the future (Malachi 4:5-6). But the words of our Lord in Matthew 11:14, speaking of John the Baptist, and Matthew 17:12, seem to make clear that no literal coming of the same Elijah, who went into glory, without dying, is meant. Yet the deeds of these two witnesses clearly link them with the work of Moses and Elijah. They each do both the things Moses and Elijah did separately. We take it then that these two witnesses represent the great testimony to be given in Jerusalem during the 1,260 days of the great tribulation. Perhaps the leaders will be two great instruments, manifesting the spirit of Moses and Elijah, endowed with supernatural power, but a large number of witnesses is unquestionably in view here. They maintain in the midst of the Satanic scenes a powerful testimony for God.

The period of the great tribulation was mentioned in Revelation 9:2. Here for the first time the beast is mentioned. This beast coming out of the pit of the abyss, the deep, is the revived Roman empire under the little horn, seen by Daniel on the four-horned beast (Daniel 7:8). While he dominates over the Gentiles, he will turn in fury against these Jewish saints, and the two witnesses will be slain. He makes war with the godly remnant (Daniel 7:21). A part of that remnant will be killed. The vileness of these coming days of Satan’s rule on earth is seen in the treatment of the bodies of Jehovah’s servants. The wicked are so elated over the silencing of the testimony that they refuse to permit their burial so that they may feast their eyes upon the sickening spectacle. They rejoice and make it a festive occasion, because torment had come to their consciences through the testimony of the slain.

Gentiles, who side with apostate Israel are mentioned, but especially a class which is called “they that dwell on the earth” rejoices over the end of the witnesses. The same class is mentioned several times. Study the passages where they are mentioned: Revelation 3:10; Revelation 6:9-10; Revelation 8:13; Revelation 11:9-10; Revelation 12:12; Revelation 14:6-7; Revelation 17:8. They are the apostate, nominal Christians who are utterly blinded and hardened. Philippians 3:18-19 gives their character and destiny. They claim possession of the earth as belonging to them, but God is not only the God of heaven, He is also “the God of the earth” (Revelation 11:4). God’s power is manifested in the physical resurrection and the visible translation of the two witnesses. Their enemies see a great miracle. The apostates who ridicule even now a physical resurrection, who sneer at the blessed hope of a coming translation of the saints, will witness these two great facts. No wonder that a great fear fell upon them. The raised witnesses belong to the first resurrection (Revelation 20:4).

Revelation 11:13-18.

The terror becomes still greater when the whole city is shaken by a mighty earthquake. This is not a symbolical earthquake but a convulsion of nature by which the fourth part of the city falls and 7,000 men are killed. It marks the end of the second woe. Then those who escaped the visitation gave glory unto the God of heaven. It is only inspired by fear. They do not turn in repentance unto God. Here ends the parenthetical vision.

The seventh trumpet brings us to the very end of the tribulation and to the beginning of the millennial reign. It is Jerusalem’s deliverance. He who alone is worthy receives the kingdom. How clear this ought to make the fact that our Lord has no earthly kingdom now, but He receives the promised kingdom on the earth at the end of these things. See Daniel 7:14. Heaven worships too; they celebrate the fact that He has taken His great power. It is a review of all that takes place and what follows when He appears out of heaven. The nations were full of wrath (Psalms 2:1-12; Psalms 46:6); His wrath is come; resurrection will follow; this points to the time after the kingdom (Revelation 20:12). And His servants, the prophets and the saints, receive their rewards, to reign with Him.


Verse 19

CHAPTERS 11:19-13

Satan’s Power and Masterpiece

1. The vision of the opened temple (Revelation 11:19)

2. The woman with child (Revelation 12:1-5)

3. The escape of the woman (Revelation 12:6)

4. War in heaven (Revelation 12:7-12)

5. The dragon persecuting the woman (Revelation 12:13-17)

6. The beast out of the sea (Revelation 13:1-10)

7. The beast out of the earth (Revelation 13:11-18)

Revelation 11:19.

What follows now brings the great tribulation, the 1,260 days, into prominence. As we have seen the seventh trumpet takes us right to the end. But now we are led back.

Revelation 11:19 of chapter 11 belongs properly to the twelfth chapter. The ark contains the covenant made with Israel. This is now to be remembered and connected with it are the manifestations of coming wrath for those who oppress His people.

Revelation 12:1-5.

Who is represented by the sun-clothed woman? Romanists have made out of her the Virgin Mary. Many expositors claim it is the Church which is represented by this woman. Some claim the woman is the professing Church and the man-child represents, according to their view, a class of overcomers who will escape the tribulation. This is a favored interpretation of some of the so-called “holiness people.”

In the light of the scope of this book the woman cannot possibly have anything to do with the Church. Again, Christian Science has made the most absurd claim that this woman represents that instrument of Satan, the deluded woman, whom they worship as the founder of their cult. A hundred years ago another sect existed in England under the leadership of a woman, who also claimed to be the one of this vision. We do not need to seek long for the true meaning of the woman seen by John. She represents Israel. Everything in the symbolical statements bears this out, especially the crown with the twelve stars (Genesis 37:9).

“Thus she is seen clothed with the glory of the sun--that is, of Christ Himself as He will presently appear in supreme power as Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2); for the sun is the ruler of the day. As a consequence, her glory of old, before the day-dawn, the reflected light of her typical system, is like the moon under her feet. Upon her head the crown of twelve stars speaks naturally of her twelve tribes, planets now around the central sun.”

It is Israel, what she is in the purposes of God. And the child, the nation brought forth, is the Messiah, Christ. Even so Paul writes of Israel, “of whom as according to the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever” (Romans 9:5). The identity of the child is established beyond controversy by the fact that the child is caught up unto God and His throne, destined to rule all nations with a rod of iron (Psalms 2:9; Revelation 2:27). The great red dragon, the enemy of the woman and the child, is Satan. Seven crowns are symbolical of his authority as the god of this age and the ten horns symbolical of his power. These historical facts are seen first through this vision. But this is done for the one purpose of bringing into view what is yet in store of Israel during the end time. Christ ascended upon high, took His place at the right hand of God, is waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. Then the present Christian age began. It is not recorded in this vision at all. He who came from Israel and who was rejected by His own, is nevertheless Israel’s Messiah, the hope of Israel. In Him and through Him alone the promises made to Israel can be fulfilled. The fulfillment of these promises is preceded by great sorrows and tribulation, the travail pains which come upon Israel during the great tribulation, before He, whom Israel once disowned, is revealed as Deliverer and King. And the red Dragon will do His most awful work during that period of tribulation, a work of hatred against the faithful seed of the woman.

Revelation 12:6.

The flight of the woman, Israel, has been taken by some to mean the dispersion of that nation during this age and Israel’s miraculous preservation. But this is incorrect. It is true Israel has been miraculously preserved and Satan’s hatred, too, has been against that nation. But here we have a special period mentioned, the 1,260 days, the last three and one-half years of Daniel’s seventieth week. It means, therefore, that when the Dragon rises in all his furious power to exterminate the nation, God will preserve her. However, before we are told the details of that preservation and Satan’s hatred, we read of the war in heaven. Satan is cast out of heaven, down upon the earth. Revelation 12:15-17 and the entire chapter 13 will tell us what he will do on the earth.

Revelation 12:7-12.

This great scene takes place before the great tribulation begins. Satan’s place is not in hell at this time. As we saw in the message to Pergamos his throne is on earth, he is the god of this age. His dominion is in the air, he is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). Our present conflict as believers is “against principalities, against authorities, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against the wicked spirits in the heavenlies” (Ephesians 6:12). Satan as the accuser of the brethren has access even into the presence of God. His accusations are ended. All the redeemed are gathered before the throne. All the malice and power of Satan could not frustrate the purpose of God. His grace and power have been victorious. Thus when the saints come into the heavenly possession Satan’s dominion there is at an end. The purchased possession, the region above, will be redeemed by the power of God (Ephesians 1:13).

Michael and his angels will begin their short and decisive war against Satan and his angels. Michael is the one archangel mentioned in Scripture. It is not the first time he meets Satan face to face (Jude 1:9). And Daniel speaks of Michael, “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book” (Daniel 12:1). From this we learn that Michael will not only cause the expulsion of Satan out of heaven, but he will also stand up for the believing portion of Israel.

Satan is then cast out into the earth and his angels are cast out with him. It is identical with what we have seen already under the fifth trumpet, the star fallen out of heaven, opening the pit of the abyss with the darkening smoke and the locust swarms coming forth. Then there is joy in heaven because the accuser is cast down and his accusations are forever silenced. And the “woe” is pronounced upon those who dwell on the earth.

Revelation 12:13-17.

He turns in fury against the woman which brought forth the man-child. Satan realizes now that his time is short. His exclusion from heaven will soon be followed by his arrest and imprisonment in the pit for a thousand years, and after that there is prepared for him his eternal home of misery, the lake of fire. As he knows that Israel is mostly concerned in the final drama, and the believing portion of that nation will inherit the kingdom, he turns in wrath against them. Revelation 12:6 should be connected with Revelation 12:14. It is symbolical language again we have here. The wilderness is a place of isolation, and the place prepared, speaks of God’s care for them. But it is not the entire nation. The apostate part sides with Satan and with Satan’s man, the Antichrist. But there is another part, which is preserved. This part is in the place of isolation among the nations. The water cast out by Satan is symbolical of the hatred which Satan stirs up against the people amongst the nations. But there will be other agencies in the earth by which this Satanic attempt to wipe from the face of the earth this faithful part of the nation will be frustrated.

CHAPTER 13

Revelation 13:1-10.

This chapter brings now fully into view the Satanic powers operating during the great tribulation--the forty-two months. Satan’s masterpieces are on the earth; energized by him and endued with his powers they work together to stamp out all that is left of the truth on earth. Their combined efforts are directed against the godly remnant of Jews and against those Gentiles who accepted the message of the gospel of the kingdom.

And John sees this first beast having ten horns with crowns and seven heads and these heads have names of blasphemy. Daniel had seen Babylonia, Medo-Persia and Greco-Macedonia under the emblem of the lion, the bear and the leopard. John sees this beast here like a leopard, with bear’s feet and lion’s mouth. This revived Roman empire is an amalgamation of parts of the previous world empires. The preceding ones are absorbed by the last, the Roman empire. Therefore the revived Roman empire will contain the different elements in one great monster. This Roman empire will be revived in the first part of the final seven years. We saw this under the first seal. Here is the beginning of the period for which the dragon gives to him his power, and his throne and great authority. It becomes now fully possessed by Satan. The ten horns are the ten kingdoms which will exist in that empire. We are told later that these ten kings “have one mind and shall give their power and strength unto the beast” (Revelation 17:13).

In the same chapter the beast is also seen coming out of the abyss (17:8) denoting its Satanic origin The heads represent the seven forms of government which have characterized the empire in the past, the seventh becomes the eighth. One of the heads is especially mentioned; later we read “he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition” (17:11). He was as it were wounded to death, and his deadly wound was healed, and all the world wondered after the beast. This head denotes the imperial form of government, which had died, and now is revived in the person of the leader, the prince of Daniel 9:27, the little horn, which Daniel saw in the midst of the ten horns. This will be Satan’s man, one of his masterpieces. The whole earth will wonder after that beast and its Satan-possessed head.

Revelation 13:11-18.

The second beast is not an empire with a great leader, but a person. The first beast is out of the sea; the second out of the earth (land). The first has ten horns; the second has two. The beast out of the sea comes first; the other beast follows him. The first beast is a political power, the second is a religious leader. The first is a Gentile power and its head a Gentile; the second is a Jew. The first beast has Satanic power; so has the second beast. The second beast induced the worship of the first beast whose dominion is over the entire Roman world and after whom the whole earth wonders; the sphere of the second beast is Palestine. The first beast through its head makes in the beginning of the seven years a covenant with many of the Jews, but in the middle of the week he breaks that covenant (Daniel 9:27). That covenant will probably be the permission given to the Jews to build a temple and to resume their sacrificial worship.

The first and the second beast make a covenant, which marks the beginning of the seventieth week of Daniel. But when the little horn, the first beast, becomes energized by Satan, he breaks that covenant. Then the second beast demands the worship of the first beast as well as the worship of himself. This second beast is the final, personal Antichrist. He has two horns like a lamb, and speaks like a dragon. He is a counterfeit lamb and his two horns are an imitation of the priestly and kingly authority of Christ. He is the one of whose coming our Lord spoke (John 5:43). He is the man of sin, the son of perdition described by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17. He must be a Jew or his claim of being Israel’s true Messiah would not be accepted by the Jews.

Daniel also gives an interesting prophetic picture which bears out his Jewish character and his wicked, satanic ways. See Daniel 11:36-39. This second beast is also called the false prophet (16:13; 19:20; 20:10). He does lying wonders. He reigns as the false king in Jerusalem and sits as god in the temple. He will be the religious head of apostate Judaism and apostate Christendom. It is the strong delusion of the second chapter of Second Thessalonians. He also demands the worship of the first beast. He makes an image of the first beast and gives breath to it, so that it can speak. Whoever has not the mark of the beast on hand and forehead cannot buy nor sell, and whosoever does not worship the beast will be killed. And those who worship the beast and receive the mark are lost souls. Great will be the number of martyrs at that time. To find out what the mark is and some of the other details would only be guesswork. No one can imagine the horrors of that time when Satan rules for a short time on earth and produces the great tribulation, such as was not before on earth, nor ever can be again.

But what does the number 666 mean? If we were to state all the different views on this number and the different applications we would have to fill many pages and then we would not know what is right and wrong. Seven is the complete perfect number; six is incomplete and is man’s number. Here we have three times six. It is humanity fallen, filled with pride, defying God. The number 666 signifies man’s day and man’s defiance of God under Satan’s power in its culmination.

 


Copyright Statement
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Revelation 11:4". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gab/revelation-11.html. 1913-1922.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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