Chapter ten of Revelation is an interlude that also introduces what is to come prior to the seventh trumpet being blown.
Seven seals have been opened. Within the seventh seal are seven trumpeters. The earlier trumpet, the sixth in this vision, has blown releasing four angels who have spent their traitorous lives bound in the Euphrates river. These must be comparable to great generals within the armies of Satan, for they command an army of 200 million demonic horsemen. These creatures are like nothing man has ever seen, and are therefore fallen angels themselves.
As I have tried to understand what these judgments are, and the order in which they fall, there is this oddity. Odd in that, with the exception of “ it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months”, it seems like a peaceful scenario. What could it mean and what does it mean to us?
Revelation 11:1-2 ESV Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, (2) but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months.
First, this makes me aware that at some point the temple will be rebuilt. Here we are in January of 2016 and I have recently become aware of some amazing information. It seems that by all accounts, the temple was built within the city of David. That means it can be rebuilt possibly half a kilometer north of where we think it should be. Hopefully, the Muslims will have one less thing to fight over.
Do you have any doubt about who the Gentiles are? If you want a generalization, then it is anyone outside of a relationship with Jesus Christ. We could take this all the way back to Ishmael if we had to.
Genesis 16:11-12 Darby “And the Angel of Jehovah said to her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael, because Jehovah hath hearkened to thy affliction. (12) And he will be a wild-ass of a man, his hand against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell before the face of all his brethren.”
I think it is fair to say, this is the beginning of the Arab nations as most Middle Easterners will tell you that they trace their heritage back to Ishmael and Abraham. While at a recent bible study the teacher said just that. The statement elicited some negativity from the argumentative old man in the back of the room. (He fancies himself the wealth of all knowledge.) His response, to make it short, was, “no it’s not!” He ranted loudly as he attempted to dominate the teacher, but he offered nothing for evidence. Allow me to expose some evidence by taking you to Daniel’s prophecies.
In Daniel chapter two, we find Daniel, not only telling the king what the dream was but explaining it as well. In his explanation we find this:
Daniel 2:41-44 Darby “And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potter’s clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. (42) And as the toes of the feet were part of iron and part of clay, the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. (43) And whereas thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men; but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron doth not mingle with clay. (44) And in the days of these kings shall the God of the heavens set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the sovereignty thereof shall not be left to another people: it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, but itself shall stand for ever.”
I want you to notice the word mixed. It is the Hebrew word ‛ărab. Do you really think a Jew reading about the Gentiles trampling on the outer court has any doubt in their mind about what that means? Its primary interpretation lends itself to the Arab/Muslim world.
How long does this trampling go on? Forty-two months, or 1260 days. One might also say, three and one – half years. Does this sound familiar? It should, it coincides with the amount of time that the so-called treaty remains intact, and, one other aspect, the two witnesses.
Let’s move on.
Revelation 11:3-6 ESV “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” (4) These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. (5) And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. (6) They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire.
When do these two witnesses show up?
We cannot be positive, but we can make some logical assumptions. Since they are only here for a short time, 1260 days, then God needs to make good use of them doesn’t he? It would make sense for them to be witnesses to new believers seeing how the church as we know it will be gone. A peculiarity that helps us to understand those left on earth is that Matthew 25 opens with a parable about 10 virgins – all going to the same wedding. Sadly, fifty percent are unprepared and do not make it in. This is extremely symbolic of the church and tells me that the fifty percent will be here to struggle through the time of wrath, just as the nations will.
Would I ask you to follow the lead of those who could not lead themselves? Not likely, so, it makes sense, to me anyway, that God would send these two to show the world what he meant for us live in all along.
Revelation 11:7 ESV And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them,
I cannot be only one that sees the correlation between their being done, and this beast that rises from the bottomless pit. Do not go looking for some creature, it is a man, empowered by either Satan himself or a fallen angel/demon.
Daniel 7:25 ESV He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.
When we read Daniel 7:25 do we see a man speaking or a demon?
Let me show you something from the Acts of the Apostles that demonstrates a demon acting out through a man.
“When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?” (Acts 13:6-10 ESV)
I believe Paul began by addressing the man, but his efforts take a quick turn when he calls Elymas the “enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?” How could this man fulfill all those roles? He couldn’t unless Paul is addressing the activity of a demon in a man.
Doesn’t what we see here sound like what we saw in Daniel 7:25 where it says, “he will speak words against the most high.”?
What do they do? They function as witnesses, but of what? This is not a good time to lean on religious traditional answers. A witness attests to what they know or has seen. This can be done through words or through visual demonstration. So, these are testifying to Jesus, as the Messiah; God, as the supreme ruler of the universe (in contrast to say, Allah.)
They protect themselves. How? “ if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed.”
They have control over the weather. “They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying,”
And, as they desire, “they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague,” This opens the door to the slightest of irritations.
As you probably ascertained, the two witnesses can also be seen as deadly. Who or what is their wrath directed at? The nations. I realize that spectrum seems a little broad a for two men, but they do shut down the rain and send plagues of every variety upon the earth, as they will.
So why they are here? They are here to:
Show that God is in control, not the robber barons that think they run the earth.
Draw attention to God by their actions and words.
Demonstrate to people continuing to come to Jesus, how to walk in the power God intended.
And, because of where they stand upon the earth and the violent attempts against them, it may be that they also serve as protection for those building the temple and wishing to use it.
No, we believers, prior to the rapture, do not have the freedom to call fire down from heaven upon our enemies, but, we are instructed to love them. One of those directives comes from Jesus himself:
Matthew 10:16 ESV “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
Ponder their actions for a moment.
Revelation 11:5 ESV “And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed.”
Do you, like most of us, assume that they just stand in one spot, doing Jewish-oriented, religious things? Not hardly. Here is where the problem lies, we consistently put God in a box. As I have thought about these two, it does not make sense to merely have them stand there. In contrast, what kind of witness could they be if they were proactive? Very lively and visual ones for sure.
A few examples of proactive lives would be Peter and Paul:
Peter, now filled with the Holy Spirit and with the fire of God, stood on the day of Pentecost, in front of the large crowd that had gathered because the noise coming from the disciples (this included Mary and many others) was loud enough and so unusual that many heard them speaking in foreign languages, magnifying God. While Peter may have been brash at times, was there anything he did that demonstrated him acting boldly like this? No, if anything Peter fled, gave up the ministry, and went back to fishing. Later, we see Peter running one of the first home churches. It was on his watch that the couple who lied to God came separately to the home, bringing their “gift.” Peter said, why have you lied, you did not have to; and, independently they both dropped dead. Read Acts 5:1-15 and John 21.
Paul, knowing that he would have to leave a particular town, preached long into the night. A boy grew tired as he sat in the upper window where Paul was preaching and while sleeping fell out to his death. Paul, rushed down, prayed over him, raised him back to life and continued preaching.
The eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews tells us of people, who through faith fought against whole countries and won. They did what was right and received what God had promised. They shut the mouths of lions, put out fierce fires, escaped being killed by the sword. They were weak, but became strong; they were mighty in battle and defeated the armies of foreigners. Through faith, women received their dead relatives raised back to life. Read Acts 20.
But then, as some will say, these are old stories. That is why we have testimonies. Yes, most come out of third world nations, but they sound much like this description in Hebrews. I suppose the ideal thing would to be for you to read your bible. Elisha, a man of God, made an ax head to float because he understood how much trouble the young man would be in. The object here is not so much our ability to do unusual stuff as it is to know the one who gives us the power. We are not called during this time of grace to call fire down from heaven, but the day is coming when some will stop marauding forces from finding them or hurting them by using the name of Jesus. I suggest you read 2 Kings 6.
Know this, even though things look bleak God will preserve some. Others will die, just as they are today.
“But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Mark 13:9-13 ESV)
I am going to venture a guess that most have figured out that I write to those left behind. Isn’t it funny though how we religious folk can sit back and say, that won’t be me. Don’t you think that our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East, Africa, China, and North Korea were hoping that as well. They had hope and still the worst case scenario consumed them, and now they are dead. Suppose worse yet, are those being tortured for their faith like Richard Wurmbrand was.
Since anything less than a relationship with Jesus is not a viable option, what will you do? Who will you put your trust in? I strongly suggest Jesus, and before the wrath comes.