Revelation #19 Revelation 11:1-19 (MSG) End Times You Can't Keep Good Folks Down


Revelation #19 Revelation 11:1-19

Between each 6th and 7th events, John has a vision of the church.  Last time we learned that God’s plan for the true followers of Jesus will be actualized.  Believers will live in an environment free from the entanglements of the world. That’s a sweet hope.  Yet until that time, Christians will continue to face oppression, persecution, and martyrdom by the world.  That’s a bitter reality.

In chapter 11 John continues with his vision for the church between the 6th and 7th events. Once again evangelism will come into play as God uses His people to testify, inviting people into a right relationship with Him before it is too late. Also, the 7th trumpet will sound and with it, we get another glimpse of the end.


Let’s dig in.


Revelation  11:1-2 (MSG)

I was given a stick for a measuring rod and told, "Get up and measure God's Temple and Altar and everyone worshiping in it. Exclude the outside court; don't measure it. It's been handed over to non-Jewish outsiders. They'll desecrate the Holy City for forty-two months.


Recall that in Chapter 3 Jesus promised the church in Philadelphia, the members held their ground, they kept the faith in the rough time of persecution they dealt with, Jesus promised He would protect them from the tribulations that were coming to test the inhabitants of the earth. Recall that in Chapter 7 144,000 were sealed with God’s mark of ownership and the demonic forces could not overcome them.  Now John sees the church once again under the protection of God.  The demonic calvary will not harm those who have bent the knee to Jesus. That’s the meaning we are to take from the Temple and the Altar, and everyone that worships in it is measured.

John draws from the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel (chapters 40-42) in which an angel is measuring the temple in preparation for the work of restoration (Zechariah 2:1-5).  The temple is John’s vision and represents the people of God (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19, Ephesians 2:21). To make sense of what is meant by the outer courts we need to refer to the physical temple that Herod built. The idea of the courts was that of a gradual progression towards the Holy of Holies, the presence of God.   The outer court is the court of the Gentiles. It is in this court in which anyone could worship, where sacrifices were made, and where an Israelite would undergo the ritual for purification.  This outer court is most likely where all the merchants and vendors set up their temporary stalls.  Archeologists suggest that by passing through the outer court you entered the court of women in which Jewish females gathered for worship.  Beyond this court was the Court of Men where the males of Israel gathered for worship.  The inner court was for the priests, and within the inner court was the Holy of Holies which was separated from the inner court with a thick 30-foot high curtain or veil in which only the High Priest could enter.  For John’s purposes the outer court is not measured therefore the people in it, all those who have yet to establish a right relationship with God, are not protected. 

The Holy City is a spiritual Jerusalem.  Spiritual Jerusalem is where God’s people live.  In a city not built by human hands (Hebrews 11:10). Later in the Revelation John will see a new Jerusalem descending from heaven. That the outsiders are going to desecrate the Holy City,  John sees an intense persecution happening.  Jesus forewarned His disciples this would happen.


John 16:1-4 (MSG)

I've told you these things to prepare you for rough times ahead. They are going to throw you out of the meeting places. There will even come a time when anyone who kills you will think he's doing God a favor. They will do these things because they never really understood the Father. I've told you these things so that when the time comes and they start in on you, you'll be well-warned and ready for them.


Believers are being killed for their faith. 


The period for this murder spree is 42 months.  The background for this is the limited time found in the book of Daniel. Would you be surprised if I told you that my understanding of the book of Daniel is not dealing with the end times, but with the persecution the Jews endured by the tyrant Antiochus Epiphanies? This Syrian dictator’s goal was to completely wipe out the worship of Yahweh,  prohibiting all Jewish religious rites and customs and replacing them with the gods of Greek culture.  There are two books not in your bible but readily available online that recount this persecution called 1st and 2nd Maccabees.  If you read this historical account, the book of Daniel makes more sense. The suffering endured by the Jews at the hands of Antiochus was barbaric and lasted from 167 to 164 BC.  That’s 42 months (Daniel 9); (Mounce, p 221).


42 months is 3 1/2 years.  The end-time dispensational prophets understand this literally and proclaim that this is the amount of time when all the forces of evil dominate human society. We have decided that the numbers in Revelation are to be understood symbolically.  The number 7 represents completeness and perfection.  3 ½ is a broken 7, half a 7, therefore symbolizes a time of incompleteness and imperfection, a failure to complete, not a number of days. Therefore the catastrophic oppression of the Church, like that of Antiochus is limited, and most importantly will not be successful in deterring the will of God or defeating God’s faithful


Here's a little historical trivia.  In 70 AD the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem.  The Roman-Jewish war was declared over with the capture of Masada by the Romans in 73 AD. That’s pretty close to 3 ½ years, literally! (Rotz, p 163).  As mentioned previously, John is drawing his picture of the end times not only from prophetic Jewish sources but also from historical sources.


Now let's turn our attention to John's message to the church through his vision of the two witnesses.


Revelation  11:3-6 (MSG)

3 "Meanwhile, I'll provide my two Witnesses. Dressed in sackcloth, they'll prophesy for one thousand two hundred sixty days. These are the two Olive Trees, the two Lampstands, standing at attention before God on earth. If anyone tries to hurt them, a blast of fire from their mouths will incinerate them—burn them to a crisp just like that. They'll have power to seal the sky so that it doesn't rain for the time of their prophesying, power to turn rivers and springs to blood, power to hit earth with any and every disaster as often as they want.


In this time when evil is rampant throughout the world, God still has not given up on humanity.  He is still calling the unrepentant into a right relationship with Him. That there are two witnesses is in keeping with the Jewish tradition of establishing a fact that will render a judgment (Rotz, p. 164—Numbers 35:30, Deuteronomy 17:6). The witnesses are wearing sackcloth, a symbol of lament and repentance (Jeremiah 4:8, Matthew 11:21) and sometimes the wardrobe of the Old Testament prophets (1 Kings 17:22, 2 Kings 2:13, Isaiah 20:2, Jeremiah 4:5 etc.).  Their message is to repent, turn from egoism, and bend your knee to the Lordship of Christ. One thousand two hundred sixty days is approximately 3 ½ years, in the time that evil seems to have the victory, God’s message of salvation is still being preached.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

In Zechariah’s vision (Zechariah 4) there are two olive trees and two lampstands.  They represent the political and religious leaders of Israel (Rotz, p.165) By extension the people of Israel. The powers that these two witnesses have are reminiscent of Moses and Elijah. When we examined the transfiguration, we learned that the presence of Moses and Elijah symbolized both the Law and the Prophets affirming Jesus. Once again, the weapon is the gospel The power to burn someone to a crisp is another play on speaking the truth.  In Jeremiah 5:14 “the LORD God Almighty says: “Because the people have spoken these words, I will make my words in your mouth a fire and these people the wood it consumes.”  Rejection of the message results in spiritual death.


 When Zechariah asks what this vision means the angel replies “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6).        You will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles that you will not be able to overcome, not be able to deal with in your strength, but with God, the Holy Spirit working through you, empowering you, personal victory at the consummation of the Kingdom is assured.


Elijah is the prophet who pronounced a drought with the hopes of convincing King Ahab to change his ways.   The time of the drought was 3 ½ years (James 5:17). The Plagues remind us of the stubbornness of Pharaoh.  The plagues grew increasingly intense until catastrophe and then Pharaoh gave in to the will of God.


Since the events between the 6th and the 7th are when John tells us of the church, one interpretation of the two witnesses that has validity is that they represent the Church as a whole (Mounce, p223; Ladd, p.154).  In the Revelation John has used a specific word for witness which fully translated means martyr witness (Eller, p.116).  For the unrepentant, the witness of the church is intolerable, murderously so.                                                                                                                                                       

Revelation 11:7-10 (MSG)

"When they've completed their witness, the Beast from the Abyss will emerge and fight them, conquer and kill them, leaving their corpses exposed on the street of the Great City spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, the same City where their Master was crucified. For three and a half days they'll be there—exposed, prevented from getting a decent burial, stared at by the curious from all over the world.  Those people will cheer at the spectacle, shouting 'Good riddance!' and calling for a celebration, for these two prophets pricked the conscience of all the people on earth, made it impossible for them to enjoy their sins.


We will be exploring the Beast from the Abyss in much more detail later.  For now, we need to look at John's linguistic genius.  In chapter 4 the Lamb appears in the throne room of God.  Lamb is the Greek translation of the word arnion. The Beast is the Greek translation of the word therion.  What we have here is Arnion versus Therion. Christ verses the Anti-Christ for total domination of the world. In literature this is called a parison, the deliberate placement of two words that are similar in sound but opposite in meaning designed to emphasize the huge contrast between the two.


It seems apparent evil has won the game.  The restraining power of the Holy Spirit, His church on earth is no more. Here’s a hard fact, John is seeing the destiny of the faithful, those who during these catastrophic times of persecution do not deny Christ become martyr witnesses (Mounce, p. 227).  The church has followed Christ unto death. Fear not, the church will follow Christ in a resurrection.


Revelation  11:11-13 (MSG)

11 "Then, after three and a half days, the Living Spirit of God will enter them—they're on their feet!—and all those gloating spectators will be scared to death."

12 I heard a strong voice out of Heaven calling, "Come up here!" and up they went to Heaven, wrapped in a cloud, their enemies watching it all. 13 At that moment there was a gigantic earthquake—a tenth of the city fell to ruin, seven thousand perished in the earthquake, the rest frightened to the core of their being, frightened into giving honor to the God of Heaven.


There’s more to explore.  This week check out our YouTube channel HBCC life and join me as we delve deeper into these 13 verses of Chapter 11.


This is what we’ve gleaned so far.


God is going to protect his church from the full brunt of the rough, intense, and catastrophic times that are testing the whole world until the Church fulfills its mission. This protection is spiritual in nature, not physical. During this time disciples of Christ are preaching the gospel and with it Kingdom values.  Living out the gospel and those Kingdom values are so opposed to the unrestrained cultural norms that people are convicted of their unrighteousness. Tormented by plagues of truth the people of the world seek to annihilate the church. Though at first, it looks like the demonically inspired plans to silence believers are successful but God has greater plans.


The message to us is once again to do the work of a disciple, use the gifts the Holy Spirit has endowed you with to testify to the people in your world concerning the gift of God and expect opposition.  Remember this, God has got your back.  His will is going to prevail.  Stay loyal, stay obedient and you will prevail also.  Do not be afraid


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