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Revelation Chapter 11
Introduction

Revelation chapter 11 along with chapter 10 forms a unit in the book of Revelation. Chapter 11 does not start with "and I saw" to introduce a new scene. It does start with judgment and that is a big topic in the little book of Daniel. In verse 7, it refers back to the beast from the bottomless pit that was talked about in the fifth trumpet. Then, in verse 14, it says "the second woe is past" which suggests that it has been talking about the second woe (or the sixth trumpet) up to that point. Then, in verse 15, it says that the seventh angel sounded.

Revelation chapter 11 is difficult to understand and perhaps we can, at best, become familiar with the pieces of the puzzle so that when the events described are happening we will be better able to understand what is really happening.

Measuring the Worshippers

"And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein." (Rev 11:1)

What does it mean to measure the worshippers? Surely, it doesn't mean to measure how tall they are. Could it be an act of evaluation for purposes of judgment; perhaps of character? Like "How does he (or this) measure up?" Do they meet some qualifications? The reed is apparently a means of measuring, a standard, perhaps it is a reference to the law of God.

The same original word translated as "measure" (G3354) is used in reference to judgment and comparison:

"For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete (G3354), it shall be measured to you again." (Matt 7:2)
"For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring (G3354) themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." (2 Cor 10:12)

Where is the temple of God that is referred to? It can't be on earth; there is no temple of God on earth and there wasn't one when John wrote Revelation (in 96 AD) as it had been destroyed years earlier (70 AD). Could the "temple" in this case be symbolic of the Christian church?

The original word translated as "temple" is used of the temple at Jerusalem, but only of the sacred edifice (or sanctuary) itself, consisting of the holy place and the most holy place and excluding the courtyard.

John could not have been referring to the temple of God on earth but what if a temple is rebuilt on earth? We know that Jerusalem's Temple Institute is preparing for sacrifices at a temple they hope to rebuild in Jerusalem. Their website states:

"The Temple Institute's ultimate goal is to see Israel rebuild the Holy Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, in accord with the Biblical commandments."

The Temple of God?

We could ask whether such a rebuilt temple, if it happens, could really be considered the temple of God? Would God sanction a temple with sacrifices? Wouldn't that conflict with the idea that Jesus was (and is) the Lamb of God?

"But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;" (Heb 10:12)

There is another possibility for the meaning of the temple of God. We know that God's desire is that we be His temple:

"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Cor 3:16)

The whole purpose of a temple is so that God could dwell with man. And God dwelling with man by having His presence in a tabernacle was only a step towards His dwelling by His Spirit in man.

"And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." (2 Cor 6:16)

So this worshipping in the temple must be in a figurative sense. The book of Hebrews also makes reference to a temple:

"Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man." (Heb 8:1-2)

There are two altars involved in the temple. One is the altar of sacrifice which was located in the courtyard which, as we will see in verse 2, is left out of the measuring process. So it must be the other altar, the altar of incense within the holy place that is referred in verse 1.

The worshippers, in a figurative sense, worship with respect to the altar (where intercession is being made for them) and understand and appreciate what is happening in the temple of God in heaven.

Where Is the court?

"But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months." (Rev 11:2)

The directive to measure seems to exclude those who are not worshipping in the temple - those who are not God's followers. They are considered to be in the courtyard rather than in the temple. The translation "leave out" is not as strong as the original which often has the meaning of "to cast out."

Both "nations" and "Gentiles" in the following verse are translated from the same Greek word, "ethnos" (G1484).

"And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." (Luke 21:24)

Scripture gives us the identity of the holy city:

"And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." (Rev 21:2)

While this is referring to the New Jerusalem that comes down from heaven, it is also used in reference to the earthly Jerusalem:

"And the rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem: the rest of the people also cast lots, to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, and nine parts to dwell in other cities." (Neh 11:1)

The location of this court is very interesting since there is no temple on earth today. The question will be considered in detail on a separate page where is the court of the Gentiles.

We are still talking about measuring the worshippers. Remember, the churches (groups of worshippers?) were, in a sense, measured in chapters 2 and 3. This evaluation found good and bad points for the different churches. Here are some:

  • Ephesus lost its "first love" (Rev 2:4)
  • Smyrna was "rich" (Rev 2:9)
  • Pergamos held the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitans (Rev 2:14)
  • Thyatira held the doctrine of Jezebel (Rev 2:20, 24)
  • Sardis was dead in spite of its "name" (Rev 3:1)
  • Philadelphia "kept the word of my patience" (Rev 3:10).
  • Laodicea was judged to be nauseatingly "lukewarm" (Rev 3:16),

Could "them that worship therein" - the ones who are measured - be a reference to the judgment of the living? Dead people do not worship:

"the dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence" (Psalms 115:17)

To be trodden "under foot" is figurative of persecution resulting in the purification that changes the church militant into the church triumphant.

It will be too late to measure (judge) them if they are already in heaven. They need to be judged before that in order to determine if they are eligible to be in heaven.

The Two Witnesses

"And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth." (Rev 11:3).

"Power" is a supplied word. Leave out the word power and it says "I will give unto my two witnesses ..." The obvious question is "give what?" What justification is there for supplying the word "power"? Verse 6 says that they do have power but the most obvious thing they could have been given in light of the rest of verse 3 is prophecy. A prophet has to be given a prophecy (a message) before he can prophesy. God will give a prophecy, a message to the witnesses and they will then prophesy to others. A major theme of the chapter is about giving a last-day witness.

Who are "my two witnesses?" What are witnesses? They are people (or evidence) who speak for someone else (favor or against them) often in a court setting. Who are these two witnesses? Several possibilities have been suggested including:

  1. Daniel and Revelation
  2. Moses and Elijah in the flesh
  3. The Old and New Testaments
  4. Two churches/groups of people, perhaps represented by the two remaining candlesticks of Smyrna and Philadelphia
  5. The angels in Rev 18 who give the two messages:
    1. Babylon the great is fallen (v2)
    2. Come out of her my people (v4)

Remember, in Revelation chapter 2 we considered that the messages to the 7 churches could have multiple applications:

  1. Application in John's day (John was actually the pastor of those churches)
  2. Application through the last 2000 years of history of the Christian church
  3. End-time-application where the seven churches represent spiritual groups at the end
  4. Personal application - maybe there is a message in there for you.

It is entirely possible that there is more than one correct way to understand the identity of these two witnesses. Quite a good case can be made for the two witnesses being the Old and New Testaments. Look at these verses:

"Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." (John 5:39)
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." (Matt 24:14)

However, as mentioned, there could be multiple applications and we will see later that there is good evidence that they may actually be Moses and Elijah returning to earth in the flesh.

Verse 2 mentioned 42 months; now, in verse 3, we have another time period of 1260 days. They seem to be two references to the same time period. The fact that the two witnesses are witnessing clothed in sackcloth - a sign of mourning or distress - may be connected to them being persecuted which may be connected to being trodden under foot (verse 2).

"These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth." (Rev 11:4)

The two witnesses are described as the two olive trees and the two candlesticks and, as we will see in the following verses, in many other ways. Yet these are all symbolic terms and the identity of the two witnesses is not unequivocally stated in scripture. Further down this page is a table that contains all the clues we are given about the identity of the two witnesses.

The priests had to daily attend to the oil supply for the lamps just as they had to do the sacrifices twice a day. In what John is describing in this chapter, the lamps were supplied continuously directly from the source, the olive trees. There were no olive trees in the earthly sanctuary and the priests had to refill the oil as needed to keep the lamps burning continuously.

Verse 4 is very similar to a scene in Zechariah chapter 4 where two olive branches are mentioned and are referred to as "the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth" (verse 14).

Note that it is only olive oil that was used for the lights in the tabernacle:

"And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always." (Exo 27:20)

Candlesticks also appear in Revelation chapter 1 where there were seven candlesticks said to represent seven churches:

"And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;" (Rev 1:12)
"... and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches." (Rev 1:20)

Five of the churches represented by these candlesticks were given reproof and warning. In the case of Ephesus, it was expressed in terms of the candlestick being removed if the warning was not heeded. Others were less obvious in terms of removal or losing their place but in each of the five cases there was a call to repentance and a dire warning if they did not repent:

  1. Ephesus - "... repent, and do the first works; or else I will ... remove thy candlestick out of his place ..." (Rev 2:5)
  2. Pergamos - "Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth." (Rev 2:16)
  3. Thyatira - "And I gave her space to repent of her fornication and she repented not." (not talking about Jezebel as it is all in future tense.)
  4. Sardis - "... hold fast and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." (Rev 3:3)
  5. Laodicea - "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." (Rev 3:16) "Be zealous therefore, and repent." (Rev 3:19)

Note that the churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia were given no warning or call to repent.

Without repentance (a choice they had to make) and obedience to God the five churches could not remain in their position in the presence of God. Any that did not repent would have their candlestick removed. Revelation 11 seems to indicate that the time will come when only two of the original seven churches will remain.

Fire Out of Their Mouths

"And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed." (Rev 11:5)

How can the written words of the Bible be "hurt?" It could be by false witnessing, false testimony, false prophesying or by ridiculing or contradicting them.

"Fire ... out of their mouth" could be the straight testimony of God's word which convicts the heart of the hearer and can bring repentance. It is tampering with, "hurting," or attempting to change the message, that will ultimately bring the devouring "fire" causing "any man" presumptuous enough to "hurt them" to be "killed."

The death referred to may be the second death referred to as the lake of fire experience at the end of the millennium. We are told that the overcomers will not experience the second death:

"He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death" (Rev 2:11).

Is the fire of verse 5 literal? Is there actual fire coming out of the mouths of the two witnesses? It seems that it must be figurative. Here is a verse that also speaks of God's word as fire, through the mouth of Jeremiah, devouring people:

"Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them." (Jer 5:14)

In this verse, the fire is understood to be words. The words are said to have the effect of burning people up. Again, this is similar to what will happen at the end of the millennium.

If we examine the literal and symbolic elements of Jeremiah 5:14 it looks like this:

Literal
Symbolic
words in mouth fire
people wood
? devour (burn)

We can see that, in symbol, the fire devours or burns the wood. The question is what happens literally? What were the effects of the words of Jeremiah on the people?

"Devour" is often used in scripture in a figurative sense; less often it is used in sense of to actually eat something. It is the hearing of words or the understanding of evidence against a person that brings conviction - a realization and admission of doing wrong.

"And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst." (John 8:9)

Fire is also said to go out of the mouth of the leviathan described by Job (Job 41:19), out of the mouth of God (2 Sam 22:9, Psa 18:8) and out of the mouths of the riders of the horses in Revelation 9 (vs 17-18). It seems that, at least in most cases, this is a figurative fire.

It could also be thought of in the sense that the witnesses pronounce judgment which, in regards to the wicked, ultimately ends in fire:

"For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch." (Mal 4:1)
"For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." (Rev 22:18-19)

Power to Shut Heaven that it Rain Not

"These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will." (Rev 11:6)

This, of course, reminds us of the prophet Elijah:

"And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word." (1 Kings 17:1)

It doesn't say that the two witnesses will shut heaven but that they will have power to shut heaven. The word "power" here is "exousia" (G1849) having the meaning of authority. Where did Elijah get this authority? Of course, his authority came from God but it is interesting that the drought that happened seems to have been his idea as the following verse suggests:

"Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months." (James 5:17)

If the two witnesses have the power or authority to stop rain and bring down plagues what else might they also be able to do?

Here is a clue that rain may be a symbol referring to doctrine:

"My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:" (Deut 32:2)

The Days of their Prophecy

This time period is stated in various ways:

  1. "the court ... is given to Gentiles" who tread the holy city underfoot for 42 months (v2)
  2. "they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days" (v3)
  3. "the days of their prophecy" (when it rains not) (v6)

The 42 months seems to be connected to the 1260 days. See the page He changeth times and seasons for a discussion of how 42 months could be the same as 1260 days (because now they are not exactly equal).

"And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them." (Rev 11:7)

When will they be finished their testimony? - when the 1260 days are over. Compare these three verses:

"And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth." (Rev 11:3)
"These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will." (Rev 11:6)
"And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them." (Rev 11:7)

Here is a time line of the experience of the two witnesses that might help us with their identity:

Two Witnesses

Could Moses and Elijah Actually Return to Earth?

We can't rule out the possibility that the two witnesses are Moses and Elijah in the flesh. There is a very interesting passage from the prophet Malachi:

"For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. ... Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:" (Mal 4:1, 4-5)

Verse 1 certainly sounds like an end-time context. Moses and his law are mentioned and verse 5 even says that he would send Elijah. It has to be either Elijah himself, in the flesh, or Elijah in symbol.

Moses and Elijah, of course, are both alive. They were taken to heaven and have even made one return visit to earth to appear with Jesus at His transfiguration:

"And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias:" (Luke 9:30)

Another passage relates to this time:

"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it." (Amos 8:11-12)

Why won't they find the words of the Lord? - Because the two witnesses have "finished their testimony" (verse 7).

Does "finished their testimony" connect to the close of probation? Testimony can refer to giving evidence in court. Finishing their testimony might be related to the end of a judgment session.

Could They Really be Killed?

What we don't know is how these two witnesses relate to the 144,000 which could also be understood to be witnesses. The word "witnesses" in Rev 11:3 is from the Greek "martus" (Strong's number: H3144) which is also translated as "martyr." This is an interesting connection to what we are told in Revelation chapter 11 concerning the two witnesses. Moses and Elijah were not martyred. There is no record that Moses died other than a natural death:

"So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD." (Deut 34:5)

It seems that God wanted Moses in heaven as a verse in Jude indicates a dispute between the devil and Michael the Archangel when Moses was being raised.

"Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee." (Jude 1:9)

Scripture plainly states that Elijah was taken bodily to heaven:

"And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven." (2 Kings 2:11)

So neither of them were martyred. Would they really be willing to come to earth as witnesses again at the end of time and be martyred? Remember that Moses expressed a willingness to give up even eternal life:

"Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin-; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written." (Exo 32:32)
Elijah might want a chance to "redeem himself" after his failure in running from Jezebel when she threatened to kill him:
"Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there." (1 Kings 19:2-3)

The Two Witnesses Effect on the People

"And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified." (Rev 11:8)

What city is this? It must be Jerusalem because it is described as "where also our Lord was crucified." It is also described "spiritually," or with regard to its spiritual condition, as "Sodom and Egypt." It's interesting that just back in verse 2 it was referred to as "the holy city" and now it is being compared to Sodom and Egypt. Is this a statement about the spiritual condition of Jerusalem at this time?

Isaiah, writing about a vision he had concerning Jerusalem, said:

"The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. ... Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah." (Isa 1:1,10)
"And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves." (Rev 11:9)

The "three days and an half" seems like it must be a literal period of time. "Nations" is from the same original word as "Gentiles" in verse 2.

"And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth." (Rev 11:10)

I don't see this so much as physical torment as it is a reference to mental anguish or struggles as in these examples that use the same original word:

  1. the torment of the scorpions of the fifth trumpet (Rev 9:5)
  2. the torment of the conviction of wrong the lost will endure in the Lake of Fire - Rev 14:10, 20:10.
  3. How Lot was tormented and tempted (vexed) by the conversation of those around him:
"And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: ... The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations ..." (2 Pet 2:7,9)

The two prophets will not physically harm those that dwell upon the earth. The word translated into "torment" has the original meaning of "to test (metals) by the touchstone." It includes the concept of judgment and may have been the meaning in this passage:

"And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not." (Mark 5:7)

We know that there is a time coming when the angels will be judged:

"And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." (Jude 1:6)

The fact that the two witnesses "finished their testimony" and the torment was over may point to the close of probation.

"And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them." (Rev 11:11-12)

This seems to point to a physical resurrection of the two witnesses.

Who Are the Two Witnesses?

Now that all of the characteristics of the two witnesses have been given let's put them into a summary table:

Verse
Characteristics of the Two Witnesses
Notes
4 two olive trees  
4 two candlesticks There were 7 in chap. 2-3
4 stand before God  
5 fire out of their mouths figurative
6 power to shut heaven - no rain Elijah
6 prophets Moses and Elijah were
6 power to turn water to blood Moses
6 can smite earth with plagues Moses
6 have free will (as often as they will) must be people with wills
7 killed by beast from bottomless pit  
8 die in Jerusalem  
10 tormented people on earth Moses and Elijah did
11 resurrected 3.5 days after death  
12 ascended up to heaven in a cloud with accompanying angels

From the table above, we can see that many of the characteristics listed can certainly be related to Moses and Elijah. Is it them? Will they return in the flesh to this earth and have a role in end-time events before the Second Coming? While there are other possible interpretations, I would not rule out that possibility. Moses and Elijah seem to fit the range of clues even better than other interpretations.

We are trying, in this series of studies in Revelation, to be open to possibilities. We certainly do not have all the answers or a complete understanding. The two witnesses of Revelation chapter 11 may actually be Moses and Elijah and they may not. There is the possibility that the two witnesses have more than one meaning as we have seen with other symbols.

There is a tradition followed in many Jewish Seder observances to provide an empty chair for Elijah at the meal in the belief that he will one day return at the time of Passover.

"And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven." (Rev 11:13)

The city must refer to Jerusalem. Later in Revelation, there is another reference to a great earthquake involving the great city:

"... there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts ..." (Rev 16:18-19)

The Kingdom of God

"The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly." (Rev 11:14)

This is the end of woe #2. In spite of all the evidence for a future application, many believe that "the second woe" ended in 1840. That would leave a 170-plus-year gap between the second woe and the third woe which is connected with the Second Coming. This contradicts John's statement that once the second woe is past the third one "cometh quickly" or without delay.

"And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." (Rev 11:15)

What do we now expect to happen? According to Revelation 10:7, during the sounding of the seventh angel, "the mystery of God should be finished."

The kingdom of God was already established on earth. This is referring to the kingdoms of this world now becoming the possession of our Lord. Notice that the second use of "the kingdoms" in this verse is supplied.

Saying that "the kingdoms of this world are now become the kingdoms of our Lord" suggests they were not previously, the Lord"s. There has been a transfer of the kingdom or of dominion.

This verse connects to Daniel chapter 2:

"And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." (Dan 2:44)

There is obviously some length of time between the setting up of this kingdom and the Second Coming.

The Time Has Come

"And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned." (Rev 11:16-17)

Does God have to take His "great power" from anywhere? Has He lost it somehow? It seems likely this is referring to taking His power (G1411, dunamis) with regard to the earth which had temporarily been relinquished (because of sin) to "the god of this world" (2 Cor 4:4).

"And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth." (Rev 11:18)

The nations being angry may be connected to the "wars and rumours of wars" (Matt 24:6).

"The time of the dead" being judged could refer to the time when those who are spiritually dead are judged. In a sense, all must be judged prior to the Second Coming to determine who is eligible to receive rewards.

Revelation does speak of the lost ("the dead") being judged during the millennium.

"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." (Rev 20:12)

They will also have to be judged, if not to determine punishment, at least to determine their eligibility or not for eternal life before the resurrection at the Second Coming.

Rewards are given at the time of the Second Coming:

"And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." (Rev 22:12)

At the Second Coming, those who are alive and have had a role in destroying the earth will die:

"And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:" (2 Thess 2:8)
"And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail." (Rev 11:19)

This sounds a lot like a later description in Revelation of the Second Coming:

"... there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. ... And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great." (Rev 16:17-18, 21)

It sounds so similar because, of course, it is describing the same event. It also reminds us of the grandeur at Mt. Sinai at the giving of the Ten Commandments:

"And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that were in the camp trembled." (Exo 19:16)

It seems clear, therefore, that the seventh plague pictured in Revelation 16:17-21 is what is outlined, to a brief extent, here in Revelation 11:19.

This verse includes events both in heaven and on earth and an interesting question is: when the temple of God is opened in heaven who is it that sees the ark of the testament? We know that the ark contained, among other items the tables of the Ten Commandments. Could this be a revelation of the law of God, the standard by which men are judged? Could it be a way of saying that the significance of the law is finally understood?

Is it possible also that this might coincide with the finding of the ark of the covenant on earth? That ark, it seems likely, was hidden away just before Nebuchadnezzar's invasion and capture of Jerusalem. It has never been publicly seen since.

We have come to the end of Revelation Chapter 11. Hopefully, you are now more familiar with the details even if you have come to a conclusion on the meaning of all its symbols - I certainly have not. The next chapter, Revelation chapter 12 opens up a big picture for us of what is really going on behind the scenes.  


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The Greek has multiple words for forgiveness? God forgives (charizomai) whether we ask or not. Receiving forgiveness (apheimi) is by our choice.
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