Measuring. v1 - 2.
1. "Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, "Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there."
John was given a measuring rod (a set standard) and was told to measure the temple, altar and the worshippers. In the original the words "the angel stood," are absent. The fact that John did not do this indicates that he did not literally measure the "temple, altar, and worshippers" but that it was symbolic. In Ezekiel chapters 40 - 42 when the temple was measured the measurements for each part were given. Measuring the temple sets it apart from the court of the Gentiles that he was told not to measure, which suggest that it refers to Jews only, the altar, which would be the altar of sacrifice, the commitment of worship to God, the worshippers, to determine the number of true worshippers. (Is this an indication of the 144,000 that were sealed in Rev. 7:4?)
2. "But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months."
The outer court of the Gentiles was not measured for it had been rejected by God and given over by Him into the hands of nations who would dominate Jerusalem by "ruthless oppression and merciless brutality." TATFORD It will be the "time of Jacob's trouble" (Jer. 30:7) the "great tribulation" (Matt. 24:21) lasting for a period of three and a half years.
Two Witnesses: Their Witness, Power and Identity v3 - 6.
3. "And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth."
God tells John of the two witnesses who will testify to the people of all nations during that 3½ year period. To them God gives the power of prophecy (to foretell future events). They will not witness to Christ as Saviour but to the authority and power of God and to the judgement that is soon to come on an unrepentant world. Their dress (sackcloth) signifies the solemnity of their message.
4. "These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth."
They are identified as being the two spoken of in Zechariah 4:3 & 11 - 14 who wait on God as His servants. The reference to two olive trees and two lampstands denote the same two individuals. Whilst some affirm that these two witnesses are Moses and Elijah, this is mere supposition. They are more likely to be men belonging to the time in which they begin their prophesying.
5. "And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner."
They are given supernatural power to use against anyone who tries to harm them in word or deed - "fire proceeds from their mouth". Not literal fire, but the Word of God will be so powerful from their lips that it will consume and kill their enemies (Jer.5: 14 & 23:29) They will not destroy their enemies in any other way.
6. "These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire."
They also have power to stop it raining during the time of their prophecy and to turn the waters into blood. They can strike the earth with all kinds of plagues as often as they wish. The whole ministry of the two witnesses speaks of the judgement of God.
The Death of the Two Witnesses. v7 -10.
7. "When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them."
Only when the two witnesses have accomplished their God given task will the Divine protection be removed from them so that "the beast" who arises out of the abyss may overcome and kill them. This is the first mention of "the beast", the word used means "a wild beast". He ascends first from the abyss, and later in Rev. 13:1 he is pictured as "rising out of the sea" whilst in 13:11 his assistant "comes up out of the earth". Clearly the two witnesses minister during the worldwide reign of "the beast"- the Anti-Christ.
8. "And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified."
These men are held in such contempt by the world that their bodies are left to rot in streets of Jerusalem, the pseudonym Sodom, first used by Isaiah to denote Jerusalem (Isaiah 1:10), indicates the moral corruption of the city and the name of Egypt, that it is held in bondage to Satan.
9. "Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves."
Their bodies will not be allowed burial and people from many nations will come to gloat over them. There their bodies will remain for three and half days.
10. "And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth."
The whole world will celebrate the death of these two "antagonists". They will declare a holiday, throw parties and send presents to each other. They rejoice because they no longer have to endure hearing the truth from these men who "opposed the prevailing errors and rebuked the vices of the age" (Barnes).
The Resurrection of the Two Witnesses. v11 - 14.
11. "Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them."
After three and a half days the "Spirit of life from God" raised them from the dead and they stood on their feet for all to see, an event which brings abject terror to those who witness it.
12. "And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them."
At the sound of a loud shout from heaven the two witnesses begin to ascend to heaven in a cloud of glory, as their enemies look on.
13. "In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven."
That same hour a powerful earthquake will destroy one tenth of the city of Jerusalem, killing seven thousand people, God's judgement for their opposition to His witnesses. Those who survive will in mortal fear attribute this act to the power to God, even though, like Pharaoh before them, they still refuse to repent (Rev. 9:21).
14. "The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly."
The second of the three woes, which were announced in Rev. 8:13 is past and the third one will follow immediately.
The Seventh Trumpet - The Kingdom Proclaimed. v15 - 19.
15. "Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"
The last of the trumpets brings this series of visions to a close. The six previous trumpets brought judgement on the earth and at the sounding of the seventh, John heard mighty voices in heaven proclaiming that the time had come at last. The kingdom of the world was from henceforth to be the possession of God and of His Christ. Having been taken out of the hands of Satan, the "god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4) it is again in the hands of its rightful owner. "They were always so in title, both by creation and purchase. They thankfully observe His actual possession of them, and reign over them; they give Him thanks because He had taken to Him His great power, asserted His rights, exerted His power, and so turned title into possession" (Matthew Henry). So shall He reign for ever more.
16. "And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshipped God,"
The twenty four elders (representative of the church) rise from their thrones and prostrate themselves before God to worship Him.
17. "Saying: "We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great power and reigned."
They express their gratitude to the Lord God Almighty, the Eternal One because by exerting His mighty power He had at last exercised His right to rule over the whole earth.
18. "The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, And the time of the dead, that they should be judged, And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, And those who fear Your name, small and great, And should destroy those who destroy the earth."
The time had come for the heathen, those who were enraged against God, rejected Him, opposed Christ and persecuted His people, to experience God's wrath. Whatever their position in life the time had come for them to be judged and destroyed (Rev. 20: 11 - 13). On the other hand, it is time for all those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life, who faithfully served Christ and bore witness to His word to be rewarded. (Col. 3:24; Rev. 22:12).
19. "Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail."
There is no literal temple or an ark of the covenant in heaven (Rev. 21:22). What John saw may be symbolic of the Church, for Paul writes that the Church is the temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 2:21). The word "Temple" also refers to the place where God dwells and the word used here does not refer to the whole temple but the Holy Place. John saw that the way into the immediate presence of God was open.
In the Old Testament the ark of the covenant held the Law of God, the manna, and Aaron's rod that budded. The lid of the ark was called the mercy seat. On the day of Atonement the mercy seat was sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice (Leviticus chapter 16). It was before the mercy seat that God met and spoke to Moses (Ex. 25:22). Hence the ark gave the assurance of God's promises, His presence and His covering for sin. The ark in the OT foreshadows the ministry of Christ. As Stephen was stoned to death he saw heaven opened and the Lord Jesus Christ standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:56). Hence the "ark of His covenant" signifies the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 1:3).
Clearly the way was open for the Church into the Holy Place, where Christ has gone before (Heb. 9:12). Yet the opening of the Temple at this stage in history signifies the imminent return of Christ to earth with His saints.
Following this came a manifestation of the mighty power and majesty of God by lightnings, thunders, earthquake and hail.
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