42 Months. 1,260 Days.

Revelation 11

Saturday, November 26, 2022

In Revelation 11 John is told to measure God’s Temple and the altar, and the people worshipping there – except the outer court. We never learn that John reported or used these measurements, perhaps it is all a complex object lesson. (Later an angel also measures the New Jerusalem, see 21:15.) Still, the fact of doing this made John walk over every part of the Temple, and it took time. Ezekiel 40‑42 seems to list what he needed to measure – with the addition of the worshippers, and I don’t know how he did that. The whole scene also creates another lengthy pause for John in the vision, which is hard to visualize when reading.

John then learns about the Two Witnesses, who sound like a combination of Elijah with Moses and Aaron. The ability to breathe fire, while new for prophets, fits well if these verses are taken as part of the second woe. Reading about their authority it could seem odd that the nations will walk over Jerusalem and the Temple’s outer court in that time, rather than being driven away. But the witnesses will be in sackcloth for mourning. It will not be their role to drive out all the wicked, but to speak truth. The choice of what happened to the city belonged to its population. Their miracles will strike against those who seek to kill them, and back up their statements, but their basic ministry will be in their words.

And “when they have finished their testimony” the witnesses will be killed in Jerusalem. It is quite the image to think of wicked people celebrating ‘Happy Two Witnesses Day’ and exchanging gifts, perhaps commemorative shirts or mugs. But the wicked will have rejoiced in error. In the immediate aftermath thousands in Jerusalem will die, but the rest “gave glory to God.” Maybe those giving glory will be the first fruit of the witnesses’ ministries at that time. If so, I think they will be welcomed to the truth with joy, and the witnesses will count their own deaths as worthwhile. But I believe that the testimony of what these two will faithfully do has already brought great good, before they have even begun to prophesy – that is one of the strange potentials with prophecy about prophets.

The blowing of the Seventh Trumpet is answered with voices from heaven. The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ! God, the Almighty, has begun to reign! But it seems like God will be reigning over a world that is still populated by many of the wicked. If the seventh trumpet launches the third woe there is a lot of damage to come, although nothing more is said about that here. John has been told he needs to “prophesy again,” and perhaps it will be necessary to go backward to gain traction to go forward. The three-and-a-half year period which is discussed early in chapter 11 will come up again in chapters 12 and 13. While many people see the seven trumpets as leading into the woeful seven bowls of the wrath of God that is not for several more chapters.

Chapter 11 closes with another reference to the Temple in heaven, as it opens to reveal the ark of the covenant. I think that for the equivalent of the Holy of Holies in the heavenly tabernacle to open says the separation between God and mankind is being reduced or eliminated. This may not be a safe thing for the general population. Rather than a promise of blessings about to pour onto the world, it may mean that holiness will be called for.

Lord, I see in John and the unnamed witnesses people who understood servanthood, who accepted the risks in following Jesus and were completely committed. Allow me to be as humble and as brave as one of your prophets. I don’t need to tell the future. Please let me grow into that passion to do what you desire of me, guided by your Spirit, living in your love, serving in faith, working toward hope. May your will be done. Amen.

-Daniel Smead

Reflection Questions

  1. What good can come from the prophecy of the coming of the Two Witnesses before they have even come? What do you personally gain from looking into the book of Revelation? Who do you know who could potentially benefit from knowing what is in this revelation? Pray for them, and for your faithfulness as a servant of God.
  2. What are your thoughts and feelings about the separation between God and mankind being reduced or eliminated? Why?

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