This Chapter gives us more information about what is happening during the last half of the Tribulation Period. We can pinpoint the two occurrences mentioned here, because we know that the first lasts for 42 months and the second for 1,260 days (the very same period of time) until the very last day of the Tribulation. The first is the overrunning of Jerusalem by the Gentiles, and the second is the rising up of the Two Witnesses. We shall look at each individually here, Revelation 11:1-2. We should remember at this point that John is in Heaven. He is looking at events on earth and events in Heaven at the same time and from a vantage point that we on earth do not have today, and the events he is being allowed to witness are, to him, future events. This temple is most likely a symbol of the church (all true believers), because there will be no temple in the New Jerusalem, Revelation 21:22.
John measured the Temple to show that God’s protection is around His people. Although they will be subjected to spiritual attack, He will spare them from spiritual harm, and that He has reserved a place for all Christians who remain faithful to Him during this time. Those who have entered the Temple of the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb (Revelation 21:22) and worship Him there will be protected spiritually, but those outside will face persecution and suffering. Those who are Believers – Christians, but not just nominally – will be protected through the time of persecution, but those who refuse to believe will be destroyed.
God is a God of Love, but He is also a God of Justice. We have seen and will continue to see just how much He wants to see people turn to Him, and He will not close down time until every last person whom He knows will finally turn to Him has done so. You will be amazed at the lengths to which He will go just to ensure that not one person misses out on what He has prepared for them, BUT whether they do or not will be left up to them. If God is really Who He claims to be, because He has created Man to have choice, must leave us to make up our own mind. So the choice is ours to make. We cannot choose for anyone else just as they cannot make a choice for us.
Today, Jerusalem is controlled by the Jews, and the Temple Mount (on which there is presently a mosque and the Dome of the Rock) is controlled by the Arabs. This control will be reversed during the latter half of the Tribulation Period. As we have seen in previous Chapters, Jerusalem will be overrun by the Antichrist and his followers, where they will make their headquarters for the entire last half of the Tribulation Period. We also know that there will be a physical third Temple built in Jerusalem because the Antichrist will set himself up in place of God in it and thus will desecrate it, Matthew 24:15. At the beginning of the Tribulation Period, this man had entered into a seven year Contract with the Jews, but at the mid-point he breaks it, making the Temple in Jerusalem his headquarters. It is from here that this man who is up to this time known as a man of peace and reconciliation will launch the most vicious persecution on both Jews and Christians that the world has known.
This time will make Hitler’s Holocaust seem comparatively benign. The Jews will have very little time to escape from the Antichrist’s clutches, and we have studied how Jesus told them to be prepared to run for the hills to avoid his persecution, Matthew 24:15-25. During this awful time, when it seems that the world has rejected God absolutely, there will be left a remnant, just as there was in the days of Elijah when he complained to God that he was the only one left following Him. Yet God answered him …. ‘Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.’ 1 Kings 19:14-18. This remnant will be a witness for Jesus throughout the remaining Tribulation and will be a constant thorn in the side of the Antichrist. He will not be able to do what he said he would do and that is to rid the world of the Jews and the Christians, and the most poignant reminder to him of this will be two witnesses whom God will locate in Jerusalem and whom He will divinely protect for the final 1,260 days. Let’s look at what makes these two people so annoying to the Antichrist and how they demonstrate God’s power right in the very heart of his territory – in the place that he regards as his capital.
The two witnesses – Revelation 11:3-6
First, just when the Antichrist is trying to demonstrate that he has all power on earth, God gives these two witnesses His power. This power will be far in excess of anything that the Antichrist could drum up or demonstrate. These two will be able to protect themselves from harm by breathing fire on any who try to harm them by burning them up. They will have the power to stop any rain from falling for the entire time of their stay in Jerusalem, and they will have the power to turn water into blood and to strike the earth with every type of plague, Revelation 11:3-6. The power to shut up the heavens and to stop it from raining for three and a half years brings to mind the same power that God gave to Elijah during his ministry on earth, 1 Kings 17:1. Turning water into blood, Exodus 7:15-24, and striking the earth with plagues, Exodus 8-11, is what Moses did when God called him to lead the Exodus when over 2 million people marched out of Egypt where they had been enslaved by Pharaoh for 40 years into the Promised Land.
Many commentators have suggested that the two witnesses are Moses and Elijah particularly because of their previous ‘job experience’! Also because they appeared at the Transfiguration when they spoke with Jesus, Matthew 17:1-7. Others have suggested that they might be Elijah and Enoch, neither of whom saw death but were taken up in a Rapture-like way to be with God, 2 Kings 2:1-14; Genesis 5:21-24. Others have suggested that the witnesses could be Joshua and Zerubbabel as mentioned by Zechariah, Zechariah 4:11-14. One day when we are in Heaven and the Tribulation Period is at its mid-point we shall know who they are!
The plagues that these two will control are probably limited to the European – Mediterranean area which is the centre of activity for the Antichrist at this time, although, through his management structure and his armed forces! These two witnesses are tenacious in the extreme as only those whom God has called can be. They witness and testify of the Lord Jesus Christ and His salvation for a period of three and a half years right on the Antichrist’s doorstep. From his point of view, the frustration of being taunted and held up to ridicule by only two people about whom he can do nothing either overtly or covertly must be going to be extreme! He is trying to control people, saying that he is all-powerful, in fact purporting to be God Himself, and yet he does not even have the power to control two men camped outside his offices! Their prophesies are all the more unwelcome to the Antichrist as they continually declare the events of Christ’s Kingdom and of its speedy triumph, Revelation 11:6 Amp.
The end of the two witnesses? Revelation 11:7-10
Finally, one day when their testimony is complete, they will be killed. Their divine protection and their supernatural powers will be withdrawn, and ‘the beast who ascends out of the Bottomless Pit’ will kill these two faithful men. These men will be killed four days prior to the end of the Tribulation Period, and their bodies will lie for all to see on the street in Jerusalem for the next three and a half days. The Antichrist and his forces will prohibit burial of their bodies and will encourage all people to come and to observe his final victory over these two very difficult problems. No doubt he will say that it was extremely difficult, but his victory just goes to prove that he is the One True God, according to his opinion! People will come from every corner of the globe in these three and a half days to gloat over the two dead people who had faithfully proclaimed the Word of God. They had announced the demise of the Antichrist’s Satanic government and the imminent Judgement of the World by God, Revelation 11:7-9.
The Bible refers to the City of God, Jerusalem, that was the scene of Jesus’ crucifixion and that has been the centre of many astounding spiritual battles over the previous seven thousand years or so, as ‘Sodom’ and ‘Egypt’, Revelation 11:8. God judged Sodom and those who lived there by saving those who were righteous and utterly destroying the remainder. Six people escaped with their lives and that is all. Lot was a man who knew what was right, but compromised to the extent that he and his family found leaving the place very difficult. Lot had gone to Sodom on the basis that it looked good, and had even joined the city elders in order to ‘make a difference’. But this sad man ended up compromising with the world and their ways in a city that indulged itself in homosexuality. ‘……… Then the Lord rained down fire and flaming tar from heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah, 25 and utterly destroyed them, along with the other cities and villages of the plain, …… 27 That morning Abraham was up early and hurried out to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 He looked out across the plain to Sodom and Gomorrah and saw columns of smoke and fumes, as from a furnace, rising from the cities there. 29 So God heeded Abraham’s plea and kept Lot safe, ….’ Genesis 19:17-29.
The world of the Antichrist will be very similar. Jerusalem will be known as the ‘modern-day Sodom’. In fact the Antichrist’s government will be permeated with people who believe they are homosexual, Daniel 11:37. We all have a choice either to spend our lives living in the light and in fellowship with God, or to live in the darkness of self-will and sin. We have a choice today, almost every hour of the day. Choice is part of the gift we were given when we were created with free will, otherwise we would be little more than automatons, so let us exercise that choice to the glory of God and not to satisfy the lusts of the flesh! We must remember that God does not want us to live outside His Kingdom. He loves us so very much and wants the best for us. It is our own decision, just as it was Adam’s decision in the Garden of Eden to choose the selfish way that leads to destruction and ultimate separation from God, or to continue to live in fellowship with Him.
Jerusalem is also referred to as Egypt because in the Bible, the non-Christian world is described as ‘Egypt’. Jerusalem at this point in history will have become just another city in the world, ruled by men who want nothing to do with God, rather they wish to ally themselves with Satan who has promised them the entirety of it if only they will bow down and worship him. Jesus was tempted in exactly the same way by Satan during His life on earth. His counter to Satan’s temptation was to use God’s Word to him, Matthew 4:8-11.
We have the choice to follow God’s Word by putting it into practice moment by moment. We must know what the Word of God says, this is a matter of literal life and death; it is active and given to us for a purpose. Learning it will equip us for times that we need to use it. It is the ONLY thing that Satan must obey along with the Name of Jesus; it is the only authority he knows, he will not obey unless we use it. Jesus used it, demonstrating how powerful it is, so how do we think we can be so powerful in our own name?
The resurrection and reward of the two witnesses? – Revelation 11:11-14.
Unfortunately for the Antichrist and his followers, the partying that will go on at the time will be premature. To the intense horror of those that will celebrate their death, the two witnesses will rise to life again by the power of the Holy Spirit proving yet again that God is in control of everything, and that the Antichrist, Satan’s pawn is powerless to control anything, Revelation 11:11. Their job on earth done, these two faithful and true men of God will hear an irresistible call from Heaven and will ascend there to be with their Lord forever, Revelation 11:12.
We should remember that Jesus also ascended from Jerusalem, from the Mount of Olives, 40 days after His resurrection. He too rose and a cloud took Him from the sight of the amazed disciples. At this ascension, the Bible records that there were only men filled with great dread and terror as witnesses. Their fear was well-founded as ‘there was a tremendous earthquake and one tenth of the city was destroyed, seven thousand people perished in the earthquake,….. Revelation 11:13-14. This great natural catastrophe has been held in the wings, as it were, since the opening of the sixth seal (Revelation 6).
Battle of Armageddon – Revelation 11:15-19.
The second of the two ‘Woes’ announced by the Eagle has occurred, Revelation 8:13. These three ‘Woes’ are heralded by the fifth, sixth and seventh trumpets. Only the third ‘Woe’ remains to be worked out. This will occur on the final day of the Tribulation Period, and that is what we shall now discover to be the trumpet call to the Battle of Armageddon. Many people have attempted to describe in words and on screen what ‘Armageddon’ and the circumstances surrounding this final battle will be like. Men can never reproduce the circumstances of that day. First, this battle is not about one nation or group of nations fighting another or others. It may start out looking that way, but this battle is all about Satan’s final fight for supremacy over God using His creation and particularly His crowning creation, ‘Man’ as the weapon. In addition, Satan uses those angels who chose to follow him in his rebellion in Heaven. They, with him were cast down to earth where they have been awaiting their fate, and during this time, the Church has been the instrument of using His authority over them and declaring to them His amazing purposes, Ephesians 3:10-12 Amp.
From mid-Tribulation, when the Antichrist proclaims that he is God, onwards, Satan’s mouthpiece has found it extremely difficult to explain to the people his lack of authority and his inability to master all that has been happening and now other nations, including Egypt, begin to get restless under his foul and degraded rule.
On this, the final day of the Tribulation Period, when the Antichrists’ supporters are in fear and terror as a result of what has happened to the Two Witnesses, and as the armies gather for the Battle of Armageddon, we find that only three classes of people remain on the earth. They are: a) The Jewish remnant (who are in hiding in the Hills, b) those people who have not yet accepted Jesus as their Lord, but neither are they followers of the Antichrist, and finally c) those people who follow the Antichrist and are inextricably involved with him and his system. The suffering of those left on earth is intense and has grown substantially as the result of the Judgements of God ranging from natural disasters to plagues and fire being called down.
This is the day on which Jesus returns to take over the kingdom of this earth. His reign shall be forever and ever, for the eternities of the eternities. This is the Day which God has planned in advance when His Son would return, in the same way as those disciples saw Him leave described so clearly in Acts 1, to take over as Supreme Ruler, Revelation 11:15b
The combined forces of the Eastern army and the European armies are then destroyed in one final and great plague (nuclear war?). Zechariah 14:12-15
God’s rule is absolute. He has constantly warned people of His justice and encouraged them to escape from the wrath of His justice by giving their lives to Him. Now there is no more time for those who have chosen to be part of the armies which will fight against Him. Destruction in the most awful circumstances, but brought about by the decision of the people themselves awaits them, Revelation 11:18. The time to judge the dead has come. The martyrs who died during the Tribulation are resurrected to be involved with Jesus in His earthly rule. They will receive their rewards as will the Two Witnesses, and this, the day of the Lamb’s wrath draws to a close. It is important to realise that the events we have just described and which happen at and after the beginning of the Tribulation Period relate only to that period of time and only to those people who are on earth then. The Church whenever it is raptured during the early Tribulation Period; will have none of the events covered by these Tribulation judgments applicable to them, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
The sanctuary of God – Revelation 11:19
There has always been an Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of all the Earth in Heaven. It was in the Tabernacle. That constructed by Moses was a copy of the Tabernacle in Heaven, a copy built with elements from the earth, but a replica nonetheless. The construction was given by God to Moses, described in Exodus 25-31, and right at the end of the Tribulation Period the Sanctuary of God, His very dwelling place in Heaven is thrown open for public gaze, and there, in its rightful place stands the Ark of the Covenant.
The Ark is a ‘box’ on which rest the Cherubim. These are Created Beings whose job it is to guard the Mercy Seat. This Mercy Seat is none other than the place where God sits – the source of Mercy. It is the place where the Blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God has been spilled for all believers. Jesus is our Great High Priest who constantly makes intercession for us before the Father, declaring our faith in Him, and His atonement for our sins. We are therefore made righteous in the sight of God, and cleansed from our sins. This entitles us to Eternal Life in Heaven, Note Hebrews 4:14-16.
In the earthly Tabernacle, this Mercy Seat is the place on which the blood of a lamb was sprinkled by the High Priest every year to cover the sins of the people, until Jesus was offered as a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the entire world. So without the Blood of Jesus, there never could be any Mercy for us. God knew that and prepared a place for us, sending Jesus to invite us to be with Him for ever.
‘Then the sanctuary of God in heaven was thrown open, and the ark of His covenant was seen standing inside in His sanctuary; and there were flashes of lightning, loud rumblings (blasts, mutterings), peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a terrific hailstorm’. Revelation 11:19
We all need to consider what the Presence of God will be like. It will be different for each type of Person mentioned in this Chapter. What will it mean for us? Just pray about presenting your unsaved family members to the Mercy Seat now, and stand on the Covenant of the Blood of the Lamb.
23 Revelation 11 –Two Witnesses and Armageddon – Challenge Questions
It is suggested that you answer all the questions in your homework but only do those marked with ‘*’ in your group to save time and give more time to prayer.
1. *Read the Notes and the Bible Verses referred to in them. Highlight the points that ‘speak’ to you and be prepared to share with your group.
2. What challenges you about Lot and his life choices of the best land and also living in Sodom? Genesis 19:17-29
3. *What do you think about the life and death and resurrection of the Two Witnesses?
Read Revelation 12
4. *Describe the woman in Revelation 12:1-6 in your own words.
5. *Are you aware of her identity? Make points for your opinion.
6. Why did she flee into the desert and can you remember where this is mentioned in a previous study?
7. *Describe the red dragon seen in Revelation 12:2-4. Who is he?
8. *Who is the male child and what is the prophecy here about his work?
9. Describe what happened in heaven and the result for the dragon. When do you think this happens? Revelation 12:7-12.
10. *What does the dragon focus on doing when he is on the earth? Revelation 12:13-13:1.
11. How long is the woman kept out of the serpent’s reach?
12. *When the dragon is not successful who does he choose to pick on?
13. *Read Ephesians 6:10-13. What battle are we in today and who is our enemy? What is our answer? Pray Ephesians 6:19 for each other daily.
14. *Do you find any encouraging verse from Revelation 12 to help you in your battle with the enemy today? Write it out here.
15. Do you believe that there is still time for an amazing turnaround in people’s response to God – a revival? Explain.