We continue to consider the mysterious two witnesses who are introduced to us in 11:3. We consider them under 5 headings , the first two of which we have already looked at in our previous sermon.
1. The time of their witness (11:2,3)
2. Their identity (11:3-6)
3. Their work (11:7-10)
4. Their opposition (11:7-10)
5. Their future (11:11-12)
We saw, firstly that the command to John to measure the temple (11:1-2) relates not to the physical temple as it stood in Jesus’ day. It would have been physically impossible for him to do so, since at this stage he was imprisoned on the island of Patmos. Moreover, consider that Jesus had foretold that this temple was going to be destroyed (Matt 24:2), which actually happened in AD 70. This brought the OT temple era to an end. Furthermore consider that in the N.T. there is no mentioning of the place of the physical temple in worship. Jesus foresees a spiritual temple, comprised of a people that would worship God in spirit and in truth. This people Jesus called the church . Peter says that this church is “a temple made of living stones” . This is the people- the true church which John is called to measure and they are found in “the temple of God and the altar“ (11:1). This church also features widely in in Paul’s letters, and after Pentecost we see the church distributed into all the world.
Secondly, we saw that out of this true church, two witnesses will arise. They will prophecy for 1260 days (11:3) or 42 months (11:2) or a time, and times , and half a time (12:14). This is the time between Christ’s ascension and his descension – the time in which we are now living.
Thirdly, we noted the identity of these two witnesses. ( 11:4) They are symbolically identified as two olive trees and two lampstands. We discovered that the picture of the two olive trees was taken from Zechariah 4 :1-14, and we saw in context of Zechariah’s prophecy that the two olive trees were Joshua the faithful high priest (Zec. 3:1) and Zerubbabel the faithful governor of Judah ( Zec. 4:6). These were men who courageously led Israel by the Word of the LORD in difficult times. The second picture of the two lampstands is a picture of the true church in a hostile world, in this age. Revelation 2 &3 helped us to see that the lampstands were symbolic pictures of the church. These two witnesses (gospel witnesses and gospel churches) have, in this present age continually testified to the truth as it is in Jesus. Having considered their identity and the time frame in which they operate , we must now ask : What exactly do they do ?
3. Their work ( 11:3-6)
They must prophesy (v.6) The main work of gospel witnesses and gospel churches is to prophesy. They proclaim/ announce/ preach the prophetic word of God. True prophets can only speak that which is given to them by God. The very message of this book of Revelation is prophetic and John tells us in Rev. 1:3 : “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear , and who keep what is written in it , for the time is near.”
The content of the prophetic witness is obvious. They must bear witness to Christ and to His truth:
1. That every man is made in God’s image with an eternal soul, and finally accountable to God.
2. That by the disobedience of the first man, Adam, the father of humanity, every one of his descendants inherits a sinful nature. This does not only mean that every man is alienated from their holy God, but it also means that every man in that condition is destined to go to a place that is called “hell” – of which Jesus said that it is “a place of outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth… an eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels… a place of eternal punishment” .
3. That forgiveness is available if people will trust in Christ, the second Adam who is God’s only and sufficient provision and remedy for sin. To trust in Christ means that people will have to repent – that is to turn away from their sin and rebel nature and follow God, asking God to help them daily to seek His kingdom, and then upon death inherit heaven .
This message is the fire that comes out of their mouth (11:5) which is the Word of God which in the end shall judge those that resist this testimony. The prophet Jeremiah was given a taste of this ministry when he was told “… behold I am making my words in your mouth a fire, and this people wood, and the fire shall consume them…” (Jer. 5:14). So too, by the word of Elijah, God shut the heavens up by his prayer. By the word of God , Moses turned the waters of Egypt into blood etc. . The church is given the keys of the kingdom. Whatever she binds on earth shall be bound in heaven ; whatever she looses on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matt 16:19; 18:18) . Christ has given authority to the church by His powerful Word. We, modern gospel witnesses and modern gospel churches may not always see this is the effect that the Word has upon the world. “They have the power to shut the sky…” (v.6). All the temporary judgments – all the things that we call natural disasters (e.g. tsunamis, earthquakes , wars , diseases , famines) are in fact “acts of God“ in response to His Word. It shall eventually become clear to the world, even as it was plain to king Ahab in Elijah’s day that rain was lacking because God had spoken, and even as it was plain to the pharaoh of Egypt that the 10 plagues were sent from God (and not just natural disasters) – it will be clear to the world that these 2 witnesses in the hands of God Almighty are instrumental in bringing these plagues!
We have already noted that the testimony is to be prophesied to many people, nations, languages and kings (10:11). We shall now see that the world finds this message offensive , in the same way in which people were offended by Jesus’ words. We now understand why the world wants to harm and kill the faithful witness. We shall see this in our next point.
4. Their opposition (11:7-10)
Now we understand why the beast rises from the bottomless pit to make war on these witnesses (v.7). It is THE beast. The reference is plainly to Daniel 7, and the picture of the fourth beast, “terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong …It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had 10 horns” . From the 10 horns “there came up among them another horn, a little one before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots … in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth speaking great things (Dan 7: 7- 8). This beast is not the same as the dragon in Chapter 12 who is there identified with Satan. The beast is closely connected to the dragon. The beast comes out of the bottomless pit (11:7 see also 9:11). That is his spiritual origin. This is the anti-Christ, and it seems as if he appears in human form. John already has spoken of the anti- Christ in his letters (1 Jn. 2:18-22). The anti -Christ exists already exists in the time when John writes. Sometimes his influence is weaker, sometimes stronger, but towards the end of this age it appears that he will rise up to kill these two witnesses. We must point out that this beast can only do that after the 2 witnesses have finished their testimony (v.7). God remains sovereign! The apostle Paul says the same thing in 2 Thessalonians 2:5-7. The anti- Christ (the man of lawlessness) must wait until the time of prophecy is finished. This will be after the gospel has been preached to all nations and when the level or measure of sin will have reached its fullness. The world must hear the witness of the faithful preachers and the faithful churches, and hear this repeatedly, and it must reject the salvation offered in Christ. Then the testimony shall be finished, and then it may be silenced by the power of the Anti-Christ. This will be the worst time in the history of the church! This does not mean that every Christian will be killed, for we know that at the Lord’s coming there will be those living on earth ready to meet Him, and when they shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye. Those days however will be full of distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again. It will seem as if the true church is dead. It will seem as if the beast has finally triumphed. Figuratively, the gospel testimony will lie dead e in the streets of Jerusalem (the city which kills the prophets- Luke 13:34), the great city which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt. The two bodies will lie unburied in the sight of the nations – a sign of contempt and shame, with their life and power gone, and their prayers and testimony silenced. They do not judge the world any longer, and the world rejoices that they are dead. The world celebrates. They are so happy that they even send gifts to one another!
5. Their Future (11:11-12)
But their end has not come! This is the kind of story we all like to hear. The tribulation will only last for 3 ½ days! This means that the days of the anti-Christ will be cut short. He will only be allowed to triumph for half a week. Just as the time in which we live is indicated by 3 ½ years (the time of witness) so the time of suffering is indicated by 3 ½ days. The Scripture tells us in Matthew 24:22 that for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short, and at the end of these 3 ½ symbolic days the suffering of God’s people shall be ended.
Daniel 9 and the vision of the 70 weeks (Daniel 9: 24-27) as it relates to Revelation 11
1. The 70 weeks indicate the period from Daniel’s time to the end of time, when iniquity shall be finished.
2. This period is divided into three smaller periods:
a. 7 weeks – from Daniel to Christ.
b. 62 weeks – from Christ until the finished work of the antichrist. At the end of the 62 weeks we read that Christ shall be cut off and have nothing ( Dan 9:26) – which is what we read of here , when it says that the witnesses are lying dead in the street.
c. Then we have another week left: that is the week of the anti-Christ- when he shall reign for a little while. But here, as in Daniel, this week is cut in half- and the Spirit of the Lord raises the two witnesses up! The foundational paradigm is the killing of Jesus and his raising on the third day; He is pre-eminently the true and faithful witness (Rev 3:14) – and his rising from the dead is both the power and guarantee of the rising from the dead of His faithful witnesses.
And now as this all happens, terror strikes their enemies. A loud voice speaks from heaven: “come up here “ … and they went to heaven in a cloud , and their enemies watched them . This is the true rapture! Now the church is delivered.
At this time the enemies of God will feel the full wrath of God (v.13). A tenth of the wicked city is destroyed at this time. The time of repentance is over. This is the time of judgment. There is no more witness of the word of God on earth. The Spirit of God is withdrawn. Terrible things happen when the retraining hand of God is removed. There is terror, and people will know that this is the hand of God - but nothing will change : hell is truth obeyed to late !
This, dear brothers and sisters is in short – the history and the future of the world. Are you hearing this?
 John 4 : 23,24
 Gr. ekklesia – lit. those that are ‘called out’; cf. Matt. 16:18
 1 Peter 2:5
 E.g. 1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:20-22
 Zechariah 4:6 - see also Haggai 1
 Romans 5:12
 Matthew 25:21; 41,46
 Rom 5:17
 See also Revelation 19:15,21; see also Isa. 11:4 ).
 1 Ki. 17:1; Lk. 4:25; Jas. 6:17
 John 15:18-25
 The ‘ horn’ in the Bible is a symbol of strength and power
 This is similar to Genesis 15:16. The judgement of the peoples of Canaan has to wait for its appointed time.