The Apocalypse – Chapter 11 – Part 1
We are told in Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy (in the book of the Apocalypse or Revelation), and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. Personally I am experiencing this as I systematically go through the book. It is lifting my eyes off my circumstances and up to heaven. It is showing me the greatness of God’s power and giving me an assurance that He is in control even now of the madness that is unfolding in our world. With that knowledge comes peace.
Ways of Witness I call upon you to make Me known. Make Me known today. By your unfailing trust in Me By your joy, unrepressed by the difficulties of the way. By your tender concern for the weak and wandering, By your acceptance of the gift of Eternal life, By your growth in spiritual development By your conquering of internal strife. Make Me known, more and more, by your sincerity, By unflinching adherence to that which is true. Make Me known by My Spirit Within and around you. Your conduct and speech ever bearing And more so by the hour, Witness to the wonder of My Presence And to My Divine Power. So shall all men know that you are My disciple As you walk in My ways ever new. For they will recognise that your claim is never for self But for Me, the Christ-in-you. By the late Andrew Feakin [passed away 16th March 2019]
Keys – The Two Witnesses
- We must lay down all on the altar of Christ.
- We must make God’s glory our end and His word our rule.
- Let’s come to God with suitable affections.
- Let our conversation be as becomes the gospel.
- Know that the desolation of the church are for a limited time and she shall be delivered out of all her troubles.
- The true church will not fail to attest to the truth of God’s Word and worship, and the excellency of His ways.
- In the mouth of two witnesses every cause shall be established.
- We shall be supported and supplied during the discharge of our great and hard work.
- It is God who gives us the oil of holy zeal, courage, strength, and comfort.
- We are to strive to develop habits of a spiritual life, to be in the light, and have zeal.
- Know that we shall experience great security and defence in our service to the Lord.
- Free access to God is available to those who would be in pursuit of Him.
- When our enemies prevail against us, it will be for a limited time.
- If we would be counted worthy to be slain for the cause of Christ, we shall rise again.
- God puts not only life in us, but courage.
- The Lord’s witnesses must wait for their advancement, both in the church and in heaven, till God calls them.
- We must not be weary of suffering and service, nor too hastily grasp at the reward.
The Two Witnesses
Today we began Chapter 11 of the book of Revelation (or Apocalypse) – The Two Witnesses In this chapter we have an account of the measuring rod given to the apostle, to take the dimensions of the temple, Rev. 11:1, 2. There is the account of the two witnesses of God, Rev. 11:3-13; of the sounding of the seventh trumpet, and tomorrow will be what followed, Rev. 11:14-19
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. 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. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”
The Witnesses Killed
When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. 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. 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. 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 Witnesses Resurrected
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. 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. 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.
Henry says – This prophetical passage about measuring the temple is a plain reference to what we find in Ezekiel’s vision, Ezek. 40:3 But how to understand either the one or the other is not so easy. It seems that the measuring the former temple was in order to rebuild it, that it may be regulated according to the true model.
Lay all down
What was to be measured of the then temple can be aligned to us as the new temple of the Holy Spirit. Whether we lay down all our offerings on the altar of Christ. Do we make God’s glory our end and His Word our rule. Do we come to God with suitable affections, and does our conversation be as becomes the gospel.
The court which is without the temple measure it not. This was not a part of the temple, according to the model of Solomon or Zerubbabel. Therefore God does not regard it. It was designed for the Gentiles, to bring pagan ceremonies and customs and to annex them to the gospel churches. So this and the city were trodden under foot for a certain time—forty and two months, which some would have to mean the whole time of the reign of antichrist.
She shall be delivered
Those who worship in the outer court worship in a false manner or with hypocritical hearts. These are rejected by God, and will be found among His enemies. From the whole passage observe that God will have a temple and an altar in the world till the end of time. He has a strict regard to this temple, and observes how everything is managed in it. Those who worship in the outer court (in a spirit of falsehood) will be rejected, and only those who worship in spirit and truth accepted.
The holy city, the visible church, is very much trampled upon in the world. But the desolations of the church are for a limited time and she shall be delivered out of all her troubles. In this time of treading down, God has reserved to Himself His faithful witnesses. They will not fail to attest to the truth of His Word and worship, and the excellency of His ways.
Bear the testimony
The number of these witnesses is small yet it is sufficient. Many will own and acknowledge Christ in times of prosperity who will desert and deny Him in times of persecution. Yet it is a sufficient number, for in the mouth of two witnesses every cause shall be established. Christ sent out His disciples two by two, to preach the gospel. Some think these two witnesses are Enoch and Elijah, who are to return to the earth for a time. However they are God’s eminent faithful ministers, who shall not only continue to profess the Christian religion, but to preach it, in the worst of times.
They shall bear the testimony for Christ. A thousand two hundred and threescore days. That is (as many think), to the period of the reign of antichrist. If the beginning of that interval could be ascertained, this number of prophetic days, taking a day for a year, would give us a prospect when the end shall be.
God gives the oil
They prophesy in sackcloth, as those that are deeply affected with the low and distressed state of the churches and interest of Christ in the world. They were supported and supplied during the discharge of their great and hard work standing before the God of the whole earth. He gave them the power to prophesy. He made them to be like Zerubbabel and Joshua, the two olive-trees and candlestick in the vision of Zechariah, Zech. 4:2. God gave them the oil of holy zeal, and courage, and strength, and comfort. He made them olive-trees, and their lamps of profession were kept burning by the oil of inward gracious principles, which they received from God. They had oil not only in their lamps, but in their vessels—habits of spiritual life, light, and zeal.
They experienced great security and defence during the time of their prophesying: If any attempted to hurt them, fire proceeded out of their mouths, and devoured them, Rev. 11:5. God promised the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 5:14), Behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people shall be wood, and it shall devour them. By their praying and preaching, and courage in suffering, they shall wound the very hearts and consciences of many of their persecutors.
For a time
They shall have that free access to God. At their prayers, God will inflict plagues and judgments upon their enemies, as he did on Pharaoh. No rain shall fall for many days, as happened at the prayers of Elias, 1 Kgs. 17:1. God has ordained His arrows for the persecutors, and is often plaguing them while they are persecuting His people.
To make their testimony stronger, they must seal it with their blood. They were killed: When they have finished their testimony. They are immortal, they are invulnerable, till their work is done. Then the enemy came and slew them—the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit. Antichrist, the great instrument of the devil, should make war against them. God would permit His enemies to prevail against His witnesses for a time.
Their example tormented them
The malice of their enemies was not satisfied with their blood and death, but pursued even their dead bodies. They would not allow them a quiet grave; their bodies were cast out in the open street. This city is spiritually called Sodom for monstrous wickedness, and Egypt for idolatry and tyranny. Here Christ in His mystical body has suffered more than in any place in the world.
Their dead bodies were insulted by the inhabitants of the earth, and their death was a matter of mirth and joy to the antichristian world, Rev. 11:10. They were glad to be rid of these witnesses, who by their doctrine and example had teased, terrified, and tormented the consciences of their enemies. These spiritual weapons cut wicked men to the heart, and fill them with the greatest rage and malice against the faithful.
They shall rise again
After they had lain dead three days and a half (Rev. 11:11) these witnesses were resurrected. It was a short time in comparison with that which they had been prophesying. Here is a reference to the resurrection of Christ, who is the resurrection and the life. Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise.
God’s witnesses may be slain, but they shall rise again. God will revive His work, when it seems to be dead in the world. The spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet. God put not only life, but courage into them. God can make the dry bones to life. It is the Spirit of life from God that quickens dead souls, and shall quicken the dead bodies of His people.
Great fear fell upon them. The reviving of God’s work and witnesses will strike terror into the souls of His enemies. Where there is guilt, there is fear. A persecuting spirit, though cruel, is not a courageous, but a cowardly spirit. Herod feared John the Baptist and so had him beheaded.
Come up here
They ascended to heaven in a cloud and their enemies saw them. The persecutors shall see the faithful servants of God greatly honoured. God called them, and said, Come up hither. The Lord’s witnesses must wait for their advancement, both in the church and in heaven, till God calls them. They must not be weary of suffering and service, nor too hastily grasp at the reward.
In the antichristian empire there was a mighty shock and a tenth part of the city fell. The fear of God fell upon many. They were convinced of their errors, superstition, and idolatry. By true repentance, and by embracing the truth, they gave glory to the God of heaven. Thus, when God’s work and witnesses revive, the devil’s work and witnesses fall before Him.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Prayer for the Day
Prayer: Father, I come to You. I choose to lay all down on the altar of Christ. I choose to make Your glory my ultimate end and Your Word my rule in life. Fill my heart with deep affections for You. Help me to guard my conversation to be as is becoming to the gospel. Thank You that though the church seems desolate, it is for a limited time and she shall be delivered out of all her troubles. May I not fail to attest to the truth of Your Word and the excellency of Your ways.
Thank You for Your promise that we shall be supported and supplied during the discharge of work unto You. Fill us with the oil of holy zeal, courage, strength, and comfort. Spur me on to develop habits of a spiritual life, to be in the light, and have zeal. May I be willing to wait for any advancement, both in the church and in heaven, till You call me. Let me never grow weary of suffering and service. In Jesus name. Amen.