Bible Study Series: Revealing Jesus in Revelation
Revelation Chapter 11: The Temple, the Witnesses & the Beast
by I Gordon
- Why are we suddenly talking about the temple? And what is its relevance in the coming days?
- Who are these two witnesses? And what is their mission?
- Who is this 'beast'? And why does he come from the Abyss?
- Why is the world having a second Christmas when the two witnesses are killed? And what does that say about the 'zeitgeist' of this age?
- And why is the ark of the covenant seen at the 7th trumpet?
Yet John is prophetically given a vision of a day when the temple will be in operation again and is asked to measure the temple just as Ezekiel (Ezek 40:1-2) and Zechariah (Zech 2:1-2) had in earlier visions. Measuring gives the idea of preparation and preservation of one's possessions. It speaks of God's ownership and future plans for that being measured.
- The tabernacle of Moses - the mobile tent used through the Exodus (Ex 25:8)
- Solomon's temple - The glorious first temple built in 7 years (1 Kings 6:37)
- Zerubbabel/Herod's temple - the 2nd temple as described in the book of Ezra. Herod extended the 2nd temple, mentioned in the gospels (Luke 21:5, John 2:20, Matt 24:1)
- Each individual Christian - The body of the believer is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 6:19)
- The Church - The body of Christ as a whole is a temple for the Lord (Eph 2:21)
- The heavenly temple - The earthly temple was copied from the heavenly temple (Heb 8:2,5, 9:11-12, Rev 7:15, 14:15)
- Tribulation temple - The temple that the Antichrist will place Himself in as God (Dan 9:27, Matt 24:15, 2 Thess 2:4, Revelation 11:1)
- Messianic Kingdom temple - built by the Messiah Jesus and in place in Jerusalem during the Kingdom age (Zech 6:12-13, Ezek chapters 40-43)
- Heavenly Jerusalem - We read of this city (in the last mention of a temple) 'I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.' (Rev 21:22)
- There are two Greek words for temple. 'Naos' for the Holy of Holies where God's presence is and 'Hieron' for the entire temple ground. The word used for the Christian as a temple is 'Naos' - this is the holy of holies! God's Spirit dwells within the believer. And so what does scripture say because of this?1Co 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.' Glorify God with your body - don't grieve His Spirit for you are a temple of the Holy Spirit.
- In the New Jerusalem there is no separation of God from His people. There is no sin and there is no separate temple. He is the temple, as we read, meaning that the New Jerusalem will be like the temple filled with His presence! That is an amazing thought even if our wee brains can only but imagine what that will be like - but it will be unbelievable!
John is also told to measure the altar which is where the sacrifices were offered. We know from Daniel's incredible prophecy about the 70 weeks (or better 70 'sevens') that during the 70th and final seven, temple sacrifices will occur but 'in the middle of the 'seven' he (the Antichrist) will put an end to sacrifice and offering' (Dan 9:27). Of course Jesus spoke about this event occurring in the last days in Matt 24:15, as did Paul in 2 Thes 2:4. So we know that the temple has to be in play before the mid-point of the tribulation according to these passages.
A distinction is drawn between the area for the Jews and the Gentiles, again showing that this is not the Church age where no such distinction exists. But we are given a little clue here... our verse says 'don't measure the outer court because it has been given to the Gentiles.' This could well indicate that the Jewish temple and the Muslim Dome of the Rock could live side by side. Some believe that the real location of the Jewish temple is either north (in one theory) or south (in another theory) of the Dome of the Rock. Time will tell how it plays out, but the Jews will get their temple. Notice also that it says that Jerusalem will be trampled down for 42 months. This is the second half of the tribulation period when the people of Israel will flee to the place in the wilderness prepared for them. Jerusalem here is called 'the holy city' but later in the chapter it will be given the not-so-lovely name of 'Sodom and Egypt'. Sodom speaks of sexual sin and Egypt, worldliness. So the first title (the holy city) is God's eternal name for His city in view of His everlasting promise and purposes for it. It is set apart and holy. It is part of the eternal plan of God and His gifts and calling are irrevocable (Rom 11:29). The second title (Sodom and Egypt) however is the reality until those purposes are met at the end of the tribulation. We see that today with a large part of Israel having no time for God and simply wanting to be like the rest of the world. We see it in their 'Pride' parades in opposition to God's word given directly to them. But at the start of the tribulation period the city of Jerusalem is going to get a crazy shake up when two odd-looking strangers, on a God-given mission, come riding into town... argh, albeit probably slowly, like maybe riding on donkeys!
|Two Witnesses Identity Clue||Points to|
|If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies.||Moses - where fire was part of the plagues upon Egypt and in judging the rebels in the rebellion of Korah (Exo 9:23-24, Num 16:28-35)
Elijah - who called down fire upon his enemies (2 Kings 1:10-14)
|These men have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time||Elijah - who had the power to shut up the sky so it doesn't rain. And it didn't rain for 3 1/2 years, the exact time of the ministry of these two witnesses (James 5:17)|
|They have power to turn the waters into blood||Moses - The plague of blood was one that Moses brought upon Egypt in Ex 7:17-20|
|And to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want||Moses - points to the variety of plagues that Moses, through God's power and enabling, struck Egypt with|
There are other clues as well to consider:
- Elijah is specifically said to come again before the great and terrible day of the Lord (Mal 4:5)
- Moses and Elijah were seen with Jesus in a glimpse of His Kingdom (Matt 17:1-13)
- Moses and Elijah represent the law and the prophets of the Old Testament
- Both Moses and Elijah had unusual ends to their ministry. Moses died early without losing any strength (Deut 34:7) and Elijah was taken into heaven without seeing death (2Ki 2:11). Maybe their earthly ministry is still to be completed?
- The days and ministries of both Moses and Elijah point to the last days. Moses' judgments upon Egypt speak to what is to come in the Tribulation. Elijah's 3 1/2 years of drought with no rain points to this period as well.
That salvation is found in Jesus alone and He is the only way to God
That God only created two genders, male and female
That human life is precious, starting right from the womb
That God created marriage and that is to be between a man and a woman
These things are seen as hate-speech in some circles now. Ultimately they come from a hatred of God and His authority over all lives. So when God sends two men to witness to the truth in the tribulation they will be hated, despised and killed. And their death will cause jubilant celebration world-wide... until God vindicates their message, His name, and indirectly, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 3 days later!
|The Two Witnesses||The Lord Jesus|
|Their Ministry- On a God-given mission to witness to God's truth||Was the Light, Truth and witness from God|
|Response to their ministry - Were hated by the world though they spoke the truth from God||Was hated by the religious authorities though He only spoke what was true!|
|Ministry Length - After a 3 1/2 year ministry, they were put to death by a Satanically possessed Antichrist||Was put the death by Satan working through evil men after a 3 1/2 year ministry|
|Response to their death - The world celebrates as they think they have seen the end of the witnesses||The enemies of Jesus rejoiced as they thought their plan was accomplished|
|Life after death - After 3 days their life was restored as they rose from the dead!||After 3 days the Lord Jesus rose from the dead!|
|Physical bodily ascension - In the sight of those around they ascended up into heaven||Jesus ascended into heaven in front of His disciples|
At that very same hour, with all the world watching on, a severe earthquake hits Jerusalem, a tenth of the city collapses and seven thousand people are killed. And in one of the very few positive reactions to a judgement given in Revelation, we read that 'the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.' This will be survivors in Jerusalem. It will be Jews. They will recognize that the God of Israel is in this. He was the One who sent these two witnesses. He was the One that raised them from the dead. He was the One who caught them up by His power, into Heaven. And He was the One who sent the earthquake as a sign that He is not impressed with the treatment of His servants. Those who saw all this in Jerusalem were terrified... and gave glory to the God of Heaven. Like I said, people acknowledging God is a good way after a judgement is a rare event in Revelation. But there will be a remnant of Jewish believers who come to see their need for their Messiah Yeshua, and cry out for Him. And this event will be one that starts making them sit up and take notice!
"The blowing of the seventh trumpet is of utmost significance, and it is of special relevance in the understanding of the remainder of this book. In the program of God, it brings us chronologically to the breathtaking entrance of eternity where the mystery of God is finally unraveled... It is not kingdoms (plural) but Kingdom (singular) which denotes the fact that the kingdoms of this world are at present under Satan, to whom there is no distinction of nations, no East or West, no Iron Curtain—all are his; both sides are included in his domain. A great many people think that Satan is controlling Russia but that the Lord is controlling the United States and angels are hovering over the capitol at Washington, D.C. May I say that those angels may not be God's angels who are hovering over Washington today—it certainly doesn't look like they are. Actually, all of the kingdoms of this world are Satan's. It is therefore called the Kingdom—not kingdoms—of the world. It is the totality of a civilization and society of which men boast of self-improvement but which becomes more godless and wicked each day. It is a condemned civilization that is moving toward judgment."
J. Vernon McGee
Now McGee would have written this in the 70's or 80's but it speaks directly to today. Many see Russia as evil and the US as the good guy, without seeing that both are controlled by their own interests and the One who is currently 'the god of this world'. Oh how I long for the day when Jesus will rule all the nations!
- The nations were angry - Leading up to and including the second coming anger, violence and rage will increase. People will be shaking their fist at God. We see that growing today as many can't put up with sound truth or even common sense anymore! Ultimately this leads to a greater wrath - one from God!
- Destroy those that are said to 'destroy the earth' - Oh what man has done with this beautiful creation God gave us! Humanity, often in the ever increasing search for profits, put poisons in our soils and on our crops, genetically modified our foods, sprayed chemicals and particles into the atmosphere, played God with our immune systems and filled our airways with EMF's... Humanity has literally thought it knows better than God with our food and environment. And it should also be stated that this word for 'destroy' also means to corrupt and defile. Do you think we live in a corrupted and defiled world? Man in his corrupted wisdom corrupts everything and God will repay them!
- The servants are rewarded - The saints who died during the tribulation are raised and rewarded. This includes Old Testament saints as well. The day that many have longed for, going back thousands of years, will be seen. All of God's people from every age will rejoice in the long-awaited Kingdom age where Jesus will fulfill His prophesied name of 'Immanuel - God with us!'
- The dead are judged - This takes us forward to the Great White Throne of Judgment that will be prominent in our study on Revelation 20. All of us will ultimately come before God in one of two judgements - either the bema (Judgment) seat of Christ or the Great White Throne of Judgement. And you do not want to stand before the latter!
- The law of God - unlike the 10 commandments which Moses broke, this was the second stone set written by God and pointing to Jesus as the One who didn't break the commandments!
- The manna from God - this was the provision of God for His people and points to Jesus as 'the bread of heaven' who came down to fill and sustain humanity.
- The rod that budded - this was a sign of God's power where that which was dead could still bring forth life and fruit! This is a pointer to resurrection and new life in Jesus Christ!
See here for more on the red heifers and the preparation of the Temple. According to various claims I have seen, it is expected that the rebuilding of the temple will take 1-3 years. Solomon build the first temple in 7 years and we've got better technology and access to resources today. As a side note there are some who try to see this temple as symbolizing the Church... which doesn't make any sense. As mentioned there are multiple prophetic verses that say there will be a Jewish temple in the last days. As David Guzik writes:
The identity of this temple is an important matter of interpretation. Many see this temple as a symbol of the church...However, if this temple in Revelation 11 is a symbolic representation of the church, why should it be measured? What is the significance of the courts and the altar - and if the church itself is the temple, who are the worshippers (those who worship there)? There is too much specific detail here for this to be using the generalized picture of the church as a temple unto God.
Pastor David Guzik
So basically, outside of the Jews trying to build a temple in Mecca or Medina, Saudi Arabia, building it on their own Temple Mount is almost the next most difficult and controversial location in the world! At the moment anyway, as it would lead to a massive war with the Muslim world. But things will change as we see in Revelation 11 and other prophetic verses. It could be that after the Gog and Magog war (Ezek 38) and the agreement/covenant with the Antichrist, Israel is in a far stronger position to forge ahead with their long desired temple.
There is more information on why I believe the two witnesses are in the first half of the Tribulation here. It also goes into who these witnesses are likely to be... although it is basically what I have written here as well : )
Cloth made of black goats' hair, coarse, rough, and thick, used for sacks, and also worn by mourners (Gen_37:34; Gen_42:25; 2Sa_3:31; Est_4:1, Est_4:2; Psa_30:11, etc.), and as a sign of repentance (Mat_11:21). It was put upon animals by the people of Nineveh (Jon_3:8).
Easton's Bible Commentary
Chapter 13 will focus a lot more on this where we see that there are two specific 'beasts' in the tribulation period. The last mention is very conclusive: Rev 20:10 'And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.' The beast is otherwise known as the Antichrist (a term not actually found in Revelation but 1 John).
J. Vernon McGee writes (in the 1980's) "While the world is celebrating in jubilation the death of these witnesses and while the television cameras are focused upon them, the witnesses will stand on their feet. And all of the networks will regret that they had their cameras pointed to them, because they will not really want to give the news as it is. The scriptural word for resurrection is used here—the Greek word histeme—"they stood upon their feet." These witnesses are among the Tribulation saints who have part in the first resurrection (see Rev_20:4-6). Any news like this would be a scoop, but I am sure that all of the networks will have their cameras on it. By that time they may well have some new gadget which will make television, as we know it, look very much antiquated and out of place." -
Yep, it's called the internet and permanent live streaming!
So, what's a woe, Joe?
So - what's a woe? The Greek word means an 'interjection of grief or indignation... Of denouncing misery and pitying. Woe, alas!' This triple announcement of woe comes from the heavens declaring misery and alarm for those on earth. The 5th, 6th and 7th trumpets are known collectively as the three 'woes'.
- 1st woe: Fifth trumpet blast - Abyss opened - demonic torment Rev 9:1-12
- 2nd woe: 6th trumpet blast - Four fallen angelic beings release to kill 1/3 of mankind Rev 9:13-21
- 3rd woe: 7th trumpet blast - Final judgement of fallen mankind at the 2nd coming Rev 11:15-18
More on this here if interested:
Just as a side note we see 'flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm' at this same time. This could be the same scene as the 6th seal and also the 7th bowl (Rev 16:17-18). I personally believe that the seals, trumpets and bowls all end at the Revelation of Jesus Christ at His second coming. And the language to describe these events is very similar.