Category Archives: REVELATION 11

John is now informed about what will happen to Israel during the first half of Daniel’s seventieth week.

REVELATION 11

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Survey of the chapter
As noted in connection with chapter 10, John may have wondered where the nation of Israel fitted in to the things he was being shown.  After all, it is the nation over which Christ shall reign as king, and it is also the nation that will have to pass through “the time of Jacob’s trouble”, Jeremiah 30:7. 
The seal judgements have been inflicted on men indiscriminately, but in chapters 10-15, and 17-19, the emphasis changes, and John is given details which are more to do with persons.  So to prepare for that more specific action, in chapters 10-12 we are informed about God’s ways with the nation of Israel. 

Verses 1-2          Preservation by God of the nation.
John is instructed to measure the temple, and is told that it will be violated by the Gentiles.  But the measuring indicates God has detailed concern for it, and those who worship in it.
Verses 3-14        Provision by God for the nation.
Two witnesses are raised up so as to strengthen the believing Jews to be faithful to God, and trust Him.  The ascent of the witnesses to heaven will assure the believing Israelites of His involvement in their plight, and that He has not left them without support.
Verses 15-18      Praise of God by representatives of the nation.
The four and twenty elders rejoice at the prospect of the millenial reign of Christ, and the resurrection of Old Testament saints.
Verse 19              Power of God ready to be asserted for the nation. 
The chapter begins with a temple on earth, which is about to be trampled under foot, but there is the assurance that this does not affect the temple of God in heaven, the centre of real power.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION CHAPTER 11, VERSES 1 TO 14:

11:1  And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.
11:2  But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
11:3  And I will give power unto My two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
11:4  These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
11:5  And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
11:6  These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
11:7  And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
11:8  And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
11:9  And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
11:10  And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
11:11  And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.
11:12  And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
11:13  And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
11:14  The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.

Verses 1-2         Preservation by God of the nation.

11:1  And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.

And there was given me a reed like unto a rod- John is going to be assured that the things symbolised in chapter 10, (the thin high cloud that the psalmist used to speak of the extent of God’s faithfulness, power and truth in relation to the nation of Israel), and the sun and the rainbow, (God’s evident witness to His intention to bless the nation), are symbols of reality, and not fantasies.
The reed was a measure of length in old times, being standardised at 12′ 9″, or just under 4 metres.  It was a reed like a rod, meaning that it was not a reed unsuitable for measuring with, but straight and strong.  A reed is a symbol of weakness, as we see from Luke 7:24, (“a reed shaken by the wind”), but this is an exception, for it is like a rod, the symbol of power.  God is going to bring the nation of Israel from a position of weakness to that of power, through their Messiah.
That it was given to John shows he is commissioned to do the measuring, whereas in a similar situation in Ezekiel’s experience it was an angel who did so.  Another difference is that Ezekiel was told the measurements of the temple, for it was not then built; nor, indeed has it been built yet, for it is the millenial temple that is in view there.  Here, however, it is the measurement of a temple that will exist during the tribulation period.
And the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein- the angel is standing, for God’s ministers are ever ready to serve Him.  John is bidden to likewise be standing, ready to do this important task that will impress upon him and his readers that God’s interest in the nation of Israel is real. 
This measurement is not just of things, a temple and an altar, but people.  We might think you cannot measure people with a rod, but you can measure the area that a crowd covers, and God is assessing the extent of interest in Himself that the nation is displaying.  To measure the temple is to signify that God takes careful and detailed note of its existence, and the desires for God that its building represented.  To measure the altar is to show that God takes account of the exercises of men towards Him.  To measure the size of the crowd shows that God is aware of them, and will protect them.  There are clearly those who come to the Court of the Gentiles, but who have no offering for God to be placed upon the altar.  These are not His people, and are given over to the power of the enemy.
The sad fact is that this temple is going to be defiled by the image of the antichrist.  The altar sacrifices are going to be stopped by the same person, (see Daniel 9:27), and he will persecute those who believe, so that they have to flee, as the next chapter will tell us. 
Note that although this temple had been built by Israel in unbelief, and they are carrying on the sacrifices as if Christ has not died, nevertheless, it is still called the temple of God.  Even though there was much that was of man in the temple of Christ’s day, He still went there, and called it His Father’s house.  The principle was intact even if the practice was in ruins. 
The religious element in Israel at this time are making preparations for the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem on the site of Solomon’s temple.  At present there is a mosque on the site, but clearly it will have gone by the time John’s vision is fulfilled. 

11:2  But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.

But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not- the temple area was divided into the inner sanctuary, then the Court of the Priests, the Court of the Israelites, and the Court of the Women.  It seems that these two courts are being included in the expression “the temple”, even though the word is strictly “inner temple”, the sanctuary itself.  The Jews of Christ’s time regarded the Court of the Priests as part of the “naos”, the inner temple  Surrounding these courts was the middle wall of partition, through which Gentiles could not go.  So the court without or outside of the temple was this outer court, the Court of the Gentiles, where all could come.  This part was not measured, a symbolic omission, to emphasise the difference God was making between those He was mindful of, who were earnest worshippers, (even though misguided, for as yet they had not realised that Christ’s sacrifice had made their rituals obsolete), and the Gentiles in general.
For it is given unto the Gentiles- this unmeasured area becomes a sign of those God is not pledging to protect, for they have no interest in worshipping Him.  The fact that it is given unto the Gentiles shows He is in total control, and is allowing events to unfold to glorify Himself in the outcome, which is the defeat of the Antichrist.  He controls both the believing and unbelieving part of Israel.  The latter side with the Gentile antichrist, and therefore are reckoned as being in the Court of the Gentiles.
And the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months- Daniel was given a vision in which he was told that “the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary”, Daniel 9:26.  He had already learnt of one who would take away the daily sacrifice, and cast down the place of God’s sanctuary, 8:11.  This happens at the same time as the image of the beast is set up in the temple, called in Daniel 12:11 “the abomination that maketh desolate”, which is linked in that verse with the taking away of the daily sacrifice in the temple.  The right of the Jews to sacrifice on their altar will be withdrawn.
When the disciples drew the attention of the Lord to the temple buildings, He responded with the words, “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down”.  And when the disciples asked when this would happen, He did not mention anything about the Romans destroying the city in AD 70.  Rather, He spoke of things at the end time, and it is then that the city of Jerusalem and the temple shall be destroyed, for the antichrist will attempt to rid the earth of all reminders of God, that he himself might be the supreme object of worship.  He will establish Babylon as the capital city of the world.
So the treading under foot by the Gentiles will extend from the middle of the 70th week of Daniel, until Christ comes to earth to deal with His enemies.  As the Lord said, “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled”, Luke 21:22. The times of the Gentiles began when world-government was given to Nebuchadnezzar, and will end when Gentile dominion is ended by the coming of Christ to reign.
This period of time is reckoned in terms of months, because that is how the Jews reckoned time for religious purposes.  Month after month will go by, new moon after new moon, and they cannot offer their sacrifices.

Verses 3-14        Provision by God for the nation.

11:3  And I will give power unto My two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

And I will give power unto My two witnesses– it is important at this time that a word of instruction from God be available to the nation, so that they might be given the opportunity to believe in the Messiah.  The one hundred and forty four thousand servants of God spoken of in chapter seven have spread out from Israel into the world. 
Malachi’s prophecy marks the end of the first period into which Daniel’s 70 weeks are divided, so there is a connection between his prophecy and Daniel’s vision.  At the end of his prophecy we read, “Remember ye the law of Moses My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgements.  Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse”, Malachi 4:4-6.  Now the two saints that Malachi mentions, Moses and Elijah, were on the Mount of Transfiguration with the Lord, and no doubt the mention of Christ coming in His kingdom, and the presence of Moses and Elijah, prompted the disciples to enquire about the coming of Elijah, for what they had seen on the mount was a preview of Christ coming to reign, and they knew Malachi spoke of those days.  The Lord replied, “”Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.  But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed.  Likewise shall also the Son of Man suffer of them”, Matthew 17:11,12.  The disciples understood by this that He spoke of John the Baptist, verse 13.  For when John was promised to Zacharias, he was told by the angel “And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.  And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared of the Lord”.  
Note the fact that the angel does not speak of John turning the children to their fathers, but instead says “turning the disobedient to the wisdom of the just”.  This may well be the interpretation of the phrase, so that John would turn the children, (that is, those who claimed to have Abraham as their father, Matthew 3:9), unto their fathers, (that is, to the prophets, as they foretold the coming of the Messiah, see Acts 3:25).  The disobedient children of Abraham would be turned to the wisdom of the prophetic scriptures, written by just men of old time under the inspiration of the Spirit of God.
But John would also turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.  We should not confuse the fathers who turn to the children, with the fathers the children turn to, in Malachi’s prophecy.  Nor should we confuse the children the fathers turn to, with the children who turn to their fathers.  From the very beginning, God directed men to look for the promised seed.  He had promised that Eve’s seed would bruise the serpent’s head.  The woman’s seed is primarily Christ, for He is the Ultimate Seed.  So all down through the centuries of the Old Testament era, the fathers would be anticipating the child that would be the Messiah.  John, by his preaching, turned the children of his day, (those who had turned out not to be the Messiah, but who were children of Abraham), to what the fathers, (the Old Testament prophets), had to say about the Messiah, for He had come and was ready to be revealed to Israel.
So also the witnesses of a future day will turn future Jews to a reading not only of the Old Testament prophets, but also the writings of Matthew and Luke to show the genuineness of the claims of Christ, and the Epistle to the Hebrews to show His sacrifice is superior.  This will have special relevance given that those in view in Revelation 11 are in the temple as priests, and in the court where the altar was, as worshippers.  Just as in the days of the apostles “a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith”, Acts 6:7, so in the future many of Israel will respond to the ministry of these two witnesses, and distance themselves from a temple-system that is about to be profaned by the Antichrist.  Some at least of these will become the company Daniel spoke of as “they that be wise”, Daniel 12:3, who will “turn many to righteousness”.  These are the Maskilim, or “wise ones”, and the Maschil psalms are especially for them in that future day.  (The Maschil psalms are as follows: Psalm 32;42;44;45;52-55;74;78;88;89;142.  It would be a profitable exercise to read those psalms in the light of the situation in which the Jewish remnant will find themselves).
And they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days- this is the same length of time as forty two months, since the prophetic year has 360 days of 12 months each.  But it does not refer to the same period as the 42 months of verse 2, for that is the designation for the second half of the 7-year period.  The period of the prophesying by the two witnesses is to prepare the nation for that, and therefore must relate to the first half of the seven-year period. 
As prophets they have a two-fold ministry.  To forth-tell the mind of God regarding what Israelites should do, and also to foretell the impending desecration of the temple, and the subsequent destruction of the city.  So the 42 months of treading under foot follows the 1260 days of prophesying, being the two halves of Daniel’s seventieth week. 
That their time of prophesying is measured in days reminds us of the words of God to Israel, “Since the day your fathers came out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all My servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them”, Jeremiah 7:25.  Every day for 1260 days He will send forth His prophets to His people.
Clothed in sackcloth- John the Baptist was clothed in a camel-hair garment, for the camel is a creature of vengeance, and God was angry with the sin of the people.  Here, it is sackcloth, the symbol of mourning, for the nation is in a state of spiritual death, and these prophets feel it keenly.  They reflect in their clothing the sadness in the heart of God as He looks upon the nation.

11:4  These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.  

These are the two olive trees- it was in a Maskil psalm that David wrote, “But I am like a green olive tree in the house of my God”, Psalm 52:8.  This would suggest that the two witnesses prophesy in the temple courts, flourishing there as spiritual men amidst the deadness and carnality of the nation, even though they are carrying on their rituals.  The bulk of Psalm 52 concerns, in the first instance, a description and condemnation of Doeg the Edomite, who had seen David go into the house of God to get food for himself and his men.  Doeg had betrayed David to Saul, who had commanded that the priests be slain.  His soldiers would not do this, but Doeg did.  This caused David much distress, that he had occasioned the death of the priests.  But the psalm goes beyond Doeg, for the terms used are very suited as a description of the Antichrist.  David speaks of mischief, deceit, and lying, and these are some of the evil features that will be seen in all their ugliness in the Man of Sin, as Paul calls the Antichrist.  As the old preachers used to say, “the sin of man will culminate in the Man of Sin”.
These two witnesses, however, stand firm in the house of God, and as we shall see in the next verse, are able to devour their enemies with fire.  This means they will be able to protect the priests, and not allow them to be slain.  This David was not able to do, but these will be able.
And the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth- this would be a reminder to John of the situation in Zechariah’s day, when the temple building was delayed.  Zechariah saw a candlestick, and two olive trees on either side of it.  The interpretation was that “These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth”, Zechariah 4:14.  These two men in Zechariah’s day were Zerubbabel the governor, and Joshua the high priest.  Just as the two olive trees supplied oil for the lampstand, so these two men would be used to further the cause of the building of the temple and the full institution of the worship of God.  So it is that in a future day, when the temple is about to be destroyed, God will have His two “anointed ones”, who will encourage the nation to realise that the temple system is doomed, and they should separate themselves from it. 
When Elijah stormed into Ahab’s palace with a word of condemnation for him, he said, “As the Lord God if Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word”, 1 Kings 17:1.  Ahab had begun to stand before an image of Baal, a dead idol, but Elijah represented the God of heaven, and he stood before Him, not only to worship Him, but also ready to receive instructions from Him.  Interestingly, the period of time when there was no rain was three and a half years, as James tells us, James 5:17. 

11:5  And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.

And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies- this is very similar to what Elijah did when Ahaziah the king twice sent a captain with a company of fifty soldiers to arrest him.  Twice over Elijah said, “If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven and consume thee and thy fifty”, 2 Kings 1:10.  And fire did indeed come down from heaven and consume them.  In this way Elijah’s life was preserved.  So with the two witnesses, for they will be able to do the same in self-defence, in order that their vital ministry may continue until the moment of God’s choosing.
It is instructive to note the comparison between these two events, one past, and the other future, with what happened during the ministry of Christ.  James and John, (surnamed “sons of thunder” by the Lord), wanted to bring down fire from heaven (in their words, “as Elijah did”), upon some Samaritans who had refused to receive Christ.  He rebuked His two disciples with the words, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.  For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them”, Luke 9:55,56.  This highlights very markedly the difference between the present age of God’s grace, the past age of the law, and the future age of God’s wrath.
Note the fire comes out of their mouths, which is another way of saying that they had power to call upon God to send fire.  That this fire was effective is seen in that the enemies of the truth are consumed, so thoroughly were they dealt with.  The word consumed is used in 2 Kings 2, Luke 9, and this passage, thus linking the three together. 
And if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed- there is an imperative reason why this must happen, for it is highly important that God’s interests, as represented by the two witnesses, should be defended.  It is also important that the worshippers in the temple courts, whether priests or people, should be preserved so as to have opportunity to obey the prophesying of God’s witnesses.

11:6  These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.

These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy- since it is not going to rain during their time of ministry, then the absence of rain is for the space of three and a half years, the very period of time in which it did not rain according to the word of Elijah, 1 Kings 17:1.  It is James that tells us how long the period was, James 5:17.  King Ahab had begun to worship Baal, the weather-god, so it was appropriate that God’s control over the weather should be manifest.
And have power over waters to turn them to blood- if the fire and no rain remind us of Elijah, the second two miracles remind us of Moses.  He had turned the water of the Nile to blood.  Now the Nile was worshipped by the Egyptians, so this was an attack upon their idolatry, as were all the plagues brought against the land at that time, for God said, “against all the gods of Egypt will I execute judgement”, Exodus 12:12.
And to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will- Moses was able to plague Egypt, so that Pharoah was eventually forced to let God’s people go.  It is said of Antichrist that “the king shall do according to his will”, Daniel 11:36.  He finds, however, that these two men have a superior will, for they represent the God of heaven. 

11:7  And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

And when they shall have finished their testimony- able to defend themselves for a period of three and a half years, their time has come.  Their testimony has achieved its goal, for when the abomination of desolation is set up in the temple at Jerusalem, then those who believe will flee. 
The beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them- this is the first time that the Antichrist has been mentioned in the book.  The Book of Revelation is the revelation of Christ, whereas the Book of Daniel, whilst it speaks of Christ’s revelation, is more the book of the revelation of Antichrist, for he is prophesied in chapters 2,7,8,9,10 and 11, and is prefigured by the kings in chapters 1,3,4,5 and 6.  Note that he is not called the beast out of the sea, as in 13:1, but the beast ascending out of the bottomless pit.  We shall have to enquire what this means at a later point, but suffice it to say at this point that it denotes the Satanic power that is behind him.  It would seem an unequal conquest, two men, and a Satanically empowered beast, but the victory belongs to the righteous.  He may succeed in killing them, but it can only be because their period of ministry is over, and their power to defend themselves has been withdrawn, or at least, is not exercised.  That he makes war shows that there is conflict between the forces of darkness and light, good and evil, and evil seems to triumph.

11:8  And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city- such will be the pent-up anger against these two men, that they will delight to highlight the fact that they are dead.  It is an disgrace in the east to not bury the bodies of the dead.  Their corpses would soon start to decompose in the hot sun.
The Lord Jesus described Jerusalem as the city of the Great King, Matthew 5:35, but it cannot be called that here.  It is only great because it is the focus of great and momentous events.
Which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt- geographically and technically it is the city of Jerusalem, but morally it is no better in character than Sodom or Egypt.  At the end of the book John will describe Jerusalem as the holy city, but he cannot do that here.  The very city in which the holy Son of God ministered, has sunk so low as to be like Sodom with its immorality, and Egypt with its idolatry. 
Where also our Lord was crucified- any city may, sadly, be labelled “Sodom and Egypt”, today, but it is a sad commentary on the low state of the people of Israel in these future days, that those names are appropriate for Jerusalem.  He who is the Lord was crucified there, in order to deliver men from their vice and their idolatry.

11:9  And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.

And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half- no division of humanity will not have access to the sight of their dead bodies.  John may have wondered how that would be possible, but today, with universal media coverage of any and every event, this is entirely possible, assuming, of course, that such things will be able to function during the time of tribulation.
Their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the city for as many days as there were years of their ministry.  Ezekiel was instructed by God to lie on one side and then the other for a certain number of days, each day representing a year.  What Ezekiel did during his ministry, these will do after theirs is over.  Their bodies will be a reminder of what they did during those three and a half years,
And shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves- it seems that there were those who wished to bury these bodies, but they were not allowed to do so.  It seems also that it was “all people and kindreds and tongues and nations” that were insistent on this, showing the universal hatred of the two witnesses.  It was important that they be visible, however, so that the drama of their resurrection might be the greater.  It also ensured that everyone know who it was that had been raised, for the bodies had been visible all the time, so God over-ruled.

11:10  And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.

And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another- after Esther had been the means of delivering the Jews from the devices of Haman, two days were set aside “to make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor”, Esther 9:22.  Here it is the enemies of the Jews who celebrate.
Because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth- whilst their ministry was no doubt in the temple courts in order to protect those who worshipped there, the effect of their miracles could be world-wide, especially the lack of rain and waters turned to blood.

11:11  And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.

And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet- the teaching of Scripture is that at death, “then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it”, Ecclesiastes 12:7.  At the resurrection the spirits of men shall be reinstated in their bodies.  Here, however, there is a slight difference, because it is the spirit of life from God that comes into them, a very similar expression to that used when God made Adam, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.  Perhaps the difference is due to the fact that if Moses is one of these witnesses, he has already died once, and been brought back from the dead to a prophetic ministry on the earth again.
And great fear fell upon them which saw them- the whole world is going to wonder over a beast who has a wound unto death, and his deadly wound is healed, 13:3, but this goes far beyond such a thing, and demonstrates the great power of the God of resurrection.  Paul described the revival of the nation of Israel as being like life from the dead, Romans 11:15, and this incident gives a preview of the bringing of the nation of Israel from death to life.

11:12  And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither- this is heaven’s verdict on their ministry being expressed, as well as heaven’s condemnation of the conduct and attitude of their enemies. 
And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud- Elijah had been taken to heaven in a chariot of fire, but now it seems he and Moses are taken in a chariot of cloud.  Isaiah tells us that “God rideth on a swift cloud”, 19:1, so this may well be His chariot, come to transport His faithful servants to heaven together.
And their enemies beheld them- in the case of Elijah, Elisha was promised a blessing if he saw Elijah go, which he did.  It showed where his interests lay.  The same is true of the disciples, who saw the Saviour go into heaven, Acts 1:10.  Here, however, the enemies watch in amazement as those who seemed to have been overcome by them, inasmuch as they were killed and left unburied, now show themselves victorious as they rise in triumph to heaven.

11:13  And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.

And the same hour was there a great earthquake- men will surely not fail to note the significance of the fact that the earthquake that rocks the city of Jerusalem comes the same hour as the witnesses rise to heaven.  The party-making described in verse 10 will come to an abrupt end. 
And the tenth part of the city fell- it is a possibility that the Antichrist will not only seek to change times and laws, as Daniel 7:25 says, but will introduce a decimal system, such as prevails in Europe.  It may well be, therefore, that Jerusalem will be divided into ten zones, and one of these zones will be destroyed.  What is in that zone we do not know now, but it will be known then, and will no doubt have great significance.
And in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand- note how exact these numbers are- ‘one tenth’, ‘seven thousand’.  God is showing very clearly that He has precise control over what happens on the earth.  Some commentators seem to think that it is permissible to turn an accurate number into an inaccurate one, and speak of seven thousand as “a great company”.  It should be borne in mind that the Greek text is very clear, for read literally it says, “And there were killed in the earthquake names of men seven thousand”.  So if their names are noted, they must have been counted; and if there were seven thousand names, there must have been seven thousand persons, no more, no less.
And the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven- it is difficult to determine whether this remnant is the believing remnant of Israel, who are just about to flee from the city, or whether it means the rest of those who live in Jerusalem who were not killed by the earthquake.  But it is also difficult to envisage this latter company giving glory to the God of heaven.  When Paul is discussing the fact that there is a remnant in Israel at this present time who know God’s grace, he refers to the situation in Elijah’s day when there were seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal.  The re-occurrence of the number seven thousand, this time of those who were not true to God, may be significant here.

11:14  The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.

The second woe is past- it is easy to lose track of events in this section of the book, because there are passages that give more detail, to make the record more clear.  The last three trumpet-judgements took the form of woes, as 8:13 explains, and the sixth trumpets was the second of the woes.
And, behold, the third woe cometh quickly- it will come quickly as far the fulfilment is concerned, but it will not be recorded until chapter 16, where it is shown that the seventh trumpet involves seven judgements, the seven bowls of wrath.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION CHAPTER 11, VERSES 15 TO 19:

11:15  And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever.
11:16  And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,
11:17  Saying, We give Thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because Thou hast taken to Thee Thy great power, and hast reigned.
11:18  And the nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that Thou shouldest give reward unto Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear Thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.
11:19  And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail. 

Verses 15-18        Praise of God by representatives of the nation.

11:15  And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever.

And the seventh angel sounded- the sounding of this seventh trumpet will begin the seven vial-judgements of the final expression of the wrath of God upon the earth, as detailed in chapter 16.
And there were great voices in heaven- before the seven final judgements are poured out, there is anticipation in heaven of what the sequel will be, even the reign of Christ.  The temple choir sings a song of triumph in anticipation of the coming of Messiah to reign.  So confident was King Jehoshaphat that the Lord would give him victory in battle, that he sent the singers in front of the army, saying, “Praise the Lord; for His mercy endureth for ever”, 2 Chronicles 20:20,21.  Such is the case here, for the final victory over the forces of evil is assured, and praise is rendered beforehand to God for it.
Saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord- we are told this before ever the rise and conquests of the First Beast are detailed in this book, such is the certainty of his downfall.  He will control the kingdoms of the world, but his power will be broken, and the kingdoms will become God’s again, as the Times of the Gentiles come to an end.  This is why the ark is seen in heaven, because the centre of government since the fall of Jerusalem in 606 BC has been in heaven.  Now all is about to change.  The world of men has been divided by men into more than two hundred nations, but the Divine number is 70, as listed in the table of nations in Genesis 10.  He has set their boundaries, but He did so in relation to the nation of Israel before it even existed.  Moses wrote, “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel”, Deuteronomy 32:8,9.  This happened at the scattering after the building of the tower of Babel, and the boundaries were set according to the language each division of mankind was given by God.  We still talk today about the language barrier.  Immediately after the table of the nations in Genesis 10, we have the record of the Babel incident.  And immediately after the Babel incident, we have the first mention of Abraham, from whom the nation would come.  
And of His Christ- Satan will have his anti-christ, but God has His own Christ, the one who on His ascension was made Lord and Christ in a fresh way, Acts 2:36.  He it is who shall rule mediatorially, so that all things may be subdued to God. 
And He shall reign for ever and ever- whereas the kingdoms of men as depicted by the metals of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream-image shall be shattered, and driven away like chaff is by the wind, Christ’s kingdom shall have no end, Daniel 2:44.

11:16  And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,

And the four and twenty elders- after the initial scene of chapters 4 and 5, the elders have not been mentioned again, except in 7:11,13.  Here they express worship to God because the kingdom of the Messiah is about to be established, and that will mean that Israel is prominent in the earth again.
Which sat before God on their seats- as representatives of Israel’s interests, they have a settled position before God, (“sat”), and a place of administration, (“seats”).  It is fitting that they should become prominent again here, for it is said that “the Lord of Hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously”, Isaiah 24:23.  This suggests a double exercise of government.  Messiah will sit on His own throne on earth, which is described as the throne of Jehovah in 1 Chronicles 29:22.  But that does not mean God in heaven has abdicated His throne, for He will continue to sit upon the throne in heaven with His twenty four elders before Him.
Fell upon their faces- this is an attitude of extreme submission and adoration.  We saw in 4:10 that they had cast their crowns before the throne, thus willingly giving way to the superior right of Christ to wear the crown.  Here they show that what they did before, they have not regretted.
And worshipped God- they not only indicate their submission, but they do so intelligently, and to God’s glory, for they grasp the true import of what is happening as God’s judgements proceed.

11:17  Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because Thou hast taken to Thee Thy great power, and hast reigned.

Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty- as representatives of the nation of Israel, they express in heaven the thanks of the nation for God’s intervention on their behalf.  God as the Almighty is first mentioned in the word to Abraham, “I am the Almighty God, walk before Me and be thou perfect”, Genesis 17:1.  The Almighty is the God who is enough, sufficient for every situation.  This He will prove during the time of Tribulation, for no device of the enemy will serve to outwit Him.  God said to Moses, “I am the Lord: and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by My name Jehovah I was not known to them.  And I have also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan”, Exodus 6:2,3,4.  So at a critical point in the history of His dealings with the seed of Abraham, just as He was about to deliver Israel from the bondage of Egypt, He establishes that He is Lord, as well as being God Almighty.  Lord will be the title Israel will give Him, whereas God Almighty had been the title the patriarchs had used. 
It is entirely appropriate, then, that the four and twenty elders should use this title, for it is a combination of the three names.  They are the only ones that do so in the entire New Testament, which goes to confirm that they speak on behalf of Old Testament saints, as will be clear when we come to the next verse.  Moreover, it is not an appropriate title for church saints to use.  It is not a question of whether He has these titles now, but whether it is fitting that He should be addressed in that way now.  The special relationship that believers have is expressed in the fact that they address God as their Father.  As the apostle Paul wrote, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father'”, Galatians 4:6.  So the indwelling Spirit of God encourages the believer to address God as his Father.  The Son of God has come to bring believers of this age into this special and distinct relationship.
Which art, and wast, and art to come- the passage of time does not affect God, but to Him all is one eternal “now”.  What He was in Old Testament times to Israel, He continues to be.  And because He “is”, then He does not forget them in their scattered and cast-off state.  But He is to come, and all that He promised to Israel will surely come to pass.  Indeed, the word Jehovah that God specially singled out for use by Israel is said to be composed of three forms of the verb “to be”, namely, yehi, “He will be”, and hove, “being”, and hahyah, “He was”.  So by repeating this concept, after having addressed God as Lord God Almighty, the elders are emphasising this aspect of His person.
Because Thou hast taken to Thee Thy great power- speaking in anticipation, the elders celebrate the fact that at last the control of world affairs will be taken from the prince of this world, Satan himself, and his agent, the Antichrist, and God’s will can be done on earth, as it is in heaven.  The Lord Jesus taught His disciples to pray for this to happen, and now the elders rejoice that it has, to all intents and purposes.
And hast reigned- when the nation of Israel was taken into captivity, God’s vehicle for expressing His rule in the earth was gone, and the Times of the Gentiles began.  That period began with Nebuchadnezzar and will extend up to the Antichrist, but then Gentile rule shall be ended abruptly, and Christ shall come to set up the Kingdom of God upon the earth. These are speaking in the same way as the prophets did oftentimes, stating things to come as if they had already happened, such was the certainty of their predictions.

11:18  And the nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that Thou shouldest give reward unto Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear Thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

And the nations were angry- David asked the question, “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His anointed, saying, ‘Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us'”, Psalm 2:1-3.  There was a partial fulfilment of this when men rejected Christ, as the believers indicated in their prayer in Acts 4:25-28, but it will be completely fulfilled when men accept Antichrist.
And Thy wrath is come- as David went on to say in his psalm, “Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure”, Psalm 2:5.  Woe betide the world when God shows His anger! 
And the time of the dead- God has not only appointed the time when men die, but He also appoints the time of their resurrection.  The resurrection of the dead will proceed in an orderly fashion, strictly in accordance with God’s timetable.  Daniel was told that after the time of trouble for Israel, the Great Tribulation, “many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt”, Daniel 12:1-2.  Job said, “So man lieth down, and riseth not; till the heavens be no more they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep”, Job 14:12.  So the wicked lie down in death, and shall not awake until the heavens are no more, which happens immediately prior to the great white throne judgement at the end of time.  John wrote, “And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat upon it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God”, Revelation 20:11,12. 
But Job was different, for he said to God, “O that Thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that Thou would keep me secret, until Thy wrath be past, that Thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!”Job 14:13.  His prayer will be answered, and after God’s wrath is past, at the end of the tribulation period, Job’s set time will come, and he will be raised from the dead.  Martha understood that time to be “the last day”, John 11:24, and she was right, for that is the expression the Lord Himself had used in John 6:39,40.  Church saints will be raised on the last day of the age that relates to them, which is the present one, and Old Testament saints will be raised on the last day relevant to them, the last seven years of Daniel’s vision. So the dead of Old Testament times shall be raised just prior to the setting up of Christ’s kingdom, for which they waited during their lives. 
That they should be judged- no unsaved dead shall be raised before the kingdom is established; their resurrection is to damnation, and is after the first resurrection stages have happened.  As Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 15:22-26, “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.  But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming.  Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.  For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet.  The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death”.
So the resurrection of Christ guarantees the resurrection of all men, saved or unsaved.  But the resurrection of the just dead will take place in stages, or as Paul puts it, “in order”.  First Christ, then church saints at the last day of the church age, then tribulation saints and Old Testament saints at the last day of the time of tribulation, once God’s wrath is over.  The word “then” Paul uses in verse 24 means “after an interval”, whereas the “then” of verse 28 means “immediately”.  The interval is in fact 1000 years, and then the end of the series of resurrections takes place, as Revelation 20:5 makes clear.  Christ’s reign over the earth is mediatorial, in other words He reigns as the Firstborn on behalf of His Father, see Psalm 89:27; Hebrews 1:6.  The resurrection of the wicked dead takes place after Christ has subdued everything on earth; it only remains to subdue the power of death completely.
Daniel 12:3 does, on the surface, read as if the just and the wicked dead are raised at the same time.  But the correct sense is, (and the Rabbis understood it like this), that those who awake to everlasting life arise from among the dead, leaving the unjust dead in the graves. 
So if the unsaved dead are not involved in the first resurrection, it must be the Old Testament saints and the tribulation saints who are spoken of here.  The judgement will not therefore be to decide whether they will be in the kingdom; rather, it will be to decide what place they will have in the kingdom, and this will depend on their faithfulness during their lives.
And that Thou shouldest give reward unto Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear Thy name, small and great- there are three classes mentioned here.  First the prophets, given first mention no doubt because of their prominent role in the nation of Israel.  Then the saints, referring to believers in Israel.  They had been separated to God as His special people, and as such were saints, or separated ones.  It is to these especially that the kingdom will be given, according to Daniel 7:22.  Then there are those who believed God before the nation was formed, and these are described as those who feared God.  Whether their fear was large or small, if they believed God according to the light they had, they will be included here, and will be rewarded, like the rest of the just.

Verse 19    Power of God ready to be asserted for the nation.

11:19  And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail. 

And the temple of God was opened in heaven- the chapter opens with a view of the temple of God on earth, soon to be profaned by the Antichrist in the middle of the seven-year period.  This event will be the signal for God to withdraw, just as He did when the temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.  Ezekiel saw the glory of God depart and return to heaven.  To show that He has thus withdrawn, John is shown it opened, with the ark visible inside.
And there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament- the ten commandments were really the principles on which God undertook to recognise Israel as His nation.  Of course the Lord Jesus taught that those in relationship with God would see that it was not mere outward observance of those commandments that counted, but the doing of them in a spiritual way. 
Not only were the two tables of stone in the ark, but also the Book of the Law that Moses had written, and which was to be taken out and read every seven years at the Feast of Tabernacles, Deuteronomy 31:10.  But that book not only contained the record of God’s dealings with the nation, and His law for them, it contained God’s covenant with them in the plains of Moab, as recorded in Deuteronomy 27-29.   Moses set before them the curses that would follow disobedience, and the blessings that would follow obedience.  The major curse would be to be carried into captivity.  But the promise of God to them was that if they repented, then He would bring them back into their own land.  All this comes to mind as the ark of the testament is seen in heaven.  God is about to make good His promises to the nation, once they have repented as a nation and turned to Him again.
And there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail- these are the things that accompany the sounding of the seventh angel, as described in 16:18,21. 
The lightnings would symbolise great energy, for God stands ready to put forth His mighty power in judgement against Satan and all who side with him. 
The voices speak of intelligence, not now expressing praise to God, as in verses 17 and 18, but calling upon Him to exercise His rights over the earth.  They may also be a reference to the cherubim-army that Ezekiel saw, whose wings made a sound that he described as “like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of a host”, Ezekiel 1:24.  The hosts of heaven are marshalling their forces for the last and greatest conflict, when Christ comes to earth in power and glory, “and all the holy angels with Him”, Matthew 25:31.  As Enoch said, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgement”, Jude 14. 
The thunderings warn of the coming final storm of judgement.  As David wrote, “the God of glory thundereth”, Psalm 29:3. 
The earthquake is well-known as a cause of terror to those who experience it.  God is even yet seeking to bring men to their senses.
The hail is unmistakeably from heaven, and God spoke of it to Job with the words, “hast thou seen the treasuries of the hail, which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war? Job 38:22.