Note from the author: Today’s reading marks the start of the final week of a two-year chronological study of the Scriptures. I confess a sense of accomplishment, and I trust you might feel the same if you have been on this spiritual journey with me.
Next Sunday, January 1, 2023, “Heart of A Shepherd” will return to the Book of Genesis. A new, 2-year chronological Scripture reading schedule is available, and you are invited to subscribe and join this shepherd, as we go back to the Beginning (Genesis 1:1). Complementing my “Heart of A Shepherd” devotions, will be a sermon series that will be a Journey Through the Bible, and parallel the weekly devotional schedule. The new series is titled, “Logos: A Journey of Faith, Hope, and Love,” and will be preached at Hillsdale each Sunday morning, 10:30 AM. Join me as we journey from the Beginning (Genesis 1:1) to Eternity (Revelation 22:21).
Having witnessed the warnings and judgments that followed four of the seven trumpets (Revelation 8:7-12), John recorded he heard “an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth” (8:13). The first woe began when the fifth trumpet sounded, and the devil was “given the key of the bottomless pit” (9:1). Opening the gate of the pit, an innumerable host of demons emerged in the form of locusts, and darkened the sun and air (9:2-3). They went forth to afflict and terrorize the inhabitants of the earth (9:4-12).
The sixth trumpet sounded, and the second woe came forth (9:13). An angel loosed four angels (whom I believe were demonic beings) that were “bound in the great river Euphrates” (9:14). Those four beings were followed by 200 million “horsemen” (I believe demonic spirits, 9:16-17). One-third of humanity was slain (that number would be over 2 billion today, 9:18). Tragically, in spite of the suffering, men would not repent of their wickedness, and continued in their sin (9:20-21).
I believe chapter 11 marks the beginning of the final triumph over evil. As John looked on, he was compelled to take a reed, essentially a measuring rod, in hand and “measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein” (11:1). The purpose for measuring was not given, but I believe it was God’s way of meting out and marking for judgment those who would be saved from destruction (11:1). Then, John was commanded to not measure the outer court of the Temple, with the explanation “it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months” (11:2).
The ancient temple in Jerusalem had an outer court called, “The Court of the Gentiles,” and Gentiles were allowed to only enter that area of the Temple grounds. So, it was a place where “they tread” (11:2). The Temple built during the Tribulation will also have a Court of the Gentiles and “the holy city (Jerusalem) shall they [the Gentiles] tread under foot forty and two months” (11:2). (Forty-two months is equivalent to 3.5 years and marks the latter half of the seven years of Tribulation.)
The Powerful Witness of Two Preachers (11:3-14)
John described “two witnesses” that would “prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth” (3.5 years, 11:3). They were described as “two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth” (11:4). Olive trees and their oil, and two candlesticks, were indicative of light and the powerful witness of the two prophets (11:4). God warned He will be jealous of His witnesses, and described the power of their words as “fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies” (11:5).
Like Elijah, who prayed and God shut up the heavens that it did not rain (1 Kings 17:1), and Moses whom God gave power to turn water to blood, and “smite the earth with all plagues” (11:6), the two witnesses will be powerful like the two great prophets (in fact, scholars suggest they will in fact be Elijah and Moses).
The Murders of God’s Witnesses and the World’s Contempt (11:7-10)
Only when their ministries were finished would an attack on the witnesses be successful (11:7a). At that time, “the beast” (not Satan, but most likely the antichrist), would rise up from the “bottomless pit” and “make war against them [two witnesses], and shall overcome them, and kill them” (11:7)
The bodies of the witnesses were left to decay in the streets of Jerusalem (described as “the great city,” and so wicked they were “called Sodom and Egypt” (11:8). John beheld how the people and nations of the world looked on the bodies of the dead witnesses with contempt, and the people of the earth celebrated their deaths by giving and exchanging gifts (11:10). Everyone rejoiced, for they had been tormented by the words and testimonies of God’s prophets (11:10).
The Miraculous Resurrection of Two Witnesses (11:11-13)
The celebration of the wicked came to a sudden halt when, “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” (11:11). When 3.5 days were passed, the world looked on in terror, as those who had celebrated their deaths, now watched as the two witnesses rose to their feet, and were commanded by the Lord, “Come up hither” (11:12). Within the same hour, a great earthquake struck Jerusalem, destroying one-tenth of the city, and slaying 7,000 men (11:13).
Closing thoughts (11:13-19) – The Scriptures do not say those who survived the earthquake repented of their sins, but John records they were terrified, and “gave glory to the God of heaven” (in other words, they acknowledged all they observed was God’s work, 11:13). This event marked the conclusion of the second woe (11:14), and was followed by a blast from the seventh trumpet, marking the beginning of the final woe (11:15). Lord willing, I will address this section of our Scripture reading in another year.
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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith
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