Two Witnesses & Three Temples (Revelation 11)

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I chose the video about the temple because it’s going to play into what we are talking about today, so keep it in mind.
Last week’s message was a flood of information that I hope at least some of you have recovered from by now because today and the next few weeks won’t be much different. Not because I like torturing you. It’s just that the remaining chapters we are going to be covering in Revelation are arguably the most difficult and confusing of the whole Bible. And the two reasons for this that I shared with you last week are..
One.
Chapters 11 – 14 are not a continuous narrative like what we’ve mostly seen so far. You can’t read these chapters thinking the events are laid out in a chronological order. Rather they are all layers to the same picture. A picture of the midpoint in tribulation. It’s like how photoshop or even power point works. If you are trying to make a complex picture, there are various layers that make up that picture. Look at any one layer by itself and it may not make any sense, but put them all together and you have a complete picture. Not only that, but these chapters are full of symbols which require interpretation, and there are many, many references to concepts and events that can only be understood if you have read the whole book. It’s the whole “last chapter in a long and complex novel thing I keep telling you.” Which means we will have to take frequent trips outside of Revelation during this phase. This is why most people who are just trying to read through Revelation give up at this point.
All of that to say, it’s going to be a bumpy but fun ride and if you really want to learn these things you will probably need to read my notes and listen to the talks several times. That’s what I had to do in studying this over the last nine months.
The other reason all of this is so difficult that I shared with you last week is that God has intentionally made it difficult so that those who truly love Him for the right reasons will put in the effort to pursue Him. God does not give up his secrets to those who are not willing to dig for them. Which is why we are taking our time in going through this because I believe, and I think you believe, that God is so worth it.
With that said, let’s pray before we continue…

Last week we covered chapter 10 of Revelation, in which John had a vision that pointed to a different vision in Daniel 12, which itself pointed to another vision in Daniel 9, which ultimately told us that we are officially at the midpoint of tribulation and that the remaining contents of Revelation are the contents of the scroll that Daniel was told to seal up and John was told to eat. Watch or listen to last week for all the details if you missed it.
Today we will be getting into chapter 11, which is only part of the layered picture that is the midpoint of tribulation. And so, before we jump in, let me remind you of the general outline of the midpoint events that we will see in these chapters so that we don’t get lost.
We know from the Daniel 9 prophecy that the anchor event of the midpoint is the Abomination that causes Desolation, but that is not the only thing that happens. From the various clues in the next few chapters, I believe the sequence of events will go like this.

Because God is in control and has had this planned from the beginning of time, when the time is right, He will initiate a war in heaven that results in Satan and his angels being permanently thrown out of heaven to earth.
Upon realizing his time is short, Satan summons the Beast from the abyss and also the False Prophet.
Around the same time, the Antichrist (the man) is killed, and shortly thereafter resurrected by Satan and is possessed by / becomes the Beast.
As the Beast, he marches into Jerusalem and kills the two witnesses (which we’ll cover today) and then goes into the jewish Temple, to the Holy of Holies, sits down and calls himself God – the Abomination that causes Desolation.
At this, the believing Jews who know the words of Jesus and the prophecies will flee from Jerusalem to Petra where they will be protected for the rest of tribulation.
Meanwhile, the Beast and the False Prophet will set up Beast worship as the world religion, enforced by the mark of the beast.
And for the rest of tribulation they will dominate and attempt to exterminate the Jews and the Christians until the end when the bowl judgments pour out and Jesus comes back to wipe them out and set up his reign.

That is what I believe the picture looks like when all the pieces are put together. Not all commentators agree on this, and I could be completely wrong, but it’s my best guess and I’m sticking with it. As I like to say…if you happen to still be on earth at this point and I was wrong…I’m sorry. Perhaps you should watch it from the owner’s box with me so you can punch me in the arm if I got these out of order. Maybe Jesus will let us make a wager on it or something…
Anyway, now that we have the overview in mind, let’s look at chapter 11. For now I’ll just read the first half as the second half is a completely different scene.
Revelation 11
I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers. But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” They are “the two olive trees” and the two lampstands, and “they stand before the Lord of the earth.” If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.
Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city—which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt—where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days some from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. 10 The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.
11 But after the three and a half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on.
13 At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
14 The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon.
As usual, there is a whole lot going on here, so let’s break it apart starting at the beginning.
I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers. But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months.
I first want to point out the reference to 42 months. This, as I showed you last week, is how we know this is anchored to the midpoint. 42 months is 3.5 years, which is half of the 7 years that tribulation will last.
Now, which half this is referring to can be determined by what is happening.
John is told to measure the temple of God and the altar. Now, we have to assume here that John is, of course, measuring a temple that is future to himself and future to us because when John had this vision in 95 AD – there was no temple to measure. It had been destroyed by the Romans 25 years earlier in AD 70, and as of today, in 2017 – there is still no temple in Jerusalem.
So, the fact that John is measuring a temple tells us two important things. One, that this is still future to us, and two, that the temple will be rebuilt and in use during the tribulation. We know it is in use by the mention of worshipers in this scene.
And this makes total sense, since we know from Daniel 9 that the event that marks the beginning of the tribulation is the covenant the Antichrist makes with the Jews to rebuild the temple and resume sacrifices.
And so, John is told to measure the temple and the altar, but not to measure the outer court. Why?
This is where the video we watched at the beginning comes into play.
The Jewish temple was a magnificent building and very ornate. It’s general design and layout were based on God’s instructions to Moses for building the tabernacle. It was laid out as something of a series of concentric rectangles, meaning there are rectangles within rectangles, called courtyards. And each successive inner area had more and more limited access.
The outer court, that was enclosed by a wall, was open to all, Jew and Gentile alike, which is why it was called the court of the Gentiles. Inside of this were the courtyards only accessible by Jews, which was divided into the court of women and the court of the Israelites. Only men were allowed in the court of the Israelites. Inside of that was the actual Temple building and the priest’s courtyard where they did sacrifices.
The ancient historian for the Jews, Josephus, who actually saw this in his day describes it this way:
Further steps led up to the actual temple, a comparatively small building. A priceless curtain, embroidered with a map of the known world, concealed from view what lay beyond, and none except the priest on duty was allowed to go farther.
It contained the golden altar at which incense was offered and next to it the seven-branched candelabrum and the table with the twelve loaves of shewbread, which were replaced by fresh ones every sabbath. Beyond it, behind another large curtain, lay the Holy of Holies, which none except the high priest was allowed to enter, and he only on the Day of Atonement. A stone designated the place where once the Ark of the Covenant had stood.
More than likely, the temple that is built during the tribulation will have all the same elements, and John is told to measure the temple and the altar but not the outer court.
Couple questions about this:
Why measure?
And why the thing about the Gentiles?
First, why measure?
There are several possible and symbolic answers to this. Some say that measuring implies ownership, as in God owns the inner part of the temple but not the outer. Sure, but is there really anything God doesn’t own?
The most likely reason for the measuring is simply so that John will take notice of it and put it in his writing of what he sees. Other prophets were told to do the same thing, and John will see an angel do it when he witnesses the New Jerusalem at the very end. In those other cases, the details of the measuring are reported, giving us more detail. This time he doesn’t give us the details of his measuring, so it may have only been for the purpose of pointing out the temple is there and that the outer court is trampled by Gentiles.
Which brings us to the Gentile question.  This should actually ring a bell with most of you that have been through this whole series. Basically, this is to remind the reader that we are still in the Age of the Gentiles, which Jesus spoke about in the Olivet Discourse, that began when Babylon conquered Jerusalem in Daniel’s day and will not end until Jesus comes back at the very end.
Let’s briefly look at what Jesus said again in Luke 21. For the full scoop on the Olivet Discourse, check out the second week of the miniseries within this series I called “Signs of the Times.”  Here in Luke’s version, Jesus is talking about the destruction of the Temple that would happen about 40 years after his death and resurrection.
Luke 21
20 “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. 23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
Notice the same terminology is used in John’s vision as Jesus used here in Luke. Jesus said that Jerusalem would be trampled by Gentiles, and John hears that the outer court will be trampled by Gentiles. Clearly this vision is pointing us to this teaching of Jesus and reminding us that this is all part of the plan and that even though the Temple is rebuilt and sacrifices resumed, that it is still the Age of the Gentiles and God’s plan is in full motion.
And knowing all of this is why most commentators and I agree that the 42 months mentioned indicates the second half of tribulation, because at the end of tribulation, when Jesus comes back – the Age of the Gentiles will be over and there will be no more trampling of Jerusalem or the Temple.
Now you can probably see why all that background information was necessary to understanding this stuff. It will come even more into play as we move on. I strongly encourage you to re-listen to the Back to the Future miniseries before next week so it’s fresh in your mind.

Let’s continue…after being told to measure the temple and about the trampling of the Gentiles, we are introduced to these Two Witnesses.
Revelation 11
And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” They are “the two olive trees” and the two lampstands, and “they stand before the Lord of the earth.” If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.
We’ll stop there because again there’s a lot to unpack here about who they are before we talk about what happens to them.
First, take note of the time mentioned.
and they will prophesy for 1,260 days…”
The 1260 days tells us this is tied to the midpoint. 1260 days is 3.5 years, and so their ministry must either be in the first half or the second half of tribulation. I will show you before we are done why I and others believe they do their thing in the first half even though the first time hearing of them is here at the midpoint.
But before I do that, I have to answer a question that I know has been burning in your minds. How is 1260 days equal to 3.5 years when on my calendar 3.5 years is 1277.5 days?
The answer is because in ancient times and in most of biblical prophecy, a year is understood as being 360 days, or 12 months of 30 days each. It actually wasn’t until quite recently in history that a year was calculated to 365.25 days. And if you notice in the Scriptures, it never actually says “three and 1/2 years” – it says “a time, times, and half a time”, “42 months”, and “1260 days” – if a “time” is a 360 day year, then all of these times are the same total length of time. It’s not a conspiracy. It’s just a fact of human history. I’ll leave a link in my notes if you want to look deeper into it:
I just wanted to clear it up because I know that this question has kept most of you up at nights over the past week. Now you can sleep.
So, these Two Witnesses will prophesy for 1260 days, clothed in sackcloth – sackcloth being the standard garb of all Old Testament prophets, indicating these two witnesses will operate in similar fashion. Their role will not be evangelistic, as in spreading the good news of Jesus Christ so people will get saved. No, they will be like witnesses against the accused in a court of law.
We know this because of a few things including the specification of “two” witnesses, rather than 1 or 4 or 8, points us to something that any Jew of John’s day would immediately recognize.
As part of the Jewish Law, which God personally gave to Moses and is spelled out in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, one of the many rules included the rule about witnesses.
Deuteronomy 19
15 One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.
That is what kind of witness these are and that is why there are two of them.
The rest of their description is also rather telling…
If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.
And later in the narrative part we are told the people celebrate upon their death because of how much they had tormented them. I know some evangelist’s methods may seem like torment when they are trying to “get people saved.” But that is not what these two are doing. They are standing as witnesses against the evils and atrocities of the Antichrist-run world at the time, and especially against the idolatrous and unrepentant Jews.
This is indicated by what they are able to do and by what they are called in verse 4.
They are “the two olive trees” and the two lampstands, and “they stand before the Lord of the earth.”
Does that clear it up?
Obviously this is referring to the prophecy of the OT Prophet Zechariah. I’m sure you all knew that already, but humor me – I had to look it up.
Zechariah is the next-to-last book in the Old Testament. He was a prophet during the time the Jews were heading back home at the end of their captivity in Babylon. Most of his prophecy is about the end times.
We find what was referenced to here in Revelation 11 in chapter 4. I’ll warn you now that reading this will likely only make you more confused, but don’t worry I’ll try to make sense of it at the end.
Zachariah 4
Then the angel who talked with me returned and woke me up, like someone awakened from sleep. He asked me, “What do you see?”
I answered, “I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lamps on it, with seven channels to the lamps. Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.”
I asked the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?”
He answered, “Do you not know what these are?”
“No, my lord,” I replied.
So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.
“What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’”
Then the word of the Lord came to me: “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you.
10 “Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?”
11 Then I asked the angel, “What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?”
12 Again I asked him, “What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?”
13 He replied, “Do you not know what these are?”
“No, my lord,” I said.
14 So he said, “These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth.”
I won’t explain everything in this jam-packed mystical vision, but there are some important things to point out that are pertinent to our study.
First, he sees “a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lamps on it, with seven channels to the lamps.  Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.”
Basically he is seeing something like a menorah between two olive trees. The olive trees are supplying oil to a bowl which is in turn supplying oil to the seven lamps.
The angel asks him what it means, which of course Zack doesn’t know (I like the angel’s sense of humor) and then the angel goes on to talk about Zerubbabel, who is, of course, the current leader of the returning Jews and in charge of rebuilding the demolished temple.  Zack is told to tell Zerubbabel: “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty.
Basically, this whole picture is to point out to Zerubbabel that the rebuilding of the temple at that time will be a work of the Holy Spirit, not the work of human effort and ingenuity. So, Zerubbabel shouldn’t get a big head.
The oil in the vision is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The seven headed lamp is a symbol of the Temple, and apparently the two olive trees are a symbol of “the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth.”
So, what does all of this have to do with tribulation time and the two witnesses?
For one, this prophecy is what is known as a near and far prophecy. There are many of these in the OT. Basically, the prophecy is directly about something happening in the near term – in this case the rebuilding of the temple after the babylonian captivity – AND it is also about something happening in the distant future, such as the rebuilding of the temple and the two witnesses in the tribulation. This happens a lot in Scripture and prophecy because God likes to foreshadow things.
So, what is this trying to foreshadow?
Commentators do not all agree on this, but the view that makes the most sense to me is that this vision in Zechariah 4, which is linked to the vision in Revelation 11, is contrasting these two temple buildings. The temple rebuilding in Zechariah’s day was an act of worship and under the direction of God through the prophets and other leaders. It was a rebuilding directed by and powered by the Holy Spirit. In stark contrast in the days of the tribulation, when the Jews rebuild the temple – even though it is all part of the prophecies about the end times, their purpose is not to glorify God, but to reinstate the works-righteousness system that Jesus made obsolete when he died on the cross and the veil into the holy of holies was torn in two.
The rebuilding of the temple and the reinstating of sacrifices is a continued denial of God’s true Messiah – Jesus Christ. Which means that their building of this temple is not by the Holy Spirit, but rather by human effort and for human gain. Which is probably why the antichrist doesn’t mind letting them do it. He knows who the real God is, so he doesn’t mind these Jews continuing to reject their Messiah.  And this is also why these two witnesses are called to prophesy against these Jews during the first half of the tribulation.
Like the prophets of old, their task is to prophesy to Israel concerning their disobedience and rejection of the one true God, which is exactly what the Jews are doing in this new temple, and the Witnesses’ efforts are empowered by the oil of the Holy Spirit. The vision of the olive trees indicates a pouring out of the Spirit to keep the lights burning – to keep the truth exposed. And the world, and especially the unbelieving Jews, will hate them for it, but won’t be able to stop them until the midpoint of tribulation. Because..
Revelation 11
If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.
Their powers sound a lot like the things that happened on the earth during the seal and trumpet judgments. That is no coincidence. They are not the ones bringing the seal and trumpet judgments, but the fact that they are able to do some of the same kind of damage will no doubt make the world blame them for all that is happening – despite the fact that all the world saw God on the throne and the lamb during the sixth seal. But that was months ago at this point, and you know how quickly people forget.
So, for 1260 days, these two guys are basically your street corner preachers on steroids, except their commission is from God and all that they say is true. And if anyone tries to stop them, bad things happen to them. No doubt a world that has rejected all forms of truth will hate these two with a passion. Which is why they react the way they do when the Beast kills them.
Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them.
This is the first time we hear the Antichrist referred to as the Beast, so how do I know they are the same person? Because that information is in a different layer of this overall picture that I have already studied. We’ll get to that part in a couple of weeks. All that matters right now is that the beast/antichrist is allowed to kill the two witnesses. I say allowed because it’s all part of God’s plan. How he kills them, it doesn’t say other than it implies their bodies are still in one piece and left on display.
 Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city—which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt—where also their Lord was crucified.
This verse is what tells us this is in Jerusalem, which here is called the “great city” which is “figuratively called Sodom and Egypt.” Now, that alone would not clue anyone into the fact that this is Jerusalem (since it is not directly named) – but to ensure we get it, the angel adds “where also their Lord was crucified.” And everyone knows that Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem.
So, why all the other names? Well, to tell us something about the city at this time. And it would be pretty boring if he just came out and said “Jerusalem.” Remember, he likes to hide things so we will search for them.
It’s called the “great city” here and in other places because it physically will be a great city – large, likely prosperous, powerful, etc – and in general, Jerusalem is a great city because it is central to the history of Israel. But here it is also figuratively called Sodom and Egypt. That is to say that at this time, during the tribulation, it will be a city of moral depravity and stand for everything against the one true God just as Sodom and Egypt of old did. Which explains the people’s reaction to their death.
For three and a half days some from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. 10 The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.
Refusing to bury them is an extreme dishonor, especially in middle-eastern cultures. And apparently people from all over the world will gaze upon their bodies and celebrate by sending each other gifts. Shows you just how hated they were, and how depraved the world will be at this point. Basically they invent a new Christmas out of this. Not sure if they celebrate every year on the anniversary or not.
Now, how the whole world can see them or even know about them must be because, despite the earth shattering plagues of the first half of tribulation, there must still be some form of global communication available – though it’s probably downgraded to analog instead of digital signals. Either way, the whole world (what’s left of it at this point) learns of this and celebrates for three and a half days. Why that length of time? Don’t know. It doesn’t say. But I have a theory I’ll share with you in a minute.
11 But after the three and a half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on.
Now, that’s a sight you won’t soon forget. Basically, while everyone is celebrating, God reminds them who is in charge. They will probably feel like Falcons fans at the end of the Super Bowl after being so far ahead at the half.
But those in Jerusalem won’t have much time to cry about it because…
13 At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
It’s as if God wanted to make sure the people remember this. Not only do the two dead guys come back alive and fly up into the clouds, but a massive earthquake levels a tenth of the city and kills exactly 7,000 people. Yea, don’t assume these are round numbers. Just imagine the news report later that confirms exactly 7,000 people killed. That alone could be the thing that turns a doubter into a believer if they know this prophecy – but it also seems that the whole spectacle actually worked to turn some to faith – as it says “and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.”
Now, I have a theory that I cannot prove about the timeline of this. I would argue that the reason for the 3.5 days is that is the time between when the Beast kills the witnesses and when he goes into the Temple to commit the Abomination that causes Desolation.  Why he takes that long, I don’t know. Maybe God won’t let him until then. Not sure. It’s not that important. But I suspect that the resurrecting of the two witnesses and the great earthquake happen at the exact same time or within the same hour as when the Antichrist sits in the temple and claims to be God.
Think about it. Remember that this act, that is predicted in 2 Thessalonians 2, and named in the Daniel prophesies and by Jesus in Matthew 24 is not actually recorded in Revelation. There’s no point in Revelation where John sees the abomination happening. It is alluded to in chapter 10 and the effects of it are seen in chapters 13 and beyond, but the act itself is never mentioned.
So, I could be wrong on this, but humor me for a minute.
It would make sense, to me at least, that as the Antichrist, after killing God’s two seemingly invincible witnesses, as he goes into God’s temple and claims to be God himself, that a proper response by God that would further HIS plan would be to then refute that claim by raising those witnesses from the dead in dramatic fashion, and then causing an earthquake that results in most of the Jews in Jerusalem suddenly believing and giving glory to God in heaven. Which would then trigger all of these now believing Jews to heed the advice of their Messiah, Jesus, from the Olivet Discourse…
Matthew 24
15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
Thus setting in motion the escape of the remnant into the mountains to be protected for the rest of the tribulation when the Antichrist will try to annihilate the Jews and the Christians. (We’ll see that piece of the puzzle next week in chapter 12.)
Anyway, it’s a theory.
And that’s the story of the famous Two Witnesses.
Now, before I move on to the rest of the chapter, you may have noticed that I haven’t discussed who the two witnesses could be. That’s because we really do not know. It doesn’t give them names anywhere or even any other clues as to identity, and it really doesn’t matter. So, I won’t waste time on speculating. You can read about it on your own. Some pretty interesting theories out there. I’ll put a link my notes that summarizes them all if you’re interested:
Anyway, moving on.
14 The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon.

We’ve covered so much ground in the last two weeks that you might have forgotten that we are still in the trumpet judgments that started in chapter 8, with the last three being the “Woe” judgments. The placement of this statement could indicate that the second woe – the army of 200 million demon soldiers who are killing a third of the people of the earth –  is still going on while John had the vision of the angel in chapter 10 and while the two witnesses are being killed. Not really sure. Don’t think it matters that much as the key events of the midpoint could all happen in probably as little as a week.

Now we move into part 2 of today’s message, the rest of chapter 11. I call it a part 2 because we are entering into a whole new vision as the seventh angel sounds his trumpet.  Let’s read it.
Revelation 11
15 The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:
“The kingdom of the world has become
    the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
    and he will reign for ever and ever.”
16 And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying:
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
    the One who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power
    and have begun to reign.
18 The nations were angry,
    and your wrath has come.
The time has come for judging the dead,
    and for rewarding your servants the prophets
and your people who revere your name,
    both great and small—
and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”
19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm.
This brief interlude sandwiched between two heavily symbolic visions is basically a foretelling within a foretelling, or a quick look ahead to remind the reader where this is all headed. It is true that the end result of the sounding of the seventh trumpet will be that God’s kingdom will be set up on earth, that the time of judging the dead and rewarding God’s servants will be at hand. But there are many more things that will happen before all of that comes true.
This It is similar to the earlier vision John has of the multitude of tribulation martyrs in heaven in chapter 7. At that point in the timeline of his visions, that was still future – but so certain that God has no problem showing it to John as a done deal. In fact, that’s what all of Revelation is like. A good amount of the language in Revelation sounds present tense or past tense, but really all the events are still future to us. The reason God can communicate this way is because His plans are as certain as if they had already happened.
And here, John is getting another glimpse of the glorious end result of all of this. The kingdom of God on earth. We will see another vision of similar foretelling in chapter 14.
One thing I do want to point out that helps us understand that this is a foretelling within a foretelling is the last verse.
19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm.
If you read ahead to chapter 16, you will find this is a description of the seventh and final bowl judgment that ends the pouring out of God’s wrath on the earth.
Revelation 16
17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since mankind has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. 19 The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. 20 Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. 21 From the sky huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, fell on people. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.
That sounds like a very bad day. We’ll be getting there in about five or six weeks. But can you see how the one verse in chapter 11 is basically describing the same event?  That’s because this interlude in chapter 11 is something of a summary of the overall effect of what is about to follow in the second half of tribulation.

Another notable thing to point out about this last verse is that the whole chapter began with John measuring the man-made temple on earth, and ends with a vision of the temple of God in heaven. Remember that the temple on earth is built to the pattern of God’s true temple that already and continually exists in heaven.
And here, in this prophecy that is mostly about judgment, God’s heavenly and perfect temple stands in judgment against man’s self-made temple. Basically, the temple of the tribulation time will be as vile in God’s eyes as the tower of Babel that man tried to build shortly after the great flood. Because they will effectively be built for the same reason and toward the same aim.
We find that story in
Genesis 11
They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
If you know the story, God put a stop to it and confused their languages so that they would be forced to do what God had commanded them to do: spread over the earth. They wanted to do the opposite and stay together, and even build a tower so they could get up to heaven on their own – by their own might, and their own power – so that their name would be great.
Even though it is not spelled out in Revelation, it would seem that the Jews in the time of tribulation that build the temple and restart sacrifices do so, not out of love for God, but out of a desire to get to heaven on their own power, all while still rejecting the way, the truth, and the life. Remember that immediately after the rapture, there will be no more Christians on earth and the Holy Spirit will have stopped restraining the Man of Lawlessness. When the Antichrist makes a covenant with the Jews, it’s not because he has decided to be tolerant of these God-fearing people, but because they are as anti-christ as he is.
But that all changes after he performs the abomination, when he will do all he can to then hunt down the Jews and kill them all – to an extreme that will make Hitler look like Mother Teresa.
Why?
Well, that’s a message for another day. Namely, next week as I cover chapter 12.
I encourage you to read ahead.

But before I let you go to rush home and do that, it’s time for the Application Ending. You may have noticed that I do that – give you a whole bunch of heavy theology and then at the very end try to show you how even this crazy stuff in Revelation is totally applicable to your life right here and now. Well, today will be no different.
You may have noticed that I titled today’s talk, “Two Witnesses & Three Temples” – in case you didn’t, we always put the title on the front page of the bulletin. Anyway, you may also have noticed that so far I have only spoken of two temples – Herod’s Temple and the Tribulation Temple.
Herod’s Temple was actually the second temple. The first one was built by Solomon and destroyed by Babylon at the start of the exile. The second temple was built by Zerubbabel at the end of the exile and later expanded upon by Herod. That makes the Tribulation Temple the third temple to be built, but that is not the temple I’m referring to in my title.
No, the temple I’m referring to is the one Paul speaks of in
1 Corinthians 6
19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
What does it mean that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?
Quite simply it means that, just like the brick and mortar temple of Israel was literally indwelt by the Spirit of God – if you are a true Christ Follower, having believed in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, put your faith in His sacrifice as having paid for your sins, and confessed him as Lord and King of your life, then in some mysterious way – the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit lives inside of you.
It’s right there in Romans…Paul is speaking to believers about following the Spirit versus following the Flesh (or sinful nature)…
Romans 8
But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)
What Paul just confirmed in the negative is that a true Christ Follower will have the Spirit of Christ inside of them. Hence your body being a Temple of the Holy Spirit.
Now, I could do a whole series on the implications of this, but today I want to point out something you may not have thought of before on this topic.
If your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, then what action do you suppose would be the equivalent of what Jesus calls “the abomination that causes desolation”?
In the case of Antiochus Ephiphanes in 167 BC – it was the setting up of a statue of Zeus in the temple.
In the case of the Antichrist in the future, it will be setting himself in the temple and calling himself God.
Do you think God sees it as any less of an offense when you and I – being His temple – act as if we are the gods of our own lives?
When we choose to worship the idol of self?
When we use our bodies, which He bought at a price, as anything other than a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God…which Paul says is our “true and proper worship.”?
My friends, I submit to you, that you and I, and all humanity are just as guilty as the Antichrist himself of the abomination that causes desolation, and likely on an almost daily basis. We have all desecrated the Temple of God.
Each time I choose to do things my way instead of God’s way,
when I read God’s Word and decide that I know better,
when I lean on my own understanding or feelings instead of trusting the Lord with all of my heart,
I am in effect sitting in the Temple that is my body and calling  myself the highest authority. Calling myself the king. Calling myself God.
Which means that we each deserve the same fate that the Antichrist has coming to him.
But the good news, is that is not the end of the story.
The Gospel, which is a word that simply means “good news” – is that we do not have to suffer that fate even though we are truly guilty.  God, in His love and mercy and grace, has offered you and I a way out of our rightfully deserved penalty by giving us a chance to surrender now by choice before we are made to by force.
And that chance is ONLY through the way, the truth, the life – Jesus Christ…
Philippians 2
Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!
That death on the cross was God punishing the perfect Christ for your abomination and my abomination, for your treason, and my treason. But that is also not the end of the story…
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.
As you can see, in the end – every knee will bow. In other words, His Kingdom wins. And the only way that you and I can be a part of that Kingdom rather than be conquered by it is to yield to it now.
That is what it means in Romans 10:9 to “Confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord.” which the apostle appropriately adds the only reason you should consider doing that as “believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead.” If you truly believe that. Not just believe in the fact of the resurrection, but also believe in what his death and resurrection means.
What it means is spelled out perfectly in
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Because Christ died in our place, God is JUST in forgiving our sins. He’s not just ignoring them. He has already punished them. He has already punished your sin of treason, your abomination in His sinless Son, Jesus. And if you believe that, and put the full weight of your trust in that redemption, and surrender your life to Him as your Lord and King.  Then your sins will be forgiven and you will be saved from the fate of those who stay enemies of God.
That is good news. I pray that you will do that this morning if you haven’t already. If you have, then I pray you will remember that your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and live as if you believe that.
Let’s pray.