Saturday, 12 August 2017 14:22

77. The two witnesses: people of the Earth, time to repent * Revelation 11:13-14 - Part 6 of 6

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

14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe comes quickly.

 

PART 6

 

*** A Great Earthquake ***: In Revelation 11:13, we see an earthquake capable of destroying the tenth part of the city and killing 7,000 men. There are two other earthquakes mentioned in the book of Revelation that seem to relate to the one in Revelation 11:13: one during the sixth seal (Revelation 6:12) and one in Revelation 16:18. Based on the language of the text, the earthquake mentioned in Revelation 6:12 seems to refer to an actual earthquake (see study #43 for the in-depth explanation). The earthquake mentioned in Revelation 16:18 is unlike any other earthquake ever seen before. People’s reaction described in Revelation 11:13 (giving glory to God) is the exact opposite of what we see in Revelation 6:15-16 and Revelation16:21, where they hide themselves and blaspheme God.

 

Revelation 11:13 Revelation 6:12-17 Revelation 16:18-21
A great earthquake A great earthquake A great earthquake
The tenth part of the city fell Every mountain and island were moved out of their places The great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell
7000 men were slain who shall be able to stand on the day of His wrath? Great hail out of heaven fell upon men
The rest were frightened, and gave glory to the God of heaven Men hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains, wishing to hide from the face of the One who sits on the throne. Men blasphemed God 

 

Unlike Revelation 6:12-17, the description of the earthquake in Revelation 11:13 was not written as a comparison between the real and the symbol. In Revelation 11:13, John is making a statement about the earthquake affecting the great city without using comparative words such as ‘like’ or ‘as'. This direct form of writing leads us to believe that the focus of the message here is spiritual rather than literal. The great earthquake here could be the spiritual representation of the real earth quake mentioned in Revelation 6:12-17. The spiritual shaking would be so severe that it would actually have extreme destructive powers.

*** Tenth part of the city destroyed ***: In the old Testament, God used the strength of earthquakes as a symbol of His presence among the people and how it could affect them (Ezekiel 38:19-20; Joel 2:10-11; Amos 8:8; Haggai 2:4-7). Revelation 11:13 tells us that the earthquake destroyed the tenth part of the city. The first question that comes to mind is: which great city? The answer is found in the middle of the study about the two witnesses, just a few verses earlier. The Bible tells us that the great city is a reference to the city “which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified” (Revelation 11:8). We saw in study #74 that Sodom and Egypt are symbols of the wickedness of the people. Spiritual immorality and self-importance prevented them from accepting their need of a savior. Spiritual immorality (Sodom) refers to people’s unfaithfulness when they replace God and His Truth with other forms of worship not specified by God. Self-importance (Egypt) refers to the elevation of Self above God when people abandon a God-centered life for one where Self is at the core. The great city is later mentioned in Revelation as Babylon, a symbol of a wicked worldwide power that deceived the nations (Revelation 14:8; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 17:5; Revelation 18:2,4,10,21).

We read in Revelation 11:13 that the earthquake caused a partial destruction of the great city. Only one tenth of it was destroyed. The earthquake in Revelation 16:18-19 split the great city into three parts, causing the cities of the nations to collapse. The earthquake in Revelation 6:12-17 caused the islands and the mountains to be moved from their places. God’s presence always leaves a mark and things are not the same as they were before. The destruction of the tenth part of the city implies that the other ninety percent of the wicked city was not affected. This tells us that this is not yet God’s final destruction of those who rejected Christ. Even though only part of the city was destroyed, the effects of the earthquake had an important spiritual impact, as we will see later. This is another reason to understand this particular earthquake as a spiritual event.

*** Seven thousand men were slain ***: The number seven is important throughout the entire Bible. We see it from Genesis, with the story of creation, through Revelation. In Revelation, we see seven lamp stands, seven stars, seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven thunders, seven angels, seven bowls, and seven last plagues. As we saw in study #11, the number 7 is a number that has to do with completeness, full restoration, full cleansing, victory, and things that are blessed and made holy by God. It is a symbol of God's perfection. The earthquake had a great impact on the inhabitants of the great city. Seven thousand died. If we are looking from a spiritual perspective, we can understand that they died spiritually. In other words, they made up their minds permanently against God’s Truth. The number seven thousand was a perfect, complete and full representation of the people who forever rejected God. This number represents the reverse of the 7000 faithful mentioned in the story of Elijah (1 Kings 19:18). In the story of Elijah, those 7000 represented the totality of those who had remained on God’s side.

*** What happened to the rest? ***: More than seven thousand people were living in the great city. The earthquake had a significant impact on the lives of those who did not die spiritually. The ones who survived the shaking had a completely different experience. They recognized God’s supremacy instead of rejecting Him. They feared His presence, in a sense that they respected God's authority. So much so that they gave Him glory (Revelation 11:313). This reaction reminds us of the experience described in Daniel 4:28-37 when king Nebuchadnezzar went through 7 years living like an animal. At the end of his tribulation, he was able to recognize God’s sovereignty, and he said: “I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored him that lives forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation”. (Daniel 4:34).

*** End of the second woe ***: The passage in Revelation 11:13 announces the presence of God through the preaching of His message. It is interesting to note that God’s presence was felt on Earth even though this happened before the Second Coming. As we see in Revelation 11:14, the earthquake mentioned in Revelation 11:13 happens before the sounding of the seventh trumpet. The first and second woes refer to the sounding of the fifth and sixth trumpets. This means that the events of the second woe end with the proclamation of the Gospel throughout the Earth. Jesus said in Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” As we saw in study #65, the sounding of the seventh trumpet (third woe) brings us to the Second Coming of Jesus.

*** Overview ***: Following the order of events leading to the end of the world history, as described by Jesus in Matthew 24:14, the first item on the list is the preaching of the Gospel to all nations. This order is also seen in the message of the three angels, described in Revelation 14:6-13. The angel has the Gospel in his hand, to preach to the unbelievers. The call the angel makes to the nations parallels the reaction of those who survived the earthquake of Revelation 11:13: "And I saw another angel fly in midheaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and tribe, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment has come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” (Revelation 14:6-7). There is no time to waste. The fate of those who reject this call is spiritual death and consequently eternal death. Now is the time to repent, fear God and give Him glory.

   
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