9  And they of the people and tribes and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and a half, and shall not allow their dead bodies to be put in graves.

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.

 

PART 4

 

*** The people and tribes and tongues and nations ***: Once again we see the distinction between the people who belong to God and the people who have not come to God. Both verses (Revelation 11:9 and 10) start out by mentioning the people who oppose God's two witnesses. The expression "people and tribes and tongues and nations" was used earlier in the book. In Revelation 10:11, the voice from Heaven called John to "prophesy again about many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings." In the previous verses, the text focused on God's witnesses, who they were and what they did. We see a shift in verses 9 and 10. The witnesses are dead in the middle of the street, and the reader can now learn what the rest of people were doing in the "great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt" (Revelation 11:8). In Revelation 14:6-7, we see that the message being sent out to the nations is a message pointing to God's Truth, calling them to repentance: "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." The angel had the "everlasting Gospel", and made an invitation to those who "dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and tribe, and tongue, and people" to fear God and give Him glory. Those who dwell on the earth, and every nation, tribe, tongue, and people represent those people who have not yet accepted the Gospel and do not worship God.

*** Dead bodies on the street for three and a half days ***: Now that we know that the "people who dwell upon Earth" do not recognize God's supremacy, we can understand their reaction to the death of His witnesses. The Earth-dwellers just stared at the witnesses, dead, lying down in the middle of the street (Revelation 11:8,9) and did nothing for three and a half days. They didn't bury the witnesses and they didn't move them out of the way. This reminds us of the language used in Revelation 11:2, where we read about how the gentiles would tread the Holy City under foot for forty-two months. Forty-two months is the same amount of prophetic time the two witnesses had to preach God's message, 1260 days. Forty-two months and 1260 days equal 3.5 years. As we said many times before in our studies, in prophecy, 1 day = 1 prophetic year (see studies #16, #20, #68, #71 and #72 for a more in-depth explanation). Revelation 11:9 tells us that the witnesses were left dead on the streets for 3.5 days, which prophetically equals 3.5 years. Compared to 1260 years of preaching, 3.5 years of being left dead on the street is not a very long time. It is evident that the verse is comparing the period the witnesses stayed dead to the time they were alive prophesying: 1 prophetic day of being dead to each prophetic year they preached in sackcloth.

As we saw in study #74, the period of 1260 years happened during the Middle Ages, culminating with the French Revolution. During the French Revolution, the government established a new atheistic religion, the Cult of Reason, which was intended to substitute Christianity (November 10, 1793). We can certainly search for events related to Christianity and the Bible that happened 3.5 years after Reason was elevated to the status of religion but we would be missing the main point if that is all we do. Revelation 11:8-9 contain important clues as to the main objective of the symbolism used in the Biblical text:

- The people and tribes and tongues and nations: The reaction to the death of the two witnesses goes beyond the people of France. It includes the whole planet. While not every country was happy with what the French leaders were doing at the time, the ideals behind the new religion stood strong. The Age of Enlightenment or Age Reason, as it was called, dominated the whole world during the 18th century. Although it was initiated by France, the movement was not limited to that country only.

- The great city was spiritually called Sodom and Egypt: The key word in this sentence is 'spiritually'. The attitude they had towards God is what characterizes the spiritual aspect of the problem at hand. France had their agenda and they were fighting their political battles. Not all of the battles had a religious motive. In the grand scheme of things, their battles are irrelevant. Their rejection of God is what is being emphasized in the Biblical texts, not their petty wars.

- The city where also our Lord was crucified: It was with that mindset of rejection to God's teaching that the Jewish nation rejected Jesus and sent Him to the Cross. Just like the two witnesses, Jesus' time prophesying was 3.5 years. In His case, those were 3.5 literal years. At the end of that time, He died.

*** The people of the Earth celebrated ***: Now we can begin to see what these verses are trying to tell us. They are comparing the path of the two witnesses to Christ's. The difference comes when the witnesses remained without burial, while Jesus was placed in a tomb. The witnesses suffer a terrible humiliation based on the standards of the time. That did not seem to bother the nations of the Earth. On the contrary. They were celebrating the death of God's messengers. The Bible talks about the behaviors commonly displayed by those who rejected God's message. The first example is about the people in Noah's time: "But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark" (Matthew 24:37-38). We read about another example in Daniel 5, when the over-confident king Belshazzar was throwing a feast using the utensils which belonged to God's tabernacle. While he was celebrating, unknowingly to him, his kingdom was being taken over by his enemy. The pattern here is that those who reject God's message seem to just go about their day, celebrating, trampling over the Truth, as if nothing else mattered. Despite the warnings sent by God, they seem unaware of what is coming their way - destruction by flood or enemy attack, as we saw in our two examples.

*** The two witnesses tormented the people of the Earth ***: We can ask ourselves, why exactly were they celebrating the death of the two witnesses? Revelation 11:10 seems to answer that question: it's because the two witnesses tormented the people of the Earth. The verse refers to the two witnesses as the "two prophets". Throughout the Bible, we see the work of prophets, calling the people and leaders to repentance. One example of this "torment" is seen when God sent Elijah to call king Ahab to repentance and sent 3.5 years of drought over the land because of their idolatry (1 Kings 16:29-33 to 1 Kings 17:1; Luke 4:25; James 5:17). When Ahab met with Elijah after 3.5 years, Ahab called the prophet the one "that troubles Israel": "And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Are you he that troubles Israel?" (1 Kings 18:17). This is exactly what those who reject think about God's messengers. What they preach touches them in a vulnerable place, and that makes them uncomfortable. They see God's people as trouble makers, threatening their false sense of security. Elijah's answer to Ahab clarifies the scenario and identifies what the problem actually is: "And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but you, and your father's house, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and you have followed Baalim." (1 Kings 18:18).

*** Overview ***: When the new religion that substituted God's Truth for human reasoning began, God's two witnesses perished. They were shut down and remained dead on the streets of the world. The nations of the Earth watched them for 3.5 years and did nothing to restore their dignity. On the contrary, they celebrated the apparent end of those who were constantly reminding them to repent and come to God. Even though God had warned them about their dangerous atheistic choices and inevitable consequences, they still preferred to reject the Gospel and pursue a life centered in human logic and temporary pleasures. The philosophies initiated with the Age of Enlightenment are still alive today. Their arguments can still deceive those who are not connected to God. The world will see Christians as a threat to their order. Christians will be labeled as troublemakers. As Jesus said, "And you shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." (Mark 13:13). Let's not lose focus of the prize awaiting those who remain faithful to the end: eternal life with God.

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

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.

 

PART 3

 

*** When they shall have finished their testimony ***: Revelation 11:7 starts out by giving us a time frame of when the next event will take place. The time is when the two witnesses finish their testimony. To find out when that is, we need to go back to Revelation 11:3, where we learned the two witnesses would prophesy in sackcloth for 1260 days. The events described in verse 7 and 8 will not take place until that time was over. As we've seen in study #71, the period of 1260 prophetic days (or prophetic 42 months/3.5 years) equals a literal time of 1260 years during the Dark Ages (see also studies #16, #20 and #68 for a detailed explanation). We know this because the book of Daniel also mentions this same period of time, which happened during the Roman Empire (Daniel 7:25).

*** The beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit ***: At the end of that period of 1260 years, the beast that comes out of the bottomless pit would come out and make war against the two witnesses (Revelation 11:7). This same beast is also referred as the beast coming out of the sea (Revelation 13:1-10). The expression translated as the abyss, or the bottomless pit is the Greek word abussos, which means "the abyss, unfathomable depth", and also the abode of evil spirits. It is from the bottomless pit that the enemy forces come out symbolized by the army of locusts (Revelation 9:1-2, Revelation 13:7; Daniel 7:21; see also study #57). Based on all these passages, we can understand that the war being waged against God's people and their message happened after the period of testifying in sackcloth. The attack is led by satanic powers, since the beast attacking the two witnesses comes out of the bottomless pit. But who or what is this beast? It is most definitely not an actual grotesque animal coming to attack the church. The attack is real, but we must understand the symbol in order to understand who is the attacker.

The element 'beast' was also used in the book of Daniel as a symbol for a politico and religious power that would overcome God's people for a certain period of time (Daniel 7:17, 21). This beast is not Satan, because Revelation refers to Satan as the dragon (Revelation 12:9). The beast that comes out of the sea receives power directly from the dragon (Revelation 13:2). The focus of the verse in not necessarily on the precise identification of the beast. Basically, the information given in the texts informs the reader that this beast is a demonic agent responsible for the death of the two witnesses. We will study the identity of the beast in later chapters of Revelation.

*** Dead body on the street ***: The beast coming out of the abyss ends up killing the two witnesses. We would expect that the two witnesses would each have their own body lying down where they had been killed. This is not what we read in Revelation 11:8. As Stefanovic mentions in his book*, the expression in Greek is written in the collective singular "to ptōma autōn", which means "the dead body of them". In the Greek version, Revelation 11:9 also includes this reference in the singular, and only then the text switches back to the plural form 'bodies' (ptōmata). We saw this unity of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:5, where we read the expression stated in the singular form: "the mouth of them" (tou stomatos autōn). The two witnesses are a unit. The messenger and the message, working as one to spread God's truth to the world - the faithful Church and Scripture, working together. As they lived in one accord, witnessing, they also died as one, at the hand of this political power represented by the beast that comes from the abyss. The "body of them" was lying down on the street in disgrace. In ancient times, depriving people from burial was great tragedy and a form of humiliation (1 Kings: 13:22-31; Psalm 79:3; Jeremiah 8:1-2;Jeremiah 14:16). Leaving the witnesses without a proper burial was like taking away their dignity.

*** The great city where Christ was crucified ***: According to Revelation 11:8, the two witnesses died in the same great city as Christ. The text, however, is symbolic, and it mentions two great cities, and none of them is directly stated as Jerusalem. In contrast to the two witnesses that have one body, here we have one city that has two names. As the text says, the reference is spiritual. The two cities mentioned, Sodom and Egypt, are to be understood in a spiritual context: "the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt" (Revelation 11:8). Just like Jesus, the two witnesses were rejected, and persecuted before dying.

- Sodom: this great city is known for the wickedness and immoral behaviors of its citizens (Genesis 18:20,21; Genesis 19:4-11).

- Egypt: this great city, in relation to God's people, is known for their arrogance towards acknowledging God's sovereignty, in the words of pharaoh "Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go" (Exodus 5:2).

In a way, both cities were oppressing God's people living there. And God had to intervene in both occasions. The great city where the two witnesses died had immoral and self-sufficient arrogance, where God centered values were not upheld. Spiritual immorality refers to the engaging in false teachings that lead to the complete denial of the deity of God. That is exactly what happened in Jerusalem, when the Jewish leaders ignored all the prophecies that pointed to Jesus. They actively refused to support Jesus' message, which led them to deny the divinity of Christ. They completely rejected His sacrifice.

*** Prophetic application ***: The big clue pointing to the actual time in History when the death of the two witnesses happened is found in the prophetic period provided in the texts of Revelation 11:3,4,7 and Daniel 7:25. The witnesses would be allowed to preach for 1260 years, and then they would be killed. That period, as we mentioned previously, corresponds to the time of the Dark Ages. Based on those verses, an event would happened, where there would be a public denial of God, in an act of spiritual immorality. This means that atheistic beliefs would be widely promoted. Often in the Bible, God refers to His relationship with His people as that of a bride and a groom. It should be a relationship as solid and faithful as that of a husband and a wife. When the Israelites involved themselves with pagan rituals and broke their covenant, God compared that to adultery or harlotry (Ezekiel 16:15-59; Hosea 1:2). It is in this sense that spiritual immorality, symbolized by the city of Sodom, combined with atheistic and arrogant views, symbolized by Egypt, need to be understood. After the Dark Ages, there was a period in history where the world saw a movement with these exact characteristics during the French Revolution. Reason was being valued above all else, and the Bible and Christianity were being openly rejected and despised. The scene of the two witnesses dead on the streets of the rejection of Christ certainly apply to what happened during the French revolution. That is not where it stops, the interpretation goes beyond that. This scenario is one that will be present in different degrees until the Second Coming. This situation may become more and more intense as we approach the finals events of this world.

*** Overview ***: After the time allowed for their preaching, the two witnesses, they were persecuted and killed. God's message was despised rejected. The cult of reason took its place. It is important to understand the attack on the two witnesses not as an attack on a particular denomination at the time of the French Revolution. It was an attack on God's truth, represented by His true followers and the Bible. The emphasis on "the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt" (Revelation 11:8) tells us that we must focus on the spiritual aspect of any historical event which prophecy is pointing to. The rise of reason as a substitute for God reached a status of spiritual immorality. It was promoted in the name of peace and human enlightenment. God and His message were being rejected, just as Jesus was rejected before the cross.

 

 

* Stefanovic's Bible commentary: Revelation of Jesus Christ.

2  But the court which is outside 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.

 

PART 2

 

*** Outer court ***: In the measurements noted by Ezekiel, we see the mention to an inner court and to an outer court (Ezekiel 40:17,19,27,44; Ezekiel 42:1,3,7-9). In John's time, the temple had gone through some renovation since the rebuilding described by Ezekiel, but it also had these two courts. The inner court was divided into three areas: the court of the women, the court of the Israelites, and the court of the priests. The outer court was the court of the Gentiles. The Gentiles, meaning non-Israelites, were only permitted to go to the outer court. There was a barrier demarcating the limits of that area. Any Gentile going beyond those limits would suffer the penalty of death. Revelation 11:2 said that the outer court had been given to the Gentiles, or to the nations, as some versions say. The verse says that this court "is outside the temple". This is a contrast to where God's people are: the worshipers are inside the temple (Revelation 11:1).

*** Do not measure ***: In Revelation 11:1, John was called to measure the temple of God, the altar, and the worshipers. In verse 2, he is told not to measure the outer court because it had been given to the Gentiles. When Ezekiel was witnessing the measuring of the temple in his vision, God said: "Thus says the Lord GOD; No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any foreigner that is among the children of Israel." (Ezekiel 44:9). Note that God qualified the foreigner: "uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh". Those are the non-believers. Bringing this concept into the verse of Revelation 11:2, we can see that the nations or Gentiles do not truly believe God's message. They stand in opposition to God's people. They do not have a true connection with God. As we saw in study #70, the measuring has to do with the connection God has made available to His followers. The nations are not seeking to have a connection with God, therefore, they are not part of the measuring. Revelation 21:15-17 also gives us measurements of another building. The New Jerusalem was measured with a golden reed (Revelation 21:15). The New Jerusalem is where God will reside in the New Earth. In this sense, the New Jerusalem is a symbol for the temple of God in the New Earth (Revelation 21:2-3). Those who can enter it are the ones "who are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 21:27). "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." (Revelation 22:14). Outside the city limits are the ones who decided to do the exact opposite. The Bible says: "For outside are dogs, and sorcerers, and fornicators, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loves and makes a lie." (Revelation 22:15).

*** Trampling over for forty-two months ***: In the Old Testament, the expression 'trample over' or 'trodden down' was used to refer to the oppression God's people suffered under enemy rule: "The people of your holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down your sanctuary." (Isaiah 63:18. Also see Jeremiah 12:10). We also see this expression in the book of Daniel (Daniel 7:7,19,23), and in the words of Jesus (Luke 21:24). We also see the trampling of the holy city in Revelation 13:1-10. There is a very close link between the passages in Daniel and Revelation, regarding the trampling over God's people. They all last forty-two months. As we've said many times in previous studies, in prophecy, time is to be understood differently, with 1 prophetic day = 1 literal year (Ezekiel 4:6,7; Numbers 14:34; Leviticus 25:8; please also see studies #16, #20 and #68 for a detailed explanation). Let's compare some of the passages involving the trampling of God's people by the Gentiles.

 

 
Daniel 7 and 12
The trampling over A power that will "wear down the saints of the Highest One" (Daniel 7:25) "and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24) "they will tread under foot the holy city" (Revelation 11:2) The dragon "persecuted the woman" (Revelation 12:13)
"And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all tribes, and tongues, and nations." (Revelation 13:7)
 
"And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven." (Revelation 13:6)
Duration
"and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time" (Daniel 7:25).
 
"it would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed" (Daniel 12:7)
"until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (Luke 21:24) "for forty-two months" (Revelation 11:2) "into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time" (Revelation 12:14) "And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months." (Revelation 13:5)
Who is trampling "a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it" (Daniel 7:23) "the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24) "the Gentiles" (Revelation 11:2) Running away "from the face of the serpent" (Revelation 12:14)
The sea beast (Revelation 13:1-10)
 
"was given him over all tribes, and tongues, and nations" (Revelation 13:7)

 

*** Prophetic Application ***: In Luke 21:24, Jesus was referring to the actual destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 AD, and to what would happen during the end times. He was drawing a parallel between the two events. When we compare all these verses from Daniel, Luke, and Revelation, we can see that the people of God are the ones whom God consider as being citizens of Heaven. Those whom he made "kings and priests" (Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10). His people are His church, symbolized by the woman. The woman was being persecuted by the serpent, also known as Satan (Revelation 12:7, see also Revelation 12:9). Revelation 13 sheds some light over the nature of the trampling: "And [the sea beast] opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven". As we will see later in Revelation, the sea beast is a politico-religious power that deceives the entire world and preaches a message contrary to God's truth. This entity is able to do that because it has power "over all tribes, and tongues, and nations" (Revelation 13:7). In other words, this power controls the "Gentiles", and it is under Satan's direction. The Bible says that Satan is the one deceiving the whole world (Revelation 12:9). Comparing this sea beast power with the passage in Daniel 7:23, we can see that this power has to do with the fourth kingdom, which is "different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth". When we studied Daniel 2 (study #3), we saw that the fourth kingdom was the Roman Empire, which was represented by the legs of iron. The Roman Empire was never really defeated, as we see in the History books. The Roman Empire was, in a way, diluted or divided. And that is exactly what we see portrayed in Daniel 2: the feet and toes of iron are mixed with clay (Daniel 2:41-43). The politico-religio power trampling over God's people is a power led by Satan and that has its roots in the Roman Empire.

This prophetic period of forty-two months is the period of more than 1200 years known as the Middle Ages when Christians suffered tremendously. The Bible was not allowed in the hand of the people during that time. The prophetic time of 42 months, or 1260 literal years, points to the Middle Ages but is a reference to other 42 month periods mentioned in the Bible. This way we can see in context the behavior of the Gentiles and the behavior of God's people during this period:

- Elijah: He announced that a period of drought lasting 42-month (3.5 years) would fall over the nation if Israel. The drought happened because of the apostasy of the leadership of God's people (king Ahab). Ahab led the people into idolatry and away from God's teachings. Few continued to be faithful, but as the woman in Revelation 12, they had to flee into the wilderness or hide in caves.

- Jesus: His ministry lasted about 3.5 years. He faced much suffering and persecution by the leadership of the Jews, as He spread the Truth. He was faithful to the point of death, and that is how He overcame and was able to sit in the Father's throne (Revelation 3:21). But the leaders of the Jewish nation were against Jesus' teachings and did not receive Him as the Messiah (John 1:11; Matthew 26:57-68).

*** Overview ***: Both in the time of Elijah and during Jesus' ministry on Earth, the leadership of God's people was doing work contrary to God's teachings. That is not to say that the leadership of a local church is inevitably wicked. The references are pointing to the leadership as a system. When the system which was supposed to follow God's commands move away from God's instructions, they automatically align themselves with God's enemy and start doing Satan's work instead. Those faithfully following God's commands are God's true church. His church is not made of people carrying a title that states they are God's church. What counts is not saying you are God's church, but actually living God's Truth with sincerity. His faithful church at the time of Elijah or prior to Jesus' death was not represented by the leadership of the people. Anyone or any system who is not aligning themselves with God's measuring reed is considered a Gentile: those who dwell on the earth (Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8). And they will be found outside of God's temple, in the outer court. The citizens of God's kingdom should actually be comforted by the measuring taking place because Jesus will only take with Him the true worshipers of God. They will be able to go inside the actual Temple of God in Heaven.

   
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