The keys To Understanding The Apocalypse- The Book Of Revelations
The Apocalypse- Revelations Study Three!
1. THE TRUMPET JUDGMENTS (Chapter 8)
"And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand: And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake" (Rev. 8: 1-5).
When the Lamb of God opened the last and the seventh seal, there was silence in Heaven. This silence is very unusual because Heaven is filled day and night with the worship and praise of the heavenly hosts. It is important to note:
1. When the Lamb broke the first seal, John heard the noise of thunder and the voice of an angelic creature saying, "Come and see."
- 2. When He opened the second, third, and fourth seals, John also heard an angelic voice saying, "Come and see."
- 3. When He opened the fifth seal, John heard the cry of those who were martyred for Christ.
- 4. When He opened the sixth seal, there was a great earthquake which produced consternation throughout all nature.
- 5. But when the Lamb opened the seventh and last seal, there was silence.
This silence is the silence of expectancy as the hosts of heaven wait for God to unfold His final judicial administration in this rebellious world. What does this final seal mean to the remainder of the people on earth? Already one-fourth of the inhabitants of the earth have been killed (Rev. 6:8). Now the silence in Heaven is the calm before the storm.
In the scene before us we find seven angels standing in the presence of God. They are there to administer the government of God on the earth. To these special angels were given seven trumpets, to each one a trumpet.
When the children of Israel crossed over the Jordan river and prepared to take the Promised Land, they found the key city to be Jericho, a walled city. This city was taken by the blowing of trumpets. Six days they marched around Jericho, once each day. On the seventh day they marched around the city seven times and blew their trumpets. The walls fell down and the city was taken (Joshua 6:1-21).
In much the same way when God prepares to break Satan's dominion over the earth, the number seven is very prominent:
1. There are 7 seals and the 7th is composed of 7 trumpets (Rev. 6 and 8:1).
- 2. There are 7 trumpets and the 7th is composed of 7 vials (Rev. 8:2; 9:1-21; 11:15-19).
- 3. There are 7 vials which are explained in (Rev. 16:1-21.)
When the 7th vial of wrath is poured out the cities of the nations fall.
Now let us notice in our passage of scripture quoted at the beginning of this message (Rev. 8:1-5), that it is in answer to the prayers of the saints that the seven trumpets are to sound. The scene is like that of the fifth seal where the martyrs cry out for vengeance. Here the prayers of believers have ascended to God on behalf of the salvation of lost men and women, but they have rejected salvation by the blood.
The prayers of the saints are being answered - not unto salvation - but in the pouring forth of God's judgments upon the Christ-rejecting world. As the smoke of the incense which came from hese prayers ascended to God, the angel fills the censer with the fire of the altar and then casts it upon the earth. This results in voices, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.
Revelation 8:7 records the first trumpet judgment: "The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up." Here we have God's judgment affecting the whole earth with a THIRD PART OF THE TREES and all green grass burnt up. What an awful time it will be!
The second trumpet is explained in verses 8-9: "...and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; and the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed." Here we see a God-rejecting world being visited by the judgments of God. I believe all these things will literally take place.
The third trumpet judgments are recorded in verses 10-11: "...and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; and the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter."
One thing is certain in the Word of God, that is that God is going to have the last say in history. Our nation and the nations of the earth may turn from God and mock Him. They may promote iniquity, unbelief, infidelity and atheism but the final intervention of God is clearly seen in the blowing of the seven trumpets.
The "wormwood" mentioned in verse 11 is a direct fulfilment of Jeremiah 9:13-15: "And the Lord saith, Because they have forsaken my law...Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink." Wormwood has a bitter taste and produces convulsions, paralysis, and death. The world in its rebellion against God and His Christ has revelled in booze, so during the Great Tribulation period God will give mankind wormwood to drink.
It is also interesting sideline that "wormwood" in the Russian language means "Cherynoble" and of course we know that "Cherynoble" is the nuclear power plant in the Ukraine that when it exploded released a huge cloud of nuclear radiation all over Europe. Could it be that the "Cup of Bitterness" could in fact be the spread of nuclear radiation throughout the world as a result of a devestating nuclear war? Could there possibly be a connection?
Revelation 8:12 describes the fourth trumpet: "...and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise." The awful wickedness of the earth will not pervade everywhere but its clouds will be everywhere. So the whole earth and even the heavens will be visited by the judgments of God. We see this darkness around us today. Apostasy and the rejection of God are having their influence. That is why God wants His stars to shine, His lamps to burn, His teachers to teach, His preachers to preach, and His people to stand steadfast in a world that grows darker and darker.
Verse 13 is a very important verse: "And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound." The last three trumpets are so terrible that God's warning is made throughout the whole earth. Time and again God gave stern warnings before His judgments fell. Noah, for instance, warned his generation for 120 years about an approaching judgment - and it came. This angel's "Woe, woe, woe," to all the earth will be a warning of mercy that people might still repent before the climactic judgments of chapters 9 and 16 take place.
I wonder if people today realize that God is still warning everybody who has ears to hear? The Word of God makes it clear that if you will come to Christ and receive Him as your own personal Saviour, you will have a home in Heaven; but if you continue in sin and rejection of Christ you will end up in Hell. There are at least six hundred warnings of Hell in the Bible. As you travel life's roads, God has at least six hundred signposts saying, "All roads lead to Hell - except one." Rejection of Christ's Cross-work means turning your back upon the Lord and hardening your heart against His love. Life's journey will one day end and Hell will be your destination unless you yield to God. He is trying to tell you today that the wrong road will lead to disaster and eternal damnation in Hell and the Lake of Fire.
But I want to close by telling you today that God is long-suffering: "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die"(Ezekiel 33:11)?"The Lord is...not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance"(2 Peter 3:9).
The word "inhabiters" of Rev. 8:13 refers to those who settle down in this old world and play the game of sin thinking they can get away with it. They do not have God in their hearts. As far as they are concerned life is only here upon the earth. Their paradise and their hopes are earthly. They have no desire for God and no time for Him. Let the merciful warning. "Woe, woe, woe," challenge you to flee from the wrath to come. Turn from your sin to God.
2. CHAPTER 9
A man from Toronto, Canada, wrote me this past week and said that his Pastor takes exception to pre-millennial believers who take the Bible literally. I am going to give you an important rule of Bible interpretation that will help you understand the Bible: "When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise." I believe this rule will be a blessing and a help in your study of the Word of God.
Revelation 9:1-3: "And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power."
This fifth trumpet judgment, the first "woe" of chapter 8:13, falls on the seat of the beast (Rev. 13:1). The star John saw refers to some enthroned creation of God who had fallen from heaven to the earth. This creature has the key to the bottomless pit or "the abyss". This word "abyss", found seven times in Revelation, is the place where the fallen angels are reserved unto the day of judgment. When it is opened such dense smoke gushes forth that the sun is darkened and infernal creatures:
"And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon."
Once Satan takes full control, his power is unloosed on men who believe his lie rather than the truth of God's Word. These hordes of locusts, Satanic instruments and agents, are given power to torment ungodly men for five months. They are likened unto the horse for swiftness in running, like man for intelligence, like the lion for strength, and like the scorpion for pain and suffering. They obey every command of Satan - to sting and torment men for five months, but they are forbidden to kill anyone or to touch those who have the seal of God in their foreheads. Satan is the supreme ruler of the powers of darkness but he has leaders under him who will be the kings of the locusts.
Although I believe these to be real locusts and the punishment to be real during the latter part of the Great Tribulation, there are spiritual lessons for us today. The "smoke" covering the earth represents the anti-God, anti-Bible, liberal views and compromises of men that cover the entire world of our day. From this smoke of unbelief, scepticism, and compromise has come everything except that which is satisfying, comforting, and assuring. The modern theological trends and neo-evangelicalism only bite, sting, and torment. All who reject Christ Jesus and His salvation vainly hope that death ends all and that there will be no wrath of God and no eternal Hell.
The "Smoke" could also be seen to represent the effects of nuclear war, which would fill the skies with debris, dust, radiation and the smoke of nuclear blasts, which would also bite, sting and torment.
An interesting sideline here is that the "Locusts" described here, when visualized, seem a lot like the modern, heavily armed military helicopters of todays armed forces. Could there possibly be a connection?
Someone told me last week about a certain evangelical group that no longer believes in the burning fire and eternal torments of Hell. They preach only that Hell means separation from God. Hell is separating from God but it is much more than that. All the faculties of man are affected in Hell and all who go to Hell for rejecting Christ as Saviour will fell the fires of Hell and will cry for a drop of water to cool their tongues. They will remember their rejection of Christ and will pray for someone to go to their lost loved ones to warn them of the wrath of God which is to come.
Revelation 9:13-21: "And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt. And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts."
The sixth trumpet judgment, the second woe of chapter 11:14, reveals the wrath of God proceeding form the golden altar upon the whole world. The number four (4 horns and 4 angels) speaks of universality for the armies number 200 million. Four is the world number for the whole world is in view. We must remember that China - referred to as "The King Of The East" has an army of 200 million soldiers.
The river Euphrates is referred to twice in the Book of Revelation. It was in this area where sin first appeared, where the first lie was told, where the first murder was committed and where the first grave was dug. The Euphrates was the scene of the two great apostasies before and after the flood. It reminds us of the long years of Israel's captivity. Around this river arose the first four world empires, the cruel empires of Assyria, Babylon, Persia and the Medes. And there by that same Euphrates River, the four angels of verse 13 are chained. At God's command they are set free for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year to slay one third of the men of the world.
God's ways are strange to this old world of sin. People often wonder why God, if He is truly against sin, does not deal with the sinner and his sin right now. God seems to overlook sin in our generation. But at a certain place, at a certain time, on a certain day, in a certain month, in a certain second, God has ordained judgment upon sin. Toward the close of the Great Tribulation His judgment falls upon the whole earth with one third of the men slain.
One would think that those who survive the awful slaughter would repent but verse 20 says: "And the rest of the men which were not killed...REPENTED NOT..." They ceased not to worship demons and idols of silver and gold and wood. Men do not change when they are punished. Only the grace of God changes the hearts of men and women. Man becomes a new creature only when he is born again by the Spirit of God. Man receives a new heart when he is saved by grace. That is why we preach the Gospel and pray and sacrifice and live for God so that others might hear. Hope for wicked men and women is found only in the saving power of the Gospel of Christ.
A World Drowning in Drugs
Verse 21 "Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts."
The key word of interest here is "Sorceries" which is the Greek word "pharmakia" from which the English words "pharmacy" "pharmaceuticals," and "pharmacology" are derived. Interpreted literally, it refers to the practice of preparing and selling drugs and potions also practicing occultic and witchcraft rituals using drugs and potions. The whole world will be literally overflowing and drowning in drugs, witchcraft and occultic rituals. [see also Acts:8:11,Rev:18:23]
3. CHAPTER 10
Revelation 10:1-2: "And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth."
Again we see the same little book that John saw in the hand of God. In chapter 5 it was sealed with seven seals but now as we begin our study of chapter 10, the book is open. The last seal has been broken. Six of the seven trumpets have sounded as explained in our studies of Chapters 8 and 9. The last trumpet judgment will end the Great Tribulation Period as we see later in Revelation 11:15-19 and chapter 16.
The mighty angel here is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. The description of Him here is similar to that of chapter 1:13-18. The rainbow is the sign of God's purpose to redeem the world rather than to destroy the world and the human race. The fact that the angel was clothed with a cloud speaks of deity. In Exodus 3 the "angel of the Lord" appeared unto Moses in a flame of fire. He descended on Mount Sinai in a thick cloud. When Israel was delivered form Egypt's bondage it was the presence of the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud that protected them day and night. When the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle, a cloud covered the tent of the congregation. When the Lord ascended from Mt. Olivet, He was taken up in a cloud. Clouds seem to be the chariots in which the Lord moves from place to place. He will come back in the clouds and we will go to meet Him and be with Him forever.
The opened book here in verse 2 means that Christ is ready to take possession of the earth. The end of the Great Tribulation is in view with the outpouring of the vials of Revelation 16. The Lamb who broke the seals in chapter 6 has the right to possess the property so He set His right foot upon the sea, and His left foot on the earth. He has not actually come to take possession of the earth yet but all the preliminary steps in winding up the Tribulation Period have been taken.
Revelation 10:3-4: "And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices. And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not."
John hears this mighty angel cry with a loud voice as well as the voices of the seven thunders. Although he understands the meaning of these thunders and is about to write, he hears the voice saying, "Write them not." John received in the vision more than he was permitted to reveal at that time. Thunders in the Bible stand for the judgment of God. The darkest hour of the Tribulation judgments will be explained later. Yes, and an awful time of judgment is coming upon every sinner when he stands before the Great White Throne of Revelation 20 and is cast into the Lake of Fire. I wonder how many of you have received the Lord into your hearts as your own personal Saviour. Flee from the wrath to come!
Just as God delays His judgment upon the world, so He delays His coming. We continue to live in a world of tears, heartaches and sorrows. These are days of suffering and conflict. Such delays point to the ultimate victory of God. We cannot understand it all now but it is a part of His will. "All things work together for good to them that love God" (Rom. 8:28). God will have the final victory.
Revelation 10:5-7: "And the angel which I saw standing upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven. And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer."
Here the Lord Jesus with one foot upon the sea and the other upon the earth and with His hand raised to heaven, speaks of the removal of the curse between the close of the Great Tribulation and the ushering in of the New Heavens and the New Earth. "That there should be time no longer" means that the entire period form the Rapture to the Millennium is covered by the seals, the trumpets, and the vials. Time ends and Christ ushers in the Millennium and Eternity. "The mystery of God" is that which God reveals in His own time to His own prophets and His people. It may be a secret even after it is revealed for it may not be fully understood.
Revelation 10:8-11: "And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings."
This is the same little book that we saw in the 5th chapter but now in the angel's hand the book is open. The emphasis is upon THE LITTLE BOOK WHICH IS OPEN. The literal Greek there reads, "The little book, the one which is open," which is very emphatic. This little book speaks of the title deed to the whole earth. It becomes John's absolute possession. Authority is taken away from Satan and the saints shall inherit the earth.
John "took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and" he said, "it was in my mouth sweet as honey; and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter." This refers to the terrible, final judgments of God - the vials of wrath recorded in chapter 16. The message of such awful judgment was a difficult message for John to deliver and for that reason the eating of the book made his belly bitter. Yet he knew that the outcome would be Christ's final victory over the devil and the ushering in of the Millennium and then the New Heaven and the New Earth so in that respect there was sweetness in his mouth like honey.
Just as it was difficult for John to proclaim the judgment of the vials, so it is not an easy task to sound forth the whole Word of God today. That is why we hear so little preaching on judgment. Hell is not popular and modern evangelical preachers want popularity. It is often a bitter trial for the one who proclaims messages of judgment to come.
Although the Word of God itself is sweet, believers often endure the bitterness of persecution and misunderstanding by standing true to the Lord. Persecution is sometimes experienced by Christian students in schools, colleges and universities when they dare to stand for God and purpose in their hearts, like Daniel of old, not to defile themselves with the things of the world. "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution"(2 Timothy 3:12). Let us keep on keeping on for God no matter what the cost might be.
Revelation 10:11: "Thou must prophesy again." Prophecy is more than preaching. It is not only a message to people but a message concerning them. In Isaiah's day the people said: "Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits"(Isa. 30:10). Even so, many people today do not always want to hear the truth. How we need faithful watchmen who will be true to God and true to His Word. Oh, may we, like John, be faithful.
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58).
CHAPTER 11 - THE TWO WITNESSES - [ see also Zechariah 4 ]
As we come to the study of Chapter 11, let us keep in mind that the measuring of the temple has nothing whatever to do with the True Church.
The true Church is already raptured according to chapter 4. It is after the Rapture that the Jewish people will be once again restored to their own land by a false peace treaty negotiated by the antichrist. From chapters 6 to 19 we have a description of the Great Tribulation Period, also referred to in the Bible as "the tribulation", "the day of vengeance of our God", "the Day of the Lord", and "the day of Jacob's trouble". The Tribulation lasts seven years, beginning at the Rapture and ending with the visible return of our Lord, with His Church, to reign for 1,000 years.
Verses 1-2: "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. 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."
The reed is an instrument of measurement, a yardstick. A rod is an instrument of punishment. This was a measuring and a judgment. The Jewish temple has now been rebuilt under the false promises of the false messiah before he shows his true identity and turns against the Jewish people. Everything here is Jewish. The temple and the altar are jewish. The holy city is Jerusalem.
In this temple the Antichrist, the beast out of the land of chapter 13, will appear and claim divine worship. Apostate Israel in alliance with the corrupt Gentiles are seen in the court without the temple. In the midst of this corruption, which follows the delusion of Antichrist and Jewish acceptance of Satan's man as their Messiah, there will be the God-fearing remnant. This remnant is recognized as worshippers. The inner place is symbolical of this faithful remnant. The outer court is the symbol of apostate Israel.
Notice the "forty-two months" of verse two. This is the first mention of them in the Book of Revelation. They are identical with the 1260 days of verse 3. The forty-two months, the 1260 days, the times, time, and half a time in the prophecy of Daniel, the last three and a half years of the 70th week of Daniel, all refer to this awful time known as the Great Tribulation.
Verse 3 "And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth."
Here we are introduced to the two witnesses, clothed in sackcloth. They are also called "two olive trees" and "two candlesticks"(verse 4). These witnesses are to prophesy 1260 days. They testify daily until their time is up: "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"(verse 5).
Throughout the ages of the True Christian Church, this wicked, God-hating world has rejected God and His servants. They have been stoned, sawn asunder, tempted, slain with the sword and forced to wander in sheepskins and goatskins. Even today many of God's true servants are in jail and suffer greatly, even murdered and put unto death, for their ministry for the Lord. But in the middle of the Tribulation, God has two witnesses who, though hated by the world, will be protected by God. They will inflict fiery judgement on their enemies and perform supernatural signs. Death will be the portion of those who injure these two witnesses. Today God is working in grace towards the ungodly but it will be altogether different in the Tribulation Period.
Who are these witnesses? We are not told so we cannot be absolutely sure. It is almost certain that one of them is Elijah, fulfilling the prophesy of Malachi 4:5,6: "Behold, I will send 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."
We already know that the "Spirit and Power" of Elijah is at work in the world today: " And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias (Elijah), 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 for the Lord."(Luke:1:17)
The other witness is generally believed to be either Enoch or Moses. But whoever it is, I want you to notice that after their death, they will be resurrected and will ascend to heaven in a cloud (Greek - in the clouds) verse 12. The Lord will send His golden chariot down for them, the Shekinah glory of heaven, and they will be caught up before the gaze of men.
What we should notice here is that they will be resurrected before the people. When our Lord was raised from the dead no mortal eye saw Him. There is no hint that this world will see the saints translated at the Rapture. But here the resurrection and ascension of the two witnesses occur openly. The 11th verse says that people will see them when they are raised from the dead. The 12th verse says: "And when the ascended up to heaven...their enemies beheld them."
There is also something else here that is very significant. Verse 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." The beast does not appear until the 13th chapter of Revelation and we are here in the 11th. Chapter. This points to the importance with which the Lord surrounds the story of the testimony of these two unnamed servants of God. Their witness covers the entire Great Tribulation Period, the last three and a half years; yet in the unfolding of the Revelation we have not even come to that time period.
It is interesting to notice that when these two witnesses preach they do so in sackcloth. Sackcloth was worn as a sign of great mourning. They become a symbol of national, worldwide mourning in a time of evil and in days filled with sorrow.
The word "witness" in the Greek is "martus", so we could call these two witnesses "my two martyrs". Often the witness laid down his life rather than give up his faith. So often did he seal his testimony with his blood, that the English language took the word to mean "anyone who laid down his life in defense of the faith." How few of us today are willing to suffer for our Lord! We want an easy-going, spineless, soft, flesh-pleasing, comfortable, pleasant, satisfied, contented, enjoyable, and compromising type of Apostate Laodocean Christianity. So few have strong back-bones and are willing to suffer for Christ or even to stand alone, if need be, for the Lord's glory. So many Christians want to please the crowds, to cater to the majority, to be good mixers, to be popular and well spoken of.
I often think of great evangelists today who are being praised by the Christ-rejecting world. We need to remember that it was the world that crucified our Saviour. I also wonder why ungodly government officials are invited to church openings and dedications when the same government officials serve the Devil and follow his crowd. There is little martyr spirit in our generation!
Another wonderful truth is seen here. God always sends His messenger lest a man fall into Hell without first being warned from Heaven. Before the Lord destroyed the earth by water, He raised up Enoch and Noah, preachers of righteousness, to warn the people of coming judgment. Before the Lord destroyed Pharaoh and his armies, He sent Moses to witness. Before God destroyed Ninevah, He sent Jonah. Thank God, Ninevah repented but Jonah's message was one of judgment. John the Baptist was sent to warn Judah that the Lord was ready to lay the axe at the root of the tree. The Lord, Himself, warned of the impending destruction of Jerusalem. The apostles spoke to the Roman Empire lest it come under the avenging hand of Almighty God. Even so, in the mercy of God, He has two witnesses during the Great Tribulation.
God sent them forth, the two candlesticks and the two olive trees, that they might encourage one another in the faith. Two angels testified to the resurrection of our Saviour. Two men in white testified of His ascension into heaven. By the law, according to Matthew 18, there must be two witnesses to confirm the truth. The Lord often sent out two messengers together such as Moses and Aaron; Joshua and Caleb; Zerubbabel and Joshua; Peter and John; Paul and Silas; and Timothy and Titus. He also sent out His disciples two by two. So, in Revelation chapter 11, we see two witnesses.
Verses 8,9: "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 they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and a half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves."
How wicked the human heart is. When the Beast slays these witnesses of God he suffers not their bodies to be buried. A corpse decomposes quickly in a tropical climate. According to the law in Deuteronomy, even the worst of criminals had to be buried the day he was executed. When the Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross and bowed His head and died, friends went to Pontius Pilate and asked that His body might be taken down that very hour and buried out of sight lest the land be defiled. Can you not imagine the shame as these two mighty martyrs of God lie in the streets of the great city, as they turn to corruption and decay?
If you read the life of John Huss, the great preacher and forerunner of the Reformation, you will read that in the little town of Constance, the Roman Church burned him at the stake. That night the Council met in a jubilee celebration because one of God's great witnesses had been silenced.
Today, Christians know little or nothing about suffering for Christ In Billy Sunday's day he preached what the Bible said about booze and drugs. He warned of God's judgment upon those who make, sell and drink booze and take drugs. Today it's altogether different. Modern born again leaders spend a good part of their time in Las Vegas entertaining the ungodly in the Night Clubs which are saturated with booze and drugs. Evangelists who go there openly declare that they will not talk about booze, drugs or gambling. In Billy Sunday's day tavern after tavern was closed because of revivals. This is not so today.
In Revelation 11:13 we see there was a great earthquake to complete the second woe which speaks of governmental disorder. One tenth of Jerusalem will fall, and seven thousand people will be killed while God's believing ones will be overwhelmed with awe and give glory to the God of heaven.
"The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly"(verse 14). Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet and loud voices were heard in heaven, saying triumphantly: "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever" (verse 15).
Then the 24 Elders who were seated on their thrones before God, fell prostrate and worshipped Him, 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. 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 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 17-19).
All of this, of course, pictures for us sudden and awful judgment coming from the throne of God.
Go to lesson Four: Revelations Study Four