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Lowell Brueckner

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Revelation 11


Chapter 11

 1.  Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there,

2.  but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months.

Two witnesses
The rebuilt temple (a compromise)

I neglected to point out an important difference in translation in chapter 5, verse 9, when we covered it. The four living creatures and the 24 elders prostrated before the Lamb and sang a new song. In the song, the King James Version states, “(Thou) hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth.”  That would give great weight to the argument that the 24 elders are the church in heaven. However, the better translation and the one followed by almost all versions, including the Greek/English Interlineal New Testament, does not use the pronoun we and us, but they and them. That might indicate that the church is not yet in heaven in chapter 5.

During the Time of the Gentiles, that is the Church Era, there will be redemption among every nation, that is, every governmental area; every tongue, that is, every language group; every tribe, that is, a clan with a common ancestor, and people, that is, an ethnic group or race. As explained in chapter ten, the Jewish period that Daniel outlined stopped at the crucifixion and the time for the redemption of the Gentile people began.

Still the great majority of saints in the early church were Jewish, before the conversion of Paul. It is clear then, that there was, for all practical purposes, an overlapping of these times. It is logical that the Gentile period might overlap the Jewish time schedule in the last seven years.

Keep this in mind, as we begin to meditate on chapter 11. Jesus made it clear that Daniel’s 70th Week had not yet begun. He spoke of a future time, when the Abomination of Desolation would occur (Mt.24:15-22). John’s Revelation took place after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the total overthrow of Jewish government in Israel, the Jews being scattered over the earth. In this chapter, John shows that Daniel’s 70th Week had not yet been fulfilled in his day and that it was still future.  

In the first two verses, John is to measure a rebuilt temple. The temple that Jesus and the apostles knew had already been destroyed. I read an article in a secular magazine years ago by a writer, who had visited Jerusalem. She said that the Jewish people, orthodox and secular, had a common goal, and it was to rebuild the temple. We are told that the material is ready today and it could be built quickly. The only hindrance is that the Moslem Dome of the Rock is on the site that God had indicated, where the temple should rest.

This temple must be built in order that the prophecies concerning Daniel’s 70th Week can be fulfilled. God forbids the Jews to sacrifice at any other place, therefore the temple must exist to fulfill the following:  An international leader will arise “and he shall enter into a strong and firm covenant with the many for one week (seven years). And in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and offering to cease” (Dn.9:27, Amp.). It is almost certain that rebuilding the temple will be included in that covenant. Most pre-millennial students would agree on this matter.

Curiously, John is to omit measuring the court around the sanctuary, because it will not be in Jewish hands. This indicates a compromise, about which I cannot possibly speculate. An adjustment will be made to satisfy both parties involved in the pact; the Jews will have their temple, but the other party will have possession of the courtyard and will have a strong foothold in Jerusalem for 42 months. Jesus also prophesied of this period: “Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Lk.21:24). Here is the first chronological time period in the book of Revelation. Forty-two months is 3 ½ years and it is certainly the first half of Daniel’s 70th Week.

3.  And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”

4.  These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.

5.  And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed.

6.  They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire.

7.  And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them,

8.  and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified.

9.  For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb,

10. and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth.

The two witnesses

While this is occurring, largely a political and religious undertaking, God will be doing a mighty, spiritual work. Pictured from verse 3 to verse 14 is a scene almost identical to that given by the prophet Zachariah throughout chapter 4 of his book. The vision was given for the king without a throne after the captivity, King Zerubbabel, who along with the high priest without a temple, Joshua, were two anointed ones. There were also two olive trees and a candlestick in the vision. It was given, concerning the situation in Zachariah’s day, but in a more perfect sense, it was a prophecy for the end times.

In our account in Revelation, two witnesses appear and prophesy for 1,260 days… 3 ½ years. You might want to pause and read Zachariah 4 at this time, especially to see the key message behind what was taking place at that time, but also is applied to the two witnesses in the end times: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zac.4:6). This would indicate a 70th Week moving of the Spirit of God. Verse 4 symbolizes the two prophets as two olive trees and two lampstands. They are powerfully anointed (olive trees) and they are giving out wonderful light (lampstands) on the earth.

Who are these two witnesses? One is certainly, literally Elijah: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes” (Mal.4:5). The Jews set a place for him at every Passover table. John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah in the first advent of Christ, but now we are looking at His second coming in power and glory, that great and awesome day! Elijah was carried into heaven without tasting death. He was being reserved for the end times. Moses is probably the other witness, as he accompanied Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration, which was a foretaste of glory to Peter, James and John (Mt.16:28; 2 P.1:16-18). The ministry of Elijah is seen in the power to shut the sky, so that no rain falls. The ministry of Moses is seen in turning water into blood and striking the earth with every kind of plague.

Another possibility in place of Moses, as a witness, could be Enoch, because he is the only other human being that did not die. The little that we have of his writing indicates that he was a prophet of the end times. His book no longer exists, but Jude had it in New Testament times: “Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones…” (Jude 1:14). However, in favor of Moses as a witness, his death is wrapped in mystery and no one knew of his burial place.

Most students of prophecy, feel that these are two literal witness, but there are some, who feel that the two witness are not literally two men, but two groups of people. What if both opinions are true? What if the two literal witnesses lead two groups of people? What if the two candlesticks represent these two groups? Certainly the candlestick has been symbolic of the nation of Israel: I saw it engraved on Benjamin Netanyahu’s pulpit. Israel was raised up by God to be a light to the nations. I see no other place in Scripture that speaks of two candlesticks. The similar scene in Zachariah has only one candlestick, fed directly from two olive trees, without any man-made process involved. It implies the direct supply of the Holy Spirit, fueling and energizing His work, as He did through Joshua and Zerubbabel, backed by the entire nation.

The 7 candlesticks of Israel
Seven candlesticks in one, united in Christ

The two candlesticks

The Scripture must always supply its own interpretation. I do find another 7-fold candlestick in the Bible and it is right here in the book of Revelation. Jesus said, “The seven lampstands are the seven churches” (1:20). They are seven in one, as the Holy Spirit is seven in one in this book. They have no central piece holding all together, but they have Jesus in the midst, uniting them with stronger ties than any metal can bring. I have never heard any other interpretation for these candlesticks that satisfies me.

Therefore, the church is present still on the earth in mighty power, shedding light and power behind the two witnesses. It joins to overlap into the first half of Daniel’s 70th Week with a growing multitude of Jewish believers, who have been provoked to jealousy by the Gentile church (Ro.11:11). The story of both these groups is that of the two literal witnesses. 

Let’s take a closer look at this ministry as they stand before God, the Lord of the earth. I remember the words of Elijah to Ahab: “As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand…” (1 K.17:1).  Since Christ Himself, there has never been power and authority in the word, as these have. The harm done to the opposition does not mean that these men are vindictive. It simply means that they have been given such heavenly backing that no one can oppose them and live. We read of similar fates given to those who opposed revival throughout the history of the church. I have experienced a little of this in our work in Mexico.

No one can touch them until their work is done and after 1,260 days their ministry is over. Then this amiable international leader, who worked out a pact between Israel and its foes, turns into a beast. The man of sin, the son of perdition, is revealed. He is rabid with anger at these, who stand in the way of his universal ambitions. He is empowered by the devil himself, as was the king of Babylon (Is.14) and the king of Tyre (Ez.28). He comes against the two leaders, makes war against them, conquers them and kills them. Their dead bodies are left in the streets of a city, given two symbolic names and then revealed as the place where their Lord was crucified. It is Jerusalem.

Their dead carcasses are viewed worldwide… this can only happen with satellite TV… and an international festival is inaugurated. There is an exchanging of gifts and joyful celebration, because these two Christian leaders are no more. They had upset the worldly lifestyle of society to the point of pain. Now, I want to remind you of two passages that I asked you to read in preparation for this chapter: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. The clear signs that the apostle Paul gives are veiled in John’s account.

11. But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them.

12. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Como up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them.

13. And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

14. The second woe has passed; behold, the third woe is soon to come.

15. Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”

16. And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God,

17. saying, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.

18. The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”

19. Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and earthquake, and heavy hail.

Signs of the rapture

First in verse 11, there is a resurrection… Paul said, “The dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Th.4:16). There may be many martyrs during those 3 ½ years but not all in the candlestick groups will die. There is a possibility that some time might go by between the resurrection and the rapture, but then those “who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them” (1 Th.4:17). “They heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here!’” Paul declared, “The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command” (1 Th.4:16).

They went up to heaven in a cloud. Paul revealed, “We will be caught up together with them (the resurrected) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Th.4:17). Notice also Acts 1:9-11: “He was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men (angels, or Elijah and Moses!) stood by them in white robes, and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Their enemies watched them, as fear fell on them. There was an earthquake, in which a tenth of Jerusalem fell and 7,000 were killed. The rest were terrified and gave glory to God. Since this took place in Jerusalem, these may become Jewish believers, who enter into the Great Tribulation. The seventh angel blew his trumpet. Paul told the Corinthians, “We shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (1 Co.15:51,52).

Voices in heaven declare that the Millennium is about to begin, followed by the eternal reign of Christ. The 24 elders fall before the throne again and give thanks to God. They speak of rewarding the saints, which takes place at the Tribunal of Christ, now that the saints are raptured into heaven. On the earth, there are still things to take place during the last half of Daniel’s 70th Week, as we will see in chapter 12. The Great White Throne Judgment is still in the future, after the Millennium, in which the dead will be judged. The events are being proclaimed, but not necessarily in chronological order. His reign begins in wrath and a time lies ahead for the outpouring of the bowls of wrath, when He destroys the destroyers of the earth.

In heaven, John sees the Ark of the Covenant, the true heavenly ark in the true heavenly temple. The saints are there now and enter the temple and enjoy their covenant place in Christ with the mercy seat, assuring them full acceptance. The saints find shelter at the place where fearful judgments originate. The Psalmist spoke of these kind of paradoxes: “I called upon the Lord… from his temple he heard my voice… the earth reeled and rocked… because he was angry. Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth… thick darkness was under his feet… The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice, hailstones and coals of fire… the Lord was my support… he rescued me, because he delighted in me” (Ps.18:6-19),


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