THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST TO HIS SERVANT JOHN
The Unveiling of the Kingdom on Earth and in Heaven
Sanctions of the Covenant Treaty Lawsuit Continued
The Two Witnesses and the Seventh Trumpet
Out of Your love for us, You set boundaries for our lives, separating just actions from those that are wicked and profane. It is when we stray outside those boundaries that we bring sin into our lives and increase sin in the world, along with its destructive consequences. Help us to trust in Your definitions of what is righteous or sinful behavior and not our ideas that have been distorted by the secular world and our self-interest. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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The angel who was talking
to me came back and roused me as through rousing someone who was asleep. And
he asked me, "What do you see?" I replied, "As I look, there is a lamp-stand
entirely of gold with a bowl at the top of it; it holds seven lamps, with seven
openings for the lamps on it. By it are two olive trees, one to the right and
the other to the left.' I then said to the angel who was talking to me, "What
are those things, my lord?" The angel who was talking to me replied, "Do you
not know what they are?" I said, "No, my lord." He then gave me this answer, "These
seven are the eyes of Yahweh, which range over the whole world." Then I went
on the ask Him further, "What is the meaning of the two olive branches
discharging oil through the two golden openings?" He replied, "Do you not know
what they are?" I said, "No, my Lord." He said, "These are the two anointed
ones in attendance on the Lord of the whole world."
Zechariah 4:1-14 the prophet's 5th vision of the lampstand and the olive trees)
The prophet Ezekiel, 14 years after
the destruction of Jerusalem: the hand of Yahweh was on me. He carried me
away in divine visions, He carried me away to the land of Israel and put me down
on a very high mountain, on the south of which there seemed to be built a
city. He took me to it, and there I saw a man, whose appearance was like
brass. He had a flax cord and a measuring rod in his hand and was standing in
In the days of those kings, the God of heaven will
set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and this kingdom will not pass
into the hands of another race: it will shatter and absorb all the previous
kingdoms and itself last forever
Daniel 2:44 (Daniel's prophecy of the mystery of the 5th Kingdom)
Then the prophet Elijah arose like a fire, his word
flaring like a torch. It was he who brought famine on them and decimated them
in his zeal. By the word of the Lord, he shut up the heavens; three times also
he brought down fire.
After the blowing of the Sixth Trumpet in 9:13-21, there was another interlude like the one following the opening of the Sixth Seal in Revelation Chapter 7. The interlude in Chapter 10 revealed the vision of the "powerful angel" with authority over the earth and the small scroll. In Chapter 11, there is a second vision in the interlude of the measuring rod and the two witnesses (11:1-14) before the climax of the blowing of the Seventh Trumpet that will reveal the Ark of the Covenant in the heavenly Sanctuary (Rev 11:15-19). Again, it is necessary to refer to the works of the Old Testament prophets to correctly interpret John's visions in Chapter 11, especially the Book of Ezekiel written in the 6th century BC.
|Ezekiel Chapter 40||Revelation 11:1-2||Measuring the Temple|
|Ezekiel 16:45-58||Revelation 11:8||Comparing Jerusalem to Sodom|
|Ezekiel 37:4-11||Revelation 11:11||The breath of God bringing life to the dead|
Revelation 11:1-14: The Two Witnesses
1 Then I was given a long cane like a measuring rod, and I was told, "Get up and measure God's sanctuary, and the altar, and the people who worship there; 2 but exclude the outer court and do not measure it, because it has been handed over to gentiles; they will trample on the holy city for forty-two months. 3 But I shall send my witnesses to prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, wearing sackcloth. 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lamps in attendance on the Lord of the world. 5 Fire comes from their mouths and consumes their enemies if anyone tries to harm them; and anyone who tries to harm them will certainly be killed in this way. 6 They have the power to lock up the sky so that it does not rain as long as they are prophesying; they have the power to turn water into blood and strike the whole world with any plague as often as they like. 7 When they have completed their witnessing, the beast that comes out of the Abyss is going to make war on them and overcome them and kill them. 8 Their corpses lie in the main street of the great city known by the symbolic names Sodom and Egypt, in which their Lord was crucified. 9 People of every race, tribe, language, and nation stare at their corpses, for three-and-a-half days, not letting them be buried, 10 and the people of the world [land] are glad about it and celebrate the event by giving presents to each other, because these two prophets have been a plague to them people of the world [land]. 11 After the three-and-a-half days, God breathed life into them, and they stood up on their feet, and everybody who saw it happen was terrified; 12 then I heard a loud voice from heaven say to them, "Come up here," and while their enemies were watching, they went up to heaven in a cloud. 13 Immediately, there was a violent earthquake, and a tenth of the city collapsed; seven thousand persons were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors, overcome with fear, could only praise the God of heaven. 14 That was the second of the disasters; the third is to come quickly after it.
John receives a cane used for measuring, and the voice from Heaven commands him to measure God's Sanctuary. Sanctuary is a better translation than Temple because the Greek word is naos (from the root naio = to dwell), which was the sacred space occupied by a god in Greek temples. Therefore, John's command is to measure the Holy of Holies along with the altar and the people who worship there. Now, if John's revelation is taking place in AD 96, as some scholars suggest, the Temple in Jerusalem no longer exists, having been destroyed 26 years earlier. John does not protest that he cannot fulfill this command, which is more evidence that John's vision is taking place before AD 70, but soon he realizes the naos is probably the heavenly Sanctuary and not the earthly one.
The measuring of the Temple in Revelation is another link to the Book of Ezekiel but presented differently. In Ezekiel Chapters 40-42, Ezekiel has a vision of a man, whose appearance was like brass and who holds a rod with which he measures a temple that the voice tells Ezekiel is the new Temple of Yahweh. The "man" is measuring what will become the ideal Temple of the New Covenant people of God that is the universal Church (see Mk 14:58; Jn 2:19; 1 Cor 3:16; Eph 2:19-22; 1 Tim 3:15; Heb 3:6; 1 Pt 2:5; and Rev 3:12).
The inspired writer of the Letter to the Hebrews writes that the earthly Temple is only a copy and shadow of the heavenly Tabernacle: It is not as though Christ had entered a man-made sanctuary, which was merely a model of the real one (Heb 9:24). It is because Christ has become our High Priest in the heavenly Sanctuary that, even though we are still on earth, we are now, through Christ, participating in the heavenly worship (Heb 4:14-16; 7:20-28; 8:1-3). It is the heavenly sanctuary/naos or Holy of Holies that will become the center of the New Covenant Church; we will no longer be separated by the "veil" that closed God's people off from Him in the earthly Temple (Ex 26:31-34).
In John's vision, the voice commands him to measure the inner court with its altar but to exclude the outer court (Rev 11:2). Measuring is a symbolic action in Scripture to show the division between the holy and the profane. The "holy" is set aside for protection from destruction (see Ez 22:26; 40-43; Zec 2:1-3; Jer 10:16; 51:19; Rev 21:15-16). This aspect of measuring and setting up boundaries has a link to "seeing" and "judging" as we have already mentioned in God's covenant actions. Genesis Chapter 1 is an example when God saw that it was good (repeated seven times in Gen 1:2, 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31) and in Revelation where it had seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits that God has sent out over the whole world (Rev 5:6). It would be Simon-Peter, the first Vicar of Christ, who would "hear" the message and set the measure and the boundaries for the New Covenant Church!1
The Greek word for "exclude" in verse 2: "but exclude the outer court," is ekballo. A more literal translation might be to "cast out" or "excommunicate." This word ekabllo appears most often in the New Testament for casting out evil spirits (see Mk 1:34, 39; 3:15; 6:13, etc.). In other words, the heavenly voice tells John to "cast out" or "excommunicate" the outer court, which is where those who not part of the covenant could gather. Before AD 70, members of the Sinai Covenant considered that group of non-covenanters to be the "gentile dogs." However, now the definition of non-covenanters will include those Jews who reject the Messiah.
In verses 1-2, the contrast
is between the inner and outer Sanctuary courts.
Question: What happened between the Sixth and Seventh Seals concerning the 144,000 saints of the True Israel? See Revelation 7:1-8.
Answer: God protected them from the coming judgment.b
That action is now taking place between the Sixth and Seventh Trumpets. John's measuring of only the inner court is the protection of the true, New Covenant Israel from the outpouring of God's judgment and wrath. The outer court represents apostate Israel which is to be cut off from the number of the faithful New Covenant people who are now God's Temple (His dwelling place). Jesus Himself warned the Jews in Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 13:22-30 that unbelieving Jews as a whole would be "cast out" from the Church while the Gentiles who accepted Him as Savior would be welcomed into the Kingdom and receive the blessings promised to the descendants of Abraham. Jesus said: "And I tell you that many will come from east and west and sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom will be thrown out (ekballo) into the darkness outside, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth" (Mt 8:11-12, bold added for emphasis).
The Jews who rejected Jesus as their promised Redeemer-Messiah were excluded from the protective boundary and unbelieving Israel has been handed over to the gentiles (the nations) who will trample the holy city for forty-two months (Rev 11:2). Forty-two months is a significant number. It equals 1,260 days or three and a half years. It is a number that is a reference to Daniel 7:25, where it symbolizes a limited period during which the wicked are victorious. In Revelation Chapter 11, it speaks of a limited period of wrath and judgment caused by apostasy, where the number seven represents wholeness and completion while three and a half is a "broken" seven. A broken seven yields death, destruction, and judgment (Daniel 9:24; 12:7; Revelation 12:6, 14; 13:5).
The forty-two months are probably symbolic; however, there is a literal and historical fulfillment in the three-and-a-half years from the invasion of Vespasian's legions in AD 67 until the destruction of Jerusalem in the summer of AD 70. It is also worth noting that the times in the Trumpets section of Revelation are arranged in a chiastic pattern in Revelation 11:2, 3, 9, 11; 12:6, and 13:5. It is another indication of the critical and symbolic nature of these specific times:
Number imagery appears throughout the Bible. In Matthew's Gospel (genealogy of Mt 1:1-17), for example, he deliberately goes out of his way to draw our attention to the number 42. He artfully arranges the list of Jesus' ancestors to add up to 42 generations in three lists of 14 names. He manipulated the genealogy to come out to 42 names by deleting three generations and by counting one name twice (Jeconiah; see Mt 1:11-12). The symbolic nature of 42 was more important than the accuracy of the list because it becomes the number between promise and fulfillment and between bondage to redemption.
Matthew's genealogy has a link to Revelation, where the message in Revelation is that the Church does not need to wait 42 generations but only 42 months! God will save the Church of the New Covenant through the coming Tribulation, during which time an invasion of Gentiles will destroy Judea and Jerusalem. The end of this period of Tribulation will result in the full establishment of Jesus' Kingdom of Heaven on earth, the New Covenant, universal (not regional as in the past) Church, as He prophesied in each of the Synoptic Gospels
Question: Where in the New Testament did Jesus prophesize the
destruction of Jerusalem, which would end in a Gentile invasion and slavery for
Answer: The Olivet Discourse in Matthew Chapter 24, Mark Chapter13, and Luke Chapter 21. Jesus said: "For great misery will descend on the land and retribution on this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive to every gentile country, and Jerusalem will be trampled down by the gentiles until their time is complete" (Lk 21:24).
3 But I shall send my two witnesses to prophesy for twelve
hundred and sixty days, wearing sackcloth. 4 These
are the two olive trees and the two lamps in attendance on the Lord of the
But before the destruction of Jerusalem, God provides John with further evidence of the city's guilt in a summary of the apostate history of Jerusalem, focusing on its persecution of the holy prophets (see what Jesus said concerning Jerusalem's crimes in Mt 21:43; 23:31-37; ). God tells John that He has ordained two prophets to witness to Jerusalem for 1,260 days. This number equates to a 42-months made up of 30 days each and related to the period preceding the full establishment of the Kingdom of God, as mentioned in verses 1-2.
Question: How are the two witnesses dressed, and how does it relate
to their message?
Answer: They are wearing sackcloth, the garment prophets, and mourning.
Sackcloth is a rough fabric woven from goat hair; it was the traditional garment of mourning and for the prophets from Elijah through John the Baptist. For a prophet, it symbolized their mourning in their call for repentance concerning national apostasy (see 2 Kng 1:8; Is 20:2; Jonah 3:6; Zec 13:4; Mt 3:4-6; Mk 1:5-6).
Question: What is the significance of two witnesses?
See Num 35:30;
Dt 17:6; 19:15;
Answer: Biblical law required two witnesses to bring legal action.
The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews reminded his readers: Anyone who disregards the Law of Moses is ruthlessly put to death on the word of two witnesses or three; and you may be sure that anyone who tramples on the Son of God, and who treats the blood of the Covenant which sanctified Him as if it were not holy, and who insults the Spirit of grace, will be condemned to a far severer punishment (Heb 10:28-29). The two witnesses of Revelation give legal evidence of Judea/Jerusalem's apostasy before fulfilling the sentence of divine judgment.
Question: How are they identified symbolically, and what is the
significance? See Zechariah Chapter 4 as well as
Revelation 1:4, 13, 20; 4:5.
Answer: Revelation 10:4 identifies the two witnesses as two olive trees and two lamps. In Zechariah Chapter 4, the seven lamps on the lampstand connect to two olive trees and from them flow an unceasing supply of oil.
The oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit's filling and empowering work in the leaders of His covenant people. Zechariah 4:6 explains the symbolism: He then gave me this answer: "These are the seven eyes of Yahweh, which range over the whole world" (referring to the seven lampstands and recalling the same reference in Revelation 5:6). And when Zechariah asked the angel about the two olive branches discharging oil through two golden openings, the angel replied: "These are the two anointed ones[sons of oil] in attendance on the Lord of the whole world;" and God's reply is, "Not by might and not by power, but by My Spirit, says Yahweh Sabaoth" (Zec 4:6a-14, 6b).
"Sons of oil" is another way of saying "anointed ones," those commissioned by God to lead His people. In the Book of Zechariah, the angel is speaking of Joshua, the high priest, and Zerubbabel, the descendant of the royal house of King David, who represents spiritual and temporal power. Priests and kings, along with prophets, are the three anointed offices. In the Revelation passage, the connection is to the two witness-figures who belong to the royal house and the priesthood, as do all baptized Christians in the New Covenant as a kingdom of priests and kings. Through the Sacrament of Baptism are all called to a holy ministry and have become sons and heirs of the King (CCC 784, 1591, 1546-47). However, John's two witnesses are members of the Old Covenant rather than the New. Evidence that points to this interpretation include their wearing sackcloth that is an Old Covenant privation instead of New Covenant fullness of blessings.
5 Fire comes from their mouths and consumes their enemies
if anyone tries to harm them, and anyone who tries to harm them will undoubtedly
be killed in this way. 6 They have the power to lock up the sky so that it does
not rain as long as they are prophesying; they have the power to turn water
into blood and strike the whole world with any plague as often as they like.
John's vision now connects the two witnesses to two great Old Testament prophets.
Question: Which two Old Testament prophets had the power to 1) stop the rain and cause drought, and 2) the power to turn water into blood and bring plagues? See 1 Kng 17:1 and Ex Chapters 7-13.
Answer: Elijah and Moses. Elijah brought drought to an apostate Israel in the 9th century BC, and Moses brought the Egyptian judgments of water turning to blood and the plagues of boils and locusts.
There is another connection to Moses and Elijah in verse 5. In Numbers 16:35, fire came down from heaven at Moses' command and consumed the false worshipers who had rebelled against his leadership. In 2 Kings 1:9-12, fire fell from heaven, destroying Elijah's enemies. Most scholars believe these witnesses are symbolic and point beyond two individuals.
Both Moses and Elijah,
representing the Law and the Prophets, are bound up with Jesus' First Advent
and His ministry.
Question: Who did God send to meet with Jesus on the Mt. of Transfiguration to discuss His "exodus" from Jerusalem? See Mt 17:1-8; Mk 9:2-8; Lk 9:28-36.
Answer: Moses and Elijah.
It is also important to note that the last prophetic book of the Old Testament mentions both Moses and Elijah together in a prophecy of Christ's Advent: Remember the law of Moses My servant.... Behold I am going to send you Elijah the prophet (Mal 3:22-24). The prophecy, confirmed by the angel Gabriel, was that John the Baptist's ministry would revisit Elijah's ministry. In the spirit and power of Elijah, John would also call the covenant people to repentance (see Mt 11:14; 17:10-13; Lk 1:15-17).
However, John the Baptist, like Elijah, was only a forerunner who prepared the way for the One coming after him who would have a double portion (in Jesus' case, an immeasurable portion) of God's Spirit. Elijah, whose name means, "God is Yahweh." Elisha succeeded by Elijah, whose name means "God is salvation," and who received a double portion of Elijah's spirit (2 Kng 2:9-14). The imagery continues with Moses, succeeded by Joshua (Yeshua in Hebrew/Yehoshua in Aramaic, meaning "Yahweh saves" or more literally "I save"). Another Joshua-Yeshua (in English Jesus) succeeded John the Baptist, and His ministry was summed up in the meaning of His name: "I SAVE" because His mission was to save people from their sins (see Mt 1:21) The two Witnesses, therefore, represent and summarize the line of God's Old Testament prophets, who bore witness against Jerusalem during the history of the people of Israel and culminating in the witness of John the Baptist.
Most Biblical scholars believe these two witnesses are symbolic; however, there is a historical connection to this passage in an account by the historian, Flavius Josephus, in his book about the Jewish Revolt of 66-73. Josephus wrote: There was one Jesus, the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, come to that feast whereon it is our custom for everyone to make tabernacles to God in the Temple, began on a sudden cry aloud, A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!' This was his cry, as he went about by day and by night, in all the lanes of the city." Josephus went on to record that this man was arrested and brought to the Roman procurator who had him whipped until his bones were laid bare, and yet the man never cried out, he only answered at every beat of the lash "Woe, woe to Jerusalem!" Procurator Albinus (the predecessor of Gessius Florus) pronounced him a harmless madman and released him. Josephus continued: He continued this ditty for seven years and five months, without growing hoarse, or being tired therewith, until the very time that he saw his presage in earnest fulfilled in our siege when it ceased; for as he was going round upon the wall, he cried out with his utmost force, Woe, woe, to the city again and to the people, and to the holy house!' And just as he added at the last, Woe, woe, to myself also!' there came a stone out of one of the engines, and smote him, and killed him immediately; and as he was uttering the very same presages, he gave up the ghost (Josephus, The Jewish Wars, 6.5.3).
7 When they have completed their witnessing, the beast
that cames out of the Abyss is going to make war on them and overcome them and
kill them. 8 Their corpses lie in the main street of the great
city known by the symbolic names Sodom and Egypt, in which their Lord was
Question: This is the first mention of "the beast" in Revelation. How many times is the Antichrist mentioned in the Book of Revelation? See 1 Jn 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 Jn 7.
Answer: The Book of Revelation does not mention the Antichrist.
It appears the "beast" from the Abyss has defeated the witnesses. The theme of the "beast" is a familiar one in Biblical history. When Adam and Eve yielded to the temptation of the beast/serpent in Genesis, they become "beasts" themselves. They even dressed as the beasts, clothed in animal skins as they left Eden (Gen 3:21). Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, through his pride, sought godhood and was judged by God. He became like a beast in his insanity (Dan 4:33).
The "beast" is the image of humankind
in rebellion against God. The enemy of God and the Church is, therefore,
always the "beast" in various historical manifestations. The Old Testament prophets
spoke of pagan states, using this imagery, as terrifying ravenous beasts that
warred against God's covenant people (
Ps 87:4; 89:10;
Dan 7:3-8, 16-25). All the "beast" imagery and symbolism will be gathered together in
John's descriptions of Rome and apostate Israel in Revelation Chapter 13. But
it is important to remember that there is one "beast" that is behind all the
manifestations of rebellion down through the history of redemption.
Question: Who is the ultimate "beast"?
Answer: Satan, the beast who rises from the Abyss. Throughout the history of redemption, he has made war against the Church, particularly against God's prophetic witnesses.
Question: In Matthew 23:34-36 for what crime did Jesus say His
generation would be held accountable?
Answer: They will be held accountable for murdering God's prophet/witnesses from Abel to Zechariah.
The dead bodies of the two witnesses symbolize those of the all the Old Covenant Witnesses, from the blood of Abel the holy to the blood of Zechariah (Mt 23:35), who lie metaphorically in the main street of the great city known by the symbolic names Sodom and Egypt (Rev 11:8), a city and a nation also guilty of persecuting God's people.
Question: Can you identify the city, which is symbolically
called Sodom and Egypt?
Answer: According to Revelation 11:8b, the city must be Jerusalem, where Jesus suffered crucifixion.
Many commentators insist that the city in verse 8 is Rome despite the explicit reference to Jerusalem as the city in which their Lord was crucified. The argument is that even though Christ suffered crucifixion in Jerusalem at the insistence of certain powerful Jewish authorities who arrested and tried Jesus before the Sanhedrin [Jewish law court], it was a Roman ruler who had Him crucified. But that is an empty argument. Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, was only the instrument, not the instigator.
Question: Who did St. Peter charge with the responsibility for
the crucifixion of Jesus? See Acts 2:36. Quote a verse from Peter's address
to the Jews on Pentecost Sunday in which he accuses those responsible.
Answer: Peter held Judea, the Jews in general, and the citizens of Jerusalem responsible. On Pentecost Sunday, he said: "For this reason, the whole House of Israel can be certain that the Lord and Christ whom God has made is this Jesus whom you crucified."
However, we are all guilty of Jesus' crucifixion. It is important to remember that the Jews collectively are not responsible for Jesus' death. No human agency had power over Jesus because everything that happened was God's plan. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: "The Jews are not collectively responsible for Jesus' death: "The historical complexity of Jesus' trial is apparent in the Gospel accounts. The personal sin of the participants (Judas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate) is known to God alone. Hence we cannot lay responsibility for the trial on the Jews in Jerusalem as a whole, despite the outcry of a manipulated crowd and the global reproaches contained in the apostles' calls to conversion after Pentecost. Jesus himself, in forgiving them on the cross, and Peter in following suit, both accept the ignorance' of the Jews of Jerusalem and even their leaders. Still less can we extend responsibility to other Jews of different times and places, based merely on the crowd's cry: "His blood be on us and on our children!" a formula for ratifying a judicial sentence. As the Church declared at the Second Vatican Council: Neither all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during his Passion.... The Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from Holy Scripture.' All sinners were the authors of Christ's Passion" (CCC# 597, bold added for emphasis).
The short period of the sufferings and deaths of God's people under the persecution of Roman Emperor Nero from AD 64-68 cannot compare with the horrific sufferings inflicted on God's prophets by the city of Jerusalem down through the centuries. Jesus, speaking of His death, said of Jerusalem, "Today and tomorrow I drive out devils and heal, and on the third day I attain my end. But for today and tomorrow and the next day, I must go on, since it would not be right for a prophet to die outside Jerusalem" ( Lk 13:33). Rome will play a role in this drama as it unfolds since Jerusalem, the capital of the Roman province of Judea, is a client-city of the Roman Empire. The Jewish leadership of Jerusalem played a subservient role by cooperating with the Roman government since 63BC and had effectively since that time used their influence to keep Judea from revolt. Any of the minor uprisings that had occurred generated from the lower classes. It was Gessius Florus' mistake (or maybe part of his cunning) in AD 66 to murder such a large number of the Jewish aristocracy who would have provided "a voice of reason" against such drastic action as an all-out Jewish revolt.
Here are the reasons for supporting those scholars who identify Jerusalem as "the great city" of Revelation 11:8:
11 After the three and a half days, God breathed life into them, and they stood up on their feet, and everybody who saw it happen was terrified; 12 then I heard a loud voice from heaven say to them, Come up here,' and while their enemies were watching, they went up to heaven in a cloud. 13 Immediately, there was a violent earthquake, and a tenth of the city collapsed; seven thousand persons were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors, overcome with fear, could only praise the God of heaven." 14 That was the second of the disasters: the third is to come quickly after it."
Three-and-a-half is symbolic of a broken seven, seven being the number of fullness and perfection that becomes imperfect. Three-and-a-half is a short period of sadness and oppression.
Have you noticed how, in each section of Revelation, John's figures harmonize with each other?
|How are the Seal judgments numbered?||In fourths|
|How are the Trumpet judgments numbered?||In thirds|
|How are the numbers in Chapters 11-13 set?||The numbers correspond to three-and-a-half (the 42 months and 1,260 days both equal three and a half years).|
11 After the three and a half days, God breathed life into
them, and they stood up on their feet
This verse recalls the resurrection of the "dry bones" in Ezekiel Chapter 37. God gave Ezekiel a vision of a valley full of dry bones: He said, "Prophesy over these bones. Say, Dry bones, hear the word of Yahweh. The Lord Yahweh says this to these bones: I am now going to make breath enter you, and you will live'"(Ez 37:4-5). Then, He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man. Say to the breath, The Lord Yahweh says this: Come from the four winds, breathe; breathe on these dead, so that they come to life! I prophesied as He had ordered me, and the breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feed, a great, an immense army" (Ez 37:9-10). Ezekiel received this vision after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 587 BC. The word for "breath" in Hebrew is ruah; it is the same as the word for "wind" and "Spirit" (God's Holy Spirit)! Ezekiel's vision of the resurrection of the dead is a key to understanding Revelation 11:11-13.
The three-and-a-half days mean the time of evil is brief, just like the short time the wicked were triumphant after the crucifixion of Christ. There is probably a connection to the three days of Christ's descent into Hades (Sheol) to rescue the righteous dead when the earth believed Him to be dead and defeated. During that time, the entire covenant community was as though dead and lying in the streets under a curse. But after the three and a half days in Revelation 11:11, there is a resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was three days after His burial. But resurrection for the New Covenant Community in Jerusalem was fifty days later on Pentecost Sunday when the Holy Spirit baptized the New Covenant Church!
Jesus' resurrection and the transformation of the disciples from frightened men and women to crusading heroes and heroines caused terror and confusion to their enemies. There were, however, "witnesses" who did not survive the persecution (like Stephen in Acts Chapter 7 and the Apostle James in Acts 12:2). Still, through Christ's resurrection, they rose to power and dominion through the very "breath" of God to eternal life. In union with Christ, they were able to ascend to glory, as Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:6, and raised us up with Him and gave us a place with Him in heaven, in Christ Jesus. Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the New Covenant Church was raised to life and became unstoppable!3
Notice the parallels between the ascension of the witnesses, the language used in 11:11-12, and John's ascension to Heaven in Revelation 4:1:
The story of the two witnesses is the story of the witnessing Church down through the centuries, which has received a divine command to be God's holy emissaries and the promise that one day, those witnesses will hear the call to enter the throne room of God like St. John.
The reference to the earthquake may be symbolic. The earth shook symbolically during this pivot point in history with the resurrection of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit. However, the gospels also record that the earth shook, and even the dead were raised from their graves at the crucifixion of Christ in Matthew 27:51-53!
13 Immediately, there was a violent earthquake, and a tenth
of the city collapsed; seven thousand persons were killed in the earthquake, and
the survivors, overcome with fear, could only praise the God of heaven.
Actually, the whole city of Jerusalem fell in AD 70, but the Trumpet judgments do not announce the end until the blowing of the Seventh Trumpet in 11:14. If we were looking for a historical fulfillment, this period probably still refers to the suffering of the Jews under the Roman legions led by Cesstius Gallas. The reference to a tenth could be a form of "a tithe"(which is the 1/10 that belongs to God see Leviticus 27; Numbers 18; Deuteronomy 14 &26) of Jerusalem that fell in the first siege that ended in November of 66AD.
seven thousand killed
This is clearly a symbolic number. Many more than seven thousand people would die, but this number probably represents the exact reverse of the situation in the prophet Elijah's day. In 1 Kings 19:18, God told Elijah that only 7,000 in the Northern Kingdom of Israel remained faithful to the covenant. Even that number was probably symbolic, signifying the completeness and spiritual perfection of the faithful even if they were a minority. Now, in reverse, the New Covenant will become the majority, and the apostates who face judgment will be the minority compared to the number converted and saved. The next line supports this interpretation.
the survivors, overcome
with fear, could only praise the God of heaven.
This is Biblical language for repentance and conversion (c.f., Josh 7:19; Is 26:9; 42:12; Jer 13:16; Mt 5:16; Lk 17:15-19; 18:43; 1 Pt 2:12; Rev 14:7; 15:4; 16:9; 19:7 21:24).
14 That was the second of the disasters: the third is to
come quickly after it."
Question: How many disasters have come since Revelation 9:12 and 11:14, and how many will follow?
Answer: Two disasters have come, and there is one more that will come quickly.
Revelation 11:15-19 ~ The Seventh Trumpet: The Kingdom Comes!
15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and voices could be heard shouting in heaven, calling, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever." 16 The twenty-four elders, enthroned in the presence of God, prostrated themselves and touched the ground with their foreheads worshipping God 17 with these words, "We give thanks to you Almighty Lord God, He who is, He who was, for assuming your great power and beginning your reign. 18 The nations were in uproar, and now the time has come for your retribution, and for the dead to be judged, and for your servants the prophets, for the saints and for those who fear your name, small and great alike, to be rewarded. The time has come to destroy those who are destroying the earth. 19 Then the sanctuary of God in heaven opened, and the Ark of the Covenant could be seen inside it. Then came flashes of lightning, peals of thunder and an earthquake and violent hail.
The priest/king elders prostrate themselves before God's glory proclaiming, "Eucharistoumen!" "We give thanks!" The verb for "give thanks" is eucharisteo, used throughout Christian history for the Communion of Christ's Body and Blood = the Eucharist. From the opening verses of this book, John continues the liturgical setting of God's redemptive action in the unfolding of history. The elders praise God and declare that now is the time for His reign on earth to begin.
The seventh angel blows the Seventh Trumpet, which announces that the "Mystery of God" is accomplished (from Revelation 10:6-7). The mystery is that the Gentiles and Jews are now united in the Church of the New Covenant family of God, and it is time for the Old Covenant Church to pass away.
In the liturgical calendar of the Old Covenant, trumpets announced the Feast of Trumpets on Tishri 1, the first day of the seventh month of the liturgical year that was also the first month of the civil year (see the Calendar in the handouts). In Hebrew, it was Rosh Hashanah, "head of the year." There are several aspects concerning this old covenant feast day that impact our passage in Revelation and the blowing of the Seventh Trumpet. Theodor H. Gasster, in Festivals of the Jewish Year, p. 109, makes these points concerning the Feast of Trumpets:
All of these aspects of the Feast of Trumpets would have been on the minds of the 1st-century Jewish Christian readers of John's Book of Revelation as they realized that John heard the blowing of the Last Trumpet! They would have understood that the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet heralded the coming destruction of Old Covenant Israel and the Temple. There was going to be the revealing of a new nation just as Jesus prophesized. When Jesus was teaching in the Temple and speaking to the chief priests and the elders, He told them the parable of the Wicked Tenants and then He said: "I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. When they heard His parables, the chief priests and the scribes realized He was speaking about them" (Mt 21:43-45).
18 The nations were in uproar, and now the time has come
for your retribution, and for the dead to be judged, and for your servants the
prophets, for the saints and for those who fear your name, small and great alike,
to be rewarded. The time has come to destroy those who are destroying the earth.
19 Then the sanctuary of God in heaven opened, and the
Ark of the Covenant could be seen inside it. Then came flashes of lightning,
peals of thunder and an earthquake and violent hail.
Verse 19 would have thrilled first-century AD Jewish Christians! The Ark of the Covenant had been missing since just before the destruction of Solomon's Temple in 587 BC when the prophet Jeremiah removed it from the Holy of Holies and hid it in a cave on Mount Nebo (2 Mac 1:1-8). The Holy of Holies of the rebuilt Second Temple was an empty room! The critical point here is that the Sanctuary in Heaven could not be fully opened until the removal of the old Temple (Heb 9:8). And the Sanctuary stands open to reveal the heavenly Ark (remember the earthly one was only a copy).
Verse 18 should remind us of 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16 when Paul condemned the apostate Jews who had rejected Christ. He wrote: Their conduct does not please God, and makes them the enemies of the whole human race, because they are hindering us from preaching to Gentiles to save them. Thus all the time, they are reaching the full extent of their iniquity, but retribution (from God) has finally overtaken them (some ancient MSS [manuscripts] add "from God" after retribution).
When talking about the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus told His disciples: "And then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven; then, too, all the peoples of the earth will beat their breasts; and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet to gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Mt 24:30-31 emphasis in bold added).
Several commentators point to the inadequate translation of Matthew 24:30 that often leads to an incorrect interpretation. The Greek reads: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven and then shall wail all the tribes of the land, and they shall see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and glory great (Mt 24:30). The point is that it isn't that a sign appeared in Heaven; the Son of Man is in heaven. The phrase "in heaven" defines the locality of the Son of Man and not the sign. The sign is the destruction of Jerusalem, which signaled the fact that the Son of Man was reigning in Heaven. The devastation of Jerusalem and the fall of the Old Covenant Temple signaled the beginning of a new kingdom, marking the end of legalistic Judaism and its separation from the New Covenant Church, whose authority is world-wide. It is the fulfillment of the "Fifth Kingdom" prophesied in Daniel Chapter 2. God told Daniel: "In the days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed and this kingdom will not pass into the hands of another race: it will shatter and absorb all the previous kingdoms and itself last forever" (Dan 2:44). In Scriptural numerical symbolism, five is the number of power and grace. God will offer His grace to all humanity through this Fifth Kingdom, the Universal (catholic) Church. It is a Kingdom on earth ruled by Jesus' Vicars until He returns in glory, as He told Simon-Peter: "So I now say to you: You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my (ekklesia) Church. And the gates of Hades can never overpower it" (Mt 16:16).
Question: What do a woman, a promised seed, and a serpent/dragon have in common? You will find them all in the next lesson!
Yahweh to the serpent: "I shall put enmity between
you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; she-he-it (indefinite
pronoun) will crush (or bruise) your head, and you will strike its (her-his-its/
indefinite pronoun) heel."
1. St Peter's name in Hebrew is Shimown (written in Old Testament English translations as Simeon), Simon in Greek. Some scholars say his name in Hebrew comes from the root "to hear" or "to listen" = shema. Others believe his name comes from the Hebrew root shebet meaning, "cane" or "rod." Either way, how perfectly and prophetically he was named even before Jesus changed his name to "rock" (kepha in Aramaic or Petros (a masculine form of the feminine petra/rock in Greek).
2. In Revelation Chapter 13, we will address aspects of the number 1,260 and its relationship to the number of the Beast: 666.
3. Also worthy of note is that when Jesus' appeared to the Apostles after His resurrection, He "breathed" on them, giving them life in the Spirit (Jn 20:22). In the New Creation of the resurrection, Jesus repeated God's life-giving breath into humankind as He breathed into Adam, giving him life in Genesis 2:7.
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2000, revised 2019 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.
Catechism references for this lesson (* indicated Scripture is quoted or paraphrased in
Revelation 11:15 (CCC 450*)
Genesis 3:15 (CCC 70*, 410*, 489*)
Daniel 12:7 CCC 992*)
Zechariah 4:14 (CCC 436*)