Things to Come, Lesson 22, The Great Tribulation, Part 10, Revelation, Chapter 11
In our study of the Great Tribulation we are at the opening of the seventh seal where the sixth trumpet has announced the slaying of one third part of men by an army of creatures led by four angels.
There is also given two events that are to take place during this time of judgment and death.
The first event was to view the eating of a little book by John the Apostle, that was sweet to the taste but bitter to the belly.
Immediately John was told in Revelation 10:11, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
So the eating of the little book, sweet to the taste but bitter to the belly was symbolic of the mission to John to preach the Gospel but to also preach of Godís judgment to come, on all who reject the outstretched hand of the Grace of God.
Remember the repentance preaching of John the Baptist who said in Matthew 3:7, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
I believe that in the eating of the little book God is telling preachers of the Word of God that in the preaching of the Gospel there is also a commission to preach that which is bitter to the soul and mind, that is the preaching of the coming judgment of God against the wicked.
It used to be called fire and brimstone preaching.
Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield were called "fire and brimstone preachers" during the Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s.
Jonathan Edwards sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" is one of the most well known sermons.
Itís text consists of ten considerations, all having to do with Godís thoughts of the wicked.
These thoughts are well summarized in this quote from the sermon.
"There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure (what the will dictates or prefers) of God."
Fire and brimstone preaching makes plain that there is a time of great accounting, there is a time whereby all will be revealed and open.
As we are told in Romans 9:22, God has endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction and therefore wills to show his wrath, and to make his power known.
But for those who are in Christ God promises safety from the wrath to come when He, as it says in that same Roman passage: will make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy which he had afore prepared unto glory,
Jonathan Edwards 10th consideration spoke of this:
God has laid himself under no Obligation by any Promises to keep any natural Man out of Hell one Moment. God certainly has made no Promises either of eternal Life, or of any Deliverance or Preservation from eternal Death, but what are contained in the Covenant of Grace, the Promises that are given in Christ, in whom all the Promises are Yea and Amen. But surely they have no Interest in the Promises of the Covenant of Grace that are not the Children of the Covenant, and that donít believe in any of the Promises of the Covenant, and have no Interest in the Mediator of the Covenant.
But men and women of the world today have so constructed gods alien to this consideration for they invent gods which are made in their own image instead of believing what Godís word says, that they are made in Godís image.
Those of this world who have no interest in the truth invent gods who have no hell, who promise to accept all without any divine intervention, without any divinely given fitness to be in Godís presence.
So as John was commissioned to preach the message of Godís love he was also commissioned to preach Godís wrath for only with the preaching of both will there be true repentance.
It is no wonder that in this day and age there is a famine in the land of salvation for repentance preaching, fire and brimstone preaching is a thing of the past.
Yes! God so loved the world but unless you bow the knee to Jesus Christ only doom awaits.
The Bible is clear that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord which clearly presents a picture of: Sinners in the hand of an Angry God.
Now the second event scheduled to take place at the 2nd Woe (6th Trumpet) concerns the holy city of Jerusalem.
It is to be trod under foot by the Gentiles for 42 months, a period of three and one half years, or the later half of the Tribulation period.
We read of this in Revelation 11:1,2, 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. 2But 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.
There has not been a temple in the holy city, Jerusalem, since it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
But now John is instructed to measure the temple of God and the altar but told to leave out the measure of the court which is without the temple for it is given unto the Gentiles.
This is not a heavenly temple for its location is on earth and its holy city is under the domination of the Gentiles.
We see in this passage the appointment of John to the position of land surveyor.
One of the necessary things to do before taking possession of land is to measure the land and here we see an act which shows Godís possession of the temple and altar but without possession of the court without for it is given unto the Gentiles.
Now one of the great things about measuring land and structures is that the measuring act brings intimacy of knowledge of that which is being measured.
The order to rise and measure the Temple, in other words, is Godís way of drawing His people's attention to his principles and laws.
Jesus Christ will rule and reign soon from this very land and will rule by these principles and laws.
During this period one third of the worldís population will be killed and terrible things are happening but God wants to open the eyes of the multitude of new believers to his eternal principles and laws.
For we are given to know that Gentile control of the holy city is to only remain for 42 months.
In other words God is telling us that the court and the holy city will be controlled by the Gentiles for a limited time but then after this period they will not, and Godís new order will begin.
The times of the Gentiles is a Bible period with an beginning and an end.
We know of the beginning for it took place with the captivity of Judah under Nebuchadnezzar.
We are still in the times of the Gentiles, for from that day unto now, Jerusalem has not been under the complete control of the Jew even though Israel became a nation in 1948.
It is still protected because of Gentile power.
Israel cannot do to Jerusalem what it desires, for Gentile powers have to be dealt with.
Just compare Israelís wailing wall with the Muslims Dome of the Rock structure at the former temple site and you will know that Jerusalem is under the control of the Gentiles.
But here we are given by God that this will come to an end in 42 months from the time John is told to eat the little book.
So John in this passage is speaking at the beginning of the last half of Danielís seventieth week, the half which is called the Great Tribulation.
This passage then, is prophetic in that the end of Gentile domination means that God, through Jesus Christ will dominate the holy city in 42 months or three and one half years.
These words bring forth the initial progress of the actual taking possession of the earth by our, and the earthís Savior, the righteous Heir of all things, the Lord Jesus Christ.
God has been working toward the taking back of his creation since the Garden of Eden and now he tells us here that it is to be only 42 months until its realization.
Remember the first horseman of the Apocalypse, the one who brings peace, but in the midst of the seventieth week the peace is broken.
It was a short time of control but now in the last half of the seven year period we are told that the Gentiles will trod under foot the holy city.
The Anti-Christian nations will pretend friendship with the Jew during the first half of the reign of the Antichrist, but these same people will turn and in vengeance and horrible terror trod them under their feet.
But all will be met by Godís wrath and his rescue of His people.
Zechariah 14:1-9, Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. 2For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. 3Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
4And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. 5And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. 6And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: 7But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.
8And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. 9And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
So the measuring of the temple and the altar is a divine call to obedience, a call which is directly linked with the message of the Two Witnesses, that are spoken of in:
Revelation 11:3-13, And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. 4These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 5And 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. 6These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. 7And 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. 8And 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. 9And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. 10And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. 11And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. 12And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. 13And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
So the third event scheduled to take place at the 2nd Woe (6th Trumpet) will be the powerful work, death and resurrection of Godís Two Witnesses.
Deuteronomy 19:15 establishes Godís law regarding witnesses for it tells us that at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.
When Jesus took Peter, John and James (they were to become three witnesses) to the mountain top it is reported by Luke in chapter nine that there talked with him two men, which were Moses (representing the Law) and Elias (Elijah) (representing the Prophets): 31Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.
God brought these two witnesses to the mountain where Christ was transfigured, and by the way in this God the Father became the third witness in saying: This is my beloved Son: hear him.
And here in Revelation 11 God brings forth two witnesses clothed in sackcloth, endowing them with power to prophesy 1260 days or three and one half years.
Remember we are in a Jewish dispensation and Jewish law requires at least two witnesses to give competent evidence concerning matters of law, religion, or the dealings of men with each other.
Two angel messengers visited Sodom before its overthrow by fire and brimstone.
Two angels were in the tomb of Jesus the morning of his resurrection to give evidence that Jesus lived.
Again when Jesus returned to the Father in Acts 1 there were two men who testified that this same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
And remember how Jesus sent out the seventy disciples in Luke 10, two by two for in the mouth of two witnesses shall the matter be established.
God tells us these two witnesses were clothed in sackcloth.
In Bible times sackcloth was most often made of coarse, black goatís hair and was worn by mourners or as a sign of deep repentance and humility.
In the case of the two witnesses we can probably conclude that sackcloth was worn to display both mourning and repentance.
God describes the two men as two olive trees and two candlesticks.
Olive oil is symbolic of Godís Spirit and candles are symbolic of Godís light.
They were endued with power by Godís Spirit to broadcast light to the ever darkening world.
Zechariah 4:11-14 speaks of two olive trees: Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? 12And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? 13And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 14Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
So the two witnesses are anointed ones, anointed by the Lord of the whole earth, specially prepared ones who are used as channels to bring to the earth oil and light for: they empty the golden oil out of themselves.
The two witnesses are not angles but men for they are killed at Godís appointed time.
Their ministry will be to the entire earth for their deaths will bring celebration to the entire earth.
When they arrive there will be no mistaking them or the absolute authority with which they preach.
Even in the city of Jerusalem, which at the time will be under Gentile domination, they will declare the message of God with powerful effect.
No earthly authority will dare restrain them, for like Elijah of old they are able to reduce their opponents to ashes; and like Moses and Aaron, can cause all manner of plagues.
These two divine messengers can appear on the world's scene at God's appointed time, which is when a third of the world's population is being slain and the city of Jerusalem is under Gentile control.
When they do arrive, they will bring to all mankind a final appeal from God.
Their message will be the same call to repentance and obedience which every true prophet of God has delivered since the days of Enoch.
Multitudes of believers from every nation, kindred tongue and people will heed their call and begin to obey God's law.
The vast majority of mankind, however, will reject the Two Witnesses and their powerful call to repentance, faith and obedience.
For there will also be upon the earth Satanís Agent of Evil, the man of Sin, who will continue to celebrate and encourage sin as the way to complete freedom from Godís law.
Such seduction of the inhabitants of earth will have never been seen before.
The Two Witnesses will be murdered by this being, who is symbolically referred to in the Revelation as the Beast.