Revelation 11:1-6

Sunday Morning Bible Study

February 5, 2012


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

I want to offer this public service announcement for all today’s Football parties…

Play Super Bowl Party clip

The apostle John found himself caught up into heaven before the throne of God.

He saw Jesus take a scroll from the hand of God that had been sealed with seven seals. As Jesus broke each seal and unrolled the scroll a little further, events begin to take place on the earth and the time that we call the Tribulation begins to unfold.

The Tribulation is a time when God’s wrath is poured out on an unbelieving world and God begins to make right all the things that have been so wrong.

Built within the seventh seal are seven trumpets.

We are now in a break between the sixth and seventh trumpets.

11:1-6 Two Witnesses

:1 Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, “Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there.

:1 reedkalamos – a reed; a measuring reed or rod; writer’s reed, a pen

:1 measuring rodrhabdos – a staff, a walking stick, a twig, rod, branch; a staff

:1 measuremetreo (“meter”) – to measure, to measure out or off

:1 the templenaos – used of the temple at Jerusalem, but only of the sacred edifice (or sanctuary) itself, consisting of the Holy place and the Holy of Holies

:1 the altarthusiasterion – the altar for slaying and burning of victims used of

:1 those who worshipproskuneo – to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence; in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance

:1 measure the temple of God

Though John is told to measure the temple, he doesn’t record the measurements of the temple.

Ezekiel lived in Babylon after the destruction of the first temple, and he was given a vision of a rebuilt temple (Eze. 40).  He too was given a measuring rod, but Ezekiel actually writes down the measurements of the temple he sees.
Though I do not believe that Ezekiel’s temple is the same as John’s, it might actually be something that the Jews will consider when they rebuild their temple.  Ezekiel’s temple is HUGE compared to the other temples.

John’s measurements are not just about the temple, but also about the altar and those who are worshipping.

The altar was located in front of the main building.

How does he “measure” the worshippers?

The Temple problem

There have been several Jewish Temples in Jerusalem.

Solomon built the first Temple.
The Second Temple was built by Zerubbabel and refurbished and expanded by King Herod.
That Temple was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70, and there has not been a Jewish Temple since.
The next Temple will be known as the “Third Temple”.

The Bible tells us that there will be a Temple in Jerusalem in the last days, but this presents a problem.

The site we call the “Temple Mount” is currently under the control of the Muslims as it has been pretty much since they conquered Jerusalem in 637 AD. 
When Israel took over all of Jerusalem after the 1967 war, Moshe Dayan met with a council of Muslim clerics and gave them control of the entire temple mount, as a way of making peace with the Islamic residents of Jerusalem.
There are two important Islamic structures on the mount – the al-Aqsa Mosque  is a functioning mosque that holds regular services.  The Dome of the Rock is important because it sits on top of the rock that the Muslims claim that Abraham sacrificed Ishmael, which is also the place where the Bible tells us that Abraham sacrificed Isaac.
The Temple Mount is considered the third holiest site in Islam.  They are not going to give it up without either a fight or without some incredible supernatural diplomatic efforts by a strong world leader.
It is possible that the antichrist’s treaty with Israel at the beginning of the Tribulation (Dan. 9:27) will pave the way for their temple to be rebuilt.

(Da 9:27 NKJV) Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”

When the Jews rebuild their Temple, they will do it on wherever they finally decide is the ancient location of the holy of holies.

The common theory is that the Dome of the Rock is also on top of what used to be the Holy of holies.
There is a square indentation on the Rock that some suggest was the place that the Ark of the Covenant once sat.
Another theory is that the Holy of Holies might have been on a spot 330 feet north of the Dome of the Rock.
Some think it was located south of the Dome of the Rock, perhaps in the area between the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
For some time now a fellow named Dr. Asher Kaufman has suggested that it was located north of the Dome of the Rock by some 330 feet.
Play “The Dome of the spirits” clip of Miriam.
Why is it important that the Holy of Holies be lined up with the Eastern Gate? 

Because in Ezekiel’s description of the Temple, there is a straight line from the Eastern Gate through all the inner Temple gates straight into the Holy of Holies.

I think it’s very possible that Ezekiel’s vision might be the one used by the Jews to built support for rebuilding the Temple on the northern spot.


We are close

There is an organization called “The Temple Institute” that has been working for years towards the goal of rebuilding the Temple.
Priests have been trained
Garments have been made.
The Temple items like the Menorah, the Altar of Incense, and the Table of Showbread and lots more have all been constructed.
A few weeks ago the Temple Institute released their blueprints for the portion of the Temple where the Sanhedrin will meet.
Play Temple Blueprints clip.
We are very, very close.  Are you ready for Jesus’ return?
All that’s left is for someone to figure out how to allow the Jews to rebuild their Temple, and that can happen after we’re gone in the Rapture.

:2 But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.

:2 the courtaule – the courtyard around the Temple

:2 outsideesothen – from within; within, that which is within, the inside

Some mss have exothen – from without, outward

:2 leave outekballo – to cast out, drive out, to send out

What’s interesting the use of this word is that it’s the word that’s often associated with casting out demons:

(Mt 8:16 NKJV) When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word…

:2 the Gentilesethnos – a tribe, nation, people group; foreign nations not worshipping the true God, pagans, Gentiles

:2 the holy city – Jerusalem

:2 treadpateo – to tread; to trample, crush with the feet

:2 tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months

The idea is that Jerusalem will be ruled by Gentiles for 3 ½ years

I think it’s possible that these forty-two months are the last three and a half years of the Tribulation.

The Tribulation is a period of seven years.  It’s the last “week” of Daniel’s “Seventy Weeks” (Dan. 9:24-27).  We have learned that these “weeks” are groups of seven years.
There is a specific time marker in the middle of this last seven years known as the “Abomination of Desolation”.  Daniel wrote,

(Da 9:27 NKJV) Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”

In the middle of this seven year period, the Antichrist will do something so horrible (abominable) that he will bring a sort of “desolation”.

We believe this is when the Antichrist reveals himself as the evil person he really is, and will declare himself to be “god”.

Jesus said of this event:

(Mt 24:15–16 NKJV) —15 “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

The Jews fleeing will leave Jerusalem to the Gentiles.

In Luke, Jesus describes what will happen to the Jews in Jerusalem that don’t flee:

(Lk 21:24 NKJV) And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

So – this 3 ½ years might refer to the last half, when the city is “trodden” by the Gentiles.

:2 leave out the court

Why is John told to not include the outer court as he measures the Temple?

It has been given to the Gentiles.

Ezekiel describes his Temple as having a wall around it to separate the holy from the “profane” or “common”

(Eze 42:20 NKJV) He measured it on the four sides; it had a wall all around, five hundred cubits long and five hundred wide, to separate the holy areas from the common.
That makes some of us think that there might be some sort of solution created one day to have the Dome of the Rock standing in what would be the outer court of the Jewish Temple with a wall between the two.

:3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”

:3 power

Not in the Greek text.  It’s just “I will give to my two witnesses …”

“Power” makes sense, but it’s simply understood, not translated.

:3 sackclothsakkos – a sack; a course cloth, a dark course stuff made especially from the hair of animals

:3 clothed in sackcloth

They are wearing clothing made out of gunny sacks. Why?

This is a traditional thing to wear when you are in “mourning”.
When Jacob thought that his son Joseph had been killed by wild animals:
(Ge 37:34 NKJV) Then Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his waist, and mourned for his son many days.
It would be like making underwear out of the scratchiest roughest material you could find – not very comfortable and it reminds you of how miserable you are.

These two witnesses aren’t here to announce a big party. It would seem more likely that they’re here weeping and mourning over the judgment that’s around the corner for those who won’t believe …  something like what Jeremiah wrote,

(Je 4:8 NKJV) For this, clothe yourself with sackcloth, Lament and wail. For the fierce anger of the Lord— Has not turned back from us.


Sharing the bad news

On one hand, the message we have for people is “good news”.
The word “gospel” means “good news”.
We have the good news that God wants people to be right with Him, and that He has made it possible by sending His Son to earth in order to die and pay the penalty for our sins.
The good news is that all we need to do is to turn to God and receive His gift of eternal life by faith.
But “good news” isn’t all that good unless it is contrasted with the “bad news”.
The bad news is that a person without Christ is going to stand before God in judgment one day.
The really bad news is that they will be facing an eternity away from God in hell unless they do something about their sin.
Sometimes there is a place for weeping and grief when we witness. The truth about sin and hell ought be break our hearts concerning those that don’t know the Lord.
What does this all look like?
Jesus said that we were to be lights in this world.
(Mt 5:14 NKJV) “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
He also said that you don’t bring a light into a room and hide it under a basket, but to put it on the stand so that dark things could be revealed in the light.
(Mk 4:21–22 NKJV) —21 Also He said to them, “Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand? 22 For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light.
Sometimes as God’s “lights” we will be the bearer of bad news as we bring things done in the dark out into the light.  Here’s one way that looks:
Play 180 Bad News Good News clip

:3 one thousand two hundred and sixty days

It seems since the time that Daniel was in Babylon, that much of Bible prophecy is based on a Babylonian calendar, which consists of 360 day years.

That means this is also a period of 3 ½ years.

I believe this 3 ½ years is the FIRST half of the Tribulation.

These individuals are allowed to speak until the Antichrist is given permission to kill them.
That fits best as taking place at the mid-point of the Tribulation, when the Antichrist reveals himself as pure evil.

:4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.

:4 two olive trees

:4 olive treeselaia – an olive tree

In John’s day, olive trees were not valued as a source of olives to eat, but olives to make olive oil.

Olive oil was what drove the lighting industry.  Olive oil brought light.
Olive oil is also a picture in the Bible of the Holy Spirit.

:4 two lampstands

:4 lampstandsluchnia – a (candlestick) lamp stand, candelabrum

These witnesses are describes as “lampstands”, the same word used by Jesus to describe us as being lights (Mat. 5:14-15)

(Mt 5:14–15 NKJV) —14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

We’ll talk more about the trees and lamps in a minute …

:5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner.

:5 fire proceeds from their mouth

This may be talking about really, really bad breath.

It may be something more like what happened with Elijah, the ability to “speak” and call down fire (lightning) from heaven.

When the king of Israel sent soldiers to have Elijah arrested, Elijah called down fire from heaven and they all died (2Ki. 1:10)
(2 Ki 1:10 NKJV) So Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” And fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.
This happened several times with several groups of soldiers. 
Elijah was a dangerous man.

:6 These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.

:6 power to shut heaven

This too was something that Elijah was known for.

(1 Ki 17:1 NKJV) And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.”

How long was it before Elijah ended the drought and commanded rain to come?
3 ½ years. (James 5:17)
(Jas 5:17–18 NKJV) —17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

:6 waters … to blood

That sounds like Moses when he challenged Pharaoh, turning the Nile into blood (Ex. 7:20)

(Ex 7:20 NKJV) And Moses and Aaron did so, just as the Lord commanded. So he lifted up the rod and struck the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants. And all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.

:6 to strike the earth with all plagues

That too sounds like Moses.

The book of Exodus records the ten plagues that God brought through Moses in order to bring the Israelites out of slavery.

Who are the witnesses?

There have been lots of suggestions through the years.

1.  Unique individuals

It’s possible that they are simply two individuals who will show up on the earth at this point of time.

2.  Enoch … Zerubbabel

One of these two are often paired with Elijah (we’ll talk about him later)
Enoch was unique in that he didn’t die.
(Ge 5:24 NKJV) And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

The suggestion is that this qualifies him to come back, be a witness, and then die.

Zerubbabel is the focus of a lamp and olives prophecy in Zechariah
(Zec 4:6 NKJV) …“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel…”

3.  Moses and Elijah

These are my personal favorites.
Elijah didn’t die – he was taken to heaven in a chariot.
Moses died, but his body was never found.
These fellows do the miracles that were unique to Moses and Elijah.
They have already appeared together when they appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.
They are often talked about together as symbolic of the Old Testament, representing the “Law and the Prophets”.
Malachi tells us that Elijah will one day return:
(Mal 4:5 NKJV) Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
The Jews today keep an open spot at their dinner table during Passover for Elijah.

:4 the two olive trees

The image comes from a vision of Zechariah where he sees a lampstand that is able to keep burning continuously because it is connected directly to a pair of olive trees.

(Zec 4:6–7 NKJV) —6 So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts. 7 ‘Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone With shouts of “Grace, grace to it!” ’ ”

The mountain in Zerubbabel’s life was the huge task of rebuilding the second Temple. Yet God promised that when it was finished, people would be amazed at the “grace” that God had given in completing the project.
God was promising to be Zerubbabel’s supply of strength.


God will supply

Zerubbabel would be able to finish the project, not because he had enough strength of his own, but because God would supply the strength through His Spirit.


A pastor named Kyle writes, “When I started a new church in Los Angeles County, California, I found that I was overwhelmed with pressure and stress. I was working more than seventy hours a week. My wife would ask me to take a day off, and I would say, “I can’t.” I wasn’t sleeping at night, and I started to take sleeping pills. When the church was about a year old, I woke up in the night, and I had this strange sense that God was laughing at me. As I lay in bed, I wondered, Why is God laughing at me?
“It would take five years before I finally got an answer to that question. Here’s how it happened: when we moved into our current house, I saved the heaviest piece of furniture for last—the desk from my office. As I was pushing and pulling the desk with all my might, my four-year-old son came over and asked if he could help. So together we started sliding it across the floor. He was pushing and grunting as we inched our way along. After a few minutes, my son stopped pushing, looked up at me, and said, “Dad, you’re in my way.” And then he tried to push the desk by himself. Of course it didn’t budge. Then I realized that he thought he was actually doing all the work, instead of me. I couldn’t help but laugh.
“The moment I started laughing at my son’s comment, I recalled that middle-of-the-night incident and I realized why God was laughing at me. I thought I was pushing the desk. I know that’s ridiculous, but instead of recognizing God’s power and strength, I started to think it all depended on me.