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Revelation: Chapter 11

Setting

As seen in the chronology of Revelation, John is viewing the events of this chapter from both earth and heaven where the tribulation temple is measured, the two witnesses’ testimony is given, and also in heaven the 24 elders and the heavenly tabernacle are seen.  

Outline of this chapter

Verses Topic
1-2 The tribulation temple
3-14 Two witnesses
15-18 The seventh trumpet and the songs in heaven
19 The heavenly temple

The tribulation temple     Chapter Outline     Top

In Revelation 11:1, John is given a reed to measure, similar to what is described in Ezekiel 40:3 when an angel was measuring the millennial temple. John was instructed to measure the temple of God, the altar, (which implies sacrificial offerings had already begun) and to count the worshipers.  It is believed that the tribulation temple will reside with the Mosk of Omar, on the temple mount.  However, note that the measurements and the count are never given, which is unlike any other description of any tabernacle or temple in Israel’s past.  There are many who are looking forward to the construction of this temple and show great excitement.  It is arguable that in comparison of all the other temples built in Israel's history, or the tabernacle, this temple is not held in regard with God, given that only two verses are given to it, the glory of the Lord never fills it, and its measurements are never given.  This temple must be built, in order to fulfill prophecy (as seen below) and for it to be used as a warning to the children of Israel and the world concerning the Antichrist.

In Revelation 11:2, John was told to not measure the outer court because this has been given to the Gentiles. This is the time when the gentiles rule and have influence over Israel and Jerusalem, as described in the prophetic dream of King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2. Here, the city of Jerusalem will be trampled upon for only 42 months further before the end of the Gentile rule and influence over it, and the return of Jesus Christ with His saints, and the establishment of the Lord’s millennial rule. Note that the time given shows that the temple has been constructed and operational by the mid-tribulation time period, but it does not say how long in the first half of the tribulation that it was in operation. Neither the commencement of the temple’s construction nor its completion is given in scripture. However, it will be in existence and fully functional prior to the entry of the Antichrist in Jerusalem, for the setting up of his image in the holy place in the temple to establish the abomination of desolation, as Daniel, Daniel 9:27, and the Lord warned Israel of, Matthew 24:15-22. Though the start of the temple’s construction is not given, it is assumed that the signing of the seven year covenant with the Antichrist is assumed to be the legal instrument that allows Israel to build a temple on the temple mount at the beginning of the tribulation. Though some argue that this is not Jerusalem, but it is the believe in this website that the prophesies concerning the Gentile rule began in Daniel 2 and is based on the conquest of the city, and fits in context with the rest of Revelation 11:8.

Based on the prophetic calendar of 360 days in a year, 42 months equals exactly 3 ½ years, or 1,260 days Jerusalem and the temple is the rule of prophetic time used to describe the end of the domination or influence of the Gentiles over them. This was prophesied in Daniel 2:42-45, where the stone not cut by hands will destroy the last Gentile kingdom and turn them into dust.

In comparison to descriptions of the other sanctuaries and temples, the tribulation temple only warrants two verses. Other passages concerning the tribulation temple warn Israel of the Antichrist erecting the abomination of desolation in this temple, which will mark the beginning of the “Great Tribulation.”

Israel will build an Old Testament Temple, which firmly shows their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah. The action of Israel at this time is similar to the apostles selecting Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot on their own volition, prior to Pentecost. God did not honor this choice (he is only named in Acts 1:23-26) but He chose Paul to be His apostle. Likewise, God does not give His approval to this temple. His lack of regard is shown by the little written concerning it, and none of the measurements by John are recorded. As Jesus approached Jerusalem on His triumphal entry, He wept when he saw the city and they did not know the hour of His visitation, Luke 19:41-44. The importance of the temple is indicated in Daniel 9:27, which is to alert Israel of the Antichrist. This temple will be used to setup an abomination that causes desolation until the end of the tribulation. Antiochus Epiphanes, a type of the Antichrist during the tribulation, had also performed a similar act, Daniel 11:31-32. The Lord also spoke of this during His Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24:15-16, and Luke 21:20-22.

There are several references to tabernacles and temples in scripture. The following table is a summary of them.

 

Sanctuary/Temple

Passage

God's Glory Shown

1

The heavenly sanctuary Exodus 25:8-9,
Hebrews 8:1-2, 5

Yes
Revelation 11:19, Revelation 15:8

2

The tabernacle Exodus 25-40, plus many other passages Yes
Exodus 40:33-35

3

Solomon's temple 2Chronicles 2-5 plus many other passages Yes
2Chronicles 5:13-14

4

Zerubbabel's temple The book of Ezra and other passages No

5

Herod's temple Throughout the gospels, Matthew 24:1-2 No

6

The body of Christ John 2:21,
1Corinthians 6:19 2Corinthians 6:16-18
The body of Christ is one with Him,
John 17:20-23

7

The tribulation temple Revelation 11:1-2 No

8

The millennial temple Ezekiel 40-48
(in general)
Yes
Ezekiel 48:35

The Temple in Heaven,  Revelation 11:19: John observes the temple of God, opened in heaven, and he saw the ark of His testament in the temple.  John also saw lightings, voices, heard thundering, felt an earthquake, and witnessed great hail.

The Tabernacle of Moses:  This was the place for worship during the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, Exodus 40, and in use until the inauguration of Solomon’s Temple.

Solomon's Temple:  The construction of this temple by Solomon was a fulfillment of David's desire to build a "house for the LORD" -a desire which he was never to realize in his lifetime, 2Samuel 7:1-29. The temple was built after the death of David and dedicated by his son, 1Kings 8. This temple was destroyed by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar at the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC, Jeremiah. 32:28-44.

Zerubbabel's Temple:  This is the one under construction during the ministry of the prophet Zechariah. It was completed and dedicated in 516 BC, Ezra 6:1-22. It was constructed under the direction of Zerubbabel, Ezra 3:1-8, Ezra 4:1-14, who was a descendent of David, I Chronicles 3:19. The temple was desecrated in 169 BC by Antiochus Epiphanes.

Herod's Temple:  Restoration of Zerubbabel's temple began in 19 BC under the administration of Herod the Great, Matthew 24:1-2. The temple was nearing completion in AD 70, after nearly 90 years of renovation and enlargement, when it was destroyed by the Romans. Since this time, there has been no temple in Jerusalem.

The Temple of the Body of Jesus:  Jesus spoke of raising up His temple in three days following its destruction, John 2:21. There is a temple in which the Lord reigns at present. According to 1Corinthians 6:19 and 2Corinthians 6:16-18 the present temple of the Lord is the heart of the believers. There the Lord reigns until the day when the Messiah will return and set up his earthly kingdom and the millennial temple.

The Tribulation Temple of Revelation 11:1-2: This temple will be constructed during the Tribulation by the Antichrist. It is mentioned in 2Thessalonians 2:4 as the site for the abomination of desolation mentioned by Daniel the prophet, Daniel 9:27, and Jesus, Matthew 24:15. This temple will be destroyed with the kingdom of the Antichrist.

The Millennial Temple:  This is the temple that is described in detail in Ezekiel 40:1-42:20. It is the temple that the prophet Zechariah has in view in Zechariah 6:12-13. It will be built by the Messiah Himself, who will rule in it as the righteous Priest-King of His own millennial kingdom, Zechariah 6:13. The sons of Zadok will be assigned the priestly duties, Ezekiel 40:46; Ezekiel 43:19; Ezekiel 44:15; Ezekiel 48:11. Several articles present in previous temples will be missing: there will be no veil; there will be no table of showbread as the living Bread will be present; there will be no lamp stands as the Light of the world will be present; there will be no ark of the covenant since the Shekinah Glory will hover over the world. The brazen altar of sacrifice will again be used for animal sacrifices. During the millennium, millions of children will be born and reared by saved parents who survived the Tribulation. In spite of their perfect environment, however, these "kingdom kids" will need the new birth. What object lessons can be used to reach them? They will grow up without knowing fear, experiencing pain, witnessing hatred, taking drugs or seeing a jail.  The sacrificial system will be restated to function as:

  • A reminder to all of the necessity of the new birth  
  • An object lesson of the costliness of salvation
  • An example of the awfulness of sin
  • An illustration of the holiness of God

The Eternal Temple of His Presence:  This temple was presented in Revelation 21:22. John says there will be no physical temple in the eternal kingdom because "...the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple". This temple will be the greatest of all and it will be the focus of the eternal kingdom.

Two witnesses     Chapter Outline     Top

In Revelation 11:3, John reports that immediately, after the two verses on the tribulation temple, the Lord reveals His two witnesses.  The description of their activities follows the two verses on the tribulation temple, but activities actually occur in the first half of the tribulation.  The witnesses will only prophesy for 1,260 days or 3 ½ years, and be clothed in sackcloth, which was worn for mourning and penitence, Joel 1:13 and Jonah 3:5-6. Their identity is not given, but scripture points to Elijah as being one of them, Malachi 4:5-6, and Luke 1:13-17.

In Revelation 11:4, the Lord refers to the two witnesses as the two olive trees and lamp stands that stand before him. This allegory goes back to the vision of Zechariah, Zechariah 4:1-3, during the building of Zerubbabel’s temple, and when Joshua was the high priest, Haggai 1:12-14. Zerubbabel was the king in the line of David and Joshua was the high priest, pointing to the Jesus Christ who is Priest-King after the order of Melchizedek, Hebrews 7:14-17, Psalms 110:1-4. The two witnesses are anointed to serve, so the oil represents the Holy Spirit, Zechariah 4:6, 14, and to serve the Lord of all the earth, Zechariah 4:14. The role of these witnesses is to prepare for the Lord’s kingdom and His temple that He will build in His time, not man’s time as in the first two verses that described the building of the tribulation temple.

In Revelation 11:5-6, the Lord gives the two witnesses powers to protect them and to judge the world. Their judgment is concurrent with the six trumpet judgments. Some of these judgments by the two witnesses include:

  • Fire comes out of their mouths to devour their enemies, 2Kings 1:9-12
  • They are given the power to stop the rain, 1Kings 17:1, Luke 4:25-26, James 5:17-18
  • The two witnesses are able to turn water to blood, which compounds the judgment of the second trumpet where 1/3 of the sea is turned to blood, Revelation 8:8-9
  • The plague on Egypt turning water into blood is repeated here, Exodus 7:17-21
  • The Lord gives them power to strike the earth, the whole world, with every kind of plague as often as they wanted
  • As the Lord’s two witnesses, they inflict judgment and death, Deuteronomy 17:6-7

Recall that their testimony is concurrent with the 144,000 sealed witnesses and the great multitude of tribulation saints, but only these two are given these powers, the rest do not have these powers.

In Revelation 11:7-10, it is stated that the Lord alone determines when testimony of the two witnesses is complete, and then the beast will be allowed to attack, overpower, and kill them (it maybe a gruesome death). Upon their deaths, there will be no respect given them. Their bodies will lie in the streets of Jerusalem (the great city). At this time the city of Jerusalem will be like Sodom (moral decadence) and Egypt (materialism and oppression) for 3 ½ days. The whole world will be able to gaze upon the bodies of the two witnesses; the ones who plagued them for 3 ½ years. Incredible as it may sound, the world will gloat and celebrate their deaths. The two witnesses' impact on the world had to be enormous for this kind of world-wide reaction.

In Revelation 11:11-14, God will resurrect the two witnesses after they had been dead 3 ½ days. There is no other general resurrect, only the two witnesses will come to life. As a result, since the world will be viewing their bodies rotting in the streets, terror will strike all who see them come to life. The two witnesses will hear a voice from heaven saying to them “come up here,” just like what John heard in Revelation 4:1. Immediately they will be taken up in a cloud and full view of their enemies. This is similar to the time when Jesus was taken up and His disciples saw it, Acts 1:9.  Afterward there will be a severe earthquake (probably a local one, not global) and a 10th of Jerusalem will collapse. There will be 7,000 people of note (probably those accompanying the Antichrist when he enters Jerusalem) who will be killed, and the rest who survived gave glory to God, but they are not necessarily converted, 1Kings 18:36-39. The two witnesses were the second woe, and their death occurred before the 7th trumpet sounded, so their ministry was during the first half of the tribulation period, and their resurrection at the mid-tribulation point.

The seventh trumpet and the songs in heaven     Chapter Outline     Top

In Revelation 11:15-16, John now hears after the two witnesses have been resurrected, the 7th trumpet blown to introduce the 7 bowl judgments and the 3rd woe. He also hears loud voices in heaven. The kingdom of the world (not kingdoms since the Lord’s reign will reign over the entire world as a single kingdom) is the Lord’s. This is the fourth of seven songs recorded in the Book of Revelation.  The 24 elders also fall on their faces and worship God as they join in the praise to God.  They outline the remaining events yet to occur. This is the 3rd time that the 24 elders appear in Revelation, and then appear one more time: Revelation 4:10-11, Revelation 5:5, Revelation 5:8-10, Revelation 11:16-18, and  Revelation 19:4.

In Revelation 11:17-18 is the outline of events yet to occur as sung by the 24 elders:

The heavenly temple     Chapter Outline     Top

In Revelation 11:19, John now views the events in heaven.  The scene now shifts to God’s temple in heaven, which is opened.  John is able to see the Ark of the Covenant, which was not possible with the earthly temple.  On earth, the Holy of Holies could only be entered once a year by only the high priest of Israel.  As before, there are flashes of lightning, thunders, an earthquake, and a great hail storm occurring.  This is the moment for the preparation of the final set of judgments.  In Revelation 16, John will report seeing the bowls filled with the judgments God will be given out to the angels from the temple of God.  This is a distinctive event which results in critical events on earth, such as the earthquake which is probably unique to any other earthquake event ever recorded.  Though it is not stated, it may be that the whole world experiences this quake at the same time, unlike the natural events that are regional.  This also occurred with the opening of the 6th seal in Revelation 6:12, and when the angel took the censer filled with the fire from the altar and threw it to earth in Revelation 8:3-5 (without hail). This concludes with the emptying of the 7th bowl in Revelation 16:17-18. More will follow in this in the succeeding chapters in Revelation.


Copyright (c) 2001, 2005, 2008, 2014, J.E. Huntley.  All rights reserved.
last edited August 2014

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