Revelation 11:1-14 Part 6


1)    Then a reed like a measuring rod was given to me saying, ‘go and measure God’s temple and the altar and the worshippers in it.

2)    And cast out the exterior courtyard of the holy place; you shall not measure it, for it and the holy city have been given to the nations and they shall be trampled forty-two months.

3)    And I will give to my two witnesses and they will prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days having been clothed in sackcloth;

4)    these are the two olives and the two lamps standing before the Lord of the earth.

5)    And if anyone wills to harm them, fire goes forth out of their mouth and consumes their adversaries; this is how anyone who wills to harm them is doomed to be destroyed.

6)    The authority to shut the heaven belongs to them in order that it might not rain during the days of their prophecies.  And they have the authority over the waters to turn them into blood and to smite the land in every plague as much as they wish.

7)    And when they have completed their testimony, the beast which is coming up out of the abyss will wage war against them and will overcome them and will kill them,

8)    their bodies on the street of the great city (which is called, spiritually, Sodom and Egypt where also their Lord was crucified),

9)    their bodies being observed for three and a half days from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations suffering not their bodies to be entombed.

10) And those dwelling on the land rejoice and are gladdened; and they will send gifts to one another, for these two prophets did torment those dwelling on the land.’

11) Then after the three and a half days Breath of Life from God did enter in to them, and they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon those beholding them.

12) Then they heard a great sound from the heaven saying to them: ‘Come up here!’  And they did go into the heaven in the cloud, and their adversaries beheld them.

13) And in that hour great shaking did arise, and the tenth of the city fell.  And killed in the shaking were names of men… seven thousands.  And the rest became terrified and gave credit to the God of heaven.

14) The woe, the second, did go forth; lo, the woe, the third, comes quickly.


In any full exposition of God’s covenant with His creation (and His establishment of His covenant with Israel as a peculiar people), two especially pertinent observations will necessarily arise out of the exegetical work that’s done.

The first is:  obedience to God is required of His people.  His Word is the Revelation of His Person and His morality, and it is His morality that is the standard for our obedience.  Moses, the administrator of God’s covenant with Israel, who (at the command of God) called forth horrific plagues in Egypt due to pharoah’s defiance of God’s command, was then called up to the judgment seat of God in the glory cloud; he was there forty days and forty nights receiving the covenantal Law-word.

And, secondly, in that same forty days and nights, Yahveh revealed the coming Savior of the World to him in infinite detail.  The tabernacle and the priesthood and the ceremonies and the sacrifices in all their varieties prophesied and foreshadowed the One Who would come.

Israel (the peculiar people with which Yahveh established His covenant) was to obey the Word of God’s holiness (His morality); and it was to anticipate the coming of God’s Messiah Who would take away the sin of the world.

Then, some six hundred (plus) years later, Israel having contemptuously disregarded God’s Law-word from the start, and having despised the Revelation of the coming Messiah of God, the people with which God had revealed and established His covenant was in a state of complete apostasy (which was continuous from the beginning).

And Yahveh sent forth His first prophet – Elijah (El-i-jah) – which means Yahveh is God.  At the command of God he called forth horrific plagues for three and a half years upon Israel due to its contempt for God’s Law-word.

And immediately in the life and prophesy of Elijah, we see again the two “pertinent observations” that arise from the study of God’s covenant (the two with which we began this morning).

One, the prophet addresses Israel’s complete degeneracy – its total apathy toward God’s holy Law-word – and calling forth intense plagues upon the land, and destroying its false prophets.  And secondly, he demonstrated to Israel God’s covenant to save the world by leaving Israel behind, and bestowing abundant blessings on a Gentile family and raising a dead Gentile boy to life!

And thereafter for a thousand years God sent His Word by the prophets; and His Word essentially bore these same two pertinent points: 1) Israel was to repent and obey God’s holy Law-word, and 2) it was to anticipate God’s coming Savior of the world.

But Israel did neither.  Instead, 1) it established it’s own law-word and so was idolatrous and immoral throughout its history, and 2) it anticipated its own messiah for Israel alone, despising all Gentiles and reviling God’s clear and continuous declarations to save mankind from every nation, tongue and tribe.

So… it developed a man-made law; and it anticipated a false messiah!

Malachi having prophesied the return of El-i-jah (Yahveh is God), the “forerunner” of God’s Messiah arrives in the fullness of time and preaches repentance from sin and announcing the arrival of God’s Messiah:  “Lo, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.”

It was the same message preached by Elijah and every prophet thereafter.  All the prophets of God’s Word, from Elijah to John the baptizer, preached the Word of God, and demonstrated Israel’s rebellion against God’s Law and its insistence upon an Israel-only messiah!

In our text, the Lord tells John that He has decreed two Witnesses to prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days (i.e. forty two months, three and a half years, a number that we heard from Daniel’s prophecy and from Elijah’s prophecy), a period of time in the last days decreed to put an end to the sin and apostasy, bring in the final abomination of desolation, and fully establish the fifth Kingdom, the eternal Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ (Savior of the world) over all of God’s creation.

And remember that at least two witnesses are required to convict an offender against God’s Law and administer the death penalty.

So what we’re seeing here in one of several representations, is two un-named witnesses whose testimony establishes the guilt for which the death penalty is required.  John and the elders and teachers in the Churches to whom this letter is written are to make the connections with the prophecies of the older Scripture.  The connections should be quite clear (as they should be to us).

And the testimony, according to former prophecy, and according to the decree here from Jesus, will last for three and a half years, during which the prophets bring down the wrath of God in drought and plagues and death (as Moses and Elijah did), at which time the two witnesses are persecuted and put to death just as all the former prophets from God were persecuted and killed.  And that’s the second “woe”.

The “two witnesses” revealed to John are representative of the entirety of the Word of God to Israel through all the prophets from Moses all the way to John the baptizer, the “return” of Elijah.

Having preached repentance from idolatry and harlotry, and having prophesied the Messiah of God for all the nations, tribes and tongues of the world, each of them became the focus of Israel’s wrath.  The prophets were said to have “troubled” Israel – “tormented” Israel.  And the prophets of God were hunted and persecuted; and some were killed and left in the streets of Jerusalem… one even killed before the altar in the temple. 

And the last one, the “return” of El-i-jah, John the baptizer, was beheaded for his preaching by one of Rome’s appointed rulers of Israel (an Edomite).  And, as in this case in our text, Israel was always delighted when those who “troubled” her were disposed of.  The people laughed and mocked when these strange creatures showed up in their eccentric garb, and with their creepy demonstrations, and speaking bizarre things; and when the prophets were humiliated and abused and executed, the people had parties and exchanged favors!

Moses and Elijah, officers of the covenant and representatives of the entirety of the prophetic Word, are described to John as overcome and defeated, as all the prophets were (verse seven).  That’s to all appearances of course, for they are (by Word and Spirit) to demonstrate the apparent “defeat” of Jesus Christ by Israel and the nations, only to be “resurrected” as He was (verse eleven).  For the “defeat” (the apparent defeat) was the very source of the ultimate victory!  “Not by power or by might, but by My Spirit, says Yahveh Lord of Hosts.”  By an apparent defeat by the coalition, He became the Victor over sin and death for the world!

Please remember that the resurrected and ascended Jesus Christ is sole possessor of all authority in the heavens and on the earth.  And all the powers of fallen angel/messengers and all depraved mankind are included.

What they think, and how they act in their rebellion and war against our Lord’s authority are viewed with mocking disdain, for their hostile defiance and their plots of sabotage against our Lord’s authority are used against them.

The ridiculing mockery of them is evident all through Scripture, for they are deceived and tricked through their own malignant hatred for the One Who created them and rules them.  Their history-long attempts to cut off the heritage of the Second Adam, and to defy God’s covenant to save the world, leap off the pages of Scripture from Genesis three all the way to our text here in Revelation chapter eleven.  Yet they are the ones being used by God to bring to pass all that He has decreed!  Equally apparent all through Scripture is the fact that God mocks them all the way.


That incredible verse from Zechariah comes to mind again and again:


“Not by power or by might, but by My Spirit, says Yahveh of Hosts.”


The two lamps and olive branches standing before the judgment seat of God (at which point that quote occurs) are bearing testimony of Israel’s great rebellion, and bearing testimony of the nations of the world poised to annihilate her… all designed and calculated by powers of hostility; yet they are deceived.  For the strong man’s household will be emptied of all his goods!  The “Victor” has ascended the throne and poured out His Spirit!  And now the nations and tongues and tribes will all be included in the covenant; and the hostile powers will have played their part in the divine decree!

In God’s perception the beast coming up out of the abyss to make war with the two witnesses, and overcome them and kill them, is only another in a history-long line of conspiracy scenarios by which the covenantal decree is meant to be interrupted or thwarted.  But, you see, it is released from the abyss for that very purpose!  For the two witnesses are testifying in the covenantal law-suit; and killing the prophets of God and leaving them in the streets of Jerusalem (to the delight of the people) is Israel’s defiance of God’s Word.  That’s part of the testimony against them!

So there’s nothing going on here in the text that’s outside the authority of the risen, ascended and crowned King; and, in fact, the killing of the prophets of Israel is prophetic in and of itself, for it deceives the deceiver in his deception.

If you can get your mind around that, then you can understand why it’s said that God laughs at them in all their hostile conspiracies to end Messiah’s reign and sabotage the covenant with the nations.

But let’s spend some time now trying to understand how God perceives “beast”.

Surely John expects the reader and the hearers in all the new Churches in the nations to connect with the term (which is used here for the first time in the letter); and the Lord Jesus Christ, speaking what John is to write here, spends no words explaining it.  He just says that this is what is about to happen (for the time is near).

And, once again, since the Lord specifically refers to Moses and to Elijah (as the officers of the covenant), it is clear that what is represented here is God’s view of the entire history of Israel’s rebellion and its unbelief in the coming Savior of the world.

The “beast” is familiar in all the text of Scripture, for the references and connections all have to do with its pitiful attempts all through history to either interrupt the heritage of the Christ, or to put an end to His reign, or to abrogate the inclusion of Gentiles.  After all, up until this time, it’s had relative freedom in all the nations, tribes and tongues of the earth.  It doesn’t want its “house” to be invaded; it doesn’t want what it is and has to end (which it will… and it knows the prophecy of its own end).  It knows its head is to be crushed!

But from the beginning of man’s existence it has conspired to sabotage the covenant and the salvation of all of God’s creation.

And as we take a look at some portions of God’s Revelation of Himself and His covenant, once again we all have to be reminded as to Who all of this belongs to, and Who has all authority over what belongs to Him, and Whose perception all of this is!  It is all His Revelation of what He made and what belongs to Him.  And that’s the way we have to read it and understand it.

Here’s the beginning of Genesis chapter three:


1)    Now the serpent was more subtle than any other beast of the field which Yahveh Elohim had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, has God said, you shall not eat of any tree of the garden?

2)    And the woman said unto the serpent, of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat:

3)    but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God said, you shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.

4)    And the serpent said unto the woman, you shall not surely die,

5)    for God knows that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as God, knowing good and evil.


Now.  This “serpent” was a beast; but it was more crafty than any of the other beasts that God made.  We don’t have the time to be thorough with this, but it’s pretty easy to hear the “subtlety” with which it has addressed the woman.

It’s really very “crafty” in its approach.  And it’s obvious that that approach is an attempt, through treachery, to subvert and sabotage God’s covenant with His creation!  This is the beast’s opening aggression in its cosmic assault against Yahveh’s covenantal decree.

You’ve heard the saying:  somebody gave a war, but the opposition didn’t participate.  Well, there is no opposition; there is no war; the beast isn’t an “equal” struggling for superiority; the beast is created for the purpose for which it is engaged!  And Yahveh laughs.

But having succumbed to the beast’s treachery, mankind became “beastly” in its own right, receiving the “mark” of the beast on its own face, and wearing the skins of beasts on its own body.  And it had to “grub around” in the dirt among the thorns and thistles like any other beast.

And although mankind would participate, all through history, in that very same treachery against God’s clearly revealed covenant, the Savior of Mankind is manifestly and powerfully revealed to man and beast in verse fifteen of that text.

You see, the covenant made in Triune God – Father, Son and Spirit – involves a “Savior of the world” – God’s creation – for His Own glory.  And a “beast”, a traitorous, treacherous beast attempts to sabotage that covenant.  And those who defer to the beast (rather than obey God) become beastly in their own right.  (That’s another sermon, isn’t it?)

And the beast, and those who accede to the beast (becoming beastly themselves) are laughable creatures which are mocked by God all through history, because He uses them, and tricks them into doing that which he has already decreed!

There are a number of examples all through God’s history; but let’s just look at one other.  Nebuchadnezzar was the king of the first great world-wide kingdom of history.  He is revealed in Daniel’s prophecy as being like Adam, the first man…


“the king of kings to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory” (Daniel chapter two, verse twenty-seven).


But like Adam he sought autonomous godhood, wishing to be “as God”.  The judgment of Nebuchadnezzar is revealed to Daniel, as written in chapter four:


“he was driven away from men and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagle’s feathers, and his nails like birds claws.”


You see, the covenantal decree for the salvation of the world had been revealed to him through Daniel… it was the fifth and eternal kingdom of God the Son.  However, Nebuchadnezzar himself wanted to be king of the world rather than the one prophesied – a treasonous response to that which he had been clearly shown by God through the prophet.  And he became “beast”.  Those who refuse to submit to God’s revealed covenant for His Own creation become beasts in their own right.

And further, those of us who were here during the seven and a half years of preaching through the Gospel of Matthew are well aware of the nature of the rulers and priests and scribes and pharisees of Israel during our Lord’s three and a half year manifestation.

We are also aware that, while hunting for the lost sheep of the house of Jacob (Israel), He spoke the same language as the prophets.

And we make note of the fact that He used that same “beastly” language in referring to all those who had “preyed upon” God’s covenant people like jackals and ravening wolves.  And His Own persecutors during His trial and humiliation and crucifixion are called “dogs” and “bulls of Bashan”.  And they were referred to as ravening and roaring lions after their prey.  They are all called beasts by our Lord.

You see, the “beast” was a harlot and an idolater, turning God’s Law-word upside down; and it was anticipating a false messiah.  And it was a party to the history-long conspiracy to sabotage God’s covenantal salvation of His creation by persecuting and killing God’s prophets, and by killing the “Son of Oil” – The Christ, The Anointed One of God, and then by pursuing and persecuting and killing many of those who our Lord had marked and sealed for Himself from the twelve tribes.

The coalition of Israel and Rome are “beasts” in God’s perception; and they are deluded and deceived and tricked into doing just that that God had decreed for the salvation of the world.  They were confounded and trapped and crushed on the Rock which is Christ.  And all of their efforts to cut off the covenantal sacrifice for the sin of the world would leave them, themselves, as carrion for the beasts of the field and the vultures of the sky.

And that’s what we see, from our Lord’s perspective, here in our text, isn’t it?  Even to the latter end, in their last days, Israel is recalcitrant and defiant.  The “beast” arises out of the “deep” in all of Israel’s history to cut off Messiah’s reign by killing the prophets and leaving them to be carrion in the streets of Jerusalem.  And, as always, the people delighted in the killing of those who “troubled” Israel.  And here in our text, as spoken to John by Jesus Christ, the serpents and wolves and jackals and dogs and bulls and birds of prey rise up, even to the end, to stop Messiah’s reign over the nations of the earth!

It’s Moses and Elijah, the very officers of the covenant – a covenant that will include all the tongues and tribes and peoples of the world (as promised to Abraham).

It’s the Word of God through the prophets that is bringing the plagues upon Israel and Jerusalem.  The waters would be red with the blood of all the slain, just as Moses turned the rivers of Egypt into blood.

All the idolaters of Israel would themselves be slain and left as carrion, just as Elijah had slain the prophets of Ba’al.  And, as with Elijah, the covenantal abundance and resurrection from death would be extended to Gentiles of every nation.  The trap has been sprung, and the deceivers are deceived; and our Lord tells John that that’s exactly what is about to happen; for the time is near.  The beast would arise again out of the deep, as it had all through God’s history, in ferocious attempt to obstruct God’s decree.

The two “pertinent observations” regarding God’s covenant that were mentioned at the beginning are, first, that God requires faithfulness – obedience – to His Law-word; for it is the explication of His holiness, His morality.

And, second, “Lo, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world”.  Our Lord is the Savior of the “cosmos” – the creation.  The Executor/Mediator of the covenant – the great Prophet, Priest and King – paid for the sin of His people; and His covenantal death and resurrection is fully sufficient to remove the curse upon this creation.

All manner of people rejoiced and mocked and celebrated His death, you remember:  the rulers, the priests, the competing religious factions, the Roman soldiers, the servants, the criminals….  The “beast” had won against the Lamb of God.  The testimony of the Covenant had been abolished.  The beastly wicked were triumphant.

Or so it seemed.

“Not by power or by might, but by My Spirit, says Yahveh of Hosts”.  As the two covenantal officers testify before the judgment seat of Almighty God, the decree is carried out in mocking reprisal, for the beast has arisen from the abyss to do all that it has been created to do.  All through history it has been deceived; for the salvation of the world has been assured from the beginning.

As the history of God’s creation since the resurrection clearly attests, the beast is still at work.  Having failed at cutting off Messiah’s heritage, and having failed with the crucifixion, and having failed in preserving the harlot nation (here called Sodom and Egypt), it’s still trying to sabotage the salvation of the world.

But the risen, ascended and crowned Jesus Christ is its authority.  And the beast can do nothing other than what it is authorized to do.  It’s still deceived.

But it’s flailing around within the boundaries within which it is contained.  It can do nothing to stop what our Lord has promised to do.  It is self-deceived and God-deceived into preserving what little it has left, as the High Priest of His Church raids its premises.

But the Spirit of the risen Christ is among all the nations and tongues and tribes of the world.  His Word is proceeding at will.  Even though the beast arises from the deep and beastly mankind does much evil, it is only by the will of the One with all authority in the heaven and upon the earth.

So whatever you see around you of a beastly nature, rest assured, and be comforted, and be content.  And be faithful.