“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: 2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. 3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”
Revelation Chapter 11 - Revelations Two Witnesses
Revelation 11:1 “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.”
There was given - The line of thought in chapter 10 carries into chapter 11.
A reed - This reed was to be used as a measuring rod. Compare the symbolism of Ezekiel 40:3, 6; Zechariah 2:1-2.
The angel stood - Textual evidence favors the omission of these words. (cf. R.S.V.)
Rise - John is bidden to enter into the action of the vision.
Measure - On the basis of Zechariah's symbol of the man with a measuring line who measured Jerusalem as an assurance that the city would be rebuilt, (see Zechariah 2:2) it may be suggested that the measuring of the temple and worshipers here is also a promise of restoration and preservation. Between the sixth and seventh seals is a parenthetical assurance that in spite of the terrors that attend the second coming of Christ, God has a people who will stand. (see Revelation 7; cf. on Revelation 6:17) Similarly, the present parenthesis between the sixth and seventh trumpets may also be intended as a reassurance that in the midst of the horrors attendant on the blowing of the trumpets, God's temple, that is, the plan of redemption portrayed there and His true worshippers are secure.
This restoration and preservation of God's temple would seem also to have a particular application to the fuller understanding of the meaning of Christ's ministry in the heavenly sanctuary that has come since 1844.
Temple - Greek naos. (see notes on Revelation 3:12; 7:15; cf. Revelation 11:19) Following the great disappointment of October 22, 1844, the attention of the Adventist believers was directed to the heavenly sanctuary and to the work of Christ as high priest in that sanctuary. That the reference is not to the literal temple in Jerusalem may be deduced from the fact that when John received his visions, the temple lay in ruins. Because of the rejection of the Jews as God's chosen representatives, (see Matthew 21:43) that temple will never be restored as a divinely recognized center of worship. (see Ezekiel 40:1) Consequently “them that worship” are not literal Jews worshipping in their literal temple, but those who direct their worship to the heavenly temple, where Christ ministers in behalf of His children. (Hebrews 8:1-2) In a special sense and in the context of this prophecy, the measuring takes place at a specific period in the history of the church.
Them that worship - That is, true spiritual Israel, the people of God, as contrasted with the “Gentiles.” (verse 2) The measurement of worshipers suggests a work of judgment.
Revelation 11:2 “But 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.”
The court - In the temple of Herod, which John had known well, there was an inner court divided into the Court of the Women, the Court of Israel, and the Court of the Priests. Beyond these was a great outer court, the Court of the Gentiles. A barrier (a “middle wall of partition” Ephesians 2:14) divided the outer and inner courts, and no Gentile was allowed to pass the barrier on pain of death. In view of the fact that the court mentioned here is “given unto the Gentiles,” it would appear that John has this great outer court particularly in mind. The court has been regarded as representing this earth in contrast with “the temple of God” in heaven. (verse 1)
Leave out - John is to measure none but the worshipers of God, those who have a right to enter within the barrier where Israelites alone could go. Only such can hope to be preserved from the final judgments that fall on the earth.
Given unto the Gentiles - As was true of the Court of the Gentiles in the earthly Temple. Here “Gentiles” may be understood as those who are not worshippers, who have not confessed themselves as belonging to the Israel of God.
The holy city - That is, Jerusalem. (Daniel 9:24; cf. Luke 21:20) The giving over of the outer court to the Gentiles involves the downtreading of the Holy City. For the symbolic significance of Jerusalem see below under “tread under foot.”
Tread under foot - The present passage is parallel with the description in Daniel 7:7, 23, which delineates a treading down by the fourth beast. (see Daniel 7:7-8, 25) Inasmuch as this beast's activities are directed particularly against the “saints of the most High” (Daniel 7:25), it is not illogical to understand that “the holy city” here represents the people of God.
Forty and two months - This period is clearly identical with the “time and times and the dividing of time” of Daniel 7:25.
The Beast That Murders Revelations two witnesses
So in this verse we have the statement of the Papal persecution upon God's church, the holy city shall they tread under foot, during their 1260 year reign. Now the Bible continues on to discuss the suffering of God's Word during the same time period.
Revelation 11:3 “And I will give [power] unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.”
I will give power - The passage reads literally, “I will give unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy,” that is, I will cause my two witnesses to prophesy.
My two witnesses - A variety of interpretations of this symbol have been proposed. The allusions of vs. 5, 6 have led some to identify these witnesses as Elijah and Moses (see notes on verses 5-6), but the significance of these “two witnesses” goes beyond this. In verse 4 they are identified as “two olive trees” and “two candlesticks,” symbols drawn from Zechariah 4:1-6, 11-14. There they are said to represent “the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” (verse 14) As the olive branches are portrayed furnishing oil for the lamps of the sanctuary, (verse 12) so from these holy ones before the throne of God the Holy Spirit is imparted to men. (see Zechariah 4:6, 14) Inasmuch as the fullest expression of the Holy Spirit to men is contained in the Scriptures of the Old Testament and the New Testament, they may be considered to be the two witnesses. (cf. John 5:39) Concerning the Word of God the psalmist declares, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”; “the entrance of thy words giveth light.” (Psalms 119:105, 130; cf. Proverbs 6:23)
They shall prophesy - In spite of the dominance of evil during the period of 1260 days, (see notes on verse 2) the Spirit of God, especially as manifested in the Scriptures, would nevertheless bear His witness to those men who would receive Him.
Thousand two hundred and threescore days - Here we have a time period that is the same as the 42 months of the previous verse. As we mentioned in the last study, this time period is referred to in different ways 7 times in the books of Daniel and Revelation. (times, time, dividing of time; forty and two months; thousand two hundred threescore days; time, times and a half) Every place that it is mentioned we find it a reference to the 1260 year supremacy of the Papacy between the years 538 A.D. to 1798.
Clothed in sackcloth - During the time of Papal supremacy, Revelations two witnesses were to prophesy in sackcloth. What does this mean?
Sackcloth is closely associated to a time of great mourning and distress, Genesis 37:34, 2 Samuel 3:31, Esther 4:1-3, 2 Kings 19:1-2 and of penitence. (Jonah 3:6, 8) So Revelations two witnesses were to prophesy in great mourning and distress during the time of Papal supremacy. Even so, God will give them power to endure and maintain their testimony through this very trying period. Read also Revelations two witnesses for a different perspective.
Revelation 11:4 “These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.”
Two olive trees - Revelations two witnesses are also referred to as the “two olive trees,” “the two candlesticks,” and “these two prophets,” So what are these two witnesses? Revelations two witnesses represent the Scriptures of the Old and the New Testaments.
The word “candlesticks” also means lampstand or lamp which are used obviously to give light. David places the lamp as a symbol of God's Word, “Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path....The entrance of thy words giveth light” Psalms 119:105, 130.
Jesus also declared of the Old Testament that “they are they which testify (or bear witness) of me.” John 5:39, they bear witness of Jesus. But Jesus also said that His works were to bear witness of Him, John 5:36; 10:25. In the day that we live in the only way that Christ's works can bear witness of Him is through the medium of the New Testament. Again, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:14. The Word of God consists of two testaments or witnesses, the Old and the New Testaments.
Christ also designated the Word of God as “the prophets,” Luke 24:27, 44.
The Word of God was to give its testimony in sackcloth during the Papal supremacy, note how this was fulfilled;
“[The Roman Emperor] Justinian...enriched himself with the property of all “heretics” - that is, non-Catholics; published edicts in 538 AD compelling all to join the Catholic church in 90 days or leave the empire and confiscated all their goods.” Dr. N Summerbell, History of the Early Christian Church, p310-311. We need to remember that Justinian was a very zealous catholic that desired in every way to enlarge the success of the papacy. Many Christians fled and thus began the period of Revelations two witnesses prophesying in sackcloth.
The Papacy regarded the Bible as the source of all heresy and that it made good heretics and thus the reading of it was prohibited and condemned. Tyndale cried out that the church had kept the Scriptures from the people but the priests claimed that the common person could not understand the Scriptures and that it was the church that gave the Bible to the people and thus it was only her priests that could interpret it. The History of Protestantism by Wylie, Vol. 1 pg. 45 and Vol. 3 pg. 362.
“During the greater part of this period, God's witnesses remained in a state of obscurity. The papal power sought to hide from the people the word of truth, and set before them false witnesses to contradict its testimony. When the Bible was proscribed by religious and secular authority; when its testimony was perverted, and every effort made that men and demons could invent to turn the minds of the people from it; when those who dared proclaim its sacred truths were hunted, betrayed, tortured, buried in dungeon cells, martyred for their faith, or compelled to flee to mountain fastnesses, and to dens and caves of the earth--then the faithful witnesses prophesied in sackcloth. Yet they continued their testimony throughout the entire period of 1260 years. In the darkest times there were faithful men who loved God's word and were jealous for His honour. To these loyal servants were given wisdom, power, and authority to declare His truth during the whole of this time.”
“The decree of Toulouse 1229A.D. [in France] which established the 'Tribunal of the Inquisition' against all readers of the Bible in the common tongue...was an edict of fire, bloodshed and devastation...it ordained the entire destruction of the houses, the humblest places of the concealment and even the subterranean retreats of men convicted of possessing the scriptures; that they should be pursued to the forest and caves of the earth; and that even those who harboured them should be severely punished. As a result, the Bible was everywhere prohibited; it was vanished , as it were, underground; it descended into the tomb. These decrees were followed for five hundred years by innumerable punishments, in which the blood of the saints flowed like water.” L. Gaussen, The Canon of the Holy Scriptures, Part 2, Bk. 2, Ch. 7, sec. 5, prop. 561, ch. 13, sec. 2, prop. 642, par. 2.
In a convocation held at Oxford under Archbishop Arundel in 1408, it was enacted: “That no man hereafter by his own authority translate any text of the scripture in to English or any other tongue, by way of a book, booklet or tract and that no man read any such book, booklet or tract, now lately composed in the time of Jon Wycliffe or since...publicly or privately upon pain of greater excommunication...He that shall do contrary to this shall likewise be punished as a favourer of heresy and error.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, (1911) Vol. 3, pg. 897.
The following from the Episcopal register of Lincoln (England) for the years 1518-1521 illustrates how the Bible prophesied in sackcloth or obscurity and secrecy. Indictments were issued against Bible believers:
“Against John Barret because he John Barret was heard in his own house before his wife and maid there present, to recite the epistle of James, which epistle, with many other things, he had perfectly without book.”
“John Newman was impeached because he was present in the house of John Barret, at the reading of the scripture.”
“William Newman impeached because he was present in the house of John Barret, at the reading of the scripture.”
William Halliday “was detected for having in his custody a book of the Acts of the Apostles in English.”
“One Fredway and several others, because they were heard to recite the Ten Commandments in English.” Quoted in, Spicer, Beacon Lights of Prophecy, p252-253.
The two candlesticks - Or “the two lampstands.” (see notes on Revelation 1:12; 11:3)
Standing before ... God - See Zechariah 4:14; Revelation 11:3.
Revelation 11:5 “And 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.”
Hurt them - That is, hurt Revelations two witnesses/Old and New Testaments.
Fire proceedeth out of their mouth - Even though there is two witnesses they only have one mouth. The Old and New Testaments speak with only one mouth, they speak as one entire book. This is reminiscent of Elijah's judgment on the messengers of Ahaziah. (2 Kings 1:10, 12)
To those that wish to oppose, corrupt or pervert its testimony or even hinder its way will find their end in total destruction by the lake of fire. This the Bible bears witness/testimony of Revelation 22:18-19, Deuteronomy 4:2, Revelation 20:15 and Malachi 4:2.
Revelation 11:6 “These 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.”
Power - Greek exousia, “authority.” Exousia occurs twice in this verse and in both instances is translated “power.”
Shut heaven - As in verse 5, this appears also to be an allusion to Elijah who predicted that there would be no rain in Israel for “these years, but according to my word” (1 Kings 17:1), or as Luke gives it, “three years and six months.” (Luke 4:25; cf. James 5:17)
Rain not - The Word of the Lord contains the very power in it to do that which it has been sent to do, it will not return unto Him void, Isaiah 55:10-11, Hebrews 4:12. By His Word, as spoken through Elijah, the heavens were shut that it did not rain for three and a half years, 1 Kings 17:1, Luke 4:25. But by the Word of the Lord the heavens were opened again and the drought broken, 1 Kings 18:1.
Waters … to blood - The allusions thus far regarding these witnesses are reminiscing of Elijah (see the foregoing and on verse 5); this one appears to point to the Word of the Lord through Moses that turned the waters of Egypt to blood, Exodus 7:19-20, which was the first of 10 plagues that fell upon Egypt.
All plagues - Not only do the witnesses have the power to call down on their enemies the same plague as that which fell first on Egypt, but they have authority to call down any of the plagues.
As often as they will - As often as judgments are recorded or prophesied of, by the Word of the Lord, that are to take place, it is that often that they will come to pass. An example of this which the world is yet to experience is the infliction of the seven last plagues.
Revelation 11:7-8 “And 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. 8 And 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.”
Finished their testimony - Or finishing their testimony in sackcloth. This cannot be the end of the scriptures testimony as the Word of God liveth and abideth forever, 1 Peter 1:23, it must be a reference to the end of their prophesying in sackcloth, around 1798.
The beast - Greek to thērion, “the wild beast.” Thus far John has mentioned no “beast.” (thērion; the “four beasts” of Revelation 4:6 are not really beasts; see comment there) Yet the expression “the beast” seems to imply that the reader will understand which beast this is. Two interpretations of this symbol have been set forth.
Commentators who hold that the expression “the beast” implies some previous identification, since such identification is not to be found in the Revelation, find it in the book of Daniel, where the beast par excellence is the fourth beast of Daniel 7. Furthermore, they point out that that beast came up out of the sea, and the present beast “ascendeth out of the bottomless pit [abussos],” which in the Old Testament has a definite association with the sea. (see notes on Revelation 9:1) According to this view the power symbolized by the fourth beast of Daniel, and particularly its latter phase, would be the power that kills the two witnesses.
Other commentators identify this beast as a power that would seek to destroy the Scriptures (symbolized by the two witnesses) at the close of the 1260-day period, in A.D. 1798. (see Daniel 7:25) Inasmuch as atheism was particularly popular in France at this time, and the anti-religious spirit of the day naturally militated against the use of and belief in Scripture, the First French Republic has been identified as the beast of the present passage. The latter view is generally considered correct for the reasons detailed below.
As the Two Testaments or Witnesses are finishing their prophesying in sackcloth, a beast makes war against them, overcome them and finally kill them.
The identifying marks for this beast are as follows;
1) This was to be a nation/kingdom as a beast is representative of such, Daniel 7:17, 23.
2) This nation would be a new manifestation of something which had existed before - from the bottomless pit or abussos in the Greek, verse 7.
Bottomless pit is used 7 times in the book of Revelation, and as this book is a book of symbols it must be a symbolic term.
*It is used 3 times in chapter 9 to describe the source and inspiration of the symbolic locusts that are inspired by Satan to bring woe to the inhabitants of the earth under the fifth trumpet.
*Used once in Revelation 17:8 to describe the location or condition from which a beast emerges, after it, “is not”, i.e. nonexistent, or dead. It is a place of death - the grave.
*Used 2 times in chapter 20 to describe the prison house of Satan during the millennium, when the earth is turned into a world-wide graveyard, or a place of death.
In Romans 10:7 the word “deep” (abussos) is used to describe the grave or place of death. And as we have studied before, Satan's movements are described as emerging from beneath whereas the things of God from above, see also James 3:15-17.
Thus, the nation to rise from the pit would be a new manifestation of something which had existed before. The resurrection of that which was.
3). It would rise around 1798 at the end of the 1260 year period during which the witnesses prophesied in sackcloth, verses 3 and 7.
4). It would attack the Bible - Revelations two witnesses, verse 7.
5) It would manifest a disbelief in the true God - like Egypt, verse 8.
6) It would manifest great immorality - Like Sodom, verse 8.
7) It would be located where Christ, in the person of His saints, suffered terribly, verse 8.
8) It was part of spiritual Babylon - that great city, verse 8.
9) It would be involved in a great political upheaval - great earthquake, verse 13.
We will now see how this prophecy has received a most exact and striking fulfillment in the history of France;
1) France is a nation.
2) France manifested the same God defying spirit that was seen in the kingdom of Egypt, Exodus 5:2, the king of the south. This then is a resurrection of the god defying spirit of atheism direct from a satanic origin.
3) The French Revolution occurred around in the late 1700s as the 1260-year period of papal supremacy was coming to an end.
4) France attacked the Bible: “The [French] Convention dressed an ass...loaded it with the symbols of Christianity and tied the Old and New Testaments to its tail. It was then led in mock procession...The crowd piled books of devotion into heaps and burned them to ashes, amid blasphemous shouts...A prostitute was enthroned as 'Goddess of Reason'...” L.E. Froom, Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. 2, pg. 738.
5) “France stands apart in the world's history as the single state which, by the decree of her Legislative Assembly, pronounced there was no God.” Blackwood's Magazine, Nov, 1870.
“On November 26, 1793, the Convention, of which 17 bishops and some clergy were members, decreed the abolition of all religion.” The Age of Revolution, W.H. Hutton, pg. 156. This is an echo of Pharaoh's disbelief in God, Exodus 5:2.
Notice though, that this atheistic condition was produced by Papalism; In the sixteenth century the Reformation, presenting an open Bible to the people, had sought admission to all the countries of Europe. Some nations welcomed it with gladness, as a messenger of Heaven. In other lands the papacy succeeded to a great extent in preventing its entrance; and the light of Bible knowledge, with its elevating influences, was almost wholly excluded. In one country, though the light found entrance, it was not comprehended by the darkness. For centuries, truth and error struggled for the mastery. At last the evil triumphed, and the truth of Heaven was thrust out. “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.” John 3:19. The nation was left to reap the results of the course which she had chosen. The restraint of God's Spirit was removed from a people that had despised the gift of His grace. Evil was permitted to come to maturity. And all the world saw the fruit of willful rejection of the light.
The war against the Bible, carried forward for so many centuries in France, culminated in the scenes of the Revolution. That terrible outbreaking was but the legitimate result of Rome's suppression of the Scriptures. It presented the most striking illustration which the world has ever witnessed of the working out of the papal policy; an illustration of the results to which for more than a thousand years the teaching of the Roman Church had been tending.
6) In the Revolution the institution of marriage was made a mockery and great immorality took place. Just like the licentious Sodom, Genesis 13:13; 19:4-11, Jude 7.
7) In France Christ had been crucified in the person of His witness in events such as the papal inspired St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre. Notice how the Scriptures show how Christ can be crucified again:
“...Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me.” Matthew 25:40.
Saul, the Jewish Pharisee, terribly persecuted the early church. When Jesus confronted him on the road to Damascus He introduced Himself by saying, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?...” Acts 26:14.
We can see that whatever is done to Christ's followers He accepts as being done to Himself. Christ was “crucified” in the person of His witnesses in the nation of France. “This specification of the prophecy was also fulfilled by France.”
“...in the scenes of the Revolution. Jesus Christ was declared to be an impostor, and the rallying cry of the French infidels was, “Crush the Wretch,” meaning Christ. Heaven-daring blasphemy and abominable wickedness went hand in hand, and the basest of men, the most abandoned monsters of cruelty and vice, were most highly exalted. In all this, supreme homage was paid to Satan; while Christ, in His characteristics of truth, purity, and unselfish love, was crucified.”
It is an appalling fact that France, in the long period when it was dominated by the papacy, was guilty of slaughtering millions of Christians. See Wylie, The History of Protestantism, Vol. 3, pgs. 329-347, Vol. 2, pgs. 140-145, 557-562.
Under papal leadership, France slew Albigenses, brave Huguenots and other Protestants. The St. Bartholomew Massacre Aug 24-5, 1572, is the most dreadful example. And what was Rome's reaction to this ? “When the news of the massacre reached Rome, the exultation among the clergy knew no bounds...A medal was struck to commemorate the massacre...” The Massacre of St. Bartholomew, Henry White, ch 14, par 34.
8) France was part of spiritual Babylon. France had been the first of the ten nations, into which the Roman Empire divided, to support the papacy. France was known as the eldest daughter of the church.
Revelation is a book of two cities:
1. Jerusalem - representing the church of God
2. Babylon - representing false religion
There are only three cities that are called “great” in Scripture:
1. Gibeon - once, Joshua 10:2.
2. Nineveh - 4 times, Jonah 1:2; 3:2, 3, 11.
3. Babylon - 10 times, Daniel 4:30, Revelation 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; 18:2, 10, 16, 18-19, 21.
The great city of this text is said to have the spirit of Sodom & Egypt. It cannot therefore refer to Jerusalem. It undoubtedly refers to Babylon the Great, the apostate system of religion centered in the Papacy.
The witnesses were not to lay dead in the city in general but “in the street of the great city.” “The street” must refer to some part but not the whole of spiritual Babylon, thus showing that France has been an effective part for the papacy.
9) The French Revolution was a political upheaval that changed the world and the effects remain with us even today.
The bottomless pit - Greek abussos. (see notes on Revelation 9:1; cf. the foregoing on “the beast”) With respect to France, the fact that the beast comes out of the bottomless pit has been understood as indicating that the nation had no foundations as it was an atheistical power. A new form of satanic power manifested itself.
Shall … kill them - That is, attempt to destroy the Word of God. For the manner in which France made war on religion see notes on verse 9.
8. Bodies - Textual evidence is divided between this and the reading “body.” However, the singular form would be used collectively as is the term “mouth” in verse 5. (see comment there)
Shall lie - To leave a dead body unburied has ever been considered a revolting indignity. (cf. Psalms 79:2-3) See notes on Revelation 11:9.
The great city - The fact that this city is said to be the one “where also our Lord was crucified” would seem to identify it as Jerusalem, the “holy city” of verse 2. However, many commentators have understood the expression “where also our Lord was crucified” figuratively, as the names Sodom and Egypt are doubtless to be understood. Hence they identify “the great city” as France, which toward the close of the 1260 year period, manifested the characteristics symbolized by these expressions. Generally speaking, the latter view is considered correct.
Spiritually - Greek pneumatikōs, that is, not literally but by a spiritual figure of speech. (cf. Isaiah 1:10)
Sodom - Sodom is symbolic of moral degradation. (Ezekiel 16:46-55) Such was the condition of France during the Revolution.
Egypt - This country was known for its denial of the existence of the true God and for its defiance of the commands of God. Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice …? I know not the Lord.” (Exodus 5:2) These attitudes were characteristic of the leaders of the Revolution in France.
Crucified - That is, in the person of His followers, many of whom perished in the persecutions in France.
Revelation 11:9 “And 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.”
People and kindreds - Other nations. These would observe the war on the Bible in France.
Their dead bodies three days and a half - In harmony with the principle of prophetic interpretation, 1 day in Bible prophecy equals 1 year, thus we have a time period of three and a half years in which the Bible was to be put to death. The Papacy suppressed and obscured the Bible but France killed it.
Many generally understand the beast of verse 7 to represent the First French Republic (1792 to 1804), especially in terms of its antireligious bias and find this prophecy fulfilled during that brief period in French revolutionary history when atheism was at its height. This period may be reckoned from November 10, 1793, when a decree issued in Paris abolished religion to June 17, 1797, when it is held that the French government removed restrictions against the practice of religion.
As is true of certain other portions of the Apocalypse, this matter of “three days and an half” has been the occasion for considerable difference of viewpoint on the part of commentators. This is true not only because of certain problems in the symbolism itself but also because of the difficulty in fixing upon certain precise dates in the history of the hectic period of the French Revolution. Fortunately, however, the exact location of this time period is not vital to an over-all understanding of the great prophetic time periods of the Bible or to an understanding of the main theme of the prophecy of which it is a part.
“The world for the first time heard an assembly of men, born and educated in civilization, and assuming the right to govern one of the finest of the European nations, uplift their united voice to deny the most solemn truth which man's soul receives, and renounce unanimously the belief and worship of a Deity.” Sir Walter Scott, Life of Napoleon, vol. 1, ch. 17.
Bibles were gathered and burned in the streets and “With blasphemous boldness almost beyond belief, one of the priests of the new order said: 'God, if You exist, avenge Your injured name. I bid You defiance! You remain silent; You dare not launch Your thunders. Who after this will believe in Your existence?' Lacretelle, History, Vol. II, p309; in Sir Archibald Alison, History of Europe, Vol. I, ch. 10.
“In 1793, the decree passed the French Assembly suppressing the Bible. Just three years after, a resolution was introduced into the Assembly going to supersede the decree, and giving toleration to the Scriptures. That resolution lay on the table six months, when it was taken up, and passed without a dissenting vote....on the 17th of June 1797.” George Stoffs, Midnight Cry, Vol. 4, Nos 5-6, 47.
Not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves - “The language of this verse describes the feelings of other nations besides the one committing the outrage on the witnesses. They would see what war infidel France had made on the Bible, but would not be led nationally to engage in the wicked work, nor suffer the murdered witnesses to be buried, or put out of sight among themselves, though they lay dead three days and a half, that is, three years and a half, in France. No; this very attempt on the part of France served to arouse Christians everywhere to put forth new exertions in behalf of the Bible, as we shall presently see.” Daniel and the Revelation by Uriah Smith, pg. 502.
Revelation 11:10 “And 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.”
Dwell upon the earth - See notes on Revelation 3:10.
Make merry - Greek euphrainō, “to rejoice,” “to make merry.” Euphrainō is translated “be merry” in Luke 12:19. Now relieved from the torment, that is, the convicting testimony of the two witnesses, the wicked quiet their consciences by losing themselves in merriment.
Send gifts - A sign of rejoicing. (see Esther 9:22)
Tormented - By the convicting power of their prophecy. (see verse 3) There are few greater tortures than that of a guilty conscience. When truth and righteousness are constantly presented before the willful sinner, they often become intolerable to him.
It is sad but true that there was great rejoicing and merry making over the death of the testimony of the Scriptures that was convicting and troubling the conscience.
“France stands apart in the world's history as the single state which, by the decree of her Legislative Assembly, pronounced there was no God, and of which the entire population of the capital, and a vast majority elsewhere, women as well as men, danced and sang with joy in accepting the announcement.” Blackwood's Magazine, Nov, 1870.
Also “the weekly rest-day was blotted out, and every tenth day substituted, for mirth and profanity.” Daniel and the Revelation by Uriah Smith, pg. 501.
Revelation 11:11-12 “And 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. 12 And 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.”
After three days and an half - That is, at the end of the period during which the witnesses' bodies lie unburied and exposed to public view. (see notes on verse 9)
As we have seen already, the decree that went forth to completely suppress the Scriptures was overturned just three and a half years later. The guilty conscience which had tormented the wicked returned “and great fear fell upon them.”
Spirit of life - That is, a spirit that is life. The Greek phrase here employed is used in the LXX to translate the Hebrew ruach chayyim, “breath of life.” (Genesis 6:17; 7:15) The Hebrews virtually equated breath with life. Consequently, to say that the breath of life entered into a man was to say that he received life. (see Genesis 2:7)
From God - God, the Giver of all life, raises His faithful witnesses.
Stood upon their feet - Compare 2 Kings 13:21; Ezekiel 37:10.
Great fear fell - A guilty conscience, which had tormented the wicked during the time of the prophecy of the two witnesses. (see notes on verse 10) once more asserts itself. Those who had rejoiced over the death of the witnesses now stand aghast as they behold the miracle of the resurrection of these witnesses.
12. Voice from heaven - The speaker is not identified, but presumably he is God.
Come up hither - Not only are the witnesses resurrected by God; they are bidden to enter heaven. Thus while “their enemies” behold “them” they are completely vindicated from the outrages they had suffered, and the truth of the prophecy they had faithfully proclaimed for 1260 days is demonstrated to all. The voice of God Himself has welcomed them to heaven, before the very eyes of those who had sought to destroy them.
This exaltation of the witnesses has been understood as symbolizing the remarkable popularity that the Scriptures have enjoyed since the early 19th century. Soon after the French Revolution various national Bible societies were established. Particularly notable among these were the British and Foreign Bible Society, founded in 1804, and the American Bible Society, organized in 1816. These societies, with others, have circulated Scripture portions in more than 1,500 languages. Thus in the last century and a half, the Bible, rather than being relegated to oblivion as a spiritual guide, has come to enjoy its widest circulation.
Ascended up to heaven - As Jesus bade His disciples farewell, a cloud “received him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9) So also the two witnesses are carried to heaven in a cloud. The figure fittingly describes the exaltation of the Scriptures in the period following their suppression in France. (see notes on Revelation 11:9; cf. Daniel 4:22)
Looking at Daniel 4:22 we gain an understanding of the expression: “Thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven.” Here the expression signifies great exaltation. Have the Scriptures attained to such a state of exaltation as here indicated, since France made war upon them? - They have. Shortly after, the British Bible Society was organized (1804); then followed the American Bible Society (1817); and these, with their almost innumerable auxiliaries, are scattering the Bible everywhere.” Uriah Smith, Daniel and the Revelation, pg. 536.
Since that period, the Bible has been translated into hundred of languages and scattered in the hundreds of millions world-wide.
The Bible has risen to be respected by almost every one, whether saint or sinner. No other book approaches it in cheapness or number of copies sold. The world has never seen any other book, which approaches the Bible in these respects. It is exalted as above all price and, besides the Son Himself, it is the most invaluable blessing of God to man.
Yes; the Scriptures may truly be said to be exalted “to heaven in a cloud,” a cloud being an emblem of heavenly elevation.
After the Revolution the Bible not only rose to its feet, but it arose to new heights of worldwide distribution. Revelations two witnesses have indeed “ascended up to heaven.”
Enemies beheld them - See the foregoing on “come up hither.”
Revelation 11:13 “And 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.”
Same hour - That is, almost immediately after the ascension of the witnesses.
A great earthquake - The symbol of an earthquake is used repeatedly in Scripture to portray the turmoil and upheaval that characterize the world immediately preceding the second advent. (see Mark 13:8; Revelation 16:18) Applying the prophecy to France, commentators see in the earthquake a picture of the upheaval that shook the nation toward the close of the 18th century.
“It was an earthquake in the political world.” Burke.
“The minds of men were shaken as by the yawning of the ground during the fury of an earthquake.” Alison.
“It destroyed the landmarks of the world in which generations of men had passed their lives.” Cambridge Modern History.
The cause of this great upheaval/Revolution in France was the following; Rome secured the flight of the Protestants out of France, but the Protestants carried with them the intelligence, the arts, the industry and the order. Flourishing manufacturing cities fell into decay; fertile districts returned to their native wildness; intellectual dullness and moral declension succeeded a period of unwonted progress. The wealthy oppressed the poor and the poor hated the rich. The courts of justice were corrupt and the middle to lower classes were heavily taxed to support a system of corruption on the part of the government and the clergy, which the both were flourishing in their wealth.
But what Rome had purposed, holding the masses in a blind submission to her dogmas, only served for creating a mass of infidels and revolutionists. Romanism was despised as priestcraft and the clergy as a party to their oppression. As masses lived in hunger priests and rulers basked in wealth and opulence. The outworking of all the above was the revolution, notice the following;
“At the opening of the Revolution, by a concession of the king, the people were granted a representation exceeding that of the nobles and the clergy combined. Thus the balance of power was in their hands; but they were not prepared to use it with wisdom and moderation. Eager to redress the wrongs they had suffered, they determined to undertake the reconstruction of society. An outraged populace, whose minds were filled with bitter and long-treasured memories of wrong, resolved to revolutionize the state of misery that had grown unbearable and to avenge themselves upon those whom they regarded as the authors of their sufferings. The oppressed wrought out the lesson they had learned under tyranny and became the oppressors of those who had oppressed them....The example of persecution which the clergy of France had exhibited for so many ages, was now retorted upon them with signal vigor. The scaffolds ran red with the blood of the priests. The galleys and the prisons, once crowded with Huguenots, were now filled with their persecutors. Chained to the bench and toiling at the oar, the Roman Catholic clergy experienced all those woes which their church had so freely inflicted on the gentle heretics.”
“The shootings, the drownings, the roastings of the Roman Catholic loyalists, both priest and nobles..had all their prototypes [or models] in the babarities of another age practiced under the direction of the Pope and French Papists.” E.B. Elliot, Horae Apocalypticae, Vol. 3, p321-322
“The French Revolution slew as many priests and Papists under Louis XVI as the priests and papists slew Protestants under Louis XIV. Simpson and other good and great writers have truly and justly considered that the latter slaughter was a righteous retribution for the former murders. This event sent an awful shock through the whole empire...."They rose en masse, 'Down with these monsters who have...villainously imposed upon our credulity'...Baruel, in his 'History of the Revolution' says, '138 bishops and 64,000 curates were driven from their sees or parishes; all the clergy, all the religious...forced from their retreats...300 priests slain in one day in one city; all the other pastors who remained faithful to their God, were either sacrificed or banished...such is the spectacle exhibited to the world by the French Revolution.” Allen, The Apocalypse, pgs. 113-115.
This was a most momentous upheaval that not only effected France but the whole world;
“The time of the eighteenth--century French Revolution when the 1260 years of the Papal era were closing, was a turning point in the history of the modern world. It brought forth forces that made a permanent change in the thoughts and actions of mankind.” Alison, History of Europe (1789-1815), Vol. 1, pgs. 47-49.
“The French Revolution was one of the momentous events in the history, not only of France, but of Europe and even the whole world.” L.E. Froom, Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. 2, pg. 633.
The tenth part of the city fell - A tenth part of Babylon the Great/the Papal Roman power fell. France is one of the ten horns that arose out of the divided Western Roman Empire and gave its allegiance to the papal power. Now she falls in a political and religious upheaval.
Tenth part - This is not the final earthquake, for only a fraction of the city (see notes on verses 2, 8) falls at this time. (cf. Revelation 16:18) This earthquake signifies a temporary judgment that frightens into submission some of those who have gloried in the death of the witnesses. Some apply the expression “tenth part of the city” to the entire nation of France on the basis that France was one of the “ten kings” to arise from the fallen Roman Empire. (Daniel 7:24) Others identify the city as papal Rome and France as one of its ten divisions.
Slain of men seven thousand - Greek onomata anthrōpōn, literally, “names of men.” Some take the word onomata, “names,” here in the sense of “persons.” (see Acts 3:16) Others apply onomata to titles, offices or orders that were suppressed during the French Revolution. Because of this great upheaval it is said that their was seven thousand men slain, or names of men. Seven is a symbol of completeness thus there is a complete slaying of the names of men, undoubtedly the titles of men.
Notice this quote from Sir Robert Anderson, Constitution and Selected Documents pg.33, “Hereditary nobility is forever abolished: in consequence the titles of prince, duke, count, marquis, viscount, vidame, baron, knight, messive, ecuyler, noble and all other similar titles shall neither be taken by any one whomsoever nor given to anybody.”
Remnant were affrighted - “Their God-dishonouring and Heaven-defying work filled France with such scenes of blood, carnage, and horror, as made even the infidels themselves tremble, and stand aghast; and the “remnant” that escaped the horrors of that hour “gave glory to God” - not willingly, but the God of heaven caused this “wrath of man to praise him,” by causing all the world to see that those who make war on heaven make graves for themselves; thus glory redounded to God by the very means that the wicked men employed to tarnish that glory.” Daniel and the Revelation by Uriah Smith, Page 504, 505.
**One thing that should be noted here, at the end of our study, is that the French Revolution has been identified as the birthplace of the modern communist movement;
“The connection between the absolutist revolution of the eighteenth century and the Marxist movement of the next century presses for recognition...[It] is the direct offspring and her...A RELIGION OF ATHEISM, which is the mainspring of the Communist power...Marxism has succeeded in coupling scientific ideas with the greatest political hopes that man has ever entertained, the absolute hopes that animated the French Revolution.” The Dignity of Man, R. W. Davenport, p163-9.
The God of heaven - This title occurs frequently in Daniel. (see Daniel 2:18-19, 37, 44, cf. Ezra 5:11-12; 6:9; 7:12)
The Seventh Trumpet or Third Woe
Revelation 11:14 “The second woe is past; [and], behold, the third woe cometh quickly.”
The second woe - That is, the judgments under the sixth trumpet, which ended in 1840. (see Revelation 8:13; cf. Revelation 9:12)
The third woe - That is, the events portrayed under the seventh trumpet. (verse 15-19)
The parenthetical prophecy has now come to completion and we once again take up our study on the seven trumpets. The second woe came to its end in August 11, 1840 with the third and final woe following quickly. We will see that this final woe takes us from the commencement of the judgment in 1844 through to the second coming of Christ and the end of the 1000 years.
Revelation 11:15 “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become [the kingdoms] of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.”
The seventh angel sounded - This marks the beginning of the third woe (see notes on verse 14) and the end of the parenthesis between the sixth and seventh trumpets. (Revelation 10:1 to 11:14; see notes on Revelation 11:1) Most date its beginning as 1844. (see notes on verse 19) We need to remember that under the seventh angel the mystery of God is to be finished, the gospel is to be concluded, salvation is to come to its end, probation will close and God's wrath will be poured out in the form of the seven last plagues.
Great voices - These were probably those of the heavenly hosts. (cf. Revelation 5:11-12) Similarly, in the seventh plague a great voice is heard from the temple in heaven. (Revelation 16:17)
Kingdoms of this world are become - Textual evidence attests the reading “kingdom.” Christ receives the kingdom a short time prior to His return to this earth. (see Daniel 7:14) At the time of His coming all earthly opposition is crushed. (see notes on Revelation 17:14) The kingdoms of this world have been usurped by Satan, he claims them as his very own which is illustrated by the offering of them to Christ, “all these things will I give thee”, Matthew 4:8-9.
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 show to us that Christ receives His kingdom in the heavenly judgment which began in 1844 and comes to its completion at the close of probation (the finishing of the mystery of God, the work of the gospel and the offer of salvation), when He has completed the work of making up His subjects for that kingdom. For, remember that Christ said, “the kingdom of God is within you” Luke 17:21 thus Christ's kingdom is not complete until His subjects are made up which will be when the mystery of God is finished.
His Christ - That is, His Anointed. (see Psalms 2:2) The hosts of heaven who themselves have not received salvation through Christ refer to Him as “his [God's] Christ,” probably because the title “Christ” particularly refers to the second person of the Godhead in His function as the One anointed for the work of redemption.
Shall reign for ever and ever - Christ comes back the second time as King of kings and Lord of lords, Revelation 19:16, it is then that He begins to reign for ever and ever throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. But we must not forget the physical establishment of that kingdom is upon this earth at the end of the 1000 years, Revelation 20:7, 9; 21:1-2, and so Christ ultimately will reign for ever and ever at this time. A kingdom that will destroy all others, fill the whole earth and that which is without end, Daniel 2:34-35, 44; 7:14, 27; Luke 1:33.
Revelation 11:16-17 “And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, 17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.”
Four and twenty elders - See comments on Revelation 4:4 about who the 24 elders are and what their function is.
Fell upon their faces - This reign will bring an end to sin and its originator, Satan, but will also commence the full restoration of this earth. For 6000 years they have seen the destructive and heart wrenching effects of sin and, therefore, what rejoicing it will bring to the heavenly inhabitants to know and see the kingdoms of this world become Christ's for ever.
Hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned - God takes to Himself His great power and crushes out the rebellion of this earth and the reign of Satan. Christ is established upon the throne and reigns supreme throughout eternity.
17. Lord God Almighty - See notes on Revelation 1:8. A particularly fitting title for God as victor.
Which art - See notes on Revelation 1:4.
And wast - See notes on Revelation 1:4.
And art to come - Textual evidence attests the omission of these words. They probably are omitted from the complete formula of Revelation 1:4 because here the focus of the elder's praise is on the past and present position of God rather than on the future.
Hast taken … hast reigned - The tenses of the Greek may be rendered better, “hast taken … didst reign,” that is, hast taken and didst begin to reign. The triumphant reign begins with God's asserting His omnipotence. God has ever been all powerful, and the reign of sin has been only by His sufferance, that the true nature of evil might be revealed to created beings. When that purpose has been accomplished, then He takes His “great power” and once more reigns supreme. See 1 Corinthians 15:24-28.
Revelation 11:18 “And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.”
Nations were angry - The Greek word used here for nation is “ethnos,”, which also carries with it the meaning of Gentile and heathen as translated elsewhere in the New Testament. Compare Psalms 2:1. Such will be the condition of the nations prior to the coming of Christ. They will band together to oppose the work and people of Christ. (see notes on Revelation 13:12; 14:8) So why are the nations of the unsaved/heathen angry?
Nations are angry because of the commandment keepers and their message. (sounds like Daniel 11:44, utterly make away many)
Wrath of the seven last plagues, Revelation 15:1; 16:1.
Dead judged during the thousand years 2 Corinthians 6:2, Revelation 20:4.
Reward to the faithful, meek inherit the earth Matthew 5:5, Psalms 37:11.
The wicked are slain at the second coming but are finally destroyed at the end of the millennium Revelation 19:21; 20:9, 12-15.
Wrath - The wrath of God is summed up in the seven last plagues. (Revelation 15:1) The work of opposition against Christ is brought to a halt by these plagues.
Time - Greek kairos, a particular time with a definite purpose. (see notes on Revelation 1:3) This is a time of judgment, both of reward and of destruction.
That they should be judged - The mention of both reward and destruction indicates that John is speaking of the final judgment, which takes place after the millennium. (Revelation 20:12-15)
Reward unto thy servants - See Matthew 5:12; 6:1; 1 Corinthians 3:8; Revelation 22:12. Since the events enumerated are sequential, the reward here spoken of is the inheritance of the new earth at the close of the millennium.
Prophets - God's special servants, who speak forth for Him. This class has borne heavy responsibilities and has often suffered most severely for their Lord.
Saints - Or, “holy ones.” The members of the body of Christ characterized by the purity of their lives.
Them that fear - Greek hoi phoboumenoi, a term used in the Acts for those who, though not fully proselytes to Israel, nevertheless worshiped the true God. (see Acts 10:2) If the same general meaning is intended here, this third class to receive a reward in the judgment may be understood as those who have not completely known Christ and His way, but who have lived in the fullness of the light that has come to them. Because they have feared the name of God, as He has been revealed to them, they too receive a reward. On the other hand, the phrase hoi phoboumenoi may simply be in apposition with the word translated “saints.” The passage would then read, “the saints, even those fearing thy name.”
Small and great - Worldly status is meaningless in the final judgment.
Destroy them which destroy - The fate of the wicked, who have destroyed the earth physically and also spiritually is strikingly fitting. They themselves are destroyed.
Revelation 11:19 “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”
The temple - There is opened before John a view of God's heavenly temple, with “the ark of his testament” the focal point of the vision. Now, in the typical sanctuary, which was a “copy of the true one” (Hebrews 9:24 RSV) in heaven, the ark was in the most holy place, which was the center of the service of the Day of Atonement as a typical day of judgment. It is in connection with the beginning of the seventh trumpet that John sees the temple in heaven and very particularly “the ark of his testament.” This indicates that the second and last division of Christ's heavenly ministry answering to the typical Day of Atonement has opened. Other scriptures reveal that this final phase of Christ's work began in 1844. (see Daniel 8:14) Accordingly, this places the beginning of the seventh trumpet in that year.
Ark of his testament - The ark in the typical sanctuary was the depository of the Ten Commandments, God's immutable moral law for all men in all ages. No believer in God in Jewish times could think of the ark without becoming immediately conscious of the Ten Commandments. John's vision of the ark above argues eloquently that in earth's last hours God's great moral law is to be central in the thinking and in the lives of all who seek to serve God in spirit and in truth. (see notes on Revelation 12:17; 14:12)
Lightnings, and voices, and thunderings - As under the seventh plague. (Revelation 16:18)
An earthquake - As under the seventh plague. (Revelation 16:18, 19, cf. on Revelation 11:13)
Great hail - As under the seventh plague. (Revelation 16:21)
Natures last upheaval, under the 7th and final plague, announcing the close of this earth's history.
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