Bible Commentary on the
The Two Witnesses
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.
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.
3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
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.
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.
7 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.
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.
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.
11 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.
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.
14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
The Seventh Trumpet
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.
16 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.
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.
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.
There is no question that as far as the Scriptures are concerned the Sanctuary has a very prominent place for in the first five books of Moses there are 33 chapters dealing with the Sanctuary and in the Book of Hebrews considerable attention is given to the Heavenly Sanctuary. The Books of Daniel and Revelation feature the Sanctuary as a prominent subject.
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.
The vision of the mighty angel in chapter 10, and the vision of the two witnesses in chapter 11 correspond to each other but are not in chronological order. If they were, then chapter 11 should precede
chapter 10. However the first two verses carry on from chapter 10 and are very important in understanding the full import of "Thou must prophesy again".
And there was given me a reed like a rod
This rod, given to John to use for measuring, is a symbol of judgment, measuring the servants of God is to examine them, to see if they are living up to the standards God expects of them. There is only one way that God's people can be measured and that is by the written Word, the Bible.
2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."
So in a general sense the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, have their part in measuring the lives of His people. However in a more specific way, the Ten Commandments place their stamp of approval or otherwise upon the Christian.
James 2:12 says, "So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty."
And the angel stood, saying, rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar
The temple was to be measured or studied. This was not referring to the earthly temple for that was in ruins. The temple to be measured must be the heavenly one and the only way the heavenly temple or Sanctuary could be measured or compared is by that of the earthly Sanctuary. As we study the Scriptures it is quite clear that the earthly Sanctuary was closely patterned after the Heavenly one.
As careful study was given to this subject, those who come through the great disappointment mentioned in
chapter 10, and still held fast to their belief in God and Christ's return, discovered their mistake. They found by careful study that instead of coming to the earth as LORD of LORDS and KING of KINGS at the close of the 2,300 days, rather that Christ was beginning the last phase of His ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary. It was the subject of the sanctuary which was the key that unlocked the mystery of the disappointment of 1844.
And the altar
The altar played a very important part in the Sanctuary service, for the plan of Salvation and Redemption was pictured in the Sanctuary service. We have already noticed in this Book of Revelation how the altar symbolizes sacrifice, without that sacrifice then there would not be Salvation. Also we have noticed that the Sanctuary in Heaven is the very centre of Christ's work an behalf of men.
And them that worship therein
Not only is the temple itself to be measured but the worshippers or God's people also, and this is being done as the Books are opened and examined. Remember the statement "Who shall be able to stand?" This applies here, for it takes us back to
chapter 3 and verse 5, "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels."
It is a solemn thought to think that God is measuring those who profess to be His children, their words and actions are being recorded in the books of heaven.
The Church is cut off from God's temple only as far as they are separated by the distance there is between them. However the Church, which was to be a light and guide to those in darkness, has come under the control of the 'man of sin', that one "Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or is worshipped; so that he as God, sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." (2 Thessalonians 2:3,4) The prophecy goes on to say that this would be for a period of forty two months.
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.
But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not
The Court of the Sanctuary was not to be measured because it was disconnected from the Heavenly Sanctuary. The Court of the earthly sanctuary was holy ground, it was an enclosure set apart for a sacred use. It was the place of worship for the people and was the most sacred place on earth which God's people could enter. This is where the people came to worship God with praise, confession and consecration. Seeing that the Court is spoken of as being trodden underfoot and that it is separate from the Heavenly Temple, then it can only refer to God's Church on earth.
For it is given unto the Gentiles
The word 'Gentiles' is used in its spiritual significance to apply to the enemies of God. Paul tells us that in Christ there is neither Jew or Gentile as there is no distinction between nationalities. As these Gentiles mentioned here are treading down God's people and His Church, then it is quite clear they are enemies.
And the Holy City shall they tread under foot forty and two months
The Court or the Holy City: the Court refers to God's church and so does the Holy City, these terms are used synonymously. Later on in Revelation, the Holy City is used as a symbol of the Church.
In prophecy one day stands for a year, and time is reckoned thirty days to the month. Forty-two months is equivalent to twelve hundred and sixty days of prophetic time, or twelve hundred and sixty years of literal time. Sometimes this same period of time is called "a time and times, and the dividing of time", however it is just a variation of the same period, possibly put this way to avoid monotony.
The power which trod the people of God under foot for the 1260 years was the Papacy. It was during this time that the truth was cast to the ground, God's true people were slaughtered by the thousands. The smoke of Mohammedanism darkened the East and the Papacy trod down the Church in the West. Constantinople - Rome. Mohammedanism tormented men like the sting of a scorpion and the 'man of sin' held men's minds in such subjection that they were unable to see beyond that exalted man on the throne.
In the East the Koran and a false religion held sway, the sixth day of the week (Friday) was substituted for the Sabbath. In the West there was no Word of God, for it was rigorously suppressed and the first day of the week was substituted for the Sabbath.
AND I WILL GIVE POWER UNTO MY TWO WITNESSES, AND THEY SHALL PROPHESY A THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED AND THREESCORE DAYS, CLOTHED IN SACKCLOTH.
And I will give power unto my two witnesses
The question naturally arises, who are the two witnesses? In verse 4 we are told that they are the two olive trees and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
If this was all the information available as to their identity, we would be hardly able to really say for certain who they might be. Fortunately Zechariah was also rather puzzled about the very same thing and he was given a very clear answer to his question. Let us notice
Zechariah 4:11, "Then answered I and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candle stick and upon the left side thereof?"
Verse 14, "Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth". You will notice that the margin has 'Sons of oil' for the two anointed ones. This is the symbolic oil that makes the Church the Light of the world.
The mission of the Two Anointed Ones is to communicate light and power to God's people. The LORD of all the earth is the 'Father'; the Two that stand by Him are the 'Son' and the 'Holy Spirit'. They are the Two Witnesses or the Two Anointed Ones. The Two Witnesses on earth are the Old and the New Testament, for God speaks to man through His written Word the Bible.
And they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days
Christ and the Holy Spirit are not only Witnesses but they are also prophets. In
Psalm 119:105 we are told, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path". The Scriptures are more than a light for they bear witness or testify of God. In
2 Peter 1:21 we read, "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they moved by the Holy Ghost."
The Holy Spirit is a prophet, for behind all prophecy He is at work dictating the messages from God, guiding the hand of the prophets. Christ was a prophet for He gave us a very clear and easy way to follow the outline of events to take place from His day right down to our day, in
Matthew chapter 24 and
Luke chapter 21.
They are to prophesy for 1260 days or years or 42 months
This is a period of time mentioned many times in the Books of Daniel and Revelation. It is a period known as the 'Dark Ages' which began in 538 A.D. and stretches out to 1798 A.D.
Clothed in sackcloth
They are to prophesy clothed in sackcloth. Sackcloth is a symbol of mourning. It is during this period of the 1260 years that the Holy Scripture were rigorously suppressed, even destroyed and burned publicly. They were locked up in a language unfamiliar to the people. During the 1260 years the Scriptures were silenced by apostasy in the church and by the smoke of Mohammedanism. Thomas Scott has this to say about this part of the prophecy "...that during the darkest ages of popery, men were raised up, who bore a decided testimony against the prevailing corruptions of the Roman church, and for the leading doctrines of the gospel, it was indeed the interest and constant practice of their opponents to silence their testimony, to blacken their characters, or to destroy them as hereticks.." (Explanatory notes on Revelation. Revelation chapter 11:3) In every way the Word of Truth was suppressed.
THESE ARE THE TWO OLIVE TREES, AND THE TWO CANDLESTICKS STANDING BEFORE THE GOD OF THE EARTH.
By the prophet Zechariah, the church is represented as a golden candlestick having seven branches, each branch has its own light, but the oil which gives light comes from a single bowl, and the oil for this bowl is supplied by the two olive trees.
The oil is the oil of grace, the truth of God. The unity of the seven candlesticks is typified by the fact that each branch gains its supply from the one source. The source of grace is God the Father, and His two Anointed Ones take that grace and pass it on to all mankind. It is a beautiful picture of how God is constantly ministering to the needs of the Church here on earth.
There is only one source of light and truth here on this earth available to man and that is the Holy Scriptures. That is the Old and the New Testaments which reveal to us that divine grace which is always available to us. Without the Holy Scriptures we would be in complete darkness and it is only as they light the way for us that we can have the assurance of eternal life.
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.
During the Dark Ages millions of martyrs died at the stake and the Holy Scriptures were consigned to the flames. The same weapon, 'fire', will be used by God to destroy the enemies of truth. The Papal weapons have always been the sword, fire, or flame.
Daniel 11:33 says, "And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity and by spoil, many days." These very weapons will be turned upon their own heads for it will be the sword of Armageddon and the fires of perdition which will eventually destroy all the enemies of the Two Witnesses.
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 WILL ALL PLAGUES, AS OFTEN AS THEY WILL.
They have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy
The Two Witnesses have power to control the elements, they can shut heaven at their will and open it also. During the great apostasy of Israel under the reign of Ahab and Jezebel, the Two Witnesses through their prophet Elijah, closed the heavens against rain for three and a half years. Rain is a symbol of God's blessings and to have no rain meant that God's blessings would be withheld, that there would be a spiritual drought.
And have power over waters to turn them to blood
At the time of the ten plagues on Egypt, through the agency of Moses, the waters were turned into blood. Again during the seven Last Plagues the waters will be turned into blood.
And to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will
The Witnesses having complete control over nature are able to bring plagues upon the earth whenever they wish. Plagues are judgments and they are sent to remind men that God is still there even if they think otherwise.
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.
And when they shall have finished their testimony
During the long, dark period of the Middle Ages, when Papal Rome ruled the world and persecuted the true believers, the work went very slowly. Sackcloth is a symbol of darkness,
Revelation 6:12 says, "And the sun became black as sackcloth of hair."
Wylie the church historian says, "the noon of the papacy was the midnight of the world." It was during the 1260 years of Papal supremacy that the church which should have been the light of the world, was compelled to flee to the wilderness and hide in caves and among the mountains. The Papacy did its utmost to hide the Word of God or the Bible from the people. Yet despite all their efforts, the prophecy says that the Witnesses would continue to prophesy. The period when the Two Witnesses were to prophesy clothed in sackcloth ended in 1798 A.D.
The beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them
As they were approaching the termination of their work in obscurity, war was to be made on them by a power represented as "the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit". There are beast powers mentioned in Daniel, however they mostly were political powers warring against each other. This beast power brought to light here makes war against the Two Witnesses or the Holy Scriptures.
According to the prophet, just before the year 1798, a power of Satanic origin and character would make war against the Bible. This power was none other than France at the time of the French Revolution. France is the only nation in the world that lifted her hand in open rebellion against God and by the decree of her legislative Assembly pronounced that there was no God.
And shall overcome them, and kill them
The Two Witnesses were overcome and slain by this godless power. During the Revolution and the reign of terror, war was made against God and the Holy Scriptures, for the worship of God was abolished by the National Assembly. Bibles were collected and publicly burned; the institutions of the Bible were abolished. Even the weekly rest-day was set aside and in its place every tenth day was to be a public rest day.
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.
And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city
The Word of God lay dead in her streets and there was great rejoicing, for the voices of the Two Witnesses had been silenced. Men and women were now free of the restrictions and requirements that God's law places upon man.
Which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt
The 'great city' in whose streets the Witnesses are slain and where their dead bodies lie is called 'Sodom and Egypt'. Of all nations presented in Bible history, Egypt was the one that most boldly denied the existence of God. When Moses brought the message of God to proud Pharaoh he answered, "Who is Jehovah, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not Jehovah, neither will I let Israel go." (Exodus 5:2) This is Atheism and the nation representing Egypt in the prophecy would be an atheistic country and there is no denying that France was such a country.
This is what Dr Joseph Priestly said, "When I was myself in France in the year 1774, I saw sufficient reason to believe that hardly a person of eminence in church or state, and especially in the least degree eminent in philosophy or literature ... were believers in Christianity ... And not only were the philosophers and other leading men in France, at that time, unbelievers in Christianity or deists; but they were even atheists, denying the being of a God." (Quoted in 'The Sacred Calendar of Prophecy,' G.S. Faber, book 3, chapter 4)
The 'great city' is also compared to Sodom, and the great sin of Sodom was l1centiousness. France is a nation that demonstrated the two characteristics described in the prophecy, atheism and moral depravity or licentiousness. France is a country that is renowned for low moral standards.
Where our Lord was crucified
This specification of the prophecy was also fulfilled by France. For no other country in Europe or for that matter in the world openly displayed such bitter hostility towards Christ. In the cruel persecution of the Huguenots and the Albigenses of France, many laid down their lives "for the Word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ." Many thousands were put to death during the Reformation, for the Protestants were looked upon as outlaws and a price was placed on their heads and they were hunted down like wild beasts.
The most fiendish deed of all was the St Bartholomew massacre. The King of France, urged on by the clergy, gave his sanction to this dreadful massacre. The signal for the slaughter was a bell that tolled at midnight. The King had assured them that their lives were not in danger so they were peacefully sleeping when the midnight bell tolled. Thousands were dragged out of their beds and murdered by the Papal soldiers. For seven days the massacre was carried on in Paris and spread into the provinces and towns of France. No one was spared, mother and child were cut down without mercy. Seventy thousand Protestants lost their lives in what has been called the blackest deed in the history of France.
The same evil spirit that urged on the St Bartholomew massacre, led out in the scenes of the French Revolution. "Jesus Christ was declared to be an impostor and the rallying cry of the French infidels was, "Crush the Wretch" meaning Christ. ... In all this, supreme homage was paid to Satan; while Christ, in His characteristics of truth, purity, and unselfish love, was crucified." G.C.
Sir Archibald Alison in his 'History of Europe' has this to say about France's attitude to deity. "Having massacred the great of the present, and insulted the illustrious of former ages, nothing remained to the Revolutionists but to direct their fury against Heaven itself. Pache, Hebert and Chaumette, the leaders of the municipality, publicly expressed their determination "to dethrone the King of heaven, as well as the monarchs of earth." To accomplish this design, they prevailed on Gobel, the apostate constitutional bishop of Paris, to appear at the bar of the convention (Nov. 7, 1793) accompanied by some of the clergy of his diocese, and there abjure the Christian faith. That base prelate declared "that no other national religion was now required but that of liberty, equality, and morality." Many of the constitutional bishops and clergy in the Convention joined in the proposition."
During the Revolution in 1793 by decree of her legislative Assembly, France pronounced that there was no God. At the same time the Republican calendar was adopted by vote of the Convention. The Christian era was abolished and the weekly cycle was replaced by the 10 day cycle. All pious books of the Catholic church as well as the Old and New Testaments were burned in a great bonfire on the square of the temple of Reason. The prophecy was fulfilled to the letter, like ancient Pharaoh who uttered those bold words "Who is Jehovah, that I should obey His voice?" "I know not Jehovah!". France displayed the same atheistic spirit.
AND THEY OF THE PEOPLE AND KINDREDS AND TONGUES AND NATIONS SHALL SEE THEIR DEAD BODIES THREE DAYS AND A HALF, AND SHALL NOT SUFFER THEIR DEAD BODIES TO BE PUT IN GRAVES.
And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half
The Two Witnesses lay dead in the streets, slain by atheism. During this time the Bible was banned and burned, fornication was made legal, and France set up in the place of God what they called the worship of Reason. Under the title of 'The Worship of Reason', there is a description of what happened at this time. "Hebert, Chaumette, Momoro, and the Prussian anarchist Clootz prevailed upon the National Convention to decree the abolition of the Christian religion in France and the substitution of the worship of Reason instead. Momoro's young and beautiful but prostitute wife, who had been a dancer, personated the Goddess of Reason; and as such she was enthroned on the high altar of the Cathedral of Notre Dame and worshipped by the members of the National Convention and the Paris Commune..." (Library of Universal History," Vol V111 p.2612)
It was not the goddess of Reason that France worshipped but rather the goddess of sex. That is what they worshipped then and it is the same today. France has a world wide reputation for immorality.
Three days and an half
Prophetically this is three years and an half. This period starts on November 26, 1793, when a decree issued in Paris abolished religion, to June 17th 1797, when the French government removed the restrictions against the practice of religion.
And shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves
Peter Jurieu made this statement "The Truth shall be slain, but it shall not be buried." The Two Witnesses have been slain by Republican France but as the text mentions, other people and kindreds and nations watching what was going on, observed the results of atheism.
AND THEY THAT DWELL UPON THE EARTH SHALL REJOICE OVER THEM, AND MAKE MERRY, AND SHALL SEND GIFTS TO ONE ANOTHER; BECAUSE THESE TWO PROPHETS TORMENTED THEM THAT DWELT ON THE EARTH.
And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them
This is well described by Joseph Galloway in his commentary on Revelation 11. "... the commissioners of the Convention dressed up an ass, and loading it with the symbols of Christianity, led it in mock procession, with the Old and New Testaments tied to its tail, and burned them to ashes, amidst the blasphemous shouts and acclamations of the deluded multitude." (Vol 1, pp.93,94. London. 1828)
And make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth
In order that we might more clearly understand the picture the prophet is trying to describe, once again we will quote from a historical writer, George Croly A.M. "A very remarkable and prophetic distinction of this period was the spirit of frenzied festivity which seized upon France. The capital and all the republican towns were the scene of civic feasts, processions, and shows of the most extravagant kind. The most festive times of peace under the most expensive kings, were thrown into the shade by the frequency, variety, and extent of the republican exhibitions. Yet this was a time of perpetual miseries throughout France. The guillotine was bloody from morn till night." ('The Apocalypse of St John', p.176, 2d edition. 1828)
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.
And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them
The prophet declares that after three and one-half prophetic years the Witnesses would come to life again. As we have a ready noticed, it was in 1793 that the decree was issued which abolished the Christian religion. Three years and a half later a resolution was made, rescinding these decrees, giving toleration to the Scriptures. Notice these words penned by George Croly, "The church and the Bible had been slain in France from November 1793 till June, 1797. The three years and a half were expended, and the Bible, so long and so sternly repressed before, was placed in honor, and was openly the Book of free Protestantism!" ('The Apocalypse of St John', pp. 181-183, 2nd Edition 1828)
And they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them
Men of other nations looked on in astonishment at the terrible things which happened in France, the terrible bloodshed, the moral abandonment, the reign of terror. France was on the verge of of a great famine, the like of which had never before threatened a so called civilized country. It says that "great fear fell upon those who saw these things". The nations of earth had seen the results of rejecting the Bible and God Himself.
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.
And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither .- -
The Holy Scriptures which had been so vigorously suppressed by the godless nation are now to be exalted in the eyes of all nations. Not only are the Witnesses resurrected by God; they were bidden to go back to heaven. This means that they are restored to the exalted position they held before. The whole world had been made to realize how terrible are the results of suppressing the Holy Scriptures.
And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them
This figure describes the exultation of the Holy Scriptures in the eyes of all people, of all nations and tongues. It is rather significant that in 1804, almost immediately following the French Revolution, the British and Foreign Bible Society was organized. This was followed by similar organizations with many branches throughout Europe.
Then in 1816 the American Bible Society was founded and the Bible was made available to the people at a very low cost, and in many instances free of charge. These Bible Societies worked tirelessly, translating the Bible in the various languages and dialects of the nations. The Holy Scriptures enjoyed tremendous popularity and the Bible soon became the world's best seller.
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.
And the same hour was there a great earthquake
The symbol of an earthquake is used repeatedly in Scripture to portray turmoil and upheaval. By applying the earthquake to France, it is a picture of the upheaval that shook the nation toward the close of the 18th century. Notice this statement by E.B. Elliot, A.M, "Already, it was said by Mr Burke in the year 1790, in many parts of Europe there is a hollow murmuring under ground; a confused movement that threatens a general earthquake of the political world." ('Horae Apocalypticae' Vol 111, p.300, 3d edition)
And the tenth part of the city fell
What city? Why, it is the great city spoken of in the Book of Revelation.
Revelation 17:18 says, "The woman. which thou sawest is that great city which reigneth over the kings (kingdoms) of the earth." In Daniel's great image of
chapter 2 there was the ten toes or ten kingdoms that arose out of the Western Empire of Rome. The same kingdoms are represented by the ten horned beast of Daniel
chapter 7 and John's ten-horned dragon in
Revelation 12. France was one of those ten kingdoms and thus "the tenth part of the city", also a tenth part of Papal Rome.
Notice what Peter Jurieu has written! "...Now what is this tenth part of this city, which shall fall? In my opinion we cannot doubt that tis France. This kingdom is the most considerable part, or piece, of the ten horns, or states, which once made up the great Babylonian city...This tenth part of the city shall fall, with respect to the Papacy; it shall break with Rome, and the Roman religion." (Accomplishment of the Scripture Prophecies, part 2, chap 13, pp. 264, 1687)
And in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand
Literally 'names of men'. Obviously this is a symbolic number. It has been estimated that 1,018,603 were killed during the French Revolution. As this 'names of men' can also apply to the titles of men, it seems that this must be referring to titles rather than persons. Dr H. Moore has this to say regarding this matter, "Whence we may understand what is meant by these 'seven thousand names of men'; for neither seven nor thousand signify an determinate number, but only the nature or property of these names of men that are said to be slain, namely, that they are titles, dignities, offices, or orders of men belonging to the state of Christendom." (Quoted in Appendix to 'Apocalyptical Key', Robert Fleming, p. 122, 1809) In the Law of June 19,1790, hereditary nobility was abolished, and such titles as prince, duke, count, marquis, baron, knight as well as religious titles.
And the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven
As we have noticed in many of the quotes we have used, the French Revolution was very early recognized as fulfilling prophecy. Many writers living at that time were able to see very clearly how the statements of Scripture, fitted the events of this terrible upheaval. Those who studied this prophecy realized that God's Word is certainly inspired and as the Scriptures says, "gave glory to the God of heaven."
THE SECOND WOE IS PAST; AND, BEHOLD, THE THIRD WOE COMETH QUICKLY.
The second woe is past
That is, the judgments under the sixth trumpet which ended in 1840. Before we move on to notice the events of the Third Woe, it is worth taking a look at how the Turks were used by God to open up the way for Protestantism. There are at least three examples illustrating the working of the divine hand during this period of history.
When the Marco Polos returned from Cathay (China), they brought with them such riches in gems and told such wonderful tales that there was awakened a great interest in that country. The land routes were blocked by the shadow of Islam, which cast its influence over the Middle East and into Europe itself. A new way to China had to be found and this is where Christopher Columbus stepped into the picture. He was convinced that by sailing westward he would reach the East. In his discovery of America, a base for Protestantism was made possible. The wealth of America and the freedom with which Americans have been able to travel in most parts of the earth proved invaluable in the spreading of the Gospel message.
Another incident in the early days of Protestantism helped to prevent a very serious setback which could have been a real disaster. In the Reformation days the Catholic princes of Germany organized to wipe out Protestantism. At the zero hour, the Turks attacked Vienna, diverting the attention of these Catholic princes to the greater threat of those they considered to be infidels, invading Western Europe. In this way Protestantism was providentially protected from being crushed.
Uriah Smith in his commentary on 'Daniel and the Revelation' suggests, "The hordes of Saracens and Turks were let loose as a scourge and punishment upon apostate Christendom." God used the Mohammedan, who believing in much of the Old Testament Scriptures and who were opposed to idol worship, to punish the apostate, image-adoring Christian church. However despite the onslaught of Islam, the apostate Christians did not "repent of the works of their hands and give up worshipping daemons (demons) and idols of gold and silver and brass and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or stir." (Revelation 9:20 Moffatt's version)
Behold the third Woe cometh quickly
The third Woe occurs under the the sounding of the seventh Trumpet, which began in 1844. We are living in the time of the sounding of the seventh trumpet, which began in 1844. We are living in the time of the sounding of the most important message to all mankind, which brings us to the greatest and most spectacular events that man has ever witnessed, climaxing with the coming of Jesus as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
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.
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven
The great voices are probably those of the heavenly hosts. At the time when the kingdoms of this world become Christ's, strange supernatural events will take place. During the 7th Plague a great voice is heard from the temple in heaven
Revelation 16:17 saying "It is done". This great voice is none other than the voice of God, saying,
The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord
Kingdoms, this should read Kingdom, Christ receives the Kingdom just prior to His return to this earth. (Daniel 7:13, 14) "And I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him.” And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed."
And of his Christ
That is, His Anointed. Psalm 45:6,7 says, "Thy throne, 0 God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows".
The hosts of heaven, who themselves have not received salvation through Christ, refer to Him as "His (God's) Christ", as this title refers to the second person of the Godhead. Also as the One who has been anointed for the work of Redemption.
And He shall reign for ever and ever
When Christ sets up His kingdom it will be everlasting.
Daniel 2:44 says, "In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed..."
AND THE FOUR AND TWENTY ELDER, WHICH SAT BEFORE GOD ON THEIR SEATS, FELL UPON THEIR FACES, AND WORSHIPPED GOD.
This statement takes us back into the throne room of God. The twenty four elders, thrilled that at last the grand climax has come, prostate themselves before God. They have witnessed the great drama taking place, the controversy between Christ and Satan. The ages have dragged by, seemingly endless, as they have waited for this great and wonderful event. Now at last the crucial hour has come and they are overcome by the drama of it all.
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.
Saying, we give thee thanks
The elders rejoice, for at long last the prayers of those who have suffered here on earth are very shortly to be answered. God’s people are soon to be caught up in the clouds to meet the Saviour. Shortly they will be standing around the throne praising God for deliverance.
Which art, and wast, and art to come
"Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was!” (TEV) This is another way of expressing the timelessness of God.
Because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned
Whenever praise and glory is given to Christ, the elders participate. As Christ lays aside His priestly garments and now assumes the robes of royalty, He becomes the KING of KINGS and LORD of LORDS for it is at this time that He takes to Himself "great power”.
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 THE SERVANTS THE PROPHETS, AND TO THE SAINTS, AND THEM THAT FEAR THY NAME, SMALL AND GREAT; AND SHOULDEST DESTROY THEM WHICH DESTROY THE EARTH.
And the nations were angry
The anger of the nations, one toward the other, has been constantly increasing. In some instances there is a hatred which will eventually flare into violent warfare.
And thy wrath is come
God's anger is poured upon an unrepentant world in the seven Last Plagues.
Revelation 15:1 says, "And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.” It is at this time, that the Four Angels holding back the winds of Strife are told to let go. The anger of the nations will be beyond comprehension.
And the time of the dead, that they should be judged
When Michael stands up, God's people, both the dead and the living have been judged. Daniel was given a vision of the great investigative judgment. In Daniel
chapter 7 and verses 9 and 10, he saw the Ancient of days take His place on the throne, the angels stood before the throne and then everything was in readiness for the opening of the books. In
verse 13, the Son of man came into the assembly and began His work as Judge and Advocate.
John 5:22 says, "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.”
Right down in the very hour in which we are living, the measuring rod is being placed against the characters of God's people. If found worthy, then the Seal of the Living God will be placed upon them. How few realize the seriousness of the hour in which we live. That is why God has given us the Book of Revelation, that we might read for ourselves those things which are meant to prepare us to stand in these last days. Right through the entire Book we meet up with that very pertinent question, "For the great day of His wrath is come: and who shall be able to stand?" (Revelation 6:17)
And that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets
The prophets have never had things easy, some have suffered great hardships. Jesus mentioned that some had been stoned for the witness they had given. Jeremiah was imprisoned in a foul, vile smelling dungeon, and was threatened with death on more than one occasion. It was with great difficulty that the prophets gave their messages, however regardless of personal safety, they faithfully delivered the warnings from God, and judgments upon individuals and nations. Now at last they are to receive the rewards for faithfulness.
And to the saints, and to them that fear thy name, small and great
At last the hour has come! This is the hour for which God's people throughout the long ages have longed and looked forward to. All receive the one great reward, the most important reward of all, that is everlasting life. It does not matter how they died, everlasting life is their reward. Some have been peacefully laid in their graves. Others have suffered terrible tortures. Some have lived and died in underground tunnels, cut off from the sunlight, living in continual darkness and gloom. Still others have lived in dens and caves, high up in the cold bleak mountains; they have been hunted from one place to another, not knowing when their hideouts would be found. At last, they receive their rewards, far beyond all expectation, far beyond their wildest dreams.
And shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth
This is the time when the angry nations are going to meet up with an angry God. As the Four Angels let go the winds of strife, the nations are no longer held in check. There is no restraining hand to hold back the forces of evil and so all over the earth, the tides of evil will sweep from one nation to another. Led on by Satan, the mastermind of evil behind the scenes, the wicked inhabitants of earth will try to destroy this earth but God steps in and instead of the earth being destroyed, it will be the wicked who will be destroyed.
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.
And the temple of God was opened in heaven
Right from the very first chapter of Revelation, the Sanctuary has had a very prominent place. It is very clear that in order to understand what the Book of Revelation is all about, it is most important to have an understanding of this subject.
Chapter 4:1 opens with an open door in heaven and a vision of the heavenly Sanctuary or God’s Holy Temple. And now the prophet carries us back to the beginning of the seventh Trumpet. We have studied enough of this Book to realize that all through, this is done deliberately, repetition helps to fix the details in our minds.
After we have been given a picture of the last days, the nations angry, ready for the last great battle of Armageddon, God's wrath poured out in the seven Last Plagues, climaxing in the glorious deliverance of God's people, we are taken back to the opening of the Second Apartment of the Heavenly Sanctuary which took place in 1844.
And there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament
It is the Ark of His Testament which is the focal point of this vision. This is not surprising as inside that Ark were the Ten Commandments; they are God’s constitution for the human race. The Ten Commandments define our relationship to God; the first four tell us how we are to worship Him, that God as Creator is the only One to be worshipped, not by any man made imagery, but in Spirit and in truth, that His Name is to be treated with the greatest respect. Also that He has a special day which He has set aside for worship which is clearly defined in
Exodus 20:10, "But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God”. Very important is the relationship Christians should have one with the other, parents are to be honoured, life is not to be taken, adultery to be shunned, stealing is sinful, false witness, any abomination and finally coveting which will close heaven’s doors.
In a number of places the tables of stone are called the tables of witness, therefore the Ten Commandments are God’s witness, they witness to His position, His person, His character, and to His Godhead. However, in a more pointed sense the fourth Commandment is a witness that God created all things in six days and rested on the seventh. It is right here that God sets before the people the reason for Sabbath observance. It is a witness that He is the Creator, and God of all. The Scripture plainly states that the Sabbath is a sign and a witness. lt is worth noting how these words are brought together in
Exodus 31:17,18, "It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony (witness) tables of stone, written with the finger of God."
It is very plain that the Sabbath is a sign and witness of creation hallowed and sanctified by God to be a perpetual memorial right throughout eternity.
Isaiah 66:22,23 says, "For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that, from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD." Right throughout eternity the Redeemed will be keeping the Sabbath in honour of the Creator.
The Ten Commandments as a witness and also in defining our relationship to God and to our fellowmen, have a very important part to play in the plan of Salvation; for they tell us how God should be worshipped and how as Christians we should treat our fellowmen. That is why John was given this special vision immediately after viewing the tremendous events of the Last Days. And right through the Book of Revelation special emphasis is placed on Commandment keeping, overcoming, and "Who shall be able to stand?" If you really want to know who will be able to stand; it will be those who have taken notice of how God should be worshipped and our fellowmen treated.
And there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail
These manifestations of physical nature described here, remind us of some of the spectacular things which took place when the Ten Commandments were first given at Mt Sinai.
Exodus 20:18 says, "And all the people saw the thunderings, and the liqhtnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking...”
At the time of the Seven Last Plagues the temple in heaven is revealed, and lightning and thunder, great hail and a mighty earthquake will follow.
Revelation 16:17,18 (Modern Language version) says, "The seventh angel emptied his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the sanctuary from the throne, saying, It is finished. Then there followed lightning flashes, rumblings and thunderpeals, and such a tremendous earthquake as had never occurred since man existed on the earth, so extensive and severe was it”.
So what we are seeing as the temple in heaven is opened is a representation of God's final judgment. This is the time when the Books are opened and the records examined and every case decided and God's kingdom number is made up.