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Daniel and Revelation
Revelation 11 – The Building
of the Temple
Revelation 11 is about the building of the temple, which is the Church. I believe the physical temple will be rebuilt. But what’s important to realize is what the building of the temple symbolizes. The temple represents the Church. Before moving on to Revelation 11, let’s look at the articles of furniture in temple to see that the Church is symbolized in the temple furniture.
The first thing you come to as you pass through the gate and enter the courtyard is the altar of burnt offerings. Beyond the altar is a laver and beyond that is the actual tabernacle tent. Animals were sacrificed on the altar as a substitute for the punishment of sin. The death of creatures from God's creation, however, could only be a temporary substitute for the death that results from sin. Animal sacrifice was only a shadow of that which was to come. The sacrificial Lamb of God is Jesus Christ. He is the real and permanent substitute for our sins. "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life." Jesus Christ took the wages of sin in the sacrifice of his own life, so that we could be given back eternal life. Without his sacrifice, even the Jews of the Old Testament could not have received forgiveness.
When you accept Christ as your Lord and receive the gift of Christ's death to replace the death you are due, God cleanses you from all sin and makes you righteous. The second article of furniture you come to as you enter the tabernacle gate symbolizes this. Between the altar and the tabernacle tent is a laver or basin. It contains water and is used by the officiating priests. After your sins are cleansed away at the laver, you can enter the "tent of meeting," or the tabernacle.
The tabernacle itself is divided into two rooms. The first room you come to is called the holy place and is twice as big as the second room. The smaller room is the holy of holies. See section 25.3 below for reasons why the resurrection of the Church is on “The Third Day.” This is why the first room is twice as big as the second room. The age of grace is two millennia; Christ’s reign is one millennium.
The first room, the holy place, contains three pieces of furniture. The right side of the room contains the table of the bread of the Presence. This table contains unleavened bread, eaten by the priests every Sabbath in the holy place. The table contains dishes for the bread, pans or spoons for incense, and jugs or jars with cups for wine. Incense is symbolic of prayer (Revelation 5:8, 8:3-5). The table with the bread and the wine, along with prayer, reminds us of the Lord's Supper. In today's Church, all believers are priests and should remember our Lord Jesus Christ often with the bread, the wine, and prayer. When two or more are gathered in His name, He is in the midst. The table of the bread of the Presence is thus symbolic of the Lord's Supper and of Christ's Presence as we remember Him.
The left side of this room contains the lampstand made of pure gold. The golden lampstand contains seven golden lamps. Revelation starts out with John seeing a vision of seven golden lampstands. The lampstand of pure gold with the seven golden lamps is symbolic of the Church. The Church is the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16).
The fifth item of furniture in the holy place is the altar of incense. It occupies the space at the middle of the veil, which separates the holy place from the holy of holies. It is not in the holy of holies; it is placed just outside of that room. Upon the altar of incense, no sacrifice offering is made. Only incense is burned. Incense is burned twice a day: morning and evening. Incense is symbolic of prayer (Revelation 5:8, 8:3-5).
Incense is burned on the altar twice a day: morning and evening. Every Christian should take the hint and meet the Lord in prayer twice a day, morning and evening. Today, we do not need a tabernacle. If you are a Christian, you are a priest of God. You can enter the holy place and meet with God in prayer. The altar of incense is very close to the holy of holies, but not quite in there. We are not in the face-to-face presence of God, but we can talk with God. When we talk with God, it is like speaking through a curtain. God hears us and we can hear Him.
The Church is resurrected on the third millennial day. The third millennial day is the thousand-year reign of Christ. I refer to the first two millennial days as the age of grace. Just as the age of grace is twice as long as Christ' millennial reign, the holy place is twice as long as the holy of holies.
Jewish priests could not enter the holy of holies at will. Only the high priest could enter the holy of holies, and then only once a year. He had to wash himself completely before entering. Jews believe that God dwells in the holy of holies. Entering the holy of holies is entering into the very presence of God. Today, in the age of grace, Christians are priests of God. We can enter the holy place but cannot enter the holy of holies. Only Christ, the high priest, has done that. Only Christ, the high priest has seen God (John 3:13). When the millennial day of the Lord comes, Jesus will return and the Church will enter into the very presence of God. We will be with God, face to face, in all of His glory (Revelation 7:9).
When Christ died, he not only paid the price for us to have eternal life; he also paid the price for us to have a face-to-face relationship with God. Christ has defeated death, but death is temporarily still with us. After Christ's second coming, the Church will no longer experience death. The price was paid almost two thousand years ago. Just as we are still experiencing death, we still do not have a face-to-face relationship with God. We still cannot enter the holy of holies. When Christ died, the veil between the holy place and the holy of holies was split.
Matthew 27:50-53 Jesus cried again with a loud voice, and yielded up his spirit. (51) Behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom. The earth quaked and the rocks were split. (52) The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; (53) and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, they entered into the holy city and appeared to many.
These two things happened at the same time. The splitting of the veil tells us the death of Christ purchased a face-to-face relationship with God. The opening of the tombs and many holy people coming to life tells us the death of Christ purchased eternal life for holy people who trust in Christ. People are still dying today. So, these were signs of what would happen. We cannot yet enter the holy of holies. And the Church as a whole will not until after the resurrection.
The holy of holies contains two pieces of furniture: the two cherubim and the Ark of the Covenant. The cherubim guard the way back to the tree of life and the face-to-face presence that Adam had with God (Genesis 3:24). The two cherubim stand on either side of the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:22, Leviticus 16:2).
The new covenant is recorded in Jeremiah 31:31 and Hebrews 8:8. In it God said, "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. ... For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." The price of the new covenant was the blood of Jesus Christ. The Ark of the Covenant contains the stone tablets, written by God himself, containing the Laws that must be followed to be in the face-to-face presence of God. Since we are slaves to sin, no one can live a life without breaking these laws. Christ therefore paid the price, and now the Law is written on our hearts. God remembers our sins no more. We are no longer slaves to sin. We can, and must, choose to overcome sin and obey the law written on our hearts. Thus, we can and will have a face-to-face relationship with God.
In Revelation 11:1, John is told to “measure God's temple, and the altar, and those who worship in it.” We have begun to do so by seeing the articles of furniture in the temple and how they represent the Church. We have also seen that the room of the holies is twice as big as the room for the holies of holies. The age of grace is twice as long as Christ’s millennial reign. In other words, just as the resurrection of Christ was on the third day, the resurrection of the Church is on the third millennial day. Currently, we are symbolically in the holies. When Christ returns, we will be able to enter the holies of holies and see Christ face to face.
One day during the ministry of Jesus, well before His final entry into Jerusalem, the Pharisees tried to frighten Jesus, saying that Herod wanted to kill Him.
Luke 13:31-32 On that same day, some Pharisees came, saying to him, "Get out of here, and go away, for Herod wants to kill you." (32) He said to them, "Go and tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow , and the third day I complete my mission.
Jesus calls Herod a fox and then tells him something he cannot possibly understand! We have a hard time understanding it today! The context of the passage is the death of Jesus, but it is said well before his death. The two days of driving out demons and healing people can and does refer to the two days Jesus was dead. His death paid the price to drive out demons and to heal people. On the third day he "reached his goal" by being raised from the dead.
But, was this really the “goal” of Jesus? The “goal” of Jesus is the redemption of His Church! Also, why did Jesus say "today and tomorrow" when he clearly was not to be crucified at that time? And did Jesus really drive out demons and perform healings while he was in the grave?
The answer is easy if the days of which Jesus speaks are the thousand year 'days' of God's plan. For two thousand-year 'days,' demons have been driven out and people have been healed in the name of Jesus. On the third 'day,' his Church is resurrected! The age of grace is two days, or two thousand years. After Jesus speaks about "today, tomorrow, and the third day," Christ goes on to say:
Luke 13:33-35 Nevertheless I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the next day, for it can't be that a prophet perish outside of Jerusalem.' (34) "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that kills the prophets, and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, like a hen gathers her own brood under her wings, and you refused! (35) Behold, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!' "
This verse is in the same context. It’s part of his response to the statement that Herod wants to kill him. Is the focus of Jesus on his own resurrection, on the third day? Or is the focus of Jesus on the resurrection of Israel? There is a very similar verse in Matthew 23:37-38. Jesus is saying that Jerusalem will not see him again until they say these words. But here it’s being addressed to the religious leaders, those who “sit on the seat of Moses” (Matthew 23:2). Matthew’s account makes it clear that the people had already said these words when Jesus rode in on a donkey (Matthew 21:9). The words are from Psalm 118:26. For the Jews to say these words about Jesus would be to say that Jesus is the Messiah.
Like Jesus, Paul also agonizes over the fact that the Jewish people, his own people, rejected Jesus as the Messiah (Romans 9-11). In Romans 11:25, Paul predicts that the Jews would come back into the vine after the full number of Gentiles had come into the vine of Christ (or the vine of true Israel). I think it’s clear from these verses that the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem (those who sit on the seat of Moses) will come back into the vine in the last days. The “goal” of Jesus is not his own resurrection. The “goal” of Jesus is the resurrection of true Israel, which is the Church, on the third day. Consider the words of Hosea:
Hosea 6:1-3 "Come, and let us return to Yahweh; for he has torn us to pieces, and he will heal us; he has injured us, and he will bind up our wounds. (2) After two days he will revive us. On the third day he will raise us up, and we will live before him. (3) Let us acknowledge Yahweh. Let us press on to know Yahweh. As surely as the sun rises, Yahweh will appear. He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain that waters the earth."
This verse is certainly about the crucifixion. But interpreted literally, it’s also about Israel, and not just about Christ himself. So, on the third day the Church (true Israel) is resurrected and we begin to “live in his presence.” The resurrection of Christ is the firstfruits of the resurrection of true Israel (1 Corinthians 15:20). Both are on the third day.
This chapter, 1 Corinthians 15, is Paul’s most in-depth discussion about the resurrection. In that chapter, in 1 Corinthians 15:22-26, Paul gives us a chronology of events. Here is that chronology:
1 Corinthians 15:22-26 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. (23) But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then those who are Christ's, at his coming. (24) Then the end comes, when he will deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when he will have abolished all rule and all authority and power. (25) For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet . (26) The last enemy that will be abolished is death.
1) Christ's resurrection
2) When He comes, the resurrection of those who belong to him.
3) Then the end comes, when he hands the kingdom over to the Father. At this point he has destroyed earthly governments. This is stated as all “dominion, authority, and power.” So this can also include the chaining of Satan.
4) Next he must reign until all his enemies are put under his feet.
5) The last enemy is death.
Thus, Christ must reign during the millennium until death is finally destroyed. Does this not outline the third-day resurrection of true Israel quite nicely? Look back at what Paul said to start this discussion.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, (4) that he was buried , that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
Where in the Scriptures does it say that the Messiah would be raised on the third day? We looked at Hosea 6:1-3 (quoted above). That’s the closest verse in the Old Testament that could be applied to the resurrection of the Messiah on the third day. But you have to “reinterpret the Old Testament in the light of the New Testament” in order to come to this conclusion. Is that what Paul was doing? Perhaps a better way of looking at this is to see that the birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus are very similar to that of true Israel. For example, in Matthew 2:15, Matthew quotes Hosea 11:1 saying, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Was Matthew denying that Hosea 11:1 was talking about Israel historically coming out of Egypt? Or was Matthew seeing that Israel’s history is patterned after Christ? The government killing the baby-boys of Israel marked the birth of Moses. Could this be seen as a prophecy of Herod the Great killing baby boys when Christ was born? The history of one is a prophecy of the other.
Paul knew that Old Testament Scripture taught that Israel would be raised on the third day. He also knew that Christ was raised on the third day. Again, Paul said, “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” But the Scriptures never explicitly says the Messiah would be raised on the third day. And we know of no Jewish tradition indicating that the Messiah would be raised on the third day. The best explanation of why Paul said this is that Paul, knowing that Christ was raised on the third day, understood that the two are linked. One is the prophecy of the other.
Let’s look at some other Old-Testament passages that speak of the third day.
1) Abraham was spared the task of sacrificing Isaac on the third day (Genesis 22:4) of their travel to Moriah, which is the Temple Mount (2nd Chronicles 3:1).
2) Exodus 19:10-11 - Compare with Luke 13:32-33
3) Exodus 19:14-16 - Compare with 6th seal and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (rapture)
4) As Joseph prophesied, the cupbearer was restored to his position and the chief baker was hanged, on the third day (Genesis 40:20-22). The third day is a day of judgment (2nd Peter 3:7).
5) Leviticus 7:17-18 - God's sacrifice is only good till the third day. After the third day, it's too late. After Christ returns, it's too late to inherit the kingdom.
6) Numbers 19:11-12, Numbers 31:19 - If you are purified on the third day, you will be pure the day when Christ reigns as "Lord of the Sabbath." Both are actually the same millennial day.
7) 2 Kings 20:5
8) Ezra 6:15
Matthew 20:18-19 - This verse is of course about the three 24-hour days of the crucifixion. Notice that He is turned over to the Gentiles. Jerusalem was turned over to the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luke 21:24). The parallelism holds. Jesus was turned over to the Gentiles until the third day. Israel is turned over to the Gentiles until the third millennial day.
John 2:1-2 The third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee. Jesus' mother was there. (2) Jesus also was invited, with his disciples, to the marriage.
Let’s look back to Hosea 6:1-3. In the context of this passage, Israel is unrepentant. After a few verses of judgment for Israel's unrepentant nature, the Scripture goes on to say, “For I desire mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (NIV Hosea 6:6). Here, we find the very scripture Jesus quoted to the Pharisees when he declared himself "Lord of the Sabbath" (Matthew 12:7-8). I believe this title refers to Christ’s millennial reign. Christ reigns in the seventh millennium. God wants a clean heart, not ritual. The ritual was only given as a pointer to Christ. This same unrepentant nature shown by Hosea was still present in the time of Jesus. Because of Israel's unrepentant nature, God has "torn [Israel] to pieces." But Israel is raised back up two (millennial) days later.
Now let’s move onto Revelation 11, which is also sandwiched between the sixth and the seventh trumpet. The first thing we find in this chapter is John being told to measure the temple, and to count the worshipers there. The reading of this is very natural and literal sounding. Personally, I believe the physical temple will be rebuilt. In 2 Thessalonians 2:4 Paul tells us that the man of lawlessness will set himself up in the temple proclaiming himself to be God. The physical temple was still standing when Paul wrote this. So, it would be only natural for the church at Thessalonica to interpret this as the literal and physical temple. I believe the physical temple will be rebuilt. But what’s important to realize is what the building of the temple symbolizes. The temple represents the Church. The body of the believer is the temple of God (John 2:19-21, 1st Corinthians 3:16-17, 6:19, Ephesians 2:19-22, Revelation 3:12, 7:15). Even in Old Testament times, the physical temple has always been a symbol for the Church, which is Israel. (Gentile believers are grafted into Israel.) As we saw in section 25.1, the furniture shows how the temple is symbolic of the Church. As the temple is built, so is the Church.
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Flee sexual immorality! "Every sin that a man does is outside the body," but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. (19) Or don't you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God? You are not your own, (20) for you were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.
John is told to measure the temple, and to count the worshipers there (Revelation 11:1). The counting of the worshippers reminds us of Ezekiel 8-9. Ezekiel is given a vision where he is able to see the leaders of Israel in the way that God saw them. They did many detestable things in secret. Then in Ezekiel 9, the angel is told to put a mark on the forehead of the people in Jerusalem “who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it” (NIV Ezekiel 9:4). In other words, those who would swallow the scroll, that’s bitter in the stomach, are God’s people. They receive a mark on their foreheads. Those without the mark are slaughtered.
In Revelation 9:4, we see that because of this mark on their forehead, God’s people are protected from the trumpet-plagues. The purpose of the trumpet-plagues is not to slander unbelievers. The purpose of the trumpet-plagues is to build the Church, symbolized by the temple. The shock-and-awe effect the trumpet-plagues will have on the Church will cause each one of us to get serious about overcoming sin. Those who won’t get serious about overcoming sin will probably deny that God is behind the trumpet-plagues, and will effectively separate themselves from the Church. John is told to count the worshipers at the temple. During this time, that number will dramatically increase.
The outer courtyard of the temple is called the Gentile courtyard. Revelation 11:2 says that during the 42 months, the outer courtyard is given over to the Gentiles. The verse also says the Gentiles will trample on the holy city for these 42 months. In Luke 21:24, we read that Jerusalem was to be trampled on by the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled. Trampling upon (or controlling) Jerusalem by Gentiles had been going on throughout that generation. Rome placed a governor in Jerusalem after the death of Herod the Great. Luke 21:20 is about the armies surrounding Jerusalem and the desolation of Jerusalem that would come.
This happened in 70 AD. But in 1967, the Jews regained control of Jerusalem. So, old Jerusalem was no longer trampled on by the Gentiles, and old Jerusalem was no longer desolate. The loss to the Jews of 70 AD was restored. Some will argue that this cannot be a fulfillment of prophecy because the Jews are not Christian. But neither were they Christian in 70 AD. Being a Gentile simply means you are not a Jew. Nothing is being said by this verse about the salvation (or lack thereof) of those who control Jerusalem. The restoration of Israel to Jews in 1967 is not the restoration of true Israel to Jerusalem that will occur when Christ returns. But we can view the events in Israel as a sign. It’s a sign that had to take place before the fulfillment of Matthew 23:39 and Romans 11:25.
Revelation 11:1-2 NIV I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, "Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count the worshipers there. (2) But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles . They will trample on the holy city for 42 months.
Luke 21:24 They will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
Today, the Gentiles are not trampling on Jerusalem. But Revelation 11:2 tells us that Gentiles will trample on Jerusalem for another 42 months. To follow the symbolism, that means Jerusalem will be controlled by Gentiles during the 42 months. In order for this to be true, the month prior to the 42 months must be a time when Jerusalem is not being trampled on by the Gentiles. Today, Jerusalem is not being trampled on by the Gentiles. So in one sense, the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled. But in another sense, the time of the Gentiles is not completely over. There is still another 42-months before it’s completely fulfilled. During the 42-month reign of the antichrist, he rules over every nation, tribe, people, and language. This all-inclusive description must include Jerusalem. So, the antichrist rules Jerusalem during these 42 months. And the antichrist rules Jerusalem only during these 42 months, as per Revelation 11:2. After the 42-month reign of the antichrist the time of the Gentiles will be completely fulfilled.
Revelation 11:3-4 I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." (4) These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands, standing before the Lord of the earth .
The two witnesses prophesy for 1260 days (Revelation 11:3). These 1260 days precede the 42 months. 1260 days are followed by three and a half days, which is half of seven. The two witnesses lie dead for these three and a half days. Then, after the abomination of desolation there are 1290 days (Daniel 12:11). The temple is built during the 1260 days. Then after the 1260 days, after the temple is built, it’s turned over to the antichrist for 42 months.
Zechariah 4:1-14 The angel who talked with me came again, and wakened me, as a man who is wakened out of his sleep. (2) He said to me, "What do you see?" I said, "I have seen, and behold, a lampstand all of gold, with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps thereon; there are seven pipes to each of the lamps, which are on the top of it; (3) and two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl, and the other on the left side of it." (4) I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, "What are these, my lord?" (5) Then the angel who talked with me answered me, "Don't you know what these are?" I said, "No, my lord." (6) Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, "This is the word of Yahweh to Zerubbabel, saying, 'Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh of Armies. (7) Who are you, great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you are a plain; and he will bring out the capstone with shouts of 'Grace, grace, to it!' " (8) Moreover the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, (9) "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house. His hands shall also finish it; and you will know that Yahweh of Armies has sent me to you. (10) Indeed, who despises the day of small things? For these seven shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. These are the eyes of Yahweh, which run back and forth through the whole earth." (11) Then I asked him, "What are these two olive trees on the right side of the lampstand and on the left side of it?" (12) I asked him the second time, "What are these two olive branches, which are beside the two golden spouts, that pour the golden oil out of themselves?" (13) He answered me, "Don't you know what these are?" I said, "No, my lord." (14) Then he said, "These are the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth."
The 1260-day period is the time of the trumpets. The two witnesses are two olive trees and two lampstands that stand before the Lord (Revelation 11:4). Symbolically, this is tied back to Zechariah 4:1-14. This chapter of Zechariah is about the building of Zerubbabel’s temple. Zechariah 4:14 also says that these two are anointed to stand before the Lord of all the earth. So, the two witnesses help to build the symbolic temple. As lampstands they are the light of the world. As olive trees they preach to the Church, which is Israel. The Church, symbolized by the temple, as well as the physical temple itself, is built during these 1260 days.
Zerubbabel is told that his hands have laid the foundation, and that his hands will complete it. And of course that was the case. But I think this also speaks about the end-time generation that will see the return of Christ. The plumb line of Zerubbabel is related to the seven eyes of the Lord, which go throughout the earth (Zechariah 4:10). The plumb line, in the hands of Zerubbabel, relates to the start of building the temple. We also saw the seven eyes in Revelation 5:6. They are seven spirits sent throughout the world. This was all about Christ opening the seven seals. The four horses of Revelation 6 relate to the four in Zechariah 1:10 and 6:7. They go throughout the earth to see the state of the world at the start of the end-time generation. From our study of the seals, we know the seals are about the signs that began to be revealed at the start of World War II. Zerubbabel, who laid the foundation of the temple, was told that he would see it completed. Likewise, the baby-boom generation will see the completion of the temple, which is symbolic of the Church. We will also see the completion of the physical temple. But the physical temple is only a symbol of the true temple, which is the Church.
Zerubbabel is told, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6). The Church is built by God’s Spirit. Zechariah 4:7 says, “What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground.” This speaks of the enormous task to bring people from every nation, tribe, people, and language to know the Lord in this generation.
After the ground is leveled, the capstone is placed. The capstone is brought out to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’ (Zechariah 4:7). “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone” (Psalm 118:22, Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:11, Luke 20:17, Acts 4:11, 1st Peter 2:7). Christ is the capstone. As Christ began to open the seven seals, the construction of the temple began. This was seen symbolically as Israel became a nation right after World War II. It was the start of the physical temple. But the real building happens during the trumpet-plagues. That’s when the Church really gets serious about the overcoming of sin.
Revelation 11:5-7 If anyone desires to harm them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies. If anyone desires to harm them, he must be killed in this way. (6) These have the power to shut up the sky, that it may not rain during the days of their prophecy. They have power over the waters, to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire. (7) When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them.
There is no difference between Jew and Gentile (Romans 10:12, Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11). So, there is no reason for a pre-tribulation rapture. The whole church will go through the great tribulation (Revelation 7:14). But Scripture does indicate the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will be the last to come back into the vine of Israel (Romans 11:25-26).
Romans 11:25 For I don't desire you to be ignorant, brothers, of this mystery, so that you won't be wise in your own conceits, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
Jesus told the religious leaders in Jerusalem, “You will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’” (Matthew 23:37-39). This is an acknowledgement that Jesus is the Messiah (Psalm 118:26). The Jewish people in Jerusalem had already said these exact words when Jesus rode in on a donkey (Matthew 21:9). But in Matthew 23, Jesus was addressing the teachers of the law who sit on the seat of Moses (Matthew 23:2). So, Jesus is saying that the Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem must someday acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ. They will be the last of the Bride of Christ, because the full number of Gentiles will have already come into the vine of Israel (Romans 11:25-26).
Romans 11:24-26 For if you were cut out of that which is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree, how much more will these, which are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? (25) For I don't desire you to be ignorant, brothers, of this mystery, so that you won't be wise in your own conceits, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, (26) and so all Israel will be saved. Even as it is written, "There will come out of Zion the Deliverer, and he will turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
The story of the two witnesses, perhaps, gives us some details as to how this will come about. At the end of the 1260 days (Revelation 11:7), the two witnesses will be in Jerusalem (verse 8). The beast has them killed, and for three and a half days, people from every nation, tribe, people, and language will celebrate their deaths, even exchanging gifts. They “will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial” (verse 9). We can assume this is done by worldwide news coverage such as CNN.
Verse 10 says the world will celebrate their deaths, because “these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.” Most likely the world’s hatred of the two witnesses will be due to the trumpet-plagues and the New Jerusalem in orbit around the earth. Verse 6 says, “They have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.” The trumpet-plagues start with turning water into blood. So, the world celebrates when the antichrist manages to kill them. But after three and a half days, they are raised to life for all to see (verse 12). Then they are called up into heaven.
Revelation 11:8-12 Their dead bodies will be in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. (9) From among the peoples, tribes, languages, and nations people will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not allow their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. (10) Those who dwell on the earth rejoice over them, and they will be glad. They will give gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. (11) After the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered into them, and they stood on their feet. Great fear fell on those who saw them. (12) I heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here!" They went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies saw them.
That very hour, there is an earthquake in Jerusalem (verse 13). “Seven thousand people are killed in the earthquake, and the survivors are terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven” (NIV verse 13). The Greek word used here for ‘survivors’ is the word that’s translated ‘remnant.’ The KJV translates it as ‘remnant.’ The number seven thousand is also interesting because it was the number of the remnant left in Elijah’s day (1 Kings 19:18, Romans 11:4). The remnant would include Jewish leaders in Jerusalem.
It would seem that the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem give glory to God as a result of the preaching of these two witnesses. No doubt these two witnesses are preaching Jesus as the Messiah. So apparently, this is the fulfillment of Romans 11:25-26 and Matthew 23:37-39. The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” And they will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, before Jesus returns. The Jews in Jerusalem then become the last to be added to the vine of Israel. They are the last of the symbolic building of the temple.
Revelation 11:13-19 In that day there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified, and gave glory to the God of heaven. (14) The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe comes quickly. (15) The seventh angel sounded, and great voices in heaven followed, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ. He will reign forever and ever!" (16) The twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God's throne, fell on their faces and worshiped God, (17) saying: "We give you thanks, Lord God, the Almighty, the one who is and who was; because you have taken your great power, and reigned. (18) The nations were angry, and your wrath came, as did the time for the dead to be judged, and to give your bondservants the prophets, their reward, as well as to the saints, and those who fear your name, to the small and the great; and to destroy those who destroy the earth." (19) God's temple that is in heaven was opened, and the ark of the Lord's covenant was seen in his temple . Lightnings, sounds, thunders, an earthquake, and great hail followed.
After the last believer is added to the Church, the seventh trumpet is blown. Loud voices in heaven say, “The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ. He will reign forever and ever” (verse 15). It’s my belief that the 42-month reign of the beast is after the seventh trumpet. And the literal kingdom of the Christ, where Christ reigns on earth, doesn’t begin until after those 42-months. The seventh trumpet is a statement of what has been accomplished by all seven trumpets. The symbolic temple has been completely built, so Christ will be able to reign forever. But first, the Church must be handed over to the antichrist for a time, times, and half a time, to mature in the desert.
Some people believe verse 15 indicates that seventh trumpet is after the great tribulation. But look at verse 14 which says, “The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe comes quickly.” In other words, it’s not over yet. The first and the second woes were the fifth and sixth trumpets. The third woe is the 42-month reign of the antichrist. Remember that the trumpets are a wake-up call for the Church. The first four speak of harm to the Creation, as in harm to the land, sea, trees, and the heavenly bodies. The fifth and sixth trumpets are against the people of the earth. As discussed back in chapter 22 of this book, here are the three woes.
Revelation 8:13 I saw, and I heard an eagle, flying in mid heaven, saying with a loud voice, "Woe! Woe! Woe for those who dwell on the earth, because of the other voices of the trumpets of the three angels, who are yet to sound!"
Revelation 9:12 The first woe is past. Behold, there are still two woes coming after this.
Revelation 11:14 The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe comes quickly.
Revelation 12:12b Woe to the earth and to the sea, because the devil has gone down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has but a short time."
In verse 19 we see that the temple in heaven is opened, and that the Ark of the Covenant is seen in the temple. This means that God’s law is written on the hearts of the Church. When the Church finally overcomes all their sinful habits, they will at last be following God’s law that is already in our hearts.
So again, the seventh trumpet is an announcement of what has been accomplished by the seven trumpets. The seven trumpets represent a wake-up call for the Church to overcome sin. The last of the seven trumpets announces all that has been accomplished by this wake-up call. The last of the believers to be grafted back into Israel are the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. But more time is needed before Christ can set up his kingdom. The Church needs to spend some time in the desert in order to overcome sinful habits. Only then will the Bride of Christ be ready to reign with Christ. Those who reign with Christ cannot themselves be continuing to sin. This time in the desert is the 42-month reign of the antichrist. It’s the third woe, which is said to be coming after the time of the seventh trumpet.
The desert is the time of sanctification. We must complete our sanctification before we can be glorified with spiritual bodies and dwell with Christ in the New Jerusalem. This next chapter is about the woman who is about to give birth. The birth is the resurrection after the great tribulation. This next chapter gives us more information about the need for the Church to go through the desert of sanctification before the resurrection.