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Bible Study: The Book of the Revelation – LESSON 9

Calvary Bible Church Bible Study

The Book of the Revelation

 

LESSON 9:

A  “PARENTHESIS”. 10:1–11:14.

Just as there was a “parenthesis” in chapter 7 between the sixth and seventh seals, so there is now one that consists of 10:1–11:14 (between the sixth and seventh trumpets). There is a very brief parenthesis (16:15) between the sixth and seventh vial judgments. This shows the purposefully ordered arrangement of the Revelation.

 

The Angel with the Little Book. 10:1–11.

vrs     1                  Another mighty angel. Of primary importance is the identity of the strong angel. Happily, there are details which reveal that He is the “Angel of the Lord” of the Old Testament, the Lord Jesus Christ.   He is clothed with a cloud, a heavenly clothing; his face was as it were the sun (1:16); a rainbow was upon his head (4:3); his feet as pillars of fire tallies with the description in 1:15.  Why does Christ appear in the Revelation as an angel? Is this regression in doctrine, rather than progress? He appears as an angel because reference is made to conditions in Israel (and the entire world) as being similar to before the Messiah had been revealed in His incarnation.  He takes the same position in relation to unsaved Israel and the “paganized” world as He occupied in Old Testament times.  Once again, we see that the Book of the Revelation is more closely aligned with the Old Testament than with the New.

 

vrs     2                  Attention is next directed to a little book open in the hand of the Angel. There are three views as to the identity of the little book: (1) It is the same book as the seven-sealed book of 5:1; (2) it is the aggregate of Old Testament prophecy concerning the culmination of human history; and (3) it is the part of the Revelation that is subsequent to the sounding of the seventh trumpet (11:19–19:21).  Here He makes His indisputable claim to all creation as His inalienable right.  He set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth. In the Old Testament such an act signified taking possession of that place (Deuteronomy 11:24; Joshua 1:3).

 

vrs     3                  “And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth.” The voice of the Angel was like the roaring of a lion, for He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah (5:5). A lion always roars when he has caught his prey (Amos 3:4). In chapter 5 He was seen in the role of Lamb; here He is pictured in His wrath as a Lion (6:16). Again, seven thunders speak of God’s activity in judgment.

 

vrs     4                  “Seal up those things … and write them not.”  At this point John was about to write the message of the seven thunders, but the Lord did not permit it. The manner in which all takes place is not revealed (Deuteronomy 29:29).  In this book of disclosure, it is important to notice that this is the only detail that is sealed.

 

vrs     5–7              “And sware by him … who created heaven … the earth … the sea, and the things which are therein.”  The importance of the transaction is emphasized.  He swears by the God of all creation. What is the subject of the oath? Simply, it is that there will be delay no longer. The translation of “delay” (Greek “chronos”) as time is unfortunate, because it is inaccurate. There is here no announcement of the end of time and the ushering in of eternity, for that comes over 1000 years later. The Angel is stating, rather, that there will be no more delay in ending the wrong government (or “rulership”)  of the earth under the say of Satan (as the “prince of this world” – John 12:31, 14:30, and 16:11). Sin has held sway long enough. God’s secret dealings are over, and His public judgments begin. Heaven is silent no longer, and man’s day is about to close. The seventh angel is the one who sounds the seventh trumpet. What is the mystery of God that is finished? Reference is to His permission for evil to go on in its present course with seeming impunity. God appears to be silent in the whole conflict between good and evil. According to Jewish proverb, “Michael flies with but one wing, and Gabriel with two.” In short, God is quick in sending angels of peace, and they fly swiftly. But the messengers of wrath come slowly. But they do come!

 

vrs     8–11           Now John is told to become actively involved in the unveiling of coming events. He is charged to take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel. The reply of the Angel in verse 9 reminds us of the experience of Ezekiel in his ministry (Ezekiel 2:8–3:3). The eating of the scroll is done by faith through meditation (not Eastern, mindless chanting meditation; but rather focused thought and consideration of God’s Word) and reflection. To eat is to incorporate into one’s being (John 6:49–58). The study of the prophetic Word, and its central emphasis on Christ and His ultimate victory has a twofold effect: sweet and bitter. It both gladdens and saddens. The truth of the Lord’s reign and triumph was sweet to John, but the judgments and plagues by which that consummation will be brought about will be bitter indeed.  What is the meaning of the command to prophesy again concerning kings and nations? It will be remembered that only the first and second series of seven-fold judgments have been covered in the chapters thus far. There remains the last series (the vial judgments) to be unfolded. Furthermore, there are other disclosures in chapter 12 to the end of the book concerning Satan, a final political leader, the Antichrist, the world system of godlessness, the reign of Christ, judgment, resurrection, and the new heaven and new earth. It is an approach to the subjects of chapters 1–11, but with many significant details added. The truth of the book is duplicated, just as Pharaoh’s dream of the famine (Genesis 41:32) was repeated to him.

 

The Two Witnesses. 11:1–13.

vrs     1–2              Again, the mention of the earthly temple, and the altar, the court, and the holy city (Jerusalem) alerts the reader that events are now focusing (for a short time) on the descendants of Abraham. This chapter, through verse 14, is the continuation of the parenthesis begun in 10:1 between the sixth and seventh trumpets. The background of chapter 11 is essential. The nation of Israel is returned to their land in unbelief. They had made a covenant with a sinister political leader of the time (cf. Dan 9:27), who promises them political protection and religious freedom. The Temple is rebuilt with an attempt at restoring the Mosaic sacrifices and religion.  Let’s review the history of the Temple’s in Jerusalem and then look at what is to come. The tabernacle of Moses (Exodus 25) was the pattern for the majestic temple of Solomon (1st Kings 7–8).  With its destruction in 586 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the subsequent exile, Israel was without a Temple.  More than 70 years went by before the restoration Temple was built under Zerubbabel, a descendant of the lineage of David, who built it with the spiritual motivation provided by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah near the end of the sixth century B.C.   During the reign of Herod under Roman occupation and control, the Temple was renovated over a period of time (John 2:20), only to be destroyed by the armies of Titus at the end of the Judaeo-Roman War of 66–70 A.D.   Since that time, Israel has not had, and does not now have, a temple in Jerusalem. Judaism knows only worship in synagogues around the world. (Reformed Jews speak of their places of worship as temples, but in no sense do they imply any relationship to the temples already discussed here.)  At some point in what may be the near future (due to the fact that the Temple Mount is a major focus in the current peace negotiations), the Jews will build a temple in Jerusalem. It can be referred to as the Tribulation Temple (the Scripture references are clear: 11:1–2; Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11; Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14; 2nd Thessalonians 2:3–4).   Following the Second Coming, there will be another temple constructed, and it will be built by the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is the millennial temple (Isaiah 66:20–23; Ezekiel 40–48; Zechariah 6:12–13).  In the New Jerusalem (at the end of the millennium, when the eternal kingdom begins) there will be no temple (Revelation 21:22).

Now back to the regular commentary: “Rise, and measure.”  John’s vision is a reality yet to come, not a figment of the imagination; so he is commanded to measure the temple, the altar, and the worshipers. The altar is that of burnt offering, God’s first provision for Israel’s drawing nigh to Him. The measuring reminds one of Revelation 21:15; Ezekiel 40; and Zechariah 2.  Measuring conveys the concept of marking off for one’s own possession.  God does recognize and claim a godly, worshipping remnant in Jerusalem in the time of the Tribulation.  “The court which is without the temple leave out.”  The outer court, it is explicitly stated, is to be excluded. In the temples in Israel in the past this was the court of the Gentiles. Now it is indicated that the Gentiles will not only command this area as their own, but for forty and two months (i.e., the three and a half years of the Great Tribulation) they will overrun Jerusalem as well.  During the domination of the beast (the Antichrist) (chapter 13) Jerusalem will not enjoy autonomy. The rejected court speaks of the mass of the nation being in apostasy and rejection, as well as their being the prey of the nations. It is Jerusalem’s greatest hour of agony.

 

vrs     3–4              “Prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.”   God never allows Himself to be without a witness. The very period of the trampling down of Jerusalem will be the time of their testimony, i.e., 1260 days (which is exactly 3 1/2 LEVITICAL years, the type of years used in Biblical prophecy).  The fact that there are two of them indicate that they are LEGAL witnesses, as per Biblical Law (Numbers 35:30, Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15). Their clothing of sackcloth shows their afflicted condition regarding the spiritual desolation about them. Notice that they preach with power.   Although many people tend to consider the identity of the 2 witnesses a mystery, it is really just a matter of comparing the other Scripture portions that deal with the identifying characteristics given here.  They are described in verse 4 as being the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks before the Lord in Zechariah 4:14.  In Zechariah, they are also described as those who “stand with the Lord” when He is in His glory.  In Matthew 17:1-5, the two who appear with the Lord when He is transfigured, and is seen in His glory, are Moses and Elijah (Elias).  The nature of their message and miracles during the 1260 days also gives us clues as to their identities.  Moses was known for striking with plagues, and Elijah was known for being able to send fire to consume those who came against him.  Thus, when it is all taken together, the identity of the two witnesses becomes obvious.  The only remaining possible conflict involves the fact that it is specifically stated that Moses died in the Old Testament.  How can he be dead, and yet be killed again by the AntiChrist?  The answer is; we don’t know.  It may be that the “spirit and power” of Moses will come upon someone, just as the spirit of Elijah was on John the Baptist.  In any case, we don’t know how God will work it out, only that He will. In any case, there are several examples of someone dying, being resurrected, and dying naturally again later (Lazarus, for example).

 

vrs     5–6              Also, they have power to accredit and authenticate their mission to unbelieving Israel. Miracles like those of Moses and Elijah will confirm their divine empowering. Israel will be in a state of slavery, as in Egypt (now under the domination of the first beast); and she will also be in a condition of apostasy, as in Elijah’s day (now under the delusion of the false prophet, the second beast, 13:1–18).  Because these two witnesses testify for God, they will be hated by the ungodly. But they will be invincible and immortal until their ministry is completed. Notice the range of their authority in verse 6: “to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.”

 

vrs     7–10           “When they shall have finished their testimony, the beast … shall make war against them.”  Once the testimony of the witnesses is completed, they will glorify God even to death, being slain by the beast. This is the first mention of the beast of Revelation 13:1.  He actually carries on warfare against them until they are martyred. Evidently, the populace will assent to the work of the beast, because in their anger against the two witnesses they do not allow their dead bodies to be put in graves, an indignity of immense proportions.  With satanic cunning and deception, the beast has won over the masses to himself.  Jerusalem is characterized mystically (not literally) as Sodom, because of its wickedness, and as Egypt, because of its oppression and enslavement of the people of God.  Both names appear repeatedly in Scripture as the objects of God’s unrelenting wrath.  Lest any reader misunderstand the geographical place intended because of the use of symbolism, the passage identifies the place as Jerusalem, where also our Lord was crucified.  That Christ is designated as their Lord is proof that the two witnesses are not representative of masses of individuals, nor are they angelic beings. They are redeemed men of earth.   The three days and a half of verse 9 are obviously intended to be literal days.  Now the utter depravity of the dwellers on earth is manifested.  They refuse decent burial for the witnesses; but even more, they want to celebrate the ending of that witness that was so bothersome and tormenting to them in their endless godlessness.  They will carry out their merriment in feasts, banquets, and exchange of gifts, so infuriating had been the testimony of the godly messengers.

 

vrs     11–13                   “Come up hither.  And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud.”   The hour of vindication for the two witnesses arrives. The indecent joy and partying of the world will rebound upon the heads of the wicked. The witnesses are resurrected in the sight of all their enemies. But even more, a heavenly voice calls them into the presence of the Lord; they are given an ascension in the presence of their enemies.  What an honor! Even Paul and the apostles were not so rewarded.  Furthermore, the ungodly experience a final stroke of God’s displeasure at the very hour of the ascension of the witnesses, an earthquake strikes the city of Jerusalem with lethal results: seven thousand people are slain in the disaster.  Even the most spiritually blind could not misunderstand the meaning of the earthquake and the decimation of the population. The remnant mentioned are those who were spared. Their reaction was terror, the result of human fear with no practical outcome. Outwardly, they gave glory to the God of heaven; but their hearts are not genuinely touched, as future events will clearly show.

 

Announcement of Third Woe. 11:14.

vrs     14                The parenthetical passage which began with 10:1 ends here. It further confirms that the reader is not to expect an improvement in conditions on earth; for without change in men’s hearts, God’s righteous judgments must continue. Six trumpet judgments (including two woes) are concluded; there remains only fearful looking forward of more judgment, especially the seventh trumpet or third woe visitation.