Summary: More close-ups of the Tribulation picture, setting clearly the background of those awful years to come.
The Two Witnesses (11:3-14)
Prophets of God (11:3-12). Has the world then recently come to a measure of peace in the first half of Daniel’s seven years? Has the conquering prince of the first seal brought, along with his destruction, some measure of hope by his conquests, and subsequent deal with Israel? Does a stable Middle East seem possible at last? If so, this is only half of the truth, and for only half of the “week”. The rest of the story is recorded in the chapters before us. Evil. War. And during this three and one half years, called here 42 months, the Truth is being preached also, by some very unpopular preachers. It is Zechariah who first sees these two witnesses. Let’s not let the imagination run too wild with them. They are two men, brought back to earth. They are probably men who never died to begin with, as Enoch and Elijah. They have been standing before the Lord these many eons of time (11:4, and Zechariah 4:14), waiting to do this one job, then die, then be caught up to the Lord again. In the midst of a world gone mad with pleasure on one hand, having succumbed to the antichrist’s security package, and then mad with chaos as his rule continues, these two men tell the truth as it is about the “beast”, about God, and the plan of salvation .
They prophesy during the entire tribulation period (11:3), working great miracles alongside the false prophet’s signs and wonders (11:5,6). John connects them solidly to Zechariah’s prophecy (11:4). They are indestructible for as long as they need to be (11:5). But eventually even these great saints are killed by antichrist (11:7), and left to die (11:8).
Note in passing the name given to the city where their death will be dramatized: Sodom and Egypt (11:8)! Now that’s rather shocking in the light of God’s future plans for Israel and Jerusalem. First, we know it is Jerusalem of which John speaks because that is where “our Lord was crucified” (11:8). It is a great city by any measure, since it has been around for thousands of years and still thrives. Taken by David over 3000 years ago from the Jebusites, it has been the hope of every true Jew from the time of its being made the capital of Judah and then of all Israel. To this day, using Zechariah’s terms (Zechariah 12:1-3) , it is a “burdensome stone” to the world, yet a city incredible in its religious and political importance. Three major religions claim it. Nations love it and hate it with a passion. Oh, a great city!
But spiritually, says John, it is called Sodom and Egypt! If these are spiritual titles, they must be given by the Spirit. It is God Who sees fallen and Christ-rejecting Jerusalem as worthy, like Sodom and Egypt , of destruction. Yes, it was Ezekiel, filled with that Spirit of God, who compared the wicked Jerusalem of his day to wicked Sodom of a former day (Ezekiel 16:46-47). His conclusion: Jerusalem was worse! The same prophet, chapter 23, speaks of the harlotry of Judah while in her younger days in Egypt. She who should have known the most, loved God the least, and is therefore worthy of these great judgments she shall incur.
So utterly rejected will the prophets be by the men of this world, including the Jews of Jerusalem, that upon their death TV cameras will capture their dead bodies around the clock for three and one half days (11:9). The world will be utterly delighted, even throwing parties over the fact that these men are now dead (11:10). Interesting that there is such revelry in the midst of tribulation days. The hardness of men’s hearts knows no bounds. They actually love and serve antichrist to the bitter end, regardless of the mess he is causing in the world.
Then the prophets are resurrected, as was their Lord (11:11). It seems that this too is televised (“their enemies saw them”), and is followed by a killer earthquake (11:12-13). There is actually some repenting going on after this wild series of events, all of which seem to be a part of the second woe or 6th trumpet (11:14).
There follows quickly trumpet seven, aka woe three (11:15-19). In 10:7, after John receives a revelation he cannot share , an angel makes it clear that the sounding of the seventh trumpet will be the end of the mysteries of God. After that, revelation will flow freely between God and man. No more secrets to be dug into.
The seventh trumpet, or third woe, is closely related to the sixth seal, and the seventh bowl. It is important to continue to see the interrelatedness of these manifestations. There is constant repetition, constant intensification. All seven trumpets are in the latter stages of the six seals. So we are actually ending the story again as in chapter 6. Note the similarities between seals, trumpets, and bowls at this juncture, alongside Matthew 24: