Summary: Two Witnesses killed in public view, and the unsaved world rejoices.
The Martyrdom Of The Two Witnesses, Rev 11:7-10
Last week, we discussed how God would raise up two witnesses during the Tribulation Period to boldly preach repentance, judgment and the gospel message to the world. It would appear that the ministry of these two men would be in the first half of the Tribulation Period, lasting 1,260 days (42 months, 3 ½ years, time, times and half a time). These two would be invicible during this ministry time, consuming enemies with the intent of bodily harm against them with the fire of their mouths. This week, we will see how these two men, whom some people think may be Elijah and Moses (or Elijah and Enoch), will be murdered by the "beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit".
The Martyrdom of the Two Witnesses
When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. Rev 11:7(NKJV)
Let's look at the first part of verse 7, "When they finish their testimony..". It is important to remember that you and I are given works to do by God, and we are given a limited number of days on this earth. Nothing takes God by surprise, nothing can thwart the purposes of God, and no matter what people say about "Satan doing this" or "Satan doing that", God is in CHARGE. God is in CONTROL. And if God wills something, it is going to happen. God says that these two men will witness for 1,260 days; it will not be 1, 200 days or 1,250 or even 1,259 days. On the 1,260th day they will finish, their testimony and they will be finished. The Nelson Bible Commentary notes that the Greek word for finished--tetelestai--is the same one used by Jesus on the cross: "It is finished" (John 19:30). Their work will be a finished product, the same as our salvation!
Now this next term causes me some problems here: the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit. All commentators that I have studied have identified "the beast" as Antichrist, and I do believe that they are correct. However, the issue is that "the beast ascends out of the bottomless pit". What does that mean? Quite honestly, most commentators pretty much just ignore this statement, or just say that this identifies Antichrist with Satan, or even say that at some point will ascend out of the bottomless pit. This is the first of 36 times in Revelation that Antichrist is identified as "the beast". Therion is the Greek term that means "wild beast" or "venomous beast" (Thayer); the term is indicative of an animal that is wild and vicious. MacArthur notes "though he is a man, the beast is energized by the demonic presence and power coming from the abyss. To the great joy and relief of the sinful world, the beast (Antichrist) will finally overcome the two witnesses and kill them". While this figure is Antichrist, he is energized by demons from the very pit itself; he will either be under demonic control, or, perhaps, demonic possession. The latter is a good possibility because Antichrist will die from a wound and be supposedly raised from the dead, and will only appear to be so.
This beast will will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. He will do what no other man had ever done: murder the witnesses. Even assassins from a mile away will have been unable to do what Antichrist will do without being consumed by fire; Antichrist will be then exalted as God for this feat.
And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. Revelation 11:8-9
Desecration, Degradation and Avertation
One constant throughout society is that a deceased body should be treated with dignity and respect. Over the past few years, we have seen the desecration of the bodies of the deceased in a increase volume, often by radical factions of Islam but in a few instances by Americans as well. It is perhaps one of the greatest insults to a person to have their body desecrated after death; it is often meant to "send a message" by evil men to take notice and for those of like mind with the victims to turn from what they are doing as was the case with druglords in Mexico in late 2011.
In an act of open hostility, hatred, loathing and total disrespect for God's witnesses, not only will they be slain in a great public display with the entire world watching but their bodies will be left to rot in the street. Today, such action of desecration would bring protests from across the globe but this will not be the case.