Read verses 1 & 2. We could get very deep in the study of just these 2 verses but again a lot of it is speculation. So let’s look at what we know. John is instructed to take a rod and measure the temple, its altar, and the people who worship there. Why are these being measured?
Scripture says that the antichrist is to actually walk into the temple and demand that the world give their first loyalty to him and the state. Jesus Christ said that the antichrist would actually stand in the holy place of the Jews and make this proclamation. In Mat. 24:15 Jesus said, “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—“
II Thessalonians says that the antichrist will set himself up in God’s temple declaring that he is god, that is, that he and the state can meet the needs of man and bring utopia to the world. In 2 Thess. 2: 3-4 Paul says, “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
So these Scriptures say that the antichrist is going to appear in the temple. Here is a list of the five temples mentioned in Scripture.
1. Solomon’s temple; destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 B.C.
2. Zerubbabel’s temple. He rebuilt the temple after the Babylonian captivity, but it was desecrated and dedicated to the god of Jupiter by Antiochus Epiphanes in 168-179 B.C.
3. Herod’s temple: this was the temple that existed in the days of Jesus. It was destroyed in 70 A.D.
4. There are then the two temples yet to be built.
a. The temple of tribulation, the one to be rebuilt during the first 3 ½ years of the antichrist.
b. The temple of the millennium, the temple of our Lord.
John is instructed to take the rod and measure the temple, the altar, and the worshippers. There are differing opinions of why he is to measure this but the general consensus seems to agree that God is telling John to measure them for judgment and correction. The Jews are just as guilty as the Gentiles in rejecting Jesus Christ. God shows no partiality. All the ungodly and evil are to be judged in the last days.
In verse 2 there is the trampling underfoot or destruction of Jerusalem and the Jews for 3 ½ years. Why is John told not to measure the outer court of the Gentiles and the city of Jerusalem? Because they will already be under the antichrist and his government.
This passage in 1-2 is a prophecy: the temple will be destroyed and Jewish worshipers will be persecuted. The antichrist is going to attack them with a vengeance never before seen in the history of the world.
This 42 month period will take us through Rev. 13:5. This 42 months is when the antichrist and his persecutions will be unleashed on the world.
1. This will be the time that the holy city will be oppressed as we have just read.
2. It will be the time that the two witnesses in verse 3 will bear testimony to Israel and to the world: 1,260 days.
3. It will be the time that the woman in the desert will be preserved. (Rev. 12: 6, 14)
4. It will be the time that the beast will be allowed to blaspheme God. (Rev. 13:5
Scripture says that the antichrist will rule for a 7 year period. Christ said it and Daniel said it. If you study the book of Daniel closely you will see the close resemblance of his reference to the 3 ½ years and the references that Jesus made in Matthew 24.
Trying to simplify it so that the average person can understand, Jesus referred to the first 3 ½ years as “The beginning of birth pains,” or “the beginning of sorrows.” (Mt. 24:8). He referred to the last 3 ½ years as “the great distress,” or “the great tribulation.”
All this points to a period of 3 ½ years of great satanic power in the world. It is the last 3 ½ years of this 7 year period of Satan’s rule that the antichrist will launch the worst tribulation the world has ever known.
So here is the outline of things. During this 7 year period, the antichrist will turn against all who call upon God and who refuse to bow down before the state and give the state their first allegiance. Then he will destroy Jerusalem and the temple and launch the holocaust against all true believers and followers of Jesus Christ. Millions will be slaughtered. It will also be launched against the Jews and Israel as a nation. The antichrist will attempt to trample the Jewish people underfoot.
But the wonderful thing we see is that God still loves Israel and does not forsake them. God is going to save Israel. Verse 3-13 of chapter 11 show how part of the turning of Israel is going to take place. God sends two witnesses to Israel. That is part of the message that John saw in the little book handed to him. READ 3-4
Facts about the two witness:
1. They are God’s witnesses.
2. They will be sent for a set time. 3 ½ years.
3. They are sent forth as true prophets who condemn sin and proclaim the salvation that is in Christ Jesus. We know this because of their wearing sackcloth. This was the dress worn by the prophets of old. The point of the dress is to show that their message will be straightforward. They are going to be proclaiming that the only hope and salvation of this world is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. They will also be condemning the unbelief and denial that has characterized the Jews down through the centuries.
4. The witness will have their needs met by God. They will be like two olive trees and two lamp stands standing before the God of the earth. God will make them as strong and fruitful as two olive trees. And He will make their witness to shine forth as the light of two lamp stands.
These same four things can be said about every true minister sent forth by God.
1. God sends forth the minister: He calls, gifts, commissions, and empowers the minister to bear witness for Him.
2. God sends forth the minister to certain ministries and for set periods of time.
3. God sends forth the minister as a prophet to preach against the sin and corruption of this world and to proclaim the salvation that is in Jesus Christ.
4. God supplies the minister. He gives him fruit and gives him a strong witness, a witness that shines as the light of the lampstand.
So these two witnesses have the same power that God gave Elijah and Moses. Their words will have fire and power. They will have so much influence and power from God that the antichrist and their leaders will hesitate killing them. Their preaching will apparently stir conviction and cause many to turn to God.
They will have the power to perform miracles within nature. To cause it to rain or not and to strike the earth with plagues as Moses did. Who are these witnesses? There are a lot of different ideas. Some say this passage is just symbolizing the law and the prophets. Others say it symbolizes the law and the gospel. Others say it symbolizes the 144,000 converted Jews, others say the church, and on and on it goes. It appears that they are nothing more than two men. Too many statements are made about them that pint toward human personality.
Who are they? Scripture doesn’t say. They have a lot of the same traits as Moses and Elijah. So it seems right to say that they are two men with the same kind of spirit that Moses and Elijah had. READ 7-10.
The two witnesses are persecuted and martyred by the antichrist—the beast. This is the first mention in Revelation of the beast. He will come from the devil himself, from the Abyss, from the bottomless pit of hell. He doesn’t touch the two witnesses until they have finished their testimony. God protects them until then.
Then after their testimony, after 3 ½ years, the antichrist will be successful, he will assassinate them. Their death will become an international affair. The leaders will leave their bodies lying in the streets of Jerusalem for three days. This really shows how effective their witness was for the unbelievers to hate them this much.
It appears as though there will be some kind of media or television coverage that will be worldwide. The gifts mentioned would be the payoff of the assassins.
So the point of these verses is so that we see the political intrigue of the antichrist and other government leaders. They kill the two servants of God, two preachers with worldwide influence. And leave their bodies in the streets.
Jerusalem is called Sodom and Egypt. This is describing the spiritual of Jerusalem in the end time. Jerusalem will be as Sodom: a city of worldliness, immorality, and shameful sin; a city who would not receive the messengers of God. Jerusalem will be as Egypt: a nation that enslaved and killed God’s people. READ 11-12.
The two witnesses are resurrected and taken up to heaven. The breath of God will be breathed into the dead bodies. They will stand to their feet and many will see it and fear them. Then they ascend to heaven. Imagine the sight and the impact it will have on those who will witness it.
Notice how this parallels the resurrection and ascension of Jesus and symbolizes what is to happen to believers when Jesus comes. READ 13.
Then there is a great earthquake. 7,000 are killed. Then the rest of the Jews in Jerusalem will become fearful and five glory to God. This points strongly to the conversion of the Jews. This is either the salvation of Israel or one of the great movements toward salvation that the Jews will experience in the end time.
This also fulfils part of the prophecy of Paul when he said in Romans 11:26 that “all Israel will be saved.”
We stop here for now. But I close with the words of George Ladd about this passage. “Because of these mighty acts of God in the end time, the Jewish people will repent of their sins and give glory to the true God. Previously they have not glorified God: they had crucified his Messiah and rejected his prophets. But now they repent of their disobedience and glorify God.”
That’s the meat of Revelation. I believe it was given so that men would fear God, fear His judgment so much that they will turn from sin, repent, and give glory to Him.