Thoughts and Applications for Revelation 21:1-8

God will achieve His purpose; we will inherit His wonders and blessings! This flows into the great axiom, that Christ will “wipe away every tear.” This must resound in us not just for our personal hope and comfort but also to enable us to trust in Christ for all things and situations. Those in Christ are His and His for all time; there is no fear or dread when we are with our Lord King. He is the Alpha and Omega. He will bring all things new to those who know and love Him, and judgment to those who fight Him. Thus we can be encouraged, as we have hope, reason, and purpose, to be faithful because of our confidence in Him, producing active faith that glorifies Christ and builds His kingdom (Eph 1:14; Heb. 12: 18-29)!

The goal in our Christian life is to be apart from sin—not to allow ourselves to be influenced to compromise our faith and life in Christ. When we choose to mix or add in evil, then rationalize it away, we become the evil people Revelation talks about and the fools that the Proverbs talk about. We must be above reproach and open to inspection when we claim Christ as Lord. Our faith matters, because what we do and say does indeed echo into and throughout eternity. Our spiritual growth affects our moral success and failures (2 Cor. 5:10). We will give an account and He will wipe away our tears!

Questions to ponder:

1. What does it mean to your daily life that God’s Word is true and trustworthy? What causes Christians to trust in other things rather than in God?

2. God will achieve His purpose! How does this give you hope and assurance for your faith? Are you aware of His continual grace at work in you? If not, what gets in the way?

3. How can you be more thankful for God’s work in you, even when you do not see or feel it? What needs to take place in you so you can have more confidence in Christ as Lord over your daily life? How does this give you hope? What will you do?

4. What does God want renewed in you? Be honest. What are you going to do about it? What does it take for you to apply His hope and comfort so you can more fully trust in Christ for all things and situations?

© 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org

The Two Prevailing Views of Revelation 21:1-8

Chapters twenty-one and twenty-two deal with the literal versus the non-literal interpretation of Scripture. (see background articles and the Genre issues here: http://www.churchleadership.org/pages.asp?pageid=67280) 

Is this passage, the debate is whether it is literal or fugitive. The “phraseology” in the language and word usage from Jeremiah and other places and the genre (literature type) tell us it is most likely metaphorical. Just because Jesus says He is the “bread of life,” it does not make Him a bakery product. This does not water down or neuter the meaning, but gives us more wonder, hope, and insight into His mighty work. Nor, is this subject worth a debate as it is not essential. When we argue on this, we miss the point of the passage!  

The Literalist View: They see this passage as very literal, as in God will destroy the earth and all He had created, and remake it in some new form. This takes place at the close of the millennium. The New Jerusalem is Heaven, the eternal home for Christians. There are many versions of and theories on this, many of them nonsensical and humorous. Of course, God can do this; no problem. But, the passage comes from Isaiah and that is not what it meant then, thus probably is not literal for us either. But, if you are going to error in biblical interpretation, it is always best to error toward the literal.  

The Non-Literalist View: They see this passage as symbolic, that John is using words the ordinary human language that cannot convey the wonders that God is expressing. How do you explain heaven, our eternal state of grace with Christ? Thus, this New Heaven is our eternity and the New Jerusalem is the Church on earth, as God dwells among us. They are many versions of this, too.

 

Exegetical look into Revelation 21:4-8

• Wipe / remove every tear…. means we have victory in Christ and that God is true to his promises! This is also a contrast of those who made oaths to the beast and/or are disloyal to God (Psalm 23:6; 49:14; Is. 25:8; 35:10; 51:11; 1 Cor. 15:54; 2 Cor. 1:20; Rev. 3:14; 7:17).

• No more death/swallow up death meaning we receive the promised, eternal inheritance (John 11:25; 1 Thess. 4:13; 2 Tim. 1:10; Heb 9:13-17).

• Everything new means God is the Creator; He will complete His purpose—He will work it out. God intervenes in history and in our lives. He will judge, as He demonstrated with the Flood (Gen 6-8; Isa. 4:5; 43:18-19; 57:19; Rom. 8:18-23; Heb. 8:13; 2 Pet 3:7-13).

• Alpha and the Omega means God is eternal and rules over all places and time. This refers to the majestic, messianic journey and work of Christ. He is omnipotent, or “all-powerful.” Alpha and Omega refers to the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet and embodies His Sovereignty. Christ is all in all; He is LORD of all that is past, present, and that which is to come. His will and purpose will come true, and ours will not; so, to grow, we must surrender to Him (Isa. 41:4; 44:6; John 19:20; Rom. 8:18-25; Gal. 2:20-21; Col. 1:17; Rev. 1:8; 22:12-16).

• Give to drink…water of life gives us an image and a promise of comfort, and provides the remedy to the greatest fear of loss to a desert dweller (Psalm 36:9; Is. 35:1-2; 55:1; Ezek. 47:1-12; John 4:10-14; 7:37). 

• He who overcomes means our perseverance of faith in Christ and the promises of our Lord. We are a part of His Covenant and thus, He will give us not only a hope, but also a future. Our Christian lives, even in persecution and trials, are of great worth and meaning. Those who are His are called to be faithful and loyal to Him, and Him alone. We overcome the ways of the world when we look to Christ and not to our desires or situations (Zech. 8:12; Mark 13:13; Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; Jubilees).

• Be my son refers to our inheritance, the blessings we have in Christ, and His love and pursuit of us, for He does seek us (Rom. 8:15-17)!

• The cowardly means that God preserves and protects the righteous from those who are evil and does not place those who are evil with the good, as good and evil do not mix. This is about pride and faithlessness versus humility and those who have been faithful even unto death. Pride, in God’s eyes, is actually weakness. This is not referring to those who are fainthearted or struggle with faith, or who doubt or question; rather, it is about those who refuse Christ and refuse to deploy their faith, turning their backs on Him.  They are the ones in trouble—as in doomed (Isa. 66:24; 1 John 2:15-17)!

• The unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral. The wicked will also receive an inheritance, but one not so good!

• Magic arts/sorceries. This refers to any kind of witchcraft or sorcery being brought together, and the trusting in other things rather than trusting in God. The word denoting “magic arts” also means, “mix in” (pharmakon), and is where we get our English word pharmacy. In Acts, we read of some repentance of this, but not usually (Acts 19:19; Rev. 9:21; 19:19-20).

• All liars / Lying. This refers to being an apostate—one who says he or she is of Christ but his or her bad character shows that to be a lie, rather saying that one is not of God. This also denotes disloyalty, even idolatry, as it is saying a god or an idea is true when it is not, and/or to adultery with God as with a spouse—besides the obvious omission of truth (Is. 44:20; Jer. 10:3; 1 John 2:22).

• Lake of fire/Lake of burning sulfur means the final place of residence for Satan and evil. (See Revelation 19:20 study.)

• Second death means the permanent separation from God! The first death means when we physically die; this second death means evil people will be resurrected, only to die again as in sentenced to the “lake of fire.” (Ezek. 18:4; Matt. 10:28 See Revelation 20:7-15 study.)

Exegetical look into Revelation 21:1-3

• New, in context, means “rejuvenated.” God is changing the “old order of things,” but that does not necessarily mean He is replacing it. As Paul states, we are being reconditioned in Christ by our “new” covenant of grace, as the “old” is passed away (Gen 3:17; Is. 51:15-16; 65:17; 66:22; Rom. 8:18-23; 2 Cor. 5:17).

• New heaven and a new earth. This theme comes from Isaiah 65, teaching that God will completely and thoroughly accomplish and achieve His purpose throughout the universe. Thus, as Christians, we will be “transfigured” so we will have no ties to the old nature of sin and evil. Some have seen this as an “extreme makeover” where the entire creation is restored to its original parameters—before sin corrupted everything—and we receive our new bodies. Perhaps so, or perhaps not, but new bodies are not the point of this passage. Many people in the last hundred years have seen this as our planet being destroyed and then rebuilt; such a concept would have been absurd to the original writer, John, his audience, and the Jewish culture to whom this book was written. Although the Greeks and some Jewish mystics had a philosophy that that taught that a new heaven and earth would be formed, this was not a biblical concept. Such a view ignores the context and word meanings we get from the rest of Scripture (Gen. 1:1; Is. 42:9; 48:6; 51:15-16; 65:17-25; 66:22; 1 Cor. 15:35-57 and apocrypha 1 Enoch, Jubilees).

• No longer any sea. This is a contrast of the evil and oppressive things being replaced with what is good. Sea is a Jewish metaphor for what is frightful and terrible, and what is inexplicable and/or hostile as the sea was greatly feared by them. Sea is where the monsters lived; people did not live anywhere near it nor did they have a navy. This saved them from numerous deadly tsunamis over the centuries. Such imagery is used for invading armies and the occupation from the Romans. This does not necessarily mean the seas will evaporate or be removed, but the fear of it as “sea” meant evil. Here, God is saying He will neuter evil’s power or remove it all together. This can also refer to how God will (has already done) neuter Rome, its power, and its influence (Job 7:12; 41:1; Psalms 74:13; 89:9-10; Is. 27:1; 65:17; Rev. 13:1-10).

• New Jerusalem means God comes to us. Jerusalem refers to the city where God reigns and where He is among His people. It represents the holiness and eminence, as Jerusalem is a place of gathering, community, and worship in Jewish culture and faith. The contrast is, then, in the Old Jerusalem where they journeyed to meet Him. Now, the New Jerusalem is God who journeys to meet them. In ancient Judaism, this theme also meant “hope.” It is also a position and representation of the people of God, “His people,” as a bride to God. A re-established Jerusalem came after the exile under Ezra and Nehemiah and pointed to the Messianic kingdom. Here, it is metaphorical, pointing to Christ as messiah and hope. The point is that a greater Jerusalem is because of Christ, not the rebuilding of the actual city, thus Christ and His Kingdom are the New Jerusalem. Faithfulness is the key that opens to us the door to life in the New Jerusalem (Neh. 11:1-18; Psalm 87:5-6; Is. 48:2; 52:1; 54:11-12; 62:12; 65:17-18; John 1:14; 13:34; 16:33; Gal. 4:26; Phil. 1; Heb 11-10; 12:22; 1 John 4:20; 5:4-5; Rev. 2:11, 17, 26; 3:5-13, 12, 21; 19:7; 21:1-22:5).

• Coming down out of heaven from God means that God dwells with His people! He is the God Who is now and Who is to come. It refers to perfection, holiness, and purity. This points to the Garden of Eden and that God is the One who restores, converts, and brings salvation and hope. This also means righteousness, rightfulness, and renewal. Christ is coming and all will consummate His will and purpose. Justice and His Kingdom will be fulfilled, and every knee will bow (Isa. 45:23; Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10; Rev. 21:1-22:5; Tobit; Jubilees; 4 Ezra)!

• Bride. This is an identification of His people and an image of our Redeemer’s intimacy and the community between God and His children (Eph. 5:31-32; Rev. 19:7).

• Throne… dwelling of God, meaning, “God is among us!” refers to the Tabernacle—how God resides among His people, and the theme of “Immanuel.” Tabernacle and Sanctuary are images of the Old Testament Tabernacle tent that was God’s heavenly dwelling. As a throne, this refers to the inner sanctum of God’s most holy of holies where the Ark, with the two tablets of the Testimony Moses brought from Mount Sinai dwelt. This represented God’s home on earth as a “copy” of God’s Throne Room, made for His presence in the inner chamber of Jewish Temples and the Tabernacle, a tent used before the Temple was built by Solomon. Now, John sees the real heavenly version being brought down to us. This is very significant in Christian redemption (Ex. 24:9-11; 25:8-9, 40; 29:45; 32:15; 37: 24-28; 43:7-10; Lev. 26:11-12; Deut 10:5; 1 Kings 6:12-13; 22:19; Is. 8:8-10; 51:16; Ezek. 37: 24-28; Zech. 2:11; Dan. 7:9-10; Matt. 1:22-23; 13:38; John 8:42-45; 2 Cor. 6:16; Heb. 8:1-6; 9:1-14; Rev. 3:12; 4:1; 7:15; 11:19; 14:15-17; 15:5-16:1, 16:17; 21:22).

• His people. God seeks us; He wants to be with us, He is our refuge; He is the One to whom we look for leadership (Psalm 23; 80:1; 121:5-6; Isa. 4:5-6; 49:10; Micah 7:14; John 10:11-18; Heb. 3:1; 13:20; 1 Pet. 5:4; Rev. 4:6-7).

Revelation 21:1-8: What are the Contexts?

This passage is the about the Throne, power, and purpose of God being made known and extended to us. This is about Godthe Creator, Redeemer, and Consummator communing with us and making a total transformation and renovation of His creation! He brings all things to fruition. He brings peace and a future to those in Him! As magnificent as this is, it is only the backdrop of what is going on; the far more spectacular “center stage” is that God IS among us. He is our Lord, Protector, and Sustainer. He will remove evil; so those who are in Him will never hear, “depart from me.” Rather, we will hear “come to me and I will give you rest.” He has saved us, but here is how He continues to save us as His grace is continually at work, involved, and shepherding us now and for eternity. He promises us all things new, and for those who reject Him, all things of judgment. In the meantime, we have Christ in us now, empowering us—a preview, and a real, effectual presence and hope for us now. This is to inspire us for faith, reliability, and steadfastness in our Christian life (Ex. 33:14; Matt. 7:23; 11:28-30; 25:41; John 5:22). 

What do you think this new heaven and new earth will be like? Do you like the literal or the non-literal view? Why?  

Revelation 21:1-8

Introduction  

The New Heaven and Earth! 

Total renovation! A voice announces that all things will be renewed! God is making all things new and John now sees hope beyond wonder as a new heaven and a new earth are formed. God is removing evil from humanity, separating out the good. The old earth and heaven have disappeared; even the sea is gone. Then, John sees a New Jerusalem coming directly from God in heaven like a bride being given away at a wedding. Everyone is celebrating, shouting that the throne and presence of God is now among us all, as God Himself now lives with us and within us for eternity. Then the greatest comfort is given; God wipes away all of our sorrows and fears so there is no more death, suffering, or pain as evil is wiped away for good.  God is sitting on His throne and telling John to make sure he is writing all of this down correctly. God’s Word is true and trustworthy. Then, God reveals to John another one of His names, the first and last, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. Then, He promises refreshment to quench the thirst of all who are victorious in Christ, who will inherit everlasting life. Christ gives us springs of water without charging us what is owed, and thus, His grace continues.  But, God will also keep His promise of judgment; all those who are evil will be removed from those who are good, and all those evil people will be sent to hell for all eternity.   

What is in your life that you would like to have totally renovated? Home, church, work, car, spouse,…?  

God’s grace is continually at work, He is involved and shepherding you now and for eternity. What will you do with this information?

What does Revelation 11:1-6 mean to us now?

 

The “two witnessesare somewhat of a mystery. There are many theories, but the point that is often missed by the speculators is the call and example to be faithful in dire times. Some commentators say that a literal, new Moses and Elijah will come, but the word meanings and context clearly point to the Church. Again, this misses the greater point of faithfulness (Rev. 1:6; 5:10). 

The controversies that arise in Revelation are exemplified in this text. As many commentators and speculators focus on who these two witnesses can be, the conjectures abound. The good, prevailing theories are that these are two humans who are faithful and God empowers them as courageous examples to the Church. They can be ordinary Christians, perhaps prophets in the Old Testament sense. The next controversy is about when they do appear; will it have been had been at the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. or will it be just before Jesus comes back. It is more probable, because of the Lamp stands, that they  are symbolic representatives of the two good, faithful churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia seen or given as a model for us to follow and not necessarily literal. But the defining is not as important as the actuality of their mission, which is faithfulness, and which means more and applies further and deeper than any theories that could all possibly be wrong (Deut. 17:6; 19:15).  

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. What does it mean to you to be a witness? What needs to happen for you and people in your church to be better witnesses?
  1. God is omniscient, which means He is all knowing; this also refers to His power and ability, in which all things are under His control and plan. In addition, He cares for and is active and involved in our lives personally and collectively as a Church. So, how does this fact affect your faith and plans in your life and church? (Because God is omniscient, I will….)
  1. The goal of pagans and people who hate God is to get rid of anything that convicts them and points to truth. How do you feel about this? How does knowing this give you confidence in faith?
  1. Have you ever considered your actions as ripples in a pond caused by throwing in a small stone? How so?
  1. What can you do to be sure you have no reason or need to fear our Lord for the future? How can this help your reverence and trust in His protection and provision?
  1. What does greatness in faith mean to you and your church? What would happen if your church took more seriously its call to model “greatness” or become people who exemplify true stature and character? In so doing, what would your church look like? How would it be impacting to its members and neighborhood?
  1. If God showed you two great witnesses of faith, perseverance, and courage, what would they look like? What could you do to be like them?

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org

 

The Four Main Views of Revelation 11:1-6

 

The Preterist view: They see this passage as a reference to Ezekiel. To measure is seen from Ezekiel, chaps 40-47, to divide from what is holy from what is profane and corrupt as what defines a true Temple of God; the results from the examination mean judgment and destruction. The call to remain pure and reform was rejected by the Jews and thus the Temple was destroyed (Is. 1:12; Jer. 10:16; 51:19; Ezek. 22:26; 40-43; Zech. 2:1-5; Dan. 7:25; Luke 21:24; Rev. 21:15-16). (Forty-two) 42 months is seen as the length of Nero’s war with the Christians and/or the siege of Jerusalem. The two witnesses seem to have baffled many in this camp, as it seems to point to a hole in their theory. (All these views have holes because our reasoning is limited and we tend to look to our own education and agendas, not at the big picture, and do not do all of the inductive research to see what the text is really saying.) Many see them as symbolic of a testimony to corrupt Judaism, as two literal people or prophets who are lost to history, as the “lamp stands” and “olive trees” from Zechariah 4:11-14, or as representative of the witnesses of Christ. Some have said they were Peter and James. 

The Futurist view: They see to “measure” as representing God’s ownership of his faithful during the tribulation and/or His preservation and protection of them. The “Temple of God” is seen as a new one, yet to be rebuilt, which, citing examples from Ezekiel, people in this camp see as an even essential prior to Christ’s return. However, a major exegetical, textual problem occurs with this view as the Temple had already been destroyed, then rebut twice, once right after Ezekiel’s prophecy and again under Herod. It was destroyed in 70 AD. The Temple represents faithfulness and/or the Church: the people of God and the “outer court” are seen as representing apostasy and/or the distinction of people remaining faithful or not during the tribulation. The “two witnesses” are viewed as literal forerunners to Christ’s return, those faithful ones who preach and prophecy during the tribulation, or that Moses or Enoch and Elijah actually come back to do that. The “42 months” and “1260” days are seen as the first half of the great Tribulation, the last half, or a time after the tribulation. 

The Idealist view: They see to “measure” as God’s awareness of His worshipers—those who are true and those who are not as referenced by the “outer court.” Also, this refers to apostasy invading the Church such as liberality and worldliness. (It is ironic that most who hold this view are mainline liberals.) The “Temple of God” is seen as the inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies where the high priest entered once a year to dust, which to this view refers to those who are true worshipers of God (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 3:6; 1 Pet. 2:5). (Forty-two) “42 months” is seen as grace, limiting the time of persecution (Dan. 7:25). The “two witnesses” refer to the church as a witness to the world from mission movements. “Sackcloth” refers to bringing the message of repentance. The “olive trees” refer to Zerubbabel and Joshua who were agents of restoration. “Fire from mouths” means those who bring harm to the Church will be judged. 

The Historicist view: They see to “measure” as to look over and examine the church and see what is real, true, and devout, and what is distorted from God’s call and God’s authority given to those who are to reform the Church. The “Temple of God” is seen as the church of true, devout believers drawing from other N.T. passages (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 2 Thess. 2:4). The “outer court” or Court of the Gentiles is seen as the visible Church that becomes a corrupt institution, devoid of real, heartfelt worshipers, such as the Roman Catholic Church or liberalism. These were the indicators that gave the Reformers the vision and reassessment to reform the Church back to God and away from corruption which led to the Reformation. (Forty-two) “42 months” is seen as 1260 years, the duration of the Catholic Church and its persecution of true believers up to the Reformation. The “two witnesses” are representative of the faithful Christians who tried to reform and stand against the Catholic Church such as Huss and Wycliffe. The miraculous power given is seen as an instrument and reason for God’s judgments and/or clothed in God’s power (Deut. 32:2; Is. 55:10). “Fire from mouths” means the power of preaching and the power of the Spirit and/or from Jeremiah 5:14. The plagues are seen as the evils resulting from the corruption of the Church, such as wars and the inquisitions. 

 

Exegetical look into Revelation 11:1-6

 

  • Measuring rod/Reed was a surveyors tool, made from cane plant, a type of bamboo that grew beside the Jordan river, and grew to a consistent 20 feet (Ezek. 40:3; Zech. 2:1-2).
  • Measure. The Jewish mindset then believed that saying how vast and magnificent was the Temple was a way of praising God (Psalm 48:12-13; Ezek. 40:3-42:20; Zech 2:1-5). This term also refers to God’s omniscience, (that He is all knowing) that He cares and is active and involved in our lives personally and collectively as a Church. This also refers to God’s power and ability, and that all things are under His control and plan (Ezek. 40:1-43:17; Rev. 21:15).
  • Go and measure. In ancient times to measure something meant you owned it or were claiming ownership of the item being measured, usually property. This meant that what was measured was claimed; it is mine and I have responsibility and direction over it. Here, it appears that John is claiming the Temple in the Lord’s Name, measuring and pointing to the rights to it for the Lord. 
  • Temple of God. This represents God’s presence on Earth. This is not where He lives, as He is omnipresent and thus cannot be confined; rather, it is His representative and a place where people can worship Him. For those who feel Revelation was written after the Temple’s destruction around 90 A.D., this may refer to those who are left, His “remnant,” God’s chosen people. (Rev. 4:1-5:14). 
  • Altar. The context is worship; this may imply that this is the “great altar.”
  • Count the worshipers indicates those who are faithful and who have not bowed to idolatry, committed adultery with God, or given up their faith in tough times, but who have persevered. These are the people He seals and protects (Rev. 7:1-17). 
  • Exclude. God is not the One who excludes; it is we who reject and fight against Him (Is. 56:3-7; 66:5).
  • Outer court refers to The Court of the Gentiles which is the large outer section of the Temple (26 acres in Jesus’ Time) where the Gentiles were allowed to gather, this also denotes a form of evangelism (Gen. 12).
  • Given to the Gentiles refers to the attacks on God’s people by those who hate God, who are “outsiders” who refuse His grace and call. God freely gives to the Temple’s oppressors what is theirs—the courtyard, the gathering point for those who are not His Chosen People. But they, the Romans, take it all and destroy it in 70 A.D.
  • Trample. The goal of pagans was to get rid of anything that convicted them or pointed to truth; the Temple represented both. Thus, it was an object of wrath and a prime objective of destruction to many. The Temple has been vandalized, broken down many times, and destroyed completely at least three times by its enemies (Psalm 79:1; Is. 63:1-18; 1 Macc. 3:45; 6:40; Luke 21:24).
  • Holy city. Most likely it is Jerusalem that is in view. Some say it is Rome, but that would be like telling people who live in New York, NY that Los Angeles or Paris was the great holy city, and that would be absurd. Nothing of Rome was considered great or holy to a first century Jew.
  • (Forty-two) 42 months was a metaphor for a limited time of unrestrained impiety, evil, and/or oppressions, possibly meaning the symbolic timeframe of the Temples destruction or the Syrian dictator, Antiochus Epiphanes (168-165 B.C.) who instigated great suffering to the Jews and defiled the Temple and shut it down for over three years. Not necessarily a literal number, “42 months” is symbolic, referring to grace, “a time, times and a half time” or 3 ½ years, which means half of seven years. This is pointing to grace as God cuts the suffering in half. The context denotes an intense time of conflict and stress as evil people fight against God’s people; yet, He is still there and sets His limits of what persecution will take place by His grace (Dan. 7:25; 9:27; 12:7-12; Rev. 11-13).
  • Give power refers to God’s control as He uses His servants as His instruments; their impact is like a ripple in a pond caused by throwing in a small stone. In addition, we have no reason or need to fear our Lord for the future; rather, we can reverence and trust in His protection and provision.
  • Two witnesses are two people (either angelic or human) who are God’s representatives. They possibly represent some sort of Moses and Elijah. Their call is to stand against the beast and testify to the believers to stand for the faith, possibly in the final days before Christ returns. 
  • Prophesy for 1,260 days. Not necessary literal, some view this as denoting the Great Tribulation (from Daniel,) which really means enduring great troubles. Three and a half years is the same meaning as 42 months—42 months of 30 days each x 30 days = 1,260 days. (Dan. 9:2-24; Rev. 12:6). 
  • Clothed in sackcloth meant being remorseful and repentant. It referred to a coarse burlap type of material woven from goat hair to signify one’s mourning or repentance. This also denotes, as Zechariah states, a promise for a full restoration and blessing for God’s people (Joel 1:13; Jonah 3:5-6; Matt. 11:21).
  • Two olive trees. Olive Trees in combination with Lamp stands usually refers to the two anointed ones, such as Moses and Elijah, or the ruling class of priests and kings. In Zechariah, this meant presenting two ruling houses—“the king” and “the priest,” possibly referring to Zerubbabel and Joshua (Zech. 4:2-14). Many Jewish thinkers see this as futuristic, pointing to a messianic figure, either a priest or a king. Both were fulfilled in Christ.
  • Two lampstands refers to reverence to God. Also, in Revelation, it refers to the Church as the body of believers whose duty it was to be a light as a witness for Christ. The objects possibly point to the two good of the seven churches. The description in this passage calls attention to the scope and power that God gives for us to remain faithful and give an effectual testimony (Rev. 1:12-20).
  • Stand before the Lord refers to those who are His representatives and/or His Church (Matt. 18:10; Rev. 4:4). It could also have referred to O.T figures that did not die, such as Enoch and Elijah, the power and impact of Moses, or to the Zechariah passage. Most probably, it was all of the above.
  • Fire comes from their mouths possibly refers to some supernatural spiritual gifting that God gives these beings (Lev. 9:24-10:02; 1 Kings 17:1; 18:41). In the Jewish culture then, it meant to stare back at someone spitefully who was being disrespectful. But, because of the mouth usage, this is also a metaphor for prophesying Judgments; these events could happen literally, be metaphorical, or both (1 Kings 1:10-12; Jer. 5:10-14).
  • Power to shut up the sky refers to drought that was used as punishment for disobedience (1 Kings 17:1; 18; Luke 4:25; James 5:17). Elijah was a miracle worker. He is not an esoteric figure but an inspiration and incentive for the power and prominence we have available to us. Elijah also represents the “everyman,” who, by his prayer life, was powerfully used by God (1 Kings 17:1; 18: 1, 41-46; 1 Sam. 12:17-18)! 
  • Turn the waters into blood. This is reminiscent of Moses and the miracles God used through him to convince Pharaoh and the Israelites of God’s purpose and power (Ex. 7:14-25). John may be using this part of the passage also as a slap in the face to the arrogant Jew who refused to see Christ—who still wanted for a messiah when one had already come (Deut. 18:15-18; Mal 4:5).

 

Revelation 11:1-6

Introduction 

The Two Witnesses 

This passage is our introduction of the two witnesses and another interlude to show us in greater detail what God is doing and how it applies to us. John is given the task of measuring the Temple to see its dimensions as well as to see who is really worshiping God and who is not—those who are His in word and deed versus those who are the pretenders and manipulators. He is given parameters of what to measure and what not to count. And then, John is given the reason; this great Temple would be trampled upon, defiled, and destroyed. God’s great Temple, His witness to the earth, a place of worship, and the cultural identity to His people will be gone, wiped away, leaving the Jews without their sacred rituals or their cultural identity, except the most important identity—the one that is in Him, the one we typically ignore. John is even given some specifics on time and place; this will be no surprise; the warning is given and the judgment looms. 

This passage is also a description of faithfulness shown by the two great witnesses of faith, of great perseverance and courage, who have amazing powers, and who walk like Moses and Elijah. We are not told specifics of who they are, but they are models of greatness who exemplify, in stature and character, whom we should seek to be like. That ought is faithfulness of faith and character so we can stand in Christ with an authentic consistent testimony from our relationship with Him that is reflected in our behaviors and words (2 Kings 2:1-12; Ezek. 37; Zachariah 4:1-14; Daniel 8; Matt. 17:3-4; Luke 10:1). 

When something is measured, it is usually by the owner, meaning there is an aspect of responsibility and direction over it. So, what is your responsibility and direction over your spiritual growth or your church? 

What can you and your church do to be great? What is the plan? When will you do it?