“In the first fourteen verses, chapter 11 continues with the interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpets, and in the concluding verses, we have the blowing of the seventh trumpet. In this chapter we learn that forty-two months remain of the times of the Gentiles and that there are two witnesses who will prophesy for forty-two months. We also have the second woe and then the blowing of the seventh trumpet.”

“This chapter brings us back to Old Testament ground. The temple, the dealing with time periods, and the distinction which is made between Jews and Gentiles all indicate that we are again under the Old Testament economy. Chronologically, the seventh trumpet brings us to the return of Christ at the end of the great tribulation period.”[1]


(11.1-2)     1          And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.

2          But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.


1.   Several things we learn from this passage:


#1  There will be a reconstructed temple in Jerusalem during the 70th week of Daniel, or the tribulation.


#2  This “reed like unto a rod” given to John was used as a measuring rod or rule, and may be the cane which grows along the Jordan River valley and was known as the “giant reed” of Mediterranean lands. It grows in marsh land and may reach a height of 15 or 20 feet. God, using a measuring rod such as this, will scrutinize both the place of worship and those who worship therein, during this future time. And since the typical unit of length for a measuring rod was about 10 feet, it will not be possible for the worshipers to measure up to God’s standards. They will fall short of the mark. Romans 3.23: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”


#3  The location of the temple is “the holy city.” This term “the holy city,” in God’s Word, never refers to any other city on the face of this planet besides Jerusalem. Matthew 4.5: “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple.”


2.   As to the time period of this passage, I believe that this begins the last three and one half years of the seven year long 70th week of Daniel.


a.   Three and one half years is equal to forty two months. According to Daniel’s prophecy of Daniel 9.24-27, a treaty will be made with the antichrist that will protect the Jews:


24    Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

25    Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

26    And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

27    And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.


b.   This treaty will last throughout the first three and one half years of the 70th week. It is my feeling that during that time Gentiles will not tread foot in the city, or at least, will honor Jewish insistence on remaining outside areas restricted to Jews only.


c.   Therefore, this time period, when the Gentiles are treading Jerusalem under foot, would have to be in the last half of the tribulation, after Jewish wishes are no longer being honored and Jews are being openly persecuted.


3.   What a startling revelation this must have been to John. Remember, the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A. D. and John’s vision on the isle of Patmos came at least twenty years later. So, two decades after the destruction of Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem he sees in this vision a reconstructed Temple in Jerusalem in the future. Just as startling to him, no doubt, was the command to take the rod and measure the Temple, the altar, and them that worship therein, which makes him now a participant instead of just an observer.


(11.3)         And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.


1.   It is during this last half of the tribulation that God will have two witnesses who will prophecy while clothed in sackcloth. “Two individuals granted special power and authority by God to preach a message of judgment and salvation during the second half of the Tribulation. The OT required two or more witnesses to confirm testimony (cf. Deut. 17:6; 19:15; Matt. 18:16; John 8:17; Heb. 10:28), and these two prophets will be the culmination of God’s testimony to Israel: a message of judgment from God and of His gracious offer of the gospel to all who will repent and believe.”[2]


2.   “Sackcloth” is significant, since being dark in color, it is usually associated with mourning and sadness. Indeed, these two witnesses will have nothing good to say about the condition of mankind, the reign of the antichrist, or anyone’s future prospects of a better life.


3.   Folks, if you understand that all Jewish months are 30 days in length, you will find that the 1260 days mentioned in this verse is exactly three and one half years in length. Again, more evidence that we are looking at a passage that deals with the last half of the 70th week of Daniel.


4.   But who are these two witnesses referred to? John Walvoord writes:


“In verse 3, two unusual characters are introduced, described as two witnesses who shall prophesy 1,260 days. This is exactly three and one-half years or forty-two months of thirty days each, and is unquestionably related to either the first three and one-half years or the latter three and one-half years of the seven years of Daniel 9:27. Expositors have differed as to which of the two periods is in view here. From the fact, however, that the two witnesses pour out divine judgments upon the earth and need divine protection lest they be killed, it implies that they are in the latter half of the seven years when awful persecution will afflict the people of God, as this protection would not be necessary in the first three and one-half years. The punishments and judgments the witnesses inflict on the world also seem to fit better in the great tribulation period.

There has been much debate on the identity of these two witnesses. Some have suggested that these represent Israel and the church, or Israel and the Word of God, as the two principal instruments of witness in the world. Arno C. Gaebelein regards the two witnesses as representative of witness in the great tribulation: “Perhaps the leaders would be two at instruments, manifesting the spirit of Moses and Elijah, endowed with supernatural power, but a larger number of witnesses is unquestionably in view here.” Gaebelein implies that the two witnesses are individuals but representative of a larger witness. Others like J. B. Smith are quite sure that they are Moses and Elijah, because of the similarity of judgment inflicted to those pronounced by Elijah and Moses, namely fire from heaven, turning water into blood, and smiting the earth with plagues. Support for the identification of Elijah as one of the two witnesses is found in the prediction that Elijah will come “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Mal. 4:5). This seems to be at least partially fulfilled by the coming of John the Baptist according to the discussion of Christ with His disciples (Matt. 17:10-13; Mark 9:11-13; cf. Luke 1:17). Evidence for both Moses and Elijah is found in the fact that they are related to the second coming and the transfiguration (Matt. 17:3). The dispute of Michael with the devil over the body of Moses (Jude 9) is mentioned preceding a prophecy of the second coming, but no specific connection is made between the two. All the evidence for the identification, however, is circumstantial and not clear. There are great difficulties in all points of view identifying the two witnesses with historical characters.

The use of the article with the expression “two witnesses” in verse 3 seems to signify that they are specific persons. The actions are those of people; and their resultant death and resurrection, including their bodies lying in the streets of Jerusalem for three and one-half days, can hardly refer to Israel, the church, or the Word of God. There are also difficulties, however, in defining them as any two characters such as Elijah and Moses or, as some would have it, Enoch and Elijah. Govett identifies the two witnesses as Enoch and Elijah and cites in support early tradition and apocryphal writing. The fact that Enoch and Elijah did not die but were translated has been seized upon by some as a violation of the general rule of Hebrews 9:27, “It is appointed unto men once to die.” But this argument is nullified by the fact that the entire living church at the time of the rapture will go to heaven without dying. If Moses is included as one of the two witnesses, there is an added difficulty in that he once died. Could he die a second time? It seems far preferable to regard these two witnesses as two prophets who will be raised up from among those who turn to Christ in the time following the rapture. Ainslie identifies the two witnesses as “two strange men” whose identity cannot now be determined who will literally have prophetic ministry for twelve hundred sixty days and then be slain. Many other conservative expositors agree with Easton who takes these two witnesses “to be two men, not two companies of men, nor yet a mere symbol of ‘adequate testimonies.’” He finds this confirmed in verse 10 in the expression “these two prophets.” He adds, “Who they may be, can be but conjecture, and is best left in the obscurity in which God has surrounded them.”[3]


(11.4)         These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.


1.   The two olive trees and the two candle sticks are symbolic terms that God explains in Zechariah 4. Turn to Zechariah chapter 4 and read with me:


1      And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep,

2      And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof:

3      And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.

4      So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord?

5      Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.

6      Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

7      Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.

8      Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

9      The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you.

10    For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.

11    Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof?

12    And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?

13    And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.

14    Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.


2.   Throughout Zechariah chapter 4, an angel talks with the prophet Zechariah about two olive trees and a candle stick. In verse 13, Zechariah indicates that he does not know what these items are, and the angel’s answer is given in verse 14: “Then said he, These are the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” These two are Zerubbabel and Joshua, the man who was high priest in Israel at that time.


3.   Thus, it seems that the two witnesses in Revelation chapter 11, who will preach during the last three and one half years of the tribulation, will be two anointed servants of God. They will be genuine prophets who will stand up for God and who will stand by God after the manner of Zerubbabel and Joshua, the high priest, did.


4.   What does the Bible say about God’s anointed ones and prophets? “Touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm.”[4] Stupid is the man or woman who touches God’s man. I would be afraid to, wouldn’t you? Folks, I am afraid to.

[1] J. Vernon McGee, Revelation Volume II, (Pasadena, California: Thru The Bible Books, 1979), page 131.

[2] See footnote for Revelation 11.3 from John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 2006.

[3] John Walvoord, The Revelation Of Jesus Christ, (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1966), pages 178-179.

[4] 1 Chronicles 16.22; Psalm 105.15

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