3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. 6 These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.
19 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their reservoirs of water, that they may become blood; and there will be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.’”
1 Kings 17:1
Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”
20 As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Careful students of the book of Revelation will probably agree with Alford that chapter 11 “is undoubtedly one of the most difficult in the whole Apocalypse.” A comparison of many commentaries will reveal the widest kind of disagreement as to the meaning of this chapter.
“And I will give power unto my two witnesses,…. By whom are meant, not Enoch and Elias, as some of the ancient fathers thought, who, they supposed, would come before the appearance of Christ, and oppose antichrist, and be slain by him, which sense the Papists greedily catch at; nor are the Scriptures, the two Testaments, Old and New, designed, though their name and number agree, and also their office, which is to testify of Christ; but then to be clothed in sackcloth, to be killed, and rise again, and ascend to heaven, are things that cannot so well be accommodated to them: but these witnesses intend the ministers of the Gospel and churches of Christ, who have bore testimony for Christ, and against antichrist, ever since he appeared in the world; and particularly the churches and ministers in Piedmont [Waldensian] bid fair for this character; who were upon the spot when antichrist arose, always bore their protest against him, and were ever independent of the church of Rome, and subsisted in the midst of the darkness of the apostasy; and suffered much, and very great persecutions, from the Papists; and have stood their ground, and continue to this day; and have been like olive trees and candlesticks, imparting oil and light to others. Though they ought not to be considered exclusive of other ministers and churches, who also have bore, and still do bear a witness for Christ, and against the idolatries of the church of Rome: no two individual persons can be meant, since these witnesses were to prophesy 1260 days, that is, so many years, but a succession of ministers and churches; and these are called two, both on account of the fewness of them, and because the testimony of two is sufficient to confirm any matter; and it may be in allusion to the various instances of two eminent persons being raised up at certain periods of time, as Moses and Aaron, at the deliverance of the children of Israel out of Egypt; Caleb and Joshua, at their entrance into Canaan; Elijah and Elisha in the idolatrous times of Ahab; and Joshua and Zerubbabel at the rebuilding and finishing of the second temple. Now the Angel, and who is Christ, here promises that he will give something to these witnesses: some supply the words, ‘I will give it’; that is, the holy city, or the church, to them, to be taken care of and defended; others, ‘I will give’ them a mouth and wisdom, which their adversaries shall not be able to resist, according to the promise in Luke 21:15. We supply the words, ‘I will give power’; that is, authority to preach the Gospel, and strength to profess it, and to continue to bear a testimony to it, signified by prophesying; see 1 Corinthians 14:1.”
1 Then there was given me a [a]measuring rod like a staff; [b]and someone said, “Get up and measure the [c]temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. 2 [d]Leave out the court which is outside the [e]temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.
[a] Lit. reed
[b] Lit. saying
[c] Or sanctuary
[d] Lit. throw out
[e] Or sanctuary
A Little Greek
In Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament, Robertson explains that the Greek in verse 2,
“Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations”
means to leave without, literally, to cast without. “In this outer court,” he says, “was a house of prayer for the Gentiles (Mark 11:17), but now John is to cast it out and leave to its fate (given to the Gentiles in another sense) to be profaned by them. They shall tread under foot . . . trample with contempt as in Luke 21:24.”
2 Corinthians 6:14-18
14 Do not be [j]bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with [k]Belial, or [l]what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,
“I will dwell in them and walk among them;
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
17 “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord.
“And do not touch what is unclean;
And I will welcome you.
18 “And I will be a father to you,
And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,”
Says the Lord Almighty.
[j] Lit. unequally yoked
[k] Gr. Beliar
[l] Lit. what part has a believer with an unbeliever
“. . . by ‘the temple of God’ is here meant the church, of which the temple was a type; and so particular congregated churches are called temples, 1 Corinthians 3:16. Solomon, a man of peace, was the builder of the one, and Christ, the Prince of peace, the builder of the other. . .”
Chapter VI. Progress and Ecclesiastical Establishment of the Reformation — § 2. The Ecclesiastical Constitution and Establishment of the Reformed Churches, and Separation from the Church of Rome.
Elliott is insightful but somewhat difficult to read. His explanations with supporting arguments accumulate over many chapters. In chapters 10 and 11, he sees John as representative of the Reformers. In chapter 10, the Bible is given back to them; in chapter 11, a measuring rod, or reed, is given to them do the work of reform with authority derived from those in secular power. Importantly, he condemns the Church of Rome as schismatic and therefore excluded from the true Church as “the outer court.”
“To measure” in our text is to indicate the true dimensions in the abstract sense of determining the true people of God.
“The act of measuring seems to signify that the area belongs to God in some special way. It is an evaluation of His property. . . The Temple here is apparently that which will be in existence during the great tribulation. ”
“Why this measuring? What does it mean?” Dr. Hendriksen believed that the sanctuary represents “the true children of God” who are by definition indwelt by the Spirit of Christ and who offer on His altar the incense of prayer. Measuring the sanctuary represents setting apart the holy from the profane for the purpose of protection from all harm while judgments are falling upon the wicked, persecuting world. We suffer but never perish. Hendriksen also states that: “The sanctuary is accepted while the court is rejected” for the court represents mere nominal Christians.
1 I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire; 2 and he had in his hand a little book which was open. He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land; 3 and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars; and when he had cried out, the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices. 4 When the seven peals of thunder had spoken, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them.”
In studying this chapter I had a lightbulb moment. My posts on Revelation should be shorter. I need to give brief quotes or summarize, having pity on my readers who have a lot else to read. So from now on my somewhat historical treatment of this glorious book will be a kind of digest. Happier reading!
Similar views of two Historicists
“Mr. Daubuz is of opinion, that by these seven thunders are meant seven kingdoms which have received the Reformation, and established it by law within their several dominions, whereby the doctrine and worship of the reformers are become the established religion there; and the laws by which it is established are the voices uttered by those supreme authorities; and they are these, 1. The German princes, making one republic. 2. The Swiss cantons. 3. Sweden. 4. Denmark, with Norway. 5. England and Ireland. 6. Scotland. 7. The United Provinces of the Netherlands. And whereas John, who represents the first reformers, and other faithful men, was for writing what these thunders uttered, this denotes the zeal and earnest desires of these good men to push the Reformation further, and make a thorough work of it, as well as their expectation that now was the time in which the mystery of God was to be fulfilled, in which they were mistaken; wherefore John is bid to seal up these things, and not write them, which shows that the progress of the Reformation was to be stopped from doing fully what the first reformers were prompted to. . .’’
Horae Apocalypticae by E. B. Elliott
In essence, this very learned gentlemen believed – as others did – that this vision portrays the Bible being given back to us at the time of the Reformation and the thunderings of Rome, in encyclicals and anathemas, etc., against this priceless gift. The thunderings then were sealed because they were imposture thunderings from Heaven.
a Dispensationalist and an amillennialist agree
“This illustrates a divine principle that while God has revealed much, there are secrets which God has not seen fit to reveal to man at this time.”
Dr. William Hendriksen
Hendriksen’s view about Heaven’s prohibition against revealing what the seven thunders said is this: some things are beyond our ability to understand or describe – that is, all the things that work together to determine the prophetic future.
~ More than Conquerors, Baker Book House 1992
The Angel and the Little Book
1 I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire; 2 and he had in his hand a little book which was open. He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land; 3 and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars; and when he had cried out, the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices. 4 When the seven peals of thunder had spoken, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them.” 5 Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, 6 and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there will be delay no longer, 7 but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets.
8 Then the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again speaking with me, and saying, “Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land.” 9 So I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. And he *said to me, “Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” 10 I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter. 11 And they *said to me, “You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.”
In studying chapter 10 I learned that Christians question and disagree about the identity of the strong (mighty) angel:
Is he simply an angelic being who reflects God’s glory to an extraordinary degree, or
Is he Christ Himself?
In his book, More than Conquerors, William Hendriksen argues that this is an angel. John Gill in Exposition of the Whole Bible (see below), G.K. Beale in Revelation: A Shorter Commentary, and E.B. Elliott in HORAE APOCALYPTICAE argue that the angel is the Lord.
Most certainly we know that this strong angel’s glorious and terrible words are of utmost importance.
9 Then I looked, and behold, a hand was extended to me; and lo, a scroll was in it. 10 When He spread it out before me, it was written on the front and back, and written on it were lamentations, mourning and woe.
1 Then He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll. 3 He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.” Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth.
1 Then I lifted up my eyes again and looked, and behold, there was a flying scroll. 2 And he said to me, “What do you see?” And I answered, “I see a flying scroll; its length is twenty cubits and its width ten cubits.” 3 Then he said to me, “This is the curse that is going forth over the face of the whole land; surely everyone who steals will be purged away according to the writing on one side, and everyone who swears will be purged away according to the writing on the other side. 4 I will make it go forth,” declares the Lord of hosts, “and it will enter the house of the thief and the house of the one who swears falsely by My name; and it will spend the night within that house and consume it with its timber and stones.”
1 I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. 2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?”
John Gill was a Baptist pastor, premillennialist, and historicist.
“And I saw another mighty angel, . . . Not any mere man, as Justin the emperor, as some have thought, who sent letters abroad in favour of the orthodox doctrine, against the Arians, which they suppose is meant by the little book open in his right hand; and still less the pope of Rome, whether in the sense of Papists or Protestants, which latter represent him as a tyrant, treading upon men both in the islands and in the continent, and holding forth the book of canons and decrees; rather, as Mr. Daubuz thinks, Luther, with the rest of the reformers, is intended, and especially since the prophecy of this chapter respects the Reformation, which began before the end of the sixth trumpet; and the epithets given to this angel may denote his strength and courage, his divine authority, the protection of him, and the clear doctrine of peace and reconciliation he brought: however, a created angel is not intended: not the angel that made proclamation for the opening of the book, and unsealing it, Revelation 5:2; between which, and having the book in his right hand open, is a wide difference; nor any other, though the epithet “mighty” belongs to angels in common; and though this angel swears by the living God; and though it was an angel by whom Christ signified the things contained in this book to John; but the uncreated Angel, the Lord Jesus Christ, seems rather designed, as appears both by comparing this with Daniel 12:7; and from the power he gave to the two witnesses, Revelation 11:3; which cannot agree with a created angel; and besides, who so proper to hold the book open as he who unloosed the seals, and opened it, and to whom the epithet “mighty” may be applied in the highest sense, as God; and who as man may be said to swear by the living God, and to whom the whole description well agrees? he is sometimes called an Angel simply, Genesis 48:16; sometimes the Angel of the Lord, and who appears to be Jehovah himself, the second Person, Genesis 16:7, compared with Genesis 19:1; and sometimes the Angel of God’s presence, Isaiah 63:9; and the Angel of the great council in the Septuagint on Isaiah 9:6; and the Angel, or messenger, of the covenant, Malachi 3:1; and may be so called, because he is a messenger from God as man and Mediator, being sent by him to declare his will and redeem his people: and he is a “mighty” one; not only as God, being the mighty God, the Almighty, which appears by his creation of all things, and upholding them in their beings; but as Mediator, having all power in heaven and in earth, and being far above all principality, power, and might; and, as man, made strong by God for himself, and for his people: he appears now as “another” angel, distinct from the seven angels who had trumpets given them to sound, and six of which had already sounded; and particularly from the angel of the sixth trumpet, who had just sounded; though some copies, and the Complutensian edition*, leave out the word αλλον, “another”; and very opportunely does he appear for the comfort of his church, when the trumpets that had been blown had brought such desolations upon the empire, western and eastern, and when both the western and eastern antichrists had appeared, and before the seventh trumpet sounds, and brings in the last and greatest woe. . .”
* “Complutensian Polyglot Bible: the first printed polyglot of the entire Bible, initiated and financed by Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros (1436–1517) and published by Complutense University in Alcalá de Henares, Spain. It includes the first printed editions of the Greek New Testament, the complete Septuagint, and the Targum Onkelos.” (Wiki)
© 2018, Cross The Border Publishing, all rights reserved.
Edward Elliott, an “historicist premillennial” (Reformed Books Online), interpreted the vision of Chapter 10 as a portrayal of the commencement of the Reformation.
“The fact is, there exists what I may call documentary, and indeed almost ocular evidence of it, to my own mind singularly striking. It is such, I think, as will not only satisfy us as to the justness of our reference of the opening clause of the vision generally to the Reformation: but will connect it, by certain most remarkable chronological and historical coincidences, with the precise epoch of commencement of that wonderful event. . . the grandest and most glorious, so it is of all others that which was prefigured most fully and circumstantially in the Apocalyptic prophecy.”
“Just when, on the day of his ascension [inauguration of Pope Leo X], as on a day of high festival, there were exhibited paintings, amidst the applause of congregated Christendom, on which art seemed to have lavished all its ingenuity of decoration: and which, as the devices that might best symbolize these his threefold prerogatives and functions as Christ’s Vicar and impersonator, represented this same usurping Antichrist, in one part as beaming like the new risen sun from heaven upon earth, together with a rainbow to reflect his brightness,— in another as planting one foot on the land and the other on the sea,— in a third as looking and roaring, with the world in his clutch, even as when a lion roars on his prey. Just at this very time it was that there occurred the fulfillment of another symbolic figuration, devised by higher than human art, and evidently in purposed contrast to the former, though pictured above 1400 years before it:— a figuration which, in the visions of Patmos, exhibited Christ to St. John as now at length intervening, after long forbearance, in vindication of his own rights, truth, and people:— revealing Himself as the true Covenant Angel from heaven, with his face shining as the sun, and a rainbow about his head, planting moreover his right foot on the sea, his left on the land, and crying with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. . . so was the Lord represented as now “coming down to fight for Mount Zion,” against Antichrist and Antichrist’s assembled Council.
“And whereas the Papal lion’s voice, in vindication of his usurping claims on the church and world, and to counteract all opposition, enacted decrees, as we have seen, preventive of the printing of all books on religion except as approved by him, and especially of God’s book the Bible,— preventive also of all preaching, except in accordance with the established Roman interpretations of Scripture,— and further enjoining that there should be no mention by them of the coming of Antichrist, or of the time of the great final judgment:
“So in the Apocalyptic vision there was prefigured, as what would take place at the same precise epoch, Christ’s own opening to the world of that forbidden book of God,— his revival of that forbidden gospel preaching,— his exposure of Antichrist, as even then alive in the Popes,— and revelation too (so far as man might know it) of the time of the fated judgment, as involving the Papal destruction, and placed at but one Apocalyptic Trumpet’s interval from the chronological epoch of the intervention here symbolized.— All these things, I say, were foreshadowed in the vision before us: and in the Protestant Reformation all these things, as we shall see, were done.”
Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1965, pp. 720-721
The CAPS for emphasis are in the original.
“In chapter 5 it was a Sealed Book. Here it is an Open Book. The Open Book is one of the messages of the Sealed Book, for it appears under the Sixth Trumpet, which came out of the Seventh Seal. . .
“But, in addition to this, may it not be that the ‘Little Book OPEN,’ itself, in its very phraseology, coming, as it does, just before the Seventh Trumpet, may have been a symbolic hint that there would be an Era of The OPEN BOOK just preceding the End of the World?
“If so, it exactly fits in with the course of History. Strange as it may seem, the Church, in the Middle Ages, TOOK THE BIBLE FROM THE PEOPLE.
“But the Protestant Reformation, under the leadership of Martin Luther, RESTORED THE BIBLE TO THE PEOPLE. And the Invention of Printing, about that time, contributed greatly toward making it a Book of the People. And Modern History has been an Era of the OPEN BOOK, in a sense never before known. . .”
We’ve all seen that in our own time the Bible has been attacked constantly, not only as before by being kept from people, but by having its authority and trustworthiness undermined in every evil way that man can invent.