Greetings! This is the third post in a five-part series on the two witnesses in Revelation chapter 11. In the last post, we talked about the temple of time and the two olive trees. In this post, we’re going to talk about the power of the two witnesses and how the beast finally kills them at the end of their ministry. It’s very fascinating. Keep reading.
Revelation Chapters 10 and 11
Third in a Five-Part Series
By Karen Thompson
The Power of the Two Witnesses
Rev. 11:5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. 6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. (Rev. 11:5–6)
In verse three, we were told the two witnesses would be given power. Now here in verses 5–6, we are told exactly what kind of power the two witnesses will have. First of all, their power will be four-fold. Verse five tells us what the first power will be: “fire proceeds from their mouths and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner” (NKJV). Oh my! They are able to direct fire out of their mouths toward anyone that tries to harm them. Is this real fire or is this symbolism like the doubled-edged sword coming out of Jesus’ mouth? Again, this is something we won’t know for sure until it actually happens.
Who knows, maybe the fire might actually be seen in the realm of the spirit. But, nevertheless, death to all those who try to harm the two witnesses will be the result of this power. In fact, let’s look more closely at the last part of that verse: “he must be killed in this manner.” Anyone that tries to harm them “must” be killed in this manner.
Then in verse six, we are told what their other three powers will be: “These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire” (NKJV). The second power they will have is the ability to “shut heaven,” meaning they will be able to prevent rain from falling during the entire length of “their prophecy,” which means the length of their ministry of three and one-half years. No rain falling for three and one-half years will result in terrible drought. No rain, no crops. No crops, no food. No food equals famine.
Thirdly, they will have power to turn water into blood. This is interesting. It’s a repeat of one of the trumpet judgments. So in addition to being able to prevent the rain from falling, they will have the ability to turn what water is available into blood, causing an even greater need for water. The lack of water will be on a crisis level.
And, fourthly, they will have power to “smite the earth” with whatever kind of plague they want, whenever they want. We aren’t told what kind of plagues they will inflict, and we’re not told reasons why they would inflict them. It just simply says they can inflict whatever kind of plague they want. So it could cover a broad number of things. If these plagues will be similar to Old Testament plagues, then we could expect, perhaps, the plagues that came upon Egypt. In addition to the water sources turning into blood, there were also plagues of lice, grasshoppers, frogs everywhere, swarms of flies, a pestilence that killed all the livestock, boils that broke out on skin, locusts that ate all the vegetation, hail that destroyed their crops. Those are the plagues that came upon Egypt, but perhaps the two witnesses might want to mix it up and try something different. Who knows?
In summary, the four-fold power of the two witnesses will be 1) fire coming out of their mouths, 2) turning water into blood, 3) stopping the rain from falling, and 4) an assortment of plagues. Many questions arise when trying to imagine what these powers will look like. Again, these are things we won’t know until they actually happen.
Let’s think for a moment about the magnitude of what it means that God will give the two witnesses these powers. They are extraordinary powers, and they’re powers with which present-day ministers are not equipped. But the fact that God will equip the two witnesses with these powers tells us something about their task, or calling, as ministers. One thing we know about God is that when He calls someone to stand in a particular office and appoints him to fulfill a particular task, He will provide the anointing and equipping that is both needed and appropriate in order for him to fulfill his task. The fact that the Lord will equip these two witnesses with these extraordinary powers in order for them to complete their prophetic ministry tells us that the opposition to their ministry will also be extraordinary. Think of what that means! Their situation and surroundings in which they will minister will be dangerous—so dangerous that they will need fire to come forth from their mouths! On a regular basis, they will have enemies that will try to kill them.
Indeed, they will face opposition that no minister on earth has ever faced before. And when you see what comes to earth when the seventh angel blows his trumpet, you will fully understand why He will equip them with these extraordinary powers.
Let’s review what we know so far. John was told to measure the temple of God, the altar, and them that worship therein. We can deduce that the two witnesses will do their preaching and ministering inside the temple. John was told not to measure the court that was outside the temple because that was going to be given to the Gentiles, that they would tread underfoot the holy city, Jerusalem, for 42 months (three and one-half years). The Gentiles being referred to here will be Antichrist and his army when they invade Jerusalem in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week. In spite of Antichrist’s army being present in Jerusalem, people will still go to the temple to worship. Remember, John measured the people that worship in the temple, so I’m confident that means anyone wanting to worship God in the temple and to receive the ministry of the two prophets will be supernaturally protected. John measured them. The Gentiles will not be allowed to trample them under foot.
When Antichrist invades Jerusalem, he will be able to go anywhere in the city except the temple. It will be off limits to him. Of course, that doesn’t mean he’s not going to try to go into the temple. There will, most likely, be an all-out attempt to stop the two witnesses preaching about God. The intention will be to kill them. How many attempts will be made against their lives? Monthly? Weekly? Daily? Multiple times a day? Whatever the case may be, that is why God will give them the powers that they will have. Anyone that tries to kill them must be killed with fire that comes out of their mouths. The prophets can punish them by turning their water into blood, stopping the rain from falling, and sending whatever plague they want. Antichrist and those aligned with him will surely suffer at the hands of the two witnesses.
The Beast Kills the Two Witnesses
Rev. 11:7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. 8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. 9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. 10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
These next four verses of chapter 11 tell us how the ministry of the two witnesses comes to an end. It is a violent end. Verse seven begins to tell us of their demise: “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.” The phrase “when they have finished their testimony,” is referring to the two witnesses completing the task God had given them to do. When they have finished their testimony, they will have fulfilled their ministry assignments. As noted earlier, their ministry will be to prophesy in the temple for 1,230 days, which is 42 months or three and one-half years. When the two witnesses die, it will be at the end of Daniel’s 70th week.
Who Is the Beast?
When the full 1,230 days of ministry has come to an end, it says “the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them.” Who is the beast? The beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit is the beast first introduced to us in Revelation chapter nine. If you recall, at the start of the chapter, John described seeing a star fall from heaven and the star was given a key. The star, of course, was an angel. The angel was given the key to the bottomless pit; when he opened the pit, it would bring forth the second “woe.” Out of the pit came swarms of horse-like locusts, which immediately went forth to sting anyone that did not have the seal of God. The locusts had a king over them. His name was given to us in two languages: his name in Hebrew is Abaddon; his name in Greek is Apollyon (Rev. 9:11). Apollyon is the beast from the bottomless pit that will make war with the two witnesses. There is more information about the beast that will unfold in the following chapters.
The Beast Wages War Against the Two Witnesses
The last part of verse seven goes on to say that the beast “shall make war against them, shall overcome them, and kill them.” This is the interesting part of verse seven. To learn more about the details of this war, we have to jump forward to chapter 17. At this point, it would be confusing to give all the details of the war relayed to us in chapter 17. For now, just a couple of details will provide illumination as to the circumstances of the death of the two witnesses.
Right at the end of Daniel’s 70th week, there will be ten kings of the Middle East that give their authority to the beast: “These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast” (Rev. 17:13). In Revelation 17:16, it says these ten kings hate Jerusalem “and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.” The beast will lead these ten kings in a coalition attack against Jerusalem.
The reason for their hatred of Jerusalem will be largely due to the two witnesses who will have been tormenting them with agonizing plagues, turning their water into blood, stopping the rain, and the like. No doubt, they will have been trying to get rid of the two witnesses the whole length of their ministry. As it says in verse 10, “these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.” These nations will come to a place where they can’t take it anymore and will join forces to make an all-out effort to get rid of their tormenters. Together with Antichrist, they will invade Jerusalem and set her on fire. It’s in this war waged against Jerusalem when the two witnesses will be killed. But they will only be able to kill the two witnesses when they have completed their full 1,230 days years of ministry.
The Two Witnesses Lie Dead in the Street
Now let’s look at verse eight: “And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” Notice that it says the bodies of the two witnesses will lie in the street. They are not in the temple. They are in the street where everyone can see them. One wonders, were they in the street when they were killed? Just because their bodies are in the street, doesn’t necessarily mean they were killed in the street. They might have been killed somewhere else and their bodies were then dumped in the street. All we know for sure is that their bodies somehow end up lying out in the open on the street for all to see. And it’s the plan of God for their dead bodies to lie out in the open for all to see.
Jerusalem, the Great City, Is Called Sodom and Egypt
Now let’s look at the last part of verse eight. It says their bodies will lie in the street “of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” There are a few things to point out in this phrase. Their bodies will lie out in the open on a street in the “great city.” The great city is described as being “where also our Lord was crucified.” There is no mystery as to what city this is. Obviously, we’re speaking of Jerusalem.
It’s important to note that the two witnesses will not be itinerant ministers, meaning they will not travel from city to city in Israel. Their entire ministry will be in Jerusalem. For the entire three and one-half years, they will minister in the temple. If people want to hear them preach, they will have to come to the temple in Jerusalem. John measured the temple, the altar, and the people that worship in the temple. This is the area assigned to the two witnesses, where they will minister the entire length of their ministry.
Lastly, let’s consider the names John called Jerusalem: “The great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt.” Why did John call Jerusalem something other than its real name? The reason John is calling Jerusalem the names Sodom and Egypt is because they are “spiritual” names. He actually says so in the phrase “which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt.” The ancient city of Sodom and the nation of Egypt were well known for their acts of carnal sin and spiritual idolatry. Calling Jerusalem by the names of Sodom and Egypt is to acknowledge the city’s carnal and sinful condition.
This isn’t the first time Jerusalem was called Sodom. The prophet Isaiah called Jerusalem’s rulers and citizens the names Sodom and Gomorrah to reflect their sinful condition. Isaiah was speaking to the people of Jerusalem and said, “Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah” (Isa. 1:10) He called the rulers of Jerusalem “rulers of Sodom” and the citizens, “ye people of Gomorrah.” Isaiah called them the names of Sodom and Gomorrah to symbolize their sinful condition. In the same way, John called Jerusalem the names Sodom and Egypt to reflect the spiritual condition of the city and the people. They were full of sin—just like Sodom and Egypt were full of sin.
Nations Will Watch and Rejoice
Verses nine and ten tell us about the initial aftermath of the death of the two witnesses. Verse nine starts out saying, “And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies….” It says the “people,” and “kindreds,” and “tongues,” and “nations” will see the dead bodies of the two witnesses. Notice how mankind is divided into four categories: people (or people group), kindred (the tribe they come from), tongues (the language they spoke), nations (the country they come from). We see a similar classification in Genesis 10:5: “By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.” Only in Genesis and Revelation is mankind divided into four classifications.
The rest of verse nine goes on to say, “And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.” All these different people groups from various nations will see the dead bodies of the two witnesses lying dead in the street. For three and one-half days, the two witnesses are left on the street out in the open. Because of today’s technology, the whole world will be able to see the two witnesses lying dead on the street.
Verse 10 tells us how the people respond to the death of the witnesses: “And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.” The phrase “they that dwell upon the earth” does not mean all the people in the whole world. The word translated as earth is the Greek word “ge,” and as discussed earlier, it can be translated simply as land, or the whole earth, or a country, or a territory, or region. The King James Bible translators translated this verse to sound as though everyone on the earth will rejoice over the death of the two witnesses. But that is not the case. It’s referring to the nations that joined together with Antichrist, the beast, in their attack on Jerusalem. It will be the nations the two witnesses afflicted with plagues. They are the ones that are being talked about here. Anyway, these nations will “rejoice over them,” meaning they rejoice at the death of the two witnesses. So much so that they “make merry,” meaning they rejoice and celebrate at their deaths. They are so happy that they send gifts to one another.
Why do they rejoice? The last part of verse 10 tells us: “because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.” Obviously, the two prophets tormented them with the power the Lord gave them—1) fire from their mouths to kill anyone that tried to harm them, 2) turning water into blood, 3) stopping the rain from falling, and 4) an assortment of plagues. Because these different people groups that spoke different languages from different nations were all rejoicing over their deaths, that gives us a clue as to how far reaching the power of the two witnesses extended. Most likely, their powers will extend only to the nations of the Middle East. If you recall, when the fourth seal was opened, it brought forth death, but it would be concentrated in that one-fourth part of the world.
The Resurrection and Rapture of the Two Witnesses
Rev. 11:11 And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. 12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. 13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
The joyful victory over the two witnesses will be short lived. Verse 11 tells us what happens to the dead bodies of the two witnesses after three and one-half days: “And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet…” After three and one-half days, the celebration of the deaths of the two witnesses will come to a screeching halt. God will cause life to come back into their bodies, and they will stand on their feet. Literally, they are resurrected from the dead.
All the rejoicing and gift sending will come to an end. When the two witnesses are resurrected, the rest of verse 11 says, “and great fear fell upon them which saw them.” It’s not every day you see corpses that have been lying out in the open for three and one-half days being resurrected from the dead. Just seeing dead bodies come back to life is enough to scare anyone, but these two bodies brought back to life are their worst enemies. Yes, of course, they will quake with fear.
Just as the two witnesses stand to their feet, they hear a voice from heaven which tells them to “Come up hither” (v. 12). The last half of verse 12 says, “And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.” When they were resurrected, the two witnesses didn’t continue to torment Antichrist and his associates. Their ministry had come to an end, meaning it was completed. The Lord raptured them out of the earth.
A Great Earthquake Takes Place
Now let’s look at verse 13: “And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.” Within an hour of the two witnesses ascending up to heaven in a cloud, an earthquake takes place in Jerusalem.
At the time of this earthquake, Jerusalem will have experienced an attack by Antichrist and his ten-nation coalition with the city having been set on fire. So when this earthquake takes place, Jerusalem will already be in ruins. On top of the ravages of war, the earthquake will cause a tenth part of the city to fall resulting in 7,000 people being killed.
Remember, when the two witnesses die, it will be at the end of Daniel’s 70th week. This earthquake is most likely the earthquake we read about in Revelation 16:17–21 where the “great city,” which is Jerusalem, is split into three parts. At the time of the earthquake in Revelation chapter 16, great hail will fall out of heaven. The hail will be so large that each one will weigh a talent. Commentaries vary greatly on how much a talent would weigh, but it is somewhere between 57 and 100 pounds!
Let’s look at the last part of verse 13: “the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.” The word remnant refers to the Jewish people. When the Bible talks about the remnant, it’s always talking about the Jewish people. Like everyone else, they will be frightened at what is happening, but they will be aware that it is God Himself pouring out His wrath upon Antichrist’s kingdom. Most likely, those Jewish people who give glory to God will be those who went to the temple during the three and one-half years while the two witnesses were ministering in the temple. They will recognize the fact that God is “roaring” at His enemies, and they will glorify God because of it.
There is one final thing to be said about the two witnesses. I want to draw your attention to the fact that the Lord, again, took one element out of the events of Daniel’s 70th week and told us its beginning and end. We are told of the beginning of the ministry of the two witnesses all the way through to their very end when they were killed and then resurrected. Nowhere else in the book of Revelation will you read about the two witnesses, and yet, we know they will have significant interactions with Antichrist, the false prophet, and the nations aligned with them. God knows the beginning and end of all things, and that’s how He conveys information, by telling us the beginning and end of each element.
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