Two Witnesses Slain

SYNOPSIS – Hated by the impenitent, the “inhabitants of the earth” rejoice over the deaths of the two witnesses - Revelation 11:8-14

Wanderlust - Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash
The “second woe” does not end or the “third woe” begin until the mission of the "two witnesses" is completed, just as John was told after he had received the “little scroll" from the mighty angel. Moreover, the completion of their testimony means their deaths at the hands of the "beast from the Abyss" - (Revelation 10:7 – “
It behooves you to prophesy against peoples and nations and tongues, and many kings”). - [Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash].

Only when the word of their “testimony” is finished do final victory and judgment unfold. But the completion of the task also means the ascent of the Beast from the Abyss. This may correspond to the loosing of Satan from the Abyss at the end of the thousand years when he launches a war against the saints (Revelation 11:14-19, 20:7-10).
  • (Revelation 11:8-10) - “And their dead bodies [lie] upon the broad-way of the great city, the which is called spiritually, Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord also was crucified. And [some] of the peoples, and tribes, and tongues, and nations see their dead bodies three days and a half; and their dead bodies do they not suffer to be put into a tomb. And the inhabitants of the earth rejoice over them and make merry and send gifts to one another — because these two prophets tormented them that were dwelling upon the earth.
Spiritually called Sodom and Egypt.” Neither the language nor the geographical location is literal. “Spiritually” signifies either a metaphorical or allegorical application. For that matter, Egypt was a nation, not a city. The identifications with “Sodom” and “Egypt” provide background from the story of Israel and her exodus from Egypt, the same backstory for the “seven trumpets.”

Where the Lord was crucified.” Jesus was killed outside the walls of Jerusalem by Roman authorities. Elsewhere, Revelation declares that all the shed blood of the prophets, saints, and of all that were “slain upon the earth” was found in “Babylon,” the end-time world city, and this “city” is populated by the “inhabitants of the earth” - (Revelation 18:24).

The great city fell.” The term “great” identifies the city – Repeatedly in Revelation, “Babylon” is called the “great city,” and one that is destined to “fall.” “Babylon” is being contrasted with the “holy city” that was “trampled underfoot by the nations” during the “forty-two months”:
  • Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city” – (Revelation 11:2, 14:8, 14:20, 16:19, 17:18, 18:16-21).
The “trampling” of the “holy city” is the same as the “war” of the “beast” against the “two witnesses.” The “witnesses” are the “holy city” that was “cast outside to be trampled underfoot.”

The residents of the “great city” rejoice over the deaths of the “witnesses” because they “tormented the inhabitants of the earth.” The same verb rendered “torment” here was used in the fifth trumpet when it was given to the locusts to “torment the inhabitants of the earth five months” - (Revelation 9:5).

The “witnesses” were “prophets” sent to “prophesy” to the “inhabitants of the earth.” This they did until they “finished their testimony.” Previously, John was told:
  • In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he begins to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, just he declared to his prophets” (Revelation 10:7).
Their “body,” singular, lies unburied for “three days and a half.” Presumably, the timeframe echoes the three-days Jesus spent in the grave before his resurrection. The life and death of the “two witnesses” emulates the life and death of the “Lamb.”

City Clouds - Photo by David Pineda on Unsplash
City Clouds - Photo by David Pineda on Unsplash

And they that dwell on the earth rejoice over them and make merry.” The same idea appeared at the end of the sixth trumpet when the “rest of men not killed by these plagues repented not.” Rather than repent in response to the word, the inhabitants of the earth rejoiced over their deaths - (Revelation 9:20).
  • (Revelation 11:11-13) - “And after [the] three days and a half, a spirit of life from God entered within them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them who were beholding them. And they heard a loud voice out of heaven, saying unto them — Come up hither! And they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them. And in that hour, there came to be a great earthquake; and the tenth of the city fell, and there were slain in the earthquake names of men — seven thousand. And the rest became greatly afraid and gave glory unto the God of heaven.”
The narrative now pulls together the threads from the stories of Egypt, Elijah, and the entry of Israel into Canaan, but in an ironic fashion. In the tenth plague of Egypt, the angel of death killed the firstborn throughout the land, but now, it is the corpse of the “two witnesses” that lies dead throughout the “great city,” which is spiritually called “Egypt” - (Exodus 11:1-10).

Before Israel left Egypt, the Egyptians gave them gifts of gold and jewels; now, in the “great city,” residents exchange gifts and rejoice over the deaths of the “witnesses.”

When he complained of his isolation, Yahweh told Elijah that He had reserved seven thousand men who had not “bowed the knee to Baal.” Now, when a tenth of the “great city” falls, seven thousand men are killed, but the rest become fearful and give glory to God.

Elisha witnessed Elijah taken up into heaven, cried out, then saw him no more, whereas, when the “inhabitants of the earth” see the “witnesses” raised to heaven, they give glory to God - (1 Kings 19:18, 2 Kings 2:11).

Israel’s conquest of Jericho is behind the image of the city’s fall, imagery hinted at with the commencement of the seven trumpet blasts. Israel was commanded to march around the city once each day for six days. On the seventh day, Israel marched around Jericho seven times, the priests blew their horns, the people shouted, and the “wall of the city shall fall down flat” - (Joshua 6:1-10).

The fall of the “great” end-time city parallels the “seventh bowl of wrath.” When the seventh bowl was poured out, a great earthquake divided “the great city, Babylon the great” into three parts, the cities of the world fell, and great hailstones fell on men, causing them to blaspheme God - (Revelation 16:17-21).
  • (Revelation 11:14) – “The second Woe is past, behold, the third Woe comes quickly.”
The “second woe” has come to an end; the stage is set for the final trumpet blast that culminates in the victory of the kingdom of God over the kingdoms of the earth. The Tabernacle that was measured and sealed from the outside world, is about to appear again, only now opened for all to behold - (Revelation 11:15-19).

Very graphically, the vision of the “two witnesses” presents what happens when the “holy city” is delivered over to be “trampled underfoot” by the “nations.” The “witnesses” engage humanity with their prophetic testimony, which “torments” everyone who does not repent. Though hated and persecuted by the “inhabitants of the earth,” the “witnesses” are protected from destruction until they complete their ministry, and the “beast” is released to “slay them.” The world rejoices over their destruction; however, God intervenes to vindicate the “witnesses” and use their martyrdom in an ironic fashion to conquer end-time “Babylon.”



 

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