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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

August 27, 2014

Revelations 11:7-14

  1. Recap. Over the last several weeks we have challenged many of the “popular” views on the book of Revelations. We have tried to demonstrate that many of these views are born from bad teaching, tradition, or even deception. One of the main issues that helps people understand the book of Revelations, is the knowledge of when it was written. Many try to say it was written after 70 AD, but a date prior to 70 AD is more consistent with the evidence in the book itself. When we have the correct date things fall right into place. The error many make is that they assume that most of the things are in our future, and not our past. The events were in the future for the readers 2000 years ago, but many of those events are in our past. With the correct dates in hand and an understanding of the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD we can really study this book properly. Another issue that is extremely important and it is covered in this chapter is the idea that God is moving from the physical to the spiritual. Verse 1 and verse 19 demonstrate this so clear. In verse 1 the writer is told to measure the physical temple, but in verse 19 the temple is seen as opening in heaven. The theological understanding that believers need to have is that God ended the earthly system to inaugurate the heavenly system. The earthly temple system was just a precursor or sign representing the heavenly system (see Hebrews 10: 9-13).

  2. On last week we look at several scriptures that showed us that the “two witnesses” were really the message of repentance and faith in God that the Law and the Prophets have always testified about throughout the ages. The message of the Law and the Prophets was fulfilled in the message of Christ. The two witnesses represented the preaching of the gospel that was going on in the time prior to and during the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman Empire. Now John will describe the fact that the faithful disciples of the Lord would indeed face persecution from the invading nation/Roman Empire along with the judgment that would come on the nation of Israel.

  3. Verse7. John begins to reference the beast. The beast that rises from the abyss will make war with the two witnesses, conquers them, and kills them. In Revelation 9 we read the locusts being released from the abyss and identified the locusts as the Roman Empire. Now this Roman Empire is described as a beast. Revelation 13 will reveal why the beast imagery is used and we will look at those details when we get to that chapter. For now we simply need to see the Roman Empire as the beast that is the one desolating the Jewish nation. In the desolation of the Jewish nation, the prophets, apostles, and proclaimers of God’s word are going to be killed as well.

  4. Verse 8. When the Romans invaded Judea, they desolated over 980 towns, including the great city of Jerusalem. Their bodies are going to lie in the street of the great city that is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. A couple translations read that the great city is “symbolically called Sodom and Egypt” (ESV, NET). Some translations read “figuratively called Sodom and Egypt” (TNIV, NIV, NLT). A couple translations read “prophetically” (HCSB, NRSV). The NASB reads, “Mystically.” The Greek word pneumatikos means spiritually. The spiritual condition of the city is in view. It is not a mystical statement or a prophetic statement. The city in view has the spiritual lack as the city of Sodom and the nation of Egypt. Which city is in view? Which city is deserving of judgment because of their sins? It is the city where their Lord was crucified. The beast is destroying Jerusalem and in the process the two witnesses are also killed. This is not the first time in scriptures that the physical nation of Israel has been spiritually equated with Sodom and Egypt. Israel is identified spiritually with Sodom in Isaiah 1:9-10, Jeremiah 23:14, and Ezekiel 16:46-49. Israel was also spiritually identified with Egypt in Ezekiel 23 and Jeremiah 9:26. Notice a couple verses in Ezekiel 23 to see this spiritual identification. In Ezekiel 23:4 we are told that the prophecy is against Samaria and Jerusalem, representing both the northern and southern nations of the divided kingdom of Israel. Thus, Ezekiel prophesied God’s word in (Ezekiel 23:18–20 ESV). The prophets spoke of how Israel was returning to its idolatrous ways as they had practiced when they were in Egypt.

  5. Verses 9-10. The beast is killing the witnesses, that is, the Romans are killing the apostles and those proclaiming God’s word. People from all the nations will gloat over the death of these Christians, refusing to even allow a proper burial for them. For a dead body to lie in view was considered the worst humiliation a person could suffer from his enemies (Psalm 79:3-4). Let us not forget that Christians are not only dying in the great tribulation as the Romans attacked Judea, but Christians are dying throughout the Roman Empire under the rule of Nero. During the years of 66-70 AD is when the apostle Peter and the apostle Paul were killed by Nero. It is during this time that Nero is dipping Christians in wax and lighting them on fire so he could see his gardens. It is during this time that Christians are being dressed in animal clothing to be chased and torn apart by animals for sport. The world has no love for Christians during these years. Revelation 11 is describing all the events that are going on as the physical Jewish nation is receiving its judgment. Killing Christians was no big deal to the world. The ungodly rejoice at seeing the death of God’s people and God’s apostles because they preached to the world a risen Savior who would return in judgment against those who do not repent.

  6. Verses 11-12 reinforce the message of hope for those who overcome. In Revelation 7 we saw the people of God sealed. Though they are killed they are shown standing before the throne, with the Lamb, receiving white robes of victory. The victory is pictured again. The beast is killing the apostles and those who are proclaiming the message of the Law and the prophets. But these slain people of God are pictured as resurrected. They ascend to heaven in a cloud just as Jesus ascended when he went back to the Father in heaven. The word of the Lord is not dead. The word of the Lord is not extinguished or silenced. God’s word continues to be proclaimed. Christianity was not extinguished and those who were killed are victorious as they go up to heaven. Even though the church was highly persecuted, the church grew greater after the persecution like never before.

  7. Verses 13-14. The earthquake (symbolical destruction by Rome) is a further sign of God’s vindication of his servants who proclaim the word of the Lord. Just as the great earthquake that occurred at the death of Jesus was God’s vindicating act of Jesus and a message of judgment to the earth, so also this earthquake for the two witnesses. A tenth of the city falls and seven thousand people are killed. For a tenth of the city to fall leading to the death of seven thousand shows that this is a smaller city being judged. The population of the city of Rome in the first century is estimated to be about 5 million people. The population of Jerusalem in the first century is estimated to be about 70,000 to 100,000. The imagery fits the capture of the city of Jerusalem. Part of the city falls as Rome surrounds Jerusalem. Part of the city was conquered, the part called the newer city that was outside the second wall but inside the third wall. Now the hysteria within Jerusalem begins as the siege wall is built and Jerusalem is about to fall. The people begin to cry out to God in their terror. However, it is too late. The second woe has passed. There is one more woe that is soon to come.

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