The Revelation of John: Chapter 11 – The Two Witnesses

24 Jul

I am continuing on with Revelation. In this series I have been comparing John’s vision with books with similar prophecies, such as Daniel, as well as section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which gives interpretations to a selected portion of the images of the Revelation. I also rely heavily on the Joseph Smith Translation (JST – given in red).

See also chapter one,  two, three, four, five, first five seals, Sixth Seal I, Sixth Seal II, Seventh Seal Opens, First Four Trumpets, Fifth Trumpet, Sixth Trumpet, Ten

Two Witnesses

Chapter 11

This chapter continues the sixth trumpet and takes us to the battle of Armageddon. There are a few things that John tells us.

Verses 1-2

John is given a reed and told to “measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. 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.”

So, during the battle the temple (which will be rebuilt in Jerusalem) will be protected by God, but the outer court and the city will be given over to the army to destroy. Note that this battle and destruction will last 42 months, or three and a half years.

In the rest of the sixth trumpet is a description of two witnesses, that are called to minister to the Jews at the time of this battle. There are many important things to note about these two witnesses.

God “will give power” to them (v 3) In other words, they will have the Priesthood
they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days” (v 3) The Hebrew calendar has thirty days in each month, making 360 days a year. Thus, 1260 days equal 3.5 years. So, these two prophets will be prophecying during the same period as the battle of Armageddon.
They are “clothed in sackcloth.” (v 3) A symbol of trials and suffering, indicating that the ministry of these men is filled with suffering.
fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies” (v 5) Elijah called down fire from Heaven to kill the soldiers sent to take him, and I think this is speaking of similar miracles. Their words will hold such power that they can literally call down fire to kill any who seek to harm them.
They “have power to shut heaven” to “turn [water] to blood” and to “smite the earth with all plagues” (v 6) This is the sealing power that was wielded in the past by such prophets as Moses and Elijah. Thus we will see again such great miracles as were seen in the past.
They can use this power “as often as they will.” (v 6) This shows that God has complete confidence that they will not abuse this power. It reminds me of Nephi in the Book of Mormon.

Besides this verse 4 says “These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.”

This is a reference back to Zechariah 4: 3, 11-14 in which Zechariah sees two olive trees that are described as “the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” John would have been familiar with this prophecy, and thus God is telling him that this is when it would be fulfilled.

Just who are these witnesses. In D&C 77: 15 we are told “They are two prophets” sent to the Jews “in the last days.” They are “to prophesy to the Jews after they are gathered and have built the city of Jerusalem in the land of their fathers.”

I am inclined to believe these will be two of the Apostles, which is a calling to be a special witness of Christ. It is possible they will be serving in the First Presidency at the time of these events.

Whoever they are John next sees the events surrounding these witnesses. What he describes is in turn horrible, comic, and glorious.

The horrible part is not just that they are killed (v 7), but even more than this. The bodies are left in the street for the people to see and mutilate (v 9). Notice also that this will occur in Jerusalem (where Christ was crucified, v 8), a city that was once dedicated to the Lord.

The comedy is the reaction of the great army that fought against the city while these two protected it. They proclaim a holiday and even exchange gifts in celebration of the death (v 10).

The glory is in their resurrection, for after three and a half days they will rise again (v 11) and shall ascend up to heaven in a cloud (v 12). The army will see this (v 12) and be filled with fear (v 11).

After the Two Witness the sixth trump ends with this.

Verses 13-14

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.

Men seem to finally be recognizing that God is behind all that has been happening. Yet, it is still not the end, for verse 14 tells us “The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.” So there is one last tribulation that the world must endure.

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