Revelation 11 – The Temple and Two Witnesses
Chapter eleven is yet another parenthetical chapter of a scene in heaven and filling in details of the tribulation on earth. It doesn’t advance the narrative. John is given a measuring rod and commanded to measure the temple of God, the altar, and the worshipers. The outer court, however, was to be left out because it was given to the Gentiles and the holy city was to be trodden under foot forty-two months or three and a half years. Then he’s told of the two witnesses who have power like that of Moses and Elijah.
They will prophecy for 1,260 days or three and a half years. At the end of the three and a half years the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit kills them and their dead bodies lie in the streets three and a half days. Those on earth rejoice over their demise because of the judgments they brought upon the earth. At the end of three and a half days, the Spirit of Life from God enters them and they’re resurrected and ascend into heaven in the sight of the entire world.
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An Angel, the Temple, and a Measuring Rod
Revelation 11:1 – “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.”
- An angel. “The angel stood saying.” This isn’t in some manuscripts. It very possibly could be the voice of God.
- The temple. The temple on earth must be rebuilt and worship reestablished in the temple in Jerusalem. At the beginning of the tribulation period the Antichrist makes a treaty or covenant with Israel. At which time he allows them to rebuild the temple and restore the sacrificial system.
There’s a problem with this according to some because of the Muslim’s Dome of the Rock being on the temple mount. How can the temple be rebuilt with it there? Some, more radical orthodox Jews, hold there must be a holy war between the Jews and Muslims with Israel prevailing in order to rebuild the temple on that spot. This, however, would bring major disruptions in the entire Middle East, much more than there is now or ever has been. It would be a holy war.
Another view is that of Asher Selig Kaufman (1925–2015), a British researcher from Edinburgh, Scotland. He joined the Hebrew University physics faculty in 1959. After the Six-Day War in 1967, when the Temple Mount became available for investigation by Israelis he devoted himself to identifying the exact location of the Temple that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, as well as the earlier Temple built by King Solomon and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC.
Both him and Asher Kaufman, a professor at Notre Dame, hold that Solomon’s Temple stood just north of the Dome of the Rock, in the northern portion of the Temple Mount, with the Holy of Holies situated on the Dome of the Spirits or Tablets. If the temple were to be rebuilt there it would be a peaceful solution leaving the Dome of the Rock in the area of the outer court or the court of the Gentiles. I personally believe their view will prevail. This makes sense seeing the Antichrist comes on the scene initially bringing peace.
- A measuring rod. This reed or measuring rod was approximately 10-12 feet. The significance of this is that man doesn’t measure up. Even though they were worshiping they still fall short. There’s not a one of us who measures up to God’s standard. The goal is, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). None of us are perfect when standing before a holy God. That’s why Jesus came to die on the cross and shed His precious blood as payment for our sins. Thus, making it possible for us to stand before a holy God in Jesus’ righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).
- A falling away. An apostasy will take place prior to our Lord’s return. This is, without a doubt, happening in the day in which we live. In a day of seeker friendly churches, Weak Watered Down Preaching, and Milk Toast Preachers we see this apostasy taking place like at no other time. Thus, one requirement that must take place before the return of Jesus for His people is being fulfilled before our eyes.
- The man of sin be revealed. I respect my pretribulation rapture brethren and hope they are correct. However, it seems to be clear from these scriptures that the rapture cannot take place until the Antichrist, the son of perdition, breaks his covenant with Israel by sitting in the temple and demanding worship as God. This has been his desire from the very beginning, to “be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:12-14). At which time the Jews will recognize they have been deceived and flee to a place of hiding prepared by God for them. “Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains” (Matthew 24:16). Many believe this will be Petra.
- Two groups. There are some who believe these to be two groups, the church and Israel. If this is so then the rapture will not take place until near the end of the tribulation period. Thus being either a prewrath or post tribulation rapture. This seems unlikely as scripture here seems to point clearly to two individuals.
- Elijah. If these are individuals, which is more probable, one of them would definitely be Elijah. We know this from two passages, one in the Old Testament and the other in the New Testament. He was one that appeared to Jesus, Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration. They saw Jesus in His future glory where His eternal divinity and Son-ship broke forth through the veil of His flesh.
Malachi 4:5 – “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”
Matthew 17:1-8 – “Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with Him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.
- Moses. Many are convinced it to be Moses primarily because he was the one who stood with Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration. Also because the signs these two prophets perform are similar to that of Moses and Elijah.
- Enoch. A lot think it’s Elijah and Enoch because neither one of them died. Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind to heaven. Enoch walked with God and by faith was translated that he should not taste death. Therefore both of them would yet have to experience death.
2 Kings 2:11-12 – “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more.”
Hebrews 11:5 – “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”
Hebrews 9:27 – “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”
- The Apostle John. Others have gone so far as to think one of these two witnesses will be the Apostle John. This is because he was told he must yet prophesy before many peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations.
Revelation 10:11 – “And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.”
- The beast. This is the first reference to the beast. There are three different beasts referred to in Revelation (the unholy trinity). The devil always attempts to counterfeit God.
- The beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit. This is none other than Satan himself. This is a counterfeit of God the Father. He wants to be like God but can never be God. He’s is called “god of the world” in 2 Corinthians 4:4, “prince of this world” in John 14:30 and “prince of the power of the air” in Ephesians 2:2.
- The beast of the sea. “I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy” (Revelation 13:1). This is the Antichrist or world dictator and a counterfeit of Jesus.
- The beast of the earth. “I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon” (Revelation 13:11). This is the false prophet or world religious leader and mimics the Holy Spirit.
- The Great city. “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.” This is undoubtedly a reference to Jerusalem. After the Antichrist kills them their disdain for them is manifest, in that, their dead bodies lie in the streets and they refuse to give them the dignity of a burial.
- Indestructible until their purpose is fulfilled. “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.” Satan had no power over them until God was finished with them. God will not let anything happen to us until we have finished what He has for us. The key is we must pursue His will and purpose for our lives. As long as we do we’re indestructible. Once He’s finished with us He’ll take us home with Him.
The Outer Court
Revelation 11:2 – “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.”
The outer court was to be left out because it was given to the Gentiles and the holy city was to be trodden under foot forty-two months or three and a half years. The Antichrist makes a peace accord with Israel at the beginning of the seven year tribulation period. In the middle of the week (week of years) he breaks the covenant by sitting in the temple and demanding worship. At which time he sets out on a campaign of persecution against the Jews. At this time he’ll cause their sacrificial worship to cease.
Daniel 9:27 – “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
Matthew 24:15, 29-31 – “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:). Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
2 Thessalonians 2:1-5 – “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
From these passages it appears that the rapture of the church transpires somewhere after this time. Notice, Paul says, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
Two things must happened before the rapture, “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him” can take place.
The Two Witnesses
Revelation 11:3 – “And I will give power unto My two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.”
From the context, their ministry seems to take place during the second half of the seven year tribulation period. They will prophecy for 1,260 days or three and a half years. The Lord gives them power and authority like that of the prophets of old. There has been much speculation as to who these two prophets are. Only God knows for sure. For the purpose of this study we’ll share the different views so you can decide for yourself. No matter who they are they’re anointed with power from on high.
The identity of the two witnesses:
The others are left up to debate. Many have good reasons why they believe who the other one is.
The Anointing of the Two Witnesses
Revelation 11:4 – “These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.”
These two witnesses are endued with power from on high by the Spirit of God. They are anointed with the Holy Spirit like the prophets of old and the holy apostles. Signs and wonders are wrought by and through them and displayed for all the world to see. Even at this mankind fails to repent and turn their lives over to the Lord and submit to Him. This verse is a reference to a vision Zechariah, the high priest, had.
Zechariah 4:1-6 – “And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep. And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the Word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.”
The high priest had the responsibility of caring for the lamp-stand menorah in the temple. There was a cup or bowl at the top of it filled with a special oil to keep lit at all times. He had the monotonous duty of supplying oil in the bowl so that the lamps remained lit. In this vision he sees the menorah, two olive trees, the bowl, and seven pipes running from the trees, one on each side of the lamp-stands, supplying a constant and continual flow of oil to keep the lamps lit at all times. These two witnesses have a continual anointing and flow of the Spirit of God upon their lives and ministry. It’s “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.”
This refers to their character as light bearers. They bring the light of the Lord to a world going through the most intense darkness it has ever experienced. We too must be light bearers in a world filled with darkness and realize that this can’t be accomplished in our own strength and power but only by the anointing and flow of the Holy Ghost in and upon our lives. We must be in complete dependence on Him and not ourselves. It’s incumbent upon us to constantly seek the face of God, spending time in His Word and prayer that we might have a continual flow of Holy Spirit upon our lives. We can’t do anything without Him.
Luke 24:49 – “Behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”
Acts 1:4-5, 8 – “Being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me.”
Acts 4:31 – “When they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the Word of God with boldness.”
Matthew 5:14-16 – “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Philippians 2:15-16 – “That you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the Word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.”
1 Peter 2:9 – “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him Who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
The Power and Authority of the Two Witnesses
Revelation 11:5-6 – “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. 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.”
These two witnesses have power like that of Moses and Elijah. Moses turned the water of the Nile river into blood. And at Elijah’s word the heavens were shut up for three and a half years and didn’t rain until he said so. He also called fire down from heaven and consumed those who came after them. The fact they have power to pour out judgments and need protection shows this to be the second three and half years of the tribulation period (Daniel 9:27). They have power in spite of the antagonism of the world. We too must not fear the world but press forward in the boldness of the Lord. We have the promise of ultimate victory.
Exodus 7:20 – “Moses and Aaron did so, as the Lord commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.”
1 Kings 17:1 – “Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.”
1 Kings 18:1 – “The Word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, show thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.”
1 Kings 18:42-46 – “Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down that the rain stop thee not. And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.”
2 Kings 1:9-15 – “Then the king sent unto him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him: and, behold, he sat on the top of an hill. And he spake unto him, Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down. And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. Again also he sent unto him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he answered and said unto him, O man of God, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly. And Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. And he sent again a captain of the third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and besought him, and said unto him, O man of God, I pray thee, let my life, and the life of these fifty thy servants, be precious in thy sight. Behold, there came fire down from heaven, and burnt up the two captains of the former fifties with their fifties: therefore let my life now be precious in thy sight. And the angel of the Lord said unto Elijah, Go down with him: be not afraid of him. And he arose, and went down with him unto the king.”
Matthew 10:28 – “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Philippians 1:28 – “In nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.”
Revelation 12:11 – “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
Micah 5:9 – “Thine hand shall be lifted up upon (against) thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.”
Hebrews 13:6 – “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
Romans 8:31 – “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”
The Demise of the Two Witnesses
Revelation 11:7-9 – “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. 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. 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.”
Rejoicing Over the Death of the Two Witnesses
Revelation 11:10 – “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.”
The world rejoices over the death of these two men of God, prophets of the Most High. The rejoicing of those whose hope is limited to this life alone. They go so far as to make it a sort of holiday, like that of Christmas. However, here instead of celebrating a birth they are celebrating death. This shows the world’s warped perspective and outlook on life, how powerful their ministry will be and the misery they will brought to a Christ rejecting world. Where they should be mourning they rejoice and where they should rejoice they mourn.
Isaiah 5:20 – “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”
How many of God’s people rejoice and make merry when a man or woman of God falls. When one experiences any type of failure it should break our heart and not secretly cause us to rejoice. We should weep and mourn rather than rejoice over any failure among God’s people. When they’re successful and prospering we should rejoice and be glad for them. Far too often we’re jealous and envious and secretly hope for their downfall. Rather we should pray for them, cover their transgression, and seek their restoration.
Galatians 6:1 – “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
Proverbs 17:9 – “He that covers a transgression seeks love; but he that repeats a matter separates very friends.”
Romans 12:15 – “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”
The Triumphant Resurrection of the Two Witnesses
Revelation 11:11-13 – “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. 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. 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.”
It’s interesting that in John’s time, the end of the first century, it would have been impossible for the entire world to watch and rejoice over these two witnesses laying in the street dead and see as they are resurrected in the sight of all. But John was seeing into the future, our day, where this is indeed possible. In our day of satellite TV, Internet, and imaging we know this can be easily done.
This is a sort of rapture that takes place for them. What a sight this will be to behold. The world that experienced their ministry and judgments thinks they’re finally done with them. Then, all of a sudden, after three and a half days, “the Spirit of Life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. 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.” It’ll totally blow their minds. They thought they had overcome them and then this happens. This will be very similar to the apostles and Jesus’ ascension.
Acts 1:9-11 – “And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.”
“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.” When they saw this take place and heard the voice out of heaven they knew it could only be God and gave glory to Him in contrast to the beast they had been worshiping. Yet the world still refuses to repent.
The Second Woe is Over and the Seventh Trumpet Sounds
Revelation 11:14-15 – “The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly. And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever.”
The chronological development takes back up here and continues through the rest of the chapter. We then go into three more parenthetical chapters ending with Revelation 14:20 and the narrative taking back up in Revelation 15-16. The second woe is over and the third woe is forthcoming. The seventh trumpet, when it sounds, opens up the vials or bowls of God’s wrath.
These final judgments will be the most severe and intense, far greater than the seal and trumpet judgments. The vial or bowl judgments will come in rapid succession and usher in the second coming of Jesus culminating in Christ’s millennial reign on earth. The voices in heaven clearly declare His reign is nigh at hand and the kingdoms of this world will soon be His.
Could this actually be when the rapture takes place? We know that “God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Much of the judgments thus far have been pale in comparison to these. These judgments are God’s wrath! It may be here it is that God takes His people out of this world prior to His ultimate wrath being poured out on a Christ rejecting world.
1 Corinthians 15:51-54 – “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the LAST TRUMP: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”
2 Thessalonians 1:6-9 – “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.”
Matthew 24:29-31 – “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 – “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
Worship takes Place in Heaven Over the Coming Reign Of Jesus Christ
Revelation 11:16-17 – “And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshiped God, Saying, We give Thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because Thou hast taken to Thee Thy great power, and hast reigned.”
The twenty-four elders, representing Old and New Testament saints, fall on their faces and worship. Worship will be an integral part of heaven. If we have a hard time worshiping now we may feel out of place in heaven. They worshiped the Almighty, recognizing His eternal existence, great power, and that He reigns.
Revelation 4:8-11 – “And they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to Him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
God’s Wrath, the final judgment, and the Reward of the Saints is Imminent
Revelation 11:18-19 – “And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear Thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”
The vials or bowls of God’s wrath (Revelation 15-16) will usher in the second coming and the reign of Jesus upon this earth. These verses here do not present the events to come in chronological order but merely summarizes what’s to come. The reward of the saints, second coming, thousand years reign of Christ, and judgment of the spiritually dead is most likely the order of sequence.
The reward of the saints and judgment of the dead are separated by a thousand years (millennial reign of Jesus). The reward of the saints is after the rapture of the church at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:10-12, 1 Corinthians 3:9-15, 2 Corinthians 5:10-11). We know this because He brings His reward with Him. “Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12). The White Throne Judgment is after the millennial reign of Christ (Revelation 20:11-15).
“The temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”
The temple of God is opened in heaven in contrast to the earthly temple seen at the beginning of the chapter, which is a shadow of the heavenly. The ark of the testament is seen which held the ten commandments testifying that the judgments that follow will be based on the law of God without any mixture of mercy. “Lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail” signify the severity of the judgments to come.