7: Revelation 10:1-11:14 Fate of God’s People
The seals and the trumpets both follow a 4,2,1 format—4 depictions of the world, 2 of God’s people/God’s response, a digression, and 1 depiction of the final days/end of the earth.
Just as the recital of seals being opened was halted for a look at God’s people, so the sounding of trumpets stops before the seventh. John has heard how the world’s disasters function as warnings to all the people opposed to God; he knows they don’t heed the warning; he sees the angels begin to pronounce the woes.
God’s protection, which kept the disasters so limited, is removed in the first woe, and the evils familiar from Joel’s prophesy rise up from hell (but only for a while). The angels—the same ones who previously held back the penalty for disobedience in Eden—now come to punish the earth. And John asks, “What about us?”
The Angel with the Little Scroll
The imagery again would remind the readers of Old Testament (and sometimes New Testament) references and symbols.
The angel’s voice is like a lion with God’s voice (10:3): Hosea 11:10 10 They shall go after the LORD, who roars like a lion; when he roars, his children shall come trembling from the west.
Seven thunders speak with the voice of God (10:4): Exodus 19:19 19As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder.
The mystery must be kept secret (10:4): Deuteronomy 29:29 29The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the revealed things belong to us and to our children forever, to observe all the words of this law.
The mystery can’t be understood (10:7): Job 26:14 14But the thunder of his power who can understand?
The message contains both sweetness and bitterness (10:10): 1 Corinthians 1:18 18For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Measuring the Temple:
Measuring in Space: (11:1-2)The Temple has been measured in a vision before: Ezekiel 40: 2-4 2He brought me, in visions of God, to the land of Israel, and set me down upon a very high mountain, on which was a structure like a city to the south. 3When he brought me there, a man was there, whose appearance shone like bronze, with a linen cord and a measuring reed in his hand; and he was standing in the gateway. 4The man said to me, “Mortal, look closely and listen attentively, and set your mind upon all that I shall show you, for you were brought here in order that I might show it to you; declare all that you see to the house of Israel.”
The Temple that John is told to measure can’t be the Jerusalem Temple; it has already destroyed, or is about to be.
It can’t be the Temple of Heaven, because the outer court is still being given to the Gentiles.
Perhaps it symbolizes the Temple of the Church – God’s people here today.
Measuring in Time: (11:2-3,11)We might measure time, or we might use it symbolically. The use of symbolic numbers suggests John is doing the latter:
• 3 ½ is half of 7, the number symbolizing God’s plan.
• 12 months = 360 days = 1 Jewish year
• 42 months = 3 ½ years = half of 7 (half of God’s plan) = 1,260 days = a time, times and ½ a time
The first half of time in God’s plan is the time before Christ. In this sense, “Jesus splits time” and the second half of time is now.
Daniel 7:25 speaks of the “king” in the last days, the AntiChrist 25 they shall be given into his power for a time, two times, and half a time.
Daniel 12:7 speaks again of the end of the time, in words that suggest the times that take place after Christ. 7The man clothed in linen, who was upstream, raised his right hand and his left hand toward heaven. And I heard him swear by the one who lives forever that it would be for a time, two times, and half a time and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end, all these things would be accomplished.
(11:3-12)Two is another symbolic number, usually meaning trust. The passage may indeed mean two physical people, but the wealth of symbols used suggest it might have other, deeper meanings too.
Olive trees (11:4): Zechariah 4 introduces olive trees in a vision of the temple, commonly believed to represent the governor and the priest of the time. 4: 3-7 3And by it there are two olive trees, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.” 4I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?” 5Then the angel who talked with me answered me, “Do you not know what these are?” I said, “No, my lord.” 6He said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the LORD of hosts. 7What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain; and he shall bring out the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’”
Authority and prophesy (11:3): Acts 10:38 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
No rain (11:6): A reminder of the prophet Elijah: 1 Kings 17:1 1Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”
Water into blood (11:6): A reminder of the lawgiver Moses: Exodus 4:9 9If they will not believe even these two signs or heed you, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”
Law and the Prophets: These two references together suggest the two witnesses might symbolize the law and the prophets. Note, the witnesses finish the job before they are killed. Neither shall we die till we have finished what God has given us to do. And after death, we rise.
3 ½ days (11:9): The apparent victory of evil is still only half of God’s plan.