The Two Witnesses and the Third Woe.
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.
This is not to say that the temple was still standing in Jerusalem when John wrote this book.
I believe that this is a symbol, figurative.
The church is the spiritual temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:21; 1 Pet 2:5; 1:18f).
The church is the Israel of God (Phil. 3:3; Gal. 6:15f).
God's people had been numbered (7:4); and now they are being measured. He knows who are His and will protect them.
The temple is to be measured and separated from the common (v.2).
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 court that is outside the temple is not to be measured.
It is to be left (or cast) out.
Symbolically represented by Gentiles. Those who are not the Israel of God.
These worldly people would tread under foot the holy city.
The Holy City is the church (Heb. 12:22).
The city would not be trampled under foot forever, like physical Jerusalem, but only for a period of time.
3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
In the Old Testament, two witnesses were need for something to be considered trustworthy (Deut 17:6; 19:15).
The two witnesses could be referring to the Holy Spirit and the apostles (Jn. 15:26f; Ac. 5:32).
It could be referring to the Holy Spirit and all the faithful of God.
These witnesses would prophesy while the Holy City was being trod under foot.
4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
We must look to Zechariah 4 to understand this:
The temple would be built, "not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith Jehovah."
The witnesses would succeed because God was with them.
5 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.6 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.
The witnesses of God could not be stopped by earthly poweres.
The gospel was preached to all the world (Col. 1:23).
God probably uses Elijah and Moses as examples to show how He had done in the past to encourage those to whom John was writing.
7 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.
The beast is not identified here but later we will see that it is a great imperial world power.
He could not stop the advance of God's message.
After the witnesses were finished, the beast overcame them.
8 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.
John sees the world as a city of evil. He compares it to Sodom in is immorality and Egypt in its cruelty and bondage.
He also compares it to Jerusalem which rejected the truth and killed the Son of God.
9 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.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.
Those of the world are glad to see the witnesses dead.
Their bodies would be left in the street, showing great contempt.
They're so happy to see them dead that they declare an holiday (Jn. 16:20).
11 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. 12 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.
The rejoicing of wicked people is always short-lived.
God brings His witnesses back to life and takes them to heaven.
13 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.
This God's reaction to the murder of His witnesses.
A partial destruction of the evil world.
Possibly, a weakening of paganism's hold on the world.
14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.15 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.
16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,17 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.18 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.
At the sounding of the seventh trumpet, there is a great song of praise.
God and His people are triumphant.
19 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.
As Chapter 4 began with a door opened in heaven, now this section ends with the temple doors open revealing God's ark of the covenant.
This reminds His people that He always keeps His promises no matter what happens.