Two Witnesses Slain

Persecuted by the impenitent inhabitants of the earth, the Two Witnesses lie dead on the main street of the Great City

Globe Photo by Maksim Shutov on Unsplash
The “
second woe” does not end until the “Two Witnesses” have completed their “testimony” and their “corpse,” singular, lies on the streets of “Babylon.” Only then will the final trumpet be heard as its ushers in the “Day of the Lord,” the hour of the judgment. But the completion of their task also triggers the ascent of the “beast from the Abyss” who kills them - [Photo by Maksim Shutov on Unsplash].

The martyrdom of the “Two Witnesses” puts the end into motion and seals the final doom of the “Dragon.”

And God vindicates their “testimony” by raising them from the dead, just as he promised to do for the martyrs seen “underneath the altar” when the “fifth seal” was opened - (Revelation 6:9-11).
  • (Revelation 11:8-10) - “And their corpse lies on the broad-way of the great city, the which is called spiritually Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord also was crucified. And some of the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations see their corpses for three days and a half and their corpses do they not suffer to be put into a tomb. And the inhabitants of the earth rejoice over them and make merry and send gifts to one another because these two prophets tormented them the inhabitants of the earth.”

THE GREAT CITY

The “corpse” of the “witnesses” was left lying on the main street or “broad-way” of the city, its very heart, and the focus of its political, economic, and social activities.

In the first instance, here, the Greek term rendered “corpse” is singular and serves to stress the unity of the “Two Witnesses.” They symbolize the “saints” as one group engaged in “testimony” to the city and its “inhabitants.”

The “Great City” is the place called “spiritually Sodom and Egypt.” Neither the language nor the geographical location is literal.

Spiritually” signifies either a metaphorical or allegorical interpretation. For that matter, “Egypt” is a nation, not a city, and the identification with “Sodom” and “Egypt” provides scriptural background. First, from Israel’s exodus from Egypt, which is the same backstory for the “seven trumpets.” And second, from the destruction of “Sodom” for its egregious sins.

Elsewhere, the “Great City” is none other than the “Great Harlot, Babylon.” In the present passage, she is contrasted with the “holy city” that is “trampled underfoot by the nations” – (Revelation 11:2, 14:8, 14:20, 16:19, 17:18, 18:16-21).

Roman ruins BW - Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash
[Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash]


Where the Lord was crucified.” Jesus was killed outside the walls of Jerusalem, and in Revelation, all the shed blood of the prophets and saints, and of all those “slain upon the earth,” is found in “Babylon,” where also the “inhabitants of the earth” dwell - (Revelation 18:24).

MARTYRDOM

Their bodies lay unburied for “three days and a half.” This echoes the three days and nights that Jesus spent in the grave before his resurrection. Thus, the life and death of the “Two Witnesses” emulate the life and death of the “slain Lamb.”

After John “measures” the “sanctuary” and the “altar,” the “holy city,” those who are “rendering divine service” before the “altar” are delivered to the “nations” to be “trampled underfoot” for “forty-two months.”

Likewise, the “Two Witnesses” endure opposition that culminates in their martyrdom for “twelve-hundred and sixty days,” the functional equivalent of the “forty-two months.” Thus, the “war” against them by the “inhabitants of the earth” and the “Beast” portrays how the “holy city” is “trampled.” The “Two Witnesses” are the “holy city,” and persecution is how they are “trampled underfoot.”

The residents of the “Great City” rejoice over their deaths because the “Two Witnesses” “tormented the inhabitants of the earth.” The same verb for “torment” was used when the “fifth trumpet” was heard, unleashing the locust-like horde to “torment the inhabitants of the earth.”

So also, the words of the “Two Witnesses” proceed like “fire devouring their enemies,” and have the “power to turn water into blood,” and to “smite the earth with every plague.” It is their “testimony” that “torments” men - (Revelation 9:5, 11:5-6).

The “witnesses” are “prophets” sent to “prophesy” to the “inhabitants of the earth” until they “finish their testimony.” This fulfills the words given to John when he received the “little scroll” - “In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he begins to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, just he declared to his prophets” (Revelation 10:7).

And the inhabitants of the earth made merry.” The same idea occurs at the end of the “sixth trumpet” when the “rest of men not killed by the plagues” refuse to repent. Instead, the impenitent “inhabitants of the earth” rejoice over the deaths of God’s prophets.
  • (Revelation 11:11-13) - “And after the three days and a half, a spirit of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell upon them who were beholding them. And they heard a loud voice out of heaven, saying to them: Come up here! And they ascended to heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them. And in that hour, there came to be a great earthquake; and a tenth of the city fell, and there were slain in the earthquake names of men seven thousand. And the rest became greatly afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven.”

VINDICATED BY GOD

The vision now pulls together the threads from the stories of Egypt, Elijah, and the entry of Israel into Canaan, but in an ironic fashion. In the tenth plague of Egypt, the angel of death killed the firstborn throughout the land, but now, it is the “corpses” of the “two witnesses” that lie dead in the “Great City” - (Exodus 11:1-10).

Before Israel left Egypt, the Egyptians gave them gifts of gold and jewels; now, in “Babylon,” residents exchange gifts and rejoice over the deaths of the “witnesses.” When he complained about his isolation, Yahweh told Elijah that He had reserved “seven thousand men who had not bowed the knee to Baal.”

Now, when a tenth of the “Great City” falls, seven thousand men are killed, but the rest become fearful and give glory to God.

Elisha witnessed Elijah taken up into the heavens and cried out, but when the “inhabitants of the earth” see the “two witnesses” rise to heaven, they give glory to God. The description of their “ascent… in a cloud” also parallels the ascent of Jesus, who was “taken up and received by a cloud.” As the deaths of the “Two Witnesses” emulated the death of Jesus, so does their vindication - (1 Kings 19:18, 2 Kings 2:11, Acts 1:9).

Israel’s conquest of Jericho is behind the image of the city’s fall, and this is indicated by the series of “seven trumpets.” Israel was commanded to march around the city once each day for six days. On the seventh day, she marched around Jericho seven times, the priests blew their horns, the people shouted, and the “wall of the city fell down flat” - (Joshua 6:1-10).

The term “great earthquake” is a verbal link to the “sixth seal” and the “seventh bowl of wrath.” When the former was opened, the “day of the wrath of the Lamb” was accompanied by the “great earthquake” that shook the entire creation. Likewise, the last “bowl of wrath” causes the “great earthquake” that divides the “Great City, Babylon” into three parts - (Revelation 6:12-17, 16:17-21).

The “second woe” has concluded, and the stage is set for the final trumpet blast, the arrival of the “Day of the Lord.” The series of “seven trumpets” will end at the same point as the “seven seals.” Just as the “sixth seal” opening announced the time of the “wrath” of the “Lamb,” so the “seventh trumpet” ushers in the time of judgment, for God will vindicate the righteous and condemn the wicked.



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