Updated: Dec 26, 2019
The Beast from the Bottomless Pit.
"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." Rev 11:7
REVELATION 11 -THE RISE OF ATHEISM- "the King of the South"
Daniel 8:14 reads, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Many in the Millerite Movement of the 1830-1840s believed that this sanctuary was the world which would be cleansed by fire at the Lord’s return and that this event would occur at the end of the 2300 days which they calculated as terminating on October 22, 1844. However the sweet message of Jesus' return turned into the bitterness of dissappointment (See Revelation 10). The answer to the Millerites misunderstanding was to be found in the study of the sanctuary or temple. This is the opening subject of Revelation 11 and is a continuation of the instruction which the angel began to give John in the preceding chapter. Hence the beginning of Revelation 11 rightly belongs to chapter 10 and should not be separated by the present chapter division.
The disappointed Advent Believers were directed to study the sanctuary with the rod of God’s word. Their misunderstanding of what the cleansing of the sanctuary referred to had resulted in their great disappointment. It was by studying the subject of the sanctuary and the cleansing that their disappointment would end.
During the 1260 days (years) the two witnesses - the Old and New Testaments, were cast down, by the Papal power (Daniel 8:13). During the greater part of this period the Old and New Testaments prophesied in sackcloth - a state of mourning. Papal Rome did all it could to hide the Scriptures from the people. Many lost their lives for the crime of possessing a Bible. The knowledge of God’s word was almost totally blotted from the earth. Yet God had promised that at the close of the 42 months (1260 year period) around 1798, knowledge of God’s word would be increased (Daniel 12:4-7), and that the way would be prepared for the final Reformation. Satan, seeing that this was about to be fulfilled, increased his efforts to destroy God’s Word. Satan had worked through the Papal Rome for centuries to make war on God’s truth but here in Revelation 11 is brought to view a new manifestation of Satanic power.
Papal Rome had kept the Bible from the people on pretense of reverence but this new power would make open war on the Word of God. This war upon God’s Word would occur in a place which manifested the spirit of immoral Sodom and the God defying atheistic spirit of Egypt. Pharaoh openly denied the existence of the living God saying, “Who is Jehovah that I should obey his voice?” Exodus 5:2. Accordingly, some power would arise around 1798 to make open war on the Bible.
Atheistic power, and a place of immorality. This was fulfilled in France during the French Revolution in 1793, “the world for the first time heard an assembly of men, born and educated in civilization, and assuming the right to govern one of the finest of the European nations, uplift their united voice to deny the most solemn truth which man’s soul receives, and RENOUNCE UNANIMOUSLY THE BELIEF AND WORSHIP OF DEITY.” Sir Walter Scott, Life of Napoleon, Vol. I, ch. 17.
The Bible was banned, fornication was legalised, and France plunged into the most licentious and bloody scenes ever witnessed in Europe. All this took place, “where also our Lord was crucified.” Of all nations France had been foremost to assist the Papacy to persecute, torture and massacre the saints. Here Christ was crucified in the person of His saints. “...in the scenes of the Revolution Jesus Christ was declared to be an impostor, and the rallying cry of the French infidels was, “Crush the Wretch,” meaning Christ. Heaven-daring blasphemy and abominable wickedness went hand in hand, and the basest of men, the most abandoned monsters of cruelty and vice, were most highly exalted. In all this, supreme homage was paid to Satan; while Christ, in His characteristics of truth, purity, and unselfish love, was crucified.” Great Controversy, p273.
France rejected the light of the Reformation and in doing so they crucified Christ:
“For it is impossible for those who were once ENLIGHTENED… And have tasted the good word of God… If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they CRUCIFY TO THEMSELVES THE SON OF GOD afresh, and put him to an open shame.” Heb 6:4-6.
The rise of Atheism in France was the fruit produced by years of Papal rule.
In crushing out the light of the Reformation France destroyed progress, liberty, learning and the best of the nation’s intelligence. It was Papalism which produced the social ills that hurried France onto ruin. Some historians rightly recognize that the excesses of the Revolution are to be charged upon the Church of Rome. It’s corrupting influence made Revolution inevitable. Papal Rome had misrepresented God and as a result Revolutionary France rejected both the Bible and it’s Author. Men like Voltaire spread their infidelity everywhere. The masses, long downtrodden by a corrupt church turned upon their oppressor with fury. The guillotine was set up on the very spot where Rome had set up the first stake at the opening of the Reformation. In rejecting Romanism as a deception, the people were led by Satan to regard all religion as a deception.
The War against the Bible began what is known as the “Reign of Terror”. Unhappy France was swept by a tide of fierce human passion. No one was safe. The streets in Paris flowed with blood. The Revelator describing this upheaval says: “The same hour was there a great earthquake.” France, one tenth part of that great city Babylon, was shaken as religion, law, social order, the state, and the church were all overthrown.
“And after three days and a half the Spirit of God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet.” In 1793 the Bible had been abolished by the French Assembly. Three and a half years later, in 1797, another resolution was passed rescinding the former decree, granting toleration to the Scriptures.
French Revolution - Birthplace of Atheistic Communism.
The French Revolution was a turning point in history. It was the birthplace of atheistic, materialistic communism. “The COMMUNIST movement would never have taken form as it did except for the prior occurrence of the FRENCH REVOLUTION.” Palmer, Revolution, p11-12.
“The connection between the absolutist REVOLUTION OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY and the MARXIST MOVEMENT of the next century presses for recognition... [It] is THE DIRECT OFFSPRING and heir...A RELIGION OF ATHEISM… coupling scientific ideas with the greatest political hopes that man has ever entertained, the absolute hopes that animated the FRENCH REVOLUTION.” The Dignity of Man, R. W. Davenport, p163-9.
The atheistic beast (nation) from the bottomless pit is alive today in the Communist State and its influence is felt in evolutionary theory and humanistic and materialistic thinking everywhere. As surely as corrupt Christianity bred Atheism so Atheism will breed corrupt Christianity. Politically active professed Christianity will rise to power again and all the world will be led to wonder after the beast.
“And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither.” These words describe the exaltation of the Scriptures that followed the French Revolution. Shortly after the Revolution the Bible societies were established and the Word of God has risen to new heights of distribution. This to make possible the final proclamation of the truth to all the world before the Lord’s return.
“In the days of the voice of the seventh angel when he shall begin to sound the mystery of God should be finished.” The first and second woes (5th and 6th Trumpets) are past. The third woe (7th Trumpet cometh quickly.” But before the final trumpet ushers in the Great Day of God the mystery of God (the perfecting of the saints) will be accomplished. This is the same work described in Revelation 7 that occurs between the 6th and 7th Seals. By every evidence we are living in this time.
Revelation 11 was given under the 6th trumpet, and reveals events that were to happen before the 7th trumpet sounded in Revelation 11:15.
This chapter reminds us of the death and resurrection of Christ: The two witnesses (God’s written word - the Old & New Testaments) are trodden on, cast out and put to death. Likewise Christ (the living word) was put to death. As Christ, (the living word) arose and ascended to heaven, so also do the two witnesses (the written word of God).
Verse 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.
A reed like unto a rod
The rod represents the word of God - The revelation of heavenly truths and the standard by which men are to be assessed: Christ is to rule all nations with a “ROD of iron.” (Rev 12:5). “Feed thy people with thy ROD.” (Mic 7:14). “...he shall smite the earth with the ROD of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” Isa 11:4 Ps 2:9; Rev 2:27; cf. 2 Cor 10:12; Comp. symbolism in Eze 40:3, 6; Zech 2:1-2.
Given to John
John here stands as representative of the church to which Revelation was written. We are to measure the temple etc.
Rise and measure the temple
As a representative of the church having just suffered the great disappointment (See Revelation 10) John was ‘down.’ The solution to depression was to rise and measure (examine) the temple, the altar and the worshipper. The language is clearly symbolic as the measuring is to be done by the rod - God’s word. No one is required to literally measure any literal temple or literally measure literal worshippers!
Measuring is to compare one thing to another. Spiritual things can only be measured with a spiritual rule - the word of God.
1Co 2:13 “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
In Zechariah a man measured Jerusalem as an assurance that it would be rebuilt (See on Zech 2:2). This suggests that the measuring here may be an assurance of restoration and preservation. Between the sixth seal (Rev 6:12-17) and the seventh seal (Rev 8:1) a parenthetical assurance was given (Revelation 7) that some will stand through the terrors that attend the Second Coming. Likewise this ‘measuring appears to be a parenthetical assurance between the sixth trumpet (Rev 9:14) and the seventh trumpet (Rev 11:15) that amid the terrors attendant on the blowing of the trumpets, God’s temple - i.e. the plan of redemption portrayed there, and His people are secure.
Identifying the Temple
This Temple in not that which stood in Jerusalem
This temple referred to not that which stood in Jerusalem because when John received this vision that temple no longer existed. It had been destroyed by Rome in A.D.70.
Neither does it refer to any earthy sanctuary as Jesus caused the sacrifices and offerings to cease when He died on the cross. God confirming this by tearing the veil in half from top to bottom. To sacrifice animals again would dishonour Christ's sacrifice.
This temple is not the Church
Though the church is called “an habitation of God” (Eph 2:22) and a “spiritual house” (1Pet 2:5), the church cannot be the temple John was here called to measure because the church are “them that worship [in spirit] therein.” i.e. as the church worship in the temple they cannot be the temple John here refers to. The church as a whole is described as seven candlesticks and the church at any particular age is one candlestick not two. (See on Rev 2-3).
This Temple is the Temple of God in Heaven
This temple is “the temple of God...in heaven” mentioned at the end of this chapter (Rev 11:19). Following the bitterness of the Great Disappointment of October 22, 1844, (See on Rev 10) the attention of the Adventist believers was directed to the temple or sanctuary in heaven Their bitter disappointment had come as a result of assuming that the temple to be cleansed at the end of the 2300 days in 1844 was the earth. By studying the subject of the temple or sanctuary they would discover the reason for their disappointment. It was seen that the temple to be cleansed was not the earth but the temple of God in heaven and the cleansing referred to the antitypical Day of Atonement - judgment day. See on Dan 8.
Them that worship therein
Worshipper are to be measured by the standard of right. The ten commandments are the standard which God has given by which to measure “the whole duty of man,” and they must therefore be part of the measuring rod. Each believer, who by faith worships in the heavenly sanctuary, is to study God’s word to ensure that they “measure up” and will be able to stand in the judgment. Ecc 12:13-14 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether [it be] good, or whether [it be] evil.” Church members who refuse to ‘measure up’ are to be disfellowshipped in the hope that such a shock will help turn them to righteousness (1 Cor 5:5).
“God has His measurement of character, and it is those who obey Him that live, and those who keep His law as the apple of their eye that He preserves.” Ev 244.
“While Christ is cleansing the sanctuary, the worshipers on earth should carefully review their life, and compare their character with the standard of righteousness.” Ev 224.
2Cor 10:12 “...they [the wicked] measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
Zechariah also saw this measuring:
“1 I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand.
2 Then said I, Whither goest thou? And he said unto me, To measure Jerusalem, to see what [is] the breadth thereof, and what [is] the length thereof.
3 And, behold, the angel that talked with me went forth, and another angel went out to meet him,
4 And said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited [as] towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein:
5 For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.
6 Ho, ho, [come forth], and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD.
7 Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest [with] the daughter of Babylon.” In its first application this referred to the gathering of God’s people after their captivity in Babylon but in a secondary application it refers to the gathering of God’s people from spiritual Babylon in the time of the end when the call to come out of Babylon goes forth.
Focus on the Heavenly Sanctuary
Rev 10 revealed the OPENING of the LITTLE BOOK which was that portion of the book of Daniel which had been “SHUT UP” till the time of the end (Dan 12:4) Rev 10 describes how many in the 1840s came to the “SWEET” belief that Jesus was to return in their day from their study of the 2300 day prophecy of Dan 8. The 2300 day prophecy (which had been SHUT till the time of the end. Dan 8:17) pointed to the cleansing of the sanctuary (temple), which they believed was the world to be cleansed by fire at the Second Coming.
It was by incorrectly identifying the sanctuary to be cleansed, that the Advent believers suffered “BITTER disappointment” in 1844 when Jesus did not return (Rev 10:10).
Rev 11:1 directed the down hearted to “RISE and measure (examine) the temple (sanctuary)” with the “rod” (God’s word. Mic 7:14; Jer
1:11-12). They learned that the sanctuary to be cleansed in 1844 was not the earth but the Lord’s sanctuary or temple in heaven. The cleansing of the earthly AND heavenly sanctuaries is plainly taught in Heb 9:23.
As the OldTestament believer’s sins were placed upon the sacrifices and from the sacrifices transferred into the earthly sanctuary, so our sins are placed on Christ and transferred into heaven’s sanctuary. As, at the end of the year, the High priest cleansed the earthly sanctuary of the people’s sins, so, in the end of the world Christ is to cleanse heaven’s sanctuary of the record of sins. (Heb 8:1-5; See Dan 8).
As the cleansing involves judgment to see who has remained faithful, this led those, who by faith worship in heaven’s temple, to examine themselves; to see if they “measured up” to the standard in the judgment (2Cor 13:5; Ecc 12:13-14; Matt 7:2). To the “MEASURE of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” Eph 4:13.
Revelation 11 begins and ends with God’s temple in heaven (Compare Rev 11:1, 19).
The Altar - Christ's Ministry
Verse 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 Courtyard and the Gentiles
The court of the Gentiles, which surrounded the temple (Eph 2:14; Heb 8:5; 9:1), represented the church on earth. The “Gentiles” to whom it was given are those who worship God (they are in the temple grounds) but are not the genuine people of God; not the real Israel of God. “...for it [the courtyard] is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty [and] two months.”
They [the Gentiles] tread the holy city under foot forty and two months.
Literal time is expressed as a number of years, months and
days. e.g. in Elijah’s day, “heaven was shut up THREE YEARS AND SIX MONTHS.” (Luke 4:25). “...it rained not on the earth by the space of THREE YEARS SIX MONTHS.” (James 5:17).
The use of the unusual expression (42 months) indicates that this period is not usual time but symbolic. 42 months = 42 x 30 days = 1260 days.
A day symbolizes a year (Eze 4:6; Num 14:34) so 1260 symbolic days = 1260 literal years (See “Day Year Principle” General Introduction). The symbolic 42 months parallel the 3 1/2 times described in the heavily symbolic chapter of Dan 7:25. This period began in 538 AD and terminated in 1798. During this time the true church (the Holy city), and the Old & New Testaments which witness of Christ, were trampled underfoot (See Daniel 8:13).
Verse 3: And I will give [power] unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
Two witnesses - the Word of God
The passage is very symbolic. The witnesses are said to be candle sticks and olive trees which is also clearly symbolic.
“The two witnesses represent the Scriptures of the Old and the New Testaments” GC 267.
This view has been held by over twenty scholars through the centuries. Bishop Wordsworth, the noted Anglican scholar declared,
“The two witnesses, the olive trees, are the two Testaments ministering their testimony to the church of the Old dispensation as well as to that of the new, which explains the two witnesses being called also the two candlesticks... The church in both dispensations has no light in herself, but derives it from the Spirit through the witness of the twofold Word, the two olive trees.” in Jamieson, Fausset & Brown - Commentary on Revelation 11:3.
Some propose that they represent Elijah & Moses because between them these men prophesied, and turned water to blood. Some expect these men to return to earth, prophecy, die and ascend to heaven after the church has been taken to heaven. In Jer 11:16 God called His people a green olive tree but He nowhere specifically calls Moses & Elijah two olive trees. The 1260 days during which the two witnesses prophecy in sackcloth correspond to the 1260 days seen elsewhere in Daniel & Revelation and represent, as we have seen, 1260 years from 538 - 1798AD.
The Old & New Testament "witness" or "testify” of Christ:
“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify [witness] of me.” John 5:39.
The Old & New Testaments speak and witness with one voice:
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a WITNESS unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Matt 24:14
“And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth.” The two witnesses have one mouth. The Old & New Testaments speak as one book.
The two witnesses are said to be two “candlesticks” (v 4) and “two olive trees.”
In ancient times olive oil was the primary fuel for lamps. The Psalmist said, “Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” Ps 119:105 using the olive oil lamp as a symbol of the Bible.
“...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...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.” Zech 4:1-6.
“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” Ps 119:130.
The two witnesses may be thought of as “the law and the prophets.”
i.e. the law of God or Moses writings and the writings of the prophets which together make up the Bible, both Old & New Testaments. The end-time church “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus [“which is the spirit of prophecy.” Rev 19:10].” i.e. the saints posses the law of God and the writings of the prophets - the Bible and the prophetic gift itself.
Two witnesses required to condemn a person (Deut 17:6; 19:15; Matt 18:16; 2Cor 13:1)
The witnesses cannot be the church because they are killed and lie dead for 3 1/2 prophetic days whereas the whole church will never die.
The people of Israel were called God’s witnesses (Isa 43:10; Isa 44:8) and what did they declare? The word of God
As Christ, the living Word, was killed and then ascended to heaven so the written Word (the Old and New Testaments) were also killed (see on v 7) and then ascended to heaven (v 12).
In Sackcloth 1260 days
“...gird you with sackcloth, and mourn...” 2Sam 3:31.
Isa 22:12 “...weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth:”
Lam 2:10 “The elders of the daughter of Zion sit upon the ground, [and] keep silence: they have cast up dust upon their heads; they have girded themselves with sackcloth: the virgins of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the ground.”
Jer 6:26 “...gird [thee] with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes: make thee mourning, [as for] an only son, most bitter lamentation: for the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us.
During the 1260 years God’s witnesses were in a state of mourning and obscurity. The corrupt church hid the Bible from the people because it revealed her corruption. It contradicted it’s testimony, forbade the common people to posses it and hunted, tortured and burned to death those who had it and were proclaiming it’s truths.
PROPHESIED IN DISTRESS & MOURNING DURING THE 1260 YEARS OF SPIRITUAL DARKNESS UNDER THE PAPAL SUPREMACY
This period is mentioned seven times in Daniel & Revelation. It is referred to as “time, times and a half,” and as “42 months.”
In prophecy one day equals one year (Eze 4:6; Num 14:34), so this period represented 1260 years.
This was the period in which the papacy held supremacy. It began in 538A.D. with the establishment of the papal power and ended in 1798 when the political power of the papacy was abolished (See on Dan 7:25). In this period the witnesses prophesied in sackcloth mourning over the terrible spiritual condition of the church and the suffering of the faithful.
The church historian Dr Summerbell says,
“[The Roman Emperor] Justinian...enriched himself with the property of all ‘heretics’ - that is, non-Catholics; published edicts in 538 AD compelling all to join the Catholic church in 90 days of leave the empire and confiscated all their goods.” Dr. N Summerbell, History of the Early Christian Church, p310-311.
Multitudes of faithful Christians fled Rome and it is from this date that the sackcloth period of the two witnesses began.
THE WITNESSES WERE IN SACKCLOTH WHEN THE CHURCH WAS PERSECUTED
“During the greater part of this period, God’s witnesses remained in a state of obscurity. The papal power sought to hide from the people the word of truth, and set before them false witnesses to contradict its testimony. When the Bible was proscribed by religious and secular authority; when its testimony was perverted, and every effort made that men and demons could invent to turn the minds of the people from it; when those who dared proclaim its sacred truths were hunted, betrayed, tortured, buried in dungeon cells, martyred for their faith, or compelled to flee to mountain fastnesses, and to dens and caves of the earth--then the faithful witnesses prophesied in sackcloth. Yet they continued their testimony throughout the entire period of 1260 years. In the darkest times there were faithful men who loved God’s word and were jealous for His honor. To these loyal servants were given wisdom, power, and authority to declare His truth during the whole of this time.” GC 267.
Illustrative of the conditions during this period is the following quote:
“The decree of Toulouse 1229A.D. [in France] which established the ‘Tribunal of the Inquisition’ against all readers of the Bible in the common tongue...was an edict of fire, bloodshed and devastation...it ordained the entire destruction of the houses, the humblest places of the concealment and even the subterranean retreats of men convicted of possessing the sriptures; that they should be pusued to the forests and caves of the earth; and that even those who harboured them should be severely punished. As a result, the Bible was everywhere prohibited; it was vanished , as it were, underground; it descended into the tomb. These decrees were followed for five hundred years by innumerable punishments, in which the blood of the saints flowed like water.” L. Gaussen, The Canon of the Holy Scriptures, Part 2, Bk. 2, Ch. 7, sec. 5, prop. 561, ch. 13, sec. 2, prop. 642, par. 2.
In a convocation held at Oxford under Archbishop Arundel in 1408, it was enacted:
“That no man hereafter by his own authority translate any text of the scripture in to English or any other tongue, by way of a book, booklet or tract and that no man read any such book, booklet or tract, now lately composed in the time of Jon Wycliffe or since...publicly or privately upon pain of greater excommunication... He that shall do contrary to this shall likewise be punished as a favourer of heresy and error.” Encyclopedia Britannica, (1911) Vol. 3, p897
The following from the Episcopal register of Lincoln (England) for the years 1518-1521 illustrates how the Bible prophesied in sackcloth or obscurity and secrecy:
“Against John Barret ‘because he John Barret was heard in his own house before his wife and maid there present, to recite the epistle of James, which epistle, with many other things, he had perfectly without book.’”
“John Newman was impeached because he was present in the house of John Barret, at the reading of the scripture.”
“William Newman impeached because he was present in the house of John Barret, at the reading of the scripture.”
William Halliday “was detected for having in his custody a book of the Acts of the Apostles in English.”
“One Fredway and several others, because they were heard to recite the Ten Commandments in English.” Spicer, Beacon Lights of Prophecy, p252-253
Yet in these dark ages faithful men who loved the God’s word continued to declare the truth and the two witnesses, though clothed in sackcloth, prophesied throughout the 1260 years. Many lost their lives for possessing parts of the Bible and the knowledge of God’s Word and the prophecies was almost totally blotted out. However, God had promised that at the end of the 1260 years (i.e. 1798), knowledge of His word would be increased (Dan 12:4-7). Satan, seeing that this was about to be fulfilled, increased his efforts to destroy the Bible...
Verse 3 1260 days
This period is given in unusual time units and periods and is mentioned in many places:
Dan 7:25 “a time and times and the dividing of time.”
Dan 12:7 “a time, times, and an half.” A period ended before the
opening of the little book (See on Rev 10).
Rev 11:2 “forty two months.”
Rev 11:3 “a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days.”
Rev 12:6 “a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days.”
Rev 12:14 “a time, and times, and half a time.”
Rev 13:5 “forty two months.”
Many facts show it to be symbolic such as the unusual units used. The 1260 days symbolize 1260 years. 538 - 1798AD.
Verses 4-6: These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 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.
The two witnesses are also said to be two Candlesticks.
The Old Testament is represented by one candlestick fed by the oil, a symbol of the Holy Spirit sent from the Father and the Son (Zech 4:2-6; Ps 119:105).
The heavens are shut or plagues fall according to the Word of God. The two witnesses have only one “mouth.” i.e. the Old & New Testaments speak as one book. The singular form “mouth” may be used collectively for “mouths.” Such usage is common in Greek, e.g. “heart” (Matt 15:8; Mark 16:52), “Face” (Matt 17:6; Acts 7:45)
"fire proceedeth out of their mouth and devoureth their enemies" - Reminicent of Elijah’s judgment in 2Kings 1:10, 12. Ultimatelly those who resist the word of God will be devoured in the lake of fire for the word of the Lord so declares (See Rev 20:15) The Scriptures testify that fire will punish those who in any way alter of destroy the Scriptures. (Rev 22:18-19; Deut 4:2; Mal 4:1)
verse 6: Power to shut heaven...power over waters to turn them to blood.
SHUT HEAVEN - TURN WATERS TO BLOOD
Only the Word of God’s has power to do what it says (Luke 4:32). It was the word of the Lord through Elijah that stopped it raining for 3 1/2 years (1 Kings 17:1; Luke 4:25) . It was the word of the Lord through Moses that turned the waters of Egypt to blood (Exo 7:19). Just as these judgments were fulfilled, so also will every threatening and judgment the scriptures prophesy to come. An instance of this the world is yet to experience in the infliction of the seven last plagues.
As God’s Word through Elijah prophesied that no rain would fall on apostate Israel for 3 1/2 years, so during the 3 1/2 prophetic years of Papal supremacy, there was a spiritual drought. (Luke 4:32; Hos 6:3).
As God’s Word through Moses turned Egypt’s waters into blood (Exo 7:17), so the “waters” (a symbol of the nations Rev 17:15) supporting Papal Rome would suffer revolution and bloodshed. All who hurt the Scriptures will be destroyed. (Rev 22:18-19; 2Thess 1:8).
Beast from the Bottomless Pit -
"the King of the South" in the Book of Revelation
Verse 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." Rev 11:7
That is their testimony in sackcloth, in distress and mourning (See on v 3). The two witnesses were in sackcloth - distress and mourning when the church was suffering persecution. When the persecution ended the sackcloth phase ended. The sackcloth state ended before the 1260 days ended as Jesus said, the days of persecution were “shortened” (Matt. 24:22). This text therefore points to some time before the 1260 ‘days’ (years) ended in 1798. The end of their testimony cannot refer to the end of the sciptures testimony in general because such a time will never come as “... the word of God, which liveth and abideth FOR EVER.” 1Peter 1:23
The beast from the bottomless pit
A beast symbolizes a nation (Dan 7:23; 8:20-21). Satan had worked through Papal Rome for centuries to make war on God’s truth. Rome had kept the Bible locked up in an unknown tounge, hidden from the people out of pretend reverence for the Scriptures. However, when the Scriptures were finishing their testimony in sackcloth, around 1798, there would arise another nation, another power which would wage open war upon the two witnesses (the Holy Scriptures).
The grave is a “pit” (Isa 38:18; Isa 14:19) which cannot be filled.
“ ...and [is] as death, and cannot be satisfied...” Hab 2:5;
“ There are three [things that] are never satisfied...The grave...” Prov 30:15-16
The grave is thus a bottomless pit.
The Greek “abussos” translated “bottomless pit” is also translated “deep”
in Rom 10:7 where it clearly refers to the grave.
The Greek Septuagint Bible uses the word “abussos” to describe the earth lifeless
and void in Gen 1:2.
Thus the nation to rise from the pit would be a new manifestation of that which was. It was to be a resurrection of something that previously existed
THE BEAST FROM THE BOTTOMLESS PIT WAS THE ATHEISTIC FRENCH STATE
1. It would be a NATION as beasts represent nations (Dan 7:17, 23) 1. France is a nation.
2. This nation would be a new manifestation of something which existed before - from the bottomless pit (v7), i.e. something returned the dead. 2. France manifested the same God defying spirit that was seen in the kingdom of Egypt (Exodus 5:2), the king of the south. The God defying sprit of ATHEISM was resurrected in France.
3. It would rise around 1798 at the end of the 1260 year period during which the witnesses prophesied in sackcloth (Rev 11:3, 7)
3. The French Revolution occurred in the late 1790s as the 1260 year period of papal supremacy was coming to an end.
4. It would attack the Bible - the two Witnesses (v7) 4. France attacked the Bible: “The [French] Convention dressed an ass...loaded it with the symbols of Christianity and tied the Old and New Testaments to its tail. It was then led in mock procession...The crowd piled books of devotion into heaps and burned them to ashes, amid blasphemous shouts...A prostitute was enthroned as ‘Godess of Reason’...” L.E. Froom, Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. 2, p738.
5. It would manifest a disbelief in the true God - like Egypt (v8, cf. Exo 5:2)
5. “France stands apart in the world’s history as the single state which, by the decree of her Legislative Assembly, pronounced there was no God.” Blackwood’s Magazine, Nov, 1870. This echos Pharaoh’s denial of the existence of the true God (Exo 5:2).
6. It would manifest great immorality - Like Sodom (v8)
6. In the Revolution the institution of marriage was made a mockery and great degradation took place.“Intimately connected with these laws affecting religion was that which reduced the union of marriage - the most sacred engagements which human beings can form, and the permanence of which leads most strongly to the consolidation of society - to the state of a mere civil contract of a transitory character, which any two persons might engage in and cast loose at pleasure, when their taste was changed or their appetite gratified..” Sir William Scott’s, Life of Napoleon, Vol.I, ch. 17.
7. It would be located where Christ, in the person of His saints, suffered terribly (v8)
7. France in which Papalism had a strong hold became one of Europe’s most terrible persecutors. Christ was crucified in the person of His witness in events such as the papal inspired Bartholemews Day Massacre when in one night thousands of Protestants were massacred. “...in the scenes of the Revolution...Christ, in His characteristics of truth, purity, and unselfish love, was crucified.” White, Great Controversy, p273.
8. It was part of spiritual Babylon - that great city (v8)
8. France was part of spiritual Babylon. France was the first of the ten nations into which the Roman Empire divided, to support the papacy.
9. It would be involved in a great political upheaval - great earthquake (v13).
9. The French Revolution was a religious & political upheaval that changed the world and the effects remain with us even today. “The time of the eighteenth‑-century French Revolution when the 1260 years of the Papal era were closing, was a turning point in the history of the modern world. It brought forth forces that made a permanent change in the thoughts and actions of mankind.” Alison, History of Europe (1789-1815), Vol. 1, p47-49.
“According to the words of the prophet, then, a little before the year 1798 some power of satanic origin and character would rise to make war upon the Bible. And in the land where the testimony of God’s two witnesses should thus be silenced, there would be manifest the atheism of the Pharaoh and the licentiousness of Sodom. This prophecy has received a most exact and striking fulfillment in the history of France.” White, Great Controversy p269.
THE FRENCH REVOLUTION AND OPEN ATHEISM WAS THE TRAGIC RESULT OF ROME’S SUPPRESSION OF THE SCRIPTURES.
“In the sixteenth century the Reformation, presenting an open Bible to the people, had sought admission to all the countries of Europe. Some nations welcomed it with gladness, as a messenger of Heaven. In other lands the papacy succeeded to a great extent in preventing its entrance; and the light of Bible knowledge, with its elevating influences, was almost wholly excluded. In one country, though the light found entrance, it was not comprehended by the darkness. For centuries, truth and error struggled for the mastery. At last the evil triumphed, and the truth of Heaven was thrust out. “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.” John 3:19. The nation was left to reap the results of the course which she had chosen. The restraint of God’s Spirit was removed from a people that had despised the gift of His grace. Evil was permitted to come to maturity. And all the world saw the fruit of willful rejection of the light. The war against the Bible, carried forward for so many centuries in France, culminated in the scenes of the Revolution. That terrible outbreaking was but the legitimate result of Rome’s suppression of the Scriptures. (See Appendix.) It presented the most striking illustration which the world has ever witnessed of the working out of the papal policy-- an illustration of the results to which for more than a thousand years the teaching of the Roman Church had been tending.” White Great Controversy 265-266
Papal Rome's brand of Christianity paved the way for the rejection of God and the Holy Scriptures and the rise of ATHEISM. The same Atheism demonstrated in Egypt (the literal King of the South of Daniel 11). Atheism, therefore, in "the TIME of the END" of Daniel 11:40 is the spiritual King of the South which through France inflicted the deadly wound on Papal Rome, the King of the North - see Daniel 11:40.
“The work which the papacy had begun, atheism completed. The one withheld from the people the truths of the Bible; the other taught them to reject both the Bible and its Author. The seed sown by priests and prelates was yielding its evil fruit.” White 4Spirit of Prophecy p192
In the absence of the elevating truths of Scripture the aristocracy and the priesthood lived in splendor while oppressing the poor masses who lived in hunger and hardship. The suppression of the truths of the Reformation by the Papal clergy and the leadership whom they influenced brought about terrible conditions for the masses which at last boiled over in revolution. The aristocracy and the priests would reap what they had sown.
Verse 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.
Textual evidence is divided between “bodies” and “body.” The singular form would agree with the fact that these two witneses have one “mouth” (verse 5). The Old & New Testaments form one book, one body.
THE GREAT CITY - SPIRITUAL BABYLON
Revelation is a book of two cities:
1. Jerusalem - representing the church of God. “The holy city” of Rev 11:2.
2. Babylon - representing false religion. “The Great city which spiritually is called Sodom & Egypt.” of Rev 11:8
Only three cities are called “great” in Scripture:
1. Gibeon - once (Josh 10:2)
2. Nineveh - 4 times (Jonah 1:2; 3:2, 3, 11)
3. Babylon - 10 times (Dan 4:30; Rev 14:8; Rev 16:19; 17:5; 18:2, 10,
16, 18, 19, 21).
The great city of this text is said to have the spirit of Sodom (immorality) & Egypt (Atheism - a disbelief in the true God). It cannot therefore refer to Jerusalem. It undoubtedly refers to Babylon the Great.
The witnesses were not to lay dead throughout spiritual Babylon in general but “in the street of the great city” “THE street” refers to some important part but not the whole of spiritual Babylon. At the time of the Revolution: “France had the largest population in Europe” (French Revolution, Britannica CD99 Standard Edition © 1994-1999), and was one of the strongholds of the Roman Church.
Gr. pneumatikos, not literally but figuratively. cf. Isa 1:10
A symbol of moral degredation (Jude 7; Eze 16:46-55). Such was the condition of France during the Revolution. Sodom was known for its immorality (Jude 7). In the French Revolution marriage was degraded, adultery was legalised, and moral debasement and corruption swept the country. It is estimated that at least one in eight of all marriageable women practiced prostitution.
“Intimately connected with these laws affecting religion was that which reduced the union of marriage - the most sacred engagements which human beings can form, and the permanence of which leads most strongly to the consolidation of society - to the state of a mere civil contract of a transitory character, which any two persons might engage in and cast loose at pleasure, when their taste was changed or their appetite gratified. If fiends had set themselves at work to discover a mode most effectually destroying whatever is venerable, graceful, or permanent in domestic life, and obtaining at the same time an assurance that the mischief which it was their object to create should be perpetuated from one generation to another, they could not have invented a more effectual plan than the degradation of marriage into a state of mere occasional cohabitation or licensed concubinage. Sophie Arnoult, an actress famous for the witty things she said, described the republican marriage as the sacrament of adultery. These anti-religious and anti-social regulations did not answer the purpose of the frantic and inconsiderate zealots by whom they had been urged forward.” Sir William Scott’s, Life of Napoleon, Vol.I, ch. 17.
EGYPT - ATHEISM
Of all nations presented in Bible history, Egypt most boldly denied the existence of the living God. Moses said “Let my people go...” Pharaoh proudly answered: ‘Who is Jehovah, that I should hearken unto His voice to let Israel go? I know not Jehovah, and moreover I will not let Israel go.’ Exodus 5:2, A.R.V. This is atheism, and the nation represented by Egypt would give voice to a similar denial of the claims of the living God and would manifest a like spirit of unbelief and defiance. ‘The great city’ is also compared, ‘spiritually,’ to Sodom. The corruption of Sodom in breaking the law of God was especially manifested in licentiousness. And this sin was also to be a pre-eminent characteristic of the nation that should fulfill the specifications of this scripture. According to the words of the prophet, then, a little before the year 1798 some power of satanic origin and character would rise to make war upon the Bible. And in the land where the testimony of God’s two witnesses should thus be silenced, there would be manifest the atheism of the Pharaoh and the licentiousness of Sodom. This prophecy has received a most exact and striking fulfillment in the history of France.” E G White The Great Controversy
Spiritually Sodom & Egypt
In this nation would be seen the immorality of Sodom and the God denying spirit of Pharaoh who said, “WHO IS JEHOVAH that I should obey his voice...I KNOW NOT THE LORD” Exo 5:2. This prophecy received a most exact and striking fulfillment in the history of FRANCE.
During the Revolution, in 1793, “the world for the first time heard an assembly of men, born and educated in civilization, and assuming the right to govern one of the finest of the European nations, uplift their united voice to deny the most solemn truth which man’s soul receives, and RENOUNCE UNANIMOUSLY THE BELIEF AND WORSHIP OF DEITY.” Sir Walter Scott, Life of Napoleon, Vol. I, ch. 17.
“France stands apart in the world’s history as the single state which, by the decree of her Legislative Assembly, pronounced THERE WAS NO GOD, and of which the entire population of the capital, and a vast majority elsewhere, women as well as men, DANCED AND SANG WITH JOY.” Blackwood’s Magazine, Nov, 1870.
“Intimately connected with these laws affecting religion was that which reduced the union of marriage… to the state of a mere CIVIL CONTRACT of a transitory character, which any two persons might engage in and cast loose at pleasure, when their taste was changed or their appetite gratified.” Sir William Scott's, Life of Napoleon, Vol. I, ch. 17.
The Bible was banned, fornication legalized and France plunged into the most bloody and licentious scenes ever seen in Europe known as the Reign of Terror.
Verse 8: Where Christ was crucified
CHRIST CRUCIFIED IN FRANCE
Like the names of Sodom & Egypt the expression “where also our Lord was crucified” is taken by many commentators figuratively. “’Where also our Lord was crucified.’ This specification of the prophecy was also fulfilled by France. In no land had the spirit of enmity against Christ been more strikingly displayed. In no country had the truth encountered more bitter and cruel opposition. In the persecution which France had visited upon the confessors of the gospel, she had crucified Christ in the person of His disciples.” GC 271.
“...Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto ME.” Matt 25:40.
When the Christ confronted Saul, who was terribly persecuting the church, the Lord introduced Himself by saying, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou ME?...” Acts 26:14.
Whatever is done to Christ followers He accepts as being done to Himself. Christ was ‘crucified’ in the person of His witnesses in the nation of France.
France, one of the oldest Christian nations of Europe, rejected the truth and slew saints. In doing so they did “crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to open shame.” Heb 6:4-6.
It is an appalling fact that France, in the long period when it was dominated by the papacy, was guilty of slaughtering millions of Christians. (See Wylie, The History of Protestantism, Vol. 3, p329-347, Vol. 2, p140-145, 557-562).