EDITOR’S NOTE: This groundbreaking series is being offered in celebration of a previously top-secret project and now unprecedented new 3-Volume book series (over 10-years in the making) from best-selling scholar Dr. Thomas Horn and acclaimed biblical history and theology majors Donna Howell and Allie Anderson: THE MYSTERY OF JESUS FROM GENESIS TO REVELATION—YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND TOMORROW
Earlier, in the section called “Judgments: Parallel or Sequential?” we discussed the possibility that the later bowl series of judgments could possibly be a recapitulation of the trumpets told from different perspectives, like the popular “three blind men and an elephant” example. As a reminder: Though we do acknowledge this to be a possibility, it is not our personal belief, due to the evidence we listed in support of a sequential approach. We therefore proceed in the order John the Revelator gave, treating the trumpet sequence of judgments alone and separate from the later bowls.
Following the earthquake, John watches as the first angel blows his trumpet of judgment. Hail and fire, mixed with blood, are thrown down from heaven, setting ablaze one-third of the earth, one-third of the trees, and all of the green grass (8:6–7).
The mention of “blood” here could be either symbolic or literal, though the symbolism throughout Revelation argues for the possibility that it may be a color intended, rather than a particular substance: Hail and fire could certainly be explained naturally through some kind of extreme weather, or an electrical or meteorological phenomenon, so it stands to reason that the “blood” could be as well. The most popular theories include the prospects of a polluted, discolored rain, volcanic activity, literal bloodshed caused by those on the ground who are struck by the falling objects or lightning, or simply the overall color of the sky (but see the next two trumpets, handled together). If taken literally (and we believe it can be), theories abound as to where this blood would have come from, but seeing as this is the hand of God at work, mere conjecture as to the origin of blood (which is all anyone can offer on this) is unnecessary. As one-third of all trees are burned up, the sources of food on the planet is also affected, as well as the earth’s capability of producing oxygen through photosynthesis (which depends on foliage).
The second angel blows his trumpet, and a great “mountain” on fire (scholars sometimes believe this to be a volcano) plunges into the sea, turning one-third of the water into blood, killing one-third of all sea life, and destroying one-third of all ships on the water’s surface. The third angel follows with his trumpet blast, and a burning star (possibly an angel) called “Wormwood” (sometimes called “Bitterness”) falls into rivers and springs, causing one-third of the water to become “bitter” (poisonous), and many people die from drinking it (8:8–11).
Trumpets two and three effectively wipe out a third of both kinds of water on the earth: the “sea” (saltwater) and the lakes/rivers (freshwater). These authors worked together on a full-length book specifically related to an incoming asteroid “Apophis,” thus named by NASA, which has been dated to arrive on (or near) the earth in 2029. If it is pulled from its course by the earth’s gravitational energy, then the impact could be catastrophic, fulfilling precisely what is described by John here. In this book, The Wormwood Prophecy (available at SkyWatchTVStore.com), we surveyed possibilities of both the second and third trumpets and compared them to the “water into blood” phenomenon in Exodus, as well as the natural procession of events that would follow. We highly recommend the Wormwood book for a more complete treatment on what may be happening here. For now, suffice it to say that the plagues of Egypt were, in addition to ancient Egypt, experienced in a small town in the 1980s, on Lake Nyos: Iron-rich water from the deepest crevices of the lake floor was released via earthquakes (called a “limnic eruption” or “lake overturning”), then mixed with the rest of the water, forming iron hydroxide (basically rust) and turning the color of the entire lake from blue to a deep red. If you’ve ever bitten your tongue and tasted that iron/metallic taste of blood, or smelled blood and equated it with that “wet metal” smell, then you can probably see how the Israelites/Egyptians may have described a high-iron, gas-poisoned, blood-colored water substance as “blood,” if that was what they were dealing with. It wouldn’t be much different than other passages of the Bible in which something scientific (such as Earth orbiting around the sun) is described in words that the writers found familiar (such as the “rising” and “setting” of the sun in Psalm 113:3). Though vast bodies of “blood” are a hard thing to imagine scientifically, interpretations of Revelation do allow for figurative language to describe God’s hand behind natural disasters. Likewise, poisoned waters could be a result of astrological-object contact, as we observed as recently as 2007 in Carancas, Peru. A seven-to-twelve-ton chunk of chondrite space rock, traveling at twenty-seven thousand miles per hour and heated to three thousand degrees Fahrenheit, hit the empty plains. Local villagers were struck with extreme illness, the symptoms of which were so wide and seemingly disconnected that it initially looked hopeless that they would isolate a cause or come up with a cure. This particular space rock was only the size of “a dinette set,”[i] so its poisoning potential that would threaten local water supplies is obviously incomparable to any sizable trumpet judgment that enters large bodies of water or moving streams. Nevertheless, within only hours of collision, a mysterious sickness had spread to the point that the nearby residents began to whisper that the meteorite’s scattered debris was, among other theories, “cursed.”[ii] We can only imagine the damage of a colossal impact such as that described in Revelation.
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The fourth angel blows his trumpet, and one-third of the sun, the moon, and the stars are stricken, darkening one-third of both the day and the night (Revelation 8:12). (A natural reading explains that, quite simply, one third of the planet’s sources of light are put out by this event.) John hears an eagle flying through heaven, “saying with a loud voice, ‘Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!’” (8:13).
The word “eagle” here could be translated to “vulture.” Both are birds of prey, linked in Matthew 24:28 as harbingers of tragedy. As Morris notes, the warning of the eagle to the inhabitants of the world points to one central thing: “There is a deepening of intensity” on the forthcoming judgments.[iii]
The fifth trumpet is blown, and John sees another star (or angel) fall to the earth. This star is given the key to the bottomless pit (or abyss), and when he opens it, smoke billows out from within, like an enormous furnace, turning the sunlight and air dark. Hordes of locusts with the power to sting like scorpions erupt out of the smoke, looking like horses in battle, but with human faces and some kind of golden crown atop long, womanly hair and featuring sharp teeth like those of lions. Their armor is made of iron, and the sound of their wings makes such a noise that it is like a throng of chariots racing into battle. They are not allowed to sting those with the mark of God on their foreheads, but they’re given freedom to torture everyone else for five months under the decree of their king, the angel from the bottomless pit whose name is Abaddon (Hebrew) or Apollyon (Greek). In the days of the scorpion-locusts, people will seek death but will be unable to find it. They will long for the release from agony death can bring, but it will run from them. This first terror is now past, but behold! Two more terrors are coming (9:1–12).
Wow… There is a lot of frightening imagery here.
To begin, since the angel is here depicted as a personified star, it is not completely accurate to say it is a “fallen angel,” as some interpreters do. Rather, this “star” is “descending downward”; it’s not “fallen” in a spiritual sense. Be that as it may, an evil angel is here identified by many, in part because he is given the power to unlock the abyss (but note that he was “given” that “key,” which Beale says may point to the idea that this is a servant of Christ who “holds the keys” to death and the grave[iv] [1:18; also see verse 20:1]).
Let us make a quick side note here before continuing… Some skeptics of biblical literature find the language around locations of the afterlife to be off-putting, because they are not viewed as being scientifically possible. This is true not only for Revelation, but for the terminology used throughout the Word and in Hebrew history since time immemorial. Such terms as “Sheol,” “Hades,” “Gehenna,” and even “hell,” which are all depicted as being at the center of the earth (Matthew 12:40; Ephesians 4:9; Psalm 63:9; Amos 9:2; Isaiah 14:9, 15; Ezekiel 31:16–17; 32:27; 2 Peter 2:4) causes many problems. But Revelation scholar Kendall Easley profoundly captures how we feel with his statement, “It is best for us to think of this as their ‘theological geography of the universe’ rather than as their ‘scientific geography.’”[v] (He goes on to point out the irony that even in today’s scientifically enlightened world, people write “up in heaven” and other such figures of speech all the time and nobody ever thinks a thing of it. It’s only when the Bible uses similar phrasing that people get riled…) With that in mind, rigidly developed arguments for or against these locations being literal is a job for a book with a completely different purpose than this one. Simply put: We believe these word pictures are helpful to understand what it was John saw, and for now, it doesn’t need to be more than that.
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With that said, the imagery of this “abyss” is mentioned elsewhere in Revelation (11:7; 17:8; 20:1–3) as the place where the Beast and the Dragon are contained, and upon studying it against concepts of the lake of fire (where those whose names are not written in the Book of Life will be cast; 20:10, 14–15), they are not the same place. Easley describes the visual of earlier “abyss” language as imagining a giant underground cavern with a small, narrow hole at the top that is kept shut and locked. Under this “door” is years’ worth of horrible, choking smoke from a “sulfurous, crude-oil burning furnace”[vi] packed in with no escape. When the door is unlatched, the smoke belches up from the ground and permeates the air, darkening everything. Easley’s description is helpful, though scholars also rightly note that “the original readers would have conceived the Abyss to be in the depths of the sea.”[vii] This complicates the idea of escaping smoke and heat, which perhaps makes the concept of a “volcano rising from the sea” a better visual than an underground cavern.[viii]
Whereas we are not insisting that the abyss must be interpreted to be a real place that forces Revelation’s figurative language to present an absurdity, the judgments upon the earth—as guided by the sovereign hand of God and possibly involving the natural elements—are real (even while there is room for symbolism). Locusts in particular still plague the earth to this day, especially in the Middle East—and they, too, have a lifespan of five months—though albeit they don’t look like those who will spring up at the sound of the fifth trumpet. Unlike natural locusts, these will be wholly demonic, causing such agony to those they torture that the victims will want to die, but they won’t be able to. Honestly, the description of these creatures is so bizarre and so disturbing that very few sources have much to say about John’s vision here. However, Easley visits the concepts of the symbols (thought to be figurative and nonliteral because of John’s use of “like” or “as” in these verses) and suggests the following meanings (along with our own notes):
- “Horses prepared for battle”: Battle-ready horses are specifically bred and trained to be stronger and outlast a standard riding horse. Thus, the impression here is that John says these demons will show up well-prepared for what they are told to do.
- “Crowns of gold”: A symbol of authority and/or victory, suggesting the demons will be victorious in their mission to torture humanity.
- “Human faces”: Possibly inferring intelligence; humans are above the animal kingdom in this way, but a “human face” on a satanic bug might symbolize that they are capable of a higher level of reasoning.
- “Women’s hair”: Many scholars, not just Easley, believe this refers to extreme antennae (but Easley reminds his readers that Parthian warriors of antiquity intentionally wore their hair as long as a women’s because it was a sign of “fierceness”).
- “Lions’ teeth”: An obvious characteristic of a wild predator willing and able to devour its prey.
- “Iron armor”: Denotes militaristic preparedness (other scholars say this could be a radically pronounced and rippled thorax that is natural to locusts).
- “Sounds of the wings like charging horses”: With no biblical evidence to suggest how large these are, this could be a swarm, as of locusts, or it could indicate that the creatures are incredibly large on an individual basis.[ix]
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DOES “THE MYSTERY OF JESUS” INCLUDE THE WORLD PREPARING FOR ANTICHRIST?
Interestingly, though “seeking after death” and “not being able to find it” was inconceivable in John’s day, we are nearing a time now when that may not be difficult to imagine. Transhumanistic sciences are every day increasing toward the goal of achieving immortality. We are now capable of replacing more human body parts with machinery than ever before, and only a tiny, bureaucratic ribbon called “bioethics” is keeping us from altering our human DNA to take on the characteristics of animals that can outperform (and outlive) our finite bodies. When has it ever been true of the human race that a man who wanted to die couldn’t do so by his own hand? Yet, the literal interpretation of this section of Revelation suggests that death will not even be possible. In fact, John states this twice! “And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it ; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them ” (9:6). Though any thread of concentration on this idea is mere conjecture to most Bible scholars, scientists not only think it’s conceivable, but they’re championing the idea, celebrating every little step we make toward the dream of our self-controlled immortality. At the very least, it’s worth considering John’s warning before we pass the point of no return in today’s laboratories…
The sixth trumpet blasts, and from the four-horned altar in the presence of God, a voice tells the angel with the trumpet to release the four angels bound at the bottom of the Euphrates River. These angels—who are prepared for this very hour, day, month, and year—are released and proceed to kill one-third of the world’s human population. John hears their army, which is comprised of two hundred million mounted troops. John also sees a vision of these horses and riders, writing that their armor is red like fire, as well as dark blue and yellow. The horses’ heads are like lions, and from their mouths come billowing smoke, fire, and burning sulfur. One-third of all the earth’s people are killed by the fire, smoke, and sulfur. Their power comes from their mouths and tails, which are like snakes and have the power to inflict injury. However, the people who do not die from this still refuse to turn to God and repent of their wickedness, murder, witchcraft, sexual perversion, and theft. They continue to worship their demons and the idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood—idols that cannot see, hear, or even walk (Revelation 9:13–21).
As the number “four” represents the earth in Revelation and “horns” represent authority, the “four-horned” altar is believed to symbolize God’s sovereignty to exact a worldwide effect of His trumpet judgment (also see Exodus 27:2).
Though some scholars believe these four angels are good, the vast majority of academics rightly see that there’s no reason a good angel like this would be bound. There is an Old Testament prophecy mentioned many times regarding an army from just north of the Euphrates River that God will use to punish Israel (Isaiah 5:26–29; 7:20; 8:7–8; 14:29–31; Jeremiah 1:14–15; 4:6–13; 6:1, 22; 10:22; 13:20; 46:4, 6, 10, 22–23; Ezekiel 38:6, 15; 39:2; Joel 2:1–11, 20–25).[x] These four “angels” at the bottom of the Euphrates River could be associated with these prophecies. John’s description of a vicious, evil army at this time would remind his early readers of the barbaric Parthians, who bordered the eastern boundary of the Roman Empire. However, no such army appears to be in mind as soon as the strange horses are described. Though the Parthians were known to twist the tails on their horses so they resembled snakes,[xi] that’s where the similarities end. It’s clear that whatever John sees is principally satanic.
The worship of idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood who cannot see, hear, or walk is a first-century word picture. However, such gods were not just empty decorations, as Paul made it clear they were objects of demon-worship (1 Corinthians 10:19–22) and therefore were crawling with the presence of real dark forces. When Antichrist comes to inaugurate the one-world religion, he may not have to be as obvious as to endorse idols of first-century influence in the homes of his followers in order to accomplish the same offense against God. That he would be brazen enough to insist on himself being the main object of worship is a no-brainer, and participating in such an act will, Revelation teaches, tragically lead to being visited and attacked by the very demons the people of earth will someday venerate…whether or not they realize that is what they are worshipping. Idolatry of any kind is a form of Satan worship.
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Will Antichrist and his cronies someday build an idol that will appeal to the modern mind, above the archaic, static statues of old? We think that’s not only feasible, it’s a biblical promise (Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11; Matthew 24:15–16; Mark 13:14; Revelation 13:14). Yet despite the massive number of crude graves in that day from the army led by fallen angels from the Euphrates, people will refuse to repent.
John then sees another mighty angel coming down from the heavens, surrounded by a cloud. A rainbow arches above his head, his face shines brightly like the sun, his feet are like pillars of fire, and in his hand is a small scroll that had been opened. As he stands on earth, his right foot is in the sea and his left is upon the land. He lets out a great shout, and the seven thunders answer him. John is about to write what he hears when the seven thunders speak, but another voice comes from heaven and tells him to keep the message of the seven thunders a secret (no scholar knows what is said, but as the narrative implies, that’s intentional). The angel with one foot on land and one in the sea raises his right hand toward heaven and swears an oath in the Name of the One who lives forever, who created all the earth, the heavens, the sea, and everything that lives in those domains. His oath is that there will be no more delay, that God’s mysterious plan will be brought to its final conclusion with the sounding of the seventh trumpet, just as the prophets had foretold (Revelation 10:1–7).
In the Old Testament, clouds, when they accompanied a traveler or group, symbolize the presence of God (Exodus 13:21; 40:34; 2 Chronicles 5:13–14), and the pillar of fire brings to mind the Israel’s journey through the wilderness (Exodus 14:20). The rainbow is the sign of the Covenant (Genesis 9:8–17). This angel’s face is shining like the sun, which, as stated earlier, signifies a majestic connection to God. Despite the similarities of the description of this angel to Christ earlier on, Christ, in Revelation, is not an “angel.” One foot on land and one on sea not only portrays a being of massive size, it also symbolizes authority over both the earth and its waters. As far as seven thunders “answering,” recall that “thunder” in the Bible is frequently synonymous with God’s voice, and here, the number seven indicates the fullness of God. Whether this voice was God’s own or not is uncertain (though some of our sources think so, like Bruce Barton stated firmly in his commentary),[xii] though it’s clear that it was from a heavenly servant at the very least.
This swearing of an oath by the angel regarding what God has told the “prophets” is a paramount moment. We see two worlds collide between the books of Revelation and Daniel (one of those very prophets) in this moment:
And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. (Daniel 12:7; emphasis added)
We will get to this “time, times, and an half” in a moment. For now, tuck it in the back of your thoughts and simply remember that the angel said God’s mysterious plan is finally going to be completed. Also take note that “prophets” here does not just refer to those in the Old Testament, but to any prophet up to the writing of Revelation (therefore, New Testament prophets are included).
Then, the voice from heaven speaks again, instructing John to take the scroll from the angel standing on land and sea. John obeys, and the angel tells him to eat it, warning him that it will taste as sweet as honey, but it will turn his stomach sour. John eats the scroll as instructed, and it is sweet in his mouth, but makes his stomach sour. He is then told he must prophesy again “before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings” (Revelation 10:8–11). (This is the commissioning of John as a prophet, modeled after a similar incident when Ezekiel was told to eat a scroll and obeyed, then was instructed immediately after tasting its honey sweetness to go and speak God’s words to Israel [2:9–10; 3:1–4]. The “sweetness” is a symbol that God’s Word is good, while, for John, the message of world destruction is stomach-turning.)
John is then given a measuring stick and told to go measure the Temple of God and count all those present who are worshipping. He is not, however, to measure the outer courtyards, as they have been given over to the nations, who will tread the holy city under their feet for forty-two months. Power will be granted to the two witnesses, and they will prophesy—while wearing burlap for those 1,260 days. These two prophets are the two olive trees and lampstands that stand before the Lord. If any man hurts them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. They have the power to shut up the heavens so it will not rain while they prophesy, as well as the power to turn water into blood and to strike the earth with as many plagues as they want as often as they wish. When their testimonial work is done, the Beast (Antichrist) will come up from the bottomless pit and make war against them. They will die, and their bodies will lie in the streets of Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified—which is now spiritually Sodom (a symbol of moral depravity) and Egypt (a symbol of oppression and idolatry). For three and a half days, all people, tribes, nations, and folks of every language will see them and not be allowed to bury them. The work of the two witnesses will have so tormented the people that there will be joyful celebration and exchanging of gifts upon learning of the two men’s deaths. But after three and a half days, the Spirit of God will breathe life into the witnesses, and they will stand up, striking terror into those who see them arise. A loud voice from heaven will call them to come up, and they will ascend to the clouds of heaven in the sight of their enemies. At that time, an earthquake will hit the city, destroying a tenth of it, and seven thousand people will perish, while everyone who remains give glory to God out of terror. The second terror is past, but behold! A third is coming (Revelation 11:1–14).
Even the brightest scholars admit that Revelation chapter 11 is “extraordinarily difficult to interpret”[xiii] and has therefore led to an immense number of diverse interpretations. Because of this, we will allow the Bible to speak largely for itself, making only a few potentially helpful comments.
The “Temple of God” that John is sent to measure is—in context of the Holy City Jerusalem and the courtyards that have been given over to the nations—on the earth. This is a scene similar to the one in Ezekiel 40–42, when that prophet was also told to watch while another man measured the Temple and report to God’s people what he had seen. However, since the Temple had been destroyed a number of years before the writing of Revelation, this could either be a reference to a future rebuilding of the Temple on earth or figurative language referring to: 1) the New Temple that will be in the New Jerusalem during the Millennial Reign; 2) a symbolic representative of the Church universal during the Church Age; or 3) a prophecy regarding the eventual salvation of the Jews (there are many other possibilities as well). The latter is what we tend to think is the truest interpretation because it fits within the context of Ezekiel 40–42, which, at that time, foreshadowed a restoration of the exiles. Romans 11:26 also foretells this kind of restoration, and Jesus mentioned this event in Luke 21:24: “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
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The Temple in biblical times was in the center of three courts. The inner court was for priests; the next court outward was for ceremonially clean Jews to worship and segregated the men from the women; and the very outer court was where Gentiles could worship or learn more about the Jewish God. “Measuring” symbolized marking certain portions of the city to be either saved or destroyed (2 Samuel 8:2), and it can also imply God’s authority and ownership of a section (2 Kings 21:13; Isaiah 34:11; Lamentations 2:8). In John’s vision, the inner courts and Temple are saved, while the outer court and the rest of the holy city is vulnerable to disaster. The ones guilty of “trampling” here are Gentiles. Considering what Jesus said in Luke 21:24, this could be a prophecy regarding the salvation and rescue of the Jews (represented by the Temple and the Jews-only courts). However, because the prophecy spares only the Jews who are in the priestly or inner court, it doesn’t spare those outside the holiest place, which means the real identity of those who will be kept from harm is the “remnant.”
In Daniel 9:27, we learn that Antichrist enters a seven-year agreement with the Jews, and we believe that, for the first half of that time, the Jews will be allowed to worship in their Temple again. Now, remember Daniel mentioned “a time, times, and an half”? Scholars across all interpretational schools of thought understand this to be “a year, years, and a half-year,” or, “a year, two years, and a half year,” meaning three and a half years. That also could be broken down as “forty-two months” or “1,260 days,” which is how long the “nations” will “trample” in John’s vision of measuring the Temple and inner court. This vision takes place, then, in the middle of the seven-year Tribulation, when Antichrist breaks the covenant he had with the Jews and dishonors their arrangement, setting up the “abomination of desolation” as foretold in the Gospels, Daniel, and Revelation (Matthew 24:15–21; Daniel 7:25; 9:27; 11:31; 12:11; Revelation 13:14). The remnant will be spared!
The identity of the two witnesses is another hot-button topic in the scholarly universe. Because every one is destined to experience the “first death” (mortality; see Hebrews 9:27)—and Enoch and Elijah did not die in that way—a lot of folks believe they will be the two witnesses. However, one major “first death” exception to the rule in Hebrews is the Rapture, which will take every true believer up into the clouds, making any of the raptured saints eligible to Enoch and Elijah levels of escaping the first death if that were the only qualification, so that interpretation may not hold. One possibility relies on taking into consideration Exodus 7–11, 1 Kings 17:1–7, and the power the two witnesses will be given to stop rain, turn water into blood, and send plagues in the Name of God (Revelation 11:6). This embodies the power of Moses and Elijah together. Moses and Elijah were also witnesses at the Transfiguration of Christ (Matthew 17:1–7). Recall also how prophecies can have multiple fulfillments. Malachi prophesied God would “send…Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Malachi 4:5). Earlier, in Volume 2 , we showed that, at the time of Christ, this was John the Baptist who came in “the spirit of” Elijah (refer back to that section if you wish, and recall that this is not a reincarnation teaching). If Malachi’s prophecy also has a double fulfillment, the two witnesses could be Moses and Elijah.
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WILL BLOOD OF THE ANTICHRIST “SAVE” PEOPLE FROM THIS!?
Though views about the witnesses’ identities are endless, the premillennialists largely believe them to be two literal, end-time people (not figurative symbols), although “burlap” (sometimes “sackcloth”), because of its association with the prophets of old, could simply signify some kind of outward appearance that identifies them as God’s true witnesses in that day (for more information on the meaning of these clothes, also see Genesis 37:34; Revelation 6:12; 2 Samuel 3:31–32; 1 Kings 20:32; Matthew 11:21). Two witnesses in Zechariah’s time were Joshua and Zerubbabel. The use of olive oil in lampstands during their story brought the power of the Holy Spirit to their ministry and message (Zechariah 4:1–6). Therefore, these two witnesses in Revelation “are the two olive trees and lampstands that stand before the Lord,” or, two prophets powered by the Holy Spirit. Scholars, including those who follow premillennialist theology, do not agree whether these men will be carrying out their ministry in the first or second half of the seven years, and there are good arguments on both sides. They’re either refuting Antichrist’s popularity and warning of his coming betrayal midway in, or they’re preaching after his betrayal to bring in the latter-Tribulation harvest.
Finally, the seventh trumpet is blown, and loud voices in heaven shout: “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
The timing initially seems odd here, as it is too soon for the Millennial Reign. Futurist-literal scholars believe this statement from the voices is a literary prolepsis or rhetorical anticipation—in this context, a prolepsis would be the recognition of the start of something that will be completed soon. Imagine you go see a tragic play. The opening narrative says, “Here lies Sarah. Sarah died defending her family.” The storyline then “rewinds” to its beginning to explain what happened to Sarah. This is a prolepsis. In this heavenly moment, the voices are stating the completion of something that is only just beginning, before it “rewinds” to show details of the progressive fulfillment. However, the fact that it has begun points to an important fact: The powers of the earth, formerly belonging to Satan, have here transferred to Christ. This fact is seen in the following praise from the twenty-four elders who fall from their thrones to the ground and worship God:
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 [You have assumed Your power and have begun to use it for Your reign]. 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 [the time is now to judge the dead and reward Your prophets], and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great [and all the holy saints]; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth (11:14–18).
Then, in heaven, the Temple of God is opened up, and the Ark of the Covenant can be seen from within it. Lightning, thunder, a hailstorm, and a terrible earthquake ensues (11:19).
UP NEXT: The Woman and the Dragon (Revelation 12)
[i] Bearman, Joshua and Allison Keeley, “The Mad Scramble to Claim the World’s Most Coveted Meteorite,” December 17, 2018, Wired Magazine, last accessed April 18, 2022, https://www.wired.com/story/scramble-claim-worlds-most-coveted-meteorite/.
[iii] Morris, L., Revelation… 124.
[iv] Beale, G. K., The Book of Revelation… 493.
[v] Easley, K. H., Revelation… 156.
[vi] Ibid., 157.
[vii] Barton, B. B., Revelation (G. R. Osborne, Ed.; Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers; 2000), 100.
[ix] We took liberties in explaining most of this on our own based on multiple sources, but much credit goes to the following scholar, who summarized a complicated idea very succinctly: Easley, K. H., Revelation, 158.
[x] Beale, G. K., The Book of Revelation… 506–507.
[xi] Morris, L., Revelation… 133.
[xii] Barton, B. B., Revelation, 111.
[xiii] Morris, L., Revelation… 140.