A Look Back Before Moving Forward
In the first three parts of our series (I, II, III) on the the two witnesses, we outlined some of the more important points of Revelation 11; who the two witnesses are, the time frame of their testimony and the time frame of their persecution by the gentiles and the beast during the latter half of the 70th Week of Daniel. In this final installment of the series we will put an exclamation point on what has turned into a very surprising chapter; one that most definitely created a paradigm shift over the decades of thought on the subject. The biggest shift of course is that the two witnesses are not two literal people but the corporate body of Israel and the Church. As stated in part three, we will finish the Revelation 11 timeline and close out our series here, today. To do this we will bring back our timeline image and then explore the rest of the scripture verses that deal directly with the two witnesses of Revelation 11.
In Figure 1., we can see the general outline of the 70th Week that is first mentioned in Daniel 9. Half of the figurative week is framed in a faux peace era that lasts for 1260 days. The 70th Week starts off with the building of the third temple and the beginning of sacrifices once again in national Israel. This is the time period we see the two witnesses actively giving testimony on a global scale and we confidently speculate it is the signing of the covenant with the many seen in Daniel 9:27 that causes this all out testimony by the Body of Christ. This delusional era of peace is (in the words of the prophet Daniel) confirmed by a man we have come to know as the anti-Christ.
In the middle of the 70th Week, temple sacrifices end when the anti-Christ declares himself God. This is same time frame as the abomination of desolation mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 24:15 which of course hearkens back to the prophet Daniel. From this point, the anti-Christ along with the unbelieving gentiles, persecute the two witnesses relentlessly for the latter half of the week in an era of complete lawlessness, unto day 2520 and the end of the week.
Defining The Holy City, The Great City and Sodom & Egypt
Before we get to day 2520, let’s back up to the mid-point of the week as outlined in Revelation 11 and work our way forward from there by defining some important information. First let’s take a look at the scripture verses that pertain to the topic:
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. 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. 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. Revelation 11-7-9
In verse 7, we can see the two witnesses have finished their 1260 days of testimony (spoken of in Revelation 11:3) as the beast rises to full power at the abomination of desolation and makes war with them, overcomes them and kills them. The word in the Greek used for war is the same word that Jesus uses in the oft quoted “wars and rumors of wars” verse in Matthew 24. Going along with our thesis that the two witnesses are a corporate body, not two literal people, the word war, is apt. In other words (no pun intended), it would make no sense to use the word war in the context of two people but makes complete sense when used in the context of a global body of believers for the Greek word war (polemos), signifies all out warfare, not a showdown between three people or two people and a system. To cement this truth, we must define some points here that are often misidentified in Revelation 11. How do we know? Because we were also guilty of the prophetic crime of mis-identity of whom the holy city, the great city and Sodom and Egypt are. I will state up front that there is so much information to be sifted through on the aforementioned holy city alone, it would take a large book to get into every detail let alone tackle the myriad of other topics in Revelation 11. Please bear with us as we try to convey the meanings without writing that book here and now!
As has been pointed out by our friend Doug Krieger, author of The Two Witnesses, Volumes 1 & 2, there is a tale of two cities going on in the book of Revelation. One is the great city which is better known as the end-times mystery city of Babylon. The other is its juxtaposition in the holy city; the New Jerusalem. Many people have applied all the titles to one city claiming the holy city, the great city and Sodom and Egypt are all the same. Our first clue should be that one city cannot be holy and yet be spiritually as Sodom and Egypt! You are either holy, or you are not! In the book of Revelation, Babylon is called the great city in eight verses directly; the new Jerusalem (more on her later) is called “that great city” once after Babylon has been destroyed because she supersedes Babylon ! You can reference the eight great city-Babylon verses in Revelation 14:8, 16:19, 17:18, 18:10, 18:16, 18:18, 18:19 and 18:21. By deduction, we can then also see that Babylon is linked in a 9th verse as being spiritually called Sodom and Egypt since the holy city cannot be the great city. Again it says this:
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. Revelation 11:8
Of course the natural inclination is to say that Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem and that must be the great city mentioned here. But taken as a whole, the book of Revelation makes it clear that the great city is Babylon, not geographical Jerusalem. To further drive that point home we go to Revelation 17…
And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth. Revelation 17:18
Who is the woman this verse speaks of? If we back up to verse 5 of the same chapter, we find she is none other than Mystery, Babylon the Great! The great city isn’t not earthly Jerusalem, no. It is the mysterious endtime great city called Babylon!
Inside Or Outside?
Most people assume that our Lord was crucified in Jerusalem and thus declared spiritual Sodom and Egypt is Jerusalem, the holy city of Revelation. We can show you that Scripture definitively tells us otherwise in at least one place while buttressing the argument in another passage; Jesus was not crucified in Jerusalem but outside the city:
Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was Jesus Of Nazareth The King Of The Jews. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. John 19:18-20
And though there is much spiritual meaning in the next text, taken together with the verses in John, it solidifies where Jesus was crucified:
Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
This may come a shock to many, but Jesus was not crucified in the city of Jerusalem but near it. Jesus was crucified for the world, in the world as signified by the three dominant languages (Latin, Greek and Hebrew) that were written stating he was King of the Jews. This happened outside the gate in the great city which is spiritually known as Sodom and Egypt; a title never bestowed on the city of Jerusalem anywhere in the Bible. No, we are not declaring that the whole world is mystery Babylon, but we are saying the whole wicked world is dominated by her spiritual ungodliness. The verse in Hebrews clearly states Jesus is outside the gate of the city (Jerusalem), thus we can see that Sodom and Egypt is connected to the great city and not geographical Jerusalem let alone the new Jerusalem in Revelation 21. Again (to beat a dead horse), John states Jesus was crucified nigh (near) to the city. If one is near, you can be considered close to the city, but that by no means means you are in it. To put it another way, this isn’t a game of horse shoes; close isn’t good enough. You are either in the city or you are not. Now to begin to grasp the meaning of the holy city in the book of Revelation…
The term holy city is mentioned 4 times in the book of Revelation with it being defined in Revelation 21:2 as the new Jerusalem. Along with this information, the word Jerusalem only appears 3 times in the whole book of Revelation. Not once is the word Jerusalem linked to the geographical, modern city of Jerusalem. It is always linked to the holy city and new Jerusalem of Revelation 21. It is first mentioned in Revelation 3:12…
Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. Revelation 3:12
In Revelation 3:12, Jerusalem (spiritual, not geographical) is again linked directly to the holy city in Revelation 21. What comes as a surprise to many is who (yes we said “who”) the new Jerusalem is:
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:1-2
We further read this of the holy city:
And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Please note two of the very distinct features of the new Jerusalem i.e. the bride of Christ as mentioned above in Revelation 21. First we see the gates are the names of the 12 tribes of Israel and second, we notice the foundations are the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb. Without mincing words here, the holy city is Israel the Church of Romans 11, not geographical Jerusalem!
If we go back and look at the beginning of Revelation 11 again, we can see that the two witnesses give testimony for 1260 days (Revelation 11:3). Deduction tells us that if their testimony is unstoppable (they breath fire: Revelation 11:4, Jeremiah 23:9), then the trampling of the holy city for 42 months must be aligned with the 3.5 figurative day reign of the beast during the latter half of the 70th week. They cannot be the same time period! Again, the 42 months of trampling by the gentiles is the same 3.5 figurative day time period that the beast makes war with the two witnesses in the latter half of the week!.
A Quick Look At God’s Wonderful Math
To even further add some intrigue, God threw interesting math into the equation. When you add the 12 gates (Israel) plus the 12 foundations (the Church) mentioned in Revelation 21, they equal 24 (12 + 12 = 24). We can see the number 24 mentioned in Revelation as the 24 elders. If you multiply these same numbers, we get a fractal of the 144,000 in chapters 7 and 14 of Revelation (12 x 12 = 144). Without diving further into this numerical subject, we can easily see the connection of Israel the Church to these other symbols in Revelation and all of them are juxtapose to the great city. Again, if the great city is spiritually Sodom and Egypt, it cannot qualify as the holy city, new Jerusalem; the bride of Christ and vice versa.
Dealing With That Pile of Bodies and Other Surprises
We are not trying to be morbid here, but we must face facts and do it with discernment. Having shown that the dead, corporate body of the two witnesses is lying the street of the great city, we can now see this is not geographical Jerusalem piled high with bodies for 3.5 literal days, but a global campaign of open persecution and death wrought upon believers by the beast and his legions of followers. The literal city of Jerusalem will no doubt be a mess from persecution, but so will every place where the two witnesses reside in the global community. The level of persecution everywhere for believers will be unprecedented and will be that way until the final day of the 70th Week when we see this:
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Revelation 11:7-12
The resurrection of all dead believers and the rapture of Israel the Church, the new Jerusalem is clearly seen in Revelation 11:11-12: . To visualize it, we spelled it out as R&R on our updated timeline (and boy, who wouldn’t be up for some R & R at that point!) at the time period it happens. These events happen exactly 2520 days after the start of the 70th Week for we know that the two witnesses (Israel the Church) give testimony for 1260 literal days and then the beast makes war with them for the last 3.5 figurative days of the week; the anti-Christ’s 42 month reign. At this exact same time the gentiles trample the holy city for 42 months which is equal to the 3.5 day figurative reign of the beast. The first 69 weeks prophesied in Daniel covered a time period in which believers (both gentile and Jew) awaited the first coming of Christ and the final week will also culminate with believing gentiles and Jews awaiting the second coming of Christ. There will be no “great snatch” before the 70th Week starts as Pre-tribulation rapture proponent Hal Lindsey states in his book, There’s a New World Coming. Persecution has been here since the dawn of Godly men, and will continue to be here until Christ returns and destroys the enemy! This outline of persecution lines up perfectly with the coming of the Lord Jesus at the 6th Seal in Revelation 6:12-17 and the coming of the Lord Jesus after the tribulation of those days in Matthew 24:29-31. Jesus states that the abomination of desolation takes place and all believers need to take cover because of persecution! He then declares he will return after the tribulation of those days and gather his elect and the elect is none other than the holy city, Israel the Church, the new Jerusalem!
Closing; Hope in Persecution
We do know that many believers will pay the ultimate price for the testimony of Jesus during the latter half of the 70th Week but we are also told that there will be those that are alive and remaining at the coming of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:15,17). Just after the resurrection, those that are alive and remain after fierce persecution are raptured in the twinkling of an eye with new bodies. From this we can surmise that though it says the two witnesses bodies lie in the street of the great city which is spiritually Sodom and Egypt, it is not quite that literal; lying dead in a spiritual city means the death is related to spiritual events. There are surely (according to Scripture) living believers who remain at the end of the 70th Week. What is dead for sure is the allowance to freely prophesy about spiritual things; the coming of the Lord and his impending judgment upon those that dwell on the earth and the last chance to repent before the “mark of the beast” seals your fate at the mid-point. The number one proclamation of the two witnesses during the first half of the 70th Week until war has been declared on all those who do not follow the beast system will then be outlawed; physical death being the sentence for disobeying. As the apostle Paul wrote, to live is Christ, to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). Either way, our Hope lies in Christ and his promise to return for his Bride. The two witnesses cannot wait to descend from heaven as the Bride, the new Jerusalem dressed in new bodies, adorned for her loving husband. With that, we close out our series on the two witnesses with a short prayer; Come Lord Jesus……