In chapter 11, when the seventh trumpet sounds, which is the time period of the 7 years of great tribulation, two witnesses appear. Who are these two witnesses? Why two? Where will they be preaching? When will they appear? What kind of people are they? What language will they be speaking? How could they preach in such a way that the whole world will be able to hear them? Should we use literal or spiritual interpretation on this passage? These are probably things that we want to know .
We should use spiritual interpretation. We cannot say that these are two persons who are witnessing for the Lord all over the world for the following reasons:
( 1) 這個兩見證人口裡噴火，後來又被無底坑上來的獸所殺。不應該按字面解釋。這裡所說的地方，是所多瑪或埃及，也就是主釘十字架的地方。當然也要根據靈意來解釋了。
(1) Fire flows out of the mouth of these two witnesses and later on the beast that comes up out of the abyss kills them. This part should not be interpreted literally. The places that are mentioned here, Sodom and Egypt, also the place where the Lord was crucified. Certainly, spiritual interpretation should also be used here.
( 2) 兩個見證者witness 這字，不一定是指人。在中文，見證人當然是人，但在其他語言這個字不一定是說人。可以是動物，也可以是一個組織。像在十二章說的婦人，與十七章說的大淫婦，也不是指某人，乃是指教會。在這段經文裡面，描寫他們的字句，也沒有一個字是只有人纔能夠用的，像men 、person 之類的字。
(2) Two witnesses; the word “witness” does not necessarily mean it is talking about a person. It could be an animal or an organization; like the woman mentioned in chapter 12, and the great harlot in chapter 17, which does not refer to a specific person but to the church. In this passage, the words “men” or “person” are not mentioned at all to describe the witnesses.
( 3) 他們所做的，是世界性的事工。雖然現在做世界性的工作，似乎容易得多，但實際上憑兩個人，不見得能行得通。所有世界性的工作都是大組織所做的。
(3) The work that they did was worldwide. Even though doing work globally nowadays seems easier; in reality, if there were only two people, they would not have been able to accomplish much. All work that is done worldwide is done through large organizations.
( 4) 他們被稱為是｢兩個燈臺｣或｢燈盞｣，那都是代表教會的，不是代表個人的。單一一個信徒、先知，或使徒，都不能算是一個燈臺。
(4) They are called “the two lampstands” which represents the church not a person. A single believer, prophet or apostle cannot be considered a lampstand.
THE CHURCH EXPERIENCES REVIVAL AND WITNESSES FOR THE LORD
3 我要使我那兩個見證人，穿著麻衣傳道一千二百六十天。4 他們就是那兩棵橄欖樹，兩個燈臺，立在世界之主面前的。
3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.
At the beginning of the seven years of the great tribulation, the church will be raptured. Looking at chapter 7, a great multitude which no one could count was raptured and taken to stand before the throne of God; these are the ones who come out of the great tribulation (7:14).
At the same time, there will be another group of people who will have to go through the great tribulation; but before the tribulation an angel will put a seal on their foreheads indicating that they belong to God. This group of people will have to go through the 7 years of great tribulation (7:3).
This means that not everyone from the church will be taken up during the rapture. Those who do not have the life that comes from heaven and are not led by the Holy Spirit will be left behind. Yet they are not enemies of God because they might have gone to church regularly; they are friends of the church. Maybe they did not understand the Gospel and neglected the Lord’s salvation due to ignorance. At that time, they will realize that they do not have the Holy Spirit in them but the Lord will open up a fountain for them to wash their sins away, so that they will repent and confess their sins, and be sealed by the Holy Spirit. Thus, there will be a time of revival in the last days.
They were clothed in sackcloth because they had gone through repentance. After they received the Holy Spirit, they became believers who have life from above. They will remain on earth and become witnesses in the last days. They were measured first. The outsiders who are only interested in the excitement will not be measured. Only those who serve the Lord inside the temple will be counted in. The angel told John to measure the following:
( 1) 量聖所– 就是重新量度教會。原來教會裡面的聖徒，早已經被提，這是新悔改的一群。
(1) The temple of God is actually the sanctuary (not the temple)—which is measuring the church once again. The original believers in the church had already been raptured; this group was the new believers who had repented.
( 2) 量祭壇– 就是救恩或得救方式之審定。是怎樣得救的？是否已得到羔羊的代贖？
(2) The altar—the place to prove the way of salvation. How were they saved? Did they receive redemption through the Lamb?
( 3) 量禮拜的人– 屬神子民的審定。在以西結書卅七章，先知看見聖殿異象之前，先看見枯骨復活的異象。那本來稱為神子民的人，其實是死的，毫無生氣。沒有神生命的人就像死人的枯骨一樣。他們與世人追求一樣的東西。唯一不同的地方，只是去過教會，受過洗，有一點聖經知識，但靈魂一樣是死氣沉沉的，沒有聖靈的工作。但在末日，枯骨卻復活，聖靈大能顯在這死透的教會，使他們靈性複甦。
(3) The worshipers—those proved to belong to God. In Ezekiel chapter 37, before the prophet saw the vision of the temple, he saw the vision of dry bones become alive. Those who were called people of God were actually dead; they did not have life in them. Those who do not have the life of God in them are like dry bones. They seek the things that the people of the world seek. The only difference is that they go to church, had been baptized, have a little knowledge of the Bible, but their souls are dead, the work of the Holy Spirit is not in them. But during the end times, the dry bones will become alive, the Holy Spirit’s great power will be at work in the church that was completely dead and they will be spiritually revived.
There are different opinions regarding the rapture of the believers. Some believe that the whole church will be raptured and not a single believer will be left behind. I think that all the believers who have spiritual life, those who are watchful, whose lives are led by the Holy Spirit, and those whose lamps are filled with oil, all those believers will be raptured. Then again, when the Bible mentions the second coming of Christ, it always tells us to be alert. If all the believers were to be taken during the rapture, then there would be no need of reminding us to be watchful. Those who believe that all the believers will be taken during the rapture have two theories that support their views :
1) The church is one whole entity that cannot be separated; there is no way that half would be taken away and half would be left behind. This is just what people think.
2) People are saved by grace, not by works. Believers should not rely on good works to be raptured. That is also just people’s ideas; because if a person is watchful or not, it is not a matter of what they do, it is a matter how they live.
How do ordinary people determine if a person is saved or not? They look at whether or not the person has prayed inviting Jesus into his heart. If he has prayed that prayer, then he is saved. But we have to understand that the prayer is not an incantation, it does not possess special powers. Whether he is saved or not depends on the faith inside himself; whether he has truly received Jesus into his life. If he didn’t mean what he prayed, he prayed in vain. Since he has no life, how could he be raptured?
They are friends of the Church, not enemies; they are not people that God has rejected. Only after the Church has been raptured will they realize that there is a problem with their belief, and only then will they repent and have great revival in the last days. They were clothed in sackcloth; they are people whose lives have gone through repentance.
6 These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.
On one hand, from the teachings of the Old Testament in the Bible we see that there must be two witnesses in order for a testimony to be considered valid.
On the other hand, after the believers that have life have been raptured, those people who are considered friends and who are not saved yet, who are they? I think they are two kinds of people:
( 一) 猶太人。他們只讀舊約聖經，他們在等候彌賽亞。以為彌賽亞還沒有來到。
(1) Jews. They only read the Old Testament and are still waiting for the Messiah. They think the Messiah has not come yet.
( 二) 外邦人。其他教會中被撇下的，被稱為基督徒但並沒有主生命的人。這些人本意不是要作神的仇敵，只不過在相信的過程中，沒有長出基督的生命。
(2) Gentiles. People from other churches who were left behind, they are called Christians but do not have the life of Christ in them. These people are not meant to be enemies of God, but in the process of believing, their lives did not grow in Christ.
所以這兩個見證者，一是神的選民，二是外邦教會。先知所見異像中常見兩種人。他們不曉得是外邦信徒，給他們一個名稱叫｢馀民｣，常譯作｢馀剩的人｣。如果只讀舊約，不知他們是誰。但經耶穌肉身的弟弟雅各解釋後就知道，原來是指外邦信徒( 徒15:16-17) ：
Therefore, these two witnesses are God’s chose people and the gentile church; the two groups of people often seen by the prophets in visions. They do not know they are Gentile believers and so they call them the “remnant”, often translated into “the rest of mankind”. If we only read the Old Testament we would not have known who they are supposed to be. But after the explanation given by Jesus’s half-brother, James, we know that it is talking about the gentile believers (Acts 15:16-17):
正如經上所寫的，此後我要回來重新修造大衛倒塌的帳幕把破壞的重新修造建立起來，叫馀剩( 其馀) 的人，就是凡稱為我名下的外邦人，都尋求主。“
Just as it is written, ‘After these things I will return, and I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen, and I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, so that the rest of mankind (the remnant) may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name,’ says the Lord.”
We suddenly realize, from his explanation, that these two groups of believers have already been mentioned in the Old Testament.
The woman that is mentioned in Revelation chapter 12 is the Jewish Church. The dragon is Satan who was enraged because he couldn’t kill the woman, so the dragon went off to make war against the children of God; the “Jewish Church” and “the rest of the God’s children”, the two groups of believers, Messianic Jews and Christians.
How could the two witnesses testify to the whole earth? Because they were two lampstands, not two people.
THE CHURCH IS FIERCELY ATTACKED
7 When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them.
“When they have finished their testimony,” indicates the last stages of the tribulation, which are the events that will happen during the last three and a half years. The beast, the empire that is against God, will fiercely attack God’s Church and the Church will seem to have been completely overthrown. That beast was able to bring down the Church because at the beginning of the 7 years it used peaceful tactics to deal with the Church and in that way they were able to infiltrate themselves into the internal affairs of the Church, destroying it from the inside out. When Daniel said: “he will put a stop to sacrifice”, he was referring to putting a stop to worship services. It appears that at that time the Church would be completely defeated.
這獸稱為無底坑上來的獸，表示牠是極其兇猛的。在末世後期，災難特別多，因為在後期最兇最邪惡的魔鬼頭子將會放出來(9:2, 20:7) 。所以敵基督的國背後的力量，是從魔鬼頭子來的。凡是提到無底坑，那就是惡天使的監獄。無論哪一個壞天使，要被關在無底坑里的，都是大能力又非常邪惡的。
“The beast that comes up out of the abyss” indicates that it is extremely violent and fierce. During the end times, disasters will be numerous because at that time the most brutal and most wicked leader of the demons will appear (9:2, 20:7). And so, the force that drives the Antichrist nation comes from the leader of the demons. Whenever the bottomless pit (abyss) is mentioned, it is referring to the prison where the evil angels are locked up. Any evil angel that is locked up in the bottomless pit is very powerful and extremely wicked.
Yet, how come the Church was defeated at their hands? It is possible that it was not properly equipped, or underestimated their enemies because of pride, or they were not alert enough. According to the book of Daniel, “on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate,” that is to say, the matter happened unexpectedly, as swift as wings, it was dramatic; in one night, the Church suffered serious damage, it was caught unprepared.
THE DEATH OF THE CHURCH
8 And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.
Probably the place where the Church was overthrown was in a big city, which is the modern, civilized, advanced society.
Some young people who come from China think that it is safer in the city than in the countryside. They find it odd to see that so many Americans prefer to live in the suburbs. Americans will say to them, you are wrong; suburbs are safer , crime rates are higher in the inner cities. And there are more people that are against God in the cities.
Many cities are mentioned in Revelation, but there is only one City of God, which is the New Jerusalem. All the other cities will be destroyed. According to spiritual interpretation, these cities are called “Sodom” and “Egypt”. Egypt is not a city; it is a world that is against God, a society that is self-indulgent and lustful, a place where God’s people are persecuted. Then he says, “Where also their Lord was crucified.” When the world persecutes the Church, it is as if they were crucifying the Lord.
Because the Church of God on the earth represents Christ, it represents the Kingdom of Heaven, it represents God. When people persecute the Church, they are actually God’s enemies. Putting the children of God in prison is like putting Christ in prison; when they torture and kill God’s children, is as if they were torturing and killing Christ.
Remember how the Apostle Paul persecuted God’s Church before he believed in Jesus. He even asked the government for official letters to arrest the disciples by imperial decree. On the Road to Damascus Christ appeared to him with a light from heaven that blinded him; and the Lord said to him: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Notice that the Lord did not say: “Why did you persecute my Church? But He said to Saul: “Why are you persecuting me?” He is not just empathizing with us, but He is actually suffering together with us. When we are persecuted, He is persecuted and when we suffer, we are suffering together with Him.
DISPLAYING THE DEAD CHURCH
9 Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb.
Here it mentions peoples and tribes and tongues and nations. Chapter 7 also mentions a great multitude from every nation, tribes, peoples and tongues but it refers to those who are saved, those who were raptured to the Sanctuary in heaven, those who belong to God, those who live in heaven. The people in chapter 11 were scattered among the earth, they were enemies of God, and they lived in the world. Even though they were also from all peoples, tribes, tongues and nations but they were a completely different group. These people were happy because the Church was attacked and wounded, not because they were standing before the Sanctuary of God worshiping, praising and singing praise songs to Him.
What are the dead bodies of the witnesses? They are empty churches, like many churches in Europe and America which are just used as a tourist attraction. There is no life in them, no believers inside, and no worship services.
The revival of the Church became a witness in the world; only for three and a half years. In the middle of the 7 years of great tribulation, Satan and the Antichrist’s fatal blow on the Church injured it severely; it was desecrated and taken over by evil people.
But the churches were not removed, so that the dead bodies, the churches that were not alive anymore may become an exhibit to prove that they were completely dead. Letting the churches become tourist attractions, turning churches into cafes, fast food restaurants, to prove that Satan has great powers and everyone would admire him and everyone celebrated. Therefore, the Church was only able to witness for the Lord during the first three and half years of the final 7 years.
Here it says three and a half days, but in fact it is representative of three and a half years. If it is was referring to the number of days, half a day would be counted as one day, not half a day. After Jesus was crucified, He was buried only for two and a half days, but it was considered 3 days, half a day is considered as one day. Therefore, the three and a half days mentioned in this verse actually represents three and a half years.
In Revelation when it talks about the final 7 years, it also uses different figures to represent three and a half years.
( 一) 一千二百六十天這是教會傳道的時間，這只是叁年半，但每一天都是重要的日子，都要計算，每一天都是見證日。都是正面的好日子，教會能勤勞傳揚福音的日子。
(1) Twelve hundred sixty days – Was the amount of time that the Church preached the Word of God, and even though it was only three and half years, every day was considered very important, every day had to be counted, every day was a day to witness. Every day was a positively good day, days when the Church would be diligent in spreading the Gospel.
( 二) 四十二個月聖殿的外院給異教徒踐踏四十二個月。前面叁年半，教會能見證主，不過那時平靜中隱藏危機。異教徒會進入教會伺機攪破壞。四十二個月看來不算很長，也不算很短。是危機四伏的時間。
(2) Forty-two months – The outer court of the Temple was given to the nations and they will tread underfoot the holy city for forty-two months. During the first three and half years the Church could witness for the Lord, but there was danger lurking under that peaceful setting. Pagans would enter the Church and wait for the opportunity to wreak havoc. Forty-two months does not seem to be a very long time, or a very short time but it was a time of great danger and crisis everywhere.
( 叁) 一載二載半載( 12:14) 是教會受迫害的時間。這是苦的時間，但用短的數字表示，告訴我們，雖然受苦，卻不算是很長的日子。期間也會得到一些短暫的安全保護。
(3) A time and times and half a time (12:14) – It was the time when the Church was persecuted. Those were times full of distress, but it was indicated with shorter figures, which tells us that even though there was much suffering, it was not going to be for too long. There would be a period of time when they would enjoy security and protection.
( 四) 叁天半這看來是最短的時間，是教會似乎完全被消滅了，像徹底死透了，是死亡的時間，但只算是很短的幾天。很快教會又神蹟性地複活過來。在這死亡的時間，可能轉變成地下教會，繼續暗暗發展。屍體，就是空教堂，擺在那裡讓世人觀看。
(4) Three and a half days – It appears to be the shortest period of time, it is when the Church seemed completely destroyed, as if it was totally dead, but it was only for a short few days. Miraculously the Church came to life again very quickly. Maybe while it was dead it became an underground Church and continued expanding. The dead bodies were the empty church buildings, left out there for the people of the world to see.
CELEBRATING THE DEATH OF THE CHURCH
10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.
Those who dwell on the earth are the people who consider this world their permanent home; they were celebrating because the Church had closed its doors completely and worship services had stopped. They celebrated by sending gifts to one another because they felt that the Church made them suffer. The existence of the Church made them very unhappy. They want to ban all evangelistic programs from TV’s, prohibit prayer meetings in the schools, and do not want to allow Creationism to appear in textbooks. In reality, they are the ones who are making the Lord’s disciples to suffer, and yet they say that it is the Lord’s disciples who are making them suffer.
The prohibition by the world to let Christianity spread the Gospel results in shootings in school grounds every year injuring and killing many innocent people. They are actually the ones who are hurting the Church.
The two witnesses were called “prophets”, God’s spokesman; the Church at that time was the only spokesman for God.
THE RESURRECTION OF THE CHURCH
11 過了這叁天半，有生氣從神那裡進入他們裡面，他們就站起來，看見他們的人甚是害怕，兩位先知聽見有大聲音從天上來對他們說：上這裡來，他們就駕雲上了天。仇敵也看見了。11 But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them. 12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them , “Come up here.” Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them.
The Church will not be overthrown forever, as if it only happened for just three and half days. This is what the Gentiles fail to understand. This kind of event took place many times in history, powerful people wanted to destroy the Church but at the end the Church came to life again; because the Church is an organization that is alive. Before Christ returns the second time, there will be revival in the Church. Like in the vision that Ezekiel spoke about in chapter 37: The dry bones came to life again.
As a result, the witnesses during the end times also resurrected and went up to heaven. They resurrected later. The resurrection of the believers does not happen only once. 1 Corinthians 15:22-23 says: “…In Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order …”When we get to chapter 20 we see that people actually resurrected a few times.
13 And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
At the very end, God uses a great earthquake to show His majesty. The city is not really a city; it represents a whole environment that is hostile toward God. This unprecedented major natural catastrophe will destroy most of the world, the Beast’s empire. The world used the most advanced weapons against God’s Church, they seemed to be winners. But at the end, God’s Kingdom won the victory using the most ancient weapon: a natural disaster. During the times of Joshua and Samuel, God also used forces of nature to help them win battles; during the end times it will be in the same way.
This great earthquake will be the last one. This event will give glory to the God of Heaven, because it will clearly show without any doubts that it was an act of God. The closer we are to the end, the greater the number of earthquakes . Yet many people still do not believe that it is the work of God. But this last time, glory was given to God. Definitely the hand of God was clearly seen. Those who died in the earthquake were also the most hostile enemies of God . Even the rest of the people were able to see that.