11:2 LEAVE OUT THE COURT
“But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it is given to the Gentiles. And they will trample the holy city for forty-two months” (Revelation 11:2). In the
But unfortunately, instead of the church invading the world to bring them the gospel, unconverted “Gentiles” invaded the church, resulting in the tragic history that we saw in the messages to the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3. “When you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in My sanctuary to defile it—My house… then they broke My covenant because of all your abominations” (Ezekiel 44:7). The church became corrupt, and was no longer representative of God. The corrupt Christian church as it has been in history is not to be the "standard" for the end-time people of God—“leave out [do not measure] the court which is outside the temple…for it is given to the Gentiles”.
The fact is that the historical church has often been the greatest enemy of God’s true followers. This is indicated by the fact that “they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.” This period of time will be explained in further detail in chapters 12 and 13, but briefly, it is the same period<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> as the “time, times and half a time,” when the “little horn” of Daniel seven “persecuted the saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:25). It is also the same as the “one thousand two hundred and sixty days” when the true church “fled into the wilderness” and was “in sackcloth” (Revelation 12:6, 11:3). These periods all refer to the long centuries of papal supremacy which lasted from just after the breakup of the western Roman Empire until after the Protestant Reformation, when the papal hurch was the oppressor of God’s faithful people. The true g
But just as we saw in chapter 10 that Jesus’ discourse in Matt. 24 had an application to both the papal period and the final time of trouble (see 10: Clues in Matthew 24), so it is here. During the time of trouble God’s “two witness…will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth” and at the same time “the Gentiles…will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months” (see Appendix 10). It is this end-time application that is the primary focus of both the measuring of the temple and the ministry of the two witnesses.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>
Continue to next section: 11:3-6 WHO ARE THE TWO WITNESSES?
<![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]><![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]> The priests would come there to “sanctify the people” but before they came they would change their clothes from the holy garments they wore when they prepared the sacrifices and grain offerings, which were offered in the inner court. This emphasized the marked distinction between the priests and the common people (Ezekiel 42:14, 44: 9, 46:20-24).
<![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]><![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]> The three periods coincide historically but focus on different aspects of this period. The 42 months (Revelation 11:2, 13:5) deal exclusively with desecration and persecution by God’s enemies. The 1,260 days (Revelation 11:3, 12:6) refer exclusively to God’s people. A time, times and half a time (Daniel 7:25,12:7, Revelation 12:14) refer to the interaction between the persecuting enemies and the persecuted saints.
<![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]><![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]> It is evident that the ministry of the Two Witnesses is primarily end time because this section is within the context of the sixth trumpet, also known as the second woe. Immediately after the victory of the two witnesses in 11:13 comes the statement that “the second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly” (Revelation 11:14), which is followed directly by the statement that “The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints…and destroy those who destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:17,18). This is a clear reference to the seven last plagues and the Second Coming, which means that the trumpets, including the trampling of the Gentiles and the ministry of the two witnesses, are a part of the final events which culminate in Christ’s coming.
The fact that the two witnesses “have power over the waters turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they want” (11:6) points to either the seven trumpet plagues or the seven last plagues. Both of these series of plagues are last-day events (see 8: Trumpets: Past or Future?)
Moreover, “when they finish their [1,260 day] testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them” (Revelation 11:7). As will be seen later in this chapter and in chapter 17: 6-8, “the beast… ascends out of the bottomless pit” during the time of trouble. Furthermore, as a result of the ministry, death and resurrection of the two witnesses “the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven” (Revelation 11: 13). This is a clear response to the first angel’s message (“fear God and give glory to Him” Revelation 14: 7), which is given during the last days.