WHEN WILL THE BEAST APPEAR?
With this understanding, the time of the appearance of the antichrist (the beast) can be ascertained. “The beast... will ascend form the bottomless pit” (Revelation 17:8) and the bottomless pit is “opened” during the fifth trumpet (Revelation 9:1,2). Moreover, the locusts who come out of the bottomless pit during the fifth trumpet “had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit” (Revelation 9:11). The fifth trumpet takes place “at the time of the end” during the last phase of the long war between the King of the North and the King of the South (see 9:3 The Locust Army).
In the introduction to the trumpets we can see what it is that has been the restraining influence preventing the appearance of “the man of sin.” In Revelation 7:1 four angels are shown “holding the four winds of the earth…till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” This restraining is shown again in Revelation 8:3-5 as an angel with a censer, offering up prayers and incense. As we saw in 8:3 The Golden Censer, the censer is a symbol of God’s merciful protection of sinners from the disasters that they deserve. The casting down of the censer symbolizes the end of this protection, allowing Satan to instigate the trumpet plagues with the chaos and suffering he has long wanted to bring on this earth. Satan will not be released until the 144,000 are sealed.
The chaotic conditions that are brought about by the first four trumpets (fiery hail, a burning mountain and a burning poisonous star which causes smoke that blots out the light of the sun, moon and stars) are called the opening of the bottomless pit (see 9:1,2 The Bottomless Pit). It is out of the bottomless pit that the beast ascends to make his attack on the two witnesses. It is God and his angels who are restraining Satan, but after the 144,000 have been “sealed in their foreheads” the four winds will be released, the censer will be cast down, the bottomless pit will open and the beast will appear.
Thus the ministry of the two witnesses takes place at the same time that “the beast…ascends out of the bottomless pit.” This is the end-time, worldwide and universal appearance of the antichrist. He is the one who “will make war against them, overcome them and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called
The details of the last furious effort to destroy God’s people, carried out by the enraged followers of the beast, are found in chapters 13 and 17—the image, mark and number of the beast and the battle of the beast and the ten kings against the Lamb. The harlot (the false church) which "sits on" (controls) the scarlet beast (alliance of nations) in chapter 17 is “drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Revelation 17:6). This confirms the fact that some last day witnesses may become martyrs, at least during the time before the close of probation when there will be “silence in heaven”.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>
However, the chiastic structure indicates that this section is highly symbolic (see 8:3, Trumpets: literal or symbolic?). Some of the “two witnesses” may end up being actual martyrs, but all will die a spiritual death. This is the overwhelming death to self that is described in 10:7 The Shattering of the Power of the Holy People. It will come about as the faithful witnesses face great disappointment (“It will make your stomach bitter” Revelation 10:9) that their message seems to be rejected (“the rest of mankind…did not repent” Revelation 9:20). Instead of a positive response they will see that their witness has brought about persecution and threat of death to themselves and those they love most (Revelation 13:15). The followers of the beast will believe that God’s people are responsible for the plagues they have been suffering, and they will rejoice at their grief and apparent defeat— "they that dwell on the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation 11:10). But the “resurrection” of the two witnesses will be a compelling witness that will finally convince a great multitude to abandon
Continue to next section: 11:11-13 RESURRECTION OF THE TWO WITNESSES
<![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]><![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]> God’s people were called out of both
<![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]><![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]> See section 8:1 Silence in Heaven for an explanation of the meaning of this phrase. See 14:13 Martyrs During the Time of Trouble for more information about the possibility of martyrs.