1. This strong angel resembles Christ and could be Gabriel or Michael but no name is given.
2. The angel has a scroll in his hand which is open. Many think this is the same scroll as the Lamb has just unsealed. It is now opened and John is able to “eat” its contents. This fits well with the commission of John in chapter 1: According to Rev 1:1 this Revelation is to be communicated to John by His angel. Here we have the angel doing just that—communicating the open book to John.
3. “The plan of the book encompasses history from the cross to the consummation (beginning) of the new creation, since a summary of the scroll’s contents is revealed in chs. 6-22. It outlines Christ’s sovereignty over history, the reign of Christ and the saints throughout the course of the church age and in the new cosmos, Christ’s protection of His people who suffer trial, His temporal and final judgments on the persecuting world, and the final judgment. “ Beale Commentary on Revelation
4. The standing of the strong angel with one foot on the earth and one foot on the sea shows us that indeed Christ already is in charge. Notice the contrary idea and attempt of Satan to show control in chapter 13:1: “The dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea.” The truth here is that God is in control, even of Satan and his agents.
5. John is now going to be shown how the revelation of God’s mystery (plan) relates to the church. This will be the immediate thing we see in chapers 11 and 12.
6. In chapter 12 begins a new vision sequence which takes us back to the cross and reworks all this out again. Thus we have in Revelation what we call recapitulation—the repeating of the same events in different language and with different symbols. The 7 seals, judgments, and bowls are for the most part describing the same things with different imagery.
7. The seven thunders seem to be another possible series of judgments like the seals, trumpets, bowls. But these are not revealed. Rather they are sealed up. See Daniel 12:4.
8. The sealing of the message of the seven thunders reminds us that God has not told us everything. He has only revealed to us what we need to know.
1. See Daniel 12:7 for similar imagery of a figure raising the right hand and left hand and swearing. He is proclaiming that when the 7th angel sounds (the seventh trumpet) the fulfillment of God’s mystery will be finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets. What we will find with the 7th trumpet in 11:15 is the end as we call it--- or the beginning of the new heavens and new earth. See 1 Corinthians 15:52. This is the fulfillment of Daniel 11-12 which is underway between the cross and the final return of Jesus. Remember what Daniel is about: The end-time suffering of God’s people, the destruction of the enemy, the establishment of the kingdom of God, and the reign of the saints. All that Daniel prophesied has now been set in motion with the events of the cross and the activity going on in the early church.
1. Here we have the recommission of John. The first was in Revelation 1:10-11: “Write down what you see and send it to the seven churches.” Here he is told to do so again before the second half of the book. Here we see the scroll that Christ opened has been handed to the angel and now will be handed to John for proclamation to the churches (See Revelation 1:1)
2. See Ezekiel 2:8 – Ezekiel 3:11 + Jeremiah 15:15-18: Like Ezekiel and Jeremiah John is to proclaim God’s word to the churches as Ezekiel did to Israel—whether they listen or not. John, like Paul and others, will also proclaim the gospel to peoples and nations and tongues and kings (verse 11). And this is the same thing we must do. We proclaim the word to everyone. And the gospel is sweet and bitter for us as . Like John we proclaim the sweet victory of Jesus and the church, but also the bitterness of intense suffering and persecution the church will experience (see chapter 11), as well as judgment on those who reject Jesus whether by comprising their faith or by refusal to repent.
3. See Amos 3:7-8: God has revealed the plan to John who is to relay it to the churches. This is indeed what He has done for us. And this is what we do for others when we faithfully proclaim the word of God.
4. The conclusion of the mystery is the conclusion of the dynamic process that God set in operation following the cross. God’s plan of salvation is about to be completed.
Summary: God is absolutely sovereign. In Revelation God is giving understanding to what is going on in the church and world around us. God is going to rescue us. We are going to suffer persecution. We must not compromise our faith with the world. Judgment is coming on the enemies of the church in answer to their prayers for justice and deliverance. When the seventh trumpet sounds time will have run out on everyone and the new heavens and new earth will begin. Some will be included (those who embraced and lived for Jesus) and some will be left out (those who rejected Jesus as evidenced by the fruit of their lives). Ephesians 1:10 and Colossians 1:16-20: World history will be wrapped up and all of it has to do with Christ. John 16:33: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
Spiritual Protection + Bodily Persecution of God’s People
1. In Ezekiel 40 the non-literal temple is measured in a vision like here. There is no temple in the days of Elijah. Ezekiel 40-47 is a vision of total restoration, the dwelling of God with His people in the future when Messiah comes on the scene (at Christmas and afterward). It is a vision of the new Israel (the transformed Israel which is the church). Ezekiel receives his vision about 14 years after the destruction of Solomon’s temple. It is a geometrically idealized temple.
2. In Zechariah 2 the city of Jerusalem is measured. It is without walls because there will be so many people in it. Again, this is a picture of renewal (after the events of the first Christmas). Messiah will result in the inclusion of the Gentiles. This is a non-literal vision also.
3. Revelation 21:15: the city and its gates and walls of the New Jerusalem are measured. New Jerusalem is defined as the bride, the wife of the Lamb in this passage. In other words, once again—the church of Jew and Gentile together, the new community of Jew and Gentile together due to Messiah, Jesus.
4. Revelation 11: Here the inner temple area and the people of God are measured. The outer court is left out, given over to the nations to trample for 42 months.
a. This vision is in keeping with the message of Revelation that is consistent throughout. The people of God will be protected from spiritual harm but will undergo severe persecution.
b. 42 months, 3 ½ years, 1260 days, times times and half a time in Revelation all refer to the period of persecution of Daniel 7 and 12. This is a non-literal number corresponding to the months of Elijah’s ministry and the number of years of Israel in their wilderness wanderings (which we see alluded to also in chapter 12). In other words, the time of the church is a time of great gospel success plus great persecution.
*Note that the pre-millennial view of this passage and other passages in Revelation is that there will be a literal time of persecution at a time called the Great Tribulation at the end of time. Others do not take this view but adhere to the view I am teaching here. This is all symbolism steeped in the language of the OT and apocalyptic literature.
c. The measuring of the inner temple and the people of God is equivalent to the sealing of the people of God in Revelation 7, meaning spiritual protection.
d. All of this is in keeping with Daniel 7 which talks about the suffering of God’s people, the dominance of the enemy over them via war, and their ultimate victory because of the Messiah. And here is the biblical irony: Victory comes through suffering. This is the message of John to the seven churches. Your persecution seems like defeat. It is not. God has heard your prayers and you will be vindicated--- just like Jesus was. His death on the cross seemed like defeat but it was victory. Revelation 12:11: “they conquered him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
e. “Rev 11:1-13 shows that the church is sealed for bearing an enduring and loyal witness to the gospel , which begins to lay a basis for the final judgment of those rejecting their testimony.” G.K. Beale, Revelation. Measuring is metaphorical in the OT for either protection or judgment.
f. “Like the seal that was set on the foreheads of God’s servants , the measuring of the temple betokens an inner security against spiritual dangers. But the angel’s orders are to leave the outer court exposed, because God does not offer to the church security from bodily suffering or death. It is his intention that they should remain outwardly vulnerable to the full hostility of their enemies, secure only in their faith in the crucified and risen Lord.” Dennis Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb quoting a commentary by Caird on Revelation.
g. The above interpretation is well in keeping with exactly what Jesus said regarding discipleship throughout the gospels. We will be persecuted for witness, Luke 12:4-5 is just one example: “My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One (God) who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!
The Witnessing Church: Accomplishing Its Mission, Persecuted, Killed, and Vindicated Through Resurrection
1. Why two witnesses? Because in the OT every fact was confirmed by two witnesses. Compare the sending out of the 70 on mission in Luke. They were sent out two by two.
2. Likewise when Jesus sent out his disciples to proclaim the kingdom, he gave them authority.
3. The two witnesses represent the church that prophecies powerfully throughout the church age (1260 days).
4. The church witnesses in the spirit and power of Moses and Elijah. Fire flowing from their mouths is a reference to Elijah calling down fire on those who were trying to stop him in 2 Kings 1 and to the word of God in the mouth of Jeremiah. See Jeremiah 5:14 where God tells Jeremiah: “Behold, I am making My words in your mouth fire and this people wood, and it will consume them.” i.e. refusal of people to repent results in judgment on them.
5. Our bold powerful witness without compromise will result in judgment for those who reject the message of the gospel.
6. The reference in verse four to two olive trees points to Zechariah chapters 2 and 3. Zerubbabel (representing the king) and Joshua (the high priest) represent the truth already presented in Revelation. We, the church, are a kingdom of priests who will reign upon the earth forever in the end. In the power of the Spirit we build the church and do its work. Lampstands in revelation represents the church working in the power of the Spirit.
7. The reference to shutting of the sky in verse 6 recalls the drought called for by Elijah in 1 Kings 17. The turning water into blood recalls Moses in Exodus 7 turning water into blood via the first plague.
8. The prophets striking the earth with every plague in verse 6 recalls the plagues of Egypt and also the first four seals and first four trumpets—temporary judgments that come in advance of and as warnings of the final judgment to come.
9. When the church has completed here mission the beast will make war with them and overcome them and kill them (verse 7). See the parallel in Revelation 13:7 where the beast makes war with “the saints” and overcomes them. This is confirmation that the two prophets here are not literal but represent the church. We do not know when this is. We do know that already there is death and persecution of believers. But near the end this persecution will be highly intensified. The church will seem to be dead. Satan will seem to have won.
10. Verse 8 says the dead bodies will lie in the streets of Jerusalem, now referred to as Sodom (great wickedness) and Egypt (the great persecutor of Israel). In other places the great city is referred to as Rome or even Babylon. The point here is that the church will seem to lie dead in the midst of an ungodly world which has persecuted her. Finally, she is gone and silenced! Refusal to bury is a sign of utmost contempt.
11. Because the gospel message to repent and turn to Jesus is offensive the world hates our message. They will rejoice extravagantly (even sending gifts to one another) at the seeming defeat of the church (verses 9-10). The laying of the bodies in the streets for 3 ½ days recalls the body of Jesus in the grave after his supposed defeat on the cross after his ministry was completed.
12. Notice in verse 10 the reference to the church’s tormenting function. The message of the gospel torments the earth dwellers. Remember, the phrase "earth-dwellers" refers to those who only love this world and the things in it and the ways of it. There is no intention in their lives to follow Jesus or serve Him. They trust in and go after the things of this world rather than the things of God.
13. In verse 11 we see the short period of time at which the church seems dead. Then there is resurrection (just like Jesus) and ascension in verse 12 (vindication—just like Jesus). On ascension compare the ascension of Elijah in a fiery chariot when his ministry was done and the belief that Moses was taken to heaven after he died.
14. The language of verse 11 is the language of Ezekiel 37, the vision of dry bones, where the dead bones come together and there is resurrection. The ascension imagery of being taken to heaven is symbolic of the vindication of the church as in Daniel 7. See Daniel 7:13-22
15. The great earthquake here kills a tenth of the city. 7000 people killed. This reverses OT imagery in which it is the tenth that is often saved (a remnant) and the 7000 who refused to bow the knee to Baal. The survivors of this quake give glory to God. This could either mean they repented or they simply had remorse. Remember, in the end all will bow the knee before Jesus, acknowledging Him, whether they followed Him or not: Philippians 2:10-11: “so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father.”
16. The end is close now: The 7th trumpet is getting ready to sound.