Rev. 11:11 — But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet. So great fear fell on those who saw them. 12Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” They went up to heaven in a cloud while their enemies watched them. (HCSB)
The breath of life from God entered them
John records that “after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet. So great fear fell on those who saw them” (v. 11). Various interpretations are offered. For some, this resurrection is the restoration of political and religious order following the anarchy of the Jewish War, or perhaps the ultimate political and spiritual revival of Israel (see Eze. 37:10-11). For others, it is the resurrection of Christ and the Spirit-infused testimony of the church constituting the two witnesses. Still others argue that after three and a half years of uncontested papal rule following the declaration of the Fifth Lateran Council in 1514, Martin Luther nails his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg church, igniting the Reformation. Spiritualists contend that the events in Revelation 11 symbolize the many times in church history that the Body of Christ has been beaten down by the world, only to rise stronger and rightly vindicated.
Rev. 11:7 – When they finish their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, conquer them, and kill them. 8Their dead bodies will lie in the public square of the great city, which is called, prophetically, Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. 9And representatives from the people, tribes, languages, and nations will view their bodies for three and a half days and not permit their bodies to be put into a tomb. 10Those who live on the earth will gloat over them and celebrate and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who live on the earth. (HCSB)
The beast will conquer them and kill them
But the witnesses’ time is limited. John notes that when they finish their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, conquer them, and kill them (v. 7). The two witnesses – these two lampstands and olive trees – do not speak the word of the Lord or perform miracles indefinitely. The Lord ordains a time for them to speak and a time to suffer.
It is always this way with God’s witnesses. They are sent for a time, and until that time is fulfilled, no one can shut their mouths or do them harm. Noah preaches for 120 years and God protects him from the wicked, who no doubt mock and threaten him. Elijah prophesies against Ahab and Jezebel, and they cannot silence him until they are dead and the Lord calls His prophet into heaven. Stephen preaches a profound message of judgment and hope, and not even the ambitious young Pharisee Saul can close his mouth until the last word is spoken.
Rev. 11:3 – I will empower my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, dressed in sackcloth. 4These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5If anyone wants to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and consumes their enemies; if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. 6These men have the power to close the sky so that it does not rain during the days of their prophecy. They also have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with any plague whenever they want.
My two witnesses
In verse 3 we are introduced to God’s two witnesses, who dress in sackcloth and prophesy for 1,260 days. They are described as “the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.” They are able to consume their enemies with fire from their mouths. They have the power to prevent rain during the days of their ministry, as well as the authority to turn the waters to blood and to strike the earth with plagues. The identity of these two witnesses is a matter of much debate among commentators. Noted biblical scholar Henry “Dean” Alford once said the 11th chapter of Revelation is the most difficult to interpret in all of the Apocalypse of John, and no doubt the identity of these two witnesses contributes to the difficulty.
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