One problem people have with reading The Revelation is that, because they are so intent on working out the exact order of events, they assume, falsely, that the book moves step by step through events, so that something mentioned in chapter ten must, of necessity, come after something mentioned in chapter nine, and something mentioned in verse five must, of necessity, come after something mentioned in verse four. The book does not jump around arbitrarily, but it does employ a technique used by many authors, and especially by movie producers. It focuses on one scene for a while, then changes to another scene to observe what was happening there during the same period of time. Chapters 11, 12, and 13 of The Revelation appear to do this.

Reference is made in all three chapters to the period of three and a half years, indicating that each chapter is talking about the same period of time, i.e. the time of the Great Tribulation, which was described in Revelation 8, 9, and 10. But chapters 11, 12, and 13 each focus on a different aspect of what will be happening during that period of time. Chapter 11 deals with a spiritual stand-off between the masses of the world and two individuals with special powers from God. Chapter 12 deals with persecution of all Christians, as well as supernatural protection. And chapter 13 deals with the spiritual implications behind the world's political and economic forces.

There is a reference at the start of Chapter 11 to John "measuring the Temple of God". This concern with the Temple seems to accompany a number of prophecies about the end of the world. Ezekiel (another Old Testament prophet), gives a detailed description in chapters 38-39, of a battle which sounds like the Battle of Armageddon (although it may also be referring to another battle, which occurs at the end of Christ's rule over the world for a thousand years). At the end of the description, in chapter 40, Ezekiel, like John, was instructed to measure the Temple in great detail. A blueprint for the Temple seems to be a key feature of prophecy... one of the "code words" that line up with an important message that God wants to communicate.

We have already mentioned that the contrast between a spiritual Temple and city and the material Temple and city are fundamental differences between the Old Testament/Jewish idea of God's plan for the world and the New Testament/Christian idea of God's plan for the world. In Revelation 11:2 it says, "The holy city shall they tread under foot forty-two months." Once again, this appears to be a prophecy with a double meaning. Literally, the Temple in Jerusalem will be desecrated by the Abomination of Desolation during the final three and a half years. (See pages 94-96.) However, the real "holy city" is made up of followers of the Lamb, servants of God, or the twelve tribes who have been sealed. So these sincere Christians will be "trod under foot" for three and a half years as well.

Nevertheless, there will be two Christians who will have supernatural power and protection for the same period of time. (Revelation 11:3) They will prophesy to the world, trying to get the public to see that what is happening on earth has spiritual significance. Like most true prophets, they will not be well received. But if anyone tries to hurt them, these prophets will be able to just open their mouths and declare judgment on such people and the people will be destroyed. They will also be able to execute judgment on various nations, by invoking droughts, plagues, and similar curses.

All of this will continue for three and a half years; but in the end these "Two Witnesses" will still be taken prisoner by the system, and executed.

The angel has another shot at the earthly Jerusalem in verse 8, by saying that spiritually it is Sodom (an ancient city that was destroyed for its sinfulness), because of its rejection of the Messiah.

The dead bodies of the two witnesses will be displayed in Jerusalem for three and a half days, while the world celebrates their death, assuming that the Antichrist has finally conquered the force that had been causing so much suffering on the earth over the previous three and a half years. (Revelation 11:9- 10)

But at the end of three and a half days, just like their Messiah, the Two Witnesses will come back to life, and they will ascend into the air just as a great earthquake hits Jerusalem, killing seven thousand people there. (Revelation 11:11-13)

This coincides with the return of Christ, when the choirs of heaven start to sing Handel's Messiah (Well, perhaps something similar): "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever!" (Revelation 11:15) Very inspiring stuff!

The chapter concludes with John seeing that the real covenant (or Testament) and the real Temple are in heaven. He is told that it is now time for God's Wrath to begin, in which God will "destroy them which destroy the earth." (Revelation 11:18-19)

At this point, I would like to make some general comments about the Two Witnesses: People like John the Baptist, Mary the mother of Jesus, and Christ himself were real people like you and me. In one way or another they each came to understand that they had very important roles to play in their day. They had each been specifically predicted in the Jewish scriptures.

The same is true of two people who are very likely alive in the world today. People can miss out on God's call for their lives by settling for something less than his best. It is easy to believe that the great saints of the past were bigger than life, that they did things that none of us could do today. But this is not true. God desperately needs more candidates for such positions as that of the Two Witnesses. As the cat in an Australian ad for the lottery would say, "Someone has to do it; it might just as well be you!"

But when we talk of doing something great for God, most people see only the glamour, the spectacle, and the fame. They delude themselves into believing that they need only claim this role for themselves and it will be theirs. Mental hospitals are full of people with such delusions of grandeur, each convinced that the world need only recognise them for the messiah or god that they are and then they will be unstoppable.

The truth is that genuine spiritual greatness does not seek glory; it is too busy serving God and others. The Bible says that the spirit of the great Old Testament prophet Elijah was in John the Baptist, making him the official herald of Jesus Christ (Matthew 17:11-13); yet John the Baptist himself was not even aware of this. (John 1:25) He did not need to think of himself as being great in order to be great. In fact, thinking about being great is one of the greatest hindrances to true spiritual greatness. The message of The Revelation, as we have said before, is that a spiritual Lamb that was killed by a ruthless system will finally end up ruling the entire world. He said, "If you want to be great, become a servant." (Mark 10:44)

What the Two Witnesses do is "witness". They call on others to get ready for Christ's coming. God needs thousands to do that today. If you find people burning up when they try to kill you, then chances are you're one of the elite "Two". But if not, you should not stop witnessing; and you should be prepared to die for your faith in the process. That is the job of every true follower of God.

*For more information related to this chapter, please check out the following video: Survivors Ch. #16 - The Two Witnesses of Revelation

Appendix, Chapter 16

Revelation 11:1-13, 15-19. "There was given me a reed like a rod, and the angel stood, saying, "Rise and measure the Temple of God… But the court which is outside the Temple leave out, and measure it not, for it is given to the Gentiles. The holy city they will tread under foot for forty-two months."

"I will give power to my Two Witnesses, and they will prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth… If anyone will hurt them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies… These have power to shut heaven, that it not rain…, and they have power over waters, to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues…"

"When they have finished their testimony, the Beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them and will overcome them and kill them. Their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Those of the people… and nations will see their dead bodies three days and a half, and will not allow their dead bodies to be put in graves. They that dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, and make merry, and will send gifts one to another, because these two prophets tormented them that dwell on the earth."

"After three days and a half… they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. They heard a great voice from heaven saying, 'Come up here.' And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies beheld them.

"The same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake were slain seven thousand. The remnant were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven…"

"The seventh angel sounded and there were great voices in heaven, saying 'The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; he shall reign for ever and ever!' The elders that sat before God [gave thanks to God]… saying, 'Your wrath is come, and the time that the dead should be judged, and that you should give reward to your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name… and should destroy them that destroy the earth.'

"The Temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his Temple the ark of his testament…"