Revelation 11:11But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them.

Just as the world believed that the church has been overcome, God breathes life into the two witnesses and they rose up, striking terror into those who saw them.It is not the first time that God breathes life into something dead.

Genesis 2:7 The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

There are other references to the breath of God in Scripture:

Job 4:9 At the breath of God they are destroyed; at the blast of his anger they perish.

Job 27:3, 4 As long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, 4my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter no deceit.

Job 33:4 The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Isaiah 42:5 This is what God the LORD says--he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on itÖ

There is a powerful prophecy about this resurrection:

Ezekiel 37:1 - 14 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.2He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3He asked me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" I said, "O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.Ē 4Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.'"

7So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. 9Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.'"

10So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet--a vast army. 11Then he said to me: "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.' 12Therefore prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel.13Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them.14I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.'"

This prophecy does not refer to the general resurrection of the flesh, as we see in verse 11, which prophesies specifically about the liberation of Israel.The life-giving Spirit that God uses to breathe life into these bones is not a reference to the Holy Spirit, but the same life-giving breath that God used to make man a living being, and also to raise the two witnesses.These bones to which Ezekiel prophesies are of those who fell on the battlefield.

We can summarize this prophecy as follows:

  1. Extreme faith of the prophet
  2. Immediate obedience prophesying to a valley full of bones.
  3. Orderly gathering of the bones.
  4. Bones finding their counterparts and attaching themselves.
  5. Reassembly of whole bodies.
  6. Attaching tendons, flesh, and covering with skin.
  7. Then, the breath of life.
  8. Finally, knowledge of God.

This prophecy relates to us the liberation of the Israelites and their resurrection to life out of bondage is also relating to us the bondage and death that sin causes and unless we are born again from our sinful nature, like these bones were resurrected or born again, we cannot know God.This process prophesied by the prophet Ezekiel is clear that man cannot assist God in being born again or his salvation.Even after the appearance that these bones have been reconstructed into living beings, they still lacked Godís life-giving breath.Only after God breathed on them did they know ďthat I am the LORD.Ē

These two witnesses represent the church, who with extreme faith and immediate obedience, testified about the resurrection of the living, the gospel.Godís breath raised them up to the terror of those who witnessed it.

Revelation 11:11But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them.

They rose up and stood on their feet, which is an indication of the resurrection of the elect at the end of time.

Matthew 24:30, 31"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.31And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

I Thessalonians 4:13 - 17 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.15According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

I Corinthians 15:51, 52 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-52in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

Revelation 11:11But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them.

Terror struck those who saw them; not because they witnessed a resurrection from the dead, but because their celebrations were in vain, their expectations that the church had been destroyed were shattered.If the church had not been destroyed as they believed, then they are certainly not going to escape the wrath of God.That was the moment they realized that their struggle against Christ, his church, and the elect was lost.

The mystery is why would they not repent after witnessing such a powerful deed.Did they not realize, at least at this point in time, that they had no hope of escaping?Apparently not.There are many more opportunities for them to avoid death crouching at their door and yet, they could not master it.It reminds us of another unbeliever who God personally witnessed to as to the choices that are before him, and yet, even with the knowledge of Godís presence he proceeded to follow the beast into the abyss.

Genesis 4:6, 7Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

Letís look at some passages in Scripture testifying that God gives an opportunity to everybody, like He did Cain, to repent and be freed from death.

Ezekiel 18:32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live.

Hosea 11:5 "Will they not return to Egypt and will not Assyria rule over them because they refuse to repent?"

Matthew 11:20Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent.

Luke 13:2, 3 Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?3I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish."

Luke 16:30, 31"'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' 31"He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'"

Acts 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

Acts 17:30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.

Revelation 2:5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

Revelation 2:16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

Revelation 2:21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.

Revelation 3:19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.

Revelation 9:20The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood--idols that cannot see or hear or walk.

Revelation 9:21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.

Revelation 16:9, 11 They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him, 11and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.

Deuteronomy 30:19This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may liveÖ

I Kings 18:32 Ö I come and take you to a land like your own, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey. Choose life and not death!

And every one of the reprobate will, in the face of overwhelming testimony and proof, even in the very presence of God himself, refuse to repent but continue to bow down to their gods.

Revelation 11:12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on.

Everybody heard Godís voice calling the elect into heaven, just as Jesus ascended in a cloud.

Acts 1:8, 9 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.9After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

Daniel 7:13, 14"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed."

Matthew 26:64"Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."

Revelation 11:13At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

Earthquakes are the sign of Godís judgment, and once the church was safely in heaven, the earth was struck by a severe earthquake.

Again we should look at the numbers used in this passage.A tenth of the city collapsed.We know that 10 is the complete number in Godís actions with men.The tenth is a two-fold indication; firstly, that Godís complete judgment has commenced, and, secondly, that God is patient, so that, in his divine judgment, not a single member of the elect would be lost and giving everybody many opportunities to repent.

Nehemiah 9:30 For many years you were patient with them. By your Spirit you admonished them through your prophets. Yet they paid no attention, so you handed them over to the neighboring peoples.

Exodus 34:6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness."

Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

Isaiah 30:18 Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him.

Habakkuk 2:3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

Romans 2:4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance.

Romans 9:22What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath--prepared for destruction.

I Timothy 1:16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

I Timothy 2:4 Who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

II Peter 3:9, 15 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 15Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.

Because God is a just God, he executes his judgment in such a way that those who perish will have no reason to accuse Him of prejudice.At this point, however, with the elect already taken up into heaven, the final opportunity to repent has been lost.

Revelation 11:13At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

Literally, the seven thousand refer to the names of seven thousand people, which means that God knew them, indicating that this judgment is personally addressed to each one of them.Just as God came down to Cain to warn of him of sin crouching at his door and gave him a sure way to defeat it, so that he may repent, so God delivers his judgment personally to every one of the seven thousand, a figurative number indicating complete execution of Godís justice to all of them, but not all the reprobate.

Seven thousand is 7 x 1000 or 7 x 103 containing all the numbers that show forth Godís presence in this prophecy.

Letís read some passages where seven and thousand are used as figurative numbers:

Psalm 91:7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

I Kings 19:18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel--all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.

II Chronicles 15:11 At that time they sacrificed to the LORD seven hundred head of cattle and seven thousand sheep and goats from the plunder they had brought back.

II Chronicles 30:24 Hezekiah king of Judah provided a thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep and goats for the assembly, and the officials provided them with a thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep and goats. A great number of priests consecrated themselves.

Daniel 9:24 - 26"Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. 25"Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.26After the sixty-two 'sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.Ē

Mark 8:20"And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?" They answered, "Seven."

Romans 11:4 And what was God's answer to him? "I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal."

Revelation 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

This earthquake is the first tremor of the cosmic shaking that will remove the first heavens and earth.The great quake that we have seen in the vision of the sixth seal and will see again when the seventh bowl is poured out, shattering the Ďgreat cityí Babylon into three pieces, causing the cities of the Gentiles to fall and removing islands and mountains.

What distinguishes the portrayal of the earthquake that accompanies the witnessesí exaltation from the later portrayal in connection with the seventh bowl is the limitation of the damage inflicted here: only on-tenth of the great city is destroyed and only seven thousand of is inhabitants are killed. This interlude still belongs to the sixth trumpet, the second woe, so the final trumpet woe, which brings full destruction of the old order, is still to come.

Revelation 11:13At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

In their terror, the survivors were moved to such a level of fear that they actually gave glory to God, but they did not repent and their hearts remained calloused.

Repenting unbelievers may look exactly like repenting believers except for this difference: the believer repents because of his sorrow and sadness having offended God whom he loves, while the unbeliever repents because of his anguish having offended God whom he fears because of the horror of his judgment.It is Godís judgment that strikes fear into their hearts, causing them to act like believers, even for a brief moment.See how even demons recognized Jesus as the Holy One of God and feared him, but did they repent? No.

Luke 4:34 "Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!"

Matthew 8:29 "What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?"

Mark 5:7 He shouted at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won't torture me!"

Luke 8:28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don't torture me!"

James 2:19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder.

[1] In the Old Testament prophets, the fraction one-tenth carries symbolic association with the faithful remnant who are spared when God inflicts covenant curses on Israel.

Isaiah 6:11 - 13 Then I said, "For how long, O Lord?" And he answered: "Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged. 12Until the LORD has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken. 13And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.

The same connotation is attached to the number seven thousand, for, to the prophetís surprise, seven thousand in Israel had not worshiped Baal in the days of Elijah.

I Kings 19:18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel--all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.

In Johnís vision, however, the Old Testament imagery is turned upside down, for the tenth of the city with its seven thousand residents are the first to fall under Godís judgment.Those enemies, who survive the earthquake, having witnessed the witness churchís resurrection and ascension, are filled with fear and they give glory to God.

Although the narrative line of Johnís vision is clear and generally agreed upon, the difficult and more controversial task is to identify the events or trends to which the vision refers.The questions that confront us include:

  1. Does the resurrection-ascension of the two witnesses point directly to the bodily resurrection-glorification of the believers, or does it symbolizethe churchís restoration to effective witness within the course of history, after intense persecution seems to have eradicated it?
  2. Does the partial judgment on the great city show that this portion of the vision still falls within the ear of divine patience, giving further opportunity for rebels to repent?
  3. Do the survivorsí fear and glorification of God express eleventh-hour repentance, leading salvation or is it a belated and begrudging acknowledgement of Godís power, compelled from he unrepentant hearts and mouths of the condemned?

An adequate answer to these questions will need to be consistent with the clear teaching of Scripture, including and especially those of this Book.We begin where Scripture teaches that Christ must reign until all his enemies are put under his feet and that the last enemy to be abolished will be death.

I Corinthians 15:25, 26 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

The context shows that this abolition of death, the last enemy, occurs at Christís coming, when those who belong to him enter into the bodily resurrection life that he entered as the first fruits on the third day after his crucifixion.Johnís visions likewise portray the general resurrection, last judgment, and destruction of death as the final events that bring ďthe first thingsĒ to a close, making way for the new heaven and new earth.

The sounding of the last trumpet elicits praise in heaven that the time has arrived for the outpouring of Godís wrath against his enemies, the judgment of the dead, and the rewarding of Godís faithful servants.

In view of these fixed points of biblical revelation about the end of history, we cannot interpret the resurrection of the witnesses as the bodily resurrection of the church and at the same time view the cityís partial destruction as symbolizing a postresurrection period in which God offers sinners further opportunity to repent.In view of the parallel that we have seen between the three and a half days of the beastís triumph over the witnesses and the ďshort timeĒ of the dragonís release to assemble worldwide opposition against the saints, as we shall see in chapter 20, the witnessesí resurrection and ascension in full view of their enemies after the three and a half days coincides with Godís deliverance of the saints and destruction of the devil and his followers after the ďshort timeĒ Ė without intervening delay to provide further opportunity for the churchís enemies to repent.

It appears most consistent, therefore, to see the witnessesí resurrection as portraying the bodily resurrection of all who belong to Christís church by faith at his return, accompanied by the great earthquake of judgment that will compel fear-filled praise even from Godís enemies.

Philippians 2:9 Ė 11 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Visions oftentimes compress vast historical eons into symbolic images that pass quickly, spanning salvation history from beginning to end, so also a split-second in time may be expanded in visionary description.Simultaneous climactic events may be presented as occurring successively to emphasize the many facets of Christís victory.

The complex visions between the sixth and seventh trumpets sets the scene for the central drama of the Revelation, which portrays the war of the ages as the conflict between the heavenly woman, her Child, and the living God, on the one hand, and the harlot, the beast, and the dragon on the other.

The scroll containing Godís plan for history, for the victory of his witness church through suffering, has been opened by the Lamb and delivered to the prophet John to be announced for the comfort and warning of the churches.Despite rage of its enemies, the church is secure in the presence of its Head and Savior.

Despite its spiritual security as a measured sanctuary, the church is vulnerable to the violent aggression of those who hate its testimony about Jesus and seek to silence its call to repentance.Yet, the last word concerning the churchís paradox-filled experience in this time between the Lambís comings is the voice of the seventh trumpet, announcing at historyís end: ďThe kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.ĒRev. 11:15.

Once again, however, we need to see this joyful consummation in light of the age-long conflict that has preceded it and the archenemy who provoked that conflict.Therefore, Johnís next cycle of visions returns to the dawn of time, piercing to the deepest level of the war to unmask the antagonist who lurks behind and operates through he churchís human enemies: ďthe great dragon Ö the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan.Ē

Revelation 11:14The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon.

The end of the second woe leads us to the seventh trumpet and the third and final woe. The worst of all three woes.

 



[1] Reworked from Dennis E. Johnsonís Triumph of the Lamb.