The earth now responds to the temple and the witnesses that spoke for God there in Jerusalem. “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.” Note first of all that our text says that they were not killed until they had finished their testimony. In the previous verse we learned that there is a specified amount of time which is known (and revealed by God) as “the days of their prophecy.” According to the third verse of our text, as well, God said that “they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days….” We know, as our Savior has said, that no man can have power over us unless it has been given to them by God to do so. These witnesses had a time allotted to them to work. They had a testimony that God had given them to finish. Ellicott stated this: “To every one there are the symbolical twelve hours in which his life’s work must be achieved; to every one there is the time secured when he may accomplish for God what God sent him to fulfil: then, but not till then, cometh the night, when none can work.” We have all the grace we need to complete our course and just as these witnesses had so do we all have a course to finish. Paul was able to rejoice at the end of his life (martyred just as these witnesses were) that he had fought the good fight and finished his course. May all of us be able to say the same thing in the end of the days of our testimony. God has a purpose for our lives, a testimony or rather a cross to bear for Him. The ark of the Old Testament was called the testimony because it bore inside of it the proof that God had spoken to Israel in the giving of the law, had provided for Israel in the giving of manna, and had instructed Israel in Aaron’s rod that budded. So the ark was said to be the testimony of God. So are we and so will be these witnesses. We have the treasure of God in earthen vessels. We have the proof that God has spoken by the law which he has written on our hearts (the word hidden in our hearts), proof that God has provided for us by our perseverance in the faith, and proof that God has instructed us by our the fruit that we bear in our lives through the work of the Holy Spirit. So we are bearing testimony and so will these witnesses. “And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles” (Matt. 10:18). Therefore we need to heed the words of Paul, “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (II Tim. 1:8). Don’t be afraid to take up your cross for God will give you the grace to bear it until you are done with your course.
Next we see the identity of their enemy; “the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit….” In the ninth chapter, during the sounding of the fifth trumpet we were introduced to the abyss, the bottomless pit. So it makes sense that the bottomless pit would accompany the sounding of the seventh trumpet. There is a transition happening in which the gates of Hell are swallowing up the earth and prevailing over every part of it. In the fifth seal (Rev. 9:1) the bottomless pit is opened by a fallen star (presumably Satan). It is further presumed that that same fallen star is later introduced as the angel of the bottomless pit under the name Apollyon. Now we are introduced to the beast of the bottomless pit. This is the same beast that is later (Rev. 13) identified as the Antichrist which is separate from the dragon which is Satan. We will speak more of that relationship when we get to that point. Barnes related eight specific dimensions described in Revelation concerning the beast: (a) It has its origin from beneath – in the bottomless pit; the sea; the earth, Revelation 11:7; Revelation 13:1, Revelation 13:11. (b) It has great power, Revelation 13:4, Revelation 13:12; Revelation 17:12-13. (c) It claims and receives worship, Revelation 13:3, Revelation 13:12, Revelation 13:14-15; Revelation 14:9, Revelation 14:11. (d) It has a certain “seat” or throne from whence its power proceeds, Revelation 16:10. (e) It is of scarlet color, Revelation 17:3. (f) It receives power conferred upon it by the kings of the earth, Revelation 17:13, (g) It has a mark by which it is known, Revelation 13:17; Revelation 19:20. (h) It has a certain “number”; that is, there are certain mystical letters or figures which so express its name that it may be known, Revelation 13:17-18.” The term beast then is not meant to describe and angelic being as in the fourth and fifth chapters unless the term beast is speaking of some sort of spirit that possesses the Antichrist; just as Satan entered into Judas (Luke 22:3). This beast is the same as the prince in Daniel 9:26, 27 and the same as the leader that appeared when the first four seals were opened; so we can now say that we have reached the exact midpoint the 70th week of Daniel. Before this point there was a covenant with Israel and this is the point which the covenant was broken. This is the end and the abomination of desolation is now here to occur (Dan. 9:27). Correlating this back to the 24th chapter of Matthew Christ told us this: “… then shall the end come. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains…” (Matt. 24:14-16). The beast is coming to Jerusalem to proclaim that he is God. “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (II Thess. 2:3, 4).
So the text says that the beast “hall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.” The one thing that stands in the way of the beast proclaiming himself as God is the power of God’s two witnesses. So he must make war against them. I get the picture here of Jerusalem being surrounded and besieged by weapons of war. The term “make war” carries the idea of declaring and preparing an attack. Maybe he successfully has convinced the world that these are terrorist and all the problems of the world would be made better if these terrorists were eliminated. The covenant that was reached with Israel had not permitted it till then but he has convinced the world to empower him to break that covenant. Not only does he make war against them but he overcomes them. Just as Jesus could not be captured until it was His time was ready so it was them. He came in with an army and captured the declared enemy and then he executes them. Jesus said, “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service” (John 16:2). No doubt as it was with Alexander the Great and Antiochus Epiphanes and other lesser tyrants when they were dead he marched into the temple to desecrate their God and proclaim victory over God.
Our test goes on to say this of the two witnesses: “And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.” They were killed and they were not buried. The beast and apparently the entire world would not suffer any honor to be done to them. This was meant to be an insult and a curse. It was not enough for the wicked world to desecrate and disrespect the dead bodies of these saints but they also celebrated. Christ said, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18, 19). I like what Ellicott said about this text: “Their corpses remain unburied, while congratulations and rejoicings go on; harmony and concord prevail, as when Pilate and Herod were made friends; it is the millennium of evil, the paradise of fools who make a mock at sin; but the forms of the witnesses, though silenced, still in silence witness against evil. At no time are they hid away out of sight.” They celebrated their Anti-Christmas party to celebrate the prevailing of Antichrist over their enemies. They were making merry (getting drunk and stoned – partying) and sending gifts to one another. At one point the world was saying of Christ “the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand” but now they are ready to say of Antichrist “Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?” This because he has slain the prophets of God.
There is no doubt left for where this occurs. This happened in the same place where the Lord was crucified. As Christ said to the people of Jerusalem, “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry (Luke 23:28-31)? The city has a new name. God would not allow it to be called Jerusalem; in fact the only time the word Jerusalem is used in the book of Revelation is when it tells of the New Jerusalem. The word Jerusalem denotes it to be the city of Peace and Righteousness. It is the same city that righteousness and peace kissed one another at the death of our Lord. It is so called no more. This city, especially now that it is controlled by Antichrist and the abomination of desolation has occurred, is called spiritually Sodom and Egypt. The term was applied to the city before when they were apostate before the destruction of the first temple (Ezek. 16:48). It was also the sin of Jerusalem to trust the power of Egypt. I believe it is called a great city because it is now the city of Antichrist. His seat is in the temple. His powerful seat is now there. It is called Egypt because of its opposition to God. It is called Sodom because of its embracement of wicked perversion. Both Sodom and Egypt in the Old Testament both met the same end; they were subject to the special judgment of God. God now spiritually calls this earthly Jerusalem thus.