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Chapter Four of this Commentary. Part 6.
The Sixth Trumpet of Revelation
Also called "the second woe."
Chapters 9, 10, and 11
of the Book of Revelation
Scene 10 of the Sixth Trumpet Part 2
The WAR Against the Two Witnesses and Their Death
Revelation for the 20th and 21st Centuries
"When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them." Revelation 11:7 NRSVA (New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised). Almost all versions read “will make war on them,” and not the weaker “will attack them” of the NIV.
The formatting of previous Scenes is continued.
B. "…the beast that comes up from the bottomless pit..."
1. "…the beast…" The identity of this “beast” can be established without any difficulty.
a) Who was shut up in the bottomless pit at the beginning of the Millennium? Satan. Revelation 20:1-3
b) Who "comes up from the bottomless pit?" Well, it is the same one who was shut up in it! Satan, of course. It is Satan then who is the "beast" that "comes up from the bottomless pit."
c) Why present Satan as a "beast?"
For the simple reason that, in global parameters, the “beast” symbolizes in the visions of Revelation all the kingdoms and nations of the earth that are opposed to God, an explanation that is amply developed in the exposition of Revelation 13. And, according to Revelation 16:12-14 y 20:7-8, Satan is the agent responsible for deceiving them.
He is, definitively, the "corrupt and evil power" that operates in the deceived earthly-secular-political kingdoms, persecuting, depraved, idolatrous, atheistic.
2. "…comes up from the bottomless pit…"
a) When does the beast come up from the “bottomless pit?” In these visions of Scene 10, Part 2, of the Sixth Trumpet, we are not informed as to the time of this sinister event.
b) Nevertheless, we are not completely without light on the matter. The information about when the beast comes up from the “bottomless pit” is divulged in Revelation 20:1-9, where we learn that the "beast... comes up from the bottomless pit" when the “thousand years” come to an end, that is, at the conclusion of the Millennium and the beginning of the “little while.”
“Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison.” Revelation 20:7. What will happen when the Millennium comes to an end? “Satan will be released from his prison.” Once he has been “released from his prison,” he “comes up from the bottomless pit.”
So then, at the beginning of the “little while,” Satan “comes up from the bottomless pit” and proceeds, immediately, to deceive the nations, uniting them and preparing them for the battle of Harmagedon. Revelation 16:12-16. When he has accomplished his infernal, diabolical agenda in the secular governing powers of earth and their supporting masses, he dares “make war against” the “Two Witnesses” of God and their faithful representatives in the world.
In Revelation 20:9, this same “war” is depicted in the following way:
Satan, Gog, and Magog “went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city.” “Camp” and “beloved city” are rhetorical figures that represent the faithful church of Christ on earth, with her messengers and teachers in the lead.
Unequivocally, all this data teaches that the beast “comes up from the bottomless pit” at the beginning of the “little while.”
C. "…will make WAR on them..."
1. This "WAR" of the beast against the Two Witnesses is that of Harmagedon.
In consequence of this last great spiritual war, the Two Witnesses, in the persons of their faithful human representatives on earth, are killed, thus completing the number of the martyrs of the Lord, according to the prophecy of Revelation 6:11.
However, the Two Witnesses, in the persons of their faithful human representatives on earth, are resurrected after three and a half days and ascend “to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them.”
The visions of Revelation 19:11-21 reveal what then happens to the “beast” and his earthly human followers who “make war” on the Two Witnesses. The rebellious, obdurate humans who refuse to repent despite the plagues, brought on them with the purpose of making them wake up and repent, are summarily killed by the Lord with the sword from his mouth, that is, by the words he speaks to
end their earthly lives. As for the “beast,” having been the principal cause of the epic human tragedy, he is forthwith cast into the “lake of fire and brimstone,” together with the “false prophet.”
It is thus that humanity comes to its end on planet Earth and the earth itself is then completely destroyed, fleeing away from before the “great white throne,” no place being found for it. Revelation 20:11
2. I have affirmed that the Two Witnesses give their “testimony” during the “little while” that precedes the end of the material universe and now we see that Revelation 11:7 strongly supports our hypothesis.
a) Satan comes up out of the bottomless pit at the beginning of the “little while,” acquiring so much power over people in general that he becomes lord and owner of the nations. He astutely positions himself in the scenario of the “little while” to the extent that it becomes feasible for him to launch a strong attack on the Two Witnesses.
When are the Two Witnesses persecuted? During the “little while.” Consequently, it is self-evident that the Two Witnesses carry out their work during the “little while.”
Satan, acquiring ever more power, followers, and sympathizers, aggressively declares “war” on the Two Witnesses, in the persons of their earthly representatives, leading to the “WAR of the great day of God Almighty” which takes place in Harmagedon (Revelation 16:13-16) toward the end of the “little while.” That war results in the death of the Two Witnesses. It is, therefore, to be deduced, irrefutably, that the Two Witnesses give their “testimony” during the “little while,” the final stage of the Common Era (Christian Age, for Christians).
b) Behold now, another important deduction based on these facts: The work that the Two Witnesses carry out “dressed in sackcloth” does not take place during the Millennium!
Since the “little while” transpires after the “thousand years” (the Millennium) and given that the Two Witnesses prophesy, in the personas of their earthly representatives, “dressed in sackcloth” during the “little while,” it must be taken as fully evident that they do so during the Scene we are analyzing. They do not carry out their ministry during the Millennium nor after the “little while.”
c) And still another important deduction, to wit: The ministry we see the Two Witnesses execute in the Scene before us is not carried out during the centuries of the Roman Empire, nor during the Middle Ages, for these two lengthy periods of time play out long, long before the “little while!” Please take a look at the TIMELINE above. Could it not be, therefore, confidently stated that any commentator, teacher, preacher, or writer who places the Two Witnesses of Revelation 11 in the time of the Roman Empire or in the Middle Ages would be guilty of a serious mistake regarding these particular New Testament prophecies and their fulfillment?
D. "…overcome them, and kill them."
1. The “beast” that symbolizes the nations and the rulers “of the whole world” (Revelation 16:14) deceived by Satan, rises up against the Two Witnesses, killing them.
2. To whom should we apply the prophecy "…overcome them, and kill them?"
a) In order to understand this prophecy, it behooves us to always keep in mind the fact that the Two Witnesses, who are, I am convinced, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, work, according to the thesis we are developing, on planet Earth by means of the authentic church of God, with her faithful ministers in the forefront in their roles of spokesmen and defenders of the inspired Word.
Reiterating: “Authentic,” and not apostate. Subject to the New Testament and not to the Old, nor to religious traditions developed by fallible human beings, neither to their ecumenical creeds, confessions of faith, and similar documents.
b) So then, "…overcome them, and kill them" does not mean that Satan literally overcomes and kills Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Of a certainty, during the entire Common Era, both these Divine Beings occupy their respective places in the celestial regions of God the Father, far beyond the reach of Satan.
Nevertheless, when, on earth, their faithful spokesmen and defenders are overcome and killed, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are, effectively, left without active representatives on the earth.
Well now, given such a set of circumstances, the effect is truly as if Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit themselves had been overcome and killed! That is, so it might seem to the masses of unbelieving and depraved who will have become the ruling majority on planet Earth towards the end of the “little while,” their real “Capitan” being Satan who wills his power through secular rulers he has bumfuzzled, bewitched, and deceived with new, ingenious terminologies and a new vocabulary of words with twisted meanings, all swirling mostly around social and cultural issues, with sexual, sensual, purely materialistic ones being the powerful undercurrents.
The commanding and authoritative voices of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are no longer heard on earth! Their presence, meddling and aggravating, is no longer felt. Their tormenting prophecies and dire warnings, that Word that is like a hammer, like a fire, is no longer sounded forth.
For the aggressive, recalcitrant unbelievers and morally corrupt, it really is as if Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit had been killed. Yes, furthermore, as if God the Creator and Father of Spirits himself had been killed! Silenced forever!
Now, to be sure, this phase of the “war” of “Harmagedon” is only the first. The hard truth is that Christ and the Holy Spirit continue to be fully alive in Heaven, Christ himself retaining and exercising “all authority… in heaven and on earth.” Matthew 28:18
Very soon, the “Faithful and True,” the “King of kings, and Lord of lords,” will come with his “armies which are in heaven” to initiate the second phase of Harmagedon, the outcome of which is that Satan and all his henchmen and followers will be eternally defeated and cast into the “lake of fire and brimstone.”
c) So then, as far as the inhabitants of earth are concerned, "…overcome them, and kill them" applies literally to the faithful spokesmen and defenders of the church strictly loyal to God, who proclaim relevant prophecies, giving true “testimony,” during “1,260 days.”
These are the servants of God who will be overcome, some of them dying for the Faith, thus completing the number of the true martyrs of Christ as projected in the vision of the Fifth Seal. Revelation 6:9-11
3. How should we understand the verbs "overcome... and will kill?" Is it possible they signify that, as the last days of time begin to play out, the unbelieving masses of people on planet Earth will forcefully suppress the authentic church of the Lord, overcoming and physically killing God’s servants who prophesy and give testimony during the “1,260 days” of the ministry of the Two Witnesses? At least, a part of them, silencing the rest.
As a matter of fact, this appears to be, I reason, the most logical interpretation. Let us consider:
a) This interpretation agrees perfectly with the scene of the “camp of the saints” and “the beloved city” projected in Revelation 20:7-9, according to which the church is laid siege to by the deceived nations.
b) It also harmonizes equally with the prophecy of Revelation 6:9-11, according to which the number of true martyrs of Christ would be completed after the Millennium. Toward the end of the “little while” the beast overcomes and physically kills some of the faithful Christians and thus the number of true martyrs is completed.
c) Additionally, it is in synchrony with the resurrection portrayed in this same series of prophecies on the Two Witnesses. Revelation 11:11-12. The Two Witnesses’ representatives on earth will be visibly lifted “upon their feet” in the presence of their astonished and terrified enemies.
The resurrection of the physical body is, then, what is contemplated, and such a resurrection presupposes the death of the physical body.
However, it is to be understood that the physical body thus resurrected would, in the process, be transformed into a “spiritual body” when these martyrs are caught up “to heaven in a cloud.” Revelation 11:12
“It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, and there is also a spiritual body.” 1 Corinthians 15:44
d) But does the expression “…they will overcome them, and kill them” not really mean that the “beast” (the deceived nations) will conquer the minds and souls of the faithful servants of Christ, killing them only in a rhetorical, spiritual sense, and not in a physical one? Although this interpretation may appear to have merit, notable deficiencies are discerned when it is carefully scrutinized. Respectfully, I present my own findings.
(1) For example, some that have to do with the background of the clause “will… overcome them and kill them.” We observe that the spokesmen and defenders of the true gospel who proclaim, “dressed in sackcloth,” prophecies and give testimony during the “1,260 days,” remain faithful to God during all that period.
In the whole text, we do not detect even the smallest evidence to the contrary. They torment the unbelieving with their pointed prophecies and clear testimony. They do not back down before ridicule, blasphemies, and threatening provocations. They do not allow themselves to be deceived by the forces and influences that fool the masses. They valiantly and responsibly fulfill the charge given them, their mission, their work, until “they have finished their testimony.”
I would propose that we should not disregard this background when endeavoring to correctly understand this expression “will… overcome them and kill them.”
Obviously, the Two Witnesses are overcome and killed against their will. Not overcome and killed just metaphorically, morally, or spiritually, but materially and corporally.
I would again emphasize that, in the whole text, there is not the tiniest bit of evidence that would lead us to question the verticality, moral as well as spiritual, of the servants of God on earth that execute the role of representing Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in these scenarios of the “little while,” nor of their admirable courage before the violent enemies of the true faith. Some of them pay the supreme price for their incorruptible faith, their invincible courage, to wit: physical martyrdom for the cause of Christ!
(2) Some findings related to the resurrection.
(a) When these representatives of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit have been killed, after three and a half days, they are resurrected! Revelation 11:11-12
(b) It is reasonable to ask: How were they resurrected?
Are they resurrected only in a figurative sense from a spiritual “death,” or are they resurrected corporally? What is the true nature of their resurrection? Is it a “resurrection” brought about by repentance and restoration to positions and tasks? Theoretically, that is, after they had supposedly abandoned the Kingdom of God for a time because of the powerful opposition to them by secular, atheistic rulers deceived by Satan? Are they “resurrected” only in the figurative sense of becoming once again faithful ministers of God?
Personally, I respond to all these questions with a resounding “NO!”
Such ideas and suppositions do not harmonize with the facts of the Bible text. According to verses 11 and 12, of Revelation 11, when these representatives of Christ and the Holy Spirit are resurrected, they do not resume prophesying and giving testimony in the earth but are caught up “to heaven in a cloud!”
There is no indication whatsoever of “repenting and being restored to positions and tasks.” They finished their testimony, and their enemies killed them. They do not renew their testimony. They are caught up “to heaven in a cloud!” Therefore, it is to be inferred, necessarily and categorically, that their resurrection is not merely figurative, nor spiritual, but real.
Since, then, their resurrection is real, and not figurative nor spiritual, the only logical deduction regarding the type of death they suffer is that it is physical. Definitively, it is physical and not merely figurative or spiritual.
Your objective evaluation of this study will be given serious consideration.
Questions or doubts? Errors to report?
Scene 11, of Trumpet 6 of Revelation. The Two Witnesses lie dead in the street of the great city for three and a half days. The great city spiritually as Sodom, Jerusalem, and Egypt. Dead bodies not buried. The enemies who kill them rejoice and exchange gifts. Explanations and applications.
Category. Revelation: Its 21st Century and Fulfillment. 21st Century Commentary.