Revelation 11

Revelation 11 Devotional
by David Groendyk

Our chapter today represents part of the bittersweet-ness of the scroll that John ate in our reading yesterday. Remember that the scroll is God’s Word; it is sweet to receive God’s Word, but it also brings with it bitter hardship. Anyone who believes and speaks out this truth of the gospel will also experience this bittersweet-ness, and that’s exactly what we find in Revelation 11.

The measuring of the temple (vv. 1–2) is a picture of God identifying and protecting his people. In his act of measuring, John is marking out and separating those who are believers (i.e., temple, altar, those who worship) from those who are unbelievers (i.e., court outside the temple). Especially when we’ve just witnessed the horrible judgments that come over the earth in the first six trumpets, it’s a tremendous comfort to know that God identifies, intimately knows, and personally protects each one of his children. To be sure, God’s children will suffer greatly in their lives, but they are also surely safeguarded and will not suffer eternal doom like unbelievers.

The metaphor then switches to the two witnesses (vv. 3–14). Notice that these witnesses prophesy for the same amount of time (1260 days) that the unbelievers trample the holy city (42 months). The witnesses are doing their work at the same time as the unbelievers persecuting God’s people. The two witnesses represent the Church. But they represent something specific about the Church, namely, the missionary task of the Church. Remember that when Jesus sent out his disciples as missionaries in Luke 10, he sent them out two-by-two. That’s why we see two missionaries here. We the Church continue the missionary task that Jesus’s disciples began. The purpose of the Church is to bring the gospel to all nations until Christ comes back. And, just like John in chapter 10, the two witnesses experience the bittersweet-ness of God’s Word. The two witnesses are persecuted to the point of being murdered by their enemies (vv. 7–10).

Here is a call for every believer: your purpose is to bring the gospel to those who do not yet believe it. Pastors and overseas missionaries are not the only people in the church whose job it is to evangelize. We are all called to evangelize. As we see here in Revelation 11, that’s the whole point of the Church! If we are not going out into the world to try to save people who are perishing, then we are disobeying God. It’s as simple as striking up a friendship with your neighbor and sharing with them why you believe the gospel. Opportunities are all around us to tell people about Jesus if we simply look for them. Of course, the bitterness of rejection will happen when we live our lives as witnesses, but Christ has something much better in store for us than a worldly reputation. Notice that the wicked celebrate the deaths of the witnesses a little prematurely! Here we get the first explicit mention of resurrection. So far in Revelation, we’ve seen pictures of believers in heaven, but 11:11 is the first mention of God breathing life again into those who have died.

It reminded me of this quote from Don Carson that I came across recently on Twitter: “I’m not suffering from anything that a good resurrection can’t fix.” He’s right! There is no wrong that you suffer now that won’t be fixed at your resurrection. There is no evil that won’t be punished, no injustice that won’t be rectified, no tear that won’t be wiped away, and no pain that won’t be healed. Though we will undergo terrible things in this life, even to the point of our bodies dying, we are promised that we will live again. And after that we will spend the whole of eternity falling on our faces before the throne of God in heaven and worshiping him for his goodness, his protection, and his justice.