Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city—which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt—where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days some from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.But after the three and a half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. 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. At 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. The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon. – Revelation 11:7-14
Today’s passage is really connected to yesterday’s passage about metaphysical measurements. The two people standing watch over the measurements and the temple are attacked by the “beast from the abyss”. He overpowers and kills them. Their bodies lie in a city which sounds like Jerusalem, the city where Jesus was crucified. This city is also figuratively called Sodom and Egypt. Sodom was a city of profound disobedience and sin toward God, while Egypt was a place of enslavement and toil for gods not their own. It is interesting that Jerusalem will be spoken of in this way. I am not sure what to make of it, but it does seem that there will be serious problems in that city, both secular and spiritual.
For three and a half days the two prophets killed by the beast will lie in the public square for all to see. It sounds like people from all nations and walks of life will mock and disrespect their bodies in this public setting, refusing them burial. They will even go so far as to send one another gifts. This scene reminds me a bit of the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy’s house kills the wicked witch and the people of Oz rejoice that the wicked witch is dead. Of course this account is turned upside down. Almost as if Dorothy’s house had fallen on the “good witch” and the people had rejoiced at her killing so they could be free to follow the wicked witch. Rather an odd picture is it not?
The picture here is equally odd. These two murdered prophets are trying to get people’s attention so they could find God amidst the chaos and confusion that was reigning on earth at time. After three days the “breath of God” allowed these two prophets to live again in their bodies. This probably came as quite a surprise to the people who were busy celebrating and congratulating one another about their passing, “terror struck those who saw them”. Instead of marshaling magical monkeys as the wicked witch did these prophets simply hear the voice of God say “come up here”. Simple and to the point. Time to leave that place and be with Me.
They are lifted on a cloud to heaven while all the onlookers watched, probably filled with mixed emotions. I suspect for many of these people they realized for the first time the injustice that they had encouraged, approved, and were in fact celebrating. I imagine that many people that looked on as Jesus was crucified had similar feeling when they heard that He had risen from the dead. A sense that one has bet on the wrong horse, but it is too late to recover the bet.
The rising of these two prophets is accompanied by an earthly event, an earthquake. This earthquake kills seven thousand people. Based on other earthquakes with similar death tolls perhaps a magnitude 7 or 8 on the Richter scale. This event caused many to reassess their prior allegiances and many survivors “gave glory to the God of heaven”. This was the second woe with more to come.
So the core issue here is allegiances and where we place our trust. Do we place our trust in God or something or someone else? If we ally ourselves with earthly things and people they are all we have to rely upon when things are difficult here in this land of Oblivion, but if we have a clear conscience toward God and give Him our allegiance we will be able to weather the spiritual squalls to come. I am confident that in the end God does win just as He did here. It is on us to choose wisely before it gets this bad and costly.
Prayer: God help us to place our allegiance in You in good times and bad times so when bad times come we are prepared and ready.