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Revelation chapter 11

 

The Two Witnesses

 

Except for the very end of Revelation 11 (verses 15-19), this whole chapter is an inset chapter, breaking from the time-flow of events.  It looks back to the two individuals chosen by God to give a witness to the world during the 3 ½ years of the tribulation and Day of the Lord time-span.

 

The tribulation temple

 

 Revelation 11:1-3, “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.  But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles:  and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.  And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.”  Next let’s view a prophecy in Daniel to put this into perspective.  Daniel 9:25, “Know therefore and understand, that from the coming forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty two weeks [i.e. 7 + 62 = 69 prophetic weeks, day for a year prophetic principle.  1 prophetic week = 7 years.  69 prophetic weeks = 69 x 7, which = 483 years]  Somehow this all calculates out, if you find out which Persian king gave the real proclamation to go forth and rebuild Jerusalem and the temple, some say Cyrus, some say one of the Artaxerxes, it would be 69 prophetic weeks, then the Messiah would be “cut off”.  Daniel 9:26, “And after the sixty two weeks [and I assume the seven weeks mentioned before that in verse 25, adding up to 69 weeks], Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself;…”  Jesus is slain, “And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary [that happened in 70AD, and then again in 133-135AD, where Jerusalem was destroyed, along with the temple].”  Now verse 27 of Daniel 9, “Then shall he confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week, he shall bring an end to the sacrifice and offering.  And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even unto the consummation…”  Verse 27 fast forwards to the end times, when this ruler over the beast empire makes a covenant in the Middle East, more than likely between the Arabs and the Israelis, a 7-year covenant of peace.  Then after three and a half years, this peace treaty is broken somehow, as Daniel 9:27 says, “He shall make an end to sacrifice and offerings.”  The sacrifice and offering have been cut off, stopped. Pastor Chuck Smith has another very astute comment for Revelation 11:1-2 titled “Antichrist’s Middle East Solution.”  Now none of this would have made any sense before now, but in today’s day and age it makes perfect sense.  During some future Middle East crisis this new charismatic leader of a unified Europe, a revived Holy Roman Empire, will come into the Holy Land, and will broker a 7-year peace treaty between the Jews (Israelis) and the surrounding Arab nations.  It says in the middle of that time period, that “prophecied week”, after 3 ½ years, “But in the middle of that week he shall bring an end to the sacrifice and offering”, verse 27 of Daniel 9.  So now Pastor Chuck Smith’s comment:

 

“Antichrist’s Middle East Solution

 

One of the major factors in the negotiations between the Jews and the Moslems in Jerusalem is the problem of the Temple Mount.  It is a holy site to the Jewish people; but it is also a holy site for the Moslems as it houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.  This is a huge problem when you consider that the Jews are going to rebuild their temple during the tribulation period and will be sacrificing there.  [I think he means they’re going to rebuild the temple in the first three and a half years of this brokered peace treaty, and start up sacrifices.  You can’t cut off sacrifices unless you start them.  And to meet the Old Testament requirements, you had to have either the tabernacle or a temple built to do them in, or just outside of.]  I believe this passage [in Revelation 11:1-2] gives us a strong hint as to how this will take place.  In measuring the temple of God, John was told to not measure the outer court, which had been given to the Gentiles.  In Ezekiel 42:20, in measuring the temple area, there was a wall that was said to separate the holy areas from the common or profane.  I believe that a likely scenario is that the Antichrist [person ruling over the revived Holy Roman Empire], when negotiating a peace treaty with Israel [and the surrounding Arab nations], will likely come up with the idea of building a large wall on the Temple Mount and allowing the Jews to rebuild their temple to the north of the Dome of the Rock, on the other side of the large wall.  This could work for the Jews and the Arabs alike.  And it is likely that this is the reason why the outer court was not measured here [by John].  It is in the Moslem area of the Temple Mount.  And this would be perceived as a brilliant solution by this great world leader.”  [p. 1685 The Word For Today Bible, New King James Version.]

 

But before these two individuals could start witnessing from a temple in Jerusalem one has to be built.  That is what Revelation 11:1-3 is all about.  Revelation 11:2, “But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.”  A prophetic year has 12 months of 30 days each.  42 x 30 = 1260 days.  1260 days divided by 360 = 3.5 years.  42 months is 3 ½ years that the Gentiles in this revived Holy Roman Empire, a United States of Europe in some form, keeps Israel and Jerusalem under military occupation.  Remember “occupied France” in World War II, occupied by the Nazi’s?  Same thing. Revelation 11:3, “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.” So these 1260 days are literal days, equaling 3.5 years.  Sackcloth was the normal garb or clothing for a holy prophet in the Old Testament times with the House of Israel and the House of Judah.  So these are modern day prophets of God.  God must protect his people during this time (cf. Revelation 3:10) or else they also will suffer the same fate as the Laodicea era Church, martyrdom.  This period of protection, as Revelation 12:14 indicates, lasts “a time, and times and half a time.”  If a “time” is equal to a year and “times” is equal to two years, we also have a period of 3 ½ years when the Philadelphia era Church is protected.  It appears to correspond to this same period when the Gentiles tread under foot the Israeli nation and  the surrounding nations in the Middle East that are mentioned in Daniel 11:40-45.  Some of those nations escape, probably due to individual treaties made with this ruler of the European political-military combine.  Some do not.  Read those verses to see.  It is pretty straight forward what these two witnesses do.  Also God has endowed them both with supernatural powers for their own protection.  Revelation 11:3-6, “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.  These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.  And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies:  and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.  These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy:  and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.”  Notice, the plagues that it mentions are similar or the same as the first four Trumpet plagues.  This may be no coincidence.  These may be God’s instruments which call down the Trumpet plagues, just so the world knows from their own testimony who is responsible for them.  As God’s two faithful witnesses, they obviously wouldn’t be taking credit for bringing on the Trumpet plagues, the power and glory go to God.  Their job is to make sure people realize where it’s all coming from, as prophets of God.  Elijah was used to bring the people of God back to God.  The lesson will not be lost on Israel, all 12 tribes, now in captivity to this Euro political-military combine.  These two witnesses may be the only hope that’s keeping them alive right now.  Think about that for a moment. 

 

The two witnesses are killed by the beast

 

At the very end of 3 ½ years these two prophets, the two witnesses are killed just 3 ½ days before the blowing of the 7th Trumpet.   They are killed by “the beast”.  Revelation 11:7, “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.”  Their bodies lie for 3 ½ days in the streets “of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt…”  In Isaiah 1:10 Jerusalem is referred to as Sodom.  As we will see, an outside military power, the power of the revived Holy Roman Empire, will dominate the city of Jerusalem, making it the civil and religious headquarters of their “empire”, which the Bible also calls Babylon the great, whose fall is described in both Isaiah 47:1-11 and Revelation 18.  Revelation 11:8-10, “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 a 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.”  I’d say earth was tormented by them.  But not really, the inhabitants of the earth were tormented by the first four Trumpet plagues God used these prophets to announce were about to come on them.  They were God’s spokesmen, announcing what God was about to do.  Revelation 11:6, “These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.”  I even imagine they announced the two Woes that God allowed Satan to bring on mankind, in the form of a major military offensive against the Eastern nations, and the Eastern nations counter-offensive.  So the nations of the world, having suffered under the supernatural plagues they’ve brought down on earth, declare what looks to me like an international holiday.    The preaching of the Gospel by the two witnesses is cut off by their death just 3 ½ days before the blowing of the 7th Trumpet sounds. 

 

The Seventh Trumpet, time of the resurrection of the righteous dead!

 

Something amazing is about to occur here.  The bodies of these two witnesses, prophets of God, have been lying out on the street where they were slain, for three and a half days.  More than likely televised news cameras are trained on their bodies, broadcasting the image of them to the whole world, who are now celebrating their death.  The world is celebrating in a festive holiday spirit, exchanging gifts.  Then after 3 ½ days of this insanity, their two bodies start to stir, and then come to life.  Those who may have been drinking too much start rubbing their eyes, thinking they’re seeing things.  But others, not so inebriated chime in, ‘No, you’re not seeing things, these guys are coming back to life!  Oh no, what are we gonna do!?’  You can just imagine.  Beast-TV’s televised coverage of their bodies lying there has backfired, and God has the final word, as always.  Revelation 11:11-13, “And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.  And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither.  And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.  And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.”  This initiates the great 1st Resurrection to immortality, when all the righteous dead, from righteous Abel to all the saints who throughout history have died in the Lord.  How do we know this?  Revelation 11:14, “The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.”  Remember the 3rd Woe is also the 7th Trumpet?  Immediately now the seventh angel sounds.  The next four verses describe that.  Revelation 11:15-19, “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ;  [Christ, in this sense means “anointed”---that’s us, folks!]  and he shall reign for ever and ever.  And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.  And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.  And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament:  and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”  This is the very resurrection where the righteous dead and all those still alive in Christ receive eternal life.  And these two passages that follow show that same event taking place, and both passages key it in to the blowing or sounding of the Seventh Trumpet.  Note the wording.  Also note, it is these two witnesses that are the very first to be resurrected in this first resurrection to immortality.  As they rise up to heaven, they are immortal!  Paul describes the process for us in 1st Corinthians 15:49-54, “And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.  Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.  Behold, I tell you a mystery:  We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed---in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ”  Also read Paul’s statement to the Thessalonians, which is a parallel passage to that one.  1st Thessalonians 4:13-17, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep [i.e., died], lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who sleep in Jesus.  For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.  For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”  In both sets of verses, this is keyed into the trumpet of God, and in 1st Corinthians, the “last trumpet”, which we know is the 7th Trumpet.  At the very beginning of the 7th Trumpet and the plagues attached to it (the Seven Last Plagues) the first resurrection to immortality takes place.  If a Rapture to heaven to protect the Philadelphia saints in heaven for 3 ½ years takes place, these two passages do not describe that.  This resurrection to immortality takes place as Jesus’ 2nd coming is occurring, the second coming of Jesus to rule over the earth after the Battle of Armageddon.  (These two passages are mistakenly used to prove the  Rapture, sadly.  Proof, if it is to be found must be found elsewhere.  But as I’ve said, either place of safety or Rapture is not that important, just the fact that Jesus has promised protection (Revelation 3:10) is all that we should really concern ourselves with right now.)  So we have seen that the preaching of the Gospel by the two witnesses ends just 3 ½ days before the 7th Trumpet sounds.  You would think, ‘Well OK, that wraps things up.  Not quite.  The blowing of the 7th Trumpet initiates two important things, and in this time order:  1) The first resurrection to immortality, and 2) The start of the 7 Last Plagues.  But first three inset chapters are added which will describe and contrast two churches, the True Church in contrast with the False Church.  These three chapters are Revelation 12, 13 & 17.  The story flow will resume with Revelation chapters 14, 15 & 16, which describe the 7 Last Plagues.  Revelation 18 describes how this evil empire will fall in one day (indicating that the 7 Last Plagues occur in one day, probably being initiated right after the blowing of the 7th Trumpet and the 1st Resurrection of the righteous dead).  Revelation 19 then gives us the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ accompanied by the recently resurrected immortal saints.  Chapter 19 does this in more detail, which culminates in the final ‘Battle of Armageddon.’  Revelation 20 depicts the fate of Satan and all of his demons, followed by a very brief description of the 1,000 year Millennial Kingdom of God, the final judgment of man, and  hell-fire.  Revelation 21 & 22 describe the new heavens and the new earth as we step into the full eternal reward and Paradise of God created for his immortal sons and daughters.  We have now reached the halfway point in this commentary on the Book of Revelation. 

 

Revelation chapter 12

 

Revelation chapters 12, 13 & 17 are three inset chapters and also are a comparison and historic outline of two religious systems, the true and false systems.  Revelation 13 & 17 also shows Satan’s governmental system from Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon to the final resurrection of the ‘Holy Roman Empire.’  In Revelation 12 John shows the reason for the hostility harbored by one system for the other.  Revelation 12 is picturing God’s true Church from a different perspective from what he presented in Revelation 2 & 3.  It, like chapters 13 & 17 is an inset chapter which breaks into the flow of events that have occurred since Revelation chapter 6. 

 

Revelation 12:1, “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars…”  Where do we find these symbols used in the Bible, following in our practice of letting Jesus (in his written Word of God) interpret them?  In Genesis 37:9-10 Joseph has a dream where a similar scene appeared 2,000 years before Revelation was penned by John.  Joseph, revealing his dream to his brothers said, “I have dreamed another dream.  And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.”  The context identifies these symbols.  Joseph’s father is the sun, his mother Rachel is the moon, and his eleven brothers are the eleven stars, Joseph being the 12th star.  The symbol, as identified in Genesis 37:9-10 is a clear reference to the whole nation of Israel.  Some thus stop right there and say the nation of Israel is the woman who gave birth to Jesus, as described in Revelation 12.  Revelation 12:2, 5, “And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered…And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.”  So those who interpret ‘the woman’ in verse 1 who was clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars’ to represent being the physical nation of Israel, so that when later on in Revelation 12 this same woman is persecuted by the red dragon (Satan), it is the woman, the physical nation of Israel, i.e. as some call them, righteous Jews, who are then flown to a place of safety.  Some Messianic Jewish evangelistic ministries go with this interpretation.  But when verifying something used as a symbol in the Bible, you have to search out all passages about that symbol.  If the woman of Revelation 12:1 is Israel, you have to search out not just what the Old Testament has to say about the identity of Israel, but what the New Testament has to say about it, especially since the Book of Revelation is a New Testament book.  But taking the apostle Paul’s statement in Galatians into account, that all believers are “spiritual Israel”, and then in Romans 11, that Gentile believers are ‘grafted into the olive tree of Israel, well, we see Israel is more than just physical Israel.  And in no way am I promoting “Replacement theology”, which I deem to be an evil doctrine which promotes anti-Semitism.  So Israel can be physical Israel, and we find God also inspired Paul to say that there is a spiritual Israel.  Also, backing up this point, God through Paul said in Galatians 3:7, and also verse 29 that ‘we as believers are the children of Abraham.’  “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.”  These Messianic ministries, using the “physical Israel” only is what the symbolic woman in Revelation 12 represents, say it is “righteous Jews in Israel will be ‘flown to a place of safety’.”  But the only righteous Jews in the Israeli nation I know of are those who are clothed in the righteousness of their Messiah and his blood.  There may be plenty of wonderful, good people in Israel, and I know there are.  I am very pro-Israeli.  But the only ones I know that are righteous are those who are believers in Yeshua haMeshiach.  So including everything the whole Word of God has to say about who Israel is modifies our interpretation of who this woman in Revelation 12:1 is.  She is both physical Israel, Jesus born out of Judah, but she is also the Church, the true Church, the spiritual children of Abraham (Galatians 3:7, 29).  Revelation 2 & 3 gave us a history of this true Church through seven successive era’s (the last two living side-by-side or parallel to each other).  Now, that true Church history is given from another view, perspective, in Revelation 12, which is: The true Church in conflict with and having to flee from Satan and his false church.  Revelation 12:3, “And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.”  Satan tried to kill Jesus Christ as a baby.  Matthew 2:16, “Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.” 

 

Pre-Adamic war in heaven

 

Revelation 12:3-4, “And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.  And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth:  and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.”  This is a direct reference to a prior battle and defeat of Satan in heaven, and it was pre-Adamic history.  The word “stars” is another Bible word which is often used to denote “angels”.  Satan drew one third of God’s angels into a rebellion with him, in his first attempt to throw God off his throne.  In Luke 10:18 Jesus remarks that he saw Satan fall to earth as lightning from the sky. Isaiah 14:12-15 is another account of Lucifer’s (Satan’s) fall from heaven.  One third of the stars he drew from heaven is a reference to his drawing one third of the angels into his rebellion.  They  are now demons, fallen angels.  Satan and these fallen angels are now confined to earth.  The book of Ezekiel chapter 28:11-17 has a corresponding description.  (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/Satan/satan.htm.)  Satan, as Revelation 12:9 states, has the whole world deceived, and he has accomplished that in many ways, but especially through false religions, even a great false church that masquerades itself as being the true Church.  Revelation 12:9, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world…” 

 

The true Church has to flee into the wilderness, this is historic, has already happened

 

Revelation 12:6, “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.”  As we saw in our study of Revelation chapter 2, the Pergamos and Thyatira era’s were in this spiritual wilderness from about 325AD to 1585AD.  This is history, church history, has already taken place.  The 1260 days is using the ‘day for a year’ principle for prophetic days, found in Ezekiel 4:5-6.  History does also show us, hindsight being 20/20, that there was an intense period of persecution from 325AD onward through 1585AD, when it tapered off markedly.  The Dark Ages were in the middle of this 1260 year period. 

 

Another war in heaven, Satan attempts to throw God off his throne again

 

Revelation 12:7-12, “And there was war in heaven:  Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world:  he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.  And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ:  for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.  And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.  Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them.  Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea!  for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”  Satan attempts to overthrow God in heaven a second time, and gets thrown with his demons back down to earth.  Now he is intent on destroying God’s people, the Church.  As we have seen, Jesus promised he’d protect the Philadelphia era churches (read Revelation 3:10).  Revelation 12:13, “And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted woman which brought forth the man child.  i.e., The same woman of Revelation 12:1, context of the paragraph hasn’t changed.  Revelation 12:14, “And to the woman were given two winds of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.”  As I said before a few Messianic Jewish evangelistic ministries believe this is referring to ‘righteous Jews’ who live in Israel.  But the only ‘righteous Jews’ I know of are born-again Messianic Jewish believers in Yeshua (Jesus).  This verse is also one of the key verses a lot of Messianic Jews and Gentile Christians believe points to the Philadelphia era churches going or being somehow flown into a place of safety on earth.  Of course those that believe in the Rapture scenario interpret this as “being flown, Raptured to heaven.”  But that doesn’t quite fit the context of the next two verses.  Revelation 12:15-16, “And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.  And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.”  The Bible often uses the word “flood” to refer to an overwhelming army that is invading.  This would indicate Satan inspires “the beast”, Antichrist, to pursue these fleeing saints.  Verse 16, if it is a pursuing army, would indicate that God causes the earth to open up and swallow them up.  Numbers 16:25-34, “Then Moses rose and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him.  And he spoke to the congregation, saying, ‘Depart now from the tents of these wicked men!  Touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in all their sins.  So they got away from around the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, with their wives, their sons, and their little children.  And Moses said: ‘By this you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works, for I have not done them of my own will.  If they are visited by the common fate of all men, then the LORD has not sent me.  But if the LORD creates a new thing, and the earth swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the pit, then you will understand that these men have rejected the LORD.  Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly.  Then all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, ‘Lest the earth swallow us up also!’”  That’s letting the Bible interpret itself again.  The earth has been opened up by God to swallow a group of evil people.  Now who’s left behind?  Those described in Revelation 3:14-22, the Laodicean era churches.  They go into martyrdom. Revelation 12:17, “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” So Revelation 12:17 marks the opening of the 5th Seal, martyrdom.  Revelation 12:17 would be in time-sequence with Revelation 6:9-11, the great martyrdom, the 5th Seal.  That is where this history of the  true Church has brought us, as covered from a different perspective than Revelation chapters 2 & 3. 

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