Wednesday, 10 February 2021
When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. Revelation 11:7
The two witnesses are being referred to here. They have a set mission to perform, and it will last a preordained amount of time. It is at the end of that time that John now says, “When they finish their testimony.” In verse 11:3, the word martysin, or witnesses, was used. It is the noun that described them. They were witnesses to the people. Here, the word marturia speaks of the witness, or testimony itself. Once that is complete, John says, “the beast that ascends.”
The Greek contains definite articles – “the beast the coming up.” Thus, it is speaking of a particular beast. This may be a way of identifying, in advance, the beast mentioned in Revelation 13:1 and/or 17:8. This also may be a way of identifying the fourth beast of Daniel 7. John says that this beast that ascends “out of the bottomless pit will make war against them.”
The two witnesses, regardless of who they are (this commentary has identified them probably as Enoch and Elijah but being future, this isn’t certain), will finish their prophesying after three- and one-half years and they will be killed by this beast.
This is not likely to be the angel with the key to the bottomless pit in verse 9:1, but rather he is probably the leader of the forces that were let loose from there, represented by locusts. He is quite possibly the antichrist who was spoken of by Daniel and also by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10.
The term used for “beast” here is not the same term that is used for the four living creatures around the throne. Those are rightly translated as “living creatures.” But because some translations use the term “beast” for both, it is good to clarify this. The term used here means a wild animal. It is probably analogous to the term used for a beast in Daniel chapter 7, but there is also a difference. The beast there is speaking of an empire, but this one in Revelation appears to be speaking of an individual. However, this isn’t 100% certain either. This very well may be an empire too.
The leader of an empire is normally associated with the entire empire. When one speaks of the Germans of World War II, they will often speak of Hitler as representing the whole. Again, Stalin is used as an example of the entire communist system of his time. There is no reason to think this isn’t the case here as well. Time will resolve these hard to identify terms, peoples, and empires. For now, John finishes with the words that this beast will “overcome them, and kill them.”
Regardless as to who these witnesses are, this is an allowance of God. They have had the power to perform the miracles and wonders previously described, signifying that they are working on behalf of God who gave them the power. But the redemptive plan is set, the timeline is given, and these two witnesses are to die in the performance of their duties. This is by the allowance of God, and it is for His glory that it will occur.
Life application: God is in control of this and of every situation. After these things occur, we will see His omniscience in what comes about – knowing that He foresaw exactly what would happen. Whether this analysis is correct on who the two witnesses are or not, the world will be able to identify exactly what has come about as being what was prophesied in the Bible. There will be no excuse for rejecting what is so clearly presented.
Death is not the end of the story for these two witnesses. Nor is it the end for any who belong to the Lord. He has complete and final control over all who are His. And so, whether by death or by rapture, we will be with the Lord forever. He prevailed over death so that we too will prevail over death. He is the Lamb that was slain but who rose again. He is JESUS!
Lord, by seeing the faithfulness of your prophets and witnesses who are described in the Bible, it can give us courage as well to speak out for Your glory and Your great name. Give us strength and boldness as we face the wickedness of this world, knowing that man can do nothing to us apart from Your will. Whether in life or in death, we are Yours. Nothing can change that. Thank You for this wonderful assurance. Amen.