Thursday, 11 February 2021
And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Revelation 11:8
John now describes the treatment of the two witnesses after they have been killed, saying, “And their dead bodies will lie in the street.” The Greek reads “upon the street.” Their carcasses will be left exposed upon the street as a supposed testimony to the ending of their witness. They had prophesied of repentance or coming judgment, and there they will lie. As their dead bodies are left open and exposed in the streets of the city, these two are – in a sense – following their Lord in the public shame He endured.
Like Jesus, they have supposedly (stress the word) been defeated in “the great city.” This is referring to the same spot that was mentioned in verse 11:1 –
“Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, ‘Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there.’”
John was told to measure “the temple of God,” meaning the temple of the Lord that will again stand on the temple mount in Jerusalem. It is in this location where the two witnesses had prophesied.
The term “great city” has not been used this way before when referring to Jerusalem, but it signifies the importance of the location in the end times. The world will look to it as a beacon of peace and unity, even while it flourishes in perversion and wickedness, something that has increased almost exponentially in recent years.
The Knesset, the seat of government in Israel, is located in western Jerusalem. There, the legalization of every type of indecency and perversion has come to pass, abortion is openly accepted as a legitimate practice, laws concerning the easing of restrictions on drug use are increasingly being introduced, and so on. These things will only increase in the time leading up to the coming of the two witnesses. Such things as this, and especially Israel’s rejection of Jesus as their Messiah, will be highlighted by them. For this, they will be martyred and then their dead bodies will be left in the open street.
Because of these immoral practices by the people, John continues with descriptions of the city, saying, “which spiritually is called Sodom.” The sin of Sodom is obvious. It is clearly defined in Scripture, and in whatever place the practice of homosexuality is openly accepted, that place will be labeled as Sodom – whether it is a bar, a district, a city, or a country. The label is fully understood as to what is being referred to.
Such practices are condoned and applauded throughout Israel today, and it all stems from the laws enacted in Jerusalem. Hence, it is the bearer of the title “Sodom.” John continues with, “and Egypt.” Egypt was the place of bondage, hardship, and oppressive rule from which Israel was redeemed by the Lord. Being brought out of Egypt was a picture of man’s being brought out from bondage to sin. However, here John calls Jerusalem “Egypt.”
Thus, he is indicating that it is a city in bondage to sin. The temple has changed nothing because by the law is the knowledge of sin. It can never lead to holiness. Instead, it can only heap up more guilt upon the people. The two witnesses will testify of freedom through the grace of God in Christ, but that will be rejected. The people will remain in their bondage.
Finally, and to ensure that the location of the city is not to be spiritualized away, John says of it, “where also our Lord was crucified.” Jesus was crucified outside of the gates of Jerusalem. Today, that area is within the limits of Jerusalem. The note of the Lord’s crucifixion is affixed to remind the reader that Jesus is the fulfillment of the law. All of the types and shadows of the Temple are found fulfilled in Him. And yet, instead of the Substance, they have chosen the shadow.
Further, the crucifixion of Christ points in two directions at once. It points to grace for those who accept it, and it points to judgment upon those who reject it. John’s note calls out, “This really happened! The Lord of Creation came to this place and died for the sins of His people! Accept the grace of God in Christ or be judged by God in Christ!”
The words of John in this one verse were anticipated by the prophet Isaiah –
“Hear the word of the Lord,
You rulers of Sodom;
Give ear to the law of our God,
You people of Gomorrah:
11 “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?”
Says the Lord.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle.
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
Or of lambs or goats.
12 “When you come to appear before Me,
Who has required this from your hand,
To trample My courts?
13 Bring no more futile sacrifices;
Incense is an abomination to Me.
The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.
14 Your New Moons and your appointed feasts
My soul hates;
They are a trouble to Me,
I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Even though you make many prayers,
I will not hear.
Your hands are full of blood.
16 “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
17 Learn to do good;
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.
18 “Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
You shall eat the good of the land;
20 But if you refuse and rebel,
You shall be devoured by the sword”;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 1:10-20
Isaiah called the people of Judah Sodom and Gomorrah. He told them of the futility of their temple rites, and He spoke of their receiving the grace and cleansing from sins that can only come from a heart directed to the Lord. What Isaiah laid out at the beginning of his book, John sums up in a single sentence in Revelation.
Life application: These names and descriptions for Jerusalem are given, but they could have been avoided – simply by heeding the call of the two witnesses. But by rejecting their words, the same thing will come upon them as came upon both Sodom and Egypt – great punishment and judgment.
The same is true with the world today. We have two great witnesses already – the two testaments of Scripture. They stand together as a unified body of writing that witnesses to God’s working out the redemptive narrative for fallen man. It is this marvelous book, the Holy Bible, that calls out to us to turn to God and receive His offer of pardon, restoration, and forgiveness. This book calls out for us to turn to JESUS.
O Lord, even in the face of the great plan of redemption for us that You have so carefully laid out in the pages of Scripture, the people of the world have rejected its testimony. Thus, they have rejected You. We have Your complete revelation in the pages of the Bible and yet most people ignore it, shun it, and openly revile against it. Lord, open hearts and minds to the precious truth of Your word – the word that tells us of Your loving grace, given through Jesus. Amen.