by Joseph Franks
The eleventh chapter of Revelation is one that is interpreted differently by the various schools of eschatology. Some see this chapter as having been literally fulfilled with the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. To them, John is writing history and making a spiritual point.
Others see this chapter as yet to be literally fulfilled. Perhaps in 2070 the Temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem. Two mysterious prophets (Moses, Elijah) will preach in the Holy City. Fire will be called down from heaven and they will be invincible before their foes. However, they will ultimately be martyred by the beast and their bodies left exposed to the elements. To these interpreters, John is giving insight into what Christians should expect in some distant future era.
Then there is my preferred view. I believe that John is using symbolic and figurative language to express to John, the churches in Asia, and all subsequent Christians what their duty is and what they should expect in this world. From this eschatological perspective, I will now walk with you through Revelation 11.
In John’s latest vision, six of the seven trumpets have been sounded. The only thing left to happen is the final trumpet with the corresponding final judgment. It is here we see that God is both long-suffering and ambitious. He is exercising divine patience in pouring out justice, and he is sending out his ministers (olive trees, lamp stands) to call all the nations to repentance. But what should such ministers expect as they pursue the Great Commission?
We should expect this era to be bitter-sweet. While serving God, we will have glad and sad days. (Chap. 10) We should expect portions of the house of God to be overrun with pagans. Meanwhile, we should expect God to meet with his people as we are his church, tabernacle or temple. As we gather to worship him in prayer around his holy altar of incense, he will encourage us. When we leave and preach, we should expect Elijah-like power. As a result of our faithful witness, we should expect a season of revival intermingled with increased tribulation. Finally, we should be ready to die for the faith, knowing that if this is our lot, we will be raised in glory by the Lord. There we will see him along with those whom we have had the privilege of introducing to our Savior.