Revelation 11 is an inset prophecy about God’s two witnesses, placed here because they will be resurrected when the seventh trumpet begins to sound. The seventh trumpet is the third woe for humanity because immediately after the resurrection – while the faithful are at the wedding feast in heaven – the seven last plagues will be poured out on the earth as part of the seventh trumpet.
In 31 A.D. God officially moved the Shikinah or Holy Spirit from the physical temple to the spiritual temple of his called out faithful.
John is told to measure the temple including the courtyard of the priests where the altar or holy place was, and thereby figuratively measure out and set apart the true faithful called out zealous servants of God.
Revelation 11:1 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 [worship God in truth, living by every Word of God] therein.
The city of Jerusalem is not to be measured out or set apart, because it is given over to captivity by the Gentiles for 42 months (Rev 11:2).
There is no physical temple today, therefore separating the temple from the city of Jerusalem is speaking metaphorically about dividing and separating the zealous who live by every Word of God from the wicked in the nation including the lukewarm spiritually lax Laodiceans.
Measuring out the courtyard obviously refers to measuring out the people who are called to be priests and stand in the courtyard closest to God and are therefore the closest to God.
In this instance, the temple is separated from the city and is also divided into its courtyards the Most Holy Place and the Inner Court where only the faithful priests are allowed are called the Temple and they are separated from the Outer Court where those further from God but still calling themselves the people of God congregate.
Those who are close to God and zealously living by every Word of God will be spared and will not be given over to correction by the Gentiles like the wicked and the lukewarm spiritually lax represented by the Outer Court and the city.
The Outer Court of the Temple and the whole city of Jerusalem is to go into great tribulation for 42 months. Since God told Daniel that Prince Titus would stop the daily – which he did by demolishing the temple, and that the temple would remain desolate until Messiah comes; this measuring of the temple is obviously a metaphor for setting apart the spiritually faithful, while the city is occupied for 42 months in our time.
The spiritually lax in today’s Ekklesia who do not believe the warnings [Laodicea (Rev 3:16); the people will be judged] will also be severely corrected during that 42 months, so that by afflicting the flesh the spirit might be saved.
Both the city of Jerusalem AND the people who call themselves the people of God today but who are really very far from God (Rev 3:16), will be sternly corrected for a period of 42 months.
11:2 But the court which is without the temple [the outer courtyard of 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.
The complimentary prophecy is Ezekiel 9
Ezekiel 9:1 He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.
9:2 And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar.
9:3 And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he [God] called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side;
9:4 And the LORD [YHVH] said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry [mourn over all the evil] for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
Those who love the righteousness of God and are vexed by the lack of zeal for godliness and the evil in today’s Spiritual Ekklesia are Marked Out and Separated Out from the spiritually lax and spared; while the spiritually lax and sinful are strongly corrected and physically afflicted.
9:5 And to the others he said in mine hearing go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:
9:6 Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at, Go the ancient men [The strong correction will begin with the leaders and elders.] which were before the house.
9:7 And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city.
The wicked of this world today, think that God is gone far away and does not see or care what they do. Despite denials, deep down this same attitude is prevalent in today’s Ekklesia, who declare that God has placed them in charge to do as they think right. This vile evil attitude is the root cause of their apostasy.
9:8 And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?
9:9 Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not.
This is the LORD of Moses speaking, and we know that this was the very Being who became Jesus Christ [Hebrew: Yeshua Mashiach]. All of the false teachers who claim that Jesus will tolerate sin, will be made to eat their wicked words in the furnace of correction.
9:10 And as for me [Jesus Christ speaking] also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head.
The writer did as he was commanded and marked out those who loved the righteousness of God and were full of zeal for the Word of God, and who were sorrowed by all the evil in the world and in today’s Spiritual Ekklesia; marking them so that they could be spared when correction comes to the earth over the last 42 months before Christ comes.
9:11 And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me.
God will send his Two Servants who will witness that the Eternal is God and beside Him there is NO other (Deu 4:35, 4:39); teaching zeal for the whole Word of God against all of the evil in the world and in today’s Ekklesia.
Clothed in sackcloth refers to an attitude of humility before God and mourning over all the evils in the world, just as others were marked out for mourning over all the evils in the world and in the Ekklesia today.
God’s Two Witnesses
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.
The olive tree produces olive oil which is then burned in the menorah lamp stand, giving light. This is analogous of the Holy Spirit bringing a burning zeal for godliness in a person, thereby producing the works of faith and godly righteousness that make that person a Shining Light of example to others.
Today the Holy Spirit has been quenched by most brethren in the assemblies of the called out, and their light is flickering out.
God is sending his Two Servants to revive the dying Ekklesia and fill them with the oil of God’s Spirit by calling the brethren to sincere repentance.
11:4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
This is a reference to:
4:11 Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof?
4:12 And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves [into the seven branched lamp stand of the Ekklesia]?
4:13 And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
4:14 Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the LORD of the whole earth.
Revelation 11:5 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.
This means that they can command fire in self-defense, it does not mean that they literally breath fire. They will have great power, but of course they like Moses and Elijah, would not think of exercising such power on their own whims; rather like Moses and Elijah they will do as God commands them to do.
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.
11:7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit [regardless of the person who kills them, the deed is ultimately done by Satan] shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
11:8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt [Jerusalem], where also our Lord was crucified.
Humanity, not believing their message and seeing them as tormentors, will greatly rejoice over their death; and by the apparent victory of the false prophet over these two the nations will see the false prophet as the true man of God and think these two to be false prophets.
11:9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
11:10 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.
These two would have proclaimed that they would die and after 3 1/2 days they would be resurrected and ascend into heaven. Perhaps it is because of that prediction that the people will not let them be buried, desiring to see if their prediction comes to pass.
11:11 And after three days and an half [as the seventh trumpet begins to sound, the faithful chosen dead – including these two – will be resurrected to spirit] the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.
11:12 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.
At this amazing sign many people of Judah in Jerusalem and many in the nations of Israel who see the 144,000 and many others changed to spirit and rising up to heaven; will sincerely repent and glorify God.
Then over the following days the armies of Asia and the European beast emperor join forces against Christ (Rev 16:14), who will come with his resurrected bride just a few days later, after the wedding feast in heaven.
11:13 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 [of Judah and Israel in particular, since the armies of the wicked will still fight Christ at his coming to rule] were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
11:14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
The resurrection of the chosen at the beginning of the sounding of the seventh trumpet which ushers in the seven last plagues begins the third great woe.
As the seventh angel begins to blast his trumpet and the resurrection takes place, it is Judah/Israel who begin to repent and turn to God.
Because of the calling of God, the sign of Christ in the heavens, the preaching of God’s two servants and the personal witness of the 144,000 during the Trumpet Plagues, Much of Israel/Judah will turn to God when they see the reality of the resurrection to spirit and the Power of God to deliver his faithful!
Nevertheless, the wicked leaders of the nations will be angry because they finally see that are in grave jeopardy of losing their authority over the nations, and they will turn and prepare to fight Christ and his chosen when they return.
This has very much to do with the rulers of the nations at that time not wanting to give their offices and positions up; just as in the first century it was the rulers who saw Jesus as a personal threat to their power and crucified him.
11:15 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; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
11:16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,
11:17 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.
11:18 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.
At the resurrection of the chosen, the Temple of God in heaven is opened and the resurrected saints will ascent to stand on the crystal pavement of the Courtyard of the Temple before the Most Holy Throne of God the Father for the Marriage of the Lamb.
11:19 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.
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.
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance
sackcloth – sakkos (Strong’s # 4526). Of Hebrew origin (saq); “sack”-cloth, i.e. Mohair (the material or garments made of it, worn as a sign of grief) – sackcloth. see HEBREW saq
Sackcloth, saq (Strong’s # 8242) From shaqaq; properly, a mesh (as allowing a liquid to run through), i.e. Coarse loose cloth or sacking (used in mourning and for bagging); hence, a bag (for grain, etc.) — sack(-cloth, -clothes).
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon
STRONGS NT 4526: σάκκος (Attic σάκος), σάκκου, ὁ, Hebrew שַׂק (cf. Fremdwörter, under the word), a sack (Latinsaccus) i. e.
a. a receptacle made for holding or carrying various things, as money, food, etc. (Leviticus 11:32).
b. a coarse cloth (Latincilicium), a dark coarse stuff made especially of the hair of animals (A. V. sackcloth): Revelation 6:12; a garment of the like material, and clinging to the person like a sack, which was usually worn (or drawn on over the tunic instead of the cloak or mantle) by mourners, penitents, suppliants, Matthew 11:21; Luke 10:13, and also by those who, like the Hebrew prophets, led an austere life, Revelation 11:3 (cf. what is said of the dress of John the Baptist, Matthew 3:4; of Elijah, 2 Kings 1:8). More fully in Winers RWB under the word Sack; Roskoff in Schenkel 5:134; (under the word in B. D.; also in McClintock and Strong. (From Herodotus down.))
Jewish Encyclopedia SACKCLOTH (Hebrew, “saḳ”) definition
By: Joseph Jacobs, Wilhelm Nowack
A term originally denoting a coarsely woven fabric, usually made of goat’s hair. It afterward came to mean also a garment made from such cloth, which was chiefly worn as a token of mourning by the Israelites. It was furthermore a sign of submission (I Kings xx. 30 et seq.), and was occasionally worn by the Prophets.
Sackcloth and ashes were used in Old Testament times as a symbol of humility, mourning, and/or repentance. Someone expressing deep repentance and mourning over his sins would often wear sackcloth, sit in ashes and put ashes on the head.
When someone died, the act of putting on sackcloth showed heartfelt sorrow for the loss of that person. We see an example of this when David mourned the death of Abner, the commander of Saul’s army (2 Samuel 3:31). Jacob also demonstrated his grief by wearing sackcloth when he thought his son, Joseph, has been killed (Genesis 37:34). These instances of mourning for the dead mention sackcloth but not ashes.
Ashes accompanied sackcloth in times of national disaster or repenting from sin. Esther 4:1, for instance, describes Mordecai tearing his clothes, putting on sackcloth and ashes, and walking out into the city “wailing loudly and bitterly.” This was Mordecai’s reaction to King Xerxes’ declaration giving the wicked Haman authority to destroy the Jews (Esther 3:8–15). Mordecai was not the only one who grieved. “In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping, and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes” (Esther 4:3). The Jews responded to the devastating news concerning their race with sackcloth and ashes, showing their intense grief and distress, but even more their repentance before God and calling on God, relying on God’s deliverance.
Sackcloth and ashes were used as a public sign of repentance and humility before God.
When Jonah declared to the people of Nineveh that God was going to destroy them for their wickedness, everyone from the king on down responded with repentance, fasting, and sackcloth and ashes (Jonah 3:5–7). They even put sackcloth on their animals (verse 8). Their reasoning was, “Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish” (verse 9). It is clear that the Ninevites’ donning of sackcloth and ashes was not a meaningless show. God saw genuine change—a humble change of heart represented by the sackcloth and ashes—and it caused Him to “relent” and not bring about His plan to destroy them (Jonah 3:10).
Other people in the Bible mentioned as wearing sackcloth include King Hezekiah (Isaiah 37:1), Eliakim (2 Kings 19:2), King Ahab (1 Kings 21:27), the elders of Jerusalem (Lamentations 2:10), Daniel (Daniel 9:3), and the two witness in Revelation 11:3.
Very simply, sackcloth and ashes were used as an outward sign of one’s inward condition of humility before God and mourning over sin in deep repentance.
Such a symbol reflected the innermost feelings and thoughts. It was not the act of putting on sackcloth and ashes itself that moved God to intervene, but the humility that such an action demonstrated (see 1 Samuel 16:7). God’s forgiveness in response to genuine repentance is celebrated by David’s words: “You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy” (Psalm 30:11).
KJV Dictionary Definition
MOURN, v.i. L. maereo.
1. To express grief or sorrow; to grieve; to be sorrowful. Mourning may be expressed by weeping or audible sounds, or by sobs, sighs or inward silent grief.
Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep (Gen.23).
Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted (Mat.5).
MOURN, v.t. To grieve for; to lament over.
KJV Dictionary Definition:
HUMILITY, n. L. humilitas.
1. In ethics, freedom from pride and arrogance; humbleness of mind; a modest estimate of one’s own worth.
In theology, humility consists in lowliness of mind; a deep sense of one’s own unworthiness in the sight of God, self-abasement, penitence for sin, and submission to the divine will.
Before honor is humility (Prov.15).
Serving the Lord with all humility of mind (Acts.20).
KJV Dictionary Definition
RE’PENT, to creep, fall down before, submit to.
1. Sorrow for any thing done or said; the pain or grief which a person experiences in consequence of the injury or inconvenience produced by his own conduct.
2. The pain, regret or affliction which a person feels on account of his past conduct. This sorrow proceeding merely from the fear of punishment, is called legal repentance, as being excited by the terrors of legal penalties, and it may exist without an amendment of life.
3. Theologically real penitence; sorrow or deep contrition for sin, as an offense and dishonor to God, a violation of his holy law. This is genuine repentance, and is accompanied and followed by a lifelong change of conduct.
Repentance is a change of mind resulting in full submission to God and a change of conduct, or a conversion from sin to godliness.
Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation. (2 Cor 7, Mat 3).
Repentance is the relinquishment of any practice that is offensive to God and a genuine change of attitude and conduct towards living a more godly life.
The reference to God’s Two Witnesses being clothed in sackcloth is a metaphor for being clothed in humility and submissiveness to God, while mourning over the wickedness and sin in the Ekklesia and in the world.