“The Temple and Two Witnesses”
“But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city under foot for forty-two months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” [Rev 10:2-3]
Revelation 11 continues a second parenthetical that began in Rev 10. Parentheticals are inserts within the Seals, Trumpets, and Bowls Judgments that provide details on personages that come on the scene during the Tribulation.
Chapter 11 describes “two witnesses” who stand before the Temple preaching repentance. It is an act of God’s mercy as time is growing short. “They will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days” [three-and-a-half years], which will likely be the latter half of the Tribulation. They will minister with great power [ref. vv.3-6]. However, “when they finish their ministry,” Satan will be allowed to overcome and kill them [ref. v.7]. This is the cost of the long-suffering of mercy.
There has been much discussion amongst commentators on the identity of these two witnesses. But the fact of the matter is that the Bible doesn’t specifically say. “It seems far preferable to regard these two witnesses as two prophets who will be raised up from among those who turn to Christ in the time following the rapture.” [Walvoord]
There is a reference to the “Temple.” The context indicates that these Two Witnesses will prophesy for three-and-a-half years at the Temple. This means that a Temple will be standing in the Tribulation. Bible students therefore are carefully watching Jerusalem for a Temple to be rebuilt as referenced in Rev 11, Eze 40, and Matt 24. When the “breaking of ground” begins, it will indicate that the time is near!
“But leave out the court which is outside the temple,” [the outer court], “for it has been given to the Gentiles.” This indicates that the Temple will be rebuilt in times of trouble. The key, therefore, is to watch Jerusalem [specifically the area of the Temple Mount] and see how the rebuilding might begin. When it does, redemption is near!
The pertinent question we need to ask ourselves today is that in the knowing of this, what manner of persons ought we to be in holy conduct and godliness?