Chapter 11 of Revelation: Measures, Witnesses, and Arks

CloudsBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

All is well that ends well.

We are told in v 14 that a second woe has passed. As you may recall, three woes were prophesied in Revelations 8:13. The first woe consisted of the torment of the demonic locusts (Rev 9:3-11). The second woe came with the release of the four angels (Rev 9:14-19).

Even as these woes are released, God’s purpose in exercising these judgments is repentance (Rev 9:20-21). This effort to redeem the unrepentant comes as a surprise—under the Mosaic Covenant, woes were nothing more than punishment for covenantal disobedience (Deut 28:15). God is doing a new thing (Jer 31:22 and 31).

In case you miss this point, Revelations 11 offers two glimpses of God’s love for sinners who repent.

The first glimpse is in vv. 1-2 where John is asked to measure the temple just like Ezekiel before him (Ezek 40-43). The purpose of Ezekiel’s measure of a heavenly temple was to build a likeness on
earth. If our bodies are the new temple of God’s Holy Spirit (1 Cor 3:16), then the temple may be easily measured!

The second glimpse takes the form of two new witnesses (Rev 11:31-3). What is the point of sending witnesses if the gates of heaven are closed? And who are these two witnesses?

Historically, Moses and Elijah have often been believed to be the two witnesses in view—just like Jesus met with them on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:2). Metaphorically, Moses and Elijah are often thought to be representing the law and prophets—traditional divisions of the Hebrew scriptures. A Christian equivalent would accordingly be the Old and New Testaments.

Verse 19 is shocking from a Jewish perspective—God’s temple in heaven is opened so that all can see the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant was normally kept in the holy of holies in the Temple. Only the high priest was allowed to visit it and only once a year after cleansing himself (Exod 30:10).

This opening of the temple is reward to the saints (Rev 11:18) and an allusion to the day of Christ’s death when: And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom (Mark 15:38). The symbolism here implied that the saints are rewarded by given direct access to God.

All is well that ends well.


  1. Any things that you would like to share from your week?
  2. What is the purpose of the measuring rod in v 1?
  3. What is measured? (v 1)
  4. What is not measured? Why? (v 2)
  5. Who else in the bible has been assigned to measure things? What things? (Ezekiel 40-43)
  6. Where is the temple of God? (1 Cor 3:16)
  7. What do we know about the two witnesses? (vv 3-4)
  8. What is their purpose? (vv 3,7)
  9. What powers are they granted? (vv 5-6)
  10. What happens to them? Who do they remind you of? (v 7)
  11. How do people react to their death and resurrection? (vv 9-10, 13)
  12. Who are the witnesses? (Mark 9:2)
  13. What are the two woes mentioned? (v 14)
  14. What is different about these woes? (Deut 28:15…)
  15. What happens in verses 15-19?
  16. What is the significance of the Ark of the Covenant? (Mark 15:38)
  17. What is shocking about this situation? (Exod 30:10)

Chapter 11 of Revelation: Measures, Witnesses, and Arks

Also see:

Chapter 12 of Revelation: The Woman and the Dragon 

Chapter 1: Alpha and Omega 

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

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