But after the three and a half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.”And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on. (11:11-12)
When Christ’s return is imminent, the world’s worst nightmare comes to pass when those who have been murdered for their testimony of Christ are resurrected. Just as Jesus Himself testified to the Truth, was persecuted and put to death, only to rise again from the grave, so also will those Christians who testified of Jesus, were persecuted and killed for His sake, rise from the grave. Just imagine the horror the world would feel when such a thing takes place. Even now, to tell a non-believer of such things will evoke a response, usually one of contempt, but listen carefully to the words of contemptuous dismissal, and ask yourself if they remind you of someone who is whistling in the dark.
“Look, he is coming with the clouds,”
and “every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him”;
and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.”
So shall it be! Amen.
At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. (11:13)
As in Revelation 6:2, the earthquake represents God’s final judgment, and the end of this “present evil age”. From this point forward, nothing will ever be the same again…
The “seven thousand” who are killed in the “earthquake” represent the full and complete number of those who are condemned in the final judgment, while those who are left terrified and giving glory to God are those believers who were alive at that time. I can only imagine what a terrifying thing that would be to see!
A “tenth of the city collapsed” refers to that portion of the creation that God destroyed. As we will see in our discussion of Revelation 21-22, God’s intention is not to destroy the entire creation, but to redeem it by removing the evil that has polluted it (cf. Rev. 16:19). “At that very hour” that the final judgment is to begin, the “two witness”, i.e. the church, is caught “up to heaven in a cloud” is John’s description of the church being taken to heaven, “saved” from judgment: It is the “new” Exodus, and reminds us of Paul’s words…
According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon. (11:14)
Next time, we’ll have a look at the seventh trumpet; see you then!