Life After Death
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45. Life After Death
Revelation 11.7-12

"Now, when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the great city's public square - figuratively called Sodom and Egypt - where their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days, some from every people, tribe, language, and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. The earth's inhabitants will rejoice over them and celebrate by sending each other gifts because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth. 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." (Revelation 11.7-12)

Jerusalem Called Sodom

Jesus and the AbyssThe two witnesses are to preach for their allotted time, and then the Antichrist will come in the form of the beast from the Abyss. The Abyss is a deep and seemingly bottomless chasm called "Satan's dark abyss," and the beast attacks and kills the two witnesses.

Two Witnesses Preach

Jerusalem TempleThese events happen in Jerusalem, called by the derogatory names of "Sodom and Egypt." Isaiah 1.9-10 addresses Jerusalem as "the rulers of Sodom" and the Jerusalem people as "the people of Gomorrah." Now Jerusalem has the two witnesses killed. Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19.4-11 represent the worst type of sin and stand for homosexuality and rape. The grim story continues, "before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have intercourse with them.' But Lot went out to them at the doorway, shut the door behind him, and said, 'Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly. Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had intercourse with a man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them as is good in your sight whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, since they have come under the shadow of my roof.' But they said, 'Stand aside.'"

Lot's Shame

"Furthermore, they said, 'This one came to stay here as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them.' So they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door. The men reached out their hands, brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. They struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and significant so that they wearied themselves trying to find the entrance."

New Orleans Flooding

New Orleons FloodingThe two witnesses are killed and lie on the streets in Jerusalem. God's breath of life enters them, and they rise from the dead. The "breath of life" may be translated as the "spirit of Life." in this passage. The wickedness of Jerusalem has already crucified Jesus Christ, and in the days to come, it is to welcome the death of his witnesses with joy. The people of Jerusalem "will so hate the two witnesses that they will leave their bodies unburied in the street." In Jewish thought, it is a terrible thing that a body should not have burial immediately. In the tragic flooding of New Orleans, one of my lasting and most profound impressions is the picture on television of bodies, one lying on the pavement, another man on the roof of a house, and a woman floating face down in the water. This kind of death reminds me of Ezekiel 37.5 and the valley of the dry bones, "This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life." The word for "breath" here may equally mean "wind or spirit."✞

None to Bury Them

Psalmist DavidWhen the heathen attacks God's people, to the Psalmist, it is the greatest tragedy of all that there is none to bury them. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 79.1-4, "O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple and reduced Jerusalem to rubble. They have left your servants' dead bodies as food for the birds of the sky, the flesh of your people for the wild animals. They have poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury the dead. We are objects of contempt to our neighbors, scorn, and derision to those around us." The disobedient prophet's threat is that his fathers' burial chambers or tombs would not contain his carcass. In 1 Kings 13.20-26, we read, "While they (the prophets) were sitting at the table, the word of the Lord came to the old prophet who had brought him back. He cried out to the man of God who had come from Judah, 'This is what the Lord says: "You have defied the word of the Lord and have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore your body will not be buried in the tomb of your ancestors.'" Even worse, such will be the hatred of the people for the witnesses of God that they will regard the witnesses' death as a reason for celebration.

Revelation Incomplete Number

Antiochus IVFor three and a half days, which is an incomplete symbolic number in Jewish thought, the two witnesses lie dead on the streets, and the people refuse them burial. Then suddenly, they are made alive and taken into heaven. In the book of Revelation, the number "three and a half" has a particular meaning. It is not three half days but three full days and a half of a day, and it is so significant that three and a half years is in the Bible sometimes written as forty-two calendar months or one thousand two hundred and sixty days! Forty-two months is the duration of the vicious persecution of the Jews by Antiochus IV Epiphanes (BC 215-164). It is a tough time for God's people. Antiochus was a Greek king who ruthlessly persecuted the Jews of Judea and Samaria and the Jewish Maccabees. Antiochus is "Epimanes" or "The Mad One" to his contemporaries.

Witnesses Refused Burial

Numbers"Three and a half" indicates something substantial about to happen at the end of this time. "After three and a half days," breath enters again into the two witnesses, and they stand up to the crowd's astonishment and terror. As the people watch, God summons the two witnesses up into heaven. This event re-enacted Elijah's departure to heaven in 2 Kings 2.11 "As they (Elijah and Elisha) were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind."

Life After Death

Jerusalem is Destroyed in AD 70The breath of God enters the two witnesses in Jerusalem, and they experience life after death. The Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD on Titus' orders, who lived between 39-81 AD and a victorious general and Emperor Vespasian's son (9-79 AD). For the Temple and City of Jerusalem's destruction and to commemorate his victory, Titus received a Triumphal Arch in Rome. Titus' Arch has become a "must-see" item on any tour of Rome today. Titus slaughtered a million Jews in the fall of Jerusalem and plundered the temple treasures. Maybe John of Patmos is concerned that the Christian victims know that these deaths are not in vain. Perhaps he wants them to understand the reality of life after death. For "three and a half days," the two witnesses' corpses lie in the streets, and then the breath from God suddenly fills them, and they experience life after death. This occurrence reminds us of a passage in Ezekiel 37.5 in the valley of the dry bones story, "This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life."

Jerusalem Resurrection

resurrectionHave you ever wondered about life after death? Death is stone cold and seemingly final. The organs and brain stop and close down, the pumping of the heart, the gasps for breath, and the brain waves cease. Life after death is like a new birth. A baby emerges from his or her mother's womb as a unique individual, a new person. That also is resurrection living. Though the whole world rejoices at the two witnesses' deaths, they finally ascend in triumph to heaven in a unique experience. Every committed Christian will one-day experience resurrection and enjoy this life in Heaven with God!

"Life After Death"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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