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 public square of the great city - which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt - where also 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 inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will 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 will come the Antichrist in the form of the beast from the Abyss. This is a deep and seemingly bottomless chasm sometimes called "Satan's dark abyss," and the two witnesses are killed.

Two Witnesses Preach

Jerusalem templeThese events happen in Jerusalem which is called by the insulting names of "Sodom and Egypt." Long before this, Isaiah 1.9-10 addresses the rulers of Jerusalem as "the rulers of Sodom" and the people of Jerusalem 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, and 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.' 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. But the men reached out their hands and 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 great so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway."

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 are resurrected. 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 be buried immediately. In the tragic flooding of New Orleans, one of my lasting and deepest 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 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 be translated as "wind or spirit."✞

None to Bury Them

The 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, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble. They have left the dead bodies of your servants 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, of scorn and derision to those around us." The threat to the disobedient prophet is that his carcass would not be laid in the burial chambers or tombs of his fathers. 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 a symbolic incomplete number in Jewish thought, the two witnesses lie dead on the streets and are refused burial. Then suddenly they are made alive and taken into Heaven. In the book of Revelation, the number "three and a half" has a very clear 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 sometimes written in the Bible 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 an especially harsh time for God's people. Antiochus is a Greek king who ruthlessly persecutes the Jews of Judea and Samaria and the rebellion of the Jewish Maccabees. He is called by his contemporaries "Epimanes" or "The Mad One."

Witnesses Refused Burial

numbersAs half of the perfect number of "seven", "three and a half" indicates incompleteness or imperfection. This incomplete number indicates that there is something substantial about to happen at the end of this time. But that is not the end. "after three and a half days" the breath of life enters again into the two slain witnesses and they stand upon their feet to the astonishment and terror of their onlookers. As the people watch, the two witnesses are summoned up into Heaven, re-enacting Elijah's first departure to Heaven in 2 Kings 2.11 in a whirlwind and a chariot of fire "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. Jerusalem is destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD on the orders of Titus who lived between 39-81 AD and who was a successful general and the son of Emperor Vespasian (9-79 AD). For the destruction of the Temple and City of Jerusalem, Titus is awarded a Triumphal Arch in Rome which commemorates his victory. The Arch of Titus can be visited today as one of the "must-see" items on any tour of Rome. Nearly a million Jews are slaughtered in the fall of Jerusalem, and the temple treasures are plundered. 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 corpses of the two witnesses lie in the streets and then the breath from God suddenly fills them and they experience life after death. The term "breath of life" may be translated as "spirit of life" and 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." Here the Hebrew word for "breath" can be equally translated as "wind" or "spirit."

Jerusalem Resurrection

resurrectionHave you ever wondered what life after death will be like? 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 new individual, a new person. That also is resurrection living. Though the whole world rejoices at the deaths of the two witnesses, 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 © 2019

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