The Witness of the Church until the End
Chapter eleven is one of the most difficult chapters in the Book of Revelation to understand. For this reason we will paint in broad strokes.
Scripture seems to indicate that before the end comes, matters are going to get worse. In this case, worse generally means persecution for the Church, but also worldwide catastrophic events that touch economics and politics as well. Of course, the Church has always experienced persecution, and does so even today in certain areas of the globe. But it does seem that matters will worsen before the end, with worldly powers arrayed against us.
But increases in demonic activity are generally caused by increases in godly activity. This is exactly what happened in the time of our Lord. I believe that the heightened demonic activity we read about in the gospels was the result of our Lord’s work on earth that Satan perceived as a direct assault on his turf. Our Lord’s coming to earth was God’s “throwing down the gauntlet,” we might say, and Satan was bound and determined to pick it up and join the fray. Fool. He was soundly defeated, and had he known his doom, he “would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8).
Which brings us back to the passage under discussion. The measuring of the temple of God and the altar indicates our Lord’s protection over his people. This protection extends to spiritual affairs, not material. That the nations shall trample the outer courts and “holy city” is a way of saying that the barbarians will be at the very gates. The two witnesses further symbolize the Church, perhaps her leaders as they preach the gospel, or simply the witness of the Church in general. You can bet that this Church will be a slimmer model than in previous eras, but also a purer model, as persecution drives away pretenders. Thus, her power will be greater than before, and a power that abides not in material wealth or political influence, nor in creative programs or clever methods. Her power will derive from her fidelity to and faithful witness concerning the word of God. God will even give her power over the elements themselves as she proclaims His name for the hope of the nations.
But, of course, the nations will not welcome her witness. They persecuted him; they will persecute her as well (John 15:20). And just when they thought they had won, the seventh trumpet will sound, and “the kingdom of the world [will] become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ … forever.”