REVELATION - CHAPTER 11
A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
Copyright 2000 James Melough
11:1. “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod, and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.”
In Scripture a reed is almost invariably used as a symbol of weakness. The soldiers put a reed in the hand of Christ in mockery of His claim to be earth’s King. But God’s power is made perfect in weakness. That reed mockingly placed in the hand of the Lamb will be a rod of iron in His hand when He returns in power and glory as the Lion of Judah. The hand in which man mockingly put a reed, is the hand in which God has placed the scepter of universal sovereignty.
This reed given to John is the symbol of what man foolishly mocked - God’s power. Now it is to be used to measure: that measuring being the token that the thing measured belongs to God. The reed is said to be “like unto a rod,” further proof that here it is the symbol of power, a power made perfect through Christ’s weakness when He died in man’s place for man’s sin.
It is the temple, or more correctly, the sanctuary that is to be measured, including the altar. The prohibition against measuring the outer court “given unto the Gentiles” indicates that the reference is to the earthly temple to be built during or perhaps before the Tribulation period.
In addition to sanctuary and altar, “them that worship therein” were also to be measured or counted, signifying that they also belonged to God. They may represent the saved remnant of the Tribulation era.
11:2. “But the court which is without (outside) the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.”
In Herod’s temple there was an outer court for the Gentiles, and this present reference indicates that the Tribulation-age temple will have a similar court. There may, however, be an indirect reference to the fact that temple and worship will exist only by Gentile permission, a confirmation of this perhaps being the statement that Jerusalem will be under Gentile dominion for forty-two months (three and a half years, or twelve hundred and sixty days), i.e., the last three and a half years of the Tribulation era. (It is to be remembered that in prophecy, the standard of time is the Jewish year of 360 days, and three and a half such years are exactly 1260 days as specified here).
This, like many of the details of the coming Tribulation age, serve to remind us that the millennial kingdom was available to Israel two thousand years ago, for few will need to be reminded that as the world stage was set then, so will it be again: as Israel’s temple and worship existed then only by Gentile permission, so will it be in the fast-approaching seven years when the Roman “beast” emperor will rule the earth again.
11:3. “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.”
This section has spawned more controversy than possibly any other portion of Scripture, most disagreement resulting from dogmatism and a determination to fill in details which God has seen fit to omit. We will try to avoid both of these errors, examining with open mind what is written, using Scripture itself to illuminate what God is saying. This requires us to accept the language first as being literal, and then to examine it from the viewpoint of its being also symbolic, in whole or in part.
The simple literal statement is that God will endue two witnesses with special power to prophesy for a period of twelve hundred and sixty days, during which time they will be clothed in sackcloth.
In spite of the fact that He doesn’t further identify them, there is no lack of those willing to make that identification. On the basis of their having the same miraculous power as was possessed by Moses and Elijah, they have been identified as these two prophets, and Malachi 4:4-5 is appealed to for confirmation, “Remember the law of Moses my servant ... I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord....” Further appeal is made to the fact that Moses and Elijah appeared with the Lord on the mount of transfiguration, additional confirmation being deemed to exist in the fact that Elijah was raptured, and the burial place of Moses was never found.
Malachi 4, however isn’t the only Scripture referring to this promise. Mt 17:10-13 has also something to say. As they came down from the mount of transfiguration “His disciples asked Him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias (Elijah) must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed .... Then the disciples understood that He spake unto them of John the baptist.” And again the Lord declared that John the baptist fulfilled Malachi’s prophecy, “There hath not arisen a greater than John .... For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elijah, which was for to come” (Mt 11:11-14). Further confirmation of the character of John’s mission is furnished in the angel’s words to Zacharias in Lk 1:17, “And he shall go before him (Christ) in the spirit and power of Elias....”
The Gospel preached by the Lord during His earthly ministry was a call to repentance and conversion in order to enter first the long-promised millennial kingdom, and then heaven at the conclusion of that earthly kingdom. Had Israel received John’s testimony to Christ, they could have entered the millennial kingdom then, and since the duration of that kingdom is limited to one thousand years, earth’s history would have closed a thousand years ago, and we would now be in the eternal state.
Had Israel accepted her Messiah then, He would still have been crucified by Roman hands, for His blood must be shed for the remission, not only of Israel’s sin, but for that of the whole world. The seven years of the Tribulation would have followed, during which time Israel would have suffered terrible persecution at the hand of the Romans, and deliverance would have come by the return of the resurrected Christ to establish His millennial kingdom. No OT prophecy would have been altered, the Church age would never have been (the Church is not in OT prophecy; her history constitutes a break in the continuity of God’s program for Israel), and the Millennium would have run its course, and ended a thousand years ago. A careful reading of the Gospels leaves absolutely no doubt that the Lord’s ministry was exclusively to Israel, and consisted of a call to repentance as preparation to enter the millennial kingdom, not in a far distant day, but right then, the only interval between the invitation and the establishment of the kingdom being the foretold seven years of the Tribulation.
But the condition was “if ye will receive it....” Israel failed to fulfill the condition. They would not receive it. Acceptance of the kingdom could not be divorced from acceptance of the King. Without the King there could be no kingdom. Their rejection of Him resulted in withdrawal of the offer of the kingdom until the time when they would receive the King. The coming Tribulation is to prepare them to do just that. And history will repeat itself. Israel will again be under Roman dominion, occupying the land, and having revived the temple worship by Roman permission. The Gospel preached in the Tribulation period will be the same Gospel proclaimed by Christ two thousand years ago, “Repent. The kingdom is at hand.” Refusal to worship the Roman “beast” ruler will bring terrible persecution, from which deliverance will come at the Lord’s return in power and glory.
It is clear therefore that these unidentified witnesses are not Moses and Elijah, or for that matter anyone from a previous age, but simply witnesses whose ministry will be characterized by the same miraculous power as was given to those two earlier prophets. It is the Lord Himself, Who upon the first offer of the kingdom, identified John as the witness who was the foretold Elijah. Clearly he was not literally Elijah, but simply one endued with the same power. It is unnecessary therefore for these witnesses to be anything more than prophets or witnesses, who will be endued with the same miraculous power as was given Moses and Elijah.
As to the specific time of their witness, it would appear to be during the Great Tribulation, i.e., the final three and a half years of the seven year Tribulation period, for “a thousand two hundred and threescore days” are three and a half years, the
prophetic year consisting of only 360 days. Some insist that the ministry of these two witnesses will be in the first half of the Tribulation era, and that may well be, but it isn’t crucial that we be able to pinpoint the time of their ministry.
Their being clothed with sackcloth may indicate the sorrow with which they will declare their message, that sorrow stemming from the knowledge that the vast majority will reject the warning and thereby make themselves the heirs of judgment. Their compassion will be but a reflection of the Lord’s, for we read of Him that “When He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it” (Lk 19:41), saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Mt.23:37.
11:4. “These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.”
The imagery is almost identical with that of Zec ch 4, where we read of two olive trees standing on either side of a golden candlestick or lampstand. There the symbolic reference is to the power of the Holy Spirit, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zec 4:6), and that the power is connected with witness is disclosed in their being associated with the lampstand, symbol of witness or testimony. Clearly the same association is to be made here. The number two speaks of witness; the trees remind us that these witnesses are only men, for trees represent humanity, but their being olive trees tells us that they are men filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, for olive oil is one of the Biblical symbols of the Holy Spirit.
11:5. “And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.”
None will fail to note the parallel with 2 Ki ch 1, which records Elijah’s calling down fire to destroy those sent to bring him to king Ahaziah, the wicked son of the wicked Ahab. As the devouring fire descended in response to Elijah’s invocation, so apparently will it be in connection with these latter day witnesses. It is unlikely that the fire will literally come out of their mouths, but that it will fall in response to their invocation of God. Nor should there be skepticism regarding such miraculous manifestation, for God’s dealings with Israel have frequently been accompanied by just such manifestation, and it must be remembered that in the Tribulation, God will be dealing again with His ancient people Israel.
11:6. “These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy; and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.”
It is significant that the drought invoked by Elijah (1 Ki 17:1), lasted for three and a half years (see Lk 4:25), the same length of time as that in which the ministry of these witnesses will be maintained.
The turning of the waters to blood, and the smiting of the earth with plagues, are reminiscent of the miracles of Moses, nor does there appear to be any reason to doubt that similar miracles will be performed by these two witnesses in the Tribulation era. Few students of prophecy, in fact, question the fact that the plagues which preceded the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage, are themselves but types of the Tribulation age judgments that will culminate also in the deliverance of Israel.
11:7. “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.”
This beast is generally recognized as being the same as the one described in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13, and clearly the references are to both the king and the kingdom that will rule the world in the Tribulation, i.e., the revived Roman empire, consisting of a coalition of ten nations, each having its own king or leader, but all of them subject to the supreme authority of the king described as the beast, the man who will be Satan’s counterfeit of God’s King, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Dan 7:3 and Re 13:1 this beast ruler is seen coming up out of the sea, i.e., he will be a man rising to prominence from the great sea of Gentile humanity. But here in Re 11:7 he is seen coming up out of the bottomless pit. There is no contradiction, however, for the two figures combine to declare that he will be a man, but a man so completely yielded to the will of Satan as to be the living personification of that evil spirit, just as the Lord was the Personification of the Father, He Himself declaring, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father (Jn 14:9).
The preservation of the witnesses until God’s appointed time, reminds us that Satan has no power other than what God permits. It reminds us also that it is by the exercise of both His directive and His permissive will, that God’s purposes are accomplished. This knowledge should deliver the believer from anxious care in regard to every circumstance of life.
The fact that the beast ruler “makes war against them” has been adduced as reason for believing that the two witnesses represent all of the Tribulation martyrs, since war is a term associated with large numbers rather than just two individuals. Against this, however, is the difficulty of explaining their power to work miracles, since there is nothing to indicate that this power will be possessed by all the believers of the Tribulation age, or even those of them who will be martyred. On the whole it seems better to believe that they will be two actual witnesses, for the statement in Dan 7:21 that he (the beast ruler) “... made war with the saints, and prevailed against them,” doesn’t exclude the killing of these two witnesses as a special event in that war.
11:8. “And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.”
While there are differing views as to the identity of “the great city,” the choice narrows down to Jerusalem or Rome, for both are described in Scripture as great (Re 21:10; 18:21). The only other view having anything to commend it is that of Morris which takes “the great city” to represent “... every city and no city. It is civilized man in organized community.” This view, however, evades, rather than answers the question of which city is meant.
While Christ was slain literally in Jerusalem, it must be remembered that He was delivered over to death by Pilate, the representative of Rome; but Rome is spiritually “Babylon,” the city which has been synonymous with false religion since the dawn of history, and there is no question that when Christ was crucified, Jerusalem had become the center of one of those religions, apostate Judaism, so that He could be said to have died in both Jerusalem and Rome - literal Jerusalem, and spiritual Rome, the two being but different aspects of the same city, as seems to be the thought in regard to the “great city” we are considering “which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt.”
There are fewer difficulties connected with understanding the city to be Jerusalem, a view that appears to be confirmed by the city’s being described as the place “where also our Lord was crucified.” While certainly the whole world was guilty of that atrocity, it is Jerusalem that stands uniquely associated with the Lord’s death. The present context also seems to point to Jerusalem, for we have to remember that this section begins with John’s being commanded to measure the temple, and the temple can’t be anywhere except in Jerusalem.
Since, however, Sodom is synonymous with moral corruption, and Egypt, with the bondage of God’s people, there can be little doubt that we are being shown the divine estimate of the whole system, religious, commercial, and political, which, for the Jews, during the Tribulation, will be centered in Jerusalem, but for the Gentiles, in Rome. There will be moral corruption, and murderous persecution of those who belong to Christ.
11:9. “And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.”
There is no obvious reason not to take this literally, since television makes possible the viewing of just such a spectacle as is described here.
The reference to three and a half days has led some to conclude that they represent the final three and a half years of the Tribulation period, and that these two martyrs represent all the believers who will be slain during that period. As has been noted already. however, a literal interpretation eliminates the difficulties raised by a non-literal view of this section.
11:10. “And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.”
There can be little doubt that the torment attributed to these two prophets is that which will result from their faithful denunciation of sin. The conscience of an unbelieving, Christ-hating world must always be tormented by the declaration of truth, though unfortunately that torment leads, in only a very few instances, to repentance. The usual response is described in Ac 7:54-59, “When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him (Stephen) with their teeth .... They cried with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him....” So will it be also in the Tribulation in response to the preaching of the two witnesses, earth’s joy at the death of God’s servants being the measure of humanity’s hatred of holiness.
11:11. “And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.”
The joy of unbelief is always short lived. The Tribulation age rebels will find their celebration turned quickly to consternation, as the power of God infuses the dead bodies of His two witnesses with life again. And as each Biblically recorded resurrection is a miniature of that which awaits the believer, so is it also with that of the two witnesses: it will serve to assure the believers of that age that they need not fear death, that the Lord they serve is He Who has vanquished Death, emerging from the tomb to declare, “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Re 1:18). Its being recorded here is no less for the encouragement of believers today.
11:12. “And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.”
Their ascent into a sphere far beyond the reach of puny man’s hatred, reminds us that that is the refuge made available to faith through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is significant that they went up to heaven “in a cloud,” for it was in similar fashion that the Lord Himself ascended into heaven, “While they (the disciples) beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Ac 1:9).
But the reference to the cloud in connection with the Lord’s ascent, reminds us that there is to be a return, an event also associated with clouds, “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him” (Re 1:7), see also Mt 24:30; 26:64. It is interesting to note also that clouds are mentioned in connection with the Rapture, “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven ... and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Th 4:16-17).
The association of clouds with the Lord’s ascension and return, and with the ascension of His own to heaven, reminds us that we shall come with Him when He returns in the clouds to establish His millennial kingdom. As in the days of Noah, the cloud was the background for the bow of promise, following the death of creation, Ge 9:13, so also in connection with the death of His own, the cloud is associated with the glorious truth of the resurrection of life. The redeemed, of all the ages, are for ever beyond the power of death.
11:13. “And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.”
There is nothing to indicate that this language is anything other than literal, and as to the city involved, we have noted already that it seems to be Jerusalem.
The two numbers mentioned, ten and seven, however, have an additional lesson to convey, for ten is the number of divine government, and seven, the number of perfection or completeness. Whatever question there might be regarding the tenth part of the city, there is no question that this judgment is the direct result of God’s government in chastisement upon sin. And whether the seven thousand is literal or figurative, there is little question that this earthquake is a part of those judgments that will shake the whole world, and will culminate in the destruction of Gentile power so long misused, and in the inauguration of Christ’s millennial kingdom.
The affrighted remnant here is not the godly remnant, but the remnant of the city’s population, i.e., those unbelievers who will have survived the earthquake. Others have pointed out that terror prompts them to give glory to the God of heaven, but it doesn’t lead them to acknowledge Him as the God also of the earth. This earthquake judgment ends the second woe.
11:14. “The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
11:15. “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.”
This announcement of heaven seems to bring us to almost the end of the Tribulation, since it is evident that that era of judgment is the preparation for the inauguration of Christ’s millennial reign.
Others have pointed out that the better rendering of this verse is “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom (not kingdoms) of our Lord....” The kingdoms of this world which are the kingdom of Satan, are yet to become the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Under His beneficent reign the whole earth will be one kingdom rather than the many into which man’s mistrust of man has divided it, though it is necessary to note that in the Millennium there will continue to be separate nations, but they will constitute one kingdom: Christ’s.
“And he shall reign for ever and ever,” declares that the reign of Christ will not end at the conclusion of the Millennium, but will continue eternally over the new heavens and the new earth.
11:16. “And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats (thrones), fell upon their faces, and worshiped God,”
11:17. “Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.”
As was noted in our study of chapter four, these twenty-four elders appear to represent believers of the Church age only, and not, as some have suggested, believers of the OT age as well. This absence of the OT saints from the heavenly scene would remind us that we have not yet been brought right to the end of the Tribulation era, for clearly the OT age saints and the Tribulation martyrs have not yet been resurrected. The grateful worship of these raptured Church age saints, evoked by God’s bringing to an end the misrule of man, reminds us that however much the evil of man’s rule may be recognized here on earth, its utter evil will be comprehended fully only when viewed in the light of heaven.
“... because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned,” seems to imply an accomplished rather than anticipated reign, but as Dr. Morris suggests, “The use of the past tense arises because the event is certain. It is as good as having occurred.”
11:18. “And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.”
History, in reality, is the record of the angry rebellion of man against the government of God, for however much it may appear to be the chronicle of man in conflict with man, the truth is that it is the record of man in conflict with God. But it won’t be until the armies of earth are gathered in the plain of Megiddo, and the battle of Armageddon begins near the end of the Tribulation, that that fact will be clearly revealed, as former foes unite to do battle with Christ and the armies of heaven.
A patient God has borne long with man’s anger, but when that patience gives place to wrath, human anger will be revealed for the puny thing it is, and man will learn that his anger has brought his own destruction. The outcome of the Armageddon conflict will be that the dead bodies of the armies of earth will become God’s banquet for the birds, see Re 19:11-21.
“... and the time of the dead, that they should be judged.” This undoubtedly has reference to the judgment of the nations following the Tribulation, the dead being the physically alive but unbelieving (spiritually dead) survivors from all the nations, following the battle of Armageddon. This is the judgment spoken of in Mt 25:31-46. The unbelievers will be assembled on the Lord’s left as goats; believers on his right as sheep. As a result of this judgment, these spiritually dead (goats) “... shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous (sheep, the Tribulation-age believers who will have physically survived its devastation) into life eternal” (Mt 25:46). For these righteous, the enjoyment of that eternal life will be first here on earth in the Millennium, and then for ever when the new heavens and the new earth will have replaced those which now exist, Re 21:1, for it is to be remembered that those who remain on the earth as the Tribulation gives place to the Millennium, will never die. They will pass from the millennial earth into the new earth.
It is clear, however, that those to be rewarded, “the prophets ... the saints, and them that fear thy name....” include also the resurrected saints of the OT and Tribulation eras. These three categories embrace all the redeemed of Israel, for it must not be forgotten that the Church age is but an interlude in God’s program for the ultimate blessing of His earthly people Israel, the seven years of the Tribulation being simply the conclusion of Daniel’s seventy weeks (of prophetic years), i.e., 490 Jewish years of 360 days each, an era that began on March 14, 445 B.C. with the decree of Artaxerxes which ended the Babylonian captivity, and which was interrupted at the end of sixty-nine “weeks” (483 years) on April 6, 32 A.D., the day when Christ rode into Jerusalem on the ass’s colt, presenting Himself to Israel as the Messiah, as foretold by the prophet, “... behold thy King cometh unto thee ... lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zec 9:9). God, however, foreknew Israel’s rejection of Christ. The Church age of two thousand years (two days by divine reckoning), and soon to end, has intervened. A brief interval will follow the rapture of the Church. The Roman beast ruler will then sign the seven-year treaty or covenant with Israel, the day of its signing being that on which the prophetic clock will begin to tick again, and God, by means of the Tribulation judgments, will conclude His program for Israel’s blessing, the day of Christ’s return in glory to establish His millennial kingdom, being exactly seven years of 360 days each, from the day that treaty is signed.
The distinction between the prophets and the other two groups of Jewish-age (Old Testament and Tribulation-age) believers, may be due to the fact that the prophets, in the faithful execution of their office, were almost invariably the objects of the mockery, hatred, and murderous persecution of the unbelieving rebellious majority of the nation of Israel. Their eternal reward will be great. Their being distinguished from the other Jewish-age believers, should encourage us of this present age, to greater faithfulness in the discharge of our own service. God sets a high value on loyalty.
The distinction between “the saints” and “them that fear thy name” may be that the former are those believers who will have died in the OT and Tribulation eras; the latter, those believers still living at the end of the Tribulation.
The reference to “small and great” reminds us that God uses all kinds of believers. He fits each one of us for the sphere of service to which He appoints us. There is a place in His great plan for the illiterate as well as the educated; for the poor as well as the rich. The saint capable of presenting the Gospel to the prince, is not necessarily capable of a similar ministry to the peasant. It is the privilege of each of us to present himself to God as a vessel suitable for the Master’s use.
“... and shouldest destroy them which destroy (corrupt) the earth.” These appear to be those whose judgment is mentioned at the beginning of this verse, and we should note that here “destroy” has reference to a state of eternal torment, not annihilation.
11:19. “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament; and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”
Some scholars maintain that verse 19 is properly the first verse of chapter 12, but since it appears in its present location in many Bibles, we will discuss it here.
Until there has been fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel relative to earthly blessing, the heavenly original of the earthly temple will exist in heaven. It is significant, however, that the focus is upon the ark rather than the temple itself, for the ark is inseparably linked with the testament or covenant which assures Israel of earthly blessings to be followed by those which are eternal. When time has given place to the eternal state there will be no need of temporal symbols such as temple and ark. The earthly blessings associated with them will have been succeeded by the better, the eternal, and clearly the blessings of the Millennium are but the precursors of those which are eternal.
The “lightnings ... voices ... thunderings ... and an earthquake, and great hail,” accompanying the opening of the heavenly temple, are invariably associated with divine wrath and judgment, here reminding us that there can be no blessing for man or nation until judgment has brought confession of sin and true repentance.