Chapters 2 and 3 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 16 | 17
Chapter 11: The French Revolution
The role of the Church is doubted
With the arrival of the age of Enlightenment, the Church received much criticism. Her spiritual and political role was questioned. After centuries of being in an undisputed leading position in the order of things, her time came to be measured by the divine standards that she had used to measure others.
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.
But most of those that were in control of the Church, those highest in the Hierarchy, those who had strived for and obtained great temporal power, the counterfeiters and oppressors of the true Christian Church, could not stand before God. They were not even worth measuring, as they were strangers to the Word of God.
11:2 But the court which is without 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.
The Church is criticized for her past errors
They had silenced all opposing voices for many centuries, and had made war against all those who had questioned their power. The true Word of God, written in the Old and New Testaments (or Witnesses), had not been a central element in the teachings of the Church until that time. After all, the Bible had only been written in Latin, and only a few people understood that language. That way, the leaders of the Church had been able to impose laws and practices not based on, or even contrary to, the Bible.
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.
Those 1260 days, symbolizing 1260 years according to the "day-year" principle, are generally thought to refer to the time span during which the Roman Catholic Church was the most powerful institution throughout Western Europe. The beginning and end of these 1260 years varies among commentators. The year 533 is a popular year for the beginning, since it was the year in which Emperor Justinian issued his Code of Laws, in which it is specified that the See of Rome is the supreme authority regarding spiritual issues. In that year also, Justinian began his campaign to free Italy from the Areian Vandals and Ostrogoths. However, I believe that the beginning of these 1260 years is the year 534, when the Franks (who were the only Germanic people to have converted to Orthodox/Catholic, as opposed to Areian, Christianity, in 497, and to have thus become subservient, regarding spiritual issues, to the Church of Rome) occupied Burgundy and became the largest and most powerful of the new Germanic kingdoms. That event was simultaneous with Justinian's campaigns, which destroyed the strong kingdom of the Areian Ostrogoths. Thus, from that time on, the Church of Rome had substantial power in Western Europe, where she could enthrone and dethrone kings and emperors, very far from the reach of Constantinople. In order to prevent the re-emergence of heresies like the one of Areius, the Bible was put under strict control, and its availability to study was diminished. Its translation from Latin was generally not allowed. Having taken such measures, the Roman Church was able to continue her "reign" throughout most of Europe generally unabated until the time of the French Revolution. The ideals expressed by the latter were spread to all of Europe by Napoleon's armies, and the French campaign to spread the Revolution began in 1792. In November 1793, all Christian churches in Paris, the centre of the Revolution, closed down, and the Christian religion was officially banned. Thus, we have a time span, very close to, if not exactly, 1260 years, of continuous Roman Catholic domination throughout most of Europe.
Let's go back to the two Testaments or Witnesses.
11:4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
Even though they had been silenced and given little attention during the centuries of darkness, they still survived. No one had been able to destroy them, whether a "Christian" or a non-Christian. Even after the spirit of atheism was made manifest in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Word of God could not be killed. He has, in fact, outlived every one of His enemies.
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.
Verses and quotes from the Bible, however, were often used, usually out of context, during the "reign" of the Roman Church, as weapons against those wishing to undermine her power, so, in a way, they helped preserve the status quo. Those were usually verses that called for obedience to the secular and ecclesiastical rulers, the authority of which, having been given to them by God, was not to be questioned. It was very difficult for new ideas to flourish during the Dark and Middle Ages, and, even when new ideas did emerge, they were made fierce wars against by the Church Hierarchy. Many crimes were committed and many wars were fought in the name of the Christ of the Bible.
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.
The French Revolution outlaws Christianity
No wonder that the spirit of change, that evolved into full-scale Revolution in the 18th century, held these two Testaments responsible for all sufferings of mankind. The regime born in France in 1792, amid the chaos of the French Revolution, which, as we shall see in chapter 17, would eventually give birth to a new European empire ("Beast") with the aid of Napoleon, actually outlawed the Christian religion for some time.
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.
So the Roman Catholic Church, who had in her own way crucified the Word of God through her crimes against many of His faithful servants during the centuries of her reign, was forced to witness the "death" of these bearers of the Word.
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.
This Church has taken the name of Sodom, because of the spiritual "fornication" she is known to have committed, as explained in the analysis of chapters 2 and 17. She is also Egypt, because seven "plagues" shall fall on her in chapter 16.
The Witnesses, even though they were "dead" for a while, were not buried and forgotten.
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.
What joy was the "death" of the two Witnesses for those who had fought against them! After all, it was widely held, as discussed above, that they were to blame for most of the sufferings of mankind.
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.
Christianity is restored
After the proclamation of the First French Republic in September 22, 1792, a new calendar was introduced. The day of the proclamation of the Republic was declared to be day 1 of the first month of the year I. In November 1793, all Christian Churches in Paris were forcibly closed down, and the Christian religion was banned. The Christian God was replaced by the goddess of "Reason" and, later, by the "Supreme Being". The hatred towards Christianity eventually died down, and in February 21, 1795, which was the beginning of the sixth month of the Revolutionary year III, freedom of religion was restored by law.
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.
This is the best way I can explain the "three days and an half".
From that time on, the Bible would never be officially outlawed in any Christian country. In the 19th century, the Christian world became literally filled with Bibles. Bible study was greatly promoted, mainly in Anglo-Saxon countries, and the Word of God did not have to be clothed in sackcloth any more. The Testaments were now available for everyone to read.
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.
Let's not forget that all this began with the French Revolution, during which the Church in France ("one-tenth" of the whole Church, as will be seen in chapter 13) was actually persecuted, all titles of nobility were abolished, and many people of both noble and ordinary origin were killed. But the Christian faith was eventually restored.
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.
In the original Greek text, it says "names of men seven thousand" and not "of men seven thousand". Names are titles and seven denotes totality, so the interpretation is: Many (times 1000) people who bore all (7) kinds of titles (names) of nobility were deprived of their titles.
All that is left now, and it is quickly approaching, is the final overthrow of Roman Catholic domination throughout Europe and the world.
11:14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
The first "woe" was the advent of Islam, under the fifth Trumpet, while the second "woe", or sixth Trumpet, included the sufferings of both Eastern and Western Christianity, inflicted to the former by the Turks (chapter 9) and to the latter by the rise of Protestantism and by the revolutionary movements (chapters 10 and 11). The third "woe", corresponding to the seventh Trumpet, comprises all those events (chapter 16) that will lead to the completion of God's plan. It is the outpouring of the Wrath of God.
Separation of Church and State
The separation of Church and State freed religion of most parasites. From now on, a high position in the Hierarchy of the Church would not be accompanied by worldly privileges to the degree that it had been in the previous centuries; thus, such positions would not attract those thirsty for such privileges, or at least not to a such a great extent. In other words, the corrupters of religion were largely gone. And it was in Revolutionary France that their destruction began, as far as the Catholic world is concerned, allowing a purer Catholic Church to emerge. Using the terminology of chapter 3, we would say that that chapters 10 and 11 describe the transition from the age of the Church of Sardis to the age of the Church of Philadelphia. Led by this Church for a time, "the kingdoms of this world" became "the kingdoms of the Lord", since the Church ended her involvement in the matters of this world and once again started following the Lord only.
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.
Well, OK, this was not entirely so. Back in chapter 7, it seemed as if the Christians, after their victory over the ancient Graeco-Roman religion, were not supposed to shed any tears again, even though this proved to be far from accurate. So, it must be deduced that that part of chapter 7, as well as this part of chapter 11, only deal with the hopes of faithful Christians for a better future. These two parts come immediately after great defeats suffered by the enemies of the Word of God, the first one concerning the ancient religion, and this one concerning the powerful Papal establishment. So, they are bound to express joy and optimism for the future. Throughout the Apocalypse, every scene is seen from a specific point of view, which changes from scene to scene. Afflictions are seen from the point of view of those who suffer them. But here, the point of view is the one of faithful Christians, who celebrate the downfall of their enemy.
11:16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped 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.
Religion was separated from the State, and the theocracy of the Middle Ages, together with all the crimes it had committed against millions of innocent people, was declared an abomination by almost everyone. For many decades after the events of the late 18th and early 19th century, the representatives of the old world order would suffer one "plague" after the other.
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.
In the original Greek text, it says: "and the time of the nations, that they should be judged, and that reward should be given (not specified by whom) unto thy servants the prophets" etc. As "Jews" means "Christians" in the Apocalypse, so "Nations" or "Gentiles" refers to those who do not believe in the Word of God. I am not sure whether, for example, the French revolutionaries are included under this term or not, but I am certain that the counterfeiters of the true Church, the representatives of the Papal establishment, are included (see also verse 11:2). And, as we will see in chapter 16, the Wrath of God is about to be poured on them. The French Revolution was only the beginning of their sorrows.
During the last couple of centuries, the Word of God has not been censored by anyone anymore, so the Temple of God is open for everyone. True, the Word has been suppressed sometimes, e.g. in Communist countries, but in Western Europe, which is really the center stage of events in most chapters of this Book, as well as throughout the realms of the offspring of Western Europe (in America, Oceania and parts of Africa), the Word has been freely preached to the people. And Communism eventually fell. During the last couple of centuries, the Ark of the Testament has been free for everyone to see. This age is also characterized by great advances in science and technology, so the world is a lot noisier and is moving a lot faster than it used to ("lightnings, and voices, and thunderings"). In chapter 16, it will be seen that an "earthquake" and "great hail" may be approaching us in the near future (seen from the year 2000).
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.