“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11)
“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. 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. 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. The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.”
We have surmised that the two witnesses are the totality of the prophetic witness throughout the Old Testament, and in this passage we see their final vindication. Their witness extended from Abel down to Christ. The attempt was made to extinguish their witness, and it appeared as though evil had triumphed. The ungodly had rejoiced at their defeat, but now they stood up on their feet, and the wicked were thrown into great consternation.
They had conducted their witness before the God of the earth (Rev. 11:4). They are here vindicated by the God of heaven (Rev. 11:13). Once again we have testimony to the truth that God loves cliffhangers. He loves to bring the stories He tells to the point of eucatastrophe. The Spirit of life from God entered into them, and their complete defeat was transformed into a complete victory.
When they stood, a great voice from Heaven invited them to ascend, which they did in a cloud. Their enemies saw all of this. What the great voice did was say the same thing that the voice like a trumpet had said to John earlier (Rev. 4:1).
At that same time, there was a great earthquake, which killed seven thousand men. This is a mirror image of what had happened in Elijah’s time—when seven thousand had been kept back from idolatry. Here seven thousand were slain for their idolatry. The number is likely symbolic, with seven representing completeness and one thousand representing multitudes.
Now this is not the final destruction of Jerusalem, that which happened in 70 A.D. We are talking here about the first siege of Jerusalem under Cestius. At the same time, the final destruction is still in view because God takes a tithe of the city. The tithe is not a partial payment for God, but rather is testimony to the fact that all of it is His. The entire city was dedicated to destruction. Immediately after this down payment, the population was frightened and gave glory to the God of Heaven. This was apparently not true repentance—otherwise the final outcome would have been different.
Josephus records some of the infighting that occurred in Jerusalem in the aftermath of an earthquake—the Idumeans together with the Zealots were able to make an entry into the city because of an earthquake, and then perpetrated a great slaughter.
This completed the second woe. The third was right on top of them.