Revelation 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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
11:3-13 In the time of treading down, God kept his faithful witnesses to attest the truth of his word and worship, and the excellence of his ways, The number of these witnesses is small, yet enough. They prophesy in sackcloth. It shows their afflicted, persecuted state, and deep sorrow for the abominations against which they protested. They are supported during their great and hard work, till it is done. When they had prophesied in sackcloth the greatest part of 1260 years, antichrist, the great instrument of the devil, would war against them, with force and violence for a time. Determined rebels against the light rejoice, as on some happy event, when they can silence, drive to a distance, or destroy the faithful servants of Christ, whose doctrine and conduct torment them. It does not appear that the term is yet expired, and the witnesses are not a present exposed to endure such terrible outward sufferings as in former times; but such things may again happen, and there is abundant cause to prophesy in sackcloth, on account of the state of religion. The depressed state of real Christianity may relate only to the western church. The Spirit of life from God, quickens dead souls, and shall quicken the dead bodies of his people, and his dying interest in the world. The revival of God's work and witnesses, will strike terror into the souls of his enemies. Where there is guilt, there is fear; and a persecuting spirit, though cruel, is a cowardly spirit. It will be no small part of the punishment of persecutors, both in this world, and at the great day, that they see the faithful servants of God honoured and advanced. The Lord's witnesses must not be weary of suffering and service, nor hastily grasp at the reward; but must stay till their Master calls them. The consequence of their being thus exalted was a mighty shock and convulsion in the antichristian empire. Events alone can show the meaning of this. But whenever God's work and witnesses revive, the devil's work and witnesses fall before him. And that the slaying of the witnesses is future, appears to be probable.These have power to shut heaven - That is, so far as rain is concerned - for this is immediately specified. There is probably a reference here to an ancient opinion that the rain was kept in the clouds of heaven as in reservoirs or bottles, and that when they were opened it rained; when they were closed it ceased to rain. So Job, "He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds, and the cloud is not rent under them," Job 26:8. "Which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly," Job 36:28. "Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven?" Job 38:37; compare Genesis 1:7; Genesis 7:12; Genesis 8:2; 2 Kings 7:2. To shut or close up the heavens, therefore, is to restrain the rain from descending, or to produce a drought. Compare notes on James 5:17.

That it rain not in the days of their prophecy - In the time when they prophesy. Probably the allusion here is to what is said of Elijah, 1 Kings 17:1. This would properly refer to some miraculous power; but still it may be used to denote merely that they would be clothed with the power of causing blessings to be withheld from people, as if rain were withheld; that is, that in consequence of the calamities that would be brought upon them, and the persecutions which they would endure, God would bring judgments upon people as if they were clothed with this power. The language, therefore, it seems to me, does not necessarily imply that they would have the power of working miracles.

And have power over waters to turn them to blood - The allusion here is doubtless to what occurred in Egypt, Exodus 7:17. Compare the notes on Revelation 8:8. This, too, would literally denote the power of working a miracle; but still it is not absolutely necessary to suppose that this is intended. Anything that would be represented by turning waters into blood, would correspond with all that is necessarily implied in the language. If any great calamity should occur in consequence of what was done to them that would be properly represented by turning the waters into blood so that they could not be used, and that was so connected with the treatment which they received as to appear to be a judgment of heaven on that account, or that would appear to have come upon the world in consequence of their imprecations, it would be all that is necessarily implied in this language.

And to smite the earth with all plagues - All kinds of plague or calamity; disease, pestilence, famine, flood, etc. The word "plague" - πληγῇ plēgē - which means, properly, "stroke, stripe, blow," would include any or all of these. The meaning here is, that great calamities would follow the manner in which they were treated, as if the power were lodged in their hands.

As often as they will - So that it would seem that they could exercise this power as they pleased.

6. These … power—Greek, "authorized power."

it rain not—Greek, "huetos brechee," "rain shower not," literally, "moisten" not (the earth).

smite … with all plagues—Greek, "with (literally, 'in') every plague."

It is plain that here is an allusion to Elijah, who prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months, Jam 5:17; see the story, 1 Kings 17:1: and to Moses, who turned the waters into blood in Egypt; and after was an instrument to smite the land of Egypt with plagues. But what power analogous to this the ministers of the gospel have had, or have, is not easy to determine. It is certain, the apostles had a miraculous power, but they rarely used it, but in doing good to men; Ananias and Sapphira indeed were struck dead upon their word, Acts 5:1-11; and Elymas the sorcerer was struck blind by them; but this power is long since ceased. Mr. Mede understands this power of the keys of doctrine and church censures the ministers of the gospel should be intrusted with; so as they should not preach the gospel unto such as contemned their ministry; by the withholding of which means of grace, also, they would be deprived of the dew of heavenly grace. And, indeed, this seemeth more proper than to understand it of the keys of discipline; for what power of this nature have ministers over those who are without? I take a general explication to be the best. If any hurt them, God shall revenge their cause, not only by spiritual, but by temporal judgments, bringing all manner of evils upon their adversaries. They are said to have power to do it, because God will do it in the revenge of the injuries done unto them. These have power to shut heaven,.... For these have the keys of the kingdom of heaven given them, and whatever they bind or loose on earth is bound or loosed in heaven; or in other words, having the true key of knowledge in matters, both of doctrine and discipline, given them, whatever they declare, according to the word of God, to be doctrines fit to be received or rejected, and to be the ordinances of God, and matters of worship to be attended to, and what are not, should be so: and in particular,

that it rain not in the days of their prophecy; that is, on their enemies, the antichristian party; for otherwise it must rain on those to whom they minister, their prophecy itself being rain in a spiritual sense: so rain is explained of prophecy in the Targum on Isaiah 5:6, which paraphrases the words thus;

"I will command the prophets that they do not prophesy upon them prophecy:''

for this is to be understood not literally, since the days of their prophecy, or preaching in sackcloth, are 1260, that is, 1260 years, and which is the term and duration of antichrist's reign: wherefore, if this was the case, there must be a famine and great distress, during this long space of time; but as this is not matter of fact, so it would not comport with that plenty, luxury, and deliciousness, in which the whore of Babylon is said to live: but the words are to be taken in a spiritual sense, and to be understood of the Gospel, and doctrines of it, or the word of God, which is sometimes compared to rain, Deuteronomy 32:2. God is the author and giver of rain, and he only; none of the vanities, or idols of the Gentiles, can give it; has the rain a father? it has, but not on earth, only God who is in heaven; and so the Gospel is of God, and it is he only that can make men able ministers of it; the rain comes down from above, from heaven, and of the same original and descent is the Gospel, it is the voice speaking from heaven; the rain falls, according to divine direction, in one place, and not another, on one city, and not another; and so the Gospel is sometimes in one place, and sometimes in another; it is forbid here, and ordered there. Showers of rain moisten and soften the earth, and make it susceptive of seed; and the Gospel is the means of softening hard hearts, and of making them capable of receiving suitable impressions: rain refreshes the earth, revives the plants and trees, and makes them fruitful; and so the Gospel, attended with a divine blessing, refreshes drooping saints, revives the work of God in them, and is the means of filling them with all the fruits of righteousness. Now the withholding of this rain denotes a famine, not of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the word of the Lord; and as it is a judgment on a nation, or on a city, not to be rained upon, so it is a spiritual judgment upon a people, when God commands his clouds, his ministers, to rain no rain of the Gospel on them; and it is one of the judgments upon the antichristian party, that they have not the Gospel preached unto them, nor any dew of powerful and efficacious grace distilled on them, but are left to their blindness, darkness, and hardness of heart: and these witnesses carrying the Gospel along with them, where they prophesy and preach, is called a shutting up heaven, so that it rain not on the followers of antichrist, from whom they separate themselves, or by whom they are cast out; and this is ascribed to them, and is owing to their removal or ejection; much in the same sense as the night and darkness are to the sun's remove; that is, these follow upon it. The allusion is to the withholding of rain in the times of Elijah, one of the types of these witnesses, because of the idolatries of Ahab and Jezebel, 1 Kings 17:1. In like manner is the rain of the Gospel withheld during the reign of antichrist, because of the idolatry and superstition of the apostasy.

And have power over waters to turn them to blood; by "waters" are meant people, multitudes, nations, and tongues, and particularly those over whom antichrist reigns, Revelation 17:15, and turning of them into blood designs the confusions and wars raised among them on account of the prophesying of these witnesses, and the persecutions and bloodshed which followed upon it; which eventually are the end and issue of preaching the Gospel; see Matthew 10:34. The allusion is to one of the plagues of Egypt, and to Moses and Aaron, who were types of these witnesses turning the waters of Egypt into blood, Exodus 7:20; and answers to the second and third vials, Revelation 16:3.

And to smite the earth with all plagues as often as they will; alluding to the plagues of Egypt, one of the names of Rome, or the Roman jurisdiction, in Revelation 11:8, and which is meant by the earth here; and referring to the rest of the seven vials poured out by these witnesses, signified by seven angels; and their having power so to do as often as they will, is to be understood of these plagues being inflicted on the inhabitants of the earth, or followers of antichrist, in answer to their prophecies and prayers, which are made according to the will of God, and so always have their effect, being such.

{9} 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.

(9) The power and surety of the holy ministry, which is truly evangelical, is declared both in earth and in heaven, protecting the administers of it, and destroying its enemies, in this verse, divine power, most mightily showing itself forth in heaven, earth and the sea in Re 11:6 as it is described in 2Co 10:4 according to the promise of Christ in Mr 16:17. This is the second place (as I said before) of the combats which the servants of God must undergo in the executing of their calling, and of the things that follow the same combats or conflicts are these things to overcome, in these two verses: to be overcome and killed in Re 11:7 After the slaughter follow these things, that the carcasses of the godly, laid abroad in Re 11:8 and being unburied, are scorned, together with cursing and bitter abhorrance Re 11:9 and that therefore congratulations are publicly and privately made in Re 11:10.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. power to shut heaven] Like Elijah: over waters, &c. like Moses.Verse 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 power... the heaven... the waters... every plague (Revised Version). The whole verse is descriptive of the powers entrusted to Moses and Elijah, and is intended to convey the idea that the power which supported them would likewise support the two witnesses. It is doubtful whether the meaning should be pressed further than this. If we do so, it may, perhaps, be said that (in the words of Wordsworth) "if any one despises God's witnesses, they have the power, like Elias, to shut heaven, and exclude all who reject them. The dews of Divine grace are withheld from all who scorn them." It is thus a fulfilment of our Lord's words, "Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath" (Matthew 13:12). And again, besides the punishments which are finally to fall on the ungodly, it is the case that the rejection of God's will is followed on this earth by troubles which would be avoided were men to listen to the witness borne of him. To shut up the heaven

As Elijah, 1 Kings 17:1; Luke 4:25; James 5:17.

That it rain not (ἵνα μὴ βρέχῃ ὑετὸς)

Lit., that the rain may not wet.

To turn them into blood

Compare Exodus 7:19.

To smite (πατάξαι)

Used by John only in Revelation, here and Revelation 19:15. Compare Matthew 26:31; Mark 14:27; Luke 22:49, Luke 22:50; Acts 12:7, Acts 12:23.

With all plagues (πάσῃ πληγῇ)

Singular number. Rev., correctly, with every plague. See on Mark 3:10. Not merely with the plagues with which Moses smote Egypt.

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