Read Revelation 11 at Bible Gateway.
Previously: revelation 11, the two witnesses, part four
Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them. In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly. Rev 11:11-14
The two witnesses were killed by the beast, and their dead bodies refused burial for 3-1/2 days, or 3-1/2 years of historic time, before they were raised to life, and ascended to heaven, as a great earthquake, or violent upheaval of all earthly order: governmental, societal, cultural, religious, and worldview, occurred.
The next great earthquake, which followed on the heels of the opening of the little scroll, or the translating and printing of the Bible so that it was once again open and prophesying, was the French Revolution.
Because of the Reformation, England had gone through two centuries of struggle and redefining the absolute power of king and pope. Books about the rights of man were written, freedom of conscience as well as liberty and property, the responsibilities and limits of government, proper management of wealth, both national and individual, and other topics, as men began to have their minds enlightened as they were washed with the water of the Word. Puritanism rose in England, born of a desire to lead lives of devotion to God in accord with biblical principles.
Of course, some of the Puritans emigrated to America, and the end result of their struggle against tyranny and their right to be ruled by God and not men, ended in the American Revolution, in 1776. This Revolution was informed by Scripture in almost all its steps, and the help, grace, and blessing of God sought publicly and privately.
In France, at the same epoch, there was the same dissatisfaction with absolute power and tyranny, but the leaders of this Revolution were not filled with the Spirit and the Word, but rather humanists, and some even athiests. In England, the church had undergone a degree of reform, having broken from the control of the Roman church in 1534. In France, no such reform occurred, but the small percentage of Protestants in the country were persecuted fiercely, and the king remained Catholic to the core. The situation in France, then, at the time of the American Revolution, was extreme excess by the king and nobility, in both expenditures and licentiousness; extreme corruption of the clergy, and increasing and extreme poverty of the middle and lower classes, under the burden of taxation which provided the funds for the nobility and clergy to live to excess.
Because the Reformation had been severely discouraged in France, although Bibles in French existed, the common people who did not leave the Roman church continued in ignorance of the Scriptures. The same washing of the water of the Word did not occur among the French general population as had occurred among the English and American.
In France, the leaders advocating for reform, saw the corruption of the clergy around them, and the tyranny of the Catholic nobility, and rejected both God and faith as a result. Just as the American Revolution was uniquely biblical and Christian in its character, so the French Revolution was uniquely humanist and atheist.
When Louis XVI came to the throne, the nation was in dire financial straits, and decades of extravagant spending had depleted the treasury. The middle and lower classes, who bore the great part of the tax burden, could not be further taxed to make up the deficit. Their poverty was increasing apace already, and hunger beginning to set in. The clergy and nobility had the means to pitch in their share of taxes, but fought continual political battles with the king and his ministers to refrain from doing so (they had traditionally been exempt from taxation, and wanted to stay that way).
Economic ruin paved the way for Revolution. The leaders of the revolution cast God down from His throne in heaven (at least, they attempted to do so), denigrated faith, and elevated humanism and the reason of man to idol status. This is the Age of [so- called] Enlightenment.
In Sep 1792, the government was reorganized and the new French Republic was formed. The king had been arrested and was under house arrest, awaiting trial for treason. The country was governed by the National Convention, whose most influential leaders were its most radical in terms of liberalism and hatred of the ancien regime of feudalism and fealty to the king and the church. The king was beheaded at the guillotine in Jan 1793.
Surprisingly, in spite of all the work facing the new French state, one of the tasks they set themselves to was changing the calender. The seven day week was abolished, as was Sabbath observance and Sunday worship and rest. The months were comprised of three 10- day weeks each, the 10th day being set aside for rest and merry making. Church holidays and feast days were abolished. Days and months were renamed to erase any mention of king, saints, or faith, their new names being taken from pagan mythology or classical humanism.
By Nov 1793, atheism had reached its peak. To replace the Christian religion, cults or clubs were established, the most prominent being the Cult of Reason, which met to discuss the humanist philosophy. A Festival of Reason had been proclaimed by the Revolutionary leaders:
“In November 1793, atheism reached its zenith, with its mockery of the rites of the church. On the tenth of November the commissioners of the Convention dressed up an ass in sacerdotal habit, and loaded it with the symbols of Christianity, and tied the Old and New Testaments to its tail. It was then led in mock procession by two sans culottes bearing a sacred cup, out of which they gave the animal sacramental wine to drink. Arriving at their destination, the crowd piled books of devotion into heaps, and burned them to ashes amid blasphemous shouts.”
— LeRoy E. Froom, Prophetic Faith of our Fathers, (c) 1950, pg. 738-39.
Their destination was the cathedral of Notre Dame, the premier church in Paris.
“On November 10, incited by the Commune … the rabble of the Paris Sections held a “Festival of Reason” within the precincts of Notre Dame. The cathedral was stripped of its religious embellishments and a Greek temple made of cardboard was constructed in the nave. An actress from the opera impersonated the Goddess of Reason, while the crowd sang the “Ca Ira” as she was enthroned. … The Constitutional Bishop of Paris, had been ordered by the Hebertists to publicly abjure the Catholic faith … The Bishop obediently presented himself before the Convention, and casting aside the insignia of his office, declared that there should be no other worship in France but that of Liberty and Equality. “Bishop Gobel’s abjurance and the so-called Festival of Reason were signals for an outbreak of Blasphemous scenes …” Mercier, a witness, described. “The infuriated populace [were] dancing before the sanctuary and howling the Carmagnole. The men wore no breeches; the necks and busts of the women were bare. In the darkness of the sacristy they indulged their abominable desires …” One such group appeared before the Convention to demand that worship of Virtue be substituted for that of “that Jew slave” and his mother “the adulteress of Galilee…”
— Stanley Loomis, Paris in the Terror, (c) 1964, pg. 279.
On Nov 24, 1793, the Convention passed a law closing all churches, banning the practice of all religions except the Devotion to Reason, and outlawing the printing or owning of the Bible:
Thus on the third of Frimaire of the year II (Nov 24, 1793) the Paris commune passed the following resolutions: “Whereas the people of Paris has declared that it will recognise no other religion than that of Truth and Reason the Council General of the Commune orders:
1. That all churches and temples of whatever religion or sect has existed in Paris shall immediately be closed.
2. That all priests or ministers of whatever religion shall be held personally and individually responsible for all disturbances of which cause shall precede from religious opinions.
3. That whosoever shall demand that either church or temple shall be opened shall be arrested as a suspect.”
–LeRoy E. Froom, Prophetic Faith of our Fathers, (c) 1950, pg. 739.
This law was in effect until Feb 21, 1795, when it was rescinded and freedom of religion was restored by law. This is exactly 3-1/2 years following its enactment.
Under Napoleon, churches were reopened, and a working relationship reestablished with the Papacy and Roman church. He himself was skeptical of religion, but he believed it was necessary for the government not to hinder its exercise, in order to keep the people happy.
It is possible that the two witnesses, then, were the two testaments (a word which means, witness) the Old and the New, that were desecrated during the Festival of Reason in Paris. It is true that the French Age of Reason, the Age of Enlightenment, overturned all earthly order, and by 1848 the ancien regime of fealty to king and church had been discarded in the rest of Europe as well. Furthermore, the French Revolution was the first time in the history of the world that a nation had disavowed, not only God, but any god at all.
It is interesting that during the earthquake of Rev 11, a tenth of the city fell. The population of Paris was approximately a half million at the start of the Revolution, and it is estimated that roughly 50,000 persons were executed during the Reign of Terror at the height of the Revolution, either by the guillotine, by imprisonment in dreadful conditions, or by mass murder of clergy and political enemies.
The honoring of reason over faith, of humanism, the supremacy of atheism and evolution, has continued throughout the whole world, especially among the elite, the rulers of this world’s kingdoms. So we see that the French Revolution did in fact constitute a great earthquake that ushered in a new age in the earth’s history.
Continued in revelation 11, the seventh trumpet