The book of Revelation is a dense book to read. It demands of its readers to read and understand all of scripture that came before it. Because of this, reading Revelation can be very confusing if you do not remember and recall all the events that happened before this book. John, who wrote the book, weaves imagery, patterns, and symbols from all over the Bible into one place. Chapter 11 is no exemption of this. It is filled with several patterns, symbols, and imagery that reference past events in the Old and New Testament.
The Bible uses repetition to reveal a characteristic of God or a lesson for us to learn. This repetition creates patterns throughout the Bible. The key to understanding Revelation is knowing what patterns are being used. The chapter starts off with an angel telling John to measure the Temple. Which is odd, because at this point in time the Temple had been destroyed. Also, something to note is God separates the Temple into what is measured being considered holy, and what is not measured being considered unholy. This is a repeated pattern from Ezekiel 40 through 43, where God gives a vision to Ezekiel where he, like John, is asked to measure the Temple and how certain rooms and Priests were holy but others were not. This pattern is a repetition of God knowing and sorting people that are His and not His. This first section's pattern is showing us that through all times, God knows who is His and who is of the world.
The second pattern can be seen in the two prophets who come to prophesy and testify about God's truth and are killed by the Beast. Then, during the Beast's celebration of the death of the prophets, God raises them from the dead. Think back. Where have we heard about someone telling the truth and prophesying about God then because people of the world didn't like what they were hearing they killed them for it? Then God raised them from the dead? Oh, that's right, Jesus! This pattern is also found in the Old Testament. Several prophets were killed because they prophesied of Israel and Judea’s fall to Babylon. But in Matthew 27:52, it states the bodies of many godly men and women were raised from the dead. So they follow the pattern of someone preaching God's word, being killed for it, and God raising them from the dead.
Then after Jesus’ Ascension, many Christians in the first church and still today were killed for preaching about Jesus. But like Jesus and the prophets of the Old Testament were raised from the dead, they too will be raised from the dead in the resurrection. This pattern at first sight can seem unfair. Why would God let His people be killed for preaching His truth? If we look at the pattern closely we see each time this happens God sends a representative to deliver His message to wicked people to give them a last chance before His punishment falls on them. Out of His love of His creation, He sends these representatives to spread the message and empowers them to fulfill the mission. Then God lets the wicked people respond. More times than not, the response is kill the messenger. Thus sealing their fate to destruction. And because God loves His representatives, He does not abandon them to the grave. No, He raises them up from the dead to be in His presence forever. Just like these witnesses.
In the last section of chapter 11, we are given not a pattern but symbolism and imagery. The last scene gives the reader a glimpse of the promise future Christians ultimately hope for. The reunion of Heaven on Earth. We have the seventh trumpet sound from the seventh seal that is broken. Seven is used throughout this book because it is a symbol of completion. Like how God completed making the Earth in 7 days. Then an announcement of Jesus's reign is made. We see 24 elders falling down and worshiping God. The 24 elders symbolizes the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 disciples of Jesus. The 12 tribes represent all the people of the Old Covenant and the 12 disciples represent the people of the New Covenant coming together to witness the ultimate hope of Heaven on Earth. Together they announce God is coming to reign on earth. It is time for God to take what He has sorted, remember the sorting pattern from the beginning of chapter 11, and judge the dead and reward His servants.
Then we see the image of the temple of God opening and in it can be seen the Ark of the Covenant. This image of the Temple and the Ark of the Covenant represents the time where God finally fulfills His promise to His covenant people. That the wicked will be destroyed, Heaven and Earth will be reunited, and His holy people will dwell in His presence forever.