Sun, Jul 09, 2000

The Two Witnesses: Revelation 11:3-13

Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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THE TWO WITNESSES

REVELATION 11:3-13

As we continue our study through the book of Revelation, we are currently in chapter 11. And this is a parenthetical section of the book where John is filling in some of the details that will take place during the tribulation period. If you remember in Revelation chapter 10 we saw John take the Word of God, the scroll, and he ate it, digested it. And how sweet God’s blessings were to him as he ate God’s Word. But then as he began to digest the things of God, he saw the consequences of disobedience. He saw God’s righteous judgment which was bitter to him because he knew what would happen to those who have rejected Christ.

And as the chapter concluded, John is told not to hide God’s Word, not to candy-coat the results of disobedience, but to speak forth the truths of God. John is told "...‘You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings." Revelation 10:11. You see, no matter what age we are living in, there will always be a spokesperson for God, even during the tribulation period.

Now keep in mind that before the seventieth week of Daniel begins, before the tribulation period starts, the church is "caught up" to be with the Lord. Before the tribulation period begins, the bride of Christ, the church, will be removed, and then God’s wrath will be poured out upon a Christ rejecting world. Remember what Paul said in I Thessalonians chapter 5, after he spoke of the rapture of the church in chapter 4, he said "For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." I Thessalonians 5:9.

So with the church removed from the picture, who will speak for God? Who will stand-up for righteousness in a world filled with sin? How will the 144,000 Jewish evangelists that we read about in Revelation chapter 7 get saved? Who will evangelize the lost with the church gone? That is what we will be looking into this morning, as we continue our study in Revelation chapter 11.

Remember what Paul said in Romans chapter 10, "For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hearwithout a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’...So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:13-15, 17.

God has a plan, as we shall see, so that the world will not have an excuse of not hearing the Gospel message. God will raise up faithful witnesses to proclaim His Word to a Christ rejecting world. His grace and mercy still shines brightly, even in those dark days!

Also, in the first two verses of Revelation chapter 11 we saw the temple rebuilt. This is a false witness of the true and living God. The perfect sacrifice has been made for our sins, Christ has paid the penalty in full for our sins. Thus, God is going to set forth two true witnesses who are in contrast to this false witness that is before the people.

REVELATION 11

VERSES 3-4

For the first 3½ years of the 7 year tribulation period, these two men will represent God before the people. And as they minister the Gospel of Christ, the Good News of Christ, they will be wearing sackcloth or camel’s skin, as a sign of mourning over the spiritual condition of not only Israel, but the world. And these camel skin outfits would be worn with the hair on the inside, against your skin, and you can imagine how uncomfortable that would feel. And it was to remind you of where you were at and what you were to do - not to get comfortable in these wicked conditions!

Thus, I believe it is during these first 3½ years of the tribulation period that these two witnesses see the salvation of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists, plus other Jews and gentiles. And, as I have said, these two faithful witnesses will minister alongside the rebuilt temple, which is a false witness of what Christ has done. In speaking of the temple, we read in Hebrews 9:9-10,

"It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered whichcannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience– concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation."

And as this was only pointing to Christ, we read in Hebrews 9:11-14 what has taken place since Christ has come. It says "But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"As I said, the temple sacrifices were only symbolic of what Christ has done, He has cleansed us of all our sins, He is the perfect sacrifice!

Now the two olive trees spoken of in verse 4 are spoken of in the Old Testament book of Zechariah, chapter 4. Here we see a lampstand which would normally be filled with oil by the priests. It was their responsibility to see that the oil would never run out. But the description of this lampstand in Zechariah chapter 4 seems to indicate that the oil automatically filled these two bowls. There was an endless supply of oil which filled these bowls continuously!

Then, starting in verse 12 of Zechariah chapter 4 we read, "And a second time I said to him, What are these two olive branches which are beside the two golden tubes or spouts by which the golden oil is emptied out? And he answered me, Do you not know what these are? And I said, No my lord. Then said he, These are the two sons of oil [Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the prince of Judah, the two anointed ones] who stand before the Lord of the whole earth [as His anointed instruments]." The Amplified Bible. Zechariah 4:12-14.

We are told that these two olive branches that are being spoken of here in Zechariah represented Zerubbabel who was the governor and Joshua who was the high priest during the time after the Jews returned from their captivity or their exile in Babylon. In saying that, does this mean Zerubbabel and Joshua are the two witnesses in Revelation chapter 11? No, I don’t believe so.

You see, oil represents the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures. Thus, Zerubbabel and Joshua were empowered by the Holy Spirit to complete the work that God has called them to do and they are a type of the two witnesses that are to come. In fact, the encouragement that God gave them is as follows, "...This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts." Zechariah 4:6.

God’s work will not be completed nor will it ever be completed by military strength, nor by human power or intelligence, but only under the power of the Holy Spirit working through that person. And I think that is exactly what God is saying to us here in Revelation chapter 11. That these two witnesses will be empowered by the Spirit of God to do those things that God has called them to do. Their ministry, like our own, is not out of human ability, but in the power of God! How important that is for us to understand, and to remember as we serve the Lord.

Thus, as lampstands, they are shining the light of God to a world that is in darkness, not by their own strength, but in the Spirit of God as they depend upon Him to empower their lives. Now who are these two witnesses? Hang in there, for we are given some clues in a couple of verses here.

VERSE 5

Many of us today wish we had the ability to do what these guys could do. If anyone bothers them, tries to harm them, they will be destroyed by the fire that comes out of their mouths. The word "devour" (KATESTHIEI in the Greek) speaks of the total destruction - POOF, UP IN SMOKE! And think about it this way, God’s Word is a consuming fire. That would definitely put to silence many of the critics that are in the world today. I don’t think Peter Jennings would be doing his special "In Search for Jesus" and deny all that the Scriptures have to say of Him!

Now James and John, like us, have a problem many times with those who come against us or against Christ. As Jesus and His men were traveling through a village of Samaria, the people rejected Christ. And these holy men of God, James and John, had this response to the situation. They said "...‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?" Luke 9:54. But the response of Jesus to James and John is interesting. We read "But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them.’ And they went to another village." Luke 9:55-56.

You see, Jesus said "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:16-17. You see, judgment is coming into this world, but not yet. God has come to save those that are in this world. Thus, if people refuse to listen, don’t call fire down from heaven to destroy them, but do what Jesus did - "...And they went to another village." In other words, move on to share the Good News with others, because there are those who will receive the love of the truth and come to Christ and there will be those who won’t!

VERSE 6

Now we see some of the miracles that are manifested through these two men - no rain for 3½ years, water turning to blood, we see fire proceed from their mouths, plagues, as often as they desire them to come upon the inhabitants of the earth. Who are these guys? Well, I can tell you one of these witnesses with 100% confidence, and he is Elijah!

Malachi 4:5-6 tells us "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earthwith a curse."

So before Jesus Christ comes back to set-up His kingdom here on the earth, Elijah will come and represent God before the people. Jesus, in speaking of John the baptist, said "And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come." Matthew 11:14. But the nation of Israel rejected their Messiah and thus Elijah is still coming, it is a future event. You see, John the baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah. Luke 1:15-17 tells us this. We read "For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He willalso be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many ofthe children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit andpower of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient tothe wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

Even today, when the Jewish people are celebrating Passover, they set an extra place at the table, and during the meal one of the children will go to the door to see if Elijah has come. And so they will do this every year, looking for Elijah to come because after him will come the Messiah.

Also, in I Kings 17:1 we are told that Elijah had the power to stop the rain, and in Luke 4:25 and James 5:17 we are told that it was for 3½ years! That is an interesting number when you consider it is the length of time that these two witnesses will be ministering, 3½ years!

So I feel with 100% confidence that one of these witnesses is Elijah. But who is the second? Some like to say Enoch, for he, like Elijah, did not die, but was transported to heaven alive. And we know that Hebrews 9:27 tells us "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment." So everyone must die once according to this verse, and thus, with the end of their ministry these two witnesses die, which would fulfill this requirement.

In Hebrews the word "men" is used in a general sense, and it is applying to the human race. In Romans 11:25-26 we read, "For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved..." That is not saying every Jew will be saved, but the nation as a whole will be saved. So too in Hebrews, it is a general rule. You see, we have seen in the Scriptures those who have been resurrected from the dead, which means they would die twice, not once. Plus, we see that in the rapture, millions will not physically die. Thus, Hebrews is giving us a general rule, so Enoch does not have to be one of the witnesses, and I don’t believe that he is, and if you think about it, he is not even Jewish!

Then who is this second witness? Remember on the Mount of Transfiguration where we see Jesus appear in His glory before His death and resurrection. Who appeared on either side of Jesus? It was Moses and Elijah that appeared with Him. Luke chapter 9, beginning in verse 27 we read "‘But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death tillthey see the kingdom of God.’ Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings,that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as Heprayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in gloryand spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter andthose with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His gloryand the two men who stood with Him. Then it happened, as they were parting from Him,that Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make threetabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah-- not knowing what he said.While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful asthey entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son.Hear Him!" Luke 9:27-35.

What was this meeting all about between Moses, Elijah and Jesus? Verse 27 says it relates to the coming of the earthly kingdom of God and verse 31 speaks of Jesus’ death. Thus, seeing Moses and Elijah here together we are seeing a link between the setting-up of the kingdom of God here on the earth, after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Just as Moses and Elijah were together on the Mount of Transfiguration, I believe they will be working together once again, for 3½ years or 1260 days during the time of the tribulation period. And keep in mind, Moses represented the Law and Elijah represented the Prophets. So I truly believe that the two witnesses, who are empowered by the Holy Spirit, protected during the time of their ministry, will be Moses and Elijah, and they will testify of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world. And it is out of this ministry that the 144,000 Jewish evangelists are saved, the fruit of their labor. And now we are going to see their work coming to an end.

VERSE 7

Please understand what is being said here, it is very important. I don’t care how weak you are. I don’t care how handicapped you may feel. I don’t care how uneducated you are. I don’t care how big the enemy is. Your life will not end until the work that God has called you to do is completed. As Paul said in Philippians 1:6, 21-26, "being confident of this very thing, that Hewho has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ...For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again." And the thing you need to remember is there is nothing that is so dangerous as being out of the will of God. That is where trouble occurs!

Who kills these men? It is "...the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them." I believe that this is the Antichrist who is possessed at this time by Satan himself. The Antichrist is now fully governed by Satan and it is at this 3½ year mark of the 7 year tribulation period, that he goes into the temple of God and desires to be worshiped as god. The man of peace has now become a demon from hell raging war on those who refuse to worship and follow after him.

VERSES 8-10

These two guys were nothing but trouble for the inhabitants of the earth. Why? Because their deeds were evil and these two witnesses exposed their evilness. And it caused many to try and kill them, but instead they were killed by these two men. And then their work was done and the Lord called them home.

And now these two witnesses are dead, and it is almost a festive atmosphere. Well, not almost, it is! People are sending gifts to each other. I’m sure Hallmark will come up with a greeting card for this occasion, "Happy Dead Witnesses Day!" Joy will fill the land as these men who exposed their evil are now dead, defeated by their man, the Antichrist! And instead of burying them, they will leave their bodies in the streets for all to see, total disrespect!

I remember several years ago in the Middle East, some of our soldiers were shot down and killed, and their dead bodies were dragged through the streets for all to see, and it was a festive time for the people as they did this. It made me so angry, this total disrespect for the dead. How their families must have felt. And yet the world will rejoice with the death of these two witnesses.

Now don’t get confused where these men were lying. Their bodies were in the streets of Jerusalem, the Great City. Now Jerusalem is likened to Sodom which speaks of wickedness, immorality. And also to Egypt, which speaks of oppression and slavery. It is speaking of the spiritual and physical condition of the city - dark and oppressive, in a type of bondage or slavery to sin.

Again the joy we see these earth-dwellers have is related t the death of these two men. How strange that seems and yet Dr. Newell says, "Now comes the revelation of the heart of man; glee, horrid, insane, inhuman, hellish, ghoulish, glee!"

But today it seems that the church blends into the world. It doesn’t want to make waves or stand up for righteousness. Torrance puts it this way. He says: "Why does the church of Jesus Christ today sit so easy to her surroundings? Why do Christian people live such comfortable and such undisturbed lives in this evil and disturbed world? Surely it is because we are not true to the Word of God." You see, God’s Word to a wicked world is not soothing, but convicting! It should be stinging as salt is when applied to an open wound - for without the sting of the realization of sin there is no hope for healing! Again, "One of the clearest proofs of the depravity of man is his implacable hatred to the only solution to his greatest problem." And that of course is Jesus Christ!

VERSES 11-12

It has only been in our lifetime that we can watch the events that hare happening on the other side of the world as they occur. And so for 3½ days these bodies will be on the street. The news reports will be the same: "Peter Jennings here again in Jerusalem where these two trouble-makers have been dead now for some 3½ days. Celebrations continue to break out all over the world as people rejoice over the death of these two prophets who have been tormenting us for 3½ years. Well, that is all for now from Jerusalem, now back to...Hey, wait a minute... the bodies are beginning to rise...I don’t believe it....I...." And they won’t! The world will see God bring to life the dead bodies and then call them home. And I love verse 12, "And they heard aloud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here.’ And they ascended to heaven in acloud, and their enemies saw them."

VERSE 13

With this event we see an earthquake that kills 7,000 people, more intense than the one that occurred in Japan in January, 1995 where over 4,500 people were killed and it registered 7.2 on the Richter scale. The result was fear and God getting the glory, and we might say "Great! They have come to know the Lord!" Not exactly. This does not necessarily speak of salvation but of a realization of God’s power. There is no mention of repentance in this verse. In Mark 1:15 we read of Jesus saying "...‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." And in Romans 10:9-10 Paul tells us "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

We also see a good example of knowing the power of God but not knowing the God that has the power in Exodus 8:19, where we read "Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, ‘This is the finger of God.’ But Pharaoh's heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, just as theLORD had said." (Also in Daniel 2:46-49, and Daniel 3:28-30).

With the conclusion of this verse we will once again be moving out of the parenthetical section and getting back to the judgments of God, the seventh trumpet. Then, in chapters 12-15 we will once again be in a parenthetical section before we get to the last of the judgments, the bowl judgments.

As we close this morning, let me leave you with this thought. As Christians we may be beat up, tired, as we share our faith and live as God would have us to live, but don’t give up. God will strengthen us and He will revive us in the work He has called us to do. Let me leave you with these words of encouragement from Paul in I Corinthians 15:58. Paul admonishes us by saying"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." Let us not forget that. Stand strong in the Lord and what He has called you to do, for the work you do unto Him is not in vain!

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