WITNESSES OF GOD
God who is rich in mercy provides man with every opportunity to repent and believe on Christ by sending His empowered witnesses to tell of His atoning love, and warn of His coming wrath to deal with sin unrepented of. In the day in which we now live we are witnesses to a people ever increasing in darkness, and away from God and His light.
“And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.” 11:1-2 (KJV).
This beginning in the chapter continues the interlude between the end of the sixth trumpet and the sounding of the seventh.
Previously in chapter 10 John is told, “Thou must prophesy…”. In verse one of our present chapter that seems to be exactly what John does. There is no reason to spiritualize the text here. To do so would only add confusion, and confusion breeds doubt.
“Measure the temple of God” does imply God’s ownership.
The “Reed” was used as a measuring rod. It measured about ten feet in length. This as we note is God’s standard of measure. Since the earthly temple was designed in Heaven it still must meet God’s expectations. All things must be measured by God’s standard, lest we get a false measurment. The temple, the altar, and the worshipper are measured as God’s evaluation of what is His.
As previously mentioned in chapter ten the “Little book” is possibly the Bible, the Word of God. The Scriptures when taught by God’s Spirit measure earthly things and people. The ten foot rod when stood against any man shows by man’s stature how short he falls from God’s standard (Romans 3:23). We cannot attain God’s standard by fleshly works.
God practically ignores what is called “The court of the Gentiles”. The simple reason being that this “Court which is without [outside] the temple…” was not in the heavenly plan. What was the court of the Gentiles had become a place for all kinds of idol worship.
This temple is not Solomon’s temple or Herod’s temple. It is the temple of the “Seventieth week” of which Daniel writes, or what is called the seven years of tribulation (Daniel 9:24-27).
These measurments are certain to affirm that we fall “short of the glory of God” – we fail to meet His required standard for holiness. The only way to meet that standard is by trusting Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior. Then, His holiness and righteousness is put to our account, because our filth of sin was put to His account upon the cross.
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 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. 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. vv. 3-6 (KJV).
There is some disagreement to the time of these “Two witnesses” ministry. Some relate it to the first 1260 days (42 months, or 3 1/2 years), and others to the latter.
It would appear – at least to me – that the two prophets ministry is in the latter. I draw that conclusion by looking at the close of verse 2. Because the “Antichrist” leader allows the Hebrews to worship and then breaks his covenant with them in the midst of the week (Daniel 9:27); this happening the prophets would have been free to speak during the first half.
The message these men are given is preached near the end of the “second woe” (v. 14). While the vile and rebellious men of earth are enjoying their sin and having their way, God chooses not to destroy them without opportunity for repentance. He [God] owes nothing. These two witnesses are tormentors to evil hearts. It is still that way in the present.. People do not want to be confronted about their evil ways.
The length of their ministry is 1260 days. Their days being listed last seems to imply the latter half of the “Seventieth week”. The seventh trumpet would bring in the “Day of the LORD”.
The power of God is the unction of their preaching. They are “Clothed in sackcloth”. This implies that their message is one of repentance and salvation. God’s mercy is astounding.
John the apostle is given the message that these are the “Two olive trees” and the “Two candlesticks”. The olive tree was the source of oil for the lamps – a symbol of the Holy Spirit; and candlesticks were instruments of light. Certainly the two witnesses are Spirit empowered and giving light in the darkness. This takes us back to Zechariah 4:2-3, 6, and 14.
Since they are standing before “The God of the earth…” they stand fearlessly. Verse five even tells us that if anyone could harm them, or even try, they have power to devour their enemies.
The powers they are given are from God. Elijah was one who prayed and shut up the heavens – it did not rain for three and one half years. Moses is the one who turned the Egyptian waters to blood with the rod of God in his hand, and Egypt was smitten with plagues by his hand. Some have said these are Moses and Elijah. Others have said Enoch (Genesis 5:21-24), and Elijah because these two never died, but were translated and would be in keeping with Hebrews 9:27. Jesus likened John the Baptist to Elijah (Matthew 17:11-13), but John Baptist said he was not Elijah (John 1:21). What did Jesus mean? and what did John the Baptist mean? The same Spirit and fire of Elijah was on John, but he was not a physical “reincarnation” of Elijah. The same is true of these latter day “Witnesses”. Our concern should not be on who they are, but upon the message they preach. I see Hebrews 9:27 only stateing the fact that death is a certain thing, except in rare circumstances. With the exception of a “Snatching away” we will all certainly die.
“And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” vv. 7-8 (KJV).
The ministry of these two witnesses will be short. A number of 1,260 days is what they will have. Really, we who are witnesses only have a short time, but most have longer than 3.5 years.
To back up, somewhat – they would not have needed the special protection of God during the first three and one half year period.
God does not allow them to be harmed until their testimony is finished. The “Beast” (not of those mentioned in 4:6-8) arises to wreak havoc and he has hated these messengers of God. According to 13:3 the “beast” receives a deadly head wound and is healed. This undoubtedly means he is a man struck in the head, is killed, and is raised supernaturally [using means of deceit] by the devil himself – “The beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit”. It is he whom, when their mission is finished, God allows to capture and kill them.
Where does this event take place? Their dead bodies are allowed to lay in the streets of this city. Here, God allows spiritualizing, because He does it, “Which spiritually is Sodom and Egypt”. What is this place? It is the city of Jerusalem, “Where…our Lord was crucified”. In verse 2 it is called the “Holy city” now in verse 8 it is called “Spiritually…Sodom and Egypt”. Sodom, a place of depravity and great immoral behavior. Egypt, a place of many gods, which are not gods at all, and the place which hated God’s people. Most of the problems for God’s people come within religion, within the visible church. We can see that in the death of the two witnesses.
“And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.”vv. 9-10 (KJV).
For many days the people “that dwell upon the earth” have been tormented by the prophets of God. The Word of God torments self-serving, evil, God-despising souls.
The Scripture tells us that the dead bodies of the prophets lay in the streets of Jerusalem for the whole world to see. Their depravity is shown in thinking they could be spiteful to an empty human body which lays decaying in the streets.
These are so evil in their hearts they party and celebrate over the prophets deaths. Elijah the prophet was asked by king Ahab, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” The king accusing the prophet of the trouble. It was not the prophet who troubled Israel, but the kings vile and wicked ways. There is nothing more wicked, vile and evil than putting on pretense of worship. Elijah answered back the king saying, “I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim” (1 Kings 18:17-18). When these people see their “troublers” are dead they celebrate, glad because the “beast” has overcome them. What they do not realize is that God had protected them for 3.5 years.
“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.” vv. 11-12 (KJV).
Their celebration is, however, short lived, for when the 3.5 days have expired the people hear a voice from Heaven. Notice the words used. “Come up hither” the same words used in 4:1. There are similarities in the rapture of the Church and this, but they differ as well. The bodies of these prophets are seen by the world being resurrected and ascending into Heaven.
Probably for the first time in some time they recognize a power even greater than the “beast” and “Great fear fell upon them”.
These people “of the earth” are enemies of the prophets. They were thus the enemies of God, but look at God’s mercy. It is shown in His sending the prophets to warn them. The people who are the enemies of the prophets are the enemies of God. Jesus said, “He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward” (Matthew 10:41). If you have a problem getting along with the man of God you have a problem with God. Certainly, these people “of the earth” had a problem getting along with “God’s men”.
“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.” vv. 13-14 (KJV).
“The same hour” judgment fell upon God’s enemies. At the opening of the sixth seal there is an earthquake (6:14). At the ending of the sixth trumpet, which is the “second woe” there is another earthquake. This quake destroys one tenth part of Jerusalem, seven thousand men are slain, and the remainder of those alive are fearful. One almost surprising thing is that these who remain give “glory to the God of Heaven”. Does this mean that they believe God and trust His way of salvation? Some think so. It does not mean that it was glory God received. It probably means, that they saw His power, but not believing Him.
It is sad, even today, when the glory of God is seen through His mercy, grace, His people, and in creation, and people still reject Him and His Son Jesus. So sad it is too, to see such power displayed and yet they proceed after their own ways, hardening their hearts to God and His Spirit (Hebrews 3:7-11).
Remember the “woes” are mentioned in 8:13 and begin with the fifth trumpet in 9:1. The first “woe” is past in 9:12 and the second begins. The pronouncement given in 8:13 is warning of the seriousness of these next three trumpet judgments. When this “second woe is past” it is like God is saying, “This was it. Your chance of repentance, of salvation is past. There will be no more delay. No more prophets” (Amos 3:7). “The third woe cometh quickly” is certain to relay that message.
“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” v. 15 (KJV)
This seventh and final trumpet ushers in the seven vials of wrath. Although they are not mentioned until chapter fifteen there is a break in the judgments to reveal some things that will happen during the latter half of what is often called “The tribulation period” – the latter half is referred to as “Great tribulation” (2:22).
There were voices saying that the Lord is king and “He shall reign forever and ever”. This only means God has allowed sin to run its course, and “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh” (Psalm 2:4). It seems that this would fit chronologically with chapters19 and 20.
The Lord Jesus will take possession of the property which He died to redeem. At the last trump the Lord takes what is His. Praise Him.
“And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. vv. 16-18 (KJV).
The same “twenty four elders” of chapter four are in Heaven worshipping the Lord of glory.
They are awed by His awe-inspiring power over sin and evil and the vanquishing of all wickedness from the earth.
How do they worship Him?
1. They recognize His power – Almighty;
2. They praise His eternalness and immutability [Unchangingness];
3. They recognize Him as Judge – both to reward His servants and punishment upon the wicked. Worship to God is simply given by recognizing Him for who He is.
“The nations were angry” takes us back to Psalm 2:1-3. The wrath of the nations is powerless and vain – for man’s own selfish revenge. God’s wrath is not for revenge, but to dispell sin, and His wrath is powerful and purposeful [PURPOSE DRIVEN].
There is a great need for the fear of God in our day. It does not matter what the false prophets are saying about “God is love” – a half truth is a lie. God is love, but He is also hating sin and judges it. He is wrathful. That is the truth. He is to be feared – held in awe.
And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail. v. 19 (KJV).
The original temple. The one in Heaven. The one used to model the “Wilderness tabernacle” after. The one where God in His glory dwells. It is opened. The way to God is open today. The way into the holiest of all is through the Lord Jesus Christ. This reminds us not to take for granite God’s open door.
Within the temple there was seen the “Ark of the testament”. The ark of God. This was the “Ark of the covenant” behind the veil, in the “Holy of Holies”. it contained the Ten Commandments, a bowl of manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded.
Those who know God have received Jesus – the Bread of Life; Jesus – the fulfillment of the law written in the heart, and Jesus – the resurrection to new life. Talk about the temple being open, access to God, we have it. At least for now.
Because many refuse God’s open door to Himself judgment upon the Christ-haters and sin lovers is certain. The lightnings, voices, thunderings are mentioned in 4:5. “Earthquake and great hail” is added to this sentence.
It seems tht the very source of our salvation is also the source of judgment upon the wicked. We have the choice to be saved now, or be judged through eternity. Bless the Lord.
The WITNESSES OF GOD who are yet to come will be empowered by God. So are all of those who know Jesus today, by the presence, glory and power of God’s Spirit who lives within. The door is open. We too are the WITNESSES OF GOD.