The World Celebrates The Deaths of the Two Witnesses

Ladies, I hope you are praying about joining me in September for the Come Away {retreat for women}. It will be a sweet time of intimacy with Jesus in the mountains of North Georgia. Click HERE or see the link in the side bar of my website to learn more.

 

We are back today to visit a bit more with the two witnesses of Revelation 11. We started last week by looking at the powers that God gives them during their tenure on earth. Today we move on through the chapter and learn about what happens to them as a result of their prophesying.

 

The World Celebrates the Death of the Two Witnesses

 

 

 

Vignette #2 ~ The Death of the Two Witnesses

Here is the passage that describes their deaths.

7 And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them,

8 and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified.

9 For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb,

10 and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth.

 

As a result of their testimony during the 3 ½ years they are on earth, they are killed by ‘the beast that rises from the bottomless pit’. A great question here would be ‘who is the beast?’. We are going to learn much more about this person in coming lessons, but scholars generally agree that this is antichrist. These two witnesses likely preach against antichrist and he is not happy about it, so he kills them.

Instead of being buried immediately, the bodies of these two witnesses lie in the streets of Jerusalem for 3 ½ days. The people of the world throw a big ole party to celebrate their deaths. The Scripture tells us that people exchange gifts to mark the deaths of the two who have tormented them for 3 ½ years. It is hard to imagine such a celebration over the deaths of two people, but it will happen.

 

Vignette #3 ~ The Resurrection of the Two Witnesses

11 But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them.

12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them.

After 3 ½ days of a worldwide celebration of the deaths of these two guys, God says, ‘Enough’ and causes them to be resurrected from the dead. The celebration by the world turns to great fear. Suddenly, as the world watches, the two living witnesses are called to heaven and taken up in a cloud. As you might imagine this leads to….

 

Vignette #4 ~ The World Situation

13 And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

14 The second woe has passed; behold, the third woe is soon to come.

In the same hour that God calls these two witnesses to heaven, there is a great earthquake that seems to be centered in the city of Jerusalem. One tenth of the city is destroyed and seven thousand people are killed. Up to now the people in the world have done everything but give glory to God. Now, it seems this event has, at the very least, opened their eyes to the power and majesty of God.

This vignette closes by telling us that Woe #2 (the 6th trumpet) is now finished and the third, and final, woe is to come. Next week we will finish our study of Revelation 11. I hope you will join me then.

SDG/FCA!!

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Whether one agrees with Jenkins and LaHaye’s timing and interpretations of the events of the end times or not, The Left Behind Series is a wonderful collection of end times fiction that makes for riveting reading. Check it out.

Super Heroes of The Tribulation – The Two Witnesses

Before we get into our Revelation lesson, I  wanted to remind you about the Come Away retreat for women that I will be hosting in September. It will be a time of intimacy with Jesus for a handful of women. I would love for you to be one of those women. Click HERE to learn more about the retreat.

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Hello there! Are you a fan of super heroes? You know…Power Rangers, Super Man, Batman, Wonder Woman…..characters that appear human but have amazing, other-worldly powers that are wielded to accomplish good.

When I was child my sister and I loved to watch Wonder Woman. Lynda Carter played a character that was beautiful and possessed amazing powers. One minute she would be an ordinary woman, the next she would spin around and around like an ice skater and in a burst of light she became Wonder Woman. She could run faster than anyone, jump higher than everyone, and those wrist bands and her magic lasso! Ah, I wanted a set of those so badly. She was the ultimate super hero in my 13-year old mind.

 

Super Heroes of the Tribulation

 

 

Did you know there are a couple of guys that will appear during the tribulation at the end of time who are a little bit like super heroes? We began our look at them in this post, and determined that it is impossible at this point to know exactly their identity. Today, let’s look on into Revelation 11 to discover the scoop on these two Tribulation Super Heroes.

 

4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.

5 And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed.

6 They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire.

 

7 And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them,

8 and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified.

9 For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb,

10 and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth.

 

11 But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them.

12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them.

 

13 And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

14 The second woe has passed; behold, the third woe is soon to come.

 

In this passage we have four vignettes that we need to examine. This may take a couple of weeks, so settle in.

 

Vignette #1 – Who Are These Witnesses and What Powers Do They Possess

Vignette #2 – The Death of the Two Witnesses

Vignette #3 – The Resurrection of the Two Witnesses

Vignette #4 – The World Situation

 

Vignette #1.

Scripture makes it clear that these two men serve at the pleasure of God when we are told they stand before the Lord of the earth. The mention of olive trees, as well as the candlesticks, points to their nationality being Jewish. Scripture references to olive trees or branches almost always signify the Jewish nation. If you have studied the Old Testament tabernacle you will know that one of the key pieces of furniture was a golden candlestick that provided light for the Holy Place and pointed forward to Jesus being the Light of the World.

The sole purpose of these two witnesses on earth during this troubled time in history is to prophesy about the return of Christ to the earth in a final attempt to turn the hearts of men to God. The protection of God rests on these two men, and anyone who attempts to harm them is incinerated by fire that comes from their mouths. Gives a whole new meaning to ‘ash in a flash’!

God has given them the power to keep the rain from falling, to turn the waters to blood, and to strike the earth with all manner of plagues. This is reminiscent of the plagues that Moses called down onto the Egyptians in the book of Exodus when Pharaoh refused to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt. Horrors designed to turn the heart toward God or God’s people.

Let’s stop here and return next week to visit the other three vignettes that surround the presence of the two witnesses on earth.

SDG/FCA!!

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Tribulation Times, Days, Weeks, and Months

Numbers are important in the Bible.

3 is the number of the Trinity

4 is the number of Creation

6 symbolizes man

7 is the number of completeness

666 is the number and mark of the beast

Then there are the references to 1260 days or 3 ½ years or 42 months or a time, times, and half a time. What in the world do those mean? Unlike Eeyore, the gloomy friend of Winnie the Pooh, who said, “Days, weeks, months. Who knows?”, we can know exactly what is being referenced if we take the time to study. If you calculate them out, they are all referring to the same amount of time. Today in our study of Revelation 11, we will be all about numbers, so let’s get started.

 

Tribulation Times

 

 

Prepare for a whirlwind tour of Scripture, y’all, because I want us to look at each passage where these number references are used and see what we can learn. It will make for a long post, but I am going to give you each Scripture, rather than sending you off to look each one up. Each of these verses are an entire teaching by themselves, so I do invite and encourage you to go to the passage and read the surrounding verses to gain context. We will start in the Old Testament.

Daniel 7:25

He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.

 

Daniel 9:27

This verse does not specifically use the above references, but rather a general reference to the same amount of time

And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is pour out on the desolator.

 

Daniel 12:7

And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream; he raised his right hand and his left hand toward heaven and swore by him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time, and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished.

 

Revelation 11:2-3

…but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.

 

Revelation 12:6

…and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

 

Revelation 12:14

But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.

 

Revelation 13:5

And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months.

 

There is an agreement among biblical scholars that the time period being referred to by each of these descriptors falls into what we would call the ‘tribulation’ period. In addition, most scholars agree that the people being referred to in these passages (saints of the Most High, the many, the woman, the holy people) are the Jewish people.

Let me elaborate for a moment on one verse in this grouping that I believe will help you with a better understanding. In Daniel 9:27 we hear the prophet proclaim this:

And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is pour out on the desolator.

If you look at this verse in context (remember, context is king) you discover that it falls within a larger discussion of the 70th week of Daniel. For more on the 70th week, please see THIS POST from earlier in our study.

In a nutshell, Daniel’s 70th week refers to the seven years of tribulation just before the return of Christ. The passage tells us that at the beginning of the seven years, antichrist will enter into a covenant with Israel…a covenant that favors Israel, restoring sacrifices and offering for them (which means there must be a temple in which to offer sacrifices at that time). But, and this is a HUGE but, in the middle of the seven-year covenant, antichrist will break the covenant with Israel and turn on them. There will be unprecedented persecution of Israel in that day. This time of persecution is what is being referred to in most of the verses we examined today.

What we do not know for certain is whether the testimony of the two witnesses in Revelation 11 runs simultaneously with this persecution. It could, but it also could span a different portion of the seven years. That is something we will likely have to wait until it happens to find out.

After a decent amount of study, I believe (you may believe differently, and that is okay) that the 42 months/1260 days/time, times, and half a time/3 ½ years of intense persecution of Israel begins with the sounding of the 7th trumpet. I also believe that this time of persecution, what Matthew 24:21, Revelation 2:22 and Revelation 7:14 calls ‘the great tribulation”, takes place in the last half of what we call the tribulation period. Then, there is this little matter of the rapture which we will discuss in much more detail beginning May 8th.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what we have studied today. Share in the comments.

SDG/FCA!! 

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Who Are The Two Witnesses of Revelation 11?

Sometimes when I sit to write these lessons I am so overwhelmed by the enormity of what I said ‘yes’ to that I just have to drop my head and remind myself that the Lord will teach it through me. Y’all this is hard stuff to communicate.

I completely forgot to give you the Revelation 11 drawing by Lisa to download and print a couple of weeks ago, so here it is. And by the way, there are two pages rather than our usual one pager.

Today we are going to camp on one verse in Revelation 11, but it is a verse that is pregnant with material to ponder. Let’s take a look at verse 3.

 

And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1260 days, clothed in sackcloth.

 

Two Witnesses of Revelation 11

 

I think the immediate question should be this: Who are the two witnesses? Is it possible to even know their identity?

Great question. So glad you asked, although I will disclose that scholars are divided on the answers, as is the case in so much of The Revelation.

From what I can read, there are about seven generally discussed ideas for the identity of the two witnesses. I am going to list them, along with any other pertinent biblical references, and give you my thumbs up or thumbs down on each. Not that my thumbs mean much of anything!

IDENTITY #1

The Church who has a responsibility to witness to the world.

The Church of Jesus Christ does have a responsibility to witness to the world, however there is no mention of the church since Revelation 3. The church’s job is not to be destructive, but redemptive. In addition, physical descriptions such as what they do and their clothing are given for these witnesses which leads me to give a THUMBS DOWN to this identity.

 

IDENTITY #2

An historical figure or group.

This, too, would be a hard sell, so THUMBS DOWN.

 

IDENTITY #3

The Old and New Testaments, or perhaps the Law and the Prophets

Again, there is a definite physical description of these witnesses and we are told that the witnesses are eventually martyred, so THUMBS DOWN.

 

IDENTITY #4

Zerubbabel, a civic leader, and Joshua, the high priest from Zechariah 4

This is loosely based on the similarities between the descriptions in Zechariah 4 and Revelation 11 of the witnesses. They are described as two olive trees and two lampstands in Revelation, but two olive trees and a seven-branched lampstand in Zechariah. No other similarities seem to exist to me, so THUMBS DOWN.

 

IDENTITY #5

Enoch and Elijah – Genesis 5:24 and 2 Kings 2:11

These two men did not experience death the way the rest of us do. Enoch walked with God and was no more, while Elijah was taken in a whirlwind. These two witnesses will be martyred and experience a death and a resurrection. This sets them up as loose possibilities, in my mind, for being the two witnesses, but again, I give this a THUMBS DOWN.

 

IDENTITY #6

Moses and Elijah

This identification is the most popular one and makes really good sense to me. Allow me to give you some commentary from The New American Commentary – Revelation for your pondering pleasure. (See link to order this commentary below.)

 

The rationale for such identification is that Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets, one of the major ways by which the Hebrew canon was divided. The Law and the Prophets witnessed to Christ, and hence Moses and Elijah would be representative of those who have borne witness to Christ across the ages. Additionally, the transfiguration narrative (Matthew 17) provides a previous appearance of the two witnessing that Christ is the fulfillment of both the Law and the Prophets and conceivably even indicating the two different kinds of circumstances that exist for the transfer of the saints to glory: Moses prefigures those who die in the Lord, and Elijah represents those who are taken immediately into heaven at the return of Christ. However, the most convincing argument resides in the nature of the work of the witnesses. Like Elijah, they shut up the sky so that it does not rain; like Moses, they turn the waters into blood and strike the earth with other kinds of plagues as often as they wish. (emphasis, mine)

I’m giving this one a THUMBS UP, but also remembering that God doesn’t have to work in ways that make sense to humans. Therefore,

 

IDENTITY #7

It is impossible and unnecessary to identify the witnesses, leaving us to focus on their tasks rather than their identity.

 

Important side note: The word ‘witness’ comes from the Greek word martus, from which we glean our word ‘martyr’.

Okay, it is your turn. Which of these identities for the two witnesses makes the most sense to you?

We will visit with these two dudes again next week.

SDG/FCA!! 

 

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John! Measure That Temple!

Sometimes passages in Revelation make me scratch my head and wonder what John was smoking! Such is the case today. Two verses at the beginning of chapter 11 that do not seem to fit in with the rest of the chapter. However, I believe the Lord will connect these verses for us before the end of our time together today. So, hang onto your hats and let’s dive into Revelation 11.

 

Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months.

 

 

 

Measure the Temple Revelation 11

 

In this passage John becomes a workman being told to take a measuring rod and measure the temple of God. He is told to measure only the inner portion, the parts known as the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. At this point, we need to attempt to establish the identity of the referenced temple. In the history of the Jewish nation, there have been a few temples. The first place of worship for the Israelites was the wilderness tabernacle. The earliest temple was that begun by Solomon around 958 BC. It was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 586 BC. Zerubbabel built a temple after the Jewish exile. The third temple was the temple of Herod, built around 515 BC and destroyed by Titus in AD 70. There has never been another temple built for the Israelites to use for worship. Is the temple referenced in verse 1 one of these temples? Another option is that a heavenly temple is being referenced. We will see a reference to the heavenly temple later in the chapter.

So, is the temple of Revelation 11:2 any of these, or is it a completely new temple, yet to be built in Jerusalem? I would submit to you that there is yet a temple to be built in Jerusalem in which the Jewish people will, one day, worship and sacrifice.

I believe during the time of the tribulation antichrist will make a covenant with the Jewish people. He will encourage and allow them to build a temple in which they can worship. At the midpoint of that seven years of tribulation, antichrist will break that covenant and set himself up as god in the Jewish temple. Check out Matthew 24:15, 2 Thessalonians 2:4, Daniel 9:27, and Daniel 12:11 for references for future temple worship and sacrifice. We will touch on these later.

If you know anything about Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, you know it is currently occupied by Muslims and is the site of two of the most holy places in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the gleaming Dome of the Rock. Christians and Jews are forbidden to worship on the Temple Mount. The Mount is not a large patch of ground and there is little room to accommodate a Jewish temple of the size and scope that is anticipated for the tribulation temple.

None of this has hindered Jewish people from planning the re-building of the Temple. Even today, devout Jews are diligently working to construct everything necessary to completely equip a future temple. I’ve seen with my own eyes the work they are doing, and people, they are serious about it. They believe that there will be another temple on the Mount in Jerusalem. I believe it too.

I cannot tell you how it will happen, nor can I tell you when, but it is my firm conviction that a temple will be built on the Mount in Jerusalem, and the Jewish people will worship and sacrifice there.

In verse 2 we come to a very important time reference. Forty-two months. We will see this time reference several places in our study, but in different wording. In Daniel 12, this time period was described as ‘a time, times, and half a time’. Elsewhere in Revelation we will find ‘3 ½ years’ and ‘1260 days’ referenced. Every reference like this seems to be part of the time of tribulation that will come upon the world…either the first half or the last half, which is also known as The Great Tribulation. More on that later.

The ‘nations’ is usually a reference to Gentiles, or everyone who is not Jewish. Such is the case here. The temple would be only for those of Jewish descent. The nations’ trampling of the outer court is highly significant, and is the link to why John wrote these two verses and placed them in chapter 11. We will study that next week and visit with two very interesting characters. Until then, keep your eyes on Jesus.

SDG/FCA!!  

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My goal with providing these links at the end of my posts is to offer you something to expand your study of the book of Revelation. Dr. David Jeremiah has written a great book on the players that will emerge in the end times. I think you would really enjoy this book. Click the picture below or THIS LINK to learn more.

I’m Supposed to Eat a Scroll?

After a week of celebrating the re-release of my Legacy Bible study, we are back here to finish our look at Revelation 10. At first glance, this would seem to be a fairly straight-forward passage, but there is an important truth that we must mine from it….a life-altering truth. If you missed the other posts from Revelation 10, you can go here and here to read them.

 

Let’s read Revelation 10:8-11. I’m giving it to you from the ESV (English Standard Version). 

8 Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me again, saying, “Go, take the scroll that is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.”

9 So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll. And he said to me, “Take and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.”

10 And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter.

11 And I was told, “You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.”

 

John once again hears the big voice from heaven, and this time it tells him to go to the angel that stands on the land and the sea. We saw this guy in the first post and mused about whether he is simply an angel or whether he is Jesus. John is instructed to take the open scroll that the angel holds. When he does, he is told to eat the scroll. Awkward!!

 

I'm supposed to eat a scroll?

 

 

Press hold on that for just a moment. We will be right back.

The voice from heaven tells John that when he eats the scroll it will taste as sweet as honey. Well, yay! Who can argue with that! Ah, but then he is also told the scroll will make his tummy sour and bitter. Pass the Pepto Bismol!

Sure enough, that is exactly what happened. Now, let’s go back to the eating the scroll business. Why in the world would John need to eat the scroll?

Well, there is precedent for this in the Word of God. In Ezekiel 3 the prophet Ezekiel is told by God to eat a scroll, then go prophesy to the nation of Israel. When he eats the scroll he finds that it is sweet as honey. The words he is told to prophesy seem to come from the ingested scroll.

In Revelation, we find a very similar circumstance. John eats the scroll. It tastes sweet going down, but bitter when it hits bottom. Then John is told that he must prophesy more.

Two things I want us to ponder. The first is the importance of making the Word personal. Both Ezekiel and John had to ingest the scroll. It had to become part of them rather than something they only held in their hands. God’s Word, Scripture, must become part of the Christian. We must take it in and allow it to penetrate every area of our lives, whether it is good news or bad. Only then can we have intimate fellowship with Christ. Only then can we effectively do the work He has for us to do during our time on earth.

The good news and the bad news from this scroll situation was likely the same news. God was about to unleash judgment and there was no turning back. This is what the saints around the throne had asked for in Revelation 6:10. How long, O Lord, until you judge? The time had arrived, yet it would not be good news for untold millions who had rejected Christ.

The second thing I want us to see is how this must have affected John. He is 90-ish years old and likely assumes he will never leave Patmos, yet here we find God’s angel telling John that there is more work for him to do; work that will necessitate him being places other than the rocky island of Patmos. Was John encouraged to know that he might see his beloved fellow Christians again? Probably. Even when John thought his life was over on an island in the middle of nowhere, it really was not over until God said it was over. So, if you are in a circumstance that seems to be a dead-end road, be encouraged. It isn’t over till God says it is over and there is always hope on the horizon.

Next week we begin our journey into Revelation 11. I hope you will join me back here then.

Want to catch up on our Revelation study? Every single post in this series is linked in order HERE.

SDG/FCA!

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I enjoy the teaching and preaching of Dr. David Jeremiah. Since we have been visiting with an angel, I’m linking to a book that he wrote on the topic. If you cannot get the link to Dr. Jeremiah’s book via your email, please go here to read the post on my website.