Sunday, October 29, 2023

Target: The Church

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "Target: The church"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

From Genesis 3:15 - "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."

These were God's words spoken to the serpent in the Garden of Eden, after he had deceived Eve about the forbidden fruit.  God had, in just the prior verse cursed the serpent for what he had done, and had now promised a battle between the seed of the serpent and the seed of Eve.

From this point on, the Bible follows the bloodline of Eve, down through many generations, chosen generations, to Abram, later called Abraham.  The chosen bloodline flows right to the Tribe of Judah, and eventually to Mary, the Virgin who would conceive Jesus the Christ, the Anointed One of God: Son of God, and Son of Man.  And it is His bloodline that was targeted by the serpent throughout the Old Testament.

The woman in Revelation 12 represents Israel, and that holy bloodline.  God chose Abram and his descendants to bring Messiah into the world.  But the bloodline was the focus of multiple Satanic attacks through the ages to end it.  That old serpent, Satan, knows that God's anointed will be his end.

Now in Revelation (the omega of the Bible's Books) we find "the woman" and her seed opening the chapter, a fulfillment of God's prophecy in Genesis 3:15 (the alpha book of the bible).  The several other characters made mention of in Revelation 12 all play their parts, but the second of them is "Satan," who is rearing his ugly head again against the blood lineage chosen by God to bring redemption to all mankind.  Jesus isn't called the Alpha and Omega for naught!

Humanity is entranced by any theme of Good vs. Evil.  Satan could not bring God's Chosen Bloodline to a halt, but his new target has been acquired: Followers of the Messiah - Jesus.

Peter, in Acts 2:14, stood up with the eleven and said, "Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken unto my words:" The rest of Peter's words, inspired by the Holy Spirit, were recorded and continued through the end of chapter 2. 

Bobservations Column: Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
Revelation 12:1-10 (part 1) - "Target: The Church!"


In chapter 12, Revelation takes a bit of a detour from the step-by-step narrative of the end times. The events described occur throughout the history of mankind, past, present, and future. In the course of the visions given to John, seven main figures are described. Five of those appear in this chapter. The next two chapters will continue to fill in the details. Chapter 15 adds another vision of heaven, and chapter 16 will return to a more chronological depiction of the last days.

This world that God created is very much the theater in which the story of redemption is played out. From the beginning, Satan and his demonic hosts have done everything imaginable to stop God's redemptive plan for mankind. From Adam and Eve to the final battle in Revelation, Satan will not give up. However, Israel brought forth a Son, the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ. Satan was unable to stop Him. Satan's efforts to destroy the chosen bloodline of our Lord failed.  His efforts to persecute and stop the spread of the gospel through the Church will continue until the rapture. Even after the Church is raptured, the gospel will go forth and multitudes will be saved. His plans to destroy the Jewish people and God's plan to redeem Israel will continue until Christ's return.

As we begin chapter 12, this marvelous text introduces us to the war of the ages. Since the fall of Lucifer, the son of the morning, the highest of the angelic host, since the day he became Satan the devil, the archenemy of God, there has been a constant war going on throughout the universe. This is a war waged between Satan and his demons and God and His angels. Many of these battles, of course, have found their way to the theater of the earth. In fact, this great warfare is all about the earth. The earth becomes the featured center for the battles that make up this war, and that means men and women are also engaged on one side or the other.

When Satan fell, he dragged a third of the angels into the warfare with him. And when Satan went into the garden of Eden and deceived Adam and Eve, he dragged the human race into the war as well. This war, the long war against God, has been going on, then, since Satan’s fall and will finally culminate in the end of time when Jesus Christ once and for all and forever defeats Satan and all the demons and casts them into the pit.

Scripture references: Genesis 3; Genesis 37; Job; Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28; Matthew 2; Revelation 12.


Throughout the scriptures there are many names given to Satan.

Satan:  The name means "adversary" or "enemy," especially in the Gospels, and in the book of Job.  The term devil comes from a Greek verb meaning "to slander" or "to falsely accuse." The Bible identifies Satan as a murderer, a liar, a roaring lion seeking to devour, the god of this evil age, the tempter, the dragon, the serpent, and the "accuser of the brethren" (Revelation 12:10).  His accusations against believers in Christ are unsuccessful because CHRIST IS OUR ADVOCATE (1 John 2:1).  The Lord provides His saints with sufficient armor to combat and thwart the adversary (Ephesians 6).  Ultimately, Satan's power over Christians is already broken and the war is won through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which forever conquered the power of sin and death. 

The Antichrist:  This man is not Satan, but Satan is the force behind him.  Scripture tells us that a false prophet and evil being will set himself up against Christ and the people of God in the last days before the second coming of Christ.  The term, Antichrist, refers to one who stands in opposition to all that Jesus Christ represents (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7).  The apostle John wrote that several antichrists existed already in his day - false teachers who denied the deity and the incarnation of Christ - but that the supreme Antichrist of history would appear at some future time, during the tribulation period.   Paul called him the "man of sin" and the "lawless one" in 2 Thessalonians 2.  This man, not Satan, will exalt himself, declaring himself to be God and demanding the worship of the world.  

In verse 12:1 of Revelation, John writes, "And there appeared a great wonder..."  This word "wonder" is interpreted, "sign."

Wonder/Sign (vs 1): A symbol pointing to something else; this is the first of seven signs in the last have of Revelation (see verse 3; 13:13-14; 15:1; 16:14; 19:20).  This sign is so comprehensive that it embraces the entire plan of redemption, beginning with the promise God made with Adam in the Garden of Eden.  

A Woman (vs 1)
:  This is not an actual woman, but a symbolic representation of Israel, pictured in the Old Testament.  

Clothed with the Sun, Moon Under Her Feet...Twelve Stars (vs 1): This is the same symbology that Joseph used when prophesying that one day he would rule.  
The idea of the stars, moon, and sun representing the family of Israel is repeated in Revelation 12:1. That passage speaks of Jesus coming from the nation of Israel. Being clothed with the sun speaks of the glory, dignity and exalted status of Israel, the people of promise who will be saved and given a kingdom.  The Twelve Stars represent the twelve tribes of Israel.

Cried, Travailing in Birth (vs 2): Israel, often pictured as a mother giving birth (see Isaiah 26:17-18; 54:1; 66:7-12), has agonized and suffered for centuries, longing for the Messiah to come and destroy Satan, sin, and death, and usher in the kingdom.

Great Red Dragon (vs 3):  The woman's mortal enemy is Satan, who appears as a dragon thirteen times in Revelation (see Revelation 9; 20:2).  Red speaks of bloodshed.  The sign of the great dragon is explained in Revelation 12:9. He is "that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan," who has tried to destroy the woman and her spiritual seed ever since the beginning. 

Seven Heads - Ten Horns - Seven Crowns (vs 3): This figurative language depicts Satan's domination of seven past worldly kingdoms and ten future kingdoms.  See 13:1; 17:9-10.  Satan has ruled and will rule the world until the seventh trumpet blows (11:15).  He has inflicted relentless pain on Israel, desiring to kill the woman before she could bring forth the child (Jesus) that would destroy him.

A Third of the Stars of Heaven (vs 4): In Satan's original rebellion, he persuaded a third of God's "innumerable company of angels" (Hebrews 12:22) to follow him.  They were "cast out into the earth" (Revelation 12:9) as a result, becoming demons. (See also: Isaiah 14:12; Ezekiel 28:17; Luke 10:18).  We are also told that some went to the lowest hell (2 Peter 2:4).  Some were bound in the Euphrates (Revelation 9:14).  There are multitudes of demons freely roaming the world and serving "the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2), and these demonic hosts will be more active and dangerous than ever in these final days. 

To Devour Her Child (vs 4): Ever since the promise of Genesis 3:15, Satan has been attempting to prevent the promised Seed from being born, beginning with his attack on Cain and Abel (1 John 3:12), and even attempting to corrupt the entire human race in the days of Noah (Genesis 6:4-13).  Unable to prevent the virgin birth of Christ, Satan tried to kill the child in a massacre of male children in Bethlehem, commanded by Herod the Great.  Satan went even so far as to try to corrupt Christ in the wilderness temptation.  He tried many times to have Him slain before He could go to the cross.  

A Male Child (vs 5):  This can only be Jesus Christ in His incarnation and of Jewish descent.  Despite Satan's efforts to destroy Israel and the messianic bloodline, Jesus' birth took place as prophesied by the prophets.

Rod of Iron (vs 5):  Note Psalm 2:9 and Revelation 19:15. This identifies the Lord Jesus Christ as the "man child," and therefore as the promised seed. This clearly describes Jesus' coronation as King over the nations of the world (see 11:15; 19:15). 

Caught Up (vs 5):  The primary reference here is the resurrection and ascension of Christ (Acts 1:9; Hebrews 1:1-3).  It's interesting to note the phrase "caught up" is also used in connection with the rapture of believers (1 Thessalonians 4:17). 

Woman Fled to the Wilderness (vs 6):  God will protect Israel from Satan by hiding her in the wilderness, the desert and mountain regions east and southeast of the Dead Sea.  This is the region occupied in ancient times by the peoples of Ammon, Moab, and Edom, and it is to this area that Israel will flee to escape the armies of the beast. Many believe this to be the City of Petra.  

A Thousand Two Hundred and Threescore Days (vs 6):  God will care for Israel in the wilderness during the final 1,260 days (3 1/2 years) of the tribulation.    (See Jeremiah 30:7).  At the mid-point of the Tribulation, the Antichrist breaks his covenant with Israel, puts a stop to temple worship, sets up the abomination of desolation (Daniel 9:27); Matthew 24:15), and devastates Jerusalem (11:2).  It is at this time; many Jews flee for their lives (Matthew 24:16-22).  

War in Heaven (vs 7): The tumultuous events on earth during the Tribulation find their counterpart in heaven.  A state of war has existed since the fall of Satan.  At this time of Jacobs trouble, the archangel Michael will "stand up" for them (Daniel 12:1), and this will result in a great war in heaven.  This may be at the time went the saints are raptured, passing through the realm of Satan.  There Satan and his demons will be defeated and cast permanently down to the earth (12:9).   Initially, at the time of their original rebellion, Satan still had access to heaven, where he accuses believers' day and night.  When they are defeated in this war, that access will be denied, and they will be forever barred from heaven.

Deceives the Whole World (vs 9):  As he has throughout human history, Satan will deceive people during the Tribulation (see Revelation 13:14; 20:3).   Satan, the great deceiver, has deceived the whole world with the great lie that God is not really the Creator, Sustainer, and Judge of all things.  That men and angels can reject His Word, rebel against His rule and ultimately aspire to be "gods" themselves. The lie of evolution.  The lie of Atheism.  The lie of Pantheism.  The lies of the devil!

Accuser of our Brethren (vs 10):  Her is a glimpse of the continual slandering campaign of the devil.  Devil in the Greek is diabolos, meaning "slanderer" or "false accuser".  (See Job 1:7, 11), Joshua the high priest (Zechariah 3:1-2), and Peter (Luke 22:31), as well as his ongoing campaign against every believer (1 Peter 5:8).   Satan will no longer accuse believers before the throne of God because he will no longer have access to heaven.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

A Spiritual Battle

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "A Spiritual Battle"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Literary tools are used in every book ever written. They are common throughout the world of literature. Among them is a tool to create continuity: a subject or character is introduced, and the following chapter or chapters build on the subject continually to make it a central theme of the book.

God’s Word is no different. In Genesis 1 we learn of God’s creative acts, which differ from those of chapter 2, enhancing our understanding, not contradicting it. Nothing was left out, nor minimized. Then in Genesis 2, The Author zeroes in on God’s creation of mankind. Chapters 3 and 4 expand our knowledge of Adam and Eve, their relationship with each other and their children, and their relationship with God. Chapter 4 in particular expounds on the failures of interpersonal relationships, and the weaknesses in all humanity when The Creator is left out of His central role in the lives of His Creation. Pride and jealousies arise, disappointments, anger, and even murder become the rule of the day. Separation is the end result without God at the center.

Revelation 12 introduces us to several characters of the Bible. They are not new characters, but their interaction with one another in their roles is new, and a study in relationships continues:

The Woman, Satan, The Child, The Archangel, and the Remnant; we will go on further next week into chapter 13 as we look at two additional characters: The Beast out of the Sea, and the Beast out of the Earth. Along with Satan, these last two characters are the ones most people are interested in or familiar with when it comes to the Book of Revelation. But do not fall into the terrible trap and leave out “The Child” when considering the prophecies fulfilled herein.

“The Child” is THE main character of the Bible. From Genesis through Revelation, all scripture points to Jesus, Son of God and Son of man. The Bible would not be complete without His acts, and His final, ultimate authority bringing a sinful world history to a close. But duplicity is at work on every page, and Revelation 12:1 unearths it in this chapter.

1 John 4:1 - “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

Bobservations Audio Version:

Sunday Morning's Audio Message
Revelation 12:1-17 - "A Spiritual Battle"

Summary/Bible Notes
Cancelled this week!

Friday, October 13, 2023

Prophecy Update: "A Wasted Heritage"

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "A Wasted Heritage"
Written by:
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In light of the Muslim attack last week in Israel, I thought it would be good to take a break from the Book of Revelation. Our teaching this morning will be an interesting preview of reasons why God sends judgment against His enemies.

The name Obadiah means “servant of God,” and there is evidence from Obadiah’s prophecy that he wrote during the reign of Athaliah’s family (2 Kings 8:16-27). It was King Ahaziah, son of Athaliah and King Jehoram of Judah. He reigned for one year at age 22, and did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. 2 Kings 8 covers the rebellion of Edom against God, and His children. There is one caveat to this: if, as many believe, the Prophet Joel wrote during the reign of Joash, then Obadiah is the first of the writing prophets, and he is also the first to use the phrase “the day of the Lord.”

Obadiah writes of Edom’s rebellion. The Edomites are the children of Esau, brother to Jacob, the Patriarch of the 12 Tribes. Edom covers the region south of the Dead Sea, which takes us into Jordan, and northern Saudi Arabia.

The Hashemite Kingdom of Trans-Jordan was used as a place of exile for the strict beliefs of Islam. Thieves, robbers, and law breakers would flee to Jordan instead of facing death or the amputation of an offending limb. Brutality is still a mark of the Muslim faith.

When the Jewish State gained its independence in 1948, the land was barren, and merely managed after WW1 by the “British Mandate of 1923.” But Kubutzes were formed and community co-ops began farming, and as the land began to flourish, the Israelis invited many from Jordan to come and help to farm the land and harvest the crops.

Hungry for work and a paycheck, they came, and today’s Palestinians are their children. They have flourished in the land just like the Jews, and the land that they worked. But the land was given to the Jews by the League of Nations, precursor to the United Nations. It's Jewish land.

Jeremiah 4:1 – “If you will return, O Israel,” says the Lord, “Return to Me; And if you will put away your abominations out of My sight, then you shall not be moved.”

Bobservations' Column - Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
Prophecy Update: "A Wasted Heritage" - Obadiah 1

Summary/Bible Notes:  

This morning we are taking a short detour from our ongoing study in the book of Revelation in light of current events in the Middle East. We’ve gotten used to stories of violence, turmoil, and political upheaval in the Middle East as a regular feature of our daily news. The truth is, conflict has always been a factor in that part of the world. The terrorist group, Hamas, that attacked Israel this past week is nothing new in Israel's history. The ongoing battle between Israel and the Arab nations remind us of the story of Jacob and Easau. Today our text is in Obadiah chapter 1.

Obadiah is an excellent introduction to Old Testament prophecy. In just 21 verses, it covers all of the typical contents found in the prophets. Themes of wrongdoing, imminent judgment, God's mercy, and His restoration are all found in this short book.

Obadiah, the shortest book in the Old Testament, is only 21 verses long. Obadiah is a prophet of God who uses this opportunity to condemn Edom for sins against both God and Israel. The Edomites are descendants of Esau and the Israelites are descendants of his twin brother, Jacob. A quarrel between the brothers has affected their descendants for over 1,000 years. 

Obadiah's prophecy was probably written around 586 BC, during an especially dark time for Israel. Around 588 or 587 BC, the Babylonian empire, under Nebuchadnezzar, attacked for the third time in as many decades (Daniel 1:1–4; 2 Kings 24:8–20; 2 Kings 25:1–7). This time, they not only took many of the people as captives, they also sacked Jerusalem and burnt the temple. Edom did not come to help their "brother" nation. In fact, they actually helped the Babylonians. Edom blocked the road and caught Jewish fugitives, handing them over to Babylon. In payment, they were allowed to loot Jerusalem along with the other invaders. Most of the specific accusations made in the book of Obadiah revolve around this incident.

Unfortunately for Edom, Obadiah's prophecy would be fulfilled fairly quickly. Not long after, one of Edom's supposed allies, the Nabateans, sprang a trap. While supposedly attending a banquet, the Nabateans surprised the Edomite soldiers and routed them. The nation which had been so strong, and laughed at Israel's misery, was suddenly destitute and driven from their homes. The book of Malachi, written after Israel had returned home from the Babylonian captivity, describes the cities of Edom as ghost towns (Malachi 1:2–5).

Edomites who survived this invasion settled south of Hebron, where they faded into obscurity. Known later as Idumeans, they were bullied by most other nations, including Israel, and later Rome. Herod the Great, who tried to have Jesus killed as an infant (Matthew 2:16–18), was Idumean—an Edomite. The remaining Edomites joined with Jews in rebellion against Rome in AD 70, and were essentially obliterated. As a nation, they became extinct.

The very end of Obadiah includes predictions which look forward to the end times, when the territory of Edom will be occupied by Israel, and ruled directly by God.

Concerning Edom:  Obadiah's entire one-chapter prophecy deals with God's coming judgment on Edom, the nation founded by Jacob's twin brother, Esau.  

Edom was an ancient people group that inhabited the land south of Judah and the Dead Sea. The Edomites, also called Idumeans, descended from Esau, the twin brother of Jacob (Genesis 36:1). They were of great historical importance as descendants of both Isaac and Abraham. The word Edom in Hebrew means “red,” a reference to Esau’s reddish look at birth (Genesis 25:25). Yet, despite their shared ancestry, the Edomites and Israelites lived in almost perpetual conflict. Edom refused to allow the Israelites to pass through their territory en route to the Promised Land (Numbers 20:14-21). They fought with King Solomon (1 Kings 11:14-25), opposed King Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:22), and rebelled against King Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21:8).

This kingdom had developed a government led by kings long before the monarchy arose in Israel. Genesis 36:31-39 lists the eight Edomite kings up to that time, delineating a long line of political leaders during the years in which Israel lived in slavery in Egypt.

A prominent city in Edom was Petra. This city, accessible only through a narrow canyon within cavernous mountain walls, was featured in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  In the fifth century B.C., a people called the Nabateans defeated the Edomites and removed them from Petra. The Edomites were forced to move south of Israel in an area that would become known as Idumea. In the New Testament, Herod the Great, who commanded the murder of all boys two years old and younger in Bethlehem (Matthew 2), was an Idumean.

In Obadiah, Edom is mentioned twice by name (1:1, 8). Yet the focus of the entire book is on Edom’s destruction as God meted out His judgment on a historically rebellious people.

Obadiah prophesies that Edom would be “small among the nations . . . utterly despised” 
(Obadiah 1:2); that Edom’s best-laid plans would come to naught (verse 8); and that Edom would be completely destroyed: "And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the Lord hath spoken it" (verse 18).

Obadiah’s prediction came true in the fifth century B.C. when Edom was removed from Petra. The Edomites would later disappear from history completely, marking the total destruction of one of Israel’s enemies. In His dealings with Edom, God kept His promise to His people, "
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." (Genesis 12:3).

Key Verses:
  • Obadiah 1:4 - "Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord."
  • Obadiah 1:12 - "But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress."
  • Obadiah 1:15 - "For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head."

Obadiah prophesies judgment against Edom in context with the Day of the Lord when God will judge all nations (v15), and then restore the remnants of Israel and Judah, allowing them to take possession of the territories of their enemies (v17-21).

Clefts of the Rock - Edom's main city was the famous "rock city," Sela, or Petra, considered almost impregnable because of the very narrow gorges which were its only assess routes.  Edom also controlled the chief trade routes between Asia and Egypt, becoming very propserous. 

Against His Brother Jacob - Bible commentators have often written about Jacob and Esau as though Esau were the innocent victim of Jacob's greed. However, a careful reading of the record will indicate that God-ordained Jacob the leadership of the chosen nation of Israel.  Esau's determination to get even, by slaying Jacob, plus the influence of his pagan wives carried over into the attitude of all his descendants toward the children of Israel with hatred and violence.  

This week we watched the Palestinians celebrating in the streets after the slaying of Jews in Israel.  God didn't turn a blind eye in the Old Testament, and He will not turn a blind eye today.

The Day of the Lord - The phrase “day of the Lord” usually identifies events that take place at the end of history (Isaiah 7:18-25) and is often closely associated with the phrase “that day.” One key to understanding these phrases is to note that they always identify a span of time during which God personally intervenes in history, directly or indirectly, to accomplish some specific aspect of His plan.

Most people associate the day of the Lord with a period of time or a special day that will occur when God’s will and purpose for His world and for mankind will be fulfilled. Some scholars believe that the day of the Lord will be a longer period of time than a single day—a period of time when Christ will reign throughout the world before He cleanses heaven and earth in preparation for the eternal state of all mankind. Other scholars believe the day of the Lord will be an instantaneous event when Christ returns to earth to redeem His faithful believers and send unbelievers to eternal damnation.

The phrase “the day of the Lord” is used often in the Old Testament (e.g. Isaiah 2:12; 13:6, 9; Ezekiel 13:5, 30:3; Joel 1:15, 2:1,11,31; 3:14; Amos 5:18,20; Obadiah 15; Zephaniah 1:7,14; Zechariah 14:1; Malachi 4:5) and several times in the New Testament (e.g. Acts 2:20; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Peter 3:10). It is also alluded to in other passages (Revelation 6:17; 16:14).

The Old Testament passages dealing with "the day of the Lord" often convey a sense of imminence, nearness, and expectation: “Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.” (Isaiah 13:6); "For the day is near, even the day of the Lord is near, a cloudy day; it shall be the time of the heathen." (Ezekiel 30:3); "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand" (Joel 2:1). See also: Joel 3:14; Zephaniah 1:7. The Old Testament passages referring to the day of the Lord often speak of both a near and a far fulfillment, as does much of Old Testament prophecy. Some Old Testament passages that refer to the day of the Lord describe historical judgments that have already been fulfilled in some sense (Isaiah 13:6-22; Ezekiel 30:2-19; Joel 1:15, 3:14; Amos 5:18-20; Zephaniah 1:14-18), while others refers to divine judgments that will take place toward the end of the age (Joel 2:30-32; Zechariah 14:1; Malachi 4:1, 5).

The New Testament calls it a day of “wrath,” a day of “visitation,” and the “great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:14) and refers to a still future fulfillment when God’s wrath is poured out on unbelieving Israel (Isaiah 22; Jeremiah 30:1-17; Joel 1-2; Amos 5; Zephaniah 1) and on the unbelieving world (Ezekiel 38–39; Zechariah 14). The Scriptures indicate that “the day of the Lord” will come quickly, like a thief in the night (Zephaniah 1:14-15; 1 Thessalonians 5:2), and therefore Christians must be watchful and ready for the coming of Christ at any moment.

Besides being a time of judgment, it will also be a time of salvation as God will deliver the remnant of Israel, fulfilling His promise that “all of Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26), forgiving their sins and restoring His chosen people to the land He promised to Abraham (Isaiah 10:27; Jeremiah 30:19-31, 40; Micah 4; Zechariah 13). The final outcome of the day of the Lord will be that "
And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day." (Isaiah 2:17). The ultimate or final fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the day of the Lord will come at the end of history when God, with wondrous power, will punish evil and fulfill all His promises.

Possess Their Possessions - The children of Esau, as well as those of Ishmael, Lot, and others, have thus far kept "the house of Jacob" from obtaining their divine inheritance, as promised by God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as David.  Eventually, however, God's Word will be vindicated, and Israel will "possess their possessions" in the coming age of Christ's kingdom.

Saviours (verse 21)
This verse is an explicit reference to the millennial kingdom of the end times. In the end times, Israel will be restored to her Promised Land. Part of that restoration will be rulership over the lands which once belonged to the Edomites. Verse 18 seems to suggest that there will not be any descendants of Esau left at that time.

This is an example of Old Testament prophets looking forward, and seeing the future both in the near-term, and the long-term. Obadiah's predictions about the destruction of Edom were fulfilled not long after these words were written. The eventual restoration of Israel, and the rule of the Lord (Zechariah 14:9), will not occur until the very end. As with all instances of God's judgment, the end goal is restoration and reconciliation, not merely revenge.

In the last days, "out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from
 Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:3).  There is, of course, only one Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, and He shall reign from Jerusalem in the day.  However, Christ has also promised that "he that him will I give power over the nations; And he shall rule them with a rod of iron" (Revelation 2:26-27).  

Mount of Esau - The "Mount of Esau" was Mount Seir, whereas "Mount Zion" could be called the mount of Jacob.  "...Yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau" (Malachi 1:2-3).  Such was God's evaluation of this rivalry, leading finally to Esau's (Edom's) destruction.

At the end of it all, the Lord reigns as king from Mount Zion, and those who have been delivered by him rule with him over Esau's mountain (v21). Esau's mountain has a double meaning in that Edom was originally the region around Mount Seir, between the Dead Sea and Aqaba. But mountains metaphorically represent kingdoms, so the Lord is portrayed as ruling over Esau's kingdom. By the 6th century BC, Edom was considered to extend southward into what is now Saudi Arabia, as far as Dedan (modern-day Al-Ula) - (see Ezekiel 25:13 and Jeremiah 49:8).

Obadiah is a case study of Gen. 12:1–3, with two interrelated themes: 1) the judgment of Edom by God for cursing Israel. This was apparently told to Judah, thereby providing reassurance to Judah that the Day of the Lord (v. 15) would bring judgment upon Edom for her pride and for her participation in Judah’s downfall; 2) Judah’s restoration. This would even include the territory of the Edomites (vv. 19–21; Is. 11:14). Obadiah’s blessing includes the near fulfillment of Edom’s demise (vv. 1–15) under the assault of the Philistines and Arabians (2 Chronicles 21:8–20) and the far fulfillment of the nation’s judgment and Israel’s final possession of Edom (vv. 15–21).

Saturday, October 7, 2023

The Two Witnesses

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "The Two Witnesses"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Chapter 11 of Revelation: The whole world is in chaos, there is no one to restrict the growing evil that dominates the Earth. It is “the times of the Gentiles.” We must remember that even though we are a Gentile Church, as Christians we have been adopted into the heritage of God’s children. During the time of the prophecy that we read of today, the church has been raptured and is already with the Lord in heaven. The Gentiles still on Earth are the enemies of God, still embracing their sinful lifestyles. This chapter relates to them, not to His redeemed Church!

This is a time of more judgment to come for the unrepentant Gentiles who are yet alive. Now, John still writes from his Jewish perspective, and that is that there were two classifications for Earth’s inhabitants: one was either a Jew, or a Gentile. When the Jews see Christ for who He is, they too will be Believers and repent (Zechariah 12:10-14).

But Chapter 11 is about what the unsaved Gentiles are doing in God’s Holy Land, and in His Holy City in the land of Judah. From the text, the Third Temple of the Jews is built, and John is told how to measure it. God’s two witnesses arise to prominence, and for us, it is only speculation as to their identities. Antichrist is also rising in power and position. Nonetheless, the witnesses are there to give testimony of God and Jesus Christ.

The Lord is giving His human creation yet another chance to repent of their evil habits, beliefs, and teachings. The Witnesses no doubt will remind them that the time of Christ’s return and judgment is near. They will speak of a glorious heavenly Kingdom to come. They will speak of God’s promises to His children. But as in the days of the prophets, many simply hated God, and anyone who speaks for Him. But in this chapter, there will be a revival on Earth, and many will believe because of what they will witness for themselves.

This is an exciting chapter, for it reveals God’s willingness to offer salvation to any and all that fear Him. The time of Judgment is near, and a war is looming on the horizon!

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Psalm 111:10 "is the beginning of knowledge." Proverbs 1:7 "is to hate evil: pride, arrogancy, the evil way, and froward mouth." Proverbs 8:13 "prolongeth our days." - Proverbs 10:27 "is a fountain of life." - Proverbs 14:27

Bobservations' Column - Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
Revelation 11:1-19 - "The Two Witnesses"

Summary/Bible Notes:  

Once again, we are inviting you to join with us as we study God's Word together.  Today we are continuing our study in the book of Revelation from chapter 11.

This chapter introduces two prophets referred to as the "two witnesses." Their message, supernatural power, death, and resurrection are dramatic moments in the story of the end times. Their influence precedes the end of the trumpet judgments, and sets the stage for the final series: the seven "bowl" judgments.


In verse 1, John is first given a measuring device and told to measure the temple, altar, and worshippers. Measuring, in that era, was symbolic of ownership. Only those who had rights to something—land, a building, or people—were allowed to measure them. As part of this task, John is told that the outer court of the temple is not to be measured. This area, occupied by "the nations," which is a term for Gentiles, is part of a "trampling" experienced by Jerusalem in the end times (Revelation 11:1–2).

A Reed (verse1) - This refers to a hollow, bamboo-like cane plant that grew in the Jordan Valley.  Because of its light weight and rigidity, it was commonly used as a measuring rod.  Note: The measuring of the temple signified God's 
ownership of it (see 21:15).

This is a reminder that the third temple in Jerusalem has yet to be built, and it will be built. The earlier temples built by Solomon, Zerubbabel, and Herod had all been destroyed by Gentiles as part of God's judgment on their apostasy, and this will happen yet one more time. God had not given them any instruction to rebuild their temple and reinstitute their ancient worship, for Christ had "offered one sacrifice for sins forever" (Hebrews 10:12). They were still rejecting Him, and still are to this day.

The Jews have long desired to rebuild a temple on the temple mount. They have vigorously promoted this idea ever since the reestablishment of their nation in 1948, and especially after retaking most of Jerusalem in 1967. Up until the tribulation period, they will have been prevented from doing this by the existence of the Islamic Dome of the Rock on their traditional temple site, as well as the intense opposition of all the Islamic nations, the UN and their own factions.

The temple apparently will have been built and their sacrificial worship reestablished at this point, however, essentially at the midpoint of the seven-year period of tribulation.

The Temple of God (verse 1) - revers to the Holy of Holies and the Most Holy Place, not the entire temple complex (see verse 2).

Altar (verse 1) - The reference to worshipers suggests this is the bronze altar in the courtyard, not the incense altar in the Most Holy Place, since only the priests were permitted inside the Most Holy Place.

Outside Court (verse 2) - This refers to the court of the Gentiles, separated from the inner court in the Herodian temple by a low wall. Gentiles were forbidden to enter the inner court on penalty of death. That John is instructed not to measure the outer court symbolizes God's rejection of the unbelieving Gentiles who have oppressed His covenant people.

At this point, the Jews will have made a seven-year treaty with "the prince that shall come," the great world leader soon to be recognized as the beast, permitting them to build the temple on the Temple Mount once again.

Tread Under Foot Forty and Two Months (verse 2) - Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome all oppressed Jerusalem in ancient times (see 2 Kings 25:8-10; Psalm 79:1; Isaiah 63:18; Lamentations 1:10). This verse refers to the future devastating destruction and oppression of Jerusalem by the forces of the Antichrist. These Gentile nations and their leader will dominate the world for 42 months (3 1/2 years) covering the second half of the Tribulation and coincides with the visibly evil program of the Antichrist (verse 4, 12:6; 13:5). During this same time, the Jews will be sheltered by God in the wilderness (12:6, 14).  During this same forty-two-month period, God will shelter many Israelites in a place He has prepared for them in the wilderness (some speculate the rock city of Petra).  Revelation 12:6 reads, "And the woman (Israel) fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days."

The Two Witnesses (verse 3) - These are individuals granted special power and authority by God to preach a message of judgment and salvation during the second half of the Tribulation. Fulfilling the Old Testament requirement of two or more witnesses to confirm testimony (see Deuteronomy 19:15; John 8:17; Hebrews 10:28). These two prophets will represent the culmination of God's testimony to Israel: a two-pronged message of His judgment and His gracious offer of the gospel to all who will repent and believe. While it is impossible to be dogmatic about these two witnesses, one of them almost certainly is Elijah, who was translated into heaven without dying (2 Kings 2:11) and whom God promised at the very end of the Old Testament to send back to the earth "before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (Malachi 4:5).

One Thousand Two Hundred and Threescore Days (verse 3) - The period of their prophetic ministry will be 42 months, or 3 1/2 years (see 12:6; 13:5; and verse 2).

Sackcloth (verse 3) - This was a coarse, rough cloth made from goat or camel hair. Wearing garments made from it expressed penitence, humility, and mourning (see 2 Samuel 3:31; 2 Kings 6:30; Esther 4:1; Isaiah 22:12; Jeremiah 6:26; Matthew 11:21). The witnesses are mourning because of the wretched wickedness of the world, God's judgment on it, and the desecration of the temple and the holy city by the Antichrist.

Two Olive Trees and Two Lampstands (verse 4) - These are in reference to Zechariah's vision of the trees providing oil for the lampstand (Zechariah 4).  The angel told Zechariah that "these are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth" (Zechariah 4:14).  His two witnesses were both standing by Him in heaven during all the times between their translation and their return to earth.  Olive oil was commonly used in lamps; together the olive trees and lampstands symbolize the light of spiritual revival.  the two witnesses' preaching will spark a revival, just as Joshua's and Zerubbabel's did in Israel after the Babylonian captivity. 

Fire Proceeds...and Devours (verse 5) - The two witnesses will be pretty much invincible during their ministry, protected by supernatural power.  This is most likely literal fire.  The false prophet will counterfeit this sign (13:3).

Power to Shut Heaven (verse 6) - Miracles have often authenticated God's messengers.  The 3 1/2-year drought they will bring (as Elijah did before) will add immeasurable torment to those experiencing the worldwide disasters of the Tribulation and it will increase their hatred of the Two Witnesses. 

All Plagues (verse 6) -The plagues being sent on the earth from heaven as the Lamb opens the seals and the archangels blow their trumpets are associated on the earth with the invocations of the two witnesses (11:3).  As they proclaim that these are God's judgments, many will "learn righteousness" (Isaiah 26:9) and believe on Christ for salvation, even though it may mean almost certain martyrdom for them.  Those who refuse to believe will soon come to blame the two witnesses for all their problems, and will seek to kill them, but will be totally unsuccessful (11:5) until the end of their prophetic witness.

The Beast (verse 7) - This is the first of 36 references to this person in Revelation, who is none other than the Antichrist (see chapter 13). That he will ascend out of the bottomless pit indicates that his power is satanic.

Kill Them (verse 7) - Here their ministry is completed., God will withdraw the two witnesses' supernatural protection.  The beast will then be able to accomplish what many had died trying to do. 

Bodies Lie in the Street (verse 8) - This shameful practice happens today.  Refusing to bury one's enemies was a way to dishonor and show contempt for them.  The Old Testament expressly forbids this practice. 

The Great City (verse 8) - Identifying Jerusalem as a city like Sodom and Egypt stresses the city's wickedness.  Its Jewish population will apparently be the focus of the witnesses' ministry, leading to the conversions of verse 13. 

Three and a half Days (verse 9) - Jews and Gentiles all over the world will gloat over the dead bodies of the Two Witnesses, but they will only lie dead for 3 1/2 days one day for each year of their rejected testimony. The entire world will watch (undoubtedly on the latest form of visual media) and glorify the Antichrist as the bodies of the dead prophets who have been killed begin to decay.

Rejoice...Make Merry...Send Gifts (verse 10) - Wild with joy over the death of their tormentors, those who dwell on the earth (a phrase used eleven times in Revelation to speak of unbelievers) will celebrate the Two Witnesses' death as a holiday.

Spirit of Life from God (verse 11) - The festivities will be short-lived as God vindicates His faithful witnesses by resurrecting them.

Come Up Higher (verse 12) - Here was the same voice and message which John, representing all believers of the church age, had heard as he ascended up to heaven (4:1).  This supports the previous understanding that the first call, like this one, is a call of resurrection and rapture as in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. 

Earthquake (verse 13) - Seems fitting.  God is punctuating the ascension of His prophets with a shattering earthquake.  

Second Woe (verse 14) - This refers to the sixth trumpet (see 9:12).  The interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpets ends (see 10:1).  Israel's repentance will shortly usher in the millennial kingdom (Acts 3:19-21; Romans 11:25-26). But first will come the final climactic judgments. 

Seventh Angel Sounded (verse 15) - The sounding of the seventh trumpet will mark the beginning of the second half of the 70th week of Daniel 9L26-27, also known as "the great tribulation."  The seventh trumpet includes the seven bowl judgments depicted in chapter 16, and all the events leading up to the establishing of the millennial kingdom and the coronation of Jesus as King.  By the time the 3 1/2 years are done, all the kingdoms of the world will have become the kingdoms of the Lord and His Christ. 

Which Art, and Wast, and Art to Come (verse 17) - The coming of the kingdom is no longer future, but will be immediate.

Nations Were Angry (verse 18) - No longer terrified (6:15-17), they will be filled with defiant rage.  Teir hostility will shortly manifest itself in a foolish attempt to fight against Christ - a doomed, futile effort that is the apex of human rebellion against God (16:14; 19:17-21).

Thy Wrath is Come (verse 18) - Almighty God answers the feeble, impotent fury of the nations.  The 24 elders speak of God's future wrath (20:11-15) as if it were already present, signifying its certainty.  That God will one day pour out His wrath on rebellious men is a MAJOR THEME in Scripture.

The Dead Judged (verse 18) - The final outpouring of God's wrath includes judging the dead (see Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:25-29).  The judgment has two parts:  
  1.  God rewards Old Testament saints (Daniel 12:1-3; 1 Corinthians 3:8; 4:5), the raptured Church (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), and Tribulation saints (20:4); and 
  2. God condemns unbelievers to the lake of fire forever (20:15). 
Ark of His Covenant (verse 19) - This piece of furniture in the Old Testament tabernacle and temple symbolized God's presence, atonement, and covenant with His people.  That earthly ark was only a picture of this heavenly one (see Hebrews 9:23).  It was there God provided mercy and atonement for sin.  As earthly Holy of Holies was open when the price of sin was paid, so the Holy of Holies in heaven is opened to speak of God's saving New Covenant and redeeming purpose in the midst of judgment. 

God gives the remnant left on the earth, every opportunity to come to Him.  God is merciful.  He is giving every opportunity for you now.  Repent and turn to Christ!

WhitestoneCF Media - Web TV

WhitestoneCF Media - Web TV