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!

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