Revelation 11:3-14

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

June 25, 1997

Introduction

We are in a kind of parenthesis between the sixth and seventh trumpets.

We now enter the description of the ministry of the "two witnesses", a passage that seems to be a favorite for the cults.

"The Heaven's Gate Cult" - article by Gretchen Passantino (www.answers.org) -

The leaders, Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles, were at one time called "Bo" and "Peep".

"Bo and Peep (Do and Ti) believed that they would fulfill Rev. 11 by being killed, lying dead in the street for three days, and then being "raised" from the dead into the space ship, along with their followers. As the day for their "sacrifice" approached, they preached that their death and "resurrection" would prove the truthfulness of their preaching.

" However, it didn't surprise us when shortly after, Bo and Peep got a new revelation -- they had been "massacred" in the press, so they didn't need to be killed physically after all!"

We'll look at what the Bible says about these two witnesses.

:3-14 The Two Witnesses

:3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses

The word "power" is not in the Greek text, and so it should actually read "And I will give unto my two witnesses".

But idea of power and authority isn't a bad one, especially since later on we'll see that they do have "power" (Rev 11:6)

Two witnesses -

This is a Biblical principle -

De 17:6 At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; [but] at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.

De 19:15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

Another interesting parallel:

In the conquest of the Promised Land, first God had the people send twelve witnesses into the land, but when ten came back with a bad report, the people didn't go in for forty years.

The next time they came to the Promised Land, they sent out two spies, and they followed by going in and conquering the land.

Could there be a parallel with the twelve apostles being the first "witnesses" to Israel concerning God's Promised Land, and now there are "two" witnesses?

:3 they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days

Last week we read how John was told to measure the temple that will be existing during the tribulation, and how he was to leave the courtyard out

(Rev 11:2 KJV) and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.

We mentioned last week that 42 months is the same as 3 1/2 years, or, half of the tribulation.

Here we have the same period of time, but measured in days instead of months.

Each month is looked upon as 30 days, and 42 x 30 = 1260.

When is this?

If the Tribulation is seven years long, and the antichrist performs the "abomination of desolation" at the midway point, 3 1/2 years, where do these things fall, at the beginning, or the end?

Some have suggested the first half, saying that the antichrist pulling the abomination of desolation could coincide with the killing of the two witnesses.

I prefer to see this as the last half.

Though the Jews will control Jerusalem for the first half of the tribulation, establishing the temple and its worship, when the antichrist desecrates the temple, the city falls into the hands of the Gentiles. The antichrist will break his covenant with Israel, and hand the city over to the nations.

:3 clothed in sackcloth.

Sackcloth - sakkos (a Greek word based on the Hebrew word saq) - a garment made of course cloth woven from black goat's hair, often worn by those in mourning or as a sign of repentance. It was kind of like burlap.

The point:

These two witnesses aren't here to bring "good news" or to announce a big party.

It would seem more likely that they're here weeping and mourning over the judgment that's around the corner for those who won't believe.

Lesson:

Sometimes witnessing is sorrowful.

We'd like to think that every time we witness to someone about the Lord, that it should be with a great big smile on our face, with lots of warm hugs and stuff.

But the truth is that sometimes the truth ought to be making us weep instead of laugh.

The truth about sin and hell ought be break our hearts concerning those that don't know the Lord.

Illustration

I remember Pastor Chuck telling a story of a friend who fell away from the Lord and started having an affair with another woman.

Chuck went over to talk to the man, but when he got there, all he could do was weep. He left embarrassed.

The man was so moved by Chuck's tears, that he repented and went back to his wife.

:4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.

This is a picture straight out of Zechariah

To understand, you need to keep in mind that Zechariah is a prophet ministering during the time of the rebuilding of the second temple under Zerubbabel.

Part of Zechariah's ministry was to encourage Zerubbabel to keep going, and not get discouraged and quit.

Zec 4 And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, {2} And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: {3} And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.

The idea here is that Zechariah sees a candlestick like the Menorah in the temple, but it's being supplied with oil directly from these olive trees.

This candlestick has a constant unending supply of oil.

{4} So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? {5} Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. {6} Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

In other words, this whole picture is to show Zerubbabel that the work isn't going to get done with his own strength, but it's going to get done through the power of God's Spirit.

Lesson:

Let God do the work.

Too often we get discouraged, just like Zerubbabel, and it's because we get too caught up in doing things in our own strength.

And then when things don't go right, we start looking for people and things to blame.

We need to learn to let God's work be done in God's strength.

If it's successful, praise the Lord, God gets all the credit.

If it's not successful, it must not have been the Lord.

{7} Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.

All the problems (the mountains) that have been encountered will all be wiped away.

{8} Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, {9} The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. {10} For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.

Zerubbabel started the temple, and he would finish it.

Lesson:

Don't despise the small times.

Zerubbabel wasn't to be discouraged by how long it was taking, or how small it all seemed.

We need to be careful that we too don't despise the times when our church, or our personal ministries might be small.

These are very precious times to the Lord, we need to learn as much as we can from them.

The "seven" refer to a stone with seven eyes that Zechariah saw in Zech.3:9, yet the whole point is that Zerubbabel and the Lord would see it all come to pass.

The plummet line is the last inspection to see that it's all nice and straight.

{11} Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? {12} And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? {13} And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. {14} Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.

Vs.14 - anointed ones - yitshar - fresh oil, shining (pure) oil

Some have suggested that these two olive trees are Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest.

But I think that idea has the picture backward.

The picture is that the olive trees supply the candlestick with oil like the anointed ones would supply Zerubbabel's work with the Holy Spirit.

I don't think Zechariah identifies the two olive trees at all.

The point:

The lesson we get from Zerubbabel is that there are two "anointed" persons who stand in God's presence, who apparently were a source of the Spirit's outpouring on Zerubbabel.

These same two persons will show up in person during the tribulation.

They have come directly from God's presence.

:5 if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth

And you thought you had "dragon's breath" in the morning!

It could be that the fire doesn't come directly from their mouths, but the idea could be that it's by their word that fire proceeds to kill their enemies.

This is something that happened in the ministry of Elijah.

2Ki 1:9-10 Then the king sent unto him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him: and, behold, he sat on the top of an hill. And he spake unto him, Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down. 10 And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I [be] a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.

This was an ability that James and John wanted, but couldn't have.

Lu 9:53-56 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw [this], they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? 55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. 56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save [them]. And they went to another village.

Lesson:

Don't practice this at home.

It's not yet time for the two witnesses, and you aren't one of them.

Jesus wants you to love others and see them saved, not blow them away.

:6 that it rain not in the days of their prophecy

In other words, these witnesses will give a prophecy that it will not rain, and it won't.

This is kind of like what Elijah did during his ministry.

1Ki 17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, [who was] of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, [As] the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.

This didn't make Elijah very popular with Ahab, and in fact Ahab blamed Elijah for the drought, when in fact it was because of Ahab's sins.

James tells us:

Jas 5:16-18 Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

It's interesting to see that Elijah's drought was for 3 1/2 years too!

Lesson:

Pray!

Elijah was a guy just like you.

I've been reading Billy Graham's autobiography, "Just As I Am", and finding out that he's just a farmer from North Carolina. Yet a farmer who was open to God working in his life.

Kind of scary to think God may want to use me like that.

You too can pray like Elijah. Wow.

:6 waters to turn them to blood, all plagues

This is very similar to what happened during the ministry of Moses.

During his time of "witnessing" to Pharaoh, he called down the ten "plagues" upon Egypt, starting with turning the water of Egypt into blood.

Who are these "two witnesses"?

    1. Zerubbabel and Joshua
    2. Because of the tie in with Zechariah 4. The problem is that I'm not sure that the olive trees in Zechariah 4 is talking about Zerubbabel and Joshua.

    3. Elijah and Enoch
    4. The theory behind this theory is that the guys have to be people who haven't died before.

      Heb 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

      Elijah and Enoch were the only two guys in the Old Testament that supposedly didn't experience death, but were "raptured" or taken into God's presence.

      Ge 5:24 And Enoch walked with God: and he [was] not; for God took him.

      2Ki 2:11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, [there appeared] a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

      The problem with this is that there are instances where people have died twice - the widow of Nain's son, Lazarus, Dorcus, etc.

      It could be possible that God would resurrect someone but in an imperfect body, and allow them to see death again.

    5. Two unique individuals.
    6. Perhaps they've never been seen before.

      The problem is with identifying them with Zechariah's vision. They must be pre-existing individuals.

    7. Israel and the Church.
    8. Some see these as the "two witnesses".

      It's just that the passage doesn't seem to be handled symbolically, and it makes a point of making these two out as individuals.

    9. Moses and Elijah

This is by far the best in my estimation.

a) The miracles these two do are very similar to the ministries of Moses and Elijah.

b) They've done this before.

Matt. 16:28 - 17:5 - they appeared with Jesus already, as witnesses to who He was.

c) They are the chief representatives for the two main parts of Old Testament.

Jesus said,

Joh 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

This is a phrase used several times to refer to the Old Testament as a whole.

Mt 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

Joh 1:45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

Moses is the embodiment of the Law, and Elijah was top prophet.

    1. As to Moses' body, could this be why Michael and Satan fought over it?
    2. Jude 1:9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

    3. Elijah will show up sometime.

Mal 4:5-6 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Even though John the Baptist came in the "spirit of Elijah" (Luke 1:17), he was not the fulfillment of this prophesy (John 1:21).

:7 And when they shall have finished their testimony

It's not until their job is finished that the "beast" is allowed to kill them.

Lesson:

God's in control of my death.

I find comfort in the fact that God is in control of when I die. He will not allow me to die "before my time", but when my job on earth is done, that's when I go home.

We do not need to fear that we are going to be hit by some out of control truck, or that some burglar is going to sneak into my house and murder me in my sleep, unless it is simply my time to go. God is in control.

On the other hand, I'm not so sure I'd take up tight rope walking just to prove that.

Job 12:10 In whose hand [is] the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.

Sometimes we mourn over people who die young, in their prime, yet we know that it simply means that their job was finished.

When you're done with work, you head for home.

:7 the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit

This is the antichrist.

Re 17:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

:7 and shall overcome them, and kill them.

Warning to those who think that we can always command authority over demons and always win.

Are you saying that you have more authority than these two witnesses?

Are you saying that you have more authority than these two "anointed" ones who stand in God's presence?

:8 the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

This is obviously Jerusalem.

John identifies it himself.

These men will be killed, and their bodies left in the street.

:9 And they of the people shall see their dead bodies

This shows that the Gentiles are still in control of the city, since good Jews bury their dead the same day!

Some have suggested that this implies satellite television, for all the people of the world to see the dead bodies.

:10 shall rejoice over them and shall send gifts one to another

Hallmark and the merchants of the world will be happy to have a new holiday!

Your local mall will start stocking up for merchandise for "Dead Prophet Day".

UPS and the Post Office will be adding extra shifts for all the gifts being shipped!

Lesson:

Some people don't want to hear the truth.

It's sad but true.

There are some people that even though their fly is down, they don't want to hear about it.

These people, rather than taking the things said by these prophets and thinking about them, just want to forget it and party.

I would encourage you to be careful about closing your ears to "negative" things.

Pr 27:6 Faithful [are] the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy [are] deceitful.

Sometimes it's only your true friends that have the courage to tell you something unpleasant.

Don't be quick to turn them away.

:11 And after three days and an half

Their ministry lasted for 3 1/2 years, and God lets them lie dead for 3 1/2 days.

:12 to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

I wonder what the CNN guys are going to say to this when it happens!

They'll be watching.

:13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake

God is going to make sure that people get the point that they ought to get serious about what these men said.

Apparently this earthquake is localized in Israel, and 1/10 of Jerusalem is in ruins, with 7,000 people dead.

Some have suggested that with the wording here ("slain of men"), that perhaps the death toll is even greater, with 7,000 men dead, not counting women and children.

:13 the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God

Remnant - some translations have "the rest" here, but I think the term "remnant" may be appropriate.

This term is often used in the Bible to refer to the few believers that are left in a situation.

Whereas in some of the tribulation, men are unrepentant, apparently in this situation, there are some who turn to fear God and give Him glory.

This is the correct response to a situation like this!

Lesson:

Let your troubles turn you TO God.

These believers aren't exactly holding a party, because there's a sense of fear and awe as to what God is doing.

They are giving God glory in their tough circumstances.

:14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.

This is the finish of the sixth trumpet that started back in Revelation 9:12-13.