This is the fourth part in the Bible study series: End-Time Prophecy 101. The world will soon be turned upside down. Fire, beasts, war, earthquakes and plagues are prophesied to come. The book of Revelation says at the heart of these events are two witnesses. What can we know about these two? What is their purpose and how is it accomplished? Most importantly, how does it affect your life now? Join us for our Wednesday night Bible Study as we examine "Who are the Two Witnesses?".
[Steve Myers] Two men lie dead in the street. For three-and-a-half years, they've stopped the rain and condemned the world. The crowd around them cheers, sparking a celebration of their death. A party atmosphere breaks out and quickly spreads around the world. Their corpses are immediately seen around the globe through Instagram and Twitter. People share photos taken next to their remains. All of the calamity that they've apparently brought on the world has finally come to an end.
That's a vivid picture of what the Bible paints of a scene that lies ahead. But who are these two individuals? Are they really the source of international troubles that the world will soon see? Stay tuned to Beyond Today as we discuss who are the two witnesses.
Good evening everyone. That is the beginning to an upcoming Beyond Today program where we discuss the two witnesses. Welcome to our Bible study tonight. We are live now at our bi-weekly Wednesday night Bible studies. Our topics for the last few studies have been Prophesy 101. Tonight's subject is the two witnesses.
We're going to be covering the subject a little differently than we did on this upcoming program, so this will be something different as to that. We'll add to it, give some background, talk about a number of different issues. But we're still going to deal with the questions about these two individuals. Who exactly are they? Are they symbols? Are they just merely ideas that are trying to get some other point across? Or what exactly are they?
So that's our goal for this evening as we discuss who are the two witnesses. So as we begin our live Bible study tonight, let's ask God's blessing on our study and then we'll jump right into it. Okay.
So bow your heads. Great loving heavenly Father, God Almighty, thank You so much for Your wonderful ways. We thank You God for Your truth, love and mercy. We thank You God that You give us a window to look into the future, to have an understanding of what Your purpose and what Your plan is. So Father we pray for Your guidance tonight, we pray for Your inspiration on the words that are spoken and on the things that we hear, Father. Most importantly Father, not only to know whether it's some of the things that are on the horizon, but God, how that impacts our daily life. So please bless us and guide us, strengthen and certainly Father we pray for Your presence in this study tonight. We put it into Your hands and ask for Your guidance and pray all of these by the authority of our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
Once again, welcome everyone. We're going to start where that video left off. And that takes us to the book of Revelation. The book of Revelation is where you could say the litigation begins. The litigation on the court room, you might say, of the Supreme Court of God on this world.
When we look at Revelation 11, we're at the time of the Great Tribulation. We're at that time of the three-and-a-half years where it's going to be difficult times in this world. It will be a dangerous world, it will be a difficult world. This world will be in rebellion against God, and His people, God's people, will be persecuted at this time.
So as we look at Revelation 11, we could consider it a prophetic courtroom where testimony will be given. So here we find that the courtroom is now called to order. The witnesses are going to come to the stand. So when we turn to Revelation 11:3 Revelation 11:3And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth.
American King James Version×it says, “And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy 1260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”
So we have a connection here to Matthew 24 where Christ talked about a tribulation that was going to come. And we're told that tribulation will be for a time and times and a-half-a-time, adding up to 42 months in other references throughout the book of Revelation, 1260 days. Three and a-half-years for the Great Tribulation and the time where the witnesses have power from God.
So let's think about that for a moment. What is a witness? When the Bible here in Revelation 11 talks about a witness, what exactly is that referring to? If you were to look up the Greek word here, it's a pretty straightforward word, martus. Martus is the word that's used here. It's just M-A-R-T-U-S. And it has a connection to exactly what we've implied so far this evening. Is that it's about someone who gives testimony in a court of law. A witness gives testimony in a court of law.
So it's no different for these two witnesses. They're going to give testimony, now we could say, ultimately, in the Supreme Court of God, testimony against this world. In a way, they're witnesses for the prosecution. This world is going to be prosecuted for its crimes, for its sins. So these two witnesses are going to be testifying in the high court of God. So it's not a personal case. This isn't a personal problem that they're going to be testifying against. This is God's indictment. His indictment against anyone and everyone who would oppose Him. Who would oppose His way, who would oppose the true Gospel of God, who would oppose any aspect of the true God. They're going to indict this world.
Now, it's interesting that as you think about these witnesses, not just one. Not just one witness, there's two witnesses. Have you ever wondered why would God have two witnesses to give testimony? Isn't that kind of redundant? Just piling on? Why in the world would He have two witnesses?
I think an important aspect of this is the fact that these witnesses give true evidence, and that evidence is backed up. Not just by one man’s story, but here we have more than one testimony about the facts. The facts of the case are witnessed by more than one. In fact, this is the way God has intended to be all along.
If you turn with me back to Deuteronomy 19, we find way back when God's people were coming into a physical Promised Land, He gave them guidelines for how to judge situations. So if you were to go to court, you might say, in that day and have some accusation against someone, God had a way to get right down to the facts.
So if you turn to Deuteronomy 19:15 Deuteronomy 19:15One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sins: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.
American King James Version×, God gave them guidelines all the way at that time on how you verify information. If you're going to have some kind of judgment to be made, we have to make sure we're aware of the facts. And so in Deuteronomy 19:15 Deuteronomy 19:15One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sins: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.
American King James Version×, it says, “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits.”
So just because you say it happened, and there's only one of you, that doesn't amount to anything, does it? Because what do you think the other person is going to say? “I didn't do it, it wasn't me.” Right? So in order to verify that, God says, “By the mouth of two or three witnesses, the matter shall be established.”
So all the way back in Old Testament Israel, the truth was verified by at least two witnesses. They would verify the exact same story so that it would be true. It would be seen as being true. So they could be sure of that then that it's not just a made story.
In fact if you fast forward to Matthew 18, Christ said the same thing. Oftentimes people get this section of Scripture confused thinking it's talking about where two or three of you are gathered together there, my name will be. Christ said that in Matthew 18. He's not talking about a church service there, He's not talking about getting together at somebody's home.
If you read the whole context of this, it's pointing right back to Deuteronomy when He says, "This is how decisions are made. This is how judgment comes about. This is how you get down to the facts when there's two or more that are witnessing to the same testimony, the same story." In fact it so often times appears throughout Scripture.
In fact Jesus Christ verified His own ministry by this very fact. Do you remember how He sent out the 12 disciples, and they were to preach and they were to teach? How did He send them out? Did He just send them out one at a time? "Well, you go over there and you go over there, and you take this area, and you go over?" No, He sent them out two by two.
Two by two because they would verify the testimony. They would verify this is the true gospel that comes straight from God. You look over at Mark and it shows that very clearly. Mark 6 shows that that's exactly what Christ did. Then again He sent out 70 disciples, not just the 12, he also sent out 70 followers. Guess how he did it that time? Exactly the same. He also sent them out two by two, and the means of doing that points right to the same fact as we get to Revelation. That there will be no shadow of a doubt; the testimony of more than one witness will verify that this world is guilty. Guilty of absolute rebellion against God. That's the way to do it. God does it because it's right, it's good, and it's the truth.
There's a wonderful Psalm over in chapter 9:7 where it talks about God's truth and it talks in a sense, the Supreme Court of God that judges. How does God judge things? Well, it says very plainly, Psalms 9:7 Psalms 9:7But the LORD shall endure for ever: he has prepared his throne for judgment.
American King James Version×. He points that, "God judges the world in righteousness and He administers judgment for the people in uprightness."
So God does things truthfully, and when He prosecutes a case, as He certainly is going to do at the time of the end with these two witnesses, He will come to judgment. That judgment is fair, right, righteous, and good. And He points right to those two witnesses that are going to verify every single charge against this world, so there can be no doubt. There won't be any doubt; it will be an obvious conclusion to the matter.
Now, as we look at these two witnesses back at Revelation 11, it not only said there's going to be two. It not only told us the time frame that those two will be preaching, teaching, prophesying and witnessing, it also says they're going to be clothed in sackcloth. Now you might think, well that's kind of weird. They're going to have this rough cloth on as they're preaching and witnessing. Why would that be? Is that a literal thing or is that a figurative thing? I think maybe both, and we're not told too much about the literal aspects of this, but I could foresee a couple of people dressed in what the world would think is peculiar clothing that would draw attention to them.
But more important than the cloth itself is what it represents throughout the Bible. If you study into the aspect of sackcloth, it oftentimes referred to mourning. Those who had a great loss in their life would put on sackcloth, especially in the Old Testament time, and it would signify that they were in mourning.
Other times people would wear sackcloth when it signified repentance, that they were in a state of mind to try to get right with God. It also represented the fact that they were in poverty, and you could probably study the different variations of sackcloth and maybe even add to that list, but this idea of mourning, certainly the witnesses will be mourning for this world. They will be calling this world to repentance, and they themselves, I think in a sense, will be in poverty. You might say, well, why would they be in poverty? Not that they're physically poor or they're out of money or anything like that, but I think it points more to the sense of poor in spirit. When someone is poor in spirit, it points to the fact that they're humble. Not that they're lacking God's Spirit, but they're poor toward themselves in that sense. They don't hold themselves in high esteem. They are God's witnesses. They're not acting on their own authority; they're acting on God's authority, so they're humble.
So when you see this concept of sackcloth, I think we begin to see really what that gets to the point of. When you see sackcloth, I think that points to the fact that they are godly; that they have a godly perspective in their life.
Now, when I write equals, I'm talking especially here about the symbolism behind it. The symbolism behind the witnesses is that they give testimony. The symbolism behind sackcloth is that they're humble, that they are godly. They're individuals who have devoted their lives to God and they're going to act on God's behalf, by His power, by His authority and give the message that He wants them to give. So it points right to that very aspect.
Now, if you're still there in Revelation, take a look at verse 4. In Revelation 11:4 Revelation 11:4These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
American King James Version×, it gives more us information about these two witnesses. It tells us, "These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands, standing before the God of the earth." In fact if we take a sneak peek just a little bit lower down in the same chapter, down in verse 10, it also calls them, "these two prophets."
So we have two witnesses, two prophets also recognized as two olive trees and two lampstands. So we're given more symbolism about these two individuals. We know they're in sackcloth and that symbolically is representing that humbleness, that poorness of spirit, that these are godly individuals.
Then we tie in these aspects of, there's a lampstand that is pointed to and olive trees. How do those things interconnect with witnessing in court? What does that have to do with anything? I think one of the things it points to is an interesting section of Scripture that's found over in the book of Zechariah. If you want to turn with me over to Zechariah 4:2 Zechariah 4:2And said to me, What see you? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are on the top thereof:
American King James Version×, in Zechariah 4:2 Zechariah 4:2And said to me, What see you? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are on the top thereof:
American King James Version×, we jump into the middle of the story of a time when God's people were taken captive into Babylon.
The tribe of Judah and those with them were taken captive and Zechariah the prophet is the one who God calls to help lead them to rebuild Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. So in a dream in this section of Scripture, Zechariah envisions something that ties directly in with what we read over there in Revelation 11.
Let's notice Zechariah 4:2 Zechariah 4:2And said to me, What see you? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are on the top thereof:
American King James Version×. Here God says to Zechariah, "’What do you see?’ I said, 'I'm looking, and there's a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps.'" Verse 3, "’Two olive trees are by it. One at the right hand of the bowl and the other at its left.’ So I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, 'What are these things, Lord?'"
In a vision Zechariah sees two olive trees and a lampstand. I'm a terrible artist but I'm going to make an attempt at this. I'll be sorry about this. Okay, so let's say we've got an olive tree, it doesn't look like much. On the other side there's another olive tree, so we got two olive trees and there's some kind of a bowl in between these olive trees. These olive trees are providing oil to that bowl.
Now, there's a lampstand and that lampstand has seven lights, there's seven of them, seven lamps. And from this bowl, this is the part that gets a little tough, there's going to be little pipes. Little means to get that oil to those lamps. Now Zechariah probably was not seeing anything that looked like this. [laughter] But you kind of get the idea. What does that have to do with anything? You've got these two olive trees dripping oil to this bowl that are providing the oil for the lamps that are burning that oil. That's kind of what's happening. And we're given a little more information if we look a little bit down the line here to verse 14. We're given a little bit of the identity of what in the world is this supposed to mean because he paused the question, 'What are these?' Especially if he saw anything like I drew, he would say that, 'What are these?'
Well verse 14 tell us, 'These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth.' Now remember Revelation 11, it told us that they were standing before the God of all the earth. So we have that connection. So there's this connection that's drawn between these olive trees and the lampstand and the two witnesses in Revelation.
In fact even today, aren't olive trees and the oil that they produce known for purity? You can buy that beautiful, pure virgin olive oil. In fact they say that's one of the best things to cook with. And so no different here. That oil was very special and any good Israelite would have known, any good Jew would know that oil was used for very, very special things. Lighting the lamps that were in the tabernacle, lighting the lamps that were in the temple that came later. That special oil was also used to anoint the priests of God and set them aside for the service of God. It was used in anointing those who were sick.
So here we have these two witnesses, those two olive trees that are providing light for the lamps. So what's the source? The source is the oil. They're the source, at least pointing to the source of the fuel for the fire. In fact as we look for the symbolism behind these things, we can get an idea of what does that represent then. What does this oil point us toward?
We get some insight into that if we turn to Acts 10 to see another aspect of what this terrible drawing could mean. Acts 10:38 Acts 10:38How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
American King James Version×. If you turn over there, we can see some of the symbolism here. And I hope we can see how it connects with the two witnesses. Let's notice this in Acts 10:38 Acts 10:38How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
American King James Version×. We're going to kind of jump into the middle of the story because here Peter is talking about the promises of God and how Christ came along and what happened. In verse 38 he says, 'how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth.' How did He do it? “With the Holy Spirit and power. And He went around doing good and healing all those who were under the power of the devil because God was with Him.”
So we have this connection to anointing. That was done with oil. And even today when you look at James 5, anointing for the sick is done with oil. Setting aside someone for the work of the ministry, they're anointed as well in that sense with hands laid on them, setting them apart for service. So here we see it was done with oil. And what was that representative of? Well Acts 10: 38 points to exactly what it represents. He says “with the Holy Spirit.”
So this oil has a connection to God's Spirit. So we see the source, the lampstands that Revelation 11 talks about. Those olive trees that Revelation talks about. Points out the fact that they are two special servants of God. Two special witnesses who are appointed and set apart by God. They're given power. But it's not just power. They're given authority. These two witnesses are given authority, and where does that authority flow from? That really doesn't flow from the trees because there's a greater source behind this that's providing the life to begin with. What's the ultimate source? The power, the authority flows from God. And it flows through His Holy Spirit to those two witnesses.
So I think that's an important aspect. In order to witness the truth, in order to stand strong for God, that power has to come from God. It has to come through Him. And how does it happen for the two witnesses? The only means that's possible is through God's Holy Spirit. So those two witnesses are fueled, if you want to use it that way, they're fueled by God's Holy Spirit. And it is amazing when you begin to make those connections throughout Scripture, how many different passages can begin to jump out to you when you think of terms of light. And you think of a lampstand that's getting rid of the darkness and providing the brilliance of that light that can shine.
Over in the book of John, Christ even talked about that. Talked about Himself in the sense when He said, “While you have the light, believe in the light that you may become sons of light.” One of the interesting things back in Zechariah where it talked about this lampstand and the two olive trees. It talked about that they were sons of oil that through God's Holy Spirit, these two witnesses are going to provide light to this world. Just like Christ did.
I don't know if John 12 is really only pointing toward Jesus Christ. Certainly while He was alive, He had to look to Him, but today you look to God by His Holy Spirit. And these two witnesses at the end are going to be shining a bright light, a huge light to this dark, discouraged, distraught world. These two witnesses will definitely give testimony to the very fact that, through God's Holy Spirit, God will give light to humanity. Where can we find hope? It's not the darkness of this world. So the two witnesses will shine God's light in this dark, depressed, dreary, dismal world.
So I think that's an important aspect of what God says about them. In fact He gives us the same command, doesn't He? He says don't hide your light under a bushel or a bowl. I remember how Christ told us that. What do you do if you want your light to shine? You put it on a stand. You get it up and you let it shine. And what does it do? Once you have light, it gets rid of the dark. You can't have darkness when there is light.
So everywhere these witnesses are, they're going to be shining the light of the truth of the gospel message, the truth of the plan of God, the truth about what is righteousness, what is sin. They’re going to be pointing out the fact that that end time, that there's an evil power out here, that is going to be fighting against God's way. There's going to be false religion and a false political system as well that will be working everything they possibly can against God's way.
So, we have that testimony already, we've been given that testimony, and we have a responsibility to shine that light. If it has brought light to everybody in the house, that's part of our job then as well. So we can't just wait around for the two witnesses to shine where we are at. We’d better be shining right now.
It's also interesting, if you want flip back to Revelation 11. In Revelation 11 it also talked about these witnesses standing. That they stand before the God of the earth. We notice that as well when we look to Zechariah as well. “They stand before the Lord of the earth.” They're not talking about the god of this age. They're not talking about satanic forces or Satan himself or anything. They're talking about standing before the true God. They stand before the true God because ultimately God is the God of everything. He's the God of this earth.
And as we look at that, we can begin to see that whether it was priests, whether it was prophets, whether it was apostles or ministers or anyone. When they were godly, they stood before God and do His work. It's interesting to see some of the references in the Old Testament how God's priests, the Levites, stood before Him. They stood before God. In fact there's a reference over in Kings. If you look to 1 Kings 17, let's get another idea to expand this concept of standing before the Lord.
In 1 Kings, we have our first connection to the prophets that also give us additional understanding of what these two witnesses are all about. 1 Kings 17 right at the very beginning of that chapter. Oh, I’m in 7. Let's go to 17. 1 Kings 17 right at the beginning of that verse. You'll notice here how it points to this connection to the two witnesses. Who is it talking about here? He was going to tell us about Elisha. Did I say Elisha? Elijah.1 Kings 17:1 1 Kings 17:1And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
American King James Version×, it says, “Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab.” This is Ahab the king. He says, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand...” There it is.
He's standing before, not the king of the country, right? Physically he's standing there, but ultimately, ultimately who is it that Ahab is standing before? Well, says it pretty clearly right there. “Stand before the Lord God of Israel.” And that's a God that's alive, that's a God that's doing well. And so he points very clearly to the fact that he is standing. He is standing there. And whether it be Elijah or whether it be those priests or Levites or the prophets, they stood before God which ultimately meant that they were serving God. He wasn't there to bow before Ahab. He wasn't there to bow before the god of this world, he was there to represent and stand before the one true God. So they're standing there to serve God and to do his work. That's what his purpose was.
So we also begin to have this connection between Elijah and the two witnesses. Because we're going to begin to see that the work that Elijah did and the work that the two witnesses did have a lot of things in common. One of them to begin with is standing before God, serving God in this dark and terrible generation. They're going to be standing before God, standing fast, standing strong, doing the work and serving God and His people. In fact they're also serving the world. They're going to stand ultimately before this false political system of this world. We had a Bible study last time about Babylon the Great.
Babylon the Great ties into this because they're going to testify against Babylon the Great. That's representative of the system of this world. And so one last time, God is going to give them an opportunity to repent and change. So I guess in a way you could say it's about Babylon. The testimony that they're going to give is about Babylon the Great. This sinful society represented by a sinful dictator. The one who rules this political system that's part of the Beast, also represented as an individual, the political leader. As well as a false religious system. We'll have the False Prophet, another individual that the two witnesses stand against. In fact it's very interesting, and in the program that's going to air later on, we deal with that issue quite a bit throughout that program. We deal with the Beast, this political leader, and the False Prophet. There's two of them right? There's two of them. You think they're going to be telling everybody, “Oh! We're awful, we're awful, we're sinners. Don't follow us, we don't have any idea...”
No, they're going to be portraying themselves as what seems to be like godly men. They're going to put the best face on everything they're doing. They're going to seem to have the solutions to the world's problems. They're going to seem like the great saviors of this world. And yet we're going to have two witnesses of God that are testifying against them saying “No they're not. They're evil men.” But these men are going to be doing awesome miracles, amazing feats that are real. They're real. And yet the world has to come to some conclusion. Who is right? These two witnesses or this great political leader and this great religious leader? So it comes down to Babylon. It comes down to the satanic system that will be in place and the demonic leaders that are over it.
And so part of the key to the book of Revelation is understanding that concept of Babylon the Great and how God is ultimately going to put an end to it. God will not allow it to end human life. He's going to keep humanity from destroying itself. So part of the means in which He does this is through the work of the two witnesses, God's two witnesses.
In fact if we flip back the book of Revelation once again. Revelation 11. Let's pick it up in verse 5. In verse 5 we have more information about the two witnesses. It says, “If anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies.” How cool is that? That's perfect, that's pretty amazing. That's not just a Las Vegas smoke and mirrors magic show here. These are some amazing miraculous powers that God's witnesses are given. It says “fire proceeds from their mouth, devours their enemy. If anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner.”
That's another connection that takes us back to Moses and to Elijah. Remember we talked about Elijah and the miraculous things as he stood before the king, but he actually stood before God Almighty. That also makes us a connection between Elijah and Moses. There's a link between these things and the end time as well. Fire proceeds from their mouth. What does that have to do with? Is that something that is literal? Are they going to be like a fire breathing dragon and those giant bolts of fire out of their mouth and bam! These offenders are dead. Is that what happens? Is it a literal a figurative thing? Is it representative of something else?
Well. I think it could go either way, but it certainly points to a figurative interpretation. Yeah, it could literally happen. We certainly don’t want to sell God short. Would people stand up and take notice if something like that happened? If somebody said something, and wham! There it is. That'd be pretty scary.
There are many examples though in the Bible that point to a figurative interpretation. I don't know of anywhere in the Bible where it talks about human flame throwers. Is there anybody in the Bible that you know that literally did that? But events like it certainly happened.
We're going to look at the example of Moses. Early on, when Moses was leading the people out of Egypt taking them to the Promised Land. Remember one of the events that took place along the way? There was a time when the people began to get discouraged and questioned Moses authority, questioned his inspiration of God, questioned the fact that, “Well come on Moses. He's certainly not just working through you.” And so people like Korah came up in rebellion against, well not just Moses, against the men who represented God. And in fact it wasn't just Moses, it was also Aaron. “Was Aaron the only one that can be a priest before God, or what's the deal with that?”
So this connection is made between the two witnesses and Moses. Especially in this particular story of Korah’s rebellion with Dathan and Abiram. And it wasn't only them, there was also 250 men who were called men of renown. All the big names were with Korah questioning Moses. So in a sense you almost could see the camp of Israel turning against God's representatives. We know the world is going to turn against God's witnesses in the end. But over in Numbers 16, let's look over there quickly. Numbers 16:29 Numbers 16:29If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD has not sent me.
American King James Version×describe what happens here. And we'll see how it ties into these two witnesses. Numbers 16:29 Numbers 16:29If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD has not sent me.
American King James Version×, with this rebellion, they're questioning Moses authority. Moses says all right, let's put this in God's hands, let’s let God be the judge. Let's take it to the courtroom of God and let God judge this.
So Moses says, “If these men die naturally like all men,” These are the rebellious men – Korah, Dathan, Abiram, the 250. “If they just die like regular men, then the Lord has not sent me.” Verse 30, “but if the Lord creates a new thing and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them and they go down alive into the pit, then you'll understand these men have rejected the Lord.” Aha! Notice they didn't reject Moses. Who did they reject? They rejected God.
Verse 31, you'll never guess what happened. When he finished speaking all these words, bam, it happens. “The ground split apart under them, the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households, all the men with Korah and all their goods. So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit. The earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly.”
Then we have the understatement of the year “then all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, ‘Lest the earth swallow us up also!’” Wow, look out. That wasn't the end of the story though. Verse 35, “Fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering incense.”
So if you can imagine these 250 men were acting like priests. And I wouldn't doubt that Aaron was probably standing right in the middle of them, representative of the true priest of God, the true messenger of God. God throws down a firebolt, all of them die and Aaron is left standing. Do you imagine that kind of situation? Well it's definitely representative of Hebrews when it says our God is a consuming fire, bam! So there was an indictment against Korah and those who were in rebellion against God Almighty.
In fact not only the only story. We had Moses in that connection there, there's also a connection to Elijah. We read about him standing before God in that same scenario in 2 Kings 1 where he's standing before Ahaziah. We have Elijah telling him, 'Listen, you're going to die.' Ahazia fell through the roof and he inquired of a pagan god. He wants to ask a pagan god if he's going to live or not. Elijah intervenes and says “go tell your master he's going to die.”
Well, king didn't want to hear that, so he sends out 50 men and their captain, and guess what Elijah does? He says, “He's going to die. If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your 50 men.” Guess what happens? Bam! They're gone. Well, word gets back to the king, king doesn't like the word, sends out another 50 men and another captain. Guess what happens? Same thing repeats all over again. Fire comes down, bam! They're all wiped out. What does the king do? Well, then he's totally convinced, right?
No, let's try it again. Let's send out another 50 guys and a commander. So he sends them out; this guy is a little smarter, he begs for mercy, he pleads for mercy. So we begin to see this sounds like almost similar story from what we heard with Moses. And when we talk about fire from God, fire proceeding from their mouth, they spoke and God acted. And I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case with the two witnesses. That they will speak and God will act.
And it's literally as if the words themselves are bringing that fire. Because those that come against the two witnesses, those that came against Elijah or Moses, it wasn't just those men that they were after. It wasn't just the fact that there could be harm, right? God is not going to allow any harm to come to that. But it also points to the fact that the testimony, the words themselves are a kind of fire.
There's a passage in Jeremiah 5:14 Jeremiah 5:14Why thus said the LORD God of hosts, Because you speak this word, behold, I will make my words in your mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.
American King James Version×that points to that very thing. It says, “You speak the word and I will make My words in your mouth fire, and this people wood. It shall devour them.” That's Jeremiah 5:14 Jeremiah 5:14Why thus said the LORD God of hosts, Because you speak this word, behold, I will make my words in your mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.
American King James Version×, you can just write that one down if you'd like. The words are like fire. The word of truth. Because ultimately when you think about any of those that come up against the two witnesses, it says they're not going to be able to harm them because this testimony has to go out. And anyone that rebels against them, anyone that doesn't repent, says ultimately, they're going to be killed or tortured by fire. That might not happen immediately. We know that God often says you'll surely die, but doesn't mean immediately. Told that to Adam and Eve and it took about 1000 years before they surely died. But we know if the world doesn't repent and they don't change after having every opportunity, what's going to happen to them? Fire. The lake of fire ultimately.
So the two witnesses are going to testify against those who do not worship God. And they testify against those that don't care for God's values. They don't want to change. In fact it is about more than just fire as well. Look back to Revelation 11 once again. Revelation 11:6 Revelation 11:6These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
American King James Version×. So fire was one of those things that makes it very obvious that God is behind these men. But there's more. Chapter 11:6, it says, “Thse have power to shut heaven so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy. They have powers over waters to take them to blood and strike the earth with all plagues as often as they desire.”
So Elijah is standing before Ahab and Queen Jezebel. Do you remember that story? Elijah standing before them and he says, “Listen, I'm going to pray that it's not going to rain.” And for three-and-a-half years, guess what, it was pretty dry. Didn't rain at all. He got their attention, and in fact three-and-a-half years, 42 months, 1260 days, we have that same connection then back to the two witnesses as well. And Elijah and his story as he stands for the prosecution against Ahab, like the two witnesses will stand for the prosecution against this evil political system that's going to come, its oppressive leaders, and the immoral people.
So they'll continue to take the stand against this world. And not only like Elijah but also like Moses. Moses as a leader, Moses as the deliverer. He was God's representative and like these two witnesses, Moses stood before Babylon the Great of his day. He stood before the Beast, well not literally, but he stood before Pharaoh.
And do you remember what he said to Pharaoh? What was that phrase that he kept repeating every time he went before Pharaoh? Remember what it was? Charlton Heston said it all the time in the movie. “Let my people go.” Let my people go. Moses said that. What do you think the two witnesses are going to say to the political system, to the power, to the dictator, to the false religious system? God's telling them to let My people go.
So they're not going to confront just Pharaoh, they're going to confront this entire evil system of the world. And like Moses, God performs just phenomenal miracles. You remember the water turning to blood and the staff turning into a snake and all those amazing… The two witnesses, they're going to do the same thing. So like Elijah, no rain, like Moses, they could turn the water into blood. You're not just talking frogs and you're not just talking hail. It says all plagues as often as they like. As often as they like.
So these two witnesses will show the testimony against this world just like Moses did in front of Pharaoh. And anyone who's in rebellion against God will have that played out right before their very eyes. They're going to have to come to a decision. They're going to have to realize well, who is right and who is wrong?
Oftentimes you might think well, all right, he's just going to blast them with fire, they're just going to die from no water... [inaudible]
... seems to be why. Why would God be doing this? Well, He's certainly trying to open the eyes of the world, the hearts of the world. Open their hearing, open their ears. Spiritually these people have been blind, spiritually these people have been deaf. And before God executes sentence on this world, the witnesses give their warning.
So it's not just to destroy the world. Don't get that in your mind that it’s… Who's the destroyer? Who is the real destroyer? Who is the Abaddon? The destroyer is Satan, the devil. You see, Christ is warning this world through the two witnesses to help save them, to help bring them to repentance.
In fact, down in verse 7 of Revelation 11. Revelation 11:7 Revelation 11:7And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
American King James Version×it says, “When they finish their testimony,” when they finish their preaching, when that gospel of God has gone out to the world, an amazing thing will happen. It says “the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. Their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.”
So gives us the location of Jerusalem is where that's going to happen. Then like we saw in that beginning video, says, “peoples, tribes, tongues, nations will see their dead bodies for three-and-a-half days and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice. They'll make merry, they'll send gifts to one another because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.” It wasn't just the fire or the plagues that they tormented with, they were tormented by the truth of God that they didn't want anything to do with. “I don't want to live that way. I don't want to accept God's truth. I don't want to listen to that, I want to do what I want to do.” The political leader is going to do his own way. False religious leader, False Prophet, same thing.
And so here, the two witnesses are finally killed because ultimately the facts have been presented. All the issues of the case have been brought before the people. And this evil political system, and the evil political ruler with the False Prophet and the immoral people of the world will have nothing to do with it. They hate God's witnesses, they hate the truth, they won't accept the gospel.
And so when it seems like they've done away with it, they're thrilled, they're happy. They're rejoicing over it. But the problem is, they've been indicted. When you've been indicted, the prosecution rests. There is no more defense.
And so this world will be in defiance against God and will resist His authority. And it'll be so perverted at the time, they're going to celebrate thinking they won. Maybe Satan himself will be celebrating somehow. But you know the case isn't closed quite yet. Not quite yet. In order just to be sure, to be sure that there is no reasonable doubt. You see, sometimes that's the mark in court cases today. “Well, if there is a reasonable doubt, well, we can let him off.” But to be sure there's no reasonable doubt, God has an answer for that. What's the answer? Resurrection.
Resurrection, look at verse 11. “After three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, entered those two witnesses. They stood on their feet and great fear fell on those who saw them.” God shows the final proof that these men have been speaking the truth. They are God's witnesses. So finally there’s no more continuances, there is no more adjournment, there's no more acquittal. For this world it is case closed. Satan, his followers, his system, his religion, all convicted by the two witnesses.
Verse 18 shows us the ultimate results. “The nations were angry. Your wrath has come and the time of the dead that they should be judged and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth.”
So God points to the fact that, yes, He's patient. Yes, He wishes all men to come to repentance, but there is a time of judgment. And there's a time that Babylon the Great, the people of this world and its system, their iniquity, they're full to the brim and overflowing. Tells us that in Revelation 17. That's the time when there is no more patience. It is time for judgment. Because if God doesn't step in, that'll be it for humanity. We’ll annihilate ourselves, and God will not have that. He's not going to allow the world to self-destruct. And so He says, there is a punishment, there is punishment.
So ultimately, the case against the world will be closed. And as it's closed, God steps in and Christ returns. So powerful things. God's judgment and that punishment is something that is throughout, there is no time limit, it's timeless. So we saw that in the examples of Moses and Elijah. And it's not going to be different. Ultimately he will judge, and ultimately that time will come.
As we look at all these things you might say, well that tells a little bit of information about these two witnesses, who they are, what their job is going to be and what they'll be doing. But I think before we finish a little discussion about this, and we've just kind of touched the surface of some of the things here. We don't want to read the story and come to different conclusions about them and their message without recognizing the fact, there's a message for us in this as well. That God is speaking to us.
The testimony of the two witnesses, I don't believe is just for a future time to a future world to a future system to future false prophets. I don't think so. I think through this story, yeah, He shows us the two witnesses future responsibilities, but he also says there's something for us that we need to be doing. There's a number of things that we need to be doing. Just I think first of all just look at the scenario of where these two witnesses were preaching and teaching, how they were prophesying. They were not in a happy place. This was not a world that was welcoming them with open arms.
I think for us, it points to the fact that whatever is going on, whatever our surroundings, whatever the challenges that we face, whatever the situation, whatever the difficulties in our world. Whatever troubling difficulties, the challenges, the trials that we may face today. I think we've got to be like the two witnesses. That in the most difficult and trying of circumstances. In fact, when it seems like the whole world is against us. Ever felt like that in your life? That everything is against you? What do they do? You see for us, we can follow their example. And first and foremost, they honored God. They honored God. In fact, they were the epitome of what Zechariah talked about. We looked at Zechariah, he came to the conclusion that it wasn't by might, wasn't by their own physical power. But He says “by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”
So we're back to God's Spirit and whatever the times, whatever the challenges, whatever the difficulties may be, by the power of God’s Spirit, we can be like them and we can honor God no matter the situation. So in a way, they're not testifying to the future world out there, they're also testifying to us. They're testifying to us as well. And I think part of the lesson here is that we better listen to that testimony.
The Beast, the False Prophet, their system, the people in the future that have opposed God, they're not going to listen, they're not going to hear that warning message. Well, that warning message is going out already. The gospel of God is being preached, and if we listen to that lesson, we can’t help to respond to that lesson and that message. And that lesson for us is that we better repent, we better change, we better submit to God's Spirit and change our lives. Change our lives by taking that message to heart. We can begin to put on the mind of Christ like these two witnesses testify about. We can begin to do that very thing. And ultimately, like the two witnesses, remember one of the names that they were called there throughout chapter 11? Wasn't only that they were witnesses, talked about being prophets, but there was something else. Something else that I think that we can certainly take to heart is that they were servants. And when we honor God and we listen to His message and then we really have a repentant attitude, we're to be servants of God. Not just do nice things, but it identifies who we are. The two witnesses were identified as those who would give true testimony.
So it's not just about talking, not just about the things we say. It would have become evident after three-and-a-half years, well, are these guys legit or not? The three-and-a-half years, they would have been living the truth right before the whole world's eyes. Well, we have that opportunity now. We have that opportunity to do that very thing. To be true servants of God, to turn to God in whatever our life circumstances. To learn His way thoroughly in every situation. And most importantly then, to put it into practice in our daily life. Like the two witnesses, we’re to be that lampstand, shining that light of God.
And so I think in that sense, like the two witnesses, we're supposed to be the doers of the Word. We're supposed to be doers of that Word. And so when we're up against it, when we're up against the challenges, I think this can help us to maybe be like the two witnesses, think of the two witnesses when we are faced with challenges. When we are striving to honor God in everything that we do. How we live our life.
I think it's important to remember the two witnesses. Did God ever desert them? Did He ever say you're on your own? No, they were dependent on Him. That's what Hebrews 13 reminds us of. When we're up against the world, and it seems like it wants to drag us down. Hebrews 13:5 Hebrews 13:5Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.
American King James Version×it says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” God's going to stay with us just like He stood with the two witnesses. And then we can say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Well we know the two witnesses, they got killed. Dead. But it didn't matter, did it? It didn't matter because the two witnesses took the promises of God, and they had their confidence in God. God protected them in all and ultimately, they had the resurrection. We have that same promise. And so we can have that same promise that Hebrews 13:5-6 Hebrews 13:5-6  Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.  So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me.
American King James Version×talks about. God is our helper, I won't fear, because whatever man can do to me, it's not permanent, it's not going to last. God has the ultimate solution. So we can take Hebrews 13 to heart.
Now we concluded our program with another little video, so maybe we could play that as we conclude the Bible study tonight, and then I've got just one more word right after that.
There will come a time when two hated men of God will lie dead in the street. The world will cheer and celebrate their death, but that's not the end of the story. Just about the time everyone believes that they have been the evil ones, the breath of life from God enters into them and they stand on their feet. These two righteous witnesses are resurrected to life, proving the testimony of God. There is no doubt God will bring judgment. He'll bring truth and justice. The prophesy of the two witnesses reminds us that God always stands by His Word and His promise.
[inaudible] I think it should help put us in the frame of mind that we need to be in. That we are always honoring God, that we're listening and repenting and becoming righteous servants of God that are doing His will and His Word, living by that Word every day with the confidence that God is always going to back us up.
So I think in our lives, it should bring us to a frame of mind that we are thankful people. We are thankful to God, and we should thank God that He always stands by His Word and His promise. We should thank God that He's going to stand by us always, in all times, in any and every personal challenge that we face. And we should thank God for His help and for His guidance in our life. And we can certainly thank God for His promise. His promise to save us and His promise to deliver us. And I think if we keep those things in mind, it will help each of us to be a true witness of our great God.
That will conclude the Bible study for tonight. We do have another Bible study on Prophecy 101 that's going to be coming up. But instead of bi-weekly, it's actually going to be three weeks away. So three weeks from tonight, on January 7th, will be our next Bible study. Mr. Gary Petty is going to delve into the topic of false prophets. So we've touched on this and I think all of the prophetic Bible studies that we've been having. Gary is going to get into the False Prophet, talk about various false prophets throughout Scripture as well and how that relates to future end time prophecy as well. So don't miss the Bible study in three weeks. January 7th same time, same place. We will look forward to seeing you there. Have a great evening.