How do you establish the facts or the truth? Why are two witnesses important?
[Steve Myers] One of the most interesting sections of Scripture I think is found at the very end of the Bible. In fact, if you tried to zero in on a section of the book of Revelation that might be the most provocative, you might just choose chapter 11. Chapter 11 in the book of Revelation is a section of Scripture that encourages us to establish the facts because there’s coming a time, not very long from right now, that this whole world is going to be turned upside down. There will be many Alaska’s happening, many earthquakes, there’ll be wars, rumors of wars, plagues. It’ll be a time of tribulation. And at the very heart of those events, we find what is in chapter 11 in the book of Revelation, at the center of this are two witnesses. So what exactly are these two witnesses? What is their purpose? How is it going to be accomplished? Is this something that we should take figuratively? Is there just symbolism involved or is this something that’s literal? Is this reality or simply a symbolic thing that’s taking place here in Revelation 11?
Well, let’s step back for a little bit this afternoon and truly establish the facts. Because if you can begin to imagine the scene that’s painted in Revelation 11, it’s like a litigation, a litigation that takes place in the courthouse of this world. The time is the beginning of the great tribulation. It is a dangerous world, a rebellious world, a world that is in revolt against God and a world that is persecuting true believers. It’s a prophetic section of Scripture where in a sense, God calls this courtroom of this world to order. In fact, if you turn to Revelation 11 with me, we’ll begin in verse 3. Now, imagine this scene in the courtroom, 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, ”I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” So God says during this time that the tribulation begins, there’ll be two martus , is the Greek word there to witnesses. And literally that word martus is the same word that in English we get the word martyr. There’ll be two witnesses, two individuals that ultimately will be martyred and we’ll give testimony. If you were to look that word up in a Greek word dictionary, most every one of them would point to someone who gives testimony. And of course, where do you give testimony? In a court of law. In a court of law, you are called to tell the truth.
So here we have God’s two witnesses, “my two witnesses” called to give their testimony. In fact, if you think about this courtroom setting, who do these two individuals represent? Well, they represent the prosecution. They’re witnesses for the prosecution. In one sense, they’re testifying for the High Court of God. That’s who these witnesses are giving their testimony. This is not a personal case. This is not an individual thing. This is God’s indictment against all opposers, against all those who oppose God in the entire world. And if you notice something interesting, one isn’t enough, it’s going to take more than one. Why would there be two martus ? Why two called to testify against this world. Well, God established that all the way at the very beginning. In fact, as God’s people, were readying themselves to come into the Promised Land, He told them 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×that there was a special reason why there needed to be more than one witness, more than one giving testimony. Take a look at 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×, we’ll see that there’s an important reason for the fact there is two and definitely more than one.
Notice 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; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.” So God sets us up very clearly. In other words, if we’re going to verify the evidence, if this is proven to be true, it takes more than just one. There has to be multiple witnesses, and this wasn’t just an Old Testament Old Covenant kind of thing. Jesus Christ said exactly the same thing in the New Testament.
Take a look at Matthew 18:16 Matthew 18:16But if he will not hear you, then take with you one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
American King James Version×, oftentimes it comes to mind, Matthew 18 would be that going to your brother’s section of Scripture. Well, Christ does point to that concept of how do we verify what’s true? How do we know what’s fact? How do you establish the fact? Well, Christ actually rehearses Deuteronomy 19 right here in Matthew 18:16 Matthew 18:16But if he will not hear you, then take with you one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
American King James Version×when He talks about going to someone about their sins. Verse 16 he says, ”If he will not hear, take with you one or two more,’’ so if you go by yourself and then you take one or two more, we’ve got two or three witnesses and then he actually quotes, 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’s also found in Deuteronomy 17:6 Deuteronomy 17:6At 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.
American King James Version×as well, but he says, “by the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word may be established.”
So here we have the same setting. How do you establish the facts? How do you establish the truth? He’ll even say it again a little bit later. Look down in verse 20, he says, ”For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” You see, there are those that misunderstand that passage. Sometimes they’ll think that that means well, if you stay home from church or have your own little church group or have a living room church of God, that it’s verified and it’s okay to have two or three gathered together in His name. No, that is not what this is talking about whatsoever has nothing to do with a church meeting or a church gathering. It has everything to do with establishing fact. It’s about testimony. It’s related to this whole concept of establishing the truth in a setting so you can verify things. You can verify the evidence. That’s what this is about. And in fact, we find Christ didn’t just talk about it, He exemplified exactly the intent. Think about it for just a moment.
There was a time where Christ sent out the disciples. He sent out the 12, you remember that scenario where He did that? He sends out the 12 disciples in Mark 6:7 Mark 6:7And he called to him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;
American King James Version×you don’t need to turn there, but you know how He sent them out. Did He just say, “Hey guys, I just want you all go out wherever you’ll go by yourself. Take care of business, preach the truth,” all that sort of thing? No, that’s not what He did. How did He send them out? By twos. He sent them out by twos, so it would fulfill exactly what he’s talking about. If we’re going to testify about the truth of the gospel, it should follow this same example that there needs to be more than one. So He sent out the disciples, the 12 in twos. In fact, He also sent out 70 to represent the truth of the gospel. How did He send them out?
Well, if you read Luke 10:1 Luke 10:1After these things the LORD appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, where he himself would come.
American King James Version×it says ”two by two.” Two by two, they were also sent out. And so what that begins to tell us when we have two witnesses, God shows without a shadow of a doubt, without a shadow of a doubt this is the truth. And when we come to the two witnesses in Revelation 11, it cannot be doubted. This world is guilty as charged. That’s what God is saying. And in fact, as God looks at this world and He sends out these witnesses, it’s not like God is some slick, modern-day prosecutor. You know, we’ve all seen the programs that you’ve got the slick prosecutor and he pulls every trick out of the book in order to get his clients off. Now that’s not the way it is, it’s not like that at all. When you look at the kind of prosecution that God presents against this world, I think Psalm 9 tells the story about the kind of case that God presents.
Look over at Psalms 9:7 Psalms 9:7But the LORD shall endure for ever: he has prepared his throne for judgment.
American King James Version×. In Psalms 9:7 Psalms 9:7But the LORD shall endure for ever: he has prepared his throne for judgment.
American King James Version×, in fact, this is part of a song that will often sing at church services. Psalm 9 tells an interesting story when it comes to testimony. So this song of David, you probably recognize it at the beginning. Lord, I will praise you with my whole heart. Well, it goes on then to tell about how God will judge. Notice verse 7, Psalms 9:7 Psalms 9:7But the LORD shall endure for ever: he has prepared his throne for judgment.
American King James Version×, it says, ”the Lord shall endure forever;’’ He’ll endure forever. “He has prepared His throne for judgment.” In verse 8, ”He shall judge the world in righteousness, He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness.” That’s not some slick prosecutor. When God prosecutes a case, and when He comes to judgment, it’s just, it’s fair. The verdict that way can be indisputable. There is no doubt about what’s right. God establishes the facts in righteousness and justice. In fact, in chapter 11 in the book of Revelation, it even tells us about the character of these witnesses, not only the fact that they’re called to give testimony in the courtroom of this world, but it also speaks to the kind of individuals these really are that points to the fact that these are too literal human beings that are giving this message.
Go to Revelation 11 once again, we’ll remind ourselves what it said there in verse 3 about these individuals. 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×, God says He’ll “give power to [these] two witnesses and they [would] prophesy for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.” How? It says, ”clothed in sackcloth.” So these two individuals, at least symbolically are wearing a certain kind of clothing. Well, what was sackcloth? If you go back throughout the Bible, you’ll find it often is connected to repentance. It’s often connected to someone that may be mourning over someone that has died. Oftentimes it’s connected to those who are in poverty or those who are poor, not physically speaking though, but sometimes those that are poor in spirit. So when we connect that to these two witnesses, I think that symbolism really rings true that these are two individuals that are relying on God for their direction. They are humble individuals who are seeking the repentance of this world. So these two godly individuals symbolically are humble in mourning for the deceit and the destruction that’s coming upon this age, to come upon this world. And so even their clothing symbolically represents what’s happening in the world around them.
And also, I think speaks to their character. In fact, next, notice what it says in verse 4. It says, ”These are the two olive trees” so these two witnesses are “two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.” Now, these symbols certainly are ones that we don’t want to overlook. These are serious, significant symbols that also point to the characteristics of these two representatives of God. In fact, it points us back to a time when there were two lampstands, that there were two olive trees and the representation of what those olive trees and those lampstands actually stood for. You remember a time in a vision that was pointed to by this particular vision, this idea of two lampstands and two olive trees?
Well, if we go to the book of Zechariah, Zechariah 4, it points to the time when God’s people were taken captive into Babylon. So after they came into the Promised Land, there was all this disobedience. God warned them and warned them. Ultimately, Israel was taken into captivity and so was Judah. Well, in Babylon, God finally released His people from Babylon, and one of the individuals that were at the heart of that story was Zechariah, Zechariah the prophet. And Zechariah the Prophet helps lead the people out of Babylon back to Jerusalem in order to rebuild the temple. And as this process is going on, Zechariah has a dream. And in chapter 4 of Zechariah, we’re told about that dream. And you’ll never guess what appears in this dream. Okay. Maybe you will guess what appears in this dream.
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×, this angel says to Zechariah, ”What do you see?” And he 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.” So if you can imagine the picture here, we’ve got a lampstand. And then not only that, verse 3, “‘Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left.’ So I answered, spoke to the angel who talked to me saying, ‘What are these, my lord?”’ So if you can imagine the picture, we have two lampstands, the lampstands are there one… here’s one lampstand of solid gold, a solid gold lampstand and it’s being fed fuel to burn. What is the fuel? It’s oil, oil that’s coming and piped to it by these two olive trees. So we’ve got two olive trees feeding this lampstand and then we’re shown that oil is their fuel. In fact, if we skip down just a little bit, notice what it says in verse 14 as it describes what is this symbolic of? What is this about? Like Zechariah asked, what is this? Well, we’re given their identity in verse 14, these are the 2 who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth, to serve the Lord, those that are standing before the God of the earth. Literally, if you have a marginal reference here, it’s interesting what it says about those who are anointed. Literally, that means “the anointed ones” or “the sons of fresh oil.”
So these two are sons of fresh oil, obviously representing these two trees. In fact, even today, isn’t olive oil kind of looked at as something that’s pure? People go to the store and they buy Virgin Olive oil and they cook in it because you have the wonderful characteristics of that beautiful oil. So purity is certainly a connection here. And so this oil that oftentimes throughout Scripture used in ordaining God’s priests, using and setting apart kings, used in anointing those who need healing, that oil is representative of the Spirit of God, that God’s Spirit ultimately is the source. And these trees are representative of these witnesses who through the power of God’s Spirit, the source will serve men. So when we have olive trees and then this lampstand, it’s representative of these two special servants appointed by God and given power, given authority that flows not from themselves, but from God’s Holy Spirit. So that they may witness to the truth. They may be a witness to the world, that they may be like a lampstand. What does a lampstand do? What brings light? He put that on fire. You have a wick in it and it burns. And Christ himself said that very thing. “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” Christ said that in John 12:36 John 12:36While you have light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light. These things spoke Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.
American King James Version×. We’re to be sons of fresh oil ourselves to become sons of life. And when you look at Revelation 11, what an amazing reminder, these two lampstands are to be a bright, shining light in this dark, dreary, dismal world that has turned its back on God. And they’re to give testimony of how God’s Spirit, the fuel of that light, how God’s Spirit brings light to humanity in its darkened state.
And so Christ said, no wonder, you don’t put that light under a bowl, you don’t put it under a basket, you put it on a stand and it shines to everyone in the house, to all in the world. And so what were the witnesses told to do? Stand. Stand. Stand before the Lord of the earth. Stand before the God whom you serve. And so whether it’s a priest, whether it’s a prophet, whether it’s a minister, whether it’s a king, whether it’s an apostle, you stand, you stand, you’re called to the stand. Is that what happens in a court case? You’re called to the stand and you’re to tell the truth. These witnesses are called to the stand to be a witness to the truth, to give testimony to the truth of God. And they stand strong for God’s way. And so we see this connection between lampstands and olive trees. But when you look at Revelation 11, it doesn’t stop there either. There’s more to it than just that. In fact, as we read what it says in Revelation 11, we see in verse 6, they have power to shut heaven, which harkens us back to a different time, to a different place, to different individuals.
Was there ever a time in biblical history where it stopped raining? Well, there was a number of times, but the one that interconnects here with these two witnesses we can find mentioned in 1 Kings 17. You want to hold your place here in Revelation 11. Go back to 1 Kings 17.
In 1 Kings 17, we have part of the story of the prophet Elijah. And at 1 Kings 17, interesting circumstances take place. Of course, we’re at the time of Ahab and Jezebel, horrible time of disregard for God’s way. Evil king in the kingdom, one of the most evil women may be best known evil women in the Bible. And we find Elijah. And notice what it says about Elijah and the particular wording that’s recorded for us. Here, Elijah comes to Ahab and notice what he says, “As the Lord God…” this is in verse 1, 1 Kings 17, ”As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” And so when we read Revelation 11, we can’t help but think of 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×, where Elijah prays standing before God and the rain stops, the rain stops and it stops for three and a half years. It stops for years at his word.
And so when we tie this back to this time that lies just ahead of us, you take a look at, well, let’s go back there, Revelation 11 once again. These witnesses are also on the stand. They’re also standing with God against this world. And we find it’s a warning witness. It’s a witness that is brought before this world. What kind of world do we live in? Oftentimes throughout the Bible, this world is compared to Babylon, not the Babylon that enslaved Judah. But now we’re talking about Babylon the great, this whole satanic system of this world is going to be warned one last time. And these two witnesses stand and warn Babylon the great. And throughout the book of Revelation, you find Babylon is at the heart of the warning message of Revelation. And so they stand and warn the entire world, the entire system of this world in a way representing the fact that God is not going to allow humanity to destroy itself. God’s in charge. And even though this world is worshiping this system of the dragon, man’s own world, the satanic system of the beast, God will not allow it to destroy itself to take all human life.
And so these two witnesses stand before and testify to that very fact. Notice verse 5, Revelation 11:5 Revelation 11:5And if any man will hurt them, fire proceeds out of their mouth, and devours their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
American King James Version×, ”If anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. If anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner.” So here we find these two witnesses as God’s representatives. They’re like a Moses. They’re like an Elijah, and it’s no accident that this connection is made between them. This is not just a coincidence because we find this connection between their testimony and how they represent God’s way. Both of them, Moses and Elijah bring back many powerful acts that occurred in history. I mean, think about these amazing acts that happened under Moses. Was there anything like this that happened during the time of Moses? It says, ”If anyone wants to harm them, there’s going to come fire.” Did that happen? Well, it did, absolutely did.
I mean, you don’t find necessarily a human flame thrower in the Bible opens her mouth and whew, here comes! That sounds kind of like a cool movie effect though, doesn’t it? Little C.G.I. going on there. Now, that’s not what they’re talking about. You can’t help but think of that time of Korah’s rebellion. And without getting into all the details, if you want to turn to Numbers 16, it details that rebellion that took place because there were many people who doubted God was leading Moses, doubted Aaron and Moses and whether or not they were being led. Well, isn’t everybody’s the same? Doesn’t God work through everybody in the same way? That was their hypothesis. But you know, as the witness was presented, that wasn’t the case at all. So Dathan and Abiram, Korah, all revolted 200 men, 250 men of renown revolted ultimately against God, against the authority that God had given Moses.
And so it comes down to that critical point that they’ve already been witnessed to, “Follow God. Don’t lean to your own understanding,” but they wouldn’t do it. They wouldn’t hear it. “No, we’ll take it upon ourselves.” So ultimately, we get down to verse 29 in Number 16 and Moses says, “If these men die naturally like all men, or if they’re visited by the common fate of all men, then the Lord has not sent me. I’m not a true witness then. Don’t believe a thing I say then.” But verse 30 says, ”If the Lord creates a new thing, if 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 that these men have rejected the Lord.” They’ve rejected not just Moses, but they’ve rejected God. They’ve fallen for their own system of beliefs.
Well, what happens, well we know the story. Verse 31, ”It came to pass, he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, and all their goods. So they all,” it says ”all of those with them went down alive into the pit; earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly.” I mean, could you imagine, wow, what a conclusion to a sermon. It actually happens. It takes place. But that wasn’t the end of the story. Verse 34 says, ”All Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “Lest the earth swallow us up also!’’ Verse 35 then, ”And a fire came out from the Lord and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense.” So those that took it upon themselves took their own authority. Fire came from God.
And so when you think about what will happen in the future, see, rather than fire coming directly out of their mouth… Moses said it. God did it. It was accomplished. It was done. And so they were standing with God. They were standing with God and you can’t help it. Where is it? Hebrews 12:29 Hebrews 12:29For our God is a consuming fire.
American King James Version×where it says, ”Our God is a consuming fire.” Now you don’t mess around. You don’t mess around with falsehood, you don’t mess around with taking authority to yourself. You follow God and the way that He wants to be worshiped. Moses spoke and God did. These two witnesses will speak and God will do the work, like a Moses, like an Elijah. In fact, there was a similar situation that occurred with Elijah. Now instead of the earth opening up, in Elijah’s case, there was a fire circumstance in Elijah’s prophecy.
You want to turn to 2 Kings this time. Go over to 2 Kings 1. In 2 Kings 1, we have a similar occurrence with fire. Now, we’re at a different time setting. Now, we’re in the time of King Ahaziah. This was a bad king. He has a fall. He’s injured, looks really serious. Is he going to live? Is he going to die? Instead of turning to God for His testimony, he wants to ask a pagan god. Well, there is no pagan god, there’s no reality of that. But he turns to the wrong source. Elijah intervenes by God’s direction. God says, “Elijah, go talk to him.” So what does he do? Tell him he’s going to die. Tell us, man, he’s going to die. So Elijah comes to the scene. Ahaziah doesn’t want to hear anything. So instead of seeing him directly, he sends 50 soldiers out to meet Elijah. What happens? Well, in 2 Kings 1:10 2 Kings 1:10And 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 you and your fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.
American King James Version×, “Elijah answers and says to the captain of fifty,” see if this sounds familiar, ”If I’m a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” Now, that sounds like what Moses said to those people of Korah and the rebellion there.
Okay, what happens? Well, I just spoke, God does, “fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men.” You think that would be pretty strong testimony for Ahaziah, right? Nope. So he sends out another 50 men. We get down to verse 11, a second group of 50 go out. Same thing happens. Elijah says, ”If I’m not a man of God, okay, then fire will come down.” Fire comes down, consumes them. Well, that should certainly convince him, well, it doesn’t. Sends out another 50 men, but the testimony at least did convict one guy. Yeah. If I was the captain, I wouldn’t just, I saw it happen twice. I’m not… The third captain, verse 13, got the testimony. He understood it and he begs for mercy. He begs for mercy. What does God want from this world when the two witnesses appear on the scene? You see, this world is in need of mercy. They are need of repentance. That’s what God wants. God wants to show His mercy to this world, but unfortunately, like the captains of those two sets of 50, this world doesn’t get it. You see, the intent of the king was to stop the profit, to stop Elijah, but God’s not going to allow that to happen with His witnesses any more than He allowed it to happen with Elijah. And those two witnesses are going to replicate those miracles and their words are a powerful thing, that God answers.
And so we see a literal fire come down from heaven and consume those that would oppose themselves to God. So I think that’s certainly a part of what’s going to happen in the future. Now, I think as well, there is a figurative interpretation that also fits, that probably go hand in hand that it’s literal and figurative. And we can see a little bit of that at the time of Jeremiah. 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×, it tells us a little bit about the words themselves that are spoken. Notice, Jeremiah 5, God gives instructions to Jeremiah and he’s prophesying hoping that people will listen, but we know the story. They don’t pay any attention. They ignore Jeremiah’s prophecies that God has given him. And by the time we get down to verse 14 of Jeremiah, God says something interesting, ”Thus says 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.’” So now He’s not talking literally this happening, but figuratively, the Word of God burns. It should be something that burns in our mind and our hearts so that we obey, and we repent, and we change. That’s the intent. But if we don’t change, we don’t repent, there is a sentence. When the two witnesses speak, if there is no change, eventually those words catch up with them and it will burn them. It will burn. And that’s been the story of man throughout history, hasn’t it?
And I said, “Oh, I don’t know about that. Didn’t God tell Adam and Eve they’d truly die and they didn’t drop dead the next day?” Well, they didn’t drop dead the next month or the next year or 5 years or 10, 100 years. Well about 1000 years later or so, did they die? Yeah, they surely did. They did die. It catches up with you. God’s Word is a fire and it does catch up. Anyone that comes against the witnesses that will not repent will not change, it says they will be killed. And ultimately, think about the ultimate end of the story. If people will not repent, they will not change. They totally willfully turn their back on God. What’s going to happen to them? Well, they will be burned. There is a lake of fire and they will be killed or ultimately the angelic realm, the demonic realm will be tortured by fire, by that lake of fire.
And so this testimony the witnesses ultimately give goes against those who do not worship God, do not value God’s way of life, do not trust in God. And so when we look at the two witnesses, powerful things happen because God backs them up. And by the power of the Holy Spirit, tremendous things happen. We go back to Revelation 11, we’re reminded of what it says in verse 6 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×, we remember what we read about the rain. It says, ”These two witnesses have the power to shut heaven.” In verse 6, chapter 11 of Revelation, “so no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.” Okay. Plagues, waters to blood. Does that take us back somewhere again? Yeah, it takes us back to Moses. Maybe takes us back to Elijah and Ahab and Jezebel.
James is where it reminds us how long it didn’t rain. James 5:17 James 5:17Elias 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.
American King James Version×, we’re reminded there. Elijah prayed and no rain fell for three years and six months, 1,260 days. It didn’t rain. You think God’s going to get the intention of this world? It’s not going to rain. There’s going to be water turned to blood. And like Egypt plagues, whether it’s blood or whether it’s frogs or whether it’s locust or whatever it may be that’s going to come, it’s going to be like the time of Moses. And Moses went to Pharaoh. He was to be the deliverer of Israel. He was their leader. He was God’s representative and like these two witnesses, Moses went to Pharaoh and he basically had one short little sentence for Pharaoh. You remember what that was? What was he to tell Pharaoh? “Let my people go.”
What’s the message of the two witnesses? See, that message is for Satan and the satanic system of this world. Let my people go. See, God doesn’t want to give His people up. God wants everyone to come to repentance. So God performed phenomenal things back in Egypt, and these two witnesses will testify against the rebellious world around us. And the intent is for them to change, to open the eyes, open the ears of those who are spiritually blind and spiritually deaf. And before the sentence can be executed, the witnesses have to give their testimony so that there’s an opportunity to change because after all, doesn’t God want to save all? I mean, He sent a Savior. He didn’t send a destroyer. God sent Jesus Christ to save this world. We know who the destroyer is, right? It’s not God.
So we get to 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×. We find they finished their testimony. The message has gone out. Then 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 spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt,” interesting connections there. Sodom and Egypt, the Babylon of this world’s system that’s coming. He says, ”also where our Lord was crucified.” Jerusalem. “Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies 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 over them, they’ll make merry, send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.” Boy, it gives us a sense of the mindset of this world. The people of this world, they don’t want to hear it, they wanted nothing to do with it. In fact, they’re so perverted that after the case is presented and these two witnesses die, this evil system, this political system, this wrong religious system as well, has been convicted. This wicked leader, this dictator plus this false prophet, they all hate the witness of God and they stand charged before Him. And yet they celebrate. They celebrate the death of God’s people. And in defiance, they continue their rebellion and they’re so perverted, they celebrate in a sense the death of good. They think they’ve overcome good. Doesn’t Satan think he can overcome God? Yeah, they think they’ve won, but the indictment stands. They stand charged. They will not worship God.
But we find the case is not quite closed yet. You see, God’s going to show them beyond any doubt, not even a reasonable doubt, beyond any doubt. God is true. And so when we look down to verse 11, notice verse 11, it says, ”Now after three-and-a-half days the breath of life came from God entered them, they stood on their feet and great fear fell on those who saw them.” So to demonstrate, there is no doubting God, these two witnesses are resurrected, proof that God speaks truth. And so at this point, there’s no more continuance, there’s no more adjournment, there’s no acquittal, it’s time to close the case. Satan, his followers, his system stand convicted.
Verse 18, ”The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, 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.” And so we begin to see God’s judgment stands. His punishment is timeless. Punishment for sinners doesn’t change. God demonstrates how patient, how loving, how kind He is. And He waits. He waits and he waits, for what Revelations 17:4 says until that cup is full, until Babylon’s golden cup is full of abominations. Not just partly there, but that it’s full. And He says, ”That is right at the very top.” That’s when He steps in. He will not allow humanity to self-destruct. And ultimately, Jesus Christ returns.
And so the two witnesses point to that very fact. And ultimately, when we establish the facts, we recognize, all right, these are the facts of what is going to occur. And as we look at this, I think it’s important to recognize God’s speaking not to just what’s going to happen in the future because undoubtedly these things are true. Christ predicted it, and whether we look at Luke 21 or Matthew 24, these things are coming, these witnesses will come on the scene. They may be alive today. We don’t know. We know the world is careening that direction and it’s not getting any better. There’ll be many Alaska’s to come, many more wars and rumors of wars. But when God establishes the facts, I think we must step back and say, “This is not just about some future event that’s around the corner. Part of what we need to recognize is that God’s speaking to us. He’s speaking to us. Yes, these things are coming down the line, but there’s also a witness for you and for me as well. I think first, what God is reminding us is there is a job for us.
These two literal human beings will have a responsibility to stand and witness to this world. Do we have any less of responsibility? I mean, we won’t be doing it this way, but are we to stand as a witness to God’s way of life now? I mean, no matter what our surroundings, no matter what the situation, no matter how troubling the times are or no matter how good they are, are we to be an honor to God? Are we to stand as a light to this world? Aren’t we to utilize God’s Spirit and show to the entire world around us, the world that we come in contact with, that we’re different, that we’ve listened to the warning witness, we understand what God’s purpose is, we stand in repentance. We repent before God and are true servants, and it’s reflected in what we do and what we say, and how we live our life, how we treat people. It’s evident in our relationships. And God’s given us that job to stand as witnesses that we’d put His way into practice in our life so that we don’t found wanting when we stand before God.
So we’re to be like this lampstand. That oil of God’s Spirit is to flow through us. So that light is burning bright and shining to this world. In fact, it reminds us of the two witnesses, they were true witnesses. The Bible has a lot to say about bearing false witness, doesn’t it? I think when we establish the facts, if we’re God’s people, we have a job that we’ve been given to do, but we don’t bear false witness. Doesn’t that mean more than just don’t lie? You know, that’s one of the big 10, no doubt. Don’t bear false witness. We’re told not to do that. But if we only relegate that to the ninth commandment, I think we miss part of the point. We’re not to bear false witness. We’re to be who we are, true servants of God. We’re evidence that God is doing a work that every one of us who have received God’s Spirit are representatives of the work that God’s doing. Our life is a representation. So not only do we support His work, we are His work. We’re living breathing example of God at work in a human being. And so we don’t bear false witness. In other words, we bear the truth. We bear the truth. And we know Christ said His word is truth, His word in us is truth.
So it’s not simply avoiding the bad things, avoiding what’s false, not bearing false witness. You see, if that’s all it is, we miss the other part that’s so critical. Of course, we don’t lie. We don’t bear false witness. We are this example, we have to go after truth. You see, it’s not enough just to avoid evil. That’s only part of the equation. The other part is I go after truth. I seek it, I pursue it. I am motivated not to stop until I gain that and follow God even that much more thoroughly in my life. And so as we look at this, yes, I don’t bear false witness, but I have to stand for truth. In any areas of my life that I see are lacking, it’s time to repent, it’s time to change. We know this is our time. We have received the witness. We understand the truth of God. Now is our opportunity. Judgment begins on the house of God. Now’s the time, so now’s the time to bear the truth. Now’s the time to be and live that truth and not be a false witness, which of course I think also helps us to understand there is a part we all have to play that even goes beyond the job that I’m given to do, the calling that I’ve given, not bearing false witness, but it even goes beyond just me. Doesn’t it?
When we think of the two witnesses, they had to be true Christians. They had to be true representatives of God, but God gave them a job that they had to fulfill, and we have a part to fulfill as well, don’t we? Every one of us. Now it’s different, we’re not going to to be going out in this manner. We may not ever preach the truth and the way that they did. We may never give a sermon, but that doesn’t change the fact that we’ve been called for more than just our own salvation. It’s not just about my personal saving, not just about only me being in the Kingdom of God. It’s also about others that God calls us and given us a vision that I have a part to play, every single one of us.
Ephesians 4:16 Ephesians 4:16From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love.
American King James Version×is a great reminder of that, that we are joined as a family, as a church collectively joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, by what every one of us supplies. Every one of us has to do our share. Every one of us have to be that living representation of Jesus Christ and living with His character, His way, His frame of mind, His attitude. And when others come to the truth, we’re supportive of that because that’s a part of what God’s plan is in bringing many sons to glory. We have a part to play in that. And so we do grow. We do overcome because others will hear that word and we support the work of God so that when they hear and when they repent, they come here and they’re supported and loved and encouraged and fed, and we play our part in helping others come to perfection. And so, boy, that seems like an overwhelming job. How can we do that? How could the two witnesses do that? How could the disciples do that? How could the apostles take that? How was it possible for any of this to happen? Because oftentimes, we’ll say, “Well, I’m just one person.”
Well, that section that talked about those two olive trees in Zechariah 4:6 Zechariah 4:6Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, said the LORD of hosts.
American King James Version×said it’s specifically and distinctly for us all. Zechariah 4:6 Zechariah 4:6Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, said the LORD of hosts.
American King James Version×says, ‘”Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.” That’s how it happens. It’s by the power of God’s Spirit. And by the power of God’s Spirit, we can look at this scenario that just lies ahead and we can be thankful because it’s a reminder of God’s testimony. He’s given that testimony to us and it’s made all the difference in the world to us. We’ve changed our story, we’ve changed our story, and so we look to God. And we can thank God because God’s testimony always stands. He always stands by His word and His promise. He’ll stand by us. He’ll stand by us whether times are good or whether times are rough, whether times are difficult, whether we’re faced with personal challenges. God says “I’ll never leave you.”
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×, maybe we could turn there. 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×, what a great reminder that God is with us and we can be thankful for His help, we can be thankful for His guidance in our life because He’s given us a promise, an unchangeable promise that He will not fail to deliver. Notice, Hebrews 13:5-6 Hebrews 13:5-6 5 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. 6 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×, it says, ”I will never leave you nor forsake you.” God’s given us that promise. And so our reaction, our response, “We may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” You see, God’s given us this great promise. He’s given us His word. He’s given us His testimony, and when we’re up against it, when it seems that we’re up against the entire world, we could take that promise to heart because God’s given us the evidence. We’ve heard the testimony. And so for us, let’s personalize that message and that understanding, and let our life be a witness for the one true God.