The Epistle of Jesus #8 The Faithful Two and Final Woe
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Past/ Review / Chronology
I. The vision of Christ and letters to the seven churches. 1:9–3:22.
II. The Lamb opens the seven-sealed book is opened. 4:1–6:17.
III. The sealing of the 144,000 and the angels sounding the seven trumpets. 7:1–9:21.
IV. Interlude 10-11 (To comfort and encourage the people of God, then and now)
Now we come to the 11th chapter where the interlude continues.
But now our focus turns from what is in heaven with John and the great angel to what is happening on earth with the two witness of God, the last two great heroes for God of human history.
The Bible is filled with stories of great heroes who fought, stood and died for God. From the first martyr of the faith, Abel in the book of Genesis to the first martyr after Jesus, the faithful deacon Stephen. Hebrews chapter 11 the faith chapter is a hall of fame for these faithful men and women of God.
Hebrews 11:33-38 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:)
The Two Witnesses of Hebrews 11 are the last heroes that could be added to the Faith Hall of Fame.
The Faithful Two
Possessing the Temple and People - Revelation 11:1–3
And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. Measuring the Temple. John is given a rod, this was probably a reed, like bamboo or cane, that had been cut to a specific size for measuring. We would understand it as a yard stick or a meter stick if your into the decimal system.
John then measures the Temple and the people at the command of God. He is doing this to show that God is staking a claim on the Jewish Temple and the Jewish believers during the Tribulation. John is seeing this vision around 99 AD and way back almost 30 years ago, in 70 AD, John had lived during the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Jesus had prophesied it would happen in Matthew 24, the Olivet Discourse, John had been alive when it happen but now here is John is measuring out a new Temple, a Temple that will stand again during the time of the Tribulation.
This will be the 3rd Temple. The first was built by Solomon, the 2nd by Ezra, Nehemiah and Zerubbabel, the 3rd by Herod which was a remodel and expansion of the 2nd. Herod’s Temple was one of the greatest most elaborate Temples of the then known world. Herod’s Temple was destroyed by the invading Roman army led by their general Titus in response to the Jewish zealots uprising that started in 66 AD seeking freedom from Rome. And just as Jesus had said every stone was torn down. The city fell on Passover 70 AD there were 600,000 visitors in the city when the gates were broken down. The Romans burned the city, tore down the walls, slaughtered 1 million people and captured 95,000 most of which were sold into slavery.
The temple John knew, that had stood in one form or another for over 4000 years, was gone and the Jewish people scattered and under greater persecution than ever. And now God commands John to measure the dimensions of the new Tribulation temple, showing God’s ownership and reclaiming of the Temple and His people and if God possessed them then God will stand to protect them. Imagine how that must have made the 100 year old John feel? God’s Temple was going to be rebuilt and the Jewish people, his people reclaimed by God.
This is prophesied in the Old Testament, Amos 9:11 In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:
This rebuilt temple, the Tribulation Temple must be up just before or at the beginning of the tribulation because of what Daniel and Jesus both prophesied.
Matthew 24:15–21 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
2 Thessalonians 2:3–4 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
So the Temple will be rebuilt by the Jews of the Tribulation time and it will be accomplished through the power and authority of the Anti-Christ who will claim to be their Messiah, probably by the proof of his sanctioning the rebuilding of their long destroyed Temple and of course a peace treaty that give Israel peace with all their neighbors.
This measuring also tells us that there is a time allotted to the antichrist and the people who oppose the people of God. At the midpoint of the Tribulation the anti-Christ will set up his own image in the holy place of this new Temple and that will be the mark the mid-point of the tribulation. This is the signal that tells the Jews this is not their Messiah and it triggers an all out war against them that Jesus warned them about in the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24.
Transition It may be that God will use the rebuilt Temple to remind the Jewish people of who their God is. It could become the focal point for the 144,000 of the tribes of Israel to begin preaching the coming of their real Messiah. It may also be used by the 2 witnesses that we next read about in chapter 11.
Power Of The Two - Revelation 11:4–6
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These 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.
One of the clearest prophecy in the Old Testament of the Messiah was Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
When the people of Jerusalem say Jesus that day riding in through the city gates on that donkey, they knew, they knew that this was their Messiah. They begin singing Hosanna to the Son of David and to lay their cloaks and palm branches in his path to make way for Him.
During the time of the Tribulation another of Zechariah’s prophesy will be fulfilled and just like Jesus’ Triumphal entry, the Jewish people will know God is reclaiming them for himself.
Zechariah 4:1-7 And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.
John sees these two witnesses, the two olive trees, the two lampstands the fulfillment of God’s promise to bring grace to his people, Israel. When the Jewish people who have been fooled by the Anti-christ, see these two heroes of God, see their miracles and hear their message of repentance for the sins of their nation, a message ampliphied by the sackcloth, garments of mourning that they wear, When they hear, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand”, they will listen and they will repent by the millions upon millions. Turning from their false Messiah to their true coming Messiah.
The hear the message, the see the fulfilled prophecy from Zechariah and they also see the undeniable miracles.
Look again at Revelation 11:5-6 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These 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.
These prophet heroes have the power of Moses in calling down plagues, the power of Elisha and Elijah in calling down fire from heaven and in stopping the rain from falling. The Jewish people will recognize them by these miracles of power and know they are the forerunners of their Messiah. This forerunner was the very last prophecy of the old Testament in
Malachi 4:5-6 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
During Jesus first coming that forerunner was John the Baptist, as Jesus said but during the time of the tribulation that role will be filled by the Two. For this reason many people believe that one of the Two will be Elijah, returned to earth after his ride to heaven in the fiery chariot of God. Many believe the other to be Moses who God separated to Himself by taking him high on a mountain before he died. Both these men were with Jesus when the disciple say him transfigured before their eyes.
The Transfiguration Mark 9:2-4 And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.
We don’t know if God will bring back Moses and Elijah or even Enoch who was the other Old Testament saint that did not see death. It is more likely that the Two witnesses of Revelation 11, like John the Baptist aren’t the literal Elijah and Moses but instead they are the fulfilment of that office, of forerunner and prophet in the same manner and power as Moses and Elijah. I don’t know, no one knows but it sure would be amazing to sit up there in heaven with the raptured New Testament believer and watch Elijah and Moses go down to earth as we were going up to heaven, knowing what they were about to do in God’s power to the sin living, idol worhsipping, God deniers of the Anti-Christ’s kingdom.
Transition: But their power and time is limited just as will be the power and time of the Anti-Christ.
Pershing of The Two - Revelation 11:7–10
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
When the plan of God reaches this point, these great prophets, the last two great heroes for God will be killed. It must have seemed impossible to their enemies who had tried to kill them and when they tried, fire fell from heaven at their word or water was turned into blood. But God had set a time and that time was now finished.
The only time during the Tribulation that the Two prophets could serve, as vs. 3 tells us, “they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.” That time period is 3 ½ years, the same time as Jesus’ ministry during His first coming. The only time for this 3 ½ year ministry of the Two is the first half of the tribulation. Their ministry starts with the opening of the seals and then finishes with the last trumpet. And some of the plagues and punishments that we read about in Revelation 6-9 fit the power that the Two possess as God’s champions.
They serve under terrible peril, terrible persecution leading the people of God and probably working with the 144,000, calling God’s people back to God for 3 ½ years until the midpoint of the 7 year tribulation and then something incredible happens. Its in vs. 7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
Did you catch that? The Beast, the anti-Christ shall ascend our of the pit. We haven’t really been introduced fully to the Beast of Tribulation but here we read He ascends out of the pit, definite article meaning the pit of Hell, the Abyss, the place where demons are kept and where those who die as unbelievers do to await the Great White Throne Judgment of God. But the beast doesn’t wait, somehow, someway he ascends from Hell.
In Revelation 13:3 we are going find out what happened, And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. This is head is the anti-Christ, one of the powers ruled by Satan the great Dragon of Revelation and we see that he is wounded unto death. It appears He dies and goes to Hell, but then comes back. And when he comes back he is powerful, no one can stand against him not even the Two. The Beast makes war against them, overcomes them and kills them.
Vs. 8 tells us “And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” So we know that all this take place in Jerusalem, but during this time it is so polluted with sin that the Bible calls it Sodom and so corrupted by idolatry that it is called Egypt, the place where idolatry arose.
Now all that happens by the plan, power and purpose of God. And yet what a blow it must be to the believers of the Tribulation. To see their two great heroes fall and to see the Beast that they thought was dead, come back to life with more power than he possess before he died.
That is why Jesus records it in advance here. So that those people won’t lose faith, won’t lose hope. Just as He told the believer during His first coming that He would be taken, tried and crucified, He is telling those who will endure this terrible time of Jacobs Trouble, don’t lose hope. God allowed this to happen and there is a reason.
The people of earth, who blamed the Two for all the terrible things that had been happening, they rejoice and throw a global party, a new Anti-Christ anti-Christmas. Vs. 9 -10 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
For 3 ½ days one day for every year of their ministry, the lost, rebellious, unrepentant, neo-pagan Beast worshippers of the earth have a debaucherous party and mark it with the giving of gifts, something that must be a mockery of the tradition from the savior birth. They believe their hero, the Beast, the new ruler of the world, has defeated the greatest heroes of God on earth and they celebrate but that celebration is cut short.
For after 3 ½ day, only God know why that exact time period, but it will make sense to the people of God then, After 3 ½ day the John who is seeing all of these in his vision, sees Revelation 11:11-13 And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
The party stops for as all the world watch via internet, satellite, and social media, none of which existed or could exist during John’s time, but Jesus saw it and told us it was coming. Right in the middle of their celebration the Holy Spirit of Life from God flows into their dead, beaten, mutilated and rotting bodies stands them upon their feet, made whole again, and God calls out to His Heroes, Come Up! Come Home! Come To Me In Victory!
And the whole world, all the enemies of God watch, open mouthed and dumbfounded as God claims His Two Olive branches, His Two Faithful Witness and brings them home to heaven. He shows the whole world that what they thought was their god’s victory was actually the victory of the one, true God. It was always part of His plan.
And just in case they don’t get the message vs. 13 says, “And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.”
Now don’t let the “gave glory to God” phrase fool you, they aren’t believers and they aren’t repenting, they are just trying to flee from the wrath to come by mouthing what they think are magic words to try and fool the power they don’t understand and avoid His wrath.
Saints, Heroes and Martyrs.
We said that the Two will be the last great heroes of history in the service of God but that doesn’t mean they are the only heroes only the famous ones recorded here. All the 144,000 will give their lives for the testimony of Jesus the true Messiah and many others who believe by their testimony will also be killed. We are going to learn later in the Epistle of Jesus that the Anti-christ in his rage will turn on the people of God, demanding that all must take a mark in their right hand or their forehead showing loyalty to only him. Those who refuse will not be allowed to buy food and when they are caught without the mark of the beast they will be executed. They Bible even tells us the means of execution, it tells us they will be beheaded for the cause of Christ. So many that here in the book of Revelation we read earlier in chapter 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; in vs. 14 they are identified, the angle tells John, “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb..
In the end of time, there will be many heroes many witnesses, willing to die for the testimony of the Lamb of God.
Christianity, true Christianity, is a demanding discipline because it demands our very life. The one who would choose to be a disciple of Jesus Christ must understand that they are choosing to end their own life. Sometimes, many times that life is given literally in death and blood as we just read, or as we can read throughout the Bible, or as we can read in the page of history, a history written in the blood of the saints of God. Other times that life is required not in physical death but in dying to this world and living in service to Jesus Christ, a life of service.
Paul who have his life both in service and in death wrote this in 2 Corinthians 11:23-30 I am … in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?
If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. (weakness, flaws, suffering)
We are reading today about the end of God’s people on earth, the last heroes of the faith, let me give you a favorite story of the drawn from the beginning of Christianity.
Illustration: Forty Wrestlers For Christ
In the days of the Roman Emperor Nero, there lived and served him a band of soldiers known as the “Emperor’s Wrestlers.” Strong, brave men they were, picked from the best and the boldest of the land, and recruited from the great athletes of the Roman amphitheater.
In the great amphitheater they upheld the honor of the emperor against all challengers. Before each contest they stood before the emperor’s throne. Then through the courts of Rome rang the cry: “We, the wrestlers, wrestling for thee, O Emperor, to win for thee the victory and from thee, the victor’s crown.”
When the great Roman army was sent to fight in far-away Gaul, no soldiers were braver or more loyal than this band of wrestlers led by their centurion Vespasian. But news reached Nero that many Roman soldiers had accepted the Christian faith. Therefore, this decree was dispatched to the centurion Vespasian: “If there be any among your soldiers who cling to the faith of the Christian, they must die!”
The decree was received in the dead of winter. The soldiers were camped on the shore of a frozen inland lake. It was with sinking heart that Vespasian, the centurion, read the emperor’s message.
Vespasian called the soldiers together and asked the question: “Are there any among you who cling to the faith of the Christian? If so, let him step forward!” Forty wrestlers instantly stepped forward two paces, saluted, and stood at attention. Vespasian paused. He had not expected so many. He read to them the emperor’s edict.
“Until sundown I shall await your answer,” said Vespasian. Sundown came, again the question was asked. Again the forty wrestlers stepped forward.
Vespasian pleaded with them long and earnestly without prevailing upon a single man to deny his Lord. Finally, he said, “The decree of the emperor must be obeyed, but I am not willing that your brothers should shed your blood. I am going to order that you march out upon the lake of ice, and I shall leave you there to the mercy of the elements.”
The forty wrestlers were stripped and then, falling into columns of four, marched toward the center of the lake of ice. As they marched, they broke into the chant of the arena: “Forty wrestlers, wrestling for Thee, O Christ, to win for Thee the victory and from Thee, the victor’s crown!” Through the long hours of the night Vespasian stood by his campfire and watched. As he waited through the long night, there came to him fainter and fainter the wrestlers’song.
As morning drew near one figure, overcome by exposure, crept quietly toward the fire; in the extremity of his suffering he had renounced his Lord. Faintly but clearly from the darkness came the song: “Thirty-nine wrestlers, wrestling for Thee, O Christ, to win for Thee the victory and from Thee, the victor’s crown!”
Vespasian looked at the figure drawing close to the fire. Perhaps he saw eternal light shining there toward the center of the lake. Who can say? But off came his helmet and clothing, and he sprang upon the ice, crying, “Forty wrestlers, wrestling for Thee, O Christ, to win for Thee the victory” and from Thee, the victor’s crown! —Paul Tassel
I doubt you and I will be called to have the honor of dying for Jesus but whatever God has planned for us, remember it is His plan and our only part is to accept that, rejoice in that and commit to that. We are called to give up our lives as believers, I pray we will all answer that call.
Many years ago, my Mom who was the pianist at all the churches we were members of used to play an old Ira Stamphill song, its rarely heard today and even when I went searching for it on the internet there were only two recordings that I found. Perhaps it too hard a song to listen to in today’s modern Christian world of easy believism and blessing to blessing beliefs. It was simply called Follow Me.
Follow Me – Ira Stamphil 1953
I traveled down a lonely road
And no one seemed to care,
The burden on my weary back
Had bowed me to despair,
I oft complained to Jesus
How folks were treating me,
And then I heard Him say so tenderly.
"My feet were also weary,
Upon the Calvary road;
The cross became so heavy,
I fell beneath the load,
Be faithful, weary pilgrim,
The morning I can see,
Just lift your cross and follow close to me."
"I work so hard for Jesus,"
I often boast and say,
"I've sacrificed a lot of things
To walk the narrow way,
I gave up fame and fortune;
I'm worth a lot to Thee,"
And then I hear Him gently say to me,
"I left the throne of glory
And counted it but loss,
My hands were nailed in anger
Upon a cruel cross,
But now we'll make the journey
With your hand safe in Mine,
So lift your cross and follow close to Me."
O, Jesus if I die upon
A foreign field someday,
'Twould be no more than love demands,
No less could I repay,
"No greater love hath mortal man
Than for a friend to die"
These are the words He gently spoke to me,
"If just a cup of water
I place within your hand
Then just a cup of water
Is all that I demand."
But if by death to living
They can Thy glory see,
I'll take my cross and follow close to Thee.