Witnesses

“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.
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.”  Revelation 11:1-6 (KJV)

God who is rich in mercy provides man with every opportunity to repent and believe on Christ by sending His empowered witnesses to tell of His atoning love, and warn of His coming wrath to deal with sin unrepented of. In the day in which we now live we are witnesses to a people ever increasing in darkness, and away from God and His light.

This beginning in the chapter continues the interlude between the end of the sixth trumpet and the sounding of the seventh.

Previously in chapter 10, John is told, “Thou must prophesy…”. In verse one of our present chapter that seems to be exactly what John does. There is no reason to spiritualize the text here. To do so would only add confusion, and confusion breeds doubt.

“Measure the temple of God” does imply God’s ownership.

The “Reed” was used as a measuring rod. It measured about ten feet in length. This as we note is God’s standard of measure. Since the earthly temple was designed in Heaven it still must meet God’s expectations. All things must be measured by God’s standard, lest we get a false measurement. The temple, the altar, and the worshipper are measured as God’s evaluation of what is His.

As previously mentioned in chapter ten the “Little book” is possibly the Bible, the Word of God. The Scriptures when taught by God’s Spirit measure earthly things and people. The ten-foot rod when stood against any man shows by man’s stature how short he falls from God’s standard (Romans 3:23). We cannot attain God’s standard by fleshly works.

God practically ignores what is called “The court of the Gentiles”. The simple reason being that this “Court which is without [outside] the temple…” was not in the heavenly plan. What was the court of the Gentiles, had become a place for all kinds of idol worship.

This temple is not Solomon’s temple or Herod’s temple. It is the temple of the “Seventieth week” of which Daniel writes, or what is called the seven years of tribulation (Daniel 9:24-27).

These measurements are certain to affirm that we fall “short of the glory of God” – we fail to meet His required standard for holiness. The only way to meet that standard is by trusting Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior. Then, His holiness and righteousness are put to our account, because our filth of sin was put to His account upon the cross.

There is some disagreement to the time of these “Two witnesses” ministry. Some relate it to the first 1260 days (42 months, or 3 1/2 years), and others to the latter.

It would appear – at least to me – that the two prophets ministry is in the latter. I draw that conclusion by looking at the close of verse 2. Because the “Antichrist” leader allows the Hebrews to worship and then breaks his covenant with them in the midst of the week (Daniel 9:27); this happening the prophets would have been free to speak during the first half.

The message these men are given is preached near the end of the “second woe” (v. 14). While the vile and rebellious men of earth are enjoying their sin and having their way, God chooses not to destroy them without opportunity for repentance. God owes; lost, unredeemed, unrepentant humankind, nothing, except to fulfill His every word. These two witnesses are tormentors to evil hearts. It is still that way in the present. People do not want to be confronted with their evil ways.

The length of their ministry is 1260 days. Their days being listed last seems to imply the latter half of the “Seventieth week”. The seventh trumpet would bring in the “Day of the LORD”.

The power of God is the unction of their preaching. They are “Clothed in sackcloth”. This implies that their message is one of repentance and salvation. God’s mercy is astounding.

John the apostle is given the message that these are the “Two olive trees” and the “Two candlesticks”. The olive tree was the source of oil for the lamps – a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and candlesticks were instruments of light. Certainly, the two witnesses are Spirit-empowered and giving light in the darkness. This takes us back to Zechariah 4:2-3, 6, and 14.

Since they are standing before “The God of the earth…” they stand fearlessly. Verse five even tells us that if anyone could harm them, or even try, they have power to devour their enemies.

The powers they are given are from God. Elijah was one who prayed and shut up the heavens – it did not rain for three and one-half years. Moses is the one who turned the Egyptian waters to blood with the rod of God in his hand, and Egypt was smitten with plagues by his hand. Some have said these are Moses and Elijah. It would do us much good to remember that it was Moses and Elijah who appeared with Jesus on the Mount we call “Transfiguration” (Matthew 17:1-8).  Others have said Enoch (Genesis 5:21-24), and Elijah because these two never died, but were translated and would be in keeping with Hebrews 9:27. Jesus likened John the Baptist to Elijah (Matthew 17:11-13), but John Baptist said he was not Elijah (John 1:21). What did Jesus mean and what did John the Baptist mean? The same Spirit and fire of Elijah was on John, but he was not a physical “reincarnation” of Elijah. The same is true of these latter-day “Witnesses”. Our concern should not be on who they are, but upon the message, they preach. I see Hebrews 9:27 only stating the fact that death is a certain thing, except in rare circumstances. With the exception of a “Snatching away,” we will all certainly die.

“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. 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. 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. The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.”  Revelation 11:7-14

The ministry of these two witnesses will be short. A number of 1,260 days is what they will have. Really, we who are witnesses only have a short time, but most have longer than 3.5 years.

God does not allow them to be harmed until their testimony is finished. The “Beast” (not of those mentioned in 4:6-8) arises to wreak havoc and he has hated these messengers of God. According to 13:3 the “beast” receives a deadly head wound and is healed. This undoubtedly means he is a man struck in the head, is killed, and is raised supernaturally [using means of deceit] by the devil himself – “The beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit”. It is he whom, when their mission is finished, God allows to capture and kill them.

Where does this event take place? Their dead bodies are allowed to lay in the streets of this city. Here, God allows spiritualizing, because He does it, “Which spiritually is Sodom and Egypt”. What is this place? It is the city of Jerusalem, “Where…our Lord was crucified”. In verse 2 it is called the “Holy city” now in verse 8 it is called “Spiritually…Sodom and Egypt”. Sodom, a place of depravity and great immoral behavior. Egypt, a place of many gods, which are not gods at all, and the place which hated God’s people. Most of the problems for God’s people come within religion, within the visible Church. We can see that in the death of the two witnesses.

For many days the people “that dwell upon the earth” have been tormented by the prophets of God. The Word of God torments self-serving, evil, God-despising souls.

The Scripture tells us that the dead bodies of the prophets lay in the streets of Jerusalem for the whole world to see. Their depravity is shown in thinking they could be spiteful to an empty human body which lays decaying in the streets.

These are so evil in their hearts, that they rejoice and celebrate over the prophets deaths. Elijah the prophet was asked by King Ahab, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” The king accusing the prophet of the trouble. It was not the prophet who troubled Israel, but the kings vile and wicked ways. There is nothing more wicked, vile and evil than putting on the pretense of worship. Elijah answered back the king saying, “I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim” (1 Kings 18:17-18). When these people see their “troublers” are dead they celebrate, glad because the “beast” has overcome them. What they do not realize is that God had protected them for 3.5 years. The unrighteous are rejoicing today when the righteous fall, or are removed through death or tragedy.

Their celebration is, however, short-lived, for when the 3.5 days have expired the people hear a voice from Heaven. Notice the words used. “Come up hither” the same words used in 4:1. There are similarities in the rapture of the Church and this, but they differ as well. The bodies of these prophets are seen by the world being resurrected and ascending into Heaven.

Probably for the first time in some time they recognize a power even greater than the “beast” and “Great fear fell upon them”.

These people “of the earth” are enemies of the prophets. They were thus the enemies of God but look at God’s mercy. It is shown in His sending the prophets to warn them. The people who are the enemies of the prophets are the enemies of God. Jesus said, “He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward” (Matthew 10:41). If you have a problem getting along with the man of God, you have a problem with God. Certainly, these people “of the earth” had a problem getting along with “God’s men”.

“The same hour” judgment fell upon God’s enemies. At the opening of the sixth seal, there is an earthquake (6:14). At the ending of the sixth trumpet, which is the “second woe” there is another earthquake. This quake destroys one-tenth part of Jerusalem, seven thousand men are slain, and the remainder of those alive are fearful. One almost surprising thing is that those who remain give “glory to the God of Heaven”. Does this mean that they believe God and trust His way of salvation? Some think so. It does not mean that it was glory God received. It probably means, that they saw His power, but not believing Him.

It is sad, even today when the glory of God is seen through His mercy, grace, His people, and in creation, and people still reject Him and His Son Jesus. So sad it is too, to see such power displayed and yet they proceed after their own ways, hardening their hearts to God and His Spirit (Hebrews 3:7-11).  Maybe because they cannot see.

Remember the “woes” are mentioned in 8:13 and begin with the fifth trumpet in 9:1. The first “woe” is past in chapter 9:12 and the second begins. The pronouncement given in 8:13 is warning of the seriousness of these next three trumpet judgments. When this “second woe is past” it is like God is saying, “This was it. Your chance of repentance, of salvation, is past. There will be no more delay. No more prophets” (Amos 3:7). “The third woe cometh quickly” is certain to relay that message.

One great victory for God’s witnesses in any period of time is seeing the word of God, which was spoken, fulfilled.

“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, saying, We give Thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because Thou hast taken to Thee Thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that Thou shouldest give reward unto Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear Thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”  Revelation 11:15-19 (KJV)

This seventh and final trumpet ushers in the seven vials of wrath. Although they are not mentioned until chapter fifteen there is a break in the judgments to reveal some things that will happen during the latter half of what is often called “The tribulation period” – the latter half is referred to as “Great tribulation” (2:22).

There were voices saying that the Lord is King and “He shall reign forever and ever”. This only means God has allowed sin to run its course, and “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh” (Psalm 2:4). It seems that this would fit chronologically with chapters 19 and 20.

The Lord Jesus will take possession of the property which He died to redeem. At the last trump, the Lord takes what is His. Praise Him.

The same “twenty-four elders” of chapter four are in Heaven worshipping the Lord of glory.

They are awed by His awe-inspiring power over sin and evil and the vanquishing of all wickedness from the earth.

How do they worship Him?

  1. They recognize His power – Almighty;
  2. They praise His eternalness and immutability [Unchangingness];
  3. They recognize Him as Judge – both to reward His servants and punishment upon the wicked. Worship to God is simply given by recognizing Him for who He is.

“The nations were angry” takes us back to Psalm 2:1-3. The wrath of the nations is powerless and vain – for man’s own selfish revenge. God’s wrath is not for revenge, but to dispell sin, and His wrath is powerful and purposeful.  When we think of God and His love we must always remember that God is holy and no sin can stand in His presence; therefore because He is holy He does judge sin; our sin.  We must also remember the cross, for it was there that all our sin was laid on Him to be sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).

There is a great need for the fear of God in our day. It does not matter what the false prophets are saying about “God is love” – a half-truth is a lie. God is love, but He is also hating sin and judges it. He is wrathful. That is the truth. He is to be feared – held in awe.  A few years ago I stood upon a portion of the Rocky Mountains and I said, “This is awesome”.  A few years later I stood on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and wept with tears and said, “This is so awesome”; however, when I look into the Word of God, and I see Him in His Son Jesus I weep and rejoice at His Awesomeness, because there is no awe, such as His AWE.  He made the mountains,  the Grand Canyon, and all that there is.  He is holy and AWESOME.

The original temple. The one in Heaven. The one used to model the “Wilderness tabernacle” after. The one where God in His glory dwells. It is opened. The way to God is open today. The way into the holiest of all is through the Lord Jesus Christ. This reminds us not to take for granted God’s open door.

Within the temple, there was seen the “Ark of the testament”. The ark of God. This was the “Ark of the covenant” behind the veil, in the “Holy of Holies”. It contained the Ten Commandments, a bowl of manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded.  It is, in fact, the testimony of God dwelling among men; and that is Christ Jesus

Those who know God have received Jesus – the Bread of Life; Jesus – the fulfillment of the law written in the heart, and Jesus – the resurrection to new life. Talk about the temple being open, access to God, we have it. At least for now.  The day of the closing door, however, is drawing close.

Because many refuse God’s open door to Himself judgment upon the Christ-haters and sin lovers is certain. The lightnings, voices, thunderings are mentioned in 4:5. “Earthquake and great hail” is added to this sentence.

It seems that the very source of our salvation is also the source of judgment upon the wicked. We have the choice to be saved now or be judged through eternity. Bless the Lord.

The two witnesses of verses 1-14 who are yet to come will be empowered by God. So are all of those who know Jesus today, by the presence, glory, and power of God’s Spirit who lives within. The door is open. We too are the witnesses of God.  Let us never forget that His holiness and awe is with purpose.

Advertisements

Saint’s Prayers and the Sound of Angels

“And when He had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.”  Revelation 8:1-6 (KJV)

The One who created all things, also still holds these things in His hand, to show forth wrath upon the “Inhabiters of the earth”; and the Priest who judges sin.

In the national life of Israel trumpets played an important role and had three important uses: 1) For calling the people together (Numbers 10:1-8); 2) For announcing war (Numbers 10:9); and 3) For announcing special times (Numbers 10:10).

And when He had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. Revelation 8:1 (KJV).

The final seal is opened. Notice the response of Heaven. Silence. This could be caused by awe because now the book is opened and the glories and power of God are revealed. All that was concealed is now revealed to all of Heaven for the first time.

Not a whisper, nary a sigh, but only silence. Sometimes the greatest reverence is given God by our silence. The Psalmist even wrote, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a).

It is not told us why there is silence for one-half hour, but it does have to do with the seventh seal and the book [scroll]. There could be more than one reason, but I do believe the above reason is a biblical one. Other than that we just do not know.

It seems that the seven seals and the seven trumpets are interrelated. The seventh seal introduces the seven trumpets, and the seventh trumpet introduces the seven vials of wrath. These cannot be separated, then, because they all fit together. Each series of judgments seem to lead to a more severe wrath.

The seven angels are not named and it is not necessary to do so. They are given one trumpet each.

There is “another angel”, an eighth mentioned who seems to be a priestly angel. Some have equated this angel to being like the appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ – referred to in the Old Testament as the “Angel of the LORD”. It is not clear who this angel is. Jesus is the High Priest who atoned for our sin, and He is the One who will judge the world. Whoever he is he is fulfilling the work and ministry of a priest – unlike the work of any angel.  Since the Lamb is Christ Jesus and the One who opens the seals, I will believe this is just a completely different angel.

He stands at the brazen altar of judgment and sacrifice, with a golden censer [cup or bowl] for the incense which was given him. The incense is offered with the prayers of the saints [your prayers and mine, as well as the saints of the tribulation]. The incense is a symbol of prayer and worship.

In the Old Testament the high priest would kill the sacrifice at the brazen altar, collect the blood, and God received the offering by fire. The priest would take the golden bowl and take fire from the altar [which was never to go out Leviticus 6:12-13, and it was lit by God Leviticus 9:23-24], and enter the holy place with the blood, and with the fire, take the incense from the golden altar which was located outside the Holy of Holies [the presence of God], and he would enter the presence of God veiled in the smoke of the incense, pouring out the blood of the sacrifice at the throne of God – the presence of God. This made atonement for the people’s sins for one year.

Notice after the prayers and incense is offered to God the eighth angel takes fire in the golden censer, from the brazen altar of judgment, and casts it upon the earth.

Our prayers for deliverance; the prayers of the tribulation saints for deliverance and retribution, and for the glory of God to come will be done in God’s time. The “Imprecatory Psalms” (Psalms 7; 26; 35; 52; 55; and 58 are examples); these are not cries from selfish people, but cries for God to vindicate them according to His Word and grace.

It is amazing that God seems to store our prayers as a sweet fragrance to Him and will carry out their request in His time and according to His divine will. Have you grown weary and tired of prayer? Keep praying from a yielded and repentant, and broken heart. He hears you.

After the fire is taken from the altar and cast to the earth it causes great upheaval. Voices, thunderings, lightnings and an earthquake. It seems clear that the censer used for offering up worship and prayer is now used to hurl judgment and vengeance upon the earth.

Nothing is said about how the seven angels “Prepared themselves”. It could be a simple thing as raising the trumpets.

Let us as the saints of God raise our hearts and voices in prayer to God.  The time which we live is urgent.  Let us begin by repentance, seeking forgiveness of sin, and seeking revival of the Church.  The world is in grave need.  Let us be the Church; the Body of Christ. The Great High Priest who forgives our sin; also judges sin.

“The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; and the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; and the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter. And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise. And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!”  Revelation 8:7-13 (KJV)

This is not the Sound of Angels for the people of God, but for “the Inhabiters of the earth”.

The first four trumpets and their judgments are released in chapter eight. There are two more in chapter nine and the last one is in chapter eleven, beginning at verse fifteen.

If you will notice the seals were opened in the same way of separateness. The four horsemen are separate from the final three, and the seventh follows a short interlude. The same is true of the trumpets and the vials.

“All three of these series of sevens…are framed exactly alike. They are divided into four and three. Then the last three which are always separated and apart from the first four and divided are divided into two and one. Between the two and one (between the sixth and seventh), there is always an interlude. Between the sixth and seventh seals, the seventh chapter …. is an interlude. In the turmpets series chapters 10 – 11:14 form the interlude. Between the sixth and seventh bowls Revelation 16:13-16, is the interlude. The briefest interlude is between the sixth and seventh bowls of the wrath of God. The longest interlude by far is the one between the sixth and seventh trumpet.” BILL DUDLEY Notes page 31.

There is no reason for us to try and see these judgments in any other way than their literal sense. To look at them in another sense other than the literal sense makes nonsense.

The first trumpet could be parallel with Exodus 9:18-26. Each trumpet judgment seems to have some parallel with the Egyptian Exodus, and the plagues. If we are to take the plagues of Egypt literally, then we must take this hail, fire, and blood literal as well.

One-third part of the trees. According to some “trees” refers to fruit trees. This being the case “One third” of the fruit trees being destroyed would wreak havoc on the world, but it does not stop there. All green grass is burnt up, as well. This may include grain crops and this would drastically hurt meat and milk production causing further economic harm. The economy, of course, would be the least of their worries.

The second trumpet sounds and what appears as a “great mountain burning…” is “cast into the sea”.

A great large object falling from the heavens falls into the oceans turning one-third of the seas into blood, killing one-third of ocean life and destroying one-third of all ships on the ocean waters. Again this is to be taken literally. If God was able to send plagues upon Egypt, and He was, He is able also to send these judgments upon a Christ-hating world.

The third trumpet seems to bring about the poisoning of the fresh waters of the earth. It would seem that this “star” breaks in pieces upon entering the earth’s atmosphere and the pieces fall into individual sources of fresh water poisoning one-third of the streams.

This “star” is directed by the hands of God to judge evil. It seems many will get thirsty and drink these waters and die.

The fourth angel sounds the trumpet and the sun and moon are smitten, and also the stars. One-third of the sun, the moon and stars are darkened. How this is done we are not told, only that it is done. Since evil men love darkness and not light they should enjoy this time.

These first four trumpets destroy much of what men often take for granted in creation. We often do not think to be thankful for the trees, the grass, the oceans, streams of water, and the celestial creation. Many just think it will always be there. It does not matter how we live; grass and water will always be. While some may think the problem is ecological it is not. The real problem is a spiritual one. When wicked men of earth refuse God’s ways the ecology of earth suffers. God will even strike the stars and satellites of the heavens to show evil men that it is He who controls the universe.

The word “angel” in verse 13 is said to actually be “Eagle”. If that be so it could refer back to one of the four “Living beings” of chapter four. Verse seven of that chapter mentions the “fourth beast was like a flying eagle”. This “Eagle” is crying out, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabiters of earth”. The three “woes” correspond with the following three trumpets.

The word “Inhabiters” is dealing with the lovers of this world, solely those who are of the earth. Those who are believers [followers of Christ] during this time; their habitation is in Heaven. The woes seem to indicate that the judgments following will be far worse than anyone has ever seen, or has ever been through.

Be sure you know Jesus, NOW! Let us also be thankful for the fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and milk God has blessed us with so abundantly. For the water we drink, and for the heavenly creation praise the name of our Lord and Creator. The Sound of angels points us to Jesus, the Lamb, who is the High Priest and Judge who will put an end to sin and make all things right in His sight.