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.

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The ONE On the Throne

In this chapter we see the One who died for us is also our Creator and worthy of worship. He has opened the door of Heaven for man to worship him, as does the rest of creation, in that it is obedient to its Creator’s design, and we will always be in His presence.

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” Revelation 4:1 (KJV).

After receiving the letters to the seven churches John sees a door “Opened in heaven”. If you will remember, the open door was set before the Philadelphia church. The church which had kept His word and had not denied His name.
The Laodicean church had closed their door and locked Jesus out.

The voice John hears sounded as a trumpet. It was a voice that called for attention. It was a voice he recognized. it was the voice of the Savior. This voice called, “Come up hither and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.”

In chapter one verse nineteen Jesus gave John the outline of the Revelation. Chapter one is the “Things which thou hast seen” [PAST]; chapters two through three, “The things which are” [PRESENT]; and chapters four through 22:5, “The things which sall be hereafter” [FUTURE]. Keep in mind, that the Church is not mentioned again until chapter nineteen.

John being caught up in the Spirit (v. 2) is shown what is to come. Everything from this point on is future. It seems that John’s being called to “Come up hither” is to show him the events following the Church age.

“And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.” Revelation 4:2 (KJV).

TAKE NOTE OF WHO IS ON THE THRONE. The throne is symbolic of sovereignty, authority, and power. All through the Revelation “Throne” is mentioned forty six times making it a key word. This is to assure us that although, a period of terrible tribulation is coming upon the earth, to let satan kill, maim and destroy, He (God) is still in control, and will continue to maintain control.

John was amazed to find himself before the very throne of God. That is the place where all God’s children will one day find themselves. The ungodly, evil will also find themselves before His throne of judgment, and will be cast into a lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).

“And He that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.” Revelation 4:3 (KJV).

We can begin to have an understanding of the Revelation if we keep in mind the rest of Scripture – the Old Testament in particular. This book is penned down by a Jew and the symbolism used is Hebrew in nature. The words of John Walvoord…

…“Significantly, the jasper and the sardine stone are the first and last of these twelve stones (cf. Exodus 28:17-21). The jasper represented Reuben, the first of the tribes, since Reuben was the firstborn of Jacob. The sardine stone represented Benjamin, the youngest of the twelve sons of Jacob. In other words the two stones represented the first and the last and therefore may be regarded as including all the other stones in between, that is, the whole of the covenanted people.’

‘Furthermore, the names Reuben and Benjamin have significance. The word ‘Reuben’ means ‘behold a son.’ The word Benjamin means ‘son of my right hand.’ In both cases these terms seem to have a double meaning: first, the fact that though Christ is the representative of Israel, He is also the Son of God. Like Reuben, Christ is the first begotten son. Second, like Benjamin, Christ is also the ‘son of my right hand’ in relation to God the Father. The person whom John sees on the throne looking like a jasper and sardine stone is, therefore God in relation to the nation of Israel.” From THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST pp. 104 & 105.

This must have been one of the most brilliant and colorful experiences John ever had. He saw a rainbow. This rainbow was complete, in that it was a complete circle “around the throne”. Its color was like an emerald. A very colorful place around the throne of God.

“And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.” Revelation 4:4 (KJV).

These “Twenty four seats” and the “Elders” who sat upon the seats seem to represent the redeemed of the Lord. It would not be Israel, since they have not yet come as the nation to Christ, but the Church. Notice how they are clothed….
White represents righteousness and holiness. Some have supposed these twenty four to be angelic beings. However, there is no mention in Scripture of angels receiving rewards [crowns] or a group of angels “clothed in white raiment”. The “Crowns of gold” seem to be the crowns of reward, mentioned in Scripture for believers. The Crown of Life (James 1:12); the Incorruptible Crown (1 Corinthians 9:24-27); the Crown of Rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20); the Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:50-8); and the Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:2-4).

It seems, then, that these “Elders” would represent the redeemed from the time before the cross and resurrection to the time of the closing of the Church age. The Church age ending with the rapture of the saints.

“And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.” Revelation 4:5 (KJV).

As a reminder to mankind God gives us ample proof that He is a wrathful God, judging sin and those who reject Him. For those of you who think that God is only love, does not judge, or find fault, you will probably make your own interpretation and deny all this truth given us in God’s Word.

“For our God is a consuming fire” wrote the writer of Hebrews 12:29.

He also wrote,

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

The “lightnings”, “thunderings” and “voices” are warnings of wrath. A reminder that sin will be forever judged. Whether we like to admit it or not, our worship of God involves our confession, repentance of sin. There is no worshiping Him unless we repent.

Once again the fullness of the Spirit of God is revealed. It is by the power of God’s Holy Spirit that sin is revealed and we are led to repentance, and into the rightful worship of God. He is the Light that exposes sin and evil, and reveals the way to God.

“And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.” Revelation 4:6-7 (KJV).

Keep in mind the place, “Before the throne”, in God’s presence.
In these verses we have further evidence of the “Jewishness” of this Revelation. “A sea of glass” takes us back to the Old Testament. The Old Testament tabernacle and temple were designed in Heaven. “Sea of glass” is a reference to the “Bronze laver” (Exodus 35:16; 38:8; 40:7) of the wilderness tabernacle and the Jerusalem temple. The bronze laver was made from the “Looking glasses” of the women of Israel (Exodus 38:8). These looking glasses were of polished brass to make them reflect images similar to a mirror. It would not have been as clear as the mirrors we know now.

John’s focus is more upon the “Beasts”, possibly better understood as “Living ones”. Who are these “Living ones”? They are, possibly, angelic beings. They are representative of the attributes of God, in general. Let me quote John F. Walvoord,

“The fact that the creatures are full of eyes is taken as significant of the omniscience and omnipresence of God who sees all and knows all.’
‘In a similar way the four beasts as respectively a lion, a calf, a man, and an eagle are considered different aspects of divine majesty. All of these are supreme in their respective categories. The lion is the king of beasts and represents majesty and omnipotence. The calf or ox, representing the most important of domestic animals, signifies patience and continuous labor. man is the greatest of all God’s creatures, especially in intelligence and rational power; whereas the eagle is greatest among birds and is symbolic of sovereignty and supremacy” THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST pp. 109 & 110.

Ezekiel, the Old Testament prophet had a similar vision. You can read that in Ezekiel 1:4-10.

“And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to Him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,” Revelation 4:8-9 (KJV).

These “Living ones” are worshiping and announcing the holiness of God, and declaring His omnipresence in time.

A similar announcement of God’s holiness is declared by the seraphim in Isaiah 6:1-3. They [seraphim] are also indentified as having six wings, representing humility, service and mission.

These proclaim to God the glory and honor He so richly deserves. The One “Who lives for ever and ever.” When we worship God we are to do so in holiness, with humility, service and mission; knowing and showing that the God of all creation is worthy of all worship and praise.

“The four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,  Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.” Revelation 4:10-11 (KJV).

Further evidence that the “Twenty four elders” are the redeemed, is that they “Cast their crowns before the throne” and worship.

These recognize the work of salvation God has done and gives the crowns to the One who is truly deserving. These “Elders” represent priesthood.

“There were twenty four courses of priests in the Old Testament (1 Chronicles 24:3-5, 18; also see Luke 1:5-9). God’s people are ‘Kings and priests’ (Revelation 1:6).” From BIBLE EXPOSITION Commentary pg. 582 by Warren Wiersbe.

If we will keep in mind that this book is Hebrew in its symbolism and trust the Holy Spirit we will not be led astray. Remember the time following the Church age is called, “…The time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7).

The Holy One of Israel is worthy to receive all that He is worth. Too many times we people get the idea that this world and all that is in it is just about us. It is not. It is about God. All glory, honor, and power belong to the One who made all that is. We were made for His pleasure, His purpose, His desire, and He can do with us as He pleases. He is completely just and righteous, and we can trust Him to do what is good and right. We are to be WORSHIPING THE ONE ON THE THRONE.