August 2011

Dear Friends,

"They (the Gentiles under the dominion of Antichrist) will trample on the holy city for 42 months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth." These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. These men have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want."                                                                               

The power God gives these two witnesses is astounding and reminds us of the combined power of Moses and Elijah together. Their powerful preaching of repentance is like that of Jesus and this along with their death, resurrection and ascension will remind the Jews of Christ and lead many to Him.                                                                                 

The clear identity of these two is unnecessary but some commentators have noted the similarity of their ministry with that of Moses and Elijah. Their power to turn the waters to blood and to strike the earth with all plagues reminds us of what Moses did in Egypt (Ex. 7:14-20; 8:1-12:29) and their power over fire and weather reminds us of Elijah's ministry (1 Kings 17:1; 18:41-45; 2 Kings 1:9-12). Moses and Elijah also appeared together with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. (Luke 9:29-31)                                                          

Their description as lampstands (lights/witnesses) and olive trees (oil = the power of the Holy Spirit) comes from Zechariah 3-4 describing Joshua (the high priest after the exile) and Zerubbabel (the governor of Israel after the exile) and how they were filled with God's power to restore Israel after captivity in Babylon. The key verse is Zech. 4:6, "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty" as God makes it clear that all their power comes from Him, as is true of the two witnesses here in Revelation 11.                 

"Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them." The Greek word for "finished" is the same word used for Christ's triumphant cry from the cross (teleo) meaning God's call on their life has been accomplished. They are "immortal" until then as is true of all believers as seen in Psalm 139:16 and Eph. 2:10.                                                   

"Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified." Jerusalem is called Sodom because of its sinful indulgence and indifference to the needs of others (Ezek. 16:49) and called Egypt because of its idolatry and unrighteousness, and both names are seen in Scripture as the objects of God's wrath. This will be the state of Jerusalem under the power of Antichrist.               

"For three and a half days men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth." The phrase "inhabitants of the earth " is often used in Scripture to denote unrepentant sinners.  The only prophets unrepentant sinners love are dead ones. (John 3:19-20; 7:7) They hate the truth and light that exposes their sin, and their evil and vileness is seen here as they treat these two dead men like animals on the side of the road. An unburied body was particularly offensive to Jews and in the East in general. It seems this is a worldwide celebration by means of television and communication satellites.                               

"But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on." Can you imagine the TV reporter who along with other unrepentant people are laughing as he points his camera over and over again at the two dead bodies and then all of a sudden right there on worldwide TV–  "they stood on their feet" and then a loud voice from heaven says, COME UP HERE, and they ascend to heaven as a shocked and unrepentant world watches in absolute terror.                                                       

"At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors ("remnant" in KJV) were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven." [ As I said in my July letter, John MacArthur, Arnold Fruchtenbaum and other commentators believe that this event here in chapter 11 is when the one-third remnant seen in Zechariah 13 will be completed and "all Israel will be saved" (Rom. 11:26) i.e., the ones left on earth who have not been killed by God's wrath through the Antichrist. "In the whole land," declares the LORD, "two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are my people,' and they will say, 'The LORD is our God.' "(Zechariah 13:8-9)]                                                         

"The second woe is past; behold, the third woe is coming quickly.  Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of  His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever." And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, "We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who is and who was, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth." And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm." These final verses (14-19) give a panorama of the rest of the book, future events being seen as already happening; Christ's eternal reign, the judgment of raging nations/people (Psalm 2; Rev. 20:11-15) and the rewarding of God's people. (1 Cor. 3:10-15) ["No doctrine in the whole Word of God has more excited the hatred of mankind than the truth of the absolute sovereignty of God. The fact that 'the Lord reigneth' is indisputable, and it is this fact that arouses the utmost opposition in the unrepentant human heart."   Charles Spurgeon]   ["God's wrath comes upon man's rebellion, his rebellion precisely against his creaturely role; man cannot escape responsibility for his fitness for destruction; on the contrary, in striking free from God he assumed the primary responsibility for what he became." (Dunn, 567) This is a quote from Matt Stone's paper at Dallas Theological Seminary on Romans 9].

Until He comes,                                                                                 

Len and Kristen

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