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Back To The Future – Sermon #26

 

Revelation 11:1-14

TWO WITNESSES FROM ANOTHER WORLD

Intro: We are still in a parenthetical of Scripture. God is describing a break in the action of the Tribulation as He takes care of some heavenly business. As I mentioned in our last study, this is one of the most difficult passages in the Revelation to interpret.

      There are two facts to keep in mind as we study these verses.

1.  We are on Jewish ground – The images and words used are Jewish in nature.

2.  We are dealing with events related to the future – The book of Revelation details future events. Any other interpretation destroys its meaning and purpose.

      In verses 1-2 we discovered that a new Jewish temple will be built in Jerusalem. The Jews will consecrate a priesthood and they will offer animal sacrifices as prescribed in the Law of Moses. They will worship God under the old covenant, not recognizing the fact that Jesus shed His precious blood once for all to save the souls of humanity.

      The next vision we are given is of two special witnesses. God sends two ambassadors from Heaven to preach His Gospel message to the people in Jerusalem. It is these men and their ministry that we want to consider today. I would like to share the insights this passage gives us concerning these Two Witnesses From Another World.

 

  I. v. 3-7  THE MINISTRY OF THE TWO WITNESSES

A.  v. 3-4 How Their Ministry Is Designed – These two men are raised up for a special purpose. These two verses tell us much about these men and what they are sent to do.

1. They are called witnesses – This word translates the word that gives us our English word “Martyr”. The word originally referred to someone who gave testimony about something; a witness. However, as so many Christians began to give their lives for the cause of Christ, the word came to be associated with those who gave their lives for their faith. These two men have come to witness to God’s truth and, as we shall see, they will give their lives for Him too.

2.  They are sent as a team – God always has His witnesses! In the days before the flood, God had His Noah. In the dark days of idolatry in Israel, the prophet Elijah complained to the Lord that he was all alone in the fight against sin. God told Elijah that there were over 7,000 that had not bowed their knee to Baal, 1 Kings 19:14; 18. God has always had His witness teams: Moses and Aaron; Joshua and Caleb; and Paul and Silas. God sends two witnesses because He wants the truth to be established. The Law stipulated that matters had to be established by the word of two witnesses, Deut. 19:15; Matt. 18:16.

3.  They are sent to prophesy. What will be the content of their message? No one knows for sure, but I think they will stand outside the newly completed Temple and preach Jesus to the Jews in Jerusalem. They will talk about how Jesus Christ has fulfilled all the type and symbols. They will tell of His death, His resurrection and of His return. They will prove from the Word of God that the Temple and its worship are vain. They will preach the Gospel of grace and salvation through Jesus Christ. They will tell the people that Antichrist will desecrate the Temple. These men will be hated by Jew and Gentile because of the message they will preach.

4.  They will be clothed in sackcloth – Sackcloth is a symbol of mourning. These men will not come with a message a peace, comfort and hope. They will bring a message of condemnation and judgment to a wayward people.

5.  Their ministry will last for three and one-half years – While we cannot be too sure of when their ministry will begin, we can safely say that they will commence their preaching sometime after the Temple is built there in Jerusalem.

6.  They are described as “olive trees” and “candlesticks” – This is symbolic of God’s hand on their ministry. The olive tree is the source of olive oil. It is often a type of the Holy Spirit in the Bible. These men are anointed by the Spirit of God for their particular ministry. The “olive tree” speaks of their unction. The “candlestick” speaks of their function. They will come to bring the light of God’s message to a darkened world.

B.  v. 5  How Their Ministry Is Defended – These two men will be extremely unpopular because of the message they have been sent to deliver. As a result, many will try to kill them. But, these men are under divine protection. Everyone who tries to kill them will be killed by them. They will have the power to destroy their attackers with fire from their mouths.

 

      (Note: As long as you are in the Lord’s will, you are invincible! He will keep His hedge of protection about you and keep you safe until it is time for Him to take you home to glory. Until the Lord gets finished with you, no man or no devil can harm you!)

 

C.  v. 6  How Their Ministry Is Described – These two men will be able to use miraculous signs to prove the authenticity of their message. They will be able to shut up the heavens as Elijah did. They will be able to turn water to blood and call down plagues from Heaven as Moses did. They will have immense power at their disposal and they will be able to use it whenever they wish.

 

(Note: There are many modern preachers who claim to have the ability to perform miracles. The only problem with them is that they are liars! They are not healing, raising the dead, etc. they are charlatans and hucksters, who only care about getting their hands of the money of those deluded people who fall for their lies. These two witnesses, on the other hands, will be the real deal! They will preach God’s message and validate it with wonders and miracles!)

 

(Note: Before we move deeper in this passage, let’s take a minute to talk about who these men might be. First, let me say that no one knows for sure. The Bible does not identify them and no one can say with absolute certainty just who they are.

      There are a couple of guesses and I will share those with you and the reasons why certain men are mentioned.

1.  Moses and Elijah – According to Mal. 4:5, Elijah will return before Jesus comes. John the Baptist fulfilled this prophecy according to Jesus, Matt. 11:14; 17:10-13. However, Malachi says that Elijah would come “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,” Malachi 4:5-6.

            Also, consider the fact that Elijah never died in light if Heb. 9:27. And consider the fact that one of the miracle the two witnesses will perform will be the stopping of the rain. This was one of Elijah’s miracles, 1 Kings 17:1.

      As for Moses, he is mentioned in Malachi 4:4 just before Elijah is mentioned in verse 5. The miracles performed by the two witnesses are reminiscent of those preformed by Moses in Exodus. And, it was Moses and Elijah who appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.

2.  Enoch – Some people believe that it will be Enoch with either Moses or Elijah. Enoch was a preacher of righteousness, Jude 1:14. And, Enoch never tasted of death, Gen. 5:24.

3.  We won’t know who they are until they come. All that we really need to know is that God always has His witnesses!

 

  I.  The Ministry Of The Two Witnesses

 

 II.  v. 7-10  THE MASSACRE OF THE TWO WITNESSES

A.  v. 7  The Reason For Their Deaths – When they have finished their appointed ministry, Antichrist will be allowed to kill them. Until that moment, they are protected by the hand of God and cannot be killed. We are told that they are killed by “the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit”. This is a reference to the Antichrist. He is called “the beast” 38 times in the Revelation. He ascends out of Hell itself letting us know that he is demonically charged and controlled. He will make war against the witnesses and he will be allowed to overcome them and kill them. We will learn more about him in coming weeks.

 

(Note: There is a blessed nugget here for every saint of God. Death is not in the hands of a man or of a devil. Death is in the hands of God Almighty. He decides when people leave this world and you cannot die until He says it is time. So many people live their lives in fear of death. They fail to grasp the truth that death is powerless against them until God severs the golden cord of life and allows death to claim the soul. There is, therefore, no need to fear men, armies or devils. You will not die until He says it is time and you will not live a second longer when He says it is time to go! Ill. Isa. 54:17.)

 

B.  v. 8-10  The Reaction To Their Deaths – The bodies of these men will be left in the very streets where they were killed. They will lay there in Jerusalem and no one will remove their bodies or attempt to bury them. Verse 9 tells us that all the people of the earth will see this sight. Fifty years ago it was a mystery how this could happen. In our day, we see live events from around the world twenty-four hours a day. Satellite technology has made it possible for us to see what is happening on the other side of the world with less than 8 seconds delay in time. The cable news channels like Foxnews, CNN, MSNBC, etc will broadcast the images of these dead prophets around the clock.

      Verse 10 tells us that the people of the earth will rejoice because these two men are dead. For three and one-half years these men have preached the Gospel and caused plagues to be poured out on men. Now they are dead and the world celebrates. They act as if it were Christmas time. They celebrate, they party and they exchange gifts because these men are dead.

      Why do they do this? The preaching of these two witnesses drove them crazy. We are talking about a world that rejected Jesus Christ and His blood. They have turned a deaf ear to Bible preaching. They have given their allegiance to the devil and they do not want to hear about God. These men have been preaching the truth and their message of judgment and condemnation got under people’s skin. Now they are dead and the world throws a party! By the way, this is the only scene of joy on the earth during the whole Tribulation. And there are happy because God’s men are dead and God’s message is silent. What a tragedy!

 

(Note: Just for the record, the world will rejoice when old time Bible preaching is finally silenced. Now, they love the preaching of this crowd that exalts the flesh. They like that namby-pamby, milquetoast preaching that tells people they are okay. This world hates preaching that exalts Christ and demands holiness. This world hates preaching that stands on the Bible and says “there is no other way.” This world cannot stand preaching that closes the door of salvation to homosexuals, abortionists, murders and other sinners who won’t repent of their sins and turn to Jesus by faith. This world hates preaching that magnifies Jesus as the only way to get to God. They will rejoice when it is gone. Then, they can settle in and listen to the prophets of love and acceptance that flood the airwaves and be happy as they plug headlong into Hell. That is where we are today and things are just going to get worse as we approach the end of this thing!)

 

  I.  The Ministry Of The Two Witnesses

 II.  The Massacre Of The Two Witnesses

 

III.  v. 11-14  THE MIRACLE OF THE TWO WITNESSES

A.  v. 11  The Miracle Of Their Awakening – The bodies of these men are allowed to lie in the streets of Jerusalem for three and one-half days. The world has watched as their bodies turn blue, pass through the various stages of rigor mortis and begin to bloat. Then, a strange thing happens, those bodies begin to stir! The two witnesses stand to their feet and the world trembles in fear. Why does the world react in fear? The fact that these men are alive again after being dead for three days proves that they are the real deal. People know that they are men of God and that the message they have been preaching is true. Perhaps they understand that this is the work of God. Perhaps thy have a brief moment in time when they understand that they are headed for judgment!

 

(Note: Do you remember what you felt when you watched those airplanes slam into the Word Trade Center? Do you remember the anguish, the fear and the worry? Do you remember feeling as though your world had just been upended? Imagine what those people will feel. There in the midst of their celebration, they are interrupted by a resurrection. They will watch it on live television. They will see it for themselves. They are interrupted by proof positive that God, not man, not Satan, not Antichrist, is really in control.)

 

B.  v. 12  The Miracle Of Their Ascension – Then, while the world watches, the Lord God will reenact the Rapture, Rev. 4:1, and the two witnesses will rise up into Heaven. The world will see what it missed out on when Jesus came. Maybe they will comprehend in that moment of time what happened when millions of people disappeared in the Rapture of the church.

      The world will be given a clear testimony of the power of God Almighty! Satan, Antichrist and lost man will be reminded that God is in control of the world and all that happens in it. They will be helpless to stop this resurrection and rapture of the two witnesses.

C.  v. 13-14  The Miracle Of Their Avengement – Before the world can catch its collective breath, a great earthquake will hit Jerusalem. God judges the city which has denied Him and His Christ. A tenth part of the city will crumble to the ground and seven thousand people will die. We are told that “the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven”. This probably refers to a remnant of the Jews. They see these events, repent of their sins and call on Christ for salvation. God will use even these events to bring glory to His name!

 

Conc: In verse 14 we are told, “The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.” More horrors are on the way! The worst is yet to come and we are going to look into far more horrible things in coming weeks.

      Let me close with this thought: We think our world is in bad shape, and it is! We talk about the wickedness of men, the hardness of human hearts, and the evil that flourishes all around us. But, think about this: We are living in a world that is inhabited by the redeemed people of God; the Bible is here and it is preached around the world; the Holy Spirit is here suppressing evil and hindering its spread in the world. In the Tribulation Period, the church is gone, so no one is praying for the world. The Bible will probably be taken out of circulation. You can almost guarantee the fact that it won’t be preached in power and authority. The Spirit of God will leave when the church leaves. A world like that will grow more evil than you and I can comprehend. I am glad that I am saved and that I will not be here for those awful days.

      What about you? Are you saved? Are you trusting Jesus as your personal Savior today? If not, you can be! If you have strayed away from Him, you can come home today. If you have loved ones and acquaintances who will be left here for the horrors of the Tribulation, you can at least pray for them today.

      At the very least, we need to call on the Lord and ask Him to send us one more revival before the end comes. There is a multitude that needs to be saved. Let’s ask Him to use us to reach them before it is too late.

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