HANG ON IN THERE
Lord, thank You for protecting Your people.
Read REVELATION 11:1–14
The Two Witnesses
11 I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers. 2 But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. 3 And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 They are “the two olive trees” and the two lampstands, and “they stand before the Lord of the earth.”[a] 5 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. 6 They have power to shut up the heavens 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.
7 Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. 8 Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city—which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt—where also their Lord was crucified. 9 For three and a half days some from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. 10 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.
11 But after the three and a half days the breath[b] of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. 12 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.
13 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 were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
14 The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon.
a Revelation 11:4 See Zech. 4:3,11,14.
b Revelation 11:11 Or Spirit (see Ezek. 37:5,14)
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Remember in prayer and support the parts of the world where to stand up for your faith means to suffer.
John, like Ezekiel (Ezek. 40–48), is told to measure the temple, but not the Court of the Gentiles. God will protect and preserve his people from the violence that lies ahead, though they will not be immune to suffering. Here is hope for the persecuted church in all ages. The imagery is powerful, given the Roman destruction of the temple a few years earlier in A.D. 70. The suffering of the church is time-limited; worship and witness will continue. Indeed, the reason the church suffers is because she witnesses: we must preach while enduring persecution. The period mentioned may relate to the drought in Elijah’s time (Jas. 5:17,18) and to the time it took for the Maccabees’ rebellion to overthrow Antiochus Epiphanes (June 168 to December 165 B.C.), after which the temple was cleansed and consecrated.
The proclamation of the church through persecution marches forth via two mysterious witnesses, whose ministry and suffering are described. Two witnesses are needed in a court of law. In the Old Testament two mighty witnesses stood against overwhelming forces, namely Moses (Law) and Elijah (prophets); both were witnesses to the transfiguration (Matt. 17:3).
The faithful witnesses are overpowered and killed by an unidentified beast. Their bodies are left to rot, the party begins, and evil can now roam free. This could be Sodom, Babylon, Jerusalem and Rome—or cities today. However, death never has the last word. God is still on his throne. The martyred and silenced church is resurrected. Adversity and growth go hand in hand. The church rises from extinction, time and again. As Elijah ascended on a chariot of fire, or Jesus ascended into heaven, so the church rises to glory while her enemies look on. Then the second woe, an earthquake, visits the earth. Many die, but now at least some people wake up, take God seriously, and give him the glory due him.
”The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church” (Tertullian, Apologeticus, A.D. 197). Witness can be costly, but it does bear lasting fruit.
Lord, when Your judgment finally falls upon a God-defying world, remember those who served You when the times were good.