THE TWO WITNESSES
Mighty God, I speak words of praise, adoration, and thanksgiving to you. I rejoice before you.
Read REVELATION 11
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.
The Seventh Trumpet
15 The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:
“The kingdom of the world has become
the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
and he will reign for ever and ever.”
16 And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying:
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
the One who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power
and have begun to reign.
18 The nations were angry,
and your wrath has come.
The time has come for judging the dead,
and for rewarding your servants the prophets
and your people who revere your name,
both great and small—
and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”
19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm.
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.
Seek joy in the plain truth – and humility and patience with texts that are puzzling.
There are significant problems in the interpretation of this passage. It is wise to admit this and recognize that aspects of John’s symbolism may remain beyond our ability to understand. There is, however, a link between the instruction to prophesy about peoples and nations1 and the ‘two witnesses’ (v 3) who have a prophetic role to ‘some from every people, tribe, language, and nation’ (v 9). These figures seem to represent the church called to a prophetic witness in a hostile world, and they are therefore liable to experience suffering and martyrdom in ways that mirror the crucifixion, humiliation, and ultimate triumph of their Lord. As Pablo Richard puts it, verses 7–13 reveal ‘the passover of the prophetic community: its passion, death, resurrection, and ascension’.2
It is, however, that costly witness which will eventually overcome the world. A few verses later we read of people who ‘gave glory to the God of heaven’ (v 13) and this triggers the joyful announcement that the kingdom of this world ‘has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah’ (v 15). The message of Revelation is that the people from all nations who rejected the witnesses and gloated over their unburied bodies will come to recognize the truth of their testimony and transfer their allegiance from the beast to the Lord God Almighty. Despite the difficulties in deciphering some of John’s symbols, this chapter contains a clear indication of ‘the way in which the church’s witness secures the repentance and faith of the nations’.3
Look again at the final phrase in verse 18. How does that relate to a Christian concern for creation?
Father God, I want to be a signpost for you, pointing those around me to you as Savior and Lord. Strengthen and empower my witness.
1 Rev 10:11 2 Pablo Richard, Apocalypse, 2008, p91 3 Richard Bauckham, The Theology of the Book of Revelation, 1993, p84
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