Tuesday, November 08, 2011
A STUDY OF REVELATION 11:5
A Study of Revelation 11:5
It is very important that we understand this chapter very well. When considered carefully, the first two verses in this chapter, lead us to the conclusion that Jerusalem and the temple and worshippers must not be taken literally, but must be understood in the symbolic sense of the word. In the New Testament Jerusalem is not the “holy city”.
In this chapter Jerusalem is the symbol for all of Christendom worldwide.
The city outside the temple and outside the court of the temple is used as typifying the false church, which is representing the masses of Christianity who are led astray by their church leaders, but who consider it a shame if they were not baptized in water. But they have rejected the Biblical meaning of Christ Crucified by rejecting the essential doctrines of the blood of atonement.
The court outside the temple symbolizes the show-church, which is the group of people outwardly belonging to the true worshippers of God, but who never became saved. They go to church together with the saints, but they never were saved.
And finally, the temple building proper is symbolic of the real, spiritual body of Christ, the holy city, the elect of God, who certainly shall be saved or who have already been saved.
In our study on the two witnesses represented the New Testament church. More specifically, the two candlesticks represent that part of the New Testament congregation that is truly saved, and the two olive trees represent the Elders and Teachers who are feeding the New Testament congregation with spiritual food, so that the congregation can let their light shine with more knowledge and understanding. Near the end of time the show-church and the false church shall join hands, and together they shall trample under foot the holy city and all those who worship therein. This interpretation is supported by the remainder of this chapter.
The two witnesses cannot represent two persons, two individuals, for the simple reason that the bodies of the two witnesses are observed by all the people and kindreds and tongues and nations of the world. It is not possible that two individuals will affect the whole world that intensely in their life and in their death.
In their life they were the objects of universal hatred and contempt, and their death appears also as an object of universal joy. It is not conceivable that two religious people in a single city would cause so much commotion throughout the whole world. Only when we conceive the two witnesses to represent the church, in the world, according to Scripture, shall we be able to understand their influence throughout the entire world, and shall we understand the full impact of all that is declared here in this chapter. And thus we see the two witnesses as representing the body of believers, the body of truly saved individuals, the Bride of Christ, spreading the Gospel throughout the world until the end comes.
In this study we will take an intense look at Revelation 11:5, and thus this present study concerns:
The Witnessing Church (Revelation 11:1-8, Exodus 7:1)
Let us pick up the context, beginning at verse 1 of this chapter,
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.
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.
As their name already indicates, the two witnesses must bear testimony of the truth and of the name of Jesus Christ. The church with its ministry is placed as a testimony in the world, to declare to the world that all are in need of salvation from their slippery slide into Hell, and that there is salvation only by grace through faith in the saving work of Christ crucified.
That is the sole calling of the church. Some people believe that they can witness just by their actions, or by their lifestyle. Well, first of all our actions are not so perfect all the time. And the unsaved world watches every move we make. And they are quick to catch us in our not so good works every time.
Secondly if Mary thinks that she can witness to her neighbor just by her actions, then on the Last Day when the angels pick up that neighbor and cast him into Hell, he wonders “Why was Mary such a good person?” No, it is certain that witnesses must speak. A silent witness is impossible. Moreover, the witnesses are called to prophesy. And thus they are called prophets.
What must they prophesy?
Must they prophesy the future?
Certainly the church must bear testimony in the world of the future Judgment that is coming on all the unsaved, and of the future glory that is coming on all those who have become saved, and that they will be elevated to the status of children of God. But that is not the only thing prophets must do. A prophet must also speak the words God has given him or her. Just like Aaron was the prophet of Moses in Exodus 7:1, so the church is called to be the prophet of Christ, and the prophet of Christ speaks for Christ, on His authority and in His name. And this is also indicated by the symbolism of the candlesticks and of the olive trees. The purpose of a candlestick is that it may give light; and the two olive trees supply the oil that is necessary to keep the candlestick burning. They both must be witnesses in the world and mouthpieces of Christ. But at the same time they must witness in the church, before the people of God, so that the people of God may receive more light to shine for the Lord of the whole earth. This is the task of the two witnesses, who are also called “the witnessing church”. We who believe are members of “the witnessing church”.
And what will be the content of our message?
We find our commission in the Bible, the Word of our God. We stand before the Lord of the whole earth. We are servants of the Lord of the whole earth. And thus we will speak of nothing else than that which our Lord has commissioned us to speak. We speak of Christ and His atoning blood. We speak of Christ crucified as the only way to redemption from the state of sin and the only way to receive the righteousness that God requires for entrance into His holy heaven. That blood is the witness to the glory of God in the midst of a world of sin. And thus, there is no hope in man, but only in the blood of the Redeemer. Therefore we openly condemn all efforts to seek salvation outside of that atoning blood, and we openly condemn the preaching that man can save himself by making a decision to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. We bear the name of Christ in two ways.
In the first place, we bear that name to fields where it never was mentioned before, over all the world. In our missionary efforts we carry the sound of that name before all people and nations and kindreds and tongues.
But secondly, we also bear that name into our immediate surroundings. We bear that name in the midst of Jerusalem, in the midst of the false church as well as in the midst of the show-church. When the false church attacks the truth and tramples under foot the blood of Christ, we the church and the servants of God in the church shall stand upon the basis of God’s infallible Word, and defend it over against the enemy.
Thirdly, when the world indulges in sin and selfishness more and more, we speak of Judgment and wrath to come, and we warn them that they may enter into a state of no return. They may arrive at a state where God gives them up to a world of uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, or where God gives them over to a reprobate mind. And thus we display the glory of God’s name in Jesus Christ our Lord in the midst of a world that does not want to hear of this glorious God in the first place.
What will be the response of Satan and this world with a reprobate mind?
We read here in Revelation 11 that they will try to hurt us.
But what will be God’s provision for us in our defense?
We read here about:
The Fire of the Two Witnesses (Revelation 11:5, Matthew 10:28)
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.
Could this mean that we will be literally fire-breathing witnesses?
Would we be so powerful that we can kill our enemies at will?
And you can see that this is altogether anathema to the concept of followers of Christ. The followers of Jesus Christ are not going around zapping people with fire so that they will immediately be condemned to Hell. Instead we want them to live, so that they eventually may come to repentance, if God wills. And secondly, if we would indeed be able to zap all our enemies, then no one would be able to touch us and kill us, like we read in verse 7. And so we realize that these two witnesses do not literally kill those who come against them. This fire must have a spiritual meaning But then the killing must also have a spiritual meaning, and this spiritual meaning of killing must be carried through consistently in verse 7, where the two witnesses are killed.
Let us then consider that the two witnesses kill with the fire that proceedeth out of their mouth. God emphasized it here by saying it twice in verse 5. It is as if the Lord were afraid that it should be misunderstood, so does He emphasize it. Not by the sword, nor by the strength of their arm, but by the fire that comes out of their mouths are their enemies, who try to hurt them, killed.
What does it mean to hurt these two witnesses?
How can the church possibly be hurt?
Do you hurt the church by persecution and tribulation?
If that were the case, then this verse must be understood in the literal sense of the word. And if this verse is to be understood literally, then these witnesses literally kill their enemies, and take their lives away. But that would be altogether contrary to Christ’s command to His disciples. Besides, you do not hurt the church by persecution. You do not hurt the people of God by doing them physical harm. You cannot even hurt them by taking their lives away. As a matter of fact, these witnesses are willing to lose their lives for Christ’s sake. They have learned of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 10:28, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul”. Therefore these two witnesses can never be hurt in the physical sense.
But you CAN hurt these two witnesses if you touch them in their spiritual existence. If you make them waver in their testimony, or treat them unjustly, or if you try and lead them to deny Christ, or seek to cause them to renounce the truth, or if you make them to be silent in regard to the Word of truth, then indeed you have hurt them. And so, what does it mean that the two witnesses are:
Killing Their Adversaries? (Jeremiah 5:14-17, 2 Kings 1, Revelation 22:18, Revelation 14:11, 1 Corinthians 14:21)
If anyone tries to silence the Word of truth, fire proceedeth out of the mouth of the two witnesses, and in this manner the opponents are killed. No, not killed in the literal sense, but their arguments are silenced. That is what the killing really means: They are silenced by the words that come out of their mouths.
You find Jeremiah right after Isaiah. We must not think of the fire that Elijah called for in 2 Kings 1, when Elijah called for fire upon the captain and his fifties, for that fire came down from heaven; it did not come out of his mouth.
Where in the Word of God do we read that fire came out of the mouth of a prophet?
We find it in Jeremiah 5:14. In this chapter of Jeremiah God is very angry at the people of Jerusalem for speaking so many lies in His name. Because the prophets cry “peace, peace”, when there is no peace, and the prophets speak words that are not from God, therefore God comes with this judgment upon them. He says in Jeremiah 5:14,
Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.
The context of Jeremiah 5:14 is that of the lies proclaimed in the name of the Lord.
We should be careful to note that “you” and “ye” always refers to a plural number of people, whereas “thou” and “thee” refers to a singular person.
And thus God says in verse 14, “Because ye, the people of Jerusalem, speak this word, or claim to speak these messages in my name, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, words in thy mouth Jeremiah becomes like fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.”
This people shall be the wood that the fire out of your mouth shall burn. The words out of Jeremiah’s mouth shall proclaim the wrath of God upon them, and God’s wrath shall devour them.
Can we see a similar situation today?
Do we recognize churches today where the men bring messages that are not from the Word of God?
They claim that God spoke to them last night in a dream, or in a vision, or in an angel visitation, or in a tongue, and this and that is what God told them. But they are violating the Word of God in Revelation 22:18, where God states that He will no longer bring any divine revelation from God. God finished speaking on the last page of the Bible, and God promises that if anyone claims to have received additional revelation from God, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this Book.
What are those plagues?
Revelation 14:11 states it very well, “The smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever.”
Churches where people speak in tongues believe that God is not finished speaking, but that God is still bringing divine revelations today, especially in dreams and visions and angel visitations and in a message spoken in a strange tongue. But in this message of Jeremiah 5:14, as well as in 1 Corinthians 14:21, God promises that the nation of tongue speakers will be like an army whose tongue they do not understand, and they will overrun the church and destroy the church. We read in Jeremiah 5:15-17,
Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel, saith the LORD: it is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say.
Their quiver is as an open sepulchre, they are all mighty men.
And they shall eat up thine harvest, and thy bread, which thy sons and thy daughters should eat: they shall eat up thy flocks and thine herds: they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig trees: they shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword.
Historically God refers to the nation of Babylon that will come upon Judah and Jerusalem. It was a nation whose language they do not understand, and they will totally destroy the nation of Judah.
Because they were worshipping gods of their own making and not the God of the Bible. They falsely claimed to have received messages from God. They wished to do harm to Jeremiah by opposing him with other messages supposedly from God, trying to make the words of Jeremiah of none effect. But God’s message to Jeremiah was that his words shall be like fire and the people as wood. Their opposition shall not stand. It shall not hurt the prophet, but it shall hurt his opponents a great deal more by condemning them to Hell. The same situation applies in Revelation 11:5.
The two witnesses shall meet with opposition. The enemy from the false church throughout the entire New testament period shall try to hurt them, because the false church believes that God is still speaking today, or they believe in conditional salvation, or the false gospel of sacramentalism, works salvation, or may deny the absolute sovereignty of God. Others will seek to bind them with heavy burdens, and teach doctrines and commandments of men, while others will teach antinomianism and hate the witnesses for teaching against divorce and remarriage and in the process expose their promotion of adultery within the church. They shall try to make the two witnesses renounce the truth.
They shall accuse the two witnesses of worshipping a God who is cruel, predestinating people to Hell, and that He is not a God of love, and that He is not a God who rewards people with salvation even though they have diligently been seeking Him.
They shall claim that the two witnesses have sinned against the Holy Spirit by condemning the Charismatic Movement.
And they shall claim a great deal more against the two witnesses. But all the time these opponents meet with the fire that proceedeth out of the mouth of the two witnesses. It is not their own words, but the Word of God is in their mouths. And before that Word the enemy shall not be able to stand, but be completely defeated. It is in this manner that the two witnesses shall fight their spiritual battles, in harmony with their character as witnesses, and in harmony with the Word of God as their weapon. And in this they are invulnerable. This is how their adversaries are killed: they are being silenced.
By Alfred J. Chompff