Of the two witnesses.
Revelation 11: 5-6 LITV
And if anyone desires to harm them, fire comes out of their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone desires to harm them, so it is right for him to be killed. (6) These have the authority to shut up the heaven, that no rain may rain in the days of their prophecy. And they have authority over the waters, to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.
Let's make some assumptions here.
- I am convinced that we are dealing with a pre-tribulation rapture. So I will approach this primarily from this point of view. So let's say the tribulation comes and immediately the witnesses show up. What would have happened only a short time before their arrival?
- Potentially, as nations have amassed against Israel, the firestorm of Ezekiel 38, 39 has come. The author Joel C. Rosenberg, wrote a book entitled “The Copper Scroll”. A fictional story based in the reality of scripture and the fact that there really is a copper scroll. The book opens with the world, primarily Muslims, attempting to recover from the firestorm from the skies (Islam would not admit that God might have had his hand in this) that has wiped the dome of the rock off the map leaving only some charred rubble, and left the armies that gathered against Israel dead on the nearby hillsides. All the world will be looking at Israel. This is not even taking into consideration the potential rapture scenario.
- Another scenario. Many chose to believe that the two witnesses appear at mid-tribulation. If that is the case what are the obvious factors? Sticking with the knowns: Either the temple has been built or may be in the process of being built. Regardless the Muslims are not giving up the temple mount without a fight. Suppose that fight has taken place and they have lost, giving Israel the ability to clear the dome and build. As usual all eyes will be on Israel because tensions will be high, and the two witnesses will suddenly appear, wreaking even more havoc as they spew fire out of their mouths and stop the rain at will.
- Perhaps what might be happening will be that the harpazo or rapture has taken place. People from every walk of life and nation will disappear. Planes will fall from the sky; cars will crash; banking at it's best be severely hampered; law enforcement, rescue teams, and normal work operations will be without personnel. Pregnant mothers will be instantly without babies, and children under the age of accountability will be missing. That means that elementary schools will be vacant of children, instantly. Try for a moment to imagine the pandemonium as mothers alone scream in desperate search for their children that are now with the Lord. Nations will have to react as normal citizens begin to panic, screaming about aliens and conspiracies. Marshall law will be declared and people, especially those that speak out against the government, or for God, will be detained and disappear. I do not think that you can get past Ezekiel 38,39 therefore something will happen, almost of global proportion, either before or immediately after the rapture, that draws all the attention to Israel. I venture every network camera will be there recording the events as they unfold.
November and December of 2012 saw two major events.
- After continuous missile attacks from Hamas, Israel fought back. What was the public outcry? How horrible Israel was. The ensuing buildup of hatred and animosity rises.
- A recent majority vote in the UN gave the Palestinians statehood. While this maybe a symbolic gesture but watch as many attempt, through violent means, to eliminate Israel as a nation/state, and claim Jerusalem/Palestine as their capital. Mohamed Morsi of Egypt has already made the assertion that Jerusalem will be Egypt's capital, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the current president of Iran, has proclaimed that Israel will be wiped off the map.
What is my point?
God is placing his two witnesses right in the midst of this kaos. Of course they (the Muslims) will try, on a daily basis, to kill them. Angry at the Jews, and angry at God, people from every nation will try to kill “God's” representatives.
Scripture tells us that the nations will overrun the city and will have control of the outer court of the rebuilt temple.
Revelation 11:2-3 LITV And cast aside the outside court of the temple, and do not measure it. For it was given to the nations, and they will trample the holy city forty two months. (3) And I will give to My two witnesses, and they will prophesy a thousand, two hundred and sixty days, dressed in sackcloth.
The word “and” tends to tie the two thoughts together. I realize that the implications are that this puts them at a mid-tribulation arrival, but the word and is not set in stone and can also mean “but.” Look at the Moffat translation of this passage. Moffat is not the only one that sees this in this manner.
Revelation 11:3 Moffatt NT (3) But I will allow my two witnesses to prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clad in sackcloth
I do not see a directive mandating a chronological point of view, and therefore cannot necessarily tie the two witnesses to the tragic end of a rebuilt temple.
“If any man will hurt them,...”
Revelation 11:5 LITV And if anyone desires to harm them, fire comes out of their mouth and devours their enemies.
Because of the potential circumstances the two witnesses are being placed into, attempts on their life will be many, on a daily basis. Anyone attempting to kill them will be burned to death on the street. Not only will there be an instantaneous response, but it says desire. If I take that literally, I know many of you do or at least want to, then this means that the thought will be read and you will be destroyed with fire. (This brought back an image from the movie Minority Report, in which future intent was perceived and dealt with as though the crime had been committed.
Flame throwers have been used in war as a method of getting shooters out of caves and tunnels. There is a limit to the range of such weapons, but then we are not talking about a weapon but God himself. Trust me on this. When the frontal attacks fail they will try to take the two witnesses out with snipers, well outside of out what they believe to be harms way. This means that God will give the two witnesses insight as to who and where their enemies are, and regardless of how well hidden or their distance, they will be toast. Most will die on the streets before their feet.
“They have power to shut up the sky, so that no rain falls during the days when they are prophesying;”
Revelation 11:6 Moffatt NT (6) ... they have power to shut up the sky, so that no rain falls during the days when they are prophesying; and they have power over the waters, to turn them into blood, and also to smite the earth with all manner of plagues as often as they choose.
Three and one half years of no rain. Not just in one spot as a demonstration, but wherever they deem necessary. Keep in mind that these men are also carrying out the judgment of God upon this earth.
“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.”
Dramatic? Yes, but God is not interested in giving anyone a good show for the entertainment value. He is always trying to make a point.
Under God's direction, Moses presented himself before Pharaoh's court. (Much can be written about the background of this scene and why Moses had any right to be standing here.)
Exodus covers the events. Turn there to chapter 5 and you can see the story unfolding as Moses begins telling Pharaoh, “let my people go!”.
Exodus 5:1 NIV Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness.'"
Exodus 7:8-13 NIV The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, (9) "When Pharaoh says to you, 'Perform a miracle,' then say to Aaron, 'Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,' and it will become a snake." (10) So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. (11) Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: (12) Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs. (13) Yet Pharaoh's heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the LORD had said.
Although I have heard this story many times it seems I did not read it. As God is introducing himself to Moses, proving to Moses that he means what he says, God has Moses throw down a staff. That staff turned into a serpent. That would have had me hopping for cover. Moses, at God's command, picked the serpent up and it turned back into a staff.
I mentioned previously that prophecy to the Jew is pattern, and God has now demonstrated his power and intent once to Moses. Moses upon his trek back to Egypt is met by his brother Aaron, and Moses shows him that God is real and means business by throwing the staff down again; it responds by turning into a serpent once again. You might think that throwing this staff down could be a dangerous thing to do at this point. The pattern is now established in Moses mind, and Aaron is now paying attention as well. Just to make it interesting Aaron had a staff as well. God is not limited by who owns the staff, and God tells Moses to have Aaron to thrown down his own staff.
When you toss out the staff and the Egyptians do the same thing, with the same results, what do you do next? Apparently nothing as Aaron's staff ate theirs. God had already warned Moses that he would harden Pharaoh's heart, and he did. The next phase was the turning of water into blood and the plagues upon the people and the land.
The two witnesses are given the freedom to do the very same things. You want an idea of what is still coming, continue reading what Moses did to Egypt. Do not anticipate anything less. And you can add all this on top of what Revelation has already been spelling out, in terms of judgment, upon the world.
In a previous post I talked about the aspects of being a witness. http://omharris.com/2012/12/19/certainly-there-is-a-chronology-to-the-revelation/
While one may testify as to what they saw, another can tell you how great something is, and yet another is proactive, demonstrating with all authority in the absence of the creator. This last aspect is what I believe these two witnesses are doing. They are walking out the power and presence of God that man has shunned, ignored, and denied. Peter stood on the day of Pentecost, freshly filled with the Holy Spirt and with the fire of God. (By the way. I believe that while fresh is exciting and new, maturity causes the gift to ripen and become more full-bodied, and the recipient, which is anyone who desires it, becomes more skillful at delivery and their ability to hear the spirits voice clearly.) Spoke, driven by that power, and said,
Acts 2:14-21 Moffatt NT (14) But Peter stood up along with the eleven, and raising his voice he addressed them thus: "Men of Judaea and residents in Jerusalem, let everyone of you understand this — attend to what I say: (15) these men are not drunk, as you imagine. Why, it is only nine in the morning! (16) No, this is what was predicted by the prophet Joel — (17) In the last days, saith God, then will I pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams: (18) on my very slaves and slave-girls in those days will I pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. (19) And I will display wonders in heaven above and signs on earth below, blood and fire and vapour of smoke: (20) the sun shall be changed into darkness and the moon into blood, ere the great, open Day of the Lord arrives. (21) And everyone who invokes the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Do you not realize that this passage was referring to the last days, and yet Peter put it into the present tense. Applying it not only to himself, but our lives and children as well. It says, “And everyone who invokes the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Saved from what, and to what degree?
If the rapture has come and gone, then clearly he is not talking about being saved from the wrath to come. When we speak of the wrath to come what are we talking about? The tribulation years. While many have experienced horrible tribulations, and many are going through horrible tribulations even as we speak, this is not the tribulation that we are to expect. Jesus told you that it would be so bad that if God did not cut short time no man would survive it. And yet based upon what Peter said you can not only prophesy, but be saved by using the name of the Lord. To help defined what I mean allow me to show you something from the book of Hebrews.
Hebrews 11:7 Wuest 7 By faith Noah, having been divinely warned concerning the things not seen, with reverential care prepared an ark for the preservation of his household; by means of which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
Hebrews 11:23 GW Faith led Moses' parents to hide him for three months after he was born. They did this because they saw that Moses was a beautiful baby and they were not afraid to disobey the king's order.
Hebrews 11:29 GW Faith caused the people to go through the Red Sea as if it were dry land. The Egyptians also tried this, but they drowned.
Hebrews 11:32-34 GW What more should I say? I don't have enough time to tell you about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. (33) Through faith they conquered kingdoms, did what God approved, and received what God had promised. They shut the mouths of lions, (34) put out raging fires, and escaped death. They found strength when they were weak. They were powerful in battle and defeated other armies.
Now here comes the hard part; the part that no one wants to hear.
Hebrews 11:35-38 GW Women received their loved ones back from the dead. Other believers were brutally tortured but refused to be released so that they might gain eternal life. (36) Some were made fun of and whipped, and some were chained and put in prison. (37) Some were stoned to death, sawed in half, and killed with swords. Some wore the skins of sheep and goats. Some were poor, abused, and mistreated. (38) The world didn't deserve these good people. Some wandered around in deserts and mountains and lived in caves and holes in the ground.
Hebrews 11:39 ISV All these people won approval for their faith but they did not receive what was promised,
While God can and will show his mighty hand through some, others, will like sheep be led off, tortured and or killed. I suspect that the numbers of people that make a stand for Jesus, and the added distraction that the judgments of God bring, will cause them to not waste much time torturing people. You will merely be beheaded. Islam is not terribly interested in a conversion process, there will not be time for that. Therefore the killings will be methodically fast and global.
There is no getting around this. The end result will be the death of the saints for those coming through the tribulation. I know this because it is laid out in the Revelation. The only reason I can see for some showing such power and strength, is to cause others to come to Jesus, and give many the hope they need to carry on their testimony. How strong will you be when they torture you, or even worse, torture your children before you. Isaiah the prophet testified that, “they will dash your children upon stones before your feet.”
Revelation 7:13-14 ISV "Who are these people wearing white robes," one of the elders asked me, "and where did they come from?" (14) I told him, "Sir, you know." Then he told me, "These are the people who are coming out of the terrible suffering. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.
I feel confident in saying that all that come to the Lord through the tribulation years will be killed. I do not see it any other way, and yes it will quite possibly hurt. Keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus Christ and the hope of eternity with him will bring you through.
Let me point something out. Logic and current directions the world is going make Islam the logical choice for terminology. I am not interested in making you a hater of people, I am merely pointing out that the scriptures tell us clearly that such a person with a vile hatred of Christians and Jews will and already exists. Knowing the background of Islam, it fits the bill even now. So what can you do about it? Until that day comes you pray that God stops the hand of the enemy (really that is Satan empowering people.) and that God's will be done and that God's life find it's way into peoples hearts. God's plan will not be stopped or hindered, and yet Satan has spent all these years finding people willing to try. Allow the Holy Spirit give you a peace and confidence that surpasses your understanding, as you walk calmly through this life, what is left of it. The words of the Apostle Peter still ring true today, just as they did the moment he proclaimed, “this day are these words fulfilled in your ears.” And he quoted Joel chapter two. I am declaring to you that we can, should, and are walking in the spirit of power and prophecy. Allow God to move through you. Give yourself to him and let the Holy Spirit possess you and trust him as he tells you to thrown down the proverbial staff.