The Death and Life of the Two Witnesses
Hopefully you remember two weeks ago we began our look at the two witnesses in Revelation chapter eleven. We saw how they were in the city of Jerusalem. We saw how they were given the ability to minister for a period of time lasting approximately three and a half years. We saw how they preached a message of repentance toward God. We saw how God protected them during that period of time, killing any would-be attackers. Finally, we saw how the message of the witnesses was bolstered by their miracles. They were able to cause drought during their ministry, as well as turn water into blood. Finally, we talked about how these two witnesses remind us that as Christians, the world is not always going to like the message that we bear. But, despite persecution and hatred, we must be faithful to the message of the gospel. That counts for us as a church, and for you as individuals. Tonight, we’re going to look at what happens next to these two witnesses; and to see what the Bible says, you need to open your Bibles to Revelation chapter eleven, and we’re going to be reading verses seven through fourteen. Again, Revelation 11:7-14.
“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. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from Heaven saying unto them, ‘Come up hither.’ And they ascended up to Heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of Heaven. The second woe is past; and behold, the third woe cometh quickly.”
All right, several things to talk about tonight. The first thing I want you to notice is what happens in verse seven. Look at the first half of verse seven again. “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them.” Now last week I mentioned that these two unnamed witnesses will preach for 1,260 days. And the Bible says at the end of that period of time, a beast will ascend out of the bottomless pit to war against them. And that raises the question, “Who is this beast?” This is one of those times that the book of Revelation talks about something from Old Testament prophecy. You see, the beast in verse seven is first mentioned in Daniel chapter seven. In that chapter, the beast is said to be terrifying and incredibly strong. The beast is said to have great iron teeth, and it tramples things into the ground. In Daniel chapter seven, it is said to be the final beast. Now, combine that with the fact that the beast will ascend out of the bottomless pit, and we know that this beast is a representative of Satan, presumably the Antichrist. The feeling that I get reading through the book of Revelation is that at first, the Antichrist will come offering peace and prosperity, but by the half-way point of the Tribulation, he is shown for what he really is: a beast. So, I believe that the beast in this verse is the same Antichrist that rode in on a white horse in Revelation chapter six.
Let’s continue reading in verse seven. “Shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.” The two witnesses that preached the gospel of Jesus Christ will one day be murdered by the Antichrist. But hold on, wait a minute, in verse five the Bible says that God would give the witnesses the ability to kill anyone who tried to defeat them. Why was he able to kill them? Because back in verse three, the Bible says that they will minister for 1,260 days. So on day number 1,261, the Antichrist will come in and kill God’s two witnesses.
But what we have to realize tonight is that God had every bit of this under control. God planned for these two witnesses to do their job for exactly 1,260 days. And then on day 1,261, the very enemy of God came in and killed them. Church, God had this situation under control. I know it’s strange that God sometimes uses the sins of the wicked to accomplish His will, but He’s done it several times already in the book of Revelation. And God had the situation under control when He allowed Judas to betray Christ. Judas sinned. Sin is horrible. God took something horrible and turned it into the possibility of salvation for all. The Antichrist will do something exceedingly wicked when he kills the two witnesses; but when he does it, he will fall right into God’s plan that He laid before the foundations of the world.
Let’s move on. I want you to especially notice what happens after the witnesses are killed in verses eight through ten. “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. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.” Isn’t this horrible? The people just left the bodies in the street, because they wanted to gloat over their “victory.” But just for a moment, we need to put ourselves into the minds of these non-Christians. To them, these were two Bible thumpers that were entirely non-tolerant. I mean, all the people wanted to do was live life the way they saw fit, and these two witnesses continually told them that God’s morals are more important than our own. But even worse than that, these two men caused severe drought, and they caused water to turn to blood. And occasionally someone would try to stand up to these two people, but fire would come out of their mouths and consume them. And so, when the king of the present evil age personally came and killed them, the people rejoiced.
And church, as crazy as it may seem, the Holy Spirit is the only thing keeping us from the kind of inhumanity mentioned in these verses. I don’t want any of you to throw tomatoes at me, but I am entirely convinced that the biggest difference between me and Adolf Hitler is the Holy Spirit residing within me. I don’t know what kind of man I would be like without Christ, but as the Apostle Paul says, “such were some of you.” I am not condoning the horrors of what the people did after the witnesses were murdered. I am simply pointing out that the only reason I am not entirely wicked is because Jesus Christ has transformed my life. It’s helpful to keep that in perspective, because every day we deal with rude people. The only reason I’m not the rudest person on the street is because Jesus Christ is working in me.
Notice specifically what they did after the witnesses were killed. They left their bodies to rot on the street for three and a half days. And verse ten says that during this time, people were exchanging gifts with each other! It’s like they were celebrating a holiday! These witnesses will be completely and utterly mistreated. And you know, if this chapter stopped right now, then you may be wondering where God is in all of this mess. Because for three and a half days now, God’s servants have been mocked and trampled on. Maybe something similar is going on in your life right now. You don’t know the future, all you know is that right now things aren’t lining up for you like you would have imagined. Maybe you feel like life has trampled over you like the people in Jerusalem trampled the witnesses.
Maybe you’re beginning to wonder, where’s God in the mess of my life? Well, I hope that verses eleven and twelve will be of benefit to you. Look at what these two verses say. “And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from Heaven saying unto them, ‘Come up hither.’ And they ascended up to Heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.” Praise God! When it seemed as if the Antichrist had won the battle, God brought His servants back to life and called them back to Heaven. God won! And while I know you guys pretty well, I know that there are battles in all of our lives that we don’t let people know about. I want you to know that just because it seems as if the devil has already claimed the victory, God is still in control. God has a plan. Sometimes we would like to change the timing of His plan, but in the end, He knows best. I don’t know why God chose to leave their bodies in the streets for three and a half days, but I know that He got the last laugh. I know that His plan will be accomplished. And while that doesn’t always make difficult times easy, it should at least make them bearable.
After God calls His servants home, notice what God does in verse thirteen. He sends a massive earthquake that destroys one tenth of Jerusalem. The Bible even gives the total number of causalities: 7,000. I think that this earthquake will serve two purposes. First, the earthquake will give the last laugh to God and the two witnesses. Just in case some people missed the resurrection, they will for sure feel the earthquake. And I think the second purpose of the earthquake will be to judge the people for their wickedness. While God is entirely merciful and loving, He is also a just God, and He will punish sin. Revelation reminds us of that time and time again.
And finally, our passage ends tonight in verse fourteen. Verse fourteen tells us that two woes have passed, and the third woe is coming quickly. Essentially, this verse serves as a segue for what is about to happen. The first woe was the plague of demon locusts. The second woe was the army of 200,000,000 horsemen. But then chapters ten and the first half of eleven was an intermission between the sixth and seventh trumpets. So this verse is reminding us of where we are the endtimes calendar, so next time we will finish up chapter eleven by looking at the third woe, also known as the seventh trumpet. I don’t normally end like this, but are there any questions or comments about what we’ve discussed tonight?
Let’s pray together.
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