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Called to Testify

Spoiler Alert: Revelation  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  34:51
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Many commentators have argued that this chapter in Revelation is the hardest chapter in the Bible to understand, so have some grace with me today as I seek to walk through this with you. There are a couple of principles I will employ in understanding this chapter. Because I’m explaining method, this will be more technical for a few minutes, by nature. Hang in there with me.
The first principle that I’m going to mention here is the principle of continuing narrative. This section of Revelation is continuing from what came before it. Last week, in the previous section of this book, God told John to soak in the Gospel SO THAT he could go out and proclaim it. Here, we’re going to see that proclamation played out. And what we see about John’s proclaiming of the Gospel is tied to Jesus’ proclaiming the Gospel, and also to ours. And the point of this text today is a continuation of the message of chapter 10: once you have RAVENOUSLY CONSUMED the Word of God, then you, like John, have a DUTY to PROCLAIM the Word of God to a people who need it. Let’s read the text:
Revelation 11:1–14 NLT
1 Then I was given a measuring stick, and I was told, “Go and measure the Temple of God and the altar, and count the number of worshipers. 2 But do not measure the outer courtyard, for it has been turned over to the nations. They will trample the holy city for 42 months. 3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will be clothed in burlap and will prophesy during those 1,260 days.” 4 These two prophets are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of all the earth. 5 If anyone tries to harm them, fire flashes from their mouths and consumes their enemies. This is how anyone who tries to harm them must die. 6 They have power to shut the sky so that no rain will fall for as long as they prophesy. And they have the power to turn the rivers and oceans into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they wish. 7 When they complete their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the bottomless pit will declare war against them, and he will conquer them and kill them. 8 And their bodies will lie in the main street of Jerusalem, the city that is figuratively called “Sodom” and “Egypt,” the city where their Lord was crucified. 9 And for three and a half days, all peoples, tribes, languages, and nations will stare at their bodies. No one will be allowed to bury them. 10 All the people who belong to this world will gloat over them and give presents to each other to celebrate the death of the two prophets who had tormented them. 11 But after three and a half days, God breathed life into them, and they stood up! Terror struck all who were staring at them. 12 Then a loud voice from heaven called to the two prophets, “Come up here!” And they rose to heaven in a cloud as their enemies watched. 13 At the same time there was a terrible earthquake that destroyed a tenth of the city. Seven thousand people died in that earthquake, and everyone else was terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. 14 The second terror is past, but look, the third terror is coming quickly.
There’s a lot going on here, isn’t there? Let’s start at the beginning and ask the question, and walk through:
So John’s given a measuring stick and told to go measure the Temple of God and the altar and the worshipers, but not to measure the outer courtyard. Why?
I’m going to suggest that this temple is symbolic, which would prompt another question: Why would I believe that?
This temple is symbolic. Why would I believe that? If you were going to translate the temple symbolically, what are some reasons you would do that?
1. Genre
1. Genre (apocalyptic uses symbols)
2. Written in AD 95-AD 96. What happened to the temple in AD 70?
2. Written in AD 95-AD 96. What happened to the temple in AD 70?
How does the New Testament define the Temple after Pentecost?
-The church. (, , )
“You” (plural) are God’s Temple
1 Corinthians 3:16 NLT
Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?
2 Corinthians 6:16 NLT
And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
Ephesians 2:21 NLT
We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.
The temple is where heaven/earth intersect. The Holy of Holies is where God dwelt among humanity, now he dwells among us in the church. So when he says "Go measure the temple" it means the church.
Common knowledge/teaching that the church is the temple by this time (Revelation is last book written).
Temple already destroyed by Babylon (measuring a temple that isn't there).
Common knowledge/teaching that the church is the temple by this time (Revelation is last book written).
Common knowledge/teaching that the church is the temple by this time (Revelation is last book written).
Why would we be measured:
Measuring indicates several things:
1. Ownership
2. Protection (spiritual) because notice, the Temple is trampled on here.
3. Sovereignty
God’s saying something incredibly comforting and encouraging here: You are mine. You are in my hand. I am your master. If God is measuring you, it’s a good thing!
We see an example of someone measuring in the Bible and it communicating these very same things in 2 Samuel.
2 Samuel 24:1–17 NLT
Once again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he caused David to harm them by taking a census. “Go and count the people of Israel and Judah,” the Lord told him. So the king said to Joab and the commanders of the army, “Take a census of all the tribes of Israel—from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south—so I may know how many people there are.” But Joab replied to the king, “May the Lord your God let you live to see a hundred times as many people as there are now! But why, my lord the king, do you want to do this?” But the king insisted that they take the census, so Joab and the commanders of the army went out to count the people of Israel. First they crossed the Jordan and camped at Aroer, south of the town in the valley, in the direction of Gad. Then they went on to Jazer, then to Gilead in the land of Tahtim-hodshi and to Dan-jaan and around to Sidon. Then they came to the fortress of Tyre, and all the towns of the Hivites and Canaanites. Finally, they went south to Judah as far as Beersheba. Having gone through the entire land for nine months and twenty days, they returned to Jerusalem. Joab reported the number of people to the king. There were 800,000 capable warriors in Israel who could handle a sword, and 500,000 in Judah. But after he had taken the census, David’s conscience began to bother him. And he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly by taking this census. Please forgive my guilt, Lord, for doing this foolish thing.” The next morning the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, who was David’s seer. This was the message: “Go and say to David, ‘This is what the Lord says: I will give you three choices. Choose one of these punishments, and I will inflict it on you.’ ” So Gad came to David and asked him, “Will you choose three years of famine throughout your land, three months of fleeing from your enemies, or three days of severe plague throughout your land? Think this over and decide what answer I should give the Lord who sent me.” “I’m in a desperate situation!” David replied to Gad. “But let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great. Do not let me fall into human hands.” So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel that morning, and it lasted for three days. A total of 70,000 people died throughout the nation, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south. But as the angel was preparing to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord relented and said to the death angel, “Stop! That is enough!” At that moment the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. When David saw the angel, he said to the Lord, “I am the one who has sinned and done wrong! But these people are as innocent as sheep—what have they done? Let your anger fall against me and my family.”
David takes a census and then is conscience-stricken () God send a plague wiping out 70,000 people. Because to measure something is to declare ownership of sovereignty, David challenged God's sovereignty in his rebellious act. And God reminded David, "you may be king, but I AM the King of kings- Don't forget it!"
David takes a census and then is conscience-stricken () God send a plague wiping out 70,000 people. Because to measure something is to declare ownership of sovereignty, David challenged God's sovereignty in his rebellious act. And God reminded David, "you may be king, but I AM the King of kings- Don't forget it!"
So John measures Temple on behalf of God. It's awkward if God is declaring sovereignty over something that has already been destroyed.
Why would God exclude the outer court? It belongs to the Gentiles (nations). So the question is, at this point, who is God calling Israel? Those Gentiles are outsiders. Outer court is the dwelling place of non-Christians.
Revelation 21:2 ESV
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
;
;
Who is the bride? (, )
Sort of like the Lion/Lamb trick in
Says Holy City will be trampled for 42 months.
Church will be persecuted. Should we take 42 months literally? I’m going to argue, no.
What is 42 months? 3 1/2 years or 1,260 days or “time, times, and half a time” (3 1/2- allusion to Daniel)
3 1/2 years. Interesting.
Also 1,260 days.
Also time, times, and half a time (3 1/2- allusion to Daniel)
When you see that number (42 months, etc.), think persecution.
Notice the brevity. In the grand scheme of things, 42 months is an awful short time, isn't it?
He's not saying, "you're going to be persecuted for 1,000 years!” 1,000 years is mentioned in Revelation, but it’s not attached to persecution. It’s attached to reigning with Christ.
It's important to understand that they won't suffer long, but they will reign long. It's all about perspective. What if these numbers are the same time period? It's all about perspective.
Why two witnesses? It takes two or more witnesses to convict in the Old Testament.
They are commanded to prophesy for how long? What are the prophesying? The Gospel.
Recapitulation. Persecution is the same time as the prophesying.
Why are they clothed in sackcloth? They’re begging the world to repent while they’re being persecuted!
Who are the two witnesses?
Two olive trees/two lampstands (a Jew would have fallen over):
Zechariah 4:11–14 NLT
Then I asked the angel, “What are these two olive trees on each side of the lampstand, and what are the two olive branches that pour out golden oil through two gold tubes?” “Don’t you know?” he asked. “No, my lord,” I replied. Then he said to me, “They represent the two anointed ones* who stand in the court of the Lord of all the earth.”
Two offices that were anointed for inauguration: kings/priests.
Two offices that were anointed for inauguration: kings/priests.
What does Hebrews (especially ) say about Christ? He is our high priest.
He is our high priest.
Messiah means, "anointed one."
What is referred to as he is born (and other times throughout his life)? King.
King.
Who is God's anointed one? Jesus.
Also, what is the church called in ; ; ?
The kingdom and priests.
When we are the Body of Christ, we will look like the body of Christ.
Also look at these verses about the two prophets:
Plagues- (fire, rain) Elijah and (blood, plagues) Moses.
Revelation 11:6 NLT
6 They have power to shut the sky so that no rain will fall for as long as they prophesy. And they have the power to turn the rivers and oceans into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they wish.
Plagues- (fire, rain) Elijah and (blood, plagues) Moses. This is symbolic of Law and Prophets.
This is symbolic of Law and Prophets.
Mount of Transfiguration. Who shows up? Moses and Elijah.
What happens? Peter // voice of God // bright light // Moses & Elijah gone, only Jesus left.
Jesus is the fulfillment of all the Law and the Prophets.
Witness is Christ (olive tree) and the church (lampstand [, ]), and we have the convicting testimony of the Law and the Prophets.
In the Greek, it literally just says “their bodies will lie in the street of the Great City.” Our translation labels this as Jerusalem. Why? You might take this figuratively, but John provides a very specific detail about this city that identifies it as Jerusalem (“where our Lord was crucified”). But also called Sodom (symbolic of decadence and moral decay) and Egypt (symbolic of oppression of God's people).
The Great City- what is this? Jerusalem (very specific). But also called Sodom (symbolic of decadence and moral decay) and Egypt (symbolic of oppression of God's people).
Jerusalem in 1st century was ripping people off in the name of God. This is why Jesus cleanses the temple.
AD 70 Josephus calls the climax of rebellion and immorality because they were burning the temple of God to make swords and weapons to fight the Romans. Josephus says that blood flowed out of the temple and the bodies stacked higher than a four story building.
So Sodom and Egypt would be accurate symbols for Jerusalem. And like Sodom, Jerusalem was judged (in AD 70).
So the people of this city just leave the bodies of God’s people there in the street to insult them. They give each other gifts and celebrate because they witnesses are dead because:
Revelation 11:10 NLT
10 All the people who belong to this world will gloat over them and give presents to each other to celebrate the death of the two prophets who had tormented them.
How did the witnesses torment the world? It never says they used the power of the plagues and blood and fire. How did they torment?
How did the witnesses torment the world? It never says they used the power of the plagues and blood and fire.
How did the witnesses torment the world? It never says they used the power of the plagues and blood and fire.
Proclaiming the gospel.
Resurrected after three and a half days and leave on a cloud. This is the ministry of Christ!
And John says, this is what you should look like, Church! You need to be willing to lay your life down like Jesus was.
7,000 people killed rest gave glory to God. This is the only time people repent.
This is the only time people repent.
AND THIS IS THE POINT. Connected to chapter 10, when you SOAK in the WORD of God and then go out and PROCLAIM the Word of God, it will be effective. Because, Church, you have a mission. FIRST RAVENOUSLY DEVOUR the Word of God! THEN, out of that, PROCLAIM the Word of God. It doesn’t matter what happens to you. If you go out and you are mocked for telling people about Jesus, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about Jesus. So PREACH the Gospel, come what may! It doesn’t matter if you die, because you are the body of Christ, and if Christ was raised, so will you be!
Let me challenge you again this week:
RAVENOUSLY DEVOUR - care deeply about God’s Word. Eat the Scriptures. Get them so deep in you that they are inseparable from you at the core of your being. And out of that- find AT LEAST ONE PERSON this week to share that Gospel. Let it flow in and out of you.
Punch bowls hike. The pools aren’t attractive if the water isn’t flowing in and out.
Don’t be a stagnant pool. Be filled up, be poured out.
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