Revelation 033 – The World’s Hatred for Rightousness

Revelation 033 – The World’s Hatred for Rightousness
Revelation 11:9-13 • Dr. Andy Woods • March 24, 2019 • Revelation


Andy Woods

The World’s Hatred for Righteousness       3-23-19

Revelation 11:9-13       Lesson 33

Good morning everybody.  If we could take our Bibles sand open them to the Book of Revelation, chapter 11 and verse 9.  The title or our message this morning is The World’s Hatred for Righteousness.  As we’re progressing systematically through the Book of Revelation we’re sort of in-between trumpet judgment six and trumpet judgment number seven where the second, what we would call break in the action takes place.  Remember there was one between seal six and seal seven.  We’re in the middle of a break in the action between trumpet six and trumpet seven where the chronology sort of stops and we’re put on pause momentarily.

We’ve seen the one in Revelation 7 and now we’re in the one in Revelation 10 and 11, and so we’ve seen chapter 10 in between those two judgments, the announcement of no more delay.  We’ve also seen in between those two judgments the end of the time period that’s predicted, called the end of the times of the Gentiles.  And as we begin to study last week we are now moving into verses 3-13 where we get a picture of something called the ministry of the two witnesses.  We’ve seen first of all their ministry, verses 3-6.  This morning we’ll take a look at their martyrdom, verses 7-10 and then their revival, verses 11-13.

You’ll recall their ministry, first of all how long it lasts, one thousand two hundred and sixty days, most likely the first half of the tribulation period.  Number two, their empowerment; what is the source of power behind these two witnesses?  And those are those two olive trees that we talked about which is a reference to the ongoing anointing of the Holy Spirit which is something we desperately need to do anything for God.  And then from there we looked at the activity of these two witnesses, fire from heaven, drought, waters to blood and plagues.  And then we moved from there into their martyrdom.  It’s interesting that the more effective  you become in the ministry the more Satan tries to take you out and he does that here physically through the martyrdom of these two witnesses.

What was the cause of the martyrdom.  Well it was the beast or the antichrist himself coming out of the abyss, speaking of the demonic nature of the antichrist, probably in your first reference to the beast, second reference to the antichrist in the entirety of the Book of Revelation.  Well, where does this martyrdom take place?  It takes place, verse 8, in the city streets of Jerusalem.  [Revelation 11:8, And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.”]  Jerusalem being in a backslidden condition when this martyrdom occurs.

And we move into verse 9, the contempt. What is the contempt that the world system will have towards these two witnesses who have just been martyred?  Notice if you will verse 9, Revelation 11:9, “Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb.”  You’ll notice this language, it talks about their peoples, tribes, it talks about tongues, nations. Whenever you see those four terms together in the Book of Revelation those are literary devices that John is using to communicate the whole world.  In fact, every time those same terms are  used, or very similar terms, it has a global nuance. You’ll see that in Revelation 5:9 concerning those for whom Christ died.  [Revelation 5:9, “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.’”]  Who did Christ die for exactly.  He died for every tribe, tongue, people and nation.  He died for the whole world in other words.

You’ll see it there concerning the antichrist’s empire, the same four words, Revelation 13:7.  [Revelation 13:7, “It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.”]  The antichrist’s empire will govern the entire planet.  You’ll see it there in Revelation 10:11, those whom John is too prophecy to in his book, which would be the whole world..  [Revelation 10:11, “And they said to me, ‘You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.’”]

And finally you see those four terms in Revelation 17:15 concerning the influence of the harlot city and system called Babylon in the last days, which will govern and corrupt the entire world.  [Revelation 17:15, “And he said to me, ‘The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.’”]

So when those same four terms show up what John is saying here in this prophecy is the whole world is going to see this martyrdom.  Everybody on planet earth will see the killing, if not the dead bodies of these two witnesses that will be denied a basic burial.  And it’s somewhat interesting to go back to older commentators.  I tried to look at a couple last night, people that wrote commentaries on the Book of Revelation, say a hundred years ago, watching them try to make sense of how in the world can the whole world see what’s going on simultaneously in the city streets of Jerusalem.  A lot of the older commentators just skipped the verse, it doesn’t make any sense to them.  But isn’t it interesting that we’re living in a time period where we can clearly see how the whole world can observe what is happening in the city streets of Jerusalem.  It requires virtually no imagination at all, as the Lord (I believe) is setting the table, setting the chessboard if you will, for the final drama.

The whole scenario of prophecy is becoming more and more believable and credible with the advent of modern day technology, whether it be Skype, live streaming, where you can actually go as I speak onto your cell phone and if you know where to look you know exactly what’s happening in the city streets of Jerusalem right now.  It’s interesting to me how technology has finally caught up with the time period that the Bible predicts.  In fact, I ran into this recent news article.  It says: “Jerusalem has installed security cameras into the entrance to one of the holiest sites in Jerusalem as tensions between the Israelis and the Palestinians edge higher.  After a violent week Israel installed security cameras in the entrance into the old city of Jerusalem, the holy site, early Sunday morning.”

It’s almost as if the Lord is saying get ready, you’re about to see something credible happen.  We’re no longer living in a time period where people could just write off Bible prophecy; God is not allowing that, as He’s allowing humanity to get to the precipice of the fulfillment of these things where the whole technology is in place, where the whole world could conceivable with very little imagination see what’s happening in the city streets of Jerusalem.

And notice the complete and total disrespect of the world for these two witnesses who have just prophesied unto God.  It says in Revelation chapter 11 verse 9, “Those from the peoples and the nations and the tongues will look upon their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their bodies to be laid in a tomb.”

You have to understand something, that burial was a common practice amongst the devout within the nation of Israel.  In fact, in the first martyrdom of the church age a man named Stephen, as his body was laying there it says this in Acts 8:2, “Some devout men” meaning the God-conscious men, people with a conscience, “buried Stephen and made loud lamentation over him.”  Everybody is buried, that’s basic common sense, it’s common respect afforded to the deceased and consequently when you leave someone in an unburied state after they die and you just leave their corpses to rot there in the city street it’s a sign of total disrespect.  In fact, this was a practice practiced by the Philistines in 1 Samuel 31:8-13 in a place called Beth-shan.

In my Sunday School lesson this morning I’ve been taking people to the different places in Israel; one of them I was hoping to get to today because of the sermon tie-in is Beth-shan where Saul and Jonathan’s body was just hung on a wall; those bodies were hung on a wall not even given a proper burial, to show the Philistines disrespect for Saul.  It says in 1 Samuel 31:10, “They put his weapons in the temple of Ashtoreth, and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan.”  Verse 11, “Now when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, [12] all the valiant men” people with a conscience in other words, devout Israelis, “rose and walked all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh and burned them there.  [13] They took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh,” and what does it say, they “fasted seven days.”

I mean, they couldn’t believe that the Philistines wouldn’t even give Saul a basic burial and so they quickly did that, with his bones at least, and they were so distraught over the whole thing that they fasted for seven days.  That’s how shocking it is to find these two Jewish witnesses lying in the city streets without burial; it shows the complete hatred of not just the world but unbelieving Israel for these two men.  And I believe very strongly that this is the time period that we’re living in because of the hatred of the world for the righteous.  I have never seen it like it is today, at least in the United States of America.

I remember very vividly when the late Jerry Falwell died; I didn’t agree with every little thing with Jerry Falwell but I always appreciated his stance on moral subjects from the Bible and his willingness to articulate those subjects.  I remember watching a newscast interview with the late atheist Christopher Hitchens on the very day that Jerry Falwell died. And Christopher Hitchens gets onto the airwaves in this interview, in an interview situation, and he just begins to lambast Jerry Falwell, what an intolerant bigoted demagogue he is and he was so vociferous in his personal criticisms of Jerry Falwell that it even embarrassed the secular host doing the interview.  And the secular host would try to hold him back and say well wait a minute, shouldn’t you give at least a small time period for the family to grieve, because he was making these criticism on the day Jerry Falwell died.  And I remember watching Christopher Hitchens’ reaction, how such a time of basic grieving was  unnecessary, unneeded, and undeserved because of what a terrible man Jerry Falwell was.

And as that interview was going on it was sort of shocking to my conscience, I mean, I don’t think I would do that to my worst enemy.   You always give the family a time to grieve, you don’t launch out in a criticism on the day somebody dies; you may disagree with them on something.  Immediately my mind flashed to this passage here.  I said that’s the season that we’re living in, the complete and utter rejection, and not just rejection but disrespect for the prophets of God.  And that disrespect turns quickly into a celebration, verse 10.

Notice, if you will, Revelation chapter 11 and verse 10, “And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.”  Now you’ll notice this expression earth dwellers, it occurs there at the beginning of verse 10 and at the end of verse 10 it’s translated earth dwellers and that is a phrase that expresses or refers to unbelievers.

Thomas Ice writes, “The phrase ‘earth dwellers’ is used eleven times in nine verses in the Book of Revelation. As you examine each individual use you will see that all refer to a special class of stubborn sinners who are set in their rebellion against God, the God of heaven.  You also find that the phrase is only used to refer to those during the tribulation period.”  And this is the reason that God is bringing this judgment upon the earth, because of these earth dwellers.  It’s not a reference to the church, it’s not a reference to the saints, many people are teaching that it’s the church that’s going to go into the tribulation period… not so!  It’s a judgment for these earth dwellers that apparently got so much amusement out of the death of these two witnesses.

It kind of reminds me of the world prior to the flood in Noah’s day, how ridiculous it looked for Noah to be building this giant ark, and this went on for 120 years roughly.  You’ll find that number in Genesis 6:3. [Genesis 6:3, “Then the LORD said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’”]  And these people, the best I’m understanding the Bible, didn’t even know what rain was.  Mist used to come out, Genesis 2, from the ground and water Eden.  [Genesis 2:6, “But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.”]  The whole concept of rain and of a flood and a storm was something that was not even within their thinking of possibility.

And can you imagine the jeering that Noah went through for a hundred and twenty years building this giant ark to endure a flood when these people didn’t even know what flood waters were?  And just  prior to judgment humanity was its most arrogant toward the things of God.  And beloved, may I just say to you that’s where we are today, the total disrespect and contempt for God and His ways.  And in fact, it’s so severe that as they’re gazing at these bodies lying in the city streets of Jerusalem for three and a half days they almost have an office gift exchange, they have a Christmas party.

And I think to myself, look at what we’ve done with Christmas here in the United States, around the world.  Isn’t it kind of odd to have a birthday party for somebody and you never invite the person whose birth you’re celebrating?  That’s Christmas.  In fact, they don’t even say Christmas anymore, do they?  They don’t say Merry Christmas, they say what?  “Happy Holidays!”  In which case I come back and I say “Merry Christmas.”  And sometimes the person behind the counter is so relieved they kind of sneak out “oh, Merry Christmas to you too.”

But we’re living in this time period where you can literally have a celebration for somebody and never invite the person whose birthday you’re celebrating.  And that’s what Christmas has deteriorated into in the secular United States of America.  It’s a great big party but it has almost no spiritual quality or no spiritual content to it and that’s the type of thing that’s happening here as these people are having just a great grand old time at the death of God’s key witnesses.

I’ve expressed before that one of the things that bothered me about the New York legislation legalizing abortion up to the point of birth, do you realize that?  And many East Coast states following.  What bothered me about the whole thing is not even so much the legislation as horrific as it is, but the absolute glee and celebration and the lighting up of the Empire State building in purple or rainbow or whatever it was to celebrate this great achievement.  I’m thinking to myself where is the basic conscience in human beings?  Is it gone?  Have we become a culture and a society that has gone so far in our rebellion against God that we don’t even exercise common decency anymore?  These aren’t things to be celebrated, these are things to be grieved over.  That’s why these two witnesses, as we saw last week, are clothed in sackcloth.  They’re mourning about what’s happening as the world itself is celebrating.

And it’s interesting here when you look at verse 10 there’s a very interesting Greek verb.  It says, “because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.”  That’s how the unsaved world looks at righteousness.  They look at our proclamations from the Bible as a torment to their souls.  In fact, I did a little word study on this word “torment,” [ἐβασάνισαν ebasanisan] and you’ll find it used of demons in Matthew 8:29, fearful that Christ was going to send them into the judgment and to torture them, same word, before the appointed time. [Matthew 8:29, “And they cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”]

It’s used of martyrs being tortured for the cause of Christ, Hebrews 11:35.  [Hebrews 11:35, “Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection;”].  And that same word is used to describe the righteous stand of these martyrs who apparently through their words of righteousness have tormented the same way the inhabitants of the earth.  That’s how the unsaved world looks at true biblical Christianity.  It’s not just a difference of opinion, it’s a disagreement so profound that it torments their souls and that’s why they work over time to shut the whole thing up.

Do we understand that, that around the world and in Canada and in some extent coming into the  United States of America is something called hate crimes legislation where they think that someone like myself teaching out of the Bible is the equivalent of a racist in their twisted logic and mind and so we’ve got to shut him up.  Look at what they’re doing with social media,  You tube, Facebook, I could go on and on with examples of how people are taken off or censored or removed.  Why?  Because they simple speak biblical truth.  Why do they keep doing that?  Because they look at our words as torment, they don’t want anything to do with them.  And of course Jesus warned us this day would come, didn’t He.  What did He say to the disciples in the Upper Room? John 15:18-19, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. [19] “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” To such an extent that we want to silence you even to the point of death because your very words are tormenting us.

And so that’s a description of their martyrdom.  And aren’t they going to be shocked when verses 11-13 happen, because this martyrdom turns into a resuscitation leading to a spiritual awakening or a revival.  Notice, if you will, verses 11-13, we have their resuscitation, verse 11, their rapture to heaven of these two witnesses, verse 12, and then the results, verse 13, four results.  And God is often doing His greatest work at the times of greatest darkness.  Just when you think that the human race has completely went off the rail and God has lost control of everything, that’s the time to expect God to show up and do something great.  And that’s what happens here in the midst of pitch spiritual darkness.

Notice their resuscitation, Revelation 11:11, notice what it says, ““But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear” I would think so, “fell upon those who were watching them.”   God brings them back to life after three and a half  days.  Now if I remember right God’s kind of a specialty in that, isn’t He.  I know about a Messiah, Matthew 12:38-40, in the tomb for three days that was brought back to life.  [Matthew 12:38-40, “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” [39] But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; [40] for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”]

The same kind of thing happens here.  I don’t think, though, that this is the resurrection.  For one thing the word “resurrection” anastasis, although it’s used later in the Book of  Revelation, is not used here.  The resurrection of Old Testament saints and tribulation martyrs, according to Daniel 12:2 and Revelation 20:4-5, will take place at the end of the tribulation period.  [Daniel 12:2, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.”  Revelation 20:4-5, “Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. [5] The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.”]

We’re not there in our chronology and at the beginning of the millennial kingdom. I think this is better described not as a resurrection but a resuscitation, they come back to life not in a resurrected body but in the same body, kind of like what happened to Lazarus in John 11:43-44.  That couldn’t be a resurrection there where he was brought out of the tomb in a resurrected body because Christ’s resurrection, which hadn’t happened yet, is the firstfruits.  [John 11:43, “When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth.’  [44] The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”]  That must have been a resuscitation, where He comes out of the tomb, Lazarus does, John 11, in his same body only to die again.

And it’s interesting that as this happens great fear falls upon the world and everybody watching, and we know that everybody’s watching because verse 9 has told us that the entire planet, through the repetition of tribes and nations and tongues and peoples, the entire planet is watching this happen.  [Revelation 7:9, “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands.”]   They’re looking at the dead bodies of these two prophets for three and a half days and suddenly they come to life, not even giving them a common burial decency, they come back to life and it scares the daylights out of them.  Fear comes over them.  Now more on this fear in just a moment.

And then what happens is we move away from their resuscitation to their rapture into heaven, these two witnesses when they come back to life.  Look, if you will, at verse 12, “And they” that’s the two witnesses who have just come back to life, “heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here…’”  That rings a bell, doesn’t it. “…And they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them.”  “Come up here,” my goodness, that’s what John was told to do.  Remember, in the third section of the book, the futuristic section of the book, he was catapulted into heaven, “Come up here,” and he was given the third and final section of the book, the futuristic section that we’re reading about here.

You say will this is all a bunch of science fiction stuff, I mean, you don’t really believe that people are actually going to be called up to heaven and rocketed upward?  You bet your bottom dollar I believe it.  You know why I believe it?  Because the Bible describes this happening to people over and over again.  What do you think happened to Enoch, Genesis 5?  The same kind of thing happened to Elijah, 2 Kings 2.  Even Jesus, now it’s different because He was in His resurrected body at that time, ascended, Acts 1:11; Revelation 12:5.  Phillip the deacon was brought up into heaven, Acts 8:39, as was Paul, the third heaven, 2 Corinthians 12:2-4.  John Himself as I mentioned had this experience and apparently the same kind of thing is going to happen to these two witnesses.

[Acts1:11, “They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”  Revelation 12:5, “And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.”   Acts 8:39, “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.”     2 Corinthians 12:2-4, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. [3] And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows—[4] was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.”

And that’s why there are a lot of Bible teachers that believe that one of these two witnesses has to be Enoch, because only Enoch, like Elijah, was caught up into heaven, Genesis 5.  More on that a little later.  But I would just say this, I would warn you against that kind of interpretation and the reason I say that is because the tribulation period God’s hand is back on the nation of Israel.  Jeremiah 30:7 calls this time period a time of Jacob’s distress.  [Jeremiah 30:7, “’Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved from it.”]  It is part of the seventy weeks of Daniel’s clock which concerns Daniel’s people in Daniel’s city, the Jewish people.

I’ll remind you that Enoch was not Jewish; he was a Gentile.  The story of Enoch is recorded in Genesis 5; God does not begin to create and form the nation of Israel until Genesis 12.  I think if you want to identify these people caught up in this rapture I would say one of the persons you should identify is Elijah because the same exact thing happened to him, caught up to heaven in a chariot, a fiery chariot, 2 Kings 2:11-12.  More on that a little bit later.  [2 Kings 2:11-12, “As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.  [12] Elisha saw it and cried out, ‘My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ And he saw Elijah no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.”]

But these two witnesses, whoever they are, are going up into heaven and the world is actually watching them ascend.  Did you catch that there at the end of verse 12.  The end of verse 12 says, “and their enemies watched them.”  [Revelation 11:12, “And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here.’ Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them.”]   It kind of reminds me of the ascension of our Lord in Acts 1:9-11.  It says this concerning the Lord, Acts 1:9-11, “And after He had said these things, He was lifted up [and a cloud received Him out of their sight. [10] And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. [11] They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”]  And then it says while they were looking on, they were actually watching Him go, and not only will the world see their deaths, their martyrdom, the will actually see their departure into heaven.

And this event looks so similar to the rapture of the church there are many people that will argue for a mid tribulational rapture.   They believe that this is symbolic of the church being removed from the earth, not before the tribulation period starts (as we teach it here) but in the middle of the tribulation period.  And they base their whole argument on these two witnesses being taken into heaven.  Let me ask you a question—as we studied the passage have  you seen the word “church” anywhere?  Have you seen the words “body of Christ”?  And if this is the body of Christ who is doing the miracle?  And what people do is they say well this is just a symbol, you’re taking it too literally.  Well, are the miracles symbols?  Is 1260 days a symbol?  Is three and a half days a symbol?  Seven thousand people are about to get killed, is that a symbol.   We ran into the third temple, chapter 11:1-2, is that a symbol.  Didn’t we learn that the two witnesses will be dead and lie in the city streets of Jerusalem where their Lord was crucified.  Is Jerusalem a symbol?  Is city a symbol.  Is the street a symbol?  Is Jesus a symbol?  Is the crucifixion of Christ a symbol?  You see how ridiculous this gets.

I mean, of course the Book of Revelation has many symbols in it but when the Book of Revelation wants to be understood symbolically it will give you a clue, like it does right there in chapter 11, verse 8, “mystically,” and then it will interpret what the symbol means.  [Revelation 11:8, “And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.”]  And unless I have that kind of warrant my obligation as a Bible reader and a Bible teacher is to take God’s Word as His Word.  No, this is not the rapture of the church folks; the rapture of the church has already happened before this event even takes place, three and a half years, at least three and a half years earlier.  This is the rapture of two individuals called the two witnesses.

But what happens, what’s the result?  Take a look at verse 13.  What does God do on account of these things.  Verse 13, “And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth if the city fell and seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.”  [Revelation 11:13]  What exactly happened.  It says “in that hour” so as these events are happening God is striking fear into the hearts of the unbelievers because He wants to lead these earth dwellers into a saving knowledge of His Son.  God does not leave the earth without a witness of Himself.

And right down to the very last moment of human history God is trying to reach out to people.  Maybe God is trying to reach out to you right now as I’m talking.  Maybe that’s the reason  you’re here, you’ve gone far in rejection of Him, rebellion of Him but you’re hearing this and praise the Lord that  you’re hearing it because it’s a testimony that God wants to reach YOU!  And not only does He want to reach you He wants to reach every person through you that has not yet trusted in Christ as Savior.  The fact of the matter is God is a lot more patient with people than most Christians are.  He is not willing that any should perish.  [“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3:9]

But at this same hour these events happen.  What happens?  Number one, “a great earthquake” it says, verse 13. This is not the first earthquake we’ve seen in the Book of Revelation, there was one at the opening of seal judgment number 6, Revelation 6:12.  [I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood.”] And there’s actually going to be another great earthquake, this one much bigger than anything that’s been described thus far, described as the seventh bowl judgment, Revelation 16:18.  [Revelation 16:18, “And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty.”]

Earthquakes, can God speak through earthquakes?  I’m from southern California, there’s nothing that got my attention to God faster than an earthquake, which we had several of them, no major ones in my lifetime but growing up, remembering what it felt like with the ground moving under  your feet, I mean, there was such an  utter helplessness that you feel and your recognize very fast that you don’t have control of anything in life.   You are totally dependent on God!  And until an earthquake happens physically, until the ground starts moving under your feet we’re deluded into thinking that we’re in charge.  And earthquake, physically speaking, is a great cure for that.

Is God actually going to bring an earthquake to the nation of Israel in the last days?  Look at this news article.  “Scientists say thousands could die because Israel, which sits on a major fault line, has ignored warnings to strengthen homes and schools. After a series of minor tremors rattled through northern Israel  over the last two weeks experts warn that the country is negligently unprepared for a major earthquake that would likely kill thousands of people.”  Isn’t it interesting that we’re dealing with a number of seven thousand here in this same verse, including many children.  The experts say that the threat of an earthquake is in my eyes the greatest threat facing the state of Israel.  Geologist Aerial Hyman told  Hadashot News on Friday, “It is definitely a greater threat than rockets themselves being fired into the land of Israel.”  He goes on, “From Gaza, it’s far greater danger than the Iranian threat,” wow, the news isn’t telling you that.  “Israel sets on the Syrian/African rift, a tear in the earth’s crust running the length of the border separating Israel and the Jordan. It’s part of the great rift wall which extends from Northern Syria to Mozambique.”  Quote, “If God forbid we have an earthquake like this it will leave thousands dead and hundreds of people will have to leave their homes.  Houses will be destroyed, there will be massive economic damage that will set the country back dozens of  years,” Hyman warned.

I think the stage is being set, folks.  I know I say that every single Sunday but the fact of the matter is I can’t even imagine how much closer we can get to these realities than we’re at right now.  I mean, we are sitting on the precipice, the sand is almost out of the hourglass, and we’re at the very final moments of human history.  I’m not a date setter nor the son of a date setter, but the fact of the matter I live because of prophecy every day of my life as if this could be the last one, and I organize my priorities accordingly.  And that’s why God has given us His prophetic words.

What else happens?  A tenth of the city  is destroyed.  Why would a tenth of the city be destroyed? Because the city is in wickedness  at the time this happens; this is not millennial Jerusalem, this is Jerusalem described with the words Sodom and Egypt, which we saw last week.  And what else happens?  Seven thousand people die.

You know, it’s so tempting to read this, seven thousand people, interest, we’ll go on to the next verse, forgetting that these are real people, with real children, real families, real homes, real struggles that this will happen to.   That’s seven thousand people, and what does it produce?  Something that we desperately need in modern day Christianity, something we desperately need here in the United States, some that we desperately need worldwide, a holy fear!  It says at the end of verse 13, “people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.  [Revelation 11:13, “And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.”]

Why do these people need to give “glory to the God of heaven”?  Look at their backslidden dilapidated state in verse 8.  I mean, their whole live is characterized like it’s Sodom and Egypt.  And the wakeup call happens and great fear comes upon them, and they give glory to God.  Isn’t it interesting what a little trauma will do to people.  The very folks that were celebrating the death of these two witnesses as they watched it worldwide, even denying them a common decent burial suddenly the shock hits the system and they’re glorifying God.

What does the Bible say?  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of” what? “wisdom.”  [Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”]  In face in Proverbs it even says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  Knowledge or understanding begins with depositing one’s self before God in His presence and saying You’re the boss, I am a created finite being, You are the Creator, You take the reins.  Do you do that because of the fear of the Lord?  Do you watch knowledge and wisdom skyrocket in your life, I don’t care where you are in life, you’re going to have greater skill, greater understanding, greater insight, because you are living within your design.  God never created us to be gods and little gods, in fact, that’s the first lie, do you remember Genesis 3:5, that the serpent tempted our forebears with, “ye shall be like God. [Genesis 3:5, “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”]  And how we fall for that, we’re not gods at all, we’re merely finite created beings whose very next breath we couldn’t even experience if God was not sovereignly allowing it.

Do you realize the Book of Colossians says Jesus keeps this world moving correctly?   [Colossians 1:16-17, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. [17] He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”]        He didn’t just create it, He sustained it.  Colossians 1, Colossians 2.  Do you realize that the very reason you woke up this morning with your heart beating and palpating is an act of grace?  Many people didn’t wake up this morning. Why did you wake up?  Why did I wake up?  Why am I given another twenty-four hours when people all over this world are dying.  It’s called grace; use it wisely, don’t presume on tomorrow.  Don’t think tomorrow… the Book of James talks about this quite a bit, that tomorrow is going to be just like today.  You’re like mist that appears for a while and then it’s gone.  And may God help us to have a fear of the Lord.

Well, I know the question you’ve all been asking—I wish you would tell us who these two witnesses are? So I’m going to try to do that.  It’s not an easy question because there’s at least four positions on it.  The first position is the symbolic view, oh, these are just symbols of something, symbols of the church, symbols of the two parts of the Ten Commandments, symbols of the Law and the Prophets, just make it a symbol for something.   Well, do symbols perform miracles?  And what do you do with all these numbers?  2 witnesses, 1160 days,  3½ day, 7,000 killed?  What about bodies without tombs?  Are those symbols?  How about the temple we saw earlier in the chapter, that can’t be a symbol, that’s got to be real.  And after all, as we mentioned before, they’re lying in the street looks very literal to me; where Jesus Himself was crucified, that can’t be a symbol, in a city.  These are not symbols of something; these are two real people that just lost their lives for the cause of Jesus Christ and they’ve been resuscitated.

A dominant view out there,  as we’ve already hinted at, is that these two must be Enoch and Elijah.  Why do people think that?  Because of Hebrews 9:27, it says, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.”  Enoch never died, Genesis 5:24, Hebrews 11:5.  [Genesis 5:24, “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”  Hebrews 11:5, “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.”]

Who else never died?  Elijah never died, he was taken to heaven, 2 Kings 2:11-12.  [2 Kings 2:11, “As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven. [12] Elisha saw it and cried out, ‘My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ And he saw Elijah no more.”]   And because it is “appointed for men once to die” and those two never died, these two have got to be Enoch and Elijah.  [Hebrews 9:27, “And inasmuch as it is apportioned to men to die once, and after this, judgment.”]   It can’t be Moses, people say, because Moses died, Deuteronomy 34:7.  [Deuteronomy 34:7, “Although Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated.”]

Let me just say this: I think Hebrews 9:27, “It is appointed for men to die once” and then to face the judgment, is a general rule.  All things being considered that’s generally how it works but it is not an ironclad rule and I can show you examples in the Bible of people like Lazarus, who died, came back to life and presumably died again; he died twice.  And what do you do with us if we’re the rapture generation, who won’t die once but are taken to heaven without even experiencing death?  Beyond that, as I mentioned before, Enoch was a Gentile and this whole story God’s hand is back on the Jewish nation, the nation of Israel.

Which leads  us to view number three, these people are Moses and Elijah like, they’re not actually Moses and Elijah but they do similar things to Moses and Elijah.  A lot of good people believe that, not the least of which is my learned professor, J. Dwight Pentecost, he tried to teach me that.  Arnold Fruchtenbaum, to my knowledge, believes that.  But what does Bible prophecy say?  What does it say in Malachi 4:5-6 concerning the end times?  “Behold, I will send you” who? “Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful Day of the LORD.  [6]  And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. Otherwise, I will come and strike the land with a curse.”  Do you believe that?  I mean, does the prophecy say God is going to send you someone just like Elijah? Does it say he’s going to come and do similar things that Elijah did?  It doesn’t say that does it?  It says it’s going to be Elijah.

Now when you talk like this people will quote Matthew 11:13-14 which says this:  Matthew 11:13, “For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John.”  John the Baptist.   [14] “And if you are willing to accept it,” Jesus says, “John” the Baptist “himself is Elijah who was to come.”  John the Baptist, interestingly according to what Christ says here, could have fulfilled the prophecy in Malachi 4:5-6.  So people say well if John the Baptist could have fit the bill then someone like Elijah could fit the bill.  I think this: if God, through infinite foreknowledge knew that the nation of Israel would reject the King and his offer of the kingdom and He always knew that they would not accept the offer, and so John could have never been the guy; it’s got to be the literal Elijah.

So I don’t really think, based on Malachi 4, 5 and 6 that these are two people like Moses and Elijah, I think it’s view number four, Moses and Elijah literal.  In fact, if I’m right about this you may be out in the shopping center and if we’re this close to when these events will happen you might even bump into Moses and Elijah.  What do you think about that?  Moses and Elijah, literal!  Why would I believe that?  Andy, you’re an educated person, you can’t hold views like that?  I hold the view primarily because it’s how these two witnesses are described.

First of all, Revelation 11:5, they’re protected by divine fire.  [Revelation 11:5, “And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way.”]  My goodness, that’s what happened to Moses, Numbers 16:35, and Elijah, 2 Kings 1:10-14.  [Numbers 16:35, “Fire also came forth from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense.”  2 Kings 1:10-14, “Elijah replied to the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.  [11] So he again sent to him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he said to him, “O man of God, thus says the king, ‘Come down quickly.’” [12] Elijah replied to them, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.  [13] So he again sent the captain of a third fifty with his fifty. When the third captain of fifty went up, he came and bowed down on his knees before Elijah, and begged him and said to him, “O man of God, please let my life and the lives of these fifty servants of yours be precious in your sight. [14] “Behold fire came down from heaven and consumed the first two captains of fifty with their fifties; but now let my life be precious in your sight.”]

Number two, look at their ministry activities, verse 6 says they strike the earth with plagues.  [Revelation 11:6, “These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.”]  Look at that in the Old Testament, it reminds me a lot of Moses.  In fact, one of the signs that’s going to be done is water is going to be turned blood red, doesn’t that sound like Moses and the Nile River, Exodus 7?

Another one shuts up the heavens so that it cannot rain, verse 6.  Doesn’t that sound like Elijah?  1 Kings 17:1.  [1 Kings 17:1, “Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”]  And my goodness, how long is their ministry going to last for?  According to Revelation 11:3 exactly three and a half years.  [Revelation 11:3, “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”]

Isn’t that the length of Elijah’s ministry, when he shut up the heavens so that it couldn’t rain for three and a half year?  In Luke 4:25 you’ll see the number.  In James 5:17 you’ll see the number.    [Luke 4:25, “”But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land;”  James 5:17, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.”]

And it talks, verse 12, we just read the verses, that they’re going to be raptured or taken into heaven.  Gosh, that sounds an awful lot like Elijah, taken into heaven in a fiery chariot, 2 Kings 2:11.  [2 Kings 2:11, “As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.”]

In other words, the calling card of these two witnesses is described.  And if you have a modicum of knowledge in the Old Testament you say to  yourself, this sounds an awful lot like Moses and Elijah.  You say well, give me some more proof.  I’m glad you asked.  Who appeared with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration?  Jesus transfigured Himself showing what the glorified kingdom, His glorified state would be like, and who’s right there with Him.  My goodness, it’s Moses and Elijah. These two witnesses have a tendency to make guest appearances when the kingdom offer is near.  And that’s what’s happening in the tribulation period, the kingdom offer is near.

And one of the things I love about God is He’s a God of second chance; aren’t you glad about that?  You know, Moses was never allowed to finish his ministry?  Remember God said, “Speak to the rock,” he struck the rock, he was not allowed to enter Canaan;  he died in the Transjordan on Mount Nebo only seeing Canaan from a distance.  Wouldn’t it be just like God, the God of second chances, to let Moses come back and finish the job.

Elijah, of course, was taken into heaven in a fiery chariot so his ministry was cut short as well.  One of my favorite verses in the whole Bible, I shared this this morning in Sunday School, is Jonah chapter 3 and verse 1, which says, “Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah” what? “the second time,” you don’t think God gives second chances to people.  Look in the mirror and you’ll see an example of God giving a second chance to someone, and a third chance, and a fourth chance, and a fifth chance, because that’s the nature of God.   You know, we disqualify ourselves and other people so fast and yet God is not like that, is He?  He’s a God of grace and longsuffering.

And another reason I think this is Moses and Elijah is because other Scriptural data, to my mind, indicates that it has to be Moses and Elijah,  I’ve already shared with you Malachi 4:5-6 which says Elijah is going to come back.  In fact, you know who believes this?  The Orthodox Jews. Did you know that in their homes during certain Jewish feast days they set out a chair, they call it Elijah’s chair.  I mean, evangelical Christianity may not believe this but I’ll tell you something, the Orthodox Jews believe it because they think Elijah is going to walk right in the door and sit down and have supper.

There is a very interesting reference in Jude 9, most people don’t have any idea what to do with this.  It says this, “But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!”’  Why is Michael arguing with Satan over the body of Moses?  Maybe because Moses is going to need his body again.  And consequently Satan is coming again, the plan and program of God.  Whatever  you hold on this, and we can still be friends at the end of the day, I mean you might think it’s Sonny and Cher or whatever you want it to be, there’s no price.

But whatever view you’re going to come up with I hope you come up with the view that answers the most questions in the Bible because what you’ll discover about the Bible is it’s like giant jigsaw puzzle, all these pieces scattered everywhere, they all start to somehow fit together. And beyond that people say well, John the Baptist fulfilled that Malachi four prophecy.  No he didn’t, John the Baptist never fulfilled Malachi 4, 5 and 6 because Jesus said, of John the Baptist, the forerunner would come before Him, not as Elijah but in the spirit and power of Elijah.  Luke 1:17.  [Luke 1:17, “It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

In fact, John the Baptist was asked, John 1:21, are you Elijah, to which he answered I am not.   [John 1:21, “They asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ And he said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ And he answered, ‘No’”]

What am I saying?  I’m saying that Malachi 4:5-6 is a prophecy in the Word of God which has never been fulfilled in history.  God means what He says and says what He means; I believe that prophecy is going to be fulfilled exactly like it says right here in Revelation 11.  The transfiguration, the fact that their ministries have been cut short, the fact that other Scriptural data seems to comment on this, and the fact that Malachi 4:5-6 have never been fulfilled.

Have you noticed as we’ve gone through the Book of Revelation, the futuristic vision, how Jewish the whole thing was?  I mean, God is working through the 144,000 Jewish witnesses, Revelation 7.  [Revelation 7:4-8, “And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:  [5] from the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand, [6] from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand, [7] from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand, [8] from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand were sealed.”]

He’s working here through two Jewish witnesses, Revelation 11.  Why isn’t God using us? Why isn’t God using the church?  I mean, we’re the main act, aren’t we?  I mean we’re the ones that spread the gospel all over the world in the church age and there’s not a shred or a drop or a hint of any reference in any church, in fact the word “church” doesn’t even appear, it’s all Jewish, it’s all national.

You say well who cares?  I’ll tell you why I care, because the top view is right.  The reason God is not using the church is because the church is in heaven watching it from above.  That’s why I don’t believe anything you throw at me that the church is going to be raptured halfway through or at the end or three-quarters the way through.  That’s what a lot of people are telling them­selves today, three-quarters rapture, kind of like medium well-done I guess.  No, beloved, we’re not appointed unto wrath.  Jesus can appear at any moment through the rapture and take you to heaven. There is not a single shred of prophetic data that indicates there is some other sign that has to happen before the church can be raptured to heaven.

And if we’re getting this close with technology to the end of the age and the coming of the seven year tribulation period then the rapture of the church can’t be far away. And yet today within evangelical Christianity the rapture and a sermon like this is almost unheard of.  It’s sort of interesting that people all around the country keep sending us e-mails, we get this e-mail two or three times a week, I get it personally at least two to three times a week, I don’t even know how frequently the staff gets it but it’s always the same.  We live in this part of the country over here or many times they’ll say we live in this part of the world over here, can you recommend a church that teaches the way you teach, that believes the way you teach it.  And they sometimes ascribe to me omniscience, as if I’m familiar with every nook and cranny on planet earth.  And I usually just say politely say I’m sorry, I just don’t know your area well enough.  I mean, I’m trying, through Chafer Seminary and other mechanisms to train people to fill this need  all over the world.  The need is so astronomical in terms of its depth and severity.  We just can’t find the people to fill the need.  We’ve got a lot of people that want to get out and talk about pop spirituality.  That’s not what the body of Christ needs, they need Bible teachers that rightfully divide and handle the Word of God.

And do you know what they tell me when I give them the negation?  They say thank God for the internet, thank God for You Tube, thank God for Sermon audio, thank God for Facebook live because you are our lifeline.  And isn’t it interesting that God has put us at Sugar Land Bible Church at this time in history to meet this need by doing something as simple as setting up a couple of cameras which can be done very cheap.  Do you realize that in the old days, before we had all this technology, to get a message going outside of your church required a lot of money because it cost money to get on radio, it cost money to get on television, and here we can set up a couple cameras, and we can speak truth to the whole world.  Don’t you think we’re privileged?

And what a time to pray for a ministry like this and get behind a ministry like this.  And so the reason this is so Jewish is because the church is not here, the church has been removed to heaven and so we see the story of these two witnesses, concluding as we look at their ministry, their martyrdom and their resuscitation.  And you don’t want to miss next week because next week is the sounding of the seven trumpets which is a game changer as we’ll talk about.

You know, you might be here and not even understanding how if God came back today  you’d be taken.  I mean, how could a privilege like that be afforded to little old me?  And that’s an offer that we call the gospel.  The gospel means good news.  Good news that Jesus did everything in our place.  His final words on the cross were “It is finished.”  [John 19:30, “He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”]

He’s done everything necessary to bridge the gap between sinful man and woman and a holy God.  It’s all paid for and the only obligation for the lost sinner is to receive it as a gift.  You know, the world is all involved in gift exchanges, we even saw a prophecy of one nightmarish gift exchange here in God’s prophetic Word, the perversion of the idea of a gift in the minds of people and yet God gives humanity a gift which is only accessible to the person or has power to change the person’s life to the extent that they receive it.  If it’s never received it just remains a present under the tree, it has no value.

And so God has created the gift but He’s asked humanity to do something  which is to receive it.  The Bible says 160 times that you receive a gift from God by trusting, which means believing, in what He has done for you; you’re no longer trusting in yourself, you’re no longer trusting in your good works, you’re not longer trusting in your credentials but you’re trusting specifically in what Jesus did for you on the cross two thousand years ago.  And the moment you place your personal trust, or faith, or reliance, or confidence, in Him is the moment your sins are thrown as far as the east is from the west.  You say well how far is the east from the west?  You don’t see an east pole, do you?  Or a west pole, like the North Pole and the South Pole.  That means east and west must be an infinite line.  It’s paid for, you receive it and suddenly it accrues to your account simply by way of faith.  You can receive that gift right now where you’re seated, in the quietness of your own mind and in the quietness of your own heart by trusting specifically in what Jesus has done for  you, as the Spirit of God places you under conviction.  If it’s something that you need more explanation on I’m available after the service to talk.  Shall we pray.

Father, we’re grateful for your prophetic Word and Your prophetic truth that help ministers to us in the 21st century and reminds  us that we’re living on borrowed time.  Help us, Father, to understand the days are evil and yet You called us to redeem the time and live for You in these last days.  We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said… Amen!