Today, I will be speaking from Revelation 11:1-14. My message is entitled "Victorious Witnesses." As believers in Christ, we are witnesses! We can rejoice that the Holy Spirit will empower us and that we will be victorious.
Our text is fascinating! In John's vision someone tells him to measure the temple of God in Jerusalem, except for the outer court which will be trampled by the Gentiles for forty-two months. God sends two witnesses to Jerusalem to testify against the nations, but the "beast" kills them and all the people rejoice. After three and a half days, they are revived and caught up to heaven. Then a great earthquake destroys a tenth of the city and seven thousand people are killed, but the rest give glory to God.
When the one who spoke tells John to measure the temple, this indicates that God will preserve the temple. Scholars debate whether the temple represents the historic temple, a new temple that will be built, the church, or the Jewish people. We will not join that discussion here, but we will draw practical lessons from this passage.
One, God always has His Spirit-empowered witnesses. We can be His witnesses!
In John's vision, two witnesses enter the scene. God always has His witnesses. He will have witnesses even during the Great Tribulation of the end times. The witnesses in this text minister for forty-two months, which probably means during the last half of the seven years of Tribulation.
The speaker calls the witnesses two "olive trees" and two "lampstands." These two metaphors signify that the witnesses derived their authority and power from the Holy Spirit. This is always true. Without the Spirit we cannot be effective witnesses. With the Spirit we can overcome all obstacles and present Christ in a very persuasive way. The Spirit is a powerful persuader!
Two, God will protect us until our ministry is finished! Let us be confident in His protection.
When the ministry of the two prophets is finished, they are faced with death. Until the ministry of the prophets is finished, not one can touch them. When their task is accomplished, they are subject to the wrath of the beast who comes up out of the abyss to make war with them and kill them. God permits their enemies to overcome them.
Sometimes we hear of the death of stalwart saints. There are occasions when people die while in the middle of their ministry for Christ. We wonder why this happens. In God's time, and in His plan, some seemingly disastrous events take place. But God is not surprised, nor defeated. We can be confident that God's providence will be totally in harmony with His divine will. All is foreseen in His plan. He is in control.
Three, it is God who gives life. Let us rejoice!
The celebration of the unbelieving masses ends soon. After three and a half days, God brings the two witnesses back to life. The two witnesses stand on their feet, demonstrating that they were alive. This causes great fear to come upon the people.
During the three and a half days, their bodies decay. Animals and people may even disfigure them. But the Spirit of Life from God enters the bodies of the two witnesses, and they stand up. The word translated "spirit" and "breath" are the same in both Greek and Hebrew, thus the "Spirit of life" is parallel to the "breath of life" that God breathed on the first man He created (Genesis 2:7). Here, the witnesses are infused with both physical and spiritual life.
As we follow the Lord, the Spirit of God dwells within us. He gives us spiritual life. We live by the Spirit, and we walk in the Spirit. We can rejoice because of the life that the Spirit gives. We need not live in a state of spiritual numbness or death. The spirit quickens and gives life!
Four, God gives the ultimate victory! The two witnesses triumph!
The two witnesses heard a loud voice calling them up into heaven. A great earthquake occurred, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people died. The rest of the people "were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven." In other words they gave praise to God.
The people recognized that the power of God is greater that the power of the beast. It may be that some of the people turned to God in genuine repentance. However, we know that the world did not repent for in the plagues that follow they later blaspheme God.
All believers have been commissioned to take this Gospel to the ends of the earth. We are God's witnesses. The Holy Spirit comes upon us to empower us in our witnesses. Because of this, we can be confident that God will bring us through to victory. Whether we live or die, the church lives on and the message continues to have its powerful impact.
Now, here is a summary of my message as it applies to us: (1) God will empower us to be His witnesses; (2) God will protect us until our ministry is finished; (3) God gives us life; and (4) God gives the ultimate victory. All of this should inspire us to be faithful witnesses. We must present ourselves to Christ who will pour out the Holy Spirit upon us. As empowered witnesses, we can change the world!