Thursday 15 December 2011
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Read Revelation 11 at Bible Gateway.
Previously: revelation 11, measuring the temple
“And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire. Rev 11:3-6
The two witnesses appear in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. We will confirm their identity first. These are the two olive trees and two lampstands which stand before the God of the whole earth. The two olive trees are defined in Zec 4:11-14, as the two sons of new oil who stand before the God of the whole earth. The language of the prophecy is exact because we are meant to connect these two passages thematically. Paul further clarifies that the two olive trees are the wild and cultivated olive trees, the wild olive tree being Gentile believers, and the cultivated olive tree being Jewish believers (Rom 11).
We have furthermore seen the two witnesses appear throughout Old Testament history. Genesis highlights only two sons of the twelve sons of Jacob: Joseph, and Judah — the two who were separated from their brothers. The two witnesses for the LORD God in Num 13-14, were Caleb of Judah, and Joshua of Ephraim (the spiritual firstborn of Joseph). The nation of Israel is divided, by the LORD God, into the southern kingdom (Judah) and the northern kingdom (Ephraim or Israel, 1 Kin 11). The prophets furthermore prophesied to the two houses of Israel, Judah, and Ephraim or Israel, about their restoration and their reunification in the last days under one king, who is the returned Messiah (Isa 37:30-32, Jer 31:27-33, Eze 37:15-27).
The house of Ephraim was dispersed among the Gentiles by the Assyrians and not returned. They forgot their identity as Israel and became as Gentiles, but God did not forget them, and I believe their ten tribes were sealed by the Spirit of the living God as Rev 7 foretold, and their descendants and those drawn to the LORD God by their witness make up the vast majority of Gentile Christians in the earth today. The house of Judah was taken captive by the Babylonians and purified of idolatry, and the holy seed, the tenth part of them, was returned to Judea, and I believe their two tribes were sealed by the Spirit of the living God as Rev 7 foretold, and their descendants and those drawn to the LORD God by their witness make up the vast majority of Jews in the earth today. Paul says of them, that they will be the last to come to faith in Messiah Yeshua, after all the Gentiles have come in (Rom 11:25-26, the first shall be last, and the last, first).
And finally, the two witnesses are called two lampstands, which Jesus says means, two ekklesia. An ekklesia means literally, in Greek, a gathering of called out citizens. Called out of what? Called out of the world, to be a people holy to God, with citizenship in heaven rather than with the “kingdoms of this world,” to bear witness to the God of the whole earth to the fallen world. The called out are the chosen, the predestined, the elect. Perhaps “church” is not the best translation for ekklesia; for when we think of church, we think of a building where we go to partake in a service. But ekklesia speaks of citizens of heaven who live a called out and set apart life. Not everyone who attends a church service lives such a life.
But there are two groups of people who have testified and witnessed to the LORD God, that He is the Creator of heaven and earth, and Him only we should worship and serve, through the ages: Jews, and Christians (Gentiles). Judah, and Ephraim. The two witnesses, the two olive trees, and the two lampstands.
Continued in revelation 11, the two witnesses, part two