THE TWO WITNESSES
THE TWO WITNESSES Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
With the single exception of the witness borne by the Lord Jesus while on earth, the most powerful, most authoritative testimony of God ever to be given to mankind will come in the days just before the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth. This latter-rain witness will not be given by an energetic, enthusiastic, talented, wealthy church but by the Holy Spirit.
The Body of Christ is being prepared for the end-time testimony, the testimony of the two witnesses. The Divine testimony of the two witnesses will announce to the world that the Lord Jesus Christ is coming from Heaven, not only to rule the nation of Israel but also to govern every nation and village on the earth.
THE TWO WITNESSES
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts :8)
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. (Revelation 11:3)
Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 4:6)
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. (Hosea 6:3)
THE TWO WITNESSES
And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. (Revelation 10:11)
It is time to "prophesy again." The Spirit of God now is on the Church of God, the Body of Christ. The anointing is being poured out from Heaven.
Now is the hour of the latter (harvest) rain. Christ is coming to His people as the rain, and we must press on so we may know the Lord more fully.
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. (Hosea 6:3)
It is time now, the hour is here, to pray for rain—the rain of God’s Holy Spirit.
Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field. (Zechariah 10:1)
What is the purpose of the rain from Heaven? It comes that we may prophesy, that we may bear witness of the return of our Lord Jesus Christ and the establishing of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The Lord would say to each of us who is willing to lay aside his or her interests and seek first the Kingdom of God: "Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings."
God has a work to perform in the present hour, a work that will bring the Gospel of the Kingdom in the fullness of Divine glory and righteousness to every city, every village on the earth.
It is the Lord’s intention that every man, every woman, every boy, and every girl behold with his or her eyes the fullness of the glory and power of the Almighty God. All flesh shall see the salvation that is in the Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah 40:5).
The Lord Jesus cannot return until the Gospel of the Kingdom has been preached in all the world for a witness to all nations—a testimony of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth (Matthew 24:14).
And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. (Revelation 11:1,2)
The meaning of the above passage is that the Lord is judging the people who are closest to Him, while those who are not "dwelling in the Holy Place" will be examined at a future date (I Peter 4:17).
The issue today concerns the Temple of God, which is the Body of Christ; in particular, those who are worshiping and praising God at the Altar of Incense, to speak symbolically. Those who are worshiping at the Altar of Incense are the warrior-remnant who are offering their bodies a living sacrifice to the Father.
The Lord is pouring out on the Body of Christ a Spirit of praise. There is a move forward in the Holy Spirit into the fervent, Spirit-filled praising of God. Many churches are experiencing this renewal, and God is blessing all who will enter His Presence with thanksgiving and praise.
Any time there is a move forward in the Spirit of God there always will be a stricter judgment of the believers who are pressing in, because the closer we draw to God the more important our conduct becomes. We must behave righteously if we would walk with God.
We can notice the relationship between judgment and pressing forward in the Spirit, in the forty-seventh chapter of the Book of Ezekiel:
And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins. (Ezekiel 47:3,4)
The "man that had the line in his hand," going forth eastward (toward the rising of the sun of the Day of the Lord), measuring a thousand cubits, represents Divine judgment. Do you see that judgment and pressing into deeper levels in the Holy Spirit go together?
In Revelation 10:11 ("And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings") God informed the Apostle John that the Body of Christ will bear an end-time witness surpassing anything God has done in the earth. In connection with this, the Temple of God, the altar, and the worshipers were to be measured.
The Temple of God refers to the Church, the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb.
The altar is the Altar of Incense, the place where we bow in death to self, consecrating ourselves to the will of the Lord.
The worshipers are those who have come past the Altar of Burnt Offering (receiving the blood atonement made by the Lord Jesus), past the Laver (repentance and water baptism), past the Table of Showbread (the born-again experience), past the golden Lampstand (the baptism with the Holy Spirit), and now are at the Altar of Incense.
The Body of Christ, particularly those members who have come to the place of total consecration to the Lord, are to be judged concerning their love of the world, their love of sin, and their self-love, self-will, and self-centeredness. This judgment is taking place in the day in which we are living. Many Christians are being shaken by the Lord so they may turn from their sins and disobedience and seek God in earnest.
The Body of Christ is being prepared for the end-time testimony, the testimony of the two witnesses. The members of the Body are learning to praise God fervently, and also to deny themselves for Jesus' sake and for the Gospel’s sake.
To enter the Glory of Christ we must come by way of the Altar of Incense, by way of worship and obedience. As we enter the Presence of the Lord in worship there must be a circumcision of the heart, a willingness to die to our will so God’s will may be done in the earth.
After the Israelites crossed the Jordan River, and before they began to wage war against Jericho, each male had to be circumcised. God will not bring to us the promised harvest-rain revival until the fleshly and soulish motives, so prevalent in the churches of today, have been cut back.
As soon as God gives "Moses" a charge to deliver His people He seeks to "slay Moses." It happens every time. God will not walk among us while we are behaving in our customary sinful, worldly, self-seeking, rebellious manner. This is why we have the angel with the measuring rod examining the level of maturity of the Body of Christ and of those saints who are praising God at the Altar of Incense.
The measuring (judging) is in preparation for the testimony of the Body of Christ after the fashion portrayed in symbolic form by the "two witnesses."
The mass of mankind, as represented by "the court that is without the temple," will be judged and dealt with at a later date. The Presence and power of the Lord Jesus Christ is moving today among His saints, His elect. Christ will speak to the nations of the earth through His chosen remnant in this hour so they may have an opportunity to make peace with God before the time of their judgment arrives.
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. (Revelation 11:3)
The word power is not included in the Greek text but is implied in the context. The Scripture here is stating that in the last days, just before the coming of Christ from Heaven, God will pour out on His saints a double portion of His Holy Spirit so they may bear witness of the coming of the Kingdom of God into the earth.
We will explain in just a moment how we know from the Scriptures the spiritual significance of the two witnesses of Revelation, Chapter 11. Bear with us as we take these concepts in order, for they are vital to our vision of the period of God’s time in which we are living.
The first concept is that the ministry of the two witnesses is a Divinely ordained revival, being prophesied in the Old Testament Scriptures. The revival to which we are referring is the "latter-rain" outpouring of God’s Spirit that will be given to bring the planting of the earth to maturity.
Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. (Joel 2:23)
Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field. (Zechariah 10:1)
We know from church history that from time to time God pours out His Spirit on a geographical area. When He does, righteousness and power are demonstrated in an extraordinary manner.
We can plead with people to pray and to live for God. A few will respond. But when God pours out His Spirit, as in Wales, or Azusa Street, or Africa, or Indonesia, or in the jungles of South America, righteous living and miracles will be in evidence. Multitudes will be saved and the work of the Kingdom will take a giant step forward.
We know from history that God can and does send His Spirit in order to accomplish a specific work, among certain people, at a designated time and place.
The second concept has to do with the number two. The latter-rain revival, as we understand it, is represented by two witnesses.
The number two speaks to us of two wave loaves of the feast of Pentecost, of Elijah and Elisha, of the two sets of fifty rings over the veil of the Tabernacle of the Congregation (Exodus 26:6,11).
First let us think about the Levitical feast of Pentecost.
Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals; they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord. (Leviticus 23:17)
The above verse is speaking of the feast of Pentecost. What is the main ceremony of the feast of Pentecost?
Two wave loaves.
We believe the two wave loaves of Pentecost speak to us of a latter, harvest rain that will be poured out on the Church in anticipation of the soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ in His Kingdom.
The latter rain will be a double portion—far more powerful and filled with glory than was true of the former rain of the Book of Acts.
Jesus has kept the good wine until now. The Church is coming into a fullness of revival power and glory never before witnessed on the earth. The fullest manifestation of grace has been saved until the hour when sin comes to maturity. The brightest light has been reserved for the midnight hour.
Concerning Elijah and Elisha:
We know from the Scripture that Elijah is to come "before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (Malachi 4:5).
We understand also Jesus referred to John the Baptist as "Elias, which was for to come" (Matthew 11:14).
What was the pattern of the life of the prophet Elijah?
The pattern was that of one man (representing a small remnant of Israel—Romans 11:2-5) bearing on himself a powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit while the majority of the nation was living in worldliness, lust, and self-seeking.
When Elijah was caught up to Heaven his mantle was picked up by another prophet, Elisha.
The record shows that Elisha worked more miracles than did Elijah. Why was this?
It was because a double portion of Elijah’s spirit rested on Elisha. Elisha was Elijah multiplied by two.
Does this signify to us that the Spirit of prophecy announcing the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ will be twice as powerful as that which bore witness to His resurrection from the dead?
The Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation is a type of the Church Age. The Holy Place was two thousand cubic cubits in volume representing the two thousand years of the Church Age.
The Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle is a type of the Kingdom Age, the thousand-year Kingdom Age of the rule of Christ and His saints over the nations of the earth. The Most Holy Place was one thousand cubic cubits in volume, portraying the one thousand years of the Kingdom Age.
The two parts of the linen curtain, and of the goats’ hair curtain, were coupled together over the veil, over the place where the Holy Place joined the Most Holy Place.
The linen curtain was joined together by fifty rings of gold. The next covering of the Tabernacle, the goat’s hair curtain, was joined together by fifty rings of bronze. Two sets of fifty rings.
The number fifty symbolizes Pentecost. Gold symbolizes Divinity. Bronze symbolizes judgment.
The meaning is, during the period of time just before the coming of the Lord there will be a doubled Pentecost. Doubled Divinity will be present and also doubled judgment.
The latter-rain outpouring of the Holy Spirit will contain the Presence of God in an unusual way, and also be characterized by works of judgment. The golden lampstands of Revelation, Chapter 11 symbolize the gold of God’s Presence. The two witnesses perform works of judgment.
The Presence of God indeed will come to the earth in the latter-rain (two witness) revival.
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. (Hosea 6:3)
"He (the Lord) shall come unto us as the rain."
A third concept has to do with the term prophesy. What will the two witnesses do? They will prophesy.
The Body of Christ needs the true Spirit of prophecy. "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19:10).
God never called the Christian churches to attempt to bear witness of the Lord Jesus Christ by the wisdom, talents, and energies of the members of the churches.
The Church of Christ is the Prophet of God among men. We have no life, no function, no purpose, no wisdom, no power, no ministry, no testimony, apart from the Holy Spirit. We are to be the vessels of the Spirit of God. Through the Spirit we are witnesses of Christ.
When God pours out His Holy Spirit on the Body of Christ the members will speak in tongues and prophesy, proclaiming the wonderful works of God.
Several of the furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation were constructed from acacia wood overlaid within and without with gold. The acacia wood typifies humanity and the gold symbolizes Deity. The gold upon the wood teaches us that the Kingdom of God is constructed from human beings who are filled with and covered by the Lord Jesus Christ and God in Him.
The Lampstand of the Tabernacle, which portrays the testimony of the Holy Spirit through Christ—Head and Body, contained no wood whatever. The Lampstand was solid gold.
And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same. (Exodus 25:31)
The prophetic significance of the fact that the Lampstand was constructed from pure gold, no wood being present, is that the testimony given by the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ is not to be partly of God, partly the efforts of humans.
The Divine testimony is purely Divine, of the Holy Spirit. All any human being can do, in terms of the testimony of Christ, is to present himself to the Holy Spirit so the Spirit can bear witness through him.
This is the reason for tongues, prophecy, and the other manifestations of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of the gifts and ministries of the Spirit is to open in the believer a channel through which the Holy Spirit can bear witness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our responsibility is to pray, keep ourselves spiritually clean by the Spirit’s help, meditate in God’s Word, assemble with fervent saints, and serve in a practical way according to the grace of Christ that has been given to us (Romans 12:3).
The Holy Spirit’s responsibility, His charge from the Father, is to bear witness of the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, the Christian churches are not groups of people who have banded together to present Christ to the world. Rather, the Christian churches are parts of the Lampstand of God, of Christ Himself who is the Light of the world, when the Holy Spirit is working through them.
Apart from the Holy Spirit the Christian churches can do nothing concerning the testimony of Christ.
Only the Holy Spirit can bear the testimony of Christ, the testimony that overcomes the accuser, Satan.
Another important concept concerning the two witnesses is that of the "thousand two hundred and threescore days" (1260 days, 42 months, 3-1/2 years, a time, times, and a half a time) during which the witnesses will prophesy.
The anointings that come upon the churches or upon individuals are specific. The authority and power of ministry remain under the strict control of Christ. Christ gives that power in order to accomplish a specific purpose, and then He withdraws it. (There will come a time, however, when the fullness of the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, and then it will not be withdrawn.)
When the Lord Jesus Christ opens a door of ministry there is no authority or power in Heaven or upon the earth, Antichrist included, that in any manner can harm that ministry until its purpose has been accomplished.
The two witnesses will be empowered to prophesy for three and one-half years. This may be a symbolic expression or an actual period of 1260 days (3-1/2 times 360). When the objective has been accomplished the authority and power will be withdrawn.
Such a withdrawal of authority and power of ministry accounts for the expression in II Thessalonians 2:7: "only he who now letteth [hinders] will let, until he be taken out of the way."
It is the authority and power of Christ abiding on the saints that is hindering the full expression of lawlessness on the earth. Just before Jesus returns, after the period of time when the latter rain of revival power has fallen and has accomplished its work of bringing the wheat and the tares to maturity, the opportunity for worldwide witnessing and ministry will be withdrawn from the saints.
However, there always will be a remnant of God’s elect on the earth who will minister to everyone who calls on the name of the Lord (Joel 2:32). The days of the tribulation will be shortened for the sake of the elect.
Second Thessalonians 2:7 does not state that the Holy Spirit will be withdrawn into Heaven (as commonly taught) but rather that He will be "taken out of the way." This means the anointing that enables the saints to hinder the full expression of Antichrist in the earth will be lifted by the Lord for a season.
The Lord God never will leave His earth. How could the omnipresent God leave anything of His creation? Will the Lord, who owns all the earth and all the nations of the earth, leave the earth and give it to Satan? That never shall happen. God does, however, give authority to Satan to express his wickedness in order to further God’s work in the earth.
Wouldn’t the wicked love to have God abandon the earth to them?
But the earth belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ and to the coheirs, the saints. The fullness of the earth belongs to the Lord. All the peoples of the earth belong to the Lord. Everything belongs to the Lord. Nothing belongs to Satan or to Antichrist.
The Lord will give Satan authority in the last days, but the final authority belongs to the Lord Jesus. He purchased the authority over the creation on the cross of Calvary.
We are to fear the Lord Jesus, not Satan. We are to keep Christ holy in our heart and let Him be our fear and our dread.
Satan cannot harm us when we are in Christ. Yet we must be wary and watchful in prayer because Satan will deceive many in the last days.
The authority and power for witnessing will be assigned to the two witnesses at a specific time and will be withdrawn at a specific time. The two witnesses will not be withdrawn; rather, their authority and power for prophesying will be withdrawn. God will permit their testimony to be overcome so sin can come to maturity in the earth.
God does not lift the Church off the earth. He anoints, and then withdraws the anointing, at specific points of the Church’s development. Great benefit comes to the Church when the rain of the Spirit is falling. Equally great benefit comes to the Church when the burning sun of tribulation is maturing the wheat. The Church must have both rain and sun in order to come to maturity, to completeness and perfection, as is true of natural wheat.
We can see this pattern in the first century. The former (planting) rain fell on the saints. The Apostles were given the authority and power of Christ for the purpose of planting the Church of Christ in the earth.
But what had occurred by the time the Apostle John died? The authority and power that had rested on the Apostles of Christ had been withdrawn.
The Christian Church was not withdrawn. The Holy Spirit was not withdrawn. Rather, the former-rain anointing of authority and power was withdrawn so the Church could begin its long, torturous growth in the wilderness of this life, and through these trials understand that man cannot build the Kingdom of God—only the Lord Himself can build the Kingdom of God.
One day soon the Bride will come up out of the wilderness leaning on her Beloved. She will have been purified by the various blessings and tribulations that have been necessary to prepare her for her marriage to the Lamb.
A study of the major revivals of Christianity throughout the world reveals the flowing and ebbing of the waves of glory. Meanwhile the tide of glory is rising steadily. Eventually the whole earth will be "filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14).
We understand, then, that the authority and power of the Christian witness and ministry is assigned and withdrawn at certain intervals in order that the Kingdom of God may be built according to the plan that is in the mind of God.
The authority and power given to the two witnesses will prepare the peoples of the earth for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then the power of the witness will be withdrawn so the Divinely controlled work of Antichrist can bring to the attention of Heaven and earth the folly of sin and rebellion against the most high God.
The saints who bear the end-time anointing of power cannot be harmed as to their relationship to Christ, for there is no power that can separate one of the elect from the love of Christ (Romans 8:38,39).
Rather it is the power to bear witness that will be "overcome." God will allow the Christian testimony to be overcome during the season He has set aside for the full revelation of lawlessness and its consequences.
The Lord Jesus always retains control over the events of earth’s history.
A final concept, before we identify the two witnesses, is that of the "sackcloth" in which they will prophesy.
Sackcloth, as used in the Scriptures, signifies "repentance"—an attitude of turning toward God in humility. Sackcloth represents the forsaking of the pride and self-reliance of the flesh and a return to trusting in the Lord for deliverance and preservation.
Perhaps the greatest need of the Christian Church of today is for a spirit of repentance. In order to become a Christian we must "repent, and be baptized" (Acts 2:38).
Numerous people are being "saved" today without repenting. They "receive Christ" but they do not repent. They do not turn away from the world or from their self-centeredness. They do not "save" themselves "from this untoward generation." They have believed in a philosophy instead of receiving the living Son of God.
They have been taught that all they must do to please God is to make a profession of faith in Christ. No one has "reasoned" with them "of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come."
And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. (Acts 24:25)
The true teaching of the Gospel of Christ includes a reasoning with people of righteousness, self-control, and the judgment that is near. When the Gospel is preached under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, sinners will tremble. And they should!
A gospel that informs us that Christ stands waiting as our servant so He can give us everything we want is not the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. It is a twentieth-century invention of teachers who worship their stomachs, who please their hearers for the sake of material gain. Such will bear their judgment.
People today are receiving Christ as their personal Savior but not as their personal Lord. They are not making Christ the Lord of their lives. Rather, they are attempting to make Christ their servant.
There has been little repentance.
The end-time witness will cry, Repent, repent, repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!
What will we do with the multitude of believers who have never repented, never turned away from the world, never made Christ the Lord of their lives?
Are such saved? Can a person be saved without repenting, without turning away from the world, without making Jesus the undisputed Lord of his or her life?
How many members would remain in a church today where the preacher told them that unless they immediately turned over their life in absolute consecration to Christ, looking to His will for every decision, they are not Christians?
Does being a Christian mean we must forsake all and follow Christ? Or can an individual be saved by believing in Christ and receiving His redemption apart from repentance?
It is the writer’s opinion that it is impossible (being unscriptural) to become a true saint, a Christian, apart from repenting and turning toward the Lord Jesus Christ in complete surrender of self-will. If this is what the Scripture states (and it does), the churches of Christendom are filled with people who are caught halfway between Heaven and Hell. They are lukewarm. They are not disciples, not Christians, only churchgoers.
Unless an individual repents and turns to the Lord Jesus Christ, receiving Him not only as Savior but also as absolute Lord, resolving to serve Him regardless of personal consequences, the individual remains part of the lukewarm Laodicean church. The Laodicean "believers" will be vomited from the Lord’s mouth.
The Laodicean church is useless to God and useless to man. It is fit only for the garbage. It is not a witness of Christ and has no part in Him. Therefore it is of no use in the world; neither is it fit for the Kingdom of God.
The two witnesses are clothed in sackcloth. Their message is the same as that of John the Baptist and Christ: Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
We have mentioned the latter (harvest; maturing) rain, the end-time preaching of the Kingdom of God to every nation, and the cleansing of the Body of Christ—in particular the "measuring" (judging) of the saints who are worshiping God and making intercession at the Altar of Incense.
We have discussed also the Divine origin of the end-time revival, the two wave loaves of the feast of Pentecost, the double portion of Elisha, the two sets of fifty rings over the entrance to the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle, the need for the Spirit of prophecy to rest on the saints, the important truth that only the Holy Spirit can bear God’s witness of Christ and of the Kingdom of God, the specific issuing and withdrawing of the authority and power of the testimony, and, finally the sackcloth of repentance.
Now we are ready to identify the two witnesses.
These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks [lampstands] standing before the God of the earth. (Revelation 11:4)
The reference is to the fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah, and so we would expect to find the answer there concerning the identity of the two witnesses.
In the fourth chapter the angel pointed out to Zechariah a golden lampstand, and also two olive trees, one on each side of the lampstand.
When Zechariah beheld this vision he asked the question many of us have asked after having read the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation: "What are these, my lord?"
The answer given to Zechariah is the Lord’s answer to our question concerning the meaning of the lampstands and olive trees of Revelation, Chapter 11.
So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? (Zechariah 4:4)
What is the meaning of this vision? What is signified by the golden lampstand, its bowl, its seven lamps, its seven pipes, and the two olive trees standing by it?
What does Revelation mean when it states that the two witnesses are "the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks [lampstands] standing before the God of the earth"?
The angel answered:
. . . This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 4:6)
"Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit."
Zerubbabel was a ruler of the Jews who with Joshua, the High Priest, was directing the rebuilding of the Temple of Solomon during the reign of King Darius.
Zerubbabel, the builder, was being informed by the Lord that the Temple of God, typifying the Body of Christ, will be completed by the Spirit of God, not by the efforts of human beings. It is the Spirit who builds the Temple of God, the Kingdom of God.
This is the meaning of the "two witnesses" of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation.
The most powerful, most authoritative testimony of God ever to be given to mankind will come in the days just before the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the world. This witness will not be given by an energetic, enthusiastic, talented, wealthy church. It will be given by the Holy Spirit. This is the significance of the two olive trees, and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.
Only the Holy Spirit of God can bear a testimony of God that will have eternal significance in the Kingdom of God.
If the two witnesses were Zerubbabel and Joshua, or Enoch and Elijah, or Moses and Elijah, as some scholars have suggested, this is what the angel would have answered.
When a question as important as this is raised (for it is clear from the eleventh chapter of Revelation that the two witnesses represent the most powerful testimony of the Kingdom to be given during the Church Era), the Spirit of Christ will give us a straightforward answer and not leave us guessing.
John the Baptist was "Elijah" because he came in the "spirit and power of Elias" (Luke 1:17). John the Baptist was "Elias, that was for to come." Yet, John was not Elijah himself.
Neither Moses and Elijah nor Enoch and Elijah, were the two witnesses but they were important forerunners of the two witnesses. They bore witness through the power of the Spirit, as will be true of the saints, the members of the Body of Christ, in the last days.
The two olive trees speak of the double portion of the anointing, the authority and power of the Holy Spirit, in building the Temple of God, in bearing witness of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God.
The number two signifies also there must be two or more witnesses if a testimony is to be lawful.
It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. (John 8:17)
Two refers to the double portion of power that rested on Elisha. As John the Baptist came in the Spirit and power of Elijah, so it is true that the members of the Body of Christ will bear witness of Christ by means of a double portion of the Spirit.
As the "rain" of the Holy Spirit came upon the early apostles and churches, as described in the Book of Acts, so will there be a double portion of revival power resting on the apostles and churches of the days just before Jesus returns from Heaven.
In the Kingdom of God, the glory of the latter house will be greater than that of the former (Haggai 2:9). Jesus has kept the good wine until now.
So much for the two olive trees, the doubled source of the continual anointing by the Holy Spirit.
What about the two golden lampstands? The eleventh chapter of Revelation does not state that the two lampstands were of gold, but we assume they were, for three reasons:
The Lampstand of the Tabernacle of the Congregation was hammered into shape from a talent of pure gold.
The lampstand of the fourth chapter of Zechariah was of gold.
The seven lampstands representing the seven churches in Asia were of gold—Revelation 1:12. In the eleventh chapter of Revelation we observe two (golden) lampstands standing before the God of the earth.
In the fourth chapter of Zechariah there is one lampstand, "all of gold."
One lampstand, and then two lampstands.
Revelation, Chapter One, speaks of seven lampstands.
In the Tabernacle of the Congregation there was one golden Lampstand.
In Solomon’s Temple there were ten lampstands of pure gold (I Kings 7:49).
What does a lampstand symbolize?
In the Scriptures, gold typifies Divinity, and oil represents the Holy Spirit of God. Wood represents what is human.
Some scholars believe the Lampstand of the Congregation portrays Christ as the Light of the world, the testimony of God’s Person, will, and ways.
The Ark of the Covenant also portrays Christ. Because God’s King is both Son of God and Son of Man there is wood in the Ark of the Covenant.
However, in that which bears witness of God, of His Person, of His will, of His ways, there is to be no "wood"—nothing of human origin.
The Lampstand of the Tabernacle of the Congregation was solid gold. It represents Christ, the Anointed One of God, the Person who possesses the Spirit of God without measure, the Begotten of God who is the Light (and the only true light) of the world. The oil of the Lampstand portrays the Holy Spirit who Himself is the Christing. It is the Spirit who alone gives the true witness of the Father.
There actually is but one Lampstand—the Lord Jesus Christ.
The number ten often is associated with the world. The ten lampstands of Solomon’s Temple speak of Christ being the Light of the world.
The number seven symbolizes the complete work of redemption: Naaman dipped seven times in Jordan; the blood was sprinkled seven times before the Mercy Seat; there are seven feasts of the Lord; and so forth. Therefore, the seven lampstands of the first chapter of Revelation may be speaking of the completeness of Christ’s work of redemption in the churches in the earth.
Christ has "the seven Spirits of God" (Revelation 3:1)—the fullness of the Light and Life of God.
What about the two lampstands? The number two signifies, as we have stated, the legality of the witness and also the double portion of authority and power that will come upon the judged-and-prepared (measured) saints in the end-time—those who are worshiping in the Temple of God at the Altar of Incense, to speak figuratively.
The fact that there now are two lampstands, instead of the one of the fourth chapter of Zechariah, may indicate an additional truth.
Remember, there is only one Lampstand, the Lord Jesus Christ. There is only one true Light of the world.
But what has been taking place throughout the Christian Era? The main work of the Christian Era, the object of the labors of the four ministries given by the ascended Christ (the apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers), is the building and perfecting of the Body of Christ, which is the body, the fullness, of the one true Lampstand.
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Ephesians 4:12)
Which [the Church] is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:23)
We would submit, therefore, that the change from the one lampstand of Zechariah, Chapter Four to the two lampstands of Revelation, Chapter 11 signifies that in the closing days of the Church Age there will exist a counterpart, a fullness of Christ who will work together with the Lord in bearing the witness of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
The "second lampstand" is not separate from Christ but is part of Christ. It is the part of Christ’s Church, of His Body, of the Wife of the Lamb, that is on the earth during the closing period of the Church Age.
The second lampstand is the Church of the last days, as we understand it. The Church of the last days will be a holy remnant, being filled with unprecedented glory and then purified by the fires of the great tribulation.
The second lampstand will have seven lamps, as is true of the first lampstand. This signifies that the fullness of the Holy Spirit, the seven Spirits of God, will be given to the holy remnant of saints so the witness may be perfect and complete.
And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them [the members of His Body]; that they may be one, even as we are one: (John 17:22)
The precedent for "two witnesses" who yet are one Person is found in the Gospel of John:
It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me. (John 8:17,18)
When Christ walked the shores of Galilee the people nearby could see only one Person. Yet there were two People walking as one. Two witnesses were present in one Person.
So it will be true in the last days that the saints will be seen as individuals. Yet there actually will be two people who are bearing witness: the saint, and also the Lord Jesus Christ who is dwelling in him.
Was it Jesus who spoke and who performed the powerful miracles or was it the Father?
Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. (John 14:10)
For two thousand years men have striven to bear witness of Christ. In the last days it will be Christ Himself dwelling in the members of His Body who will bear witness of Himself and of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
Having Christ Himself bear witness will require dying to self-will and to personal ambition on the part of each saint who participates in the revival.
As far as we know, there is no scriptural basis for interpreting a lampstand, or lampstands, as meaning anything other than Christ or a Christ-filled church. The Lampstand is Christ. It is solid, refined gold.
Christ is the Light of the world. He has given to us to be the light (not the lights) of the world (Matthew 5:14). There is only one Lampstand, one Light of the world. Each of the members of the Body of Christ is part of the one true Light of the world, provided Christ is living and bearing witness in him. No human being is a light of the world if Christ, who is the only true Light, is not living and bearing witness in him.
As in the case of the Father and the Son, it is not we saints who are bearing witness of God, it is Christ in us who is bearing witness of God. There are two witnesses—Christ, and the members of His Body.
Also, we can do no witnessing apart from the Holy Spirit’s power, apart from the "oil" of the "Lampstand."
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost [Oil] is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
If Christ is lifted up He will draw all men to Himself. The testimony of the Christian Church always must be the revealing of Christ, who is the only true Light of the world.
Whenever the churches call attention to themselves, to their building programs, missionary activities, and so forth, they fail God.
We of the Body of Christ have but one mission in life. That mission is to reveal Christ, the Light of the world.
The two witnesses of Revelation, Chapter 11 have but one mission in life. That mission is to reveal Christ, the Light of the world.
The Scripture does not give the details of the message the two witnesses will preach. It is stated that "they shall prophesy," that they will be defended spiritually until their testimony is "finished," that they will have the authority to "strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they will," and that they will torment those who dwell on the earth.
Although the message they preach is not set forth in the Book of Revelation, they are "witnesses." Witnesses of whom?—of what?
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:14)
Revelation, Chapter 11 suggests that the testimony of the two witnesses will be the last earth-wide testimony to be given before the "end" comes, that is, the end of the Christian testimony in the cities of the earth. The witnesses will prophesy for 3-1/2 years and then their dead bodies will "lie in the street" for 3-1/2 days. After that they will stand on their feet and ascend into the heaven (probably into the clouds in the sky—compare Acts 1:11).
Immediately the seventh angel will sound his trumpet. It then will be time for the Lord Jesus Christ to assume rulership over the kingdoms of the world; for the judgment of the dead; for the issuing of rewards to the servants of Christ (Revelation 11:15-18).
Jesus stated that the Gospel of the Kingdom is to be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations, and that then the end of the Christian witness would come. Since the two witnesses prophesy to all nations and then the end comes, we have grounds to believe Matthew 24:14 and Revelation, Chapter 11 are speaking of the same event.
It appears that the two witnesses will preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, the same message preached by two other witnesses—John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The message of the Gospel of the Kingdom includes the good news of salvation through the atoning blood of Christ, repentance, water baptism, the resurrection and return to earth of Christ, the establishing of the Kingdom of God as the chief government of the world, the doing of the will of God in the earth as it is in Heaven, and the supreme, unopposed Lordship of Christ over all persons everywhere.
It is important for us to realize the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is a witness to the peoples of the world. It is a testimony of both the love of God and the wrath of God.
The Divine testimony will cause some people to forsake sin and rebellion and turn to God in repentance and adoration.
The same testimony will cause other people to become hardened in their sin and rebellion.
The fact that some persons have become hardened and more rebellious does not mean the Divine testimony has not been given.
It is the Lord who saves people and adds them to the Church. Every saint ought to do everything in his or her power, as the Spirit enables, to guide the lost sinner home to the family of God.
But the purpose of the Church of Christ, the Lampstand of God, is to bear witness of the love and the wrath of God, of His redemption through the Lord Jesus Christ, of the supreme Lordship of Christ, of the righteousness and holiness of God and the righteousness and holiness required of those who would enter God’s Kingdom, of the Day of Judgment that is at the door.
The Church of Christ is the Lampstand, the prophet of God among men, the light of the world, revealing the righteous deeds and the miracle-working power that proceed only from the Holy Spirit of God.
The Christian churches of our day emphasize "getting souls saved." This is to place the cart in front of the horse. The scriptural emphasis is on building the members of the Body of Christ into the Lampstand, into the Divine testimony.
The New Testament Epistles do not contain many exhortations to the saints to "get souls saved." Of course, we are concerned about the salvation of our family members, our neighbors, and all the peoples of the earth. We are not diminishing the need for the work of evangelism.
The emphasis of the Epistles is on the building of the saints, the Divine testimony in the earth. When the saints are full of holiness and power, men will see their good works and glorify God. When the Church is one in Christ in God, the world will believe God has sent Christ to be the Savior and Lord of all men. This is scriptural.
The writings of the Apostles emphasize the building of the Body of Christ in love and holiness. The ministries of the Spirit are given for the purpose of building the saints into "the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13).
Christ is the Lampstand, the Testimony of God. When we are built into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ we are formed into the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Lampstand, into the Divine Testimony.
The Epistles emphasize the faith and the behavior of the saints because godly behavior is an important part of the testimony.
Here is the work of the Church:
And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people....
Here is the work of the Lord:
And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. (Acts 2:46,47)
The duty of the saints is to gather together in fervent love for the Lord and for one another, ministering to each other, being built into Christ, the Head, by that which every member supplies.
When the members of the Body of Christ worship God in Spirit and in truth, and minister to one another in love, the Lord will add to the churches those whom He is saving.
. . . upon this rock I will build my church;.... (Matthew 16:18)
It is the Lord’s responsibility to save people and to add them to His Body. When we attempt to do the Lord’s part, placing our attention and efforts toward adding to the church, we gather numbers of people. The moment we take this approach, setting as our goal an ever-increasing number of believers, we may compromise the testimony of God.
Test this truth for yourself. Preach the demands of discipleship in your assembly. Those people who were added to the church by the church will flee. Those whom the Lord has added will shine as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.
The Christian churches are full of illegitimate children. Their mother is the local church. Their father is the fleshly ambitions of people. They are half-Israelite, half-Egyptian so to speak. They are a "mixed multitude."
Whenever the truth of Christ is preached the "mixed multitude" will grumble, find fault with the elders and with one another, and finally will succeed in silencing the testimony or will leave the assembly. They never have been born of God, born from above. Rather, they were born of the good intentions of the churches as the churches attempted to perform the Lord’s work of adding people to the assembly of saints.
The churches bring in the "mixed multitude" by using fleshly, soulish techniques. In order to keep these members they must continue entertaining them and pampering their flesh. Such members never will tolerate the demands of Christ. They never will forsake all they possess and follow the Lord Jesus.
They are not of the Divine elect, they are not Christians, not saints of God. They are good people who never have been informed of what it means to be a member of the Body of Christ, only of what it means to be a member of the local assembly.
When the Spirit of God begins to move they will rise up in protest because the mixed multitude are children of the flesh, not of the Spirit.
Today’s churches are full of such churchgoers. They are not disciples of the Lord, not Christians.
The Holy Spirit is calling to the Bride, to the true members of the Body of Christ. A pastor never has to compromise the demands of Christ in order to please a true saint of God, but he always must compromise the demands of Christ in order to please the mixed multitude in his church.
We see, then, the difference between the testimony of God and the religious efforts of the Christian churches.
The pastor of today, if he is wise, either will sue for peace with the crowd of worldly believers or else leave them and serve the Lord Jesus Christ. If he sues for peace with the worldly believers they will receive him into the eternal habitations after he and they die. If he serves Christ, Christ will receive him. If he cannot make up his mind, or attempts to please everyone, both Christ and the world will reject him.
Multitudes are in the valley of decision. The Day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. We must make up our mind to serve Christ or else become friends of the ungodly and join their ranks. The ungodly may allow us to carry on our church activities because our preaching is harmless and it covers the flesh with a cloak of religion.
Where do the two witnesses come from? Suddenly they are empowered to prophesy to the nations of the earth.
If the two witnesses are Old Testament prophets who are raised from the dead, or dropped down from Heaven, in order to perform the work of testifying that which Christ has assigned to His Body, wouldn’t the Scriptures tell us this is where they came from?
The Scripture appears to assume the witnesses already are present, that power is given to witnesses who are ready to testify as soon as the Lord enables them to do so. The emphasis is not on the sudden appearing of the witnesses nor is it suggested that they have come from any unusual source. The emphasis is on the commissioning of them to bear witness of God.
If the two witnesses were two saints from the Old Testament, the Old Testament would speak of their coming. But since the two witnesses are not from the Old Testament but are Christ and His Body, the Old Testament Scriptures (except for the fourth chapter of Zechariah) make no mention of them.
It seems reasonable that the two witnesses are the saints, God’s elect. In Chapter 10 of the Book of Revelation, which is the context of the description of the two witnesses, the saints are commanded (in the person of John) to take and eat the little book, because they will prophesy again "before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings."
Numerous believers of today are reading and studying the "book." This is a worthwhile practice, but it is not sufficient for the preparation of the saints who will bear the end-time testimony. We must eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ and learn to live by Him as He lives by the Father. Then we shall be built into the testimony and be able to bear witness of the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and also of the return to earth of Christ in His Kingdom.
The Body of Christ must be measured in order to determine how much more growth is necessary before the Body fits the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
The saints of today are being alerted by the Holy Spirit that a work of Kingdom preaching is on the way. We are praising Christ for that. Then the Holy Spirit points out the sins and rebellions in our lives that must be removed before we can be trusted with the end-time anointing. Truly, the Word of revival is sweet in our mouth but bitter in our stomach.
As soon as we have been prepared by the Spirit we shall be ready for the anointing that will empower us to "prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings."
The two witnesses will receive a double portion of the power the Lord Jesus promised to His saints:
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
Compare: "Unto the uttermost part of the earth;" "Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings."
All the anointed prophets of God were and are part of God’s eternal witness, part of the Lampstand of God of which Christ is the central shaft. It was the Spirit of Christ who spoke in the Old Testament Prophets (I Peter 1:11). All of God’s witnesses are eternal, always standing before Him and always testifying. Noah and John the Baptist still are speaking to the peoples of the earth through the Scriptures.
Men and women of God of various ages have revealed in their lives and ministries some aspects of the glorious works that will materialize during the period just before the return of Christ, the period when the double portion of the Holy Spirit rests on God’s elect.
Note the expression in Revelation 11:4: "the two candlesticks [lampstands] standing before the God of the earth."
Now compare I Kings 17:1: "As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand."
As far as we know, only Elijah and Elisha used the expression, "the Lord God before whom I stand." Elijah and Elisha may be the strongest of the Old Testament forerunners of the two witnesses of the last days.
The ministry of the two witnesses represents a change in the type of witness the Church of Christ is empowered to give.
And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. (Revelation 11:5)
This is a remarkable verse because it teaches us that in the last days, just before Jesus returns, those Christians who are bearing the double portion of the anointing of the Holy Spirit will be under Divine protection until their testimony has been completed. Then this protection will be taken out of the way (II Thessalonians 2:7) so the "tares," the kingdom of Antichrist, can come to maturity.
Here is a change from what was true when the early apostles gave their testimony.
And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village. (Luke 9:54-56)
Do we have any reason to believe Christ would change the "manner of spirit" His apostles manifest such that "fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies"? Will the unique circumstances of the closing days of this age require that the Lord Jesus protect His ambassadors with a special dispensation of Divine power?
Perhaps so. The Lord Jesus came the first time as the gentle Teacher of Nazareth. At His return He will be the wrathful Lamb of God whose face will cause the strongest of men to run to the mountains and rocks for protection.
The Good Shepherd of the Twenty-third Psalm becomes the Lord, strong and mighty in battle of the Twenty-fourth Psalm.
The Israelites came out of Egypt as sheep who were led by a shepherd, Moses.
The Israelites entered Canaan as an army under the leadership of a commander of battle, Joshua. Change does take place in the working of the Lord God.
Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. (Matthew 26:52)
Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. (Luke 22:36)
There is a time to put the sword into the scabbard, and then there is a time to buy a sword.
Circumstances and Divine interventions do change. It has been given to the Body of Christ to judge mankind, to judge angels, to crush the wicked under foot. So it is not surprising that the herald of Christ’s second coming, a coming that will overthrow with violence the governments of the earth, would contain some of the characteristics of the Kingdom it is announcing.
Without doubt the saints of the last-day witness shall heal the sick, cast out devils, and call people to repentance in view of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God.
While in the first century the witnesses of Christ could be massacred at the whim of the Caesars, in the last days the saints will be protected by the power of Divine judgment.
There are instances in the Scriptures where Divine fire, Divine judgment, the sword of the Word of God in the mouths of Christ’s prophets and apostles, slew the enemies of righteousness.
And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. (Exodus 14:27)
And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them: And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. (Numbers 16:31,32)
And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. (II Kings 1:10)
And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. (Acts 5:5)
And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. (Acts 13:11)
And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. (Revelation 20:9)
The most outstanding example in world history of the slaying of people by the "sword" that comes from the mouth of Christ will be the Battle of Armageddon.
And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. (Revelation 19:15)
The Battle of Armageddon will take place at the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will slay Antichrist at His glorious appearing. In that Day the saints will be filled with the fire of Divine judgment in order that they may execute judgment on the sinners in the churches and establish righteousness on the earth.
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. (Jude 1:14,15)
We understand from the above passages that the Lord Jesus Christ and His saints will one day execute judgment on the ungodly. Therefore it is not surprising that the end-time testimony will be accompanied by a foretaste of what is in store for the wicked when our Lord returns from heaven.
And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 4:3)
And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh. (Revelation 19:21)
Experienced saints know there always is a covering protecting the Glory of God (Isaiah 4:5). Whenever God is moving by His Spirit, those who resist and fight against God die spiritually—and sometimes physically. This always has been true. It will become even more true as the wheat and the tares come to maturity.
The saints today, when they are living and ministering in the Holy Spirit, possess the authority and power in Jesus’ name to bind and to loose, to forgive sins and to retain sins (John 20:23).
We have been taught to bless and not to curse. However, the end-time witness of the Kingdom of God will be accompanied by the authority and power of Divine judgment, a foreshadowing of the Battle of Armageddon that will take place at the return of Christ with His saints and holy angels.
In any case, it never has been a wise practice to lay one’s hand on the Divine testimony.
And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God. (I Chronicles 13:10)
The testimony of the two witnesses will be confirmed by signs and mighty wonders, by power over the forces of nature.
These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: . . . . (Revelation 11:6)
The withholding of rain reminds us of Elijah. Elijah "prayed earnestly that it would not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months" (3-1/2 years—the duration of the prophecy of the two witnesses—James 5:17).
The Book of James provides insight into Elijah as a human being: "Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are."
Elijah, in spite of all the Divine fire that rested on him, was human just like you and me. Elijah had the same emotions, the same fears and doubts. In like manner, the saints of the end-time anointing will be ordinary people. They will be bearing on their personalities an extraordinary anointing of the Spirit of God in order to present to the nations of the earth the necessary and true witness of the Lord God of Heaven, of His soon coming to establish His Kingdom on the earth.
Why did Elijah pray for a drought? Why will the saints of the last days pray for a drought? Remember, Revelation is a book of symbolism, and this "drought" may refer to the authority and power of the remnant to open and close the doors of God’s blessing—the power to bind and to loose, to retain and remit sins, to invite the Spirit of revival and of God’s Presence, or to prevent Them from abiding on a particular group of people.
Elijah prayed as he was directed by the Spirit of the Lord, as will the saints of the last days. The end-time witnesses will not be self-seeking "Christians" who are attempting to use the Lord Jesus Christ in order to accomplish their own ends—even religious ends.
The benefit of the exercise of such authority and power is the humbling of the world so it will be compelled to pay attention to the Divine testimony.
Notice in the following passage how this principle operates:
And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord. (Acts 13:11,12)
When the world and the worldly churches realize the godly remnant have been given the authority and power of the Lord Jesus Christ to control nature, or the blessings of the Kingdom, or both (which is the most likely), some will accept the witness and believe who would not do so apart from such a demonstration of Kingdom power and judgment.
It is the writer’s opinion that many of the statements of the Book of Revelation will have both a natural and a spiritual fulfillment. The physical realm and the spirit realm affect one another.
Jesus was able to speak out from His inner, spiritual peace and calm the physical storm.
Very often when we achieve spiritual strength, physical strength follows. Spiritual healing and physical healing often go hand in hand. Have you ever found this to be true?
As far as spiritual "rain," the blessing of the Spirit of God, is concerned, we are of the opinion that the Spirit of God will not be present in any worldly, Laodicean church during the period that God’s remnant are testifying of God’s will in Christ in the fullness of the authority and power of the latter rain.
The common people of Israel walked humbly in the presence of Elijah, and then in the presence of Elisha, because of the power of the anointing that rested on these two prophets.
The multitude of Israelites still were God’s chosen people—the nation that had been separated from all other nations for the purpose of being God’s witness to mankind. But even the nobles of Israel were careful to avoid a confrontation with these two men nor did they dare to put them in prison (except for Queen Jezebel who was not a Hebrew by birth, who would have killed Elijah if God had not protected him).
Notice that Ahab, the king, the chief elder of Israel, was not looking for Elijah, so to speak, it was Elijah who was looking for Ahab:
And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord. (I Kings 21:20)
Ahab recognized the authority and power of Elijah. The prophets of God have power even over kings when those kings are sinning against the Lord.
We believe this sort of separation between the anointed witness and the remainder of the Lord’s people will take place just before the Lord returns, and that the worldwide drought referred to in Revelation 11:6 may have just such a spiritual application (the authority of the Lord’s witnesses to give or withhold God’s blessing) as well as a natural, physical fulfillment.
The double portion of power that rested on Elisha was so great that on one occasion he single-handedly captured the Syrian army (II Kings 6:19).
There were several facts and incidents associated with the lives and testimonies of Elijah and Elisha that suggest these two prophets are an specially rich type of the end-time, latter-rain testimony of the Church of Christ.
If this is true, there is one aspect of the ministries of both Elijah and Elisha that may be of unusual significance as we envision what the future holds for the Christian saints.
The aspect of which we are speaking is that both of these Jewish prophets exercised their miraculous testimony among the Gentiles [nations] as well as among the Jews.
The Lord spoke to Elijah:
Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. (I Kings 17:9)
Jesus commented on this incident:
But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. (Luke 4:25,26)
And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. (Luke 4:27)
The astonishing fact about the healing of Naaman by Elisha is that Naaman was the "captain of the host of the king of Syria" (II Kings 5:1). Syria was the chief enemy of Israel at the time.
It is the writer’s point of view, and we believe it to be the burden of the Spirit of God, that the elect of God will be lifted above all national and religious identity. The anointed remnant, those who bear the latter-rain anointing, will speak as the Voice of Christ to "peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings."
All nations and their rulers will be brought face to face with the righteousness and miracle-working power of the Lord Jesus Christ. The nations and rulers that receive and assist the saints, the Divine witness, will be blessed and sustained throughout the tribulation that even now is at the door. Furthermore, those nations will enter eternal life at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Matthew 25:34).
Woe to any ruler or nation that refuses the end-time testimony and persecutes Christ’s servants! The wrath of God will abide on that nation from the time it rejects the testimony.
And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. (Matthew 10:14,15)
The destiny of the nations will be determined by their response to the Divine testimony of the last days.
Elijah and Elisha were indestructible until their testimonies were completed. Then, Elijah was carried up by a whirlwind into the heaven. Elisha, who bore twice the anointing of Elijah, died of sickness (II Kings 13:14).
Elijah’s ascension into the heaven portrays the ascension of the two witnesses into the heaven. Elisha’s death by sickness typifies the overcoming of the two witnesses by Antichrist; but then a man was raised to life by touching the bones of Elisha (II Kings 13:21), a type of the victorious resurrection from the dead of the two witnesses (Revelation 11:11).
Notice in II Kings 13:21 that the dead man "revived, and stood up on his feet"; and in Revelation 11:11, "the spirit of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet." Such similarities in the Scriptures are not coincidences.
While Elijah and Elisha were alive they were victorious over the backslidden Israel and over the Gentiles as well. We believe to see this same triumphant power over the Laodicean churches and the Gentile nations as the saints are empowered to bear the Divine testimony throughout the earth.
This Christian witness will have nothing to do with any church group or special doctrine or any racial or national ties. Such affiliations would detract from the purity and integrity of the testimony.
Every person on the earth will be able to choose or reject Christ apart from any other consideration, such as a denominational, cultural, racial, or national interest.
Blessed! blessed! blessed will be the home or the country that receives and nourishes the saints who are bearing the end-time testimony under the anointing of the Holy Spirit!
Woe! woe! woe to any family or country that rejects and refuses to help the true Christian prophets of the last days!
The peoples and nations that receive the saints will be protected throughout the coming days of trouble, the tribulation period. When Jesus returns they will enter the Kingdom prepared for them from the creation of the world.
But the person (or nation) that rejects the testimony, choosing instead the ways of the world, the ways of Antichrist, will not experience Divine protection during the coming tribulation.
When the Lord Jesus returns, Antichrist will be cast into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
The closing days of the present age will be the most fearful of world history. Many Psalms such as the Twenty-third, the Thirty-fourth, the Thirty-seventh, the Ninety-first, and others will be revealed in their clearest light and power during the coming catastrophes.
Some who are last in time will be first in the Kingdom of God. The Lord has kept the good wine until now. Both Christ and Satan are coming to maturity in the peoples of the earth, and the climax will be the Battle of Armageddon.
All of the prophecies and promises of the Scriptures converge on the Day of the Lord. The two witnesses will bring the peoples of the earth face to face with the reality of the Day of the Lord. Some will receive the testimony and be saved. Others will reject the testimony and thus experience the anger of God.
The nation that is wise will embrace the Divine testimony and be spared the wrath of God. All who receive the saints will be placed under the protection of the Lord. All others will be confronted with the fierce wrath of Almighty God.
Today the world views the Christian churches as representing the efforts of people to carry out the activities of one of the multitude of religions of mankind.
Before Jesus comes, the peoples of the world will be faced with the realization that Christ is God’s Son—and He is alive! More than that, He is coming to rule the world.
The world will be compelled to acknowledge that God is in Jesus and Jesus is in His saints.
And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. (Zechariah 14:18)
Anyone who knows about the feast of Tabernacles understands that this observance is only for Israel—God’s elect. The seven feasts of the Lord of Leviticus, Chapter 23 are for the saints, for no one else.
What, then, is the Spirit of Christ in Zechariah teaching us when He states that the nations are to come to Jerusalem to keep the feast of Tabernacles?
The feast of Tabernacles celebrates the fullness of the harvest of the earth. It is a period of the greatest rejoicing.
Spiritually, the feast of Tabernacles signifies the Presence of the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit dwelling in the members of the Body of Christ.
The Divine testimony of the two witnesses will announce to the earth that the Lord Jesus Christ is coming from Heaven, not only to rule the nation of Israel but also to govern every nation and village on the earth. No person is exempt from the rulership of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Every individual on the earth will be confronted with the Presence of Christ in the saints in the Day of the Lord. Either he will "keep the feast of Tabernacles" by accepting and honoring the Presence of Christ in the members of His Body, and God in Christ, or he will reject the Presence of God in Christ in the saints.
If an individual or a nation rejects God in Christ in the saints, the Divine blessing and protection will be withheld from the individual or nation. He (or it) has refused to receive and rejoice over the Presence of God in Christ in the saints (which is the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles). Therefore the wrath of God will abide on him.
God in His love and mercy toward mankind will give His witnesses the power of judgment so the nations will have an opportunity to prepare themselves for the advent of the Day of the Lord, for the time when they will be obligated to "keep the feast of Tabernacles."
Christ is galactically more than a religious activity of well-intentioned human beings. He is the Son of God Almighty, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. His "roar" shakes the heavens and the earth. Those who mock the Lord Jesus are inviting their own destruction.
. . . have power over waters to turn them to blood, . . . . (Revelation 11:6)
Immediately we remember the instances concerning Moses and Elisha:
And Moses and Aaron did so, as the Lord commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. (Exodus 7:20,21)
And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood: (II Kings 3:22)
What a terrible plague! Of all the tribulations that could be sent on mankind, the turning of water to blood certainly would be one of the worst. A human being can survive many days without food but only a few days without water. Can you imagine what it would be like to be thirsty and to have nothing to drink or to bathe in except blood!
Notice that it is God’s witnesses who bring tribulation on the earth. It is difficult to imagine a more devastating problem than this.
The plague of blood, when it was brought on Egypt by Moses, forced the Egyptians to dig around the Nile in the hope of finding fresh water (Exodus 7:24). But even the plague of blood was not sufficient to persuade Pharaoh to listen to Moses and Aaron (Exodus 7:22,23).
What is God saying to us by this plague? We know that water, in the Scriptures, is associated with life—especially with eternal Life.
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:14)
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:38,39)
So we see that water represents eternal life and portrays the Holy Spirit who Himself is eternal Life.
Blood also represents life, but it is corruptible fleshly life.
For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (Leviticus 17:11)
For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off. (Leviticus 17:14)
Water represents eternal life. Blood represents the life of the flesh. The two witnesses of the last days possess the authority and power to change what is living and life-giving into what is mortal and corruptible.
The transformation of life (water) into death (blood) is in harmony with the same concept we noticed before—there will be no blessing of the Lord on any of the worldly churches throughout the period of the Divine testimony borne by the anointed remnant. All the eternal life remaining in the Laodicean churches will be turned into death.
Notice carefully the symbolism of the following expressions:
And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, . . . . (Exodus 7:21)
Can you visualize the corruption and death here, especially as it relates to the members of the Laodicean churches?
Compare Exodus 7:21 (above) with the following portrayal of the waters of the Holy Spirit flowing out from the saints in the Day of the Lord:
And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh. (Ezekiel 47:9)
Please keep in mind that Jesus spoke of the unconverted as "fish" who are to be caught by the Gospel net, and also of the Holy Spirit as a River of Life in the believers.
The voice of our Lord Jesus Christ is "as the sound of many waters" Revelation 1:15). This is because His voice speaks through the many members of His Body, each being the source of "rivers of living water."
Woe! woe! woe to those who resist the end-time testimony of the saints! What spiritual life those rebels possess will be turned into corruption and death. It is the will of God that the nations of the earth, the Jews, the Christians, and everyone else realize clearly that Christ the Righteous is coming in the clouds of glory to redeem His saints and to destroy the wicked out of the earth.
Today the testimony is unclear because of the uncertain sound being given by the churches. But before Jesus returns, the way of the Lord will be made straight. All persons will perceive what is of the God of Heaven and what is not of the God of Heaven. The love and justice of God require that such a clear testimony be given before the Day of Judgment arrives.
Fish, in the Scriptures, represent mankind. Jesus makes us fishers of men (compare Isaiah 60:5 where the "forces of the nations" are placed in association with "the abundance of the sea").
In the present hour there are many deceiving doctrines, some of which are proceeding from "Christian " churches, that promise to bring to their adherents the blessings of God.
In the days that even now are upon us these false "waters" will be turned into blood. It will become apparent to everyone that the true salvation, which can be found only in the Lord Jesus Christ, brings righteousness, holiness, and stern obedience to the Father into the personality and behavior of the disciple. The current "Christian" teachings that comfort the sinful and self-centered will be revealed for what they are—a cesspool of death.
The end-time testimony will cause the line to be drawn sharply between the worldly churches and the saints of God, in preparation for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ from Heaven.
Here is the prophecy of the voice that goes before the Lord to prepare His coming:
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 40:3-5)
"Elijah," the anointed prophet, always must go before the Lord and prepare His way. Then the Lord will come.
. . . and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. (Revelation 11:6)
Moses comes to mind, and the powerful plagues that destroyed the land of Egypt; also Elijah and the drought with which he plagued Israel.
Can it be true that it will be the prayers of the remnant that will bring about the tribulation?
Moses, the anointed man of God, was the one who brought tribulation on Egypt (a type of the world), destroying it with plagues.
Elijah, the anointed man of God, was the one who brought tribulation on the land of Israel, destroying it with drought.
The Scripture is clear that the judgment of God, during the Day of the Lord, will be administered by His saints (Psalms 149:5-9; Malachi 4:3; I Corinthians 6:2,3; Jude 1:14,15; for example).
Notice the following verses:
And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. (Revelation 15:1)
Notice the following, referring to the angel who was bringing the vision to John:
And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10)
"I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus."
The word angel means messenger—nothing more.
One of the seven angels who carry the vials of God’s wrath may be a glorified human, it is not impossible that all the Divine messengers who bear the plagues of the wrath of God are glorified human beings. This would be in accordance with the written Word of God that assigns the administration of God’s judgment to the saints.
And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. (Revelation 21:9)
And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God. (Revelation 22:8,9)
"See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets."
One of the seven angels (messengers) who carried the vials filled with the plagues of the wrath of God came to the Apostle John and showed him the holy city, the new Jerusalem.
The exiled John, overcome with the glory and splendor of the vision Christ was giving him, "fell down to worship before the feet of the angel."
The angel (messenger) would not allow John to worship before him, saying "I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book."
As we have stated, it is not impossible that this messenger had been a human being on earth, although now living and ministering in the spirit realm. He is a fellow-servant of John, of the prophets, and of those persons who keep the sayings of the Book of Revelation. We cannot think of an instance in the Scriptures where a spirit-angel, an angel who have never been a human being, spoke of itself as a fellow-servant of human beings; although this is not impossible either.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the two witnesses possess the authority to "strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they will." In the eyes of the saints such a chastening of the earth is the Glory of God. In the eyes of the world a chastening of the earth is viewed as tribulation and torment.
How does God’s mercy appear when observed from the standpoint of God’s enemies?
To him which smote great kings: for his mercy endureth for ever: And slew famous kings: for his mercy endureth for ever: Sihon king of the Amorites: for his mercy endureth for ever: And Og the king of Bashan: for his mercy endureth for ever: And gave their land for an heritage: for his mercy endureth for ever: (Psalms 136:17-21)
One wonders what opinion Sihon and Og had of God’s mercy?
Elisha, the prophet of the double portion, is a type of the two witnesses. He stands before the Lord God of the whole earth. He also handles sin roughly, his righteousness being above reproach.
Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, was a covetous man and a liar. Here is Elisha’s response to Gehazi’s love of money:
The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow. (II Kings 5:27)
The testimony of the last days is not to be mocked.
And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children [young men] out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. (II Kings 2:23,24)
Some may feel pity for these young men. But think what they were doing! There was quite a crowd of them. Why were they mocking an elder, a distinguished prophet of Israel? Why were they daring him to go up to the heaven in a whirlwind as Elijah did?
Where were their parents who would allow forty-two lads to be doing nothing more constructive than mocking the most famous prophet in Israel? This conduct was not typical of Jewish children, but it is typical of the last days as young people are allowed to do as they please.
The two she bears typify the two witnesses. The forty-two young men symbolize the forty-two months (3-1/2 years) during which the Divine testimony will be given.
The boys came out of the city, revealing that the opposition to the testimony of God will come from the "city" that is called Sodom (the lust of the flesh), Egypt (the lust of the eyes), and Jerusalem (the pride of life).
The two bears came out of the wood, signifying that the anointed saints will not be part of the Antichrist world culture but will be living in the Spirit of God.
By mocking an elder these young men were defying the institutions of their culture. They were wicked, rebellious young men. They portray the wicked, rebellious attitude of the lawless people of the last days who will show no respect for the decent and honorable institutions of their former culture.
Elisha was going up to Bethel, to the House of God. The saints of the Lord love above all else to go up to the mountain of prayer, up to the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, there to seek the Face and will of God.
Those who do so in the last days will be persecuted in the cities of the earth. The bodies of the two witnesses "lie in the street of the city."
The bears come "out of the wood," not out of the city. The end-time testimony will not be one of education and art forms, of the customs and values prevalent in the centers of civilization. The testimony will be raw, plain, natural, earthy, simple, honest. It will be given in integrity and straightforwardness. Gone will be the trappings of stained glass windows, organs, robed choirs, steeples, and the rest of the pomp and finery of religious babylon (man-directed Christianity).
The Divine testimony will come "out of the wood," out of what is natural, of the earth, sincere, unadorned, of the Lord God of the whole earth.
When man comes into the Presence of God he must "take his shoes off." We are not to "lift up a tool" on the stones of the altar. The inventions of humans have no place in the Divine testimony. We are to come before God and allow Him to use us as He will.
The gentle Jesus cursed the fig tree. He cursed the fig tree for not bearing figs out of season.
How "unreasonable"! But it reveals the absolute control over nature that Jesus possesses and that we too will possess if we follow on to know the Lord.
Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. (Matthew 21:18-22)
Why did not Jesus bless the fig tree so it would be able to bear fruit in abundance? Why did He curse it so it never again could bear fruit?
Bible teachers have found symbolic meaning in the cursing of the fig tree and in removing the mountain and casting it into the sea. Without doubt there is spiritual significance here.
In explaining the meaning of His actions to His disciples, Jesus did not stress the spiritual application. He emphasized the necessity of faith, of exercising and speaking words of faith. Jesus’ explanation teaches us that He considers cursing fig trees and casting mountains into the sea to be normal behavior for the sons of God.
Why did Jesus talk to us about cursing fig trees and casting mountains into the sea? Why would anyone desire to curse a fig tree or cast a mountain into the sea?
Jesus prophesied to us that the person who believes in Him would perform the same works He did, and greater works than these because Jesus has gone to be with the Father in Heaven. Jesus was referring to works of much greater power, stupendously greater power, than He performed while on earth. Jesus now is at the right hand of the Father and can direct such earth-shaking feats from His position in the Presence of the Majesty on high.
The holy remnant, in the closing days of this age, will be issued enough Divine faith to enable them to perform the works of power of which Jesus spoke. God’s elect will demonstrate His almighty power by creating massive changes in nature—far greater evidences of the power of God than were revealed in the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Greater works than these shall ye do.
For example, changing the course of the Gulf Stream would have an enormous impact on the countries that border it.
Speaking of power, it is well for us to remember that Elijah and Elisha are associated also with the removal of tribulation.
And he [Elijah] prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. (James 5:18)
Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord, To morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria. (II Kings 7:1)
We know from the statistics describing the population growth of the world, as compared with the rate at which people are becoming Christians, that the Gospel of the Kingdom is not affecting human beings to the extent we could wish.
Therefore if we are to obey the Lord Jesus and bring the Good News of the Kingdom of God to every creature, God must furnish us with much more of the Holy Spirit than we possess at this time. God indeed shall furnish such greatly increased power, as we can observe in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation.
The authority and power of the end-time testimony will be great enough to bring every person on earth to the decision whether to serve Christ or Antichrist. This is the only truly important decision any human being makes during his or her lifetime on the earth.
And when they shall have finished their testimony, . . . . (Revelation 11:7)
During the Church Age, the authority and power issued for the giving of the Divine testimony has a specific beginning and a specific point of termination. Antichrist cannot harm the witness until it has been completed.
No person was able to harm the Lord Jesus or kill the Apostle Paul until their testimonies had been completed.
I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. (John 17:4)
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: (II Timothy 4:7)
Each Christian has a distinct work to perform, a definite contribution to make to the Body of Christ, a specific witness to bear to the heavens and to the earth (for God’s witness always is to the heavens and then to the earth—Deuteronomy 32:1).
It is not a case of our fumbling and stumbling through life, attempting to do what is right; although it is true that we often are perplexed, filled with fightings because of pressure from the outside and with fears because of uncertainty within ourselves. Rather, the true Christian discipleship consists of keeping ourselves before God in constant prayer and obedience until our part in the Divine testimony has been completed.
No power can harm us during the period of our participation in the Divine testimony.
Can we know when our part of the testimony has been completed?—when our personal course has been finished? John 17:4 and II Timothy 4:7 (above) suggest that we can.
. . . the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. (Revelation 11:7)
Can Antichrist harm spiritually the Lord Jesus Christ, or one of Christ’s saints when the saint is doing God’s will?
No, he cannot.
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19)
What, then, does the Scripture signify when it states that the Beast will make war with the two witnesses and overcome them and kill them?
This statement means the testimony, the Divine witness, will be taken out of the way for a brief period so the heavens and the earth can behold the foulness of lawless man making himself a god, the desolating, wasting abomination of men worshiping a man who is sitting between the wings of the Cherubim of Glory (in the restored Temple in Jerusalem), declaring that he is God Almighty.
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: (II Thessalonians 2:7,8)
For a brief period, a period carefully regulated and controlled by the Lord Jesus, the end-time, latter-rain anointing of power for witnessing will be lifted. The Divine testimony will be silenced in the centers of civilization.
The saints who carried the testimony, while they may in some instances suffer persecution and physical harm (Daniel 11:35), can never in any manner be injured as to their relationship to the Lord Jesus provided they do not yield to the love of the world, the lusts of their flesh, or their self-love and self-will (Romans 8:35-39).
We may add that there will be spiritual oppression during the reign of Antichrist. Only those saints who have made a complete consecration to the Lord Jesus will be able to survive spiritually. The lukewarm and indifferent will be unable to pray, will be deceived, will serve Antichrist, and then will be punished severely or removed eternally from God’s Presence, because of their lack of consecration and diligence (Revelation 14:9,10).
In order to understand how a saint can suffer physical martyrdom and still not be "harmed" we must learn to view such martyrdoms from the Lord’s viewpoint. The tribulation and suffering that come upon the true saints are only of the fleshly body, only temporary. God is creating an eternal Kingdom of joy and peace for us, and He is perfecting our spirits so we shall be able to fit into the glorious ages to come. The spirits of the righteous are being perfected (Hebrews 12:23).
The Lord is much more concerned with the condition of our spiritual nature than He is with our temporary inconveniences, pains, fears, and perplexities. He understands that they are vexing us now and He delivers us from them when we call upon Him.
But God is beholding our endless joy in the ages to come!
It helps us endure to the end when we adopt God’s viewpoint.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)
The saints who bear the end-time anointing of power will be guarded carefully by the Lord Jesus. They will be assigned to their places "in the wilderness" until Christ is ready to appear and destroy Antichrist.
The saints will be protected and nourished in a prepared place as was Elijah (I Kings, Chapter 17). This is not to say, however, that many of the saints will not be persecuted and slain for the Gospel’s sake. This has been true throughout Church history. Such suffering will only increase their glory in the Presence of God.
And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. (Revelation 12:14)
Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. (Isaiah 26:20,21)
An examination of the preceding passage will show that it takes place in the time of the resurrection from the dead, in the context of the return of Christ to the earth.
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: (II Thessalonians 1:7,8)
After the outpouring of the latter rain, the prophetic anointing will be withdrawn for a season and the Divine testimony will be "killed" temporarily.
I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. (Daniel 7:21,22)
And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. (Daniel 8:24)
And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half [3-1\2 years]; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. (Daniel 12:7)
And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. (Revelation 13:7)
Notice that the latter-rain prophecy was given concerning "many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings" (Revelation 10:11), and then authority over "all kindreds, and tongues, and nations" was given to Antichrist. This is the Lord’s way. First He gives us a true witness of His Person and will. Then He allows the decision which we have made on the basis of the witness to be tested severely.
Notice also the saints are overcome, not by force but by deception:
. . . and by peace [ease; security] shall destroy many: . . . . (Daniel 8:25)
It is difficult to destroy a Christian saint by the use of force. Force may succeed only in making him or her stronger.
It is relatively easy to destroy a Christian saint by being kind to him. Satan is destroying the Church of our time, in many nations, by enabling the believers to prosper, by causing the world to be friendly toward them. The Christians are sheep, not soldiers. It is quite easy to deceive them.
In many instances Satan does not come against the saints with a sword, he comes against them with money, with material goods, with economic security, with advancement in secular employment. Secular success well may be the chief weapon against the saints in the present hour. The two witnesses are overcome not only by force but by their success. The world destroys them by making them comfortable.
Also, the ministers of the Gospel have ceased preaching the Word of God. The emphasis is on God’s love and how God wants the saints to be wealthy, to have an abundance of material comforts. The fear of God has been removed. The preaching of righteousness, the most important message of the Scriptures, has been abandoned in favor of an unscriptural "grace." Satan has been successful in polluting Christian doctrine.
Because of the rise of a self-centered "Christianity" the Christian churches have become impotent, irrelevant, antiquated, corrupt, outdated agencies. New governmental leaders are coming to power. Financial and philosophical currents are exploring new courses. New expectations are arising in the hearts of the masses. The Lord Jesus has a whole new plan for bringing His will to pass today, and there will be many who hear the Lord and will move with Him into levels of fruitfulness and power that the world has not seen as yet.
It is not an hour of suffering of which we are to beware, it is the "hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell on the earth" (Revelation 3:10).
Many today are expecting an hour of suffering from which (it is imagined) the Lord Jesus will rescue them by an unscriptural, pre-tribulation "rapture." In actual fact, these same believers already have been overcome by Antichrist.
Antichrist has overcome them with ease and prosperity. They already have lost their willingness to endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ and will not listen to the scriptural demands of discipleship. They will not lay down their lives for the Kingdom of God but have found (so they believe in their deception) a more comfortable way to "serve the Lord."
Woe to them for they are worshipers of Antichrist even though they profess to be Christians!
The latter-rain anointing will produce an earth-shaking witness of the Lord Jesus Christ—of His atoning death and triumphant resurrection and His imminent appearing in His Kingdom.
So many of earth’s peoples will turn to the Lord, because of the marvelous signs and wonders performed at the hands of the saints, that the saints then will stand in their greatest danger. They will find themselves in a world that appears to be ready to serve the Lord.
It is the writer’s opinion that it will be out from this climate of acceptability, perhaps similar in some respects to the time of Constantine, that a believer will emerge who will attempt to use the things of Christ in order to rule the world. This Christian will advance in deception until Satan has complete control of him.
In that hour the true saints, those who refuse to receive the world’s honors, as was true of Elisha, will be persecuted by this deceived Christian and his followers.
We can see the groundwork being laid for the creation of this monster. Some of the prominent "Christian" leaders of our day are known by those who are close to them to be self-willed robbers of widows. They are lacking in integrity. They cannot be trusted. They are prophesying and working miracles in the name of Christ but they are sinful and rebellious people. They believe they are serving the Lord and that they will receive a reward in the Day of the Lord. If they do not repent they will experience intense suffering when Jesus appears.
These "Christian" leaders along with their deceived followers will cast out the true Spirit-filled remnant. The deceivers are among us now and suppose themselves to be one with us. They soon will be persecuting us because they actually are lovers of the world.
Another aspect of the present deception is the current "reconstruction" movement. While this movement presently includes sincere Christians who believe they can govern the world and bring in the Kingdom by faith, it contains in itself the essence of Antichrist.
We know the reconstruction (dominion kingdom; kingdom now) movement is of the False Prophet because it does not recognize the role of the nation of Israel in God’s purpose. Some of the spokesmen of reconstructionism, teaching "replacement" theology, are viciously anti-Semitic and are to be shunned by all who love the Lord Jesus, unless they repent.
The only fear Satan has is that the Christians will come to an end of themselves and put their trust in the living Lord Jesus. As long as Satan can keep the believers busy with their gifts and their plans to get people "saved," or to rule the world, Satan’s kingdom is secure.
The danger to Satan (and he understands this clearly) is when Christ expresses His will and power through the churches. The only work of value and permanence in the Kingdom of God takes place when a believer yields to the death of the cross and the resurrection life of Jesus flows through him.
The members of the current reconstruction movement in some instances may not be crucified saints who are sources of the resurrection life of the Lord Jesus but self-directed religious people who are attempting to use the things of the Spirit according to their fleshly understanding and impulses. It is just such a self-willed "Christian," we believe, whom Satan will lead into the fullness of the manifestation of Antichrist.
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. (Revelation 11:8)
Our belief is that Revelation 11:8 will be fulfilled as the churches of Christ merge with the deceitful world spirit of commerce, education, and entertainment. Antichrist himself, professing to be a believer in Christ, will encourage and support the construction of Christian church and school buildings and related edifices and institutions.
The groups of people worshiping and serving in these religious structures may be correct in their "doctrine" in some instances, but they will be spiritually dead because the Presence of the Holy Spirit will be withdrawn from them.
The saints must understand that belief in correct doctrine is not Christian discipleship. Christian discipleship is an energetic, continual interaction with the living Lord Jesus. Knowledge of spiritual facts, a correct theological position concerning the Godhead or the Divine redemption, saves no one. The Christian churches tend to emphasize doctrinal correctness out of all proportion to its worth in the Kingdom.
God is concerned about what kind of person we are as evidenced by what we do. What we believe is of significance only to the extent it brings us to Jesus and causes us to practice righteousness, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. Throughout Church history numerous proponents of "correct doctrine" have practiced unrighteousness, shown no mercy, walked in pride and haughtiness, and tortured and murdered the Jews as well as the Christian saints.
These Laodicean congregations will not recognize that the Holy Spirit has left their midst, just as the congregations of today do not recognize they are worshiping in the human spirit and talents and not in the Holy Spirit.
Many of our largest Christian churches are addressed by Christ:
. . . I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. (Revelation 3:1)
The testimony of the saints, with Jesus’ express permission and always under His supervision, will be overcome. Although deception and material wealth will play a major role in the conquering of the Christian witness, it is true also many of the elect "will fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days" (Daniel 11:33).
Those who suffer in this manner may prove to be Divinely blessed because their suffering will purge them from sin and self-seeking and make them "white" in the sight of God. It is those who do not suffer, who are able to prosper in the world system, who are the cursed of the Lord.
Their "dead bodies" will lie "in the street of the city." It is in the centers of civilization that the battle between Antichrist and the saints will be fought, until Christ allows the Divine testimony to be driven from the cities.
What "city" is spiritually termed "Sodom and Egypt"?
In what "city" was our Lord crucified?
Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem could all be incorporated under the name "Babylon" (man-directed Christianity). Babylon is the whore that is "drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus" (Revelation 17:6).
Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem represent the world and all that is in the world (I John 2:16). Sodom represents the lust of the flesh. Egypt represents the lust of the eyes. Jerusalem represents the pride of life. Lust, covetousness, and pride—this is the spirit of the world.
Sodom speaks of the lust of the flesh. The lust of the flesh is the "Jezebel" spirit of fornication that seeks to defile the servants of the Lord. The spirit of lust and demon worship always attempts to destroy those who are anointed by the Spirit of God, as Jezebel attempted to destroy Elijah.
Wherever there is lust, perversion, violence, murder, occult practices, wrath, reveling, carousing, drunkenness, lying, the Lord Jesus and His servants always will be slain. These actions are of the flesh and Satan.
Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. (Jude 1:7)
The material affluence of the rule of Antichrist will bring about the lusts of Sodom. We see this happening today.
Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. (Ezekiel 16:49)
The Lord’s servants can be destroyed by fleshly lusts and sin.
I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness; they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. (Jeremiah 23:14)
Some of the Lord’s ministers and believers are involved in adultery, fornication, and pornography. They will remain blind spiritually until Divine judgment sweeps them away.
Egypt speaks spiritually of the world. It is the lust of the eyes. Egypt remains the principal scriptural type of the world, for Israel was called to come out of Egypt. Egypt, in Old Testament times, was a nation of considerable refinement. The Egyptians were pleasure-loving people, talented, artistic, and worshipers of a multitude of gods.
Abraham and Sarah were called out of the world, out of the civilized city of Ur of the Chaldees. From that time forward, God’s elect have been called to be separate from the world. The Church is in the world but not of the world. Christ’s Kingdom is not of the world system.
Christ and His witnesses always will be crucified by the world spirit. The world hated Christ and it hates every true disciple. Whoever will choose to be a friend of the world makes himself the enemy of God.
Every true saint is crucified to the world and the world to him. This is the only acceptable orientation to the world for the man or woman of God.
The reason so many Christian believers never become disciples of Jesus is that they were not "born crucified." They did not forsake the world when they "received" Christ. They never can bring themselves to the level of consecration God requires of each member of the Body of Christ.
"Egypt" is the apostate church looking to the world for safety and provisions. The witness of God is dead in such a church.
And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river? (Jeremiah 2:18)
The preceding verse was addressed to a wicked, unfaithful Israel just before the nation went into captivity. Several times in the Scripture the Lord warned Israel not to go back to Egypt or to look to Egypt for support in the hour of trouble.
Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord! (Isaiah 31:1)
When God’s people become cold of heart they turn back to Egypt, to the world. There they become a mixed multitude—half-Egyptian and half-Israelite.
Jerusalem, the third city, is the place of religious pride and envy. Jerusalem symbolizes the pride of life, personal ambition, and presumption.
Religious pride, one of the deadliest of the conditions of the human heart, is produced by Satan in active religious people—particularly in those who have become prominent in the work of the church.
When the "successful" servant of God beholds the true work of the Holy Spirit, a work that threatens his hard-won status in religious activities, he or she may be moved with envy. Then he may attempt to murder Christ.
For he [Pilate] knew for envy they had delivered him. (Matthew 27:18)
And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, (Acts 7:9)
But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. (Acts 13:45)
But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. (Acts 17:5)
Whenever the sons of God, devout religious people, gather together before the Lord, Satan assembles with them. Satan is the personification of envy—envy directed toward the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore he fills with envy all those who are religious but who are not of the Lord’s elect, who are not of the Spirit-filled remnant.
Envy will rise up in the hearts of the religious people and they will strive, as did the chief priests and elders of Israel, to murder the manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ in His servants. This will take place because of the Divine Glory that is to be issued to the Lord’s true saints.
But one day the envious will be compelled to worship God at the feet of the elect.
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. (Revelation 3:9)
Satan is the author of the lusts of the flesh (Sodom), and "murders" Christ and His anointed from that vantage point. If Satan can entice a disciple to commit adultery, or to hate, or covet, or dabble in occult practices, or to drink and carouse with the drunken, Satan then is able to prevent the forming of Christ in the disciple. Satan "murders" Christ, so to speak.
Satan is the author of the world spirit (Egypt), and "murders" Christ and His anointed servants. The Roman Empire with its slaughter of the saints is an example of the true attitude of the world spirit toward the Lord’s people. Hitler’s Germany is another example. The Christian (or Jew) who believes the world is his friend is foolish and blind.
However, it is in the realm of "Jerusalem," of religious envy and self-seeking, that the fullness of Satan’s viciousness can be witnessed. Satan is a religious creature. He always will gather with the sons of God, with the most fervent religious people he can locate.
It was the leaders of Israel who howled for the life’s blood of the only begotten Son of God.
We have stated that "Babylon" incorporates the spirit of Sodom, the spirit of Egypt, and the spirit of Jerusalem. "Babylon" represents the religious-world spirit. Babylon is a "whore" because it takes what belongs to God and offers it to the demon-filled people of the present age.
The spirit of Babylon seeks to build a tower to the heaven by its own wisdom and strength. It does this in the name of the Lord, but it is seeking its own glory. The spirit of Babylon can be found to a greater or lesser extent in most Christian organizations.
Babylon will marry and serve Antichrist coyly and gladly. But it will despise and murder Christ wherever it finds Him.
The spirit of Babylon participates in the world system of commerce. The Christian churches engage in seeking monetary gain.
Every time the Spirit of God reveals Christ, the Christian churches that are found "in Babylon" will arise in fury and denounce the true work of God. If given the opportunity, the Christian churches, as did the Jewish priests and elders, will lie, murder, steal, deceive, hire false witnesses, and do anything and everything else necessary to destroy the work of the Holy Spirit.
We marvel at the satanic impulses of the Jews as they sought to slay Lazarus because of his testimony of being raised from the dead. But that same spirit fills the Christian churches in the present hour. The Christ-murdering spirit loves to sing Christian hymns. The members of the churches sing "Onward Christian Soldiers" while murdering the soldiers of Christ.
Notice carefully the seventh chapter of the Book of Acts. The Holy Spirit of God in Stephen was addressing the elders of Israel. These elders were among the most respected men of Jewry—doctors of the Law. They were learned in the Law of Moses. Their doctrine was perfect. Their conduct beyond reproach (in their own eyes). Could such men of the Law be deceived? Can the religious people be deceived today?
Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: (Acts 7:52)
It was the almighty God who was accusing the elders of Israel. The awfulness of such a charge against human beings passes our comprehension. Such is the wickedness of religious envy.
The Spirit of God did not go to the prison, to the house of prostitution, to the den of robbers to make such a charge. He went to the Church—to the leading elders, priests, and teachers.
The Holy Spirit of God termed the religious leaders "betrayers and murderers."
Where are the betrayers and murderers of Christ today? In the Christian churches. Antichrist and the False Prophet will come out of the Christian churches.
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. (I John 2:18,19)
Judas Iscariot went out from the midst of the Apostles of the Lamb. Judas was one of the Twelve but in his heart he loved the world. This is the Antichrist spirit—the mixture of Christianity and the world.
John says, "Ye have an unction [anointing] from the Holy One." The difference between Christ and Antichrist has to do with the "unction," the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
It is not church membership or correct doctrine that makes the difference between Christ and Antichrist, it is the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Could God level a more serious charge against Satan himself than He brought against the priests and elders of Israel?
Satan is an envious religious creature. He aspires to be like God. He desires to receive worship. The history of the world demonstrates that Satan continually expresses his nature through church people—often through those who are confident, as was true of the Pharisees, that they are obeying correctly all the laws of God.
History has witnessed Christians torturing and murdering other Christians and innocent Jewish people. Were these acts prompted by the Spirit of God or by Satan?
Whenever a Christian makes an alliance with the world, receiving money, glory, honor, from other men, he will be the first to murder Christ wherever He appears. Judas Iscariot was a forerunner of Antichrist.
Take, for example, the scriptural practice of speaking in tongues, which the Holy Spirit of God has restored to the Christian churches in this century. Has the world denounced "tongues" as being of the devil? Has it not been the Christians who for their love of the praise of men have turned against their fellow Christians whose "sin" has been that they have believed that a gift of the Spirit is for us today?
The fundamentalist churches have denounced "tongues" bitterly as being sent by Satan. Yet the works of the "Pentecostals" are as scriptural as those of any other Christian group. Is Christ denouncing the Holy Spirit? Or is it not the same satanic spirit of envy that is filling the hearts of Christians who are certain they are keeping all God’s laws and have all the revelation of God that it is possible to obtain?
As God moves forward in our day it may be true that the Pentecostals will lift up their voices in dismay in this same spirit of envy.
Deception is a far more serious problem than the churches recognize.
Fundamentalist Christians fret themselves over the adultery, fornication, drunkenness, stealing, and murder of the present age. But they themselves engage in gossiping and backbiting continually. Then they arise in fury and denounce speaking in tongues as of the devil—a practice having more scriptural support than does personal evangelism.
Truly, Divine wisdom is justified by her children. Truly, all these facts will be brought into the light at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
The pattern of Church history suggests strongly that the murderers of the two witnesses, the saints bearing the end-time witness, will be the leaders of the Christian churches.
Why will they murder God’s prophets? Because of envy. The works of the Lord’s elect will be gloriously filled with righteousness and power because of the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
If church-attenders have become so incensed over "tongues," what will they do when they behold the power of the saints of the last days?
The works of the dead churches will be threadbare and barren, void of God’s blessing, being filled with deceit, slander, evil speaking, lust, self-seeking, jealousy, rage, and every other satanic manifestation.
Religious men, as is true of Satan, desire to share in the power and Glory of the Lord Jesus. Like Satan, they desire to obtain power and Divine Glory in the manner that they choose, and then to manage such power and glory when they obtain it. They desire to be "like God" apart from union with God. This is Antichrist.
The fervent religious individual may gain power and glory through the Christian religion, but he exposes himself to the danger of becoming filled with religious pride and envy, as happened to the leaders of Israel. When the believer chooses to gain power and glory, even spiritual power and glory, apart from sharing in the suffering of the cross, he enters deception.
Much Christian work is performed apart from the cross. The worker, perhaps without realizing it, is seeking his own glory. If this is not true, why do Christian missionary groups compete against one another? If Jesus is in them and guiding them, why do they fight one another? Is this too harsh an indictment or is this what both the Scriptures and Church history teach us?
For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. (Philippians 2:21)
If the Holy Spirit in Paul claims that the preachers of Christ of the first century were seeking their own power and glory, our indictment is not too strong.
Can we receive the truth that Antichrist works in the Christian churches? Is it a fact of history that well into the twentieth century the Catholic believers, with whom we are having fellowship today in the Charismatic movement, were torturing and murdering their fellow Protestant saints in South America?
If Protestant believers are evil, as the Catholics maintained, why then did the Catholic priesthood and laity suddenly turn around, in response to a papal decree, and fellowship with the Evangelicals in Colombia?
Church history reveals that Christ and His anointed are murdered in "Jerusalem," in the city of God. Which prophet has not been slain there?
Why is this? It is because we seek to be like God apart from entering union with God. King Self is on the throne of our heart. King Self always is envious of Jesus’ right to rule, and will murder Jesus at every opportunity.
Why are so many believers living in such terrible deception? It is because they do not love the truth. They desire to believe they can enjoy the pleasures of the world and still be Christians. They are not willing to love not their lives to the point of death. They are not willing to deny themselves for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s. They are clinging to their "right" to do as they please. They are self-centered and self-willed. They are potential antichrists and false prophets.
Will the mass of fundamentalist believers ever be delivered from the deception into which they have been led by a self-seeking ministry? Probably not, unless Christ in His mercy sends much tribulation on us.
The spirit of religious ambition is the murderer of Christ. The Pharisees murdered Christ because of envy. The religious leaders and people will murder the Lord’s anointed remnant because of envy.
"Jerusalem" is the "city" in which the Lord was crucified, and where the Lord’s elect will be persecuted and slain.
Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem. Taken together they are "Babylon"—the gathering together of the peoples of the earth in the name of religion to build a tower that will reach to the heaven. It is the satanic, religious desire to ascend to God, but it is in order to kill God so man can reign, and Satan in him, without hindrance.
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. (Revelation 11:9)
One may wonder at the unwillingness of the peoples of the earth to bury the two witnesses.
Satan has learned, over the past several thousand years of dealing with God’s people, that the best way to overcome them is to be kind to them. Whenever Satan has tortured and killed the saints, has "buried" them, the Church of Christ has become strong and radiant in glory. Its numbers have multiplied.
The only good that comes to Satan from the torture and murder of the saints is the satisfaction and fulfillment of the demons of murder. But the Kingdom of God is strengthened and purified by the persecution.
Therefore Satan’s strategy for the end-time is to overcome the saints with material prosperity and programs of welfare and concern for people. There are many believers whom Satan cannot overcome by adultery or drunkenness, but he conquers them readily by blessing the work of their hands so their prayer life becomes casual.
The Christians in some nations are finding themselves in a friendly world full of sunshine, good friends, plenty of food, educational opportunities, being surrounded by institutions concerned for their physical welfare.
Such an environment will weaken all but the most determined saints.
Satan’s strategy for the last days is to "love" the saints out of the Kingdom of God.
And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace [ease; security] shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. (Daniel 8:24,25)
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (I Thessalonians 5:3)
Antichrist will lead the nations of the world in welfare programs that demonstrate concern for all human needs. He will be allowed by the Lord to bring about world peace and cradle-to-grave security. In this manner he will win over the churchgoers who are not able to distinguish between the kindness of God and the treacheries of Satan.
. . . and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. (Revelation 11:9)
Here is the ultimate in spiritual wickedness and perversity. Antichrist will not destroy the Christian institutions. He will support them and encourage them in every way. He will help the Laodicean "Christians" build their buildings and sing their hymns. This is why the Laodiceans will be "rich, and increased with goods" (Revelation 3:17).
The Christian people will not be aware that anything is wrong. They never have been taught what it means to be a Christian, a saint, a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, of the need for total separation from the world.
People of today are "being saved" apart from godly repentance. They are receiving Christ as Savior but not as Lord.
They are being taught by their "pastors" that being a Christian means they can expect material prosperity, that they never will be called on to suffer for the Gospel’s sake.
God never will allow them to suffer (they imagine) but will carry them up to Heaven so a Jewish remnant can suffer for the testimony of the Kingdom of God—without the Holy Spirit to support them (the Jews) in their tribulations.
What do you think of such a doctrine? Are you in agreement with it? Is it apostolic? Is it even reasonable or sensible?
The industrial complexes of today have learned that if they will be considerate of their employees and provide for their needs and desires they will make more profit because of the support and willingness to work of those to whom they are being so kind.
Put together a salvation that requires neither repentance nor cross-carrying obedience, a doctrine of the Lord’s coming that carries lukewarm believers to Heaven so they can view the tribulation of the Jews from a grandstand seat (much as one would be entertained in the center seat in a motion picture theater), and a daily job that, although it leaves little time or energy for prayer and assembly with the saints, is filled with the milk of human kindness and concern. Here you have a diabolical strategy for destroying the churches of Christ.
The Christians are as wise as doves and as harmless as serpents.
Antichrist will support and encourage the Spirit-less Laodicean Christian endeavors. He will "not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves."
Why are the Laodicean Christians dead? Why was the church in Sardis an animated corpse—a dead body propped up and moved about by human talents, human will, human energy?
The church in Sardis was dead, and the church in Laodicea will be wretched, blind, and naked, for the same reason: neither church enjoys the Presence of the Holy Spirit of God.
Why do these churches not have the Spirit of God? Because they are not willing to allow Christ to be the Lord of the church. They are not willing to be pressed into the death of Christ so they may live by His Life.
How has Satan been able to guide them into maintaining their Christian beliefs and "testimony" apart from being pressed into the cross of Christ? By exhibiting kindness and concern for their feelings and welfare.
Many—perhaps most—believers already have been robbed of their crowns, of the rewards that go only to the conquering saints. The testimony of their lives has been killed. Their lampstand has been removed.
Why will Antichrist support and encourage Christian works without having any fear of the teachings and activities of the believers? Because such teachings and activities are only an irritation to him. He plans on dealing with those secondary issues later.
What or whom does Satan fear?
Satan fears the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The Christian churches are of little concern to Satan, except for the possibility the Church will come to realize the importance of its own crucifixion—the crucifixion of self—so the life of the Church becomes the Life of Christ.
When the saints lay down their lives and allow Christ to govern them as Lord, the Kingdom of Satan is finished; destroyed utterly; terminated absolutely. Its memory is removed from the heavens and the earth.
The victorious saints are those Christians who allow the death of the cross to enter their personalities, into the marrow of their bones, so The Overcomer, Christ, can assume His lawful throne as Lord of their lives. Then Satan is destroyed—first in them and then in their surroundings.
How can you as a Christian believer recognize Satan and avoid being deceived by Antichrist? Satan will exhort you, with all kindness and concern for your feelings and your welfare (just as did Peter with the Lord Jesus—Matthew 16:22), not to face the cross of Christ. Satan will counsel you that the cross is too cruel. God never would require such self-denial of you!
If you pay attention to the voice of Satan you will be deceived. You will find yourself eventually in pain and terror. If you attempt to make Christianity a pleasant religion in which you can have a prosperous, contented life in the world you will lose your Christian testimony.
The true saint has been crucified to the world and the world has been crucified to him. The conquering saint views the present world only from his position on the cross. He is a dead-living man. She is a dead-living woman. His or her life is Christ and the self-life is hanging from the cross.
Satan will plead continually: Come down from the cross. Save yourself if you are a son of God. This suffering is not for you. God has called you to pleasant paths. How can this be God’s will when you are being treated so cruelly; when your future is filled with dread, with cold, bleak, hardness and hostility?"
"Come down from the cross!"
Again we turn to Elisha, whose life and ministry typify the Divine testimony of the last days.
So he went with them. And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood. But as one was felling a beam, the axe head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed. And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he shewed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim. (II Kings 6:4-6)
The sons of the prophets had asked Elisha permission to go to the Jordan and cut down trees so they could build a larger house. The "larger house" speaks of the desire to make progress in the Kingdom of God.
In the Scripture, the Jordan River typifies death to self—the death we must die if we would cross over to resurrection ground.
The axe head represents the iron of the Holy Spirit, the strength by which the saints are able to live a life of victory over the world and sin.
The axe head, representing strength, fell into the water of human ambition.
The sons of the prophets had lost the iron, the power of the Holy Spirit. They lost it in the waters of human concerns, human activities, human talents, human energies, human attempts to construct the Church, the Kingdom of God.
The axe head was borrowed. The little spiritual ability the churches have today is borrowed. It has been borrowed from the saints of the past who possessed the iron because they ministered from the cross, because they prayed, because they lived holy lives, because they feared and obeyed God.
God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him.
Elisha threw a stick into the water and made the iron float.
The stick is the cross of Christ. When we preach cross-carrying obedience, the Lordship of Christ, the rigorous discipleship of the true Christian life, and throw that "stick" into the Christian personality, the iron of the Holy Spirit will float.
The authority and power of the Kingdom of God will return to the churches of Christ along with the cross. Then the conquering saints will tear down and destroy all the works of Satan because the power of the saints will not be the efforts of the human flesh and soul. The saints will minister through the authority and power of the Lord Jesus Christ working in the fullness of the anointing of the Spirit of the God of the whole earth.
Antichrist will assist the Laodicean churches of the last days. Those "Christian" believers will happily receive the mark of the Beast in their right hands (behavior) or in their foreheads (minds) as they do today.
The mark of the Beast is the spirit of the world, of money, of education, of entertainment. Today’s television programming reflects the values of Antichrist.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2)
The mark of the Beast (and there actually may be a literal mark in the right hand or in the forehead) is conformity to the world spirit. A large part of the world spirit is the worship of the God, Mammon (money).
Money is worshiped in the Christian churches of today as it was worshiped by the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. Money, music, and education are today’s substitute for the power of the Holy Spirit. Christian programs are accomplished by money. The believers already have the mark of the beast—666 (three sixes represent the divinity of man). Man making himself God is in their deeds and in their minds.
The Laodicean churches will be filled with contented "Christian" believers enjoying beautiful music, listening to sermons that are theologically accurate in some respects, just as it true of today.
But those churches will be void of the Holy Spirit. However the congregations will assume the Holy Spirit is in their midst.
The Holy Spirit is warning us today concerning the deceptions that prevail in the Christian churches. The Spirit is pointing out the danger of uncrucified believers attempting to build the Kingdom of God by their own wisdom and strength. The Spirit is crying to the Christian churches, "Repent!"
Whenever the Laodicean churches hear the words of the Spirit they say, "It is the devil"; or, "It is a cult."
Because many Christian teachers of today are preaching material prosperity, their followers are rejecting the traditional Christian message of repentance and discipleship.
When Christian churchgoers of our day state that a person who is preaching repentance is teaching "legalism" and "works," and therefore is starting a cult, we can understand the hold Satan has on the minds and hearts of many of God’s people. Whoever would depart from the undemanding, "unconditional grace" teaching of our day, and insists on righteous conduct, indeed makes himself or herself a prey.
A person can be theologically sound in doctrine, as were the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, believe in redemption through the blood of Jesus and the born-again experience, be concerned with the spiritual and physical welfare of people, and still speak the words of Satan.
How can we escape being deceived in the last days?
By taking up our cross and following the Lord Jesus Christ.
By taking upon ourselves the shame and disgrace associated with Christ, going outside the camp of acceptability with Him. By allowing the Holy Spirit, who is God among us, to build and operate the Body of Christ rather than placing the head of man on the Body of Christ in order to please the educated and influential of the present age.
Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. (Jeremiah 17:5)
By keeping ourselves separate from the world, remembering that the world will hate us when Christ is in us. By keeping ourselves and our family under the blood of Christ, in the ark of safety.
By walking in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to Christ.
By regarding ourselves as strangers and pilgrims on the earth. We are in the world but not of the world.
By not allowing ourselves to become yoked together with unbelievers no matter how much concern they may show for our welfare.
By coming out from among the peoples of the world and not touching unclean, unholy things, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (II Corinthians 7:1).
By the above actions and attitudes we keep ourselves from the wicked one and resist his "friendly," "kind," "considerate" approaches to us. When we are hanging on the cross with Christ we can see through the friendly face of Satan to the black heart in which is burning the Lake of Fire—the eternal torment God has prepared for the devil and his angels.
When the serpent speaks to us words of "love" and "concern" we can smell on his breath the odors of corruption, of demons, of the murderers of Christ.
Such discernment and perception are given only to those persons who are crucified to the world and the world to them.
How about you, dear believer in Christ? Is the world one big happy garden to you, filled with friendliness and concern for your physical welfare? Or is it the shadow of death in which Christ was murdered by His own people; in which the Christian families of the early centuries were tortured and murdered by the bloodthirsty, demon-possessed, insane government of which they were citizens?
Do you think the world actually has changed from the days in which the men, women, boys, girls, and babies of the churches, of the same Body of which you are an integral part, were eaten by lions in the arenas of Rome?
The spirit of the world has not changed from that day to this.
Christian people of today in various parts of the earth are being placed in situations of deprivation and suffering because of their love for Jesus.
No matter what country we may be living in at this time, let us keep firmly in mind that the world and the worldly churches will murder Christ wherever He appears. Nothing has changed. If the world is showing kindness toward us, speaking well of us, we had better go to God and find if we truly are showing in ourselves the resurrection Life of Christ.
Christian people ought always to pray for the civil government that has the rule over them that they may be permitted to go about their business in peace and godliness. Government has been instituted by the Lord God of Heaven, and we are to submit ourselves to it unless it directs us to sin against God or to refuse to obey God.
Let us take up our cross where we are and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. We are the eternal enemy of the God of the world. He understands that fact fully. Let us make sure we do not allow Satan to lull us to sleep in the lap of Delilah.
There is a cross for everyone. There is a cross for you. Pick it up. Carry it faithfully each day of your pilgrimage until Christ Himself directs you to lay it back down. If you will carry your cross behind Jesus your perception will be sharpened so you will be able to distinguish between Christ and Antichrist.
Your eternal inheritance will flow from your cross.
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. (Revelation 11:10)
When wicked men believe they have overcome the righteous they congratulate themselves. But their rejoicing does not endure for long because it is an abomination to God Almighty.
Notice how the trial of Christ reconciled wicked men:
And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves. (Luke 23:12)
The peoples of the earth, being filled with Satan, will rejoice when they drive out the anointed remnant from the cities of the earth, persecuting and killing them. The Laodicean "Christians" will approve and assist in the torture and martyrdom of the saints just as the priests and Pharisees encouraged Pilate to crucify the innocent Jesus.
. . . because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. (Revelation 11:10)
Moses and Aaron, two witnesses of God, tormented the Egyptians.
Elijah was a tormenter of the backslidden Israel:
And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? (I Kings 18:17)
And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord. (I Kings 21:20)
Elisha, who is the strongest of all the types of the two witnesses, also was a threat to Israel:
Then he [the King of Israel] said, God do so and more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day. (II Kings 6:31)
It appears, from the preceding verse, that Elisha was being blamed for the famine in Samaria. Elisha previously had captured the Syrian army but had refused to allow the king of Israel to slay the men whom he alone had captured (II Kings 6:21,22).
In spite of this generous treatment by Elisha, King Ben-hadad of Syria turned around and besieged Samaria, causing a terrible famine. Therefore, King Jehoram of Israel blamed Elisha for the famine, considering him to be a tormenter of Israel.
John the Baptist, another strong forerunner of the two witnesses, was a tormenter of King Herod:
But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him [John] for Herodias his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, (Luke 3:19)
Christ was a tormenter of the scribes and Pharisees of Israel:
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? (Matthew 23:33)
The Apostle James was a tormenter of worldly Christians:
Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. (James 4:2)
Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. (James 4:9)
Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. (James 5:1)
The true testimony of Christ is a bitter rebuke to the world, particularly to those "Christians" who have joined themselves to the spirit of the world. Worldly believers are, and always have been, the enemies of God’s elect, the murderers of Christ.
And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, . . . . (Revelation 11:11)
The first resurrection from the dead is announced in several places in the Scriptures. The above is one such portrayal, according to our understanding.
Revelation 11:11 is viewing the first resurrection from the standpoint of the renewal of the authority and power of the Divine testimony—that which God had allowed to be removed from the cities of the earth for a brief period so the tares could come to maturity (Matthew 13:30, II Thessalonians 2:7).
. . . and they stood upon their feet; . . . . Revelation 11:11)
"They stood upon their feet" is the meaning of the term resurrection. To resurrect means to animate what has been lifeless and prone; to revive it and stand it on its feet.
Resurrection does not include the concept of ascension. There were forty days between the resurrection of Christ and His ascension.
Because of the erroneous teaching of the pre-tribulation disappearance and ascension ("rapture") of the saints, the Christian churches have lost sight of the apostolic first resurrection from the dead. The first resurrection from the dead, as is true also of redemption through Christ’s blood, both of which are central messages of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, has become vague and confused in the minds of the saints.
In stressing the pre-tribulation "rapture" (a false doctrine), Dispensationalists have emphasized the ascension. But the resurrection from the dead is the truly important doctrine because the resurrection is part of our redemption from the power of Satan. The ascension merely is an act of Kingdom power, being part of the movements of the believers during the Day of the Lord.
The concept that there will be a catching up or ascension of the Christian believers several years before the historic coming of the Lord is not sound. This soulish doctrine increasingly is being discredited by discerning students.
The fifteenth chapter of I Corinthians, which is the principal scriptural discussion of the first resurrection from the dead, does not even mention the catching up of the Church.
Our experience has been that many devout Christian people have little or no understanding of the resurrection from the dead. They have been taught firmly that they will rise up in the air to meet the Lord at His coming. This is true. But the rising will take place after the first resurrection from the dead.
The important doctrine, that which is portrayed in the major types of the Scripture, is the resurrection from the dead. It is the resurrection that marks the fullness of redemption and the destruction of the last enemy—physical death.
Our observation is that the emphasis on the "flight-to-Heaven" of the believers, since it is not scriptural, is not bringing forth the fruit of the Kingdom of God. Growth in righteous conduct is not resulting from this doctrine.
The necessity for cross-carrying obedience and the Divine plan for the formation of Christ in ruggedly righteous, holy, sternly obedient saints are being minimized or neglected in favor of an "everybody goes, get your ticket" approach to the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
Any student of the Scriptures who has made some headway in the knowledge of God’s will and working can recognize that the "get your free ticket" approach to the Gospel never was preached by the godly apostles of the first century.
Rising up in the air is, relatively speaking, of little significance in the Kingdom of God. It is the redemption of the mortal body that is central to the Gospel (Romans 8:23).
The distinction between resurrection and ascension is of practical importance. The ascension requires no moral or spiritual preparation on our part. But the resurrection of the body requires that first our moral nature be filled with the resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus.
Any bird can fly up into the clouds by its feathered wings. But a dead bird cannot come back to life—that requires an act of the Holy Spirit of God.
Paul did not say, If by any means I might attain unto the snatching away into the clouds. He said, "If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection [Greek, out-resurrection] of the dead" (Philippians 3:11).
Ascension into the clouds is not a goal of redemption. Ascension is not a Divine act of redemption that must be attained. The catching up has nothing to do with being changed into Christ’s death. We are not seeking to know the power of Christ’s catching up.
Part of the doctrinal confusion has been caused by the term raised, as used in connection with the resurrection from the dead. The word "raised" does not mean raised into Heaven. It means raised up on our feet so we can stand erect on the ground.
We are not raised into Heaven. We are raised from the dead to stand on the earth. Can you see this important distinction?
We go to Heaven when we die physically. We go to Heaven, to the Paradise of God, not on the basis of resurrection but on the basis of our physical death.
The purpose of resurrection is to reunite our soul and body so we once more can stand on the earth with our loved ones. This is the hope of the Gospel of Christ. This is the good news presented in John 3:16. When Christian teachers emphasize ascension, in the doctrine of the pre-tribulation disappearing and catching away of the saints, they are relieving the saints of the necessity for overcoming sin and self-will, for attaining the first resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:11, Revelation 20:4-6).
This misplaced emphasis along with its accompanying doctrines (people can be saved apart from sincere repentance, apart from submitting to the Lordship of Christ, apart from godly behavior, apart from suffering) has filled the assemblies of saints with a mixed multitude whose abiding, unscriptural hope is that they will be lifted up to Paradise to have rest in comfort as Antichrist torments the Jewish Christians.
What a selfish, self-seeking doctrine! It does not take into account the welfare of our Jewish brothers and sisters, our fellow members of the one Body of Christ. Would we flee to Heaven and leave them to suffer on the earth? What a wretched betrayal of brotherly love and trust.
The ancient, apostolic hope of the Christian Church is not the catching up of the saints. It is the resurrection from the dead. The resurrection from the dead is the hope of righteousness and eternal life to come at the appearing of the Lord from Heaven.
Apart from the hope of the resurrection from the dead we Christians are, of all the peoples of the earth, the most miserable (I Corinthians 15:19).
As we have stated, I Corinthians, Chapter 15, the most important chapter of the Scriptures concerning the resurrection from the dead, does not so much as mention the ascension into the air. Neither does the fifth chapter of Second Corinthians or the thirty-seventh chapter of Ezekiel. If the ascension were an integral part of the resurrection it would be mentioned frequently.
Ascension into the air is mentioned in the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians, but Paul was not emphasizing the desirability of being caught away into the clouds but the comforting of bereaved loved ones.
The ascension of the saints is not the blessed hope of the Church, a major aspect of redemption, or an emphasis of the New Testament writings.
We have noticed that those who subscribe to the pre-tribulation rapture are not willing to reason from the Scriptures but react in an angry manner if the "rapture" doctrine is questioned. Their anger and refusal to face the unscripturalness and lack of logic of their position is due to the fact that their doctrine is not coming from the Holy Spirit of God. It is an emotional, not intellectual belief and the blind Christian spirit of our day fiercely guards this destructive error.
The resurrection from the dead is a central doctrine of the Scriptures, a major aspect of redemption having moral change as a requirement (Revelation 2:7). It is not often preached these days.
The multitude of Christian preachers and teachers who are setting forth an imminent flight to Heaven to escape tribulation as the central hope of salvation are in error. No such emphasis is found in the Scriptures. They are repeating a deception that originated in the last century, a delusion that has the deadly consequence of hindering the Lord’s people from making the spiritual preparation necessary for spiritual (and perhaps physical) survival in the coming decades.
So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. (Ezekiel 37:10)
Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. (Ezekiel 37:12)
We understand from the preceding verses that the purpose of the resurrection from the dead is to enable us once again to live on the earth, not to carry us off to the spirit Paradise.
And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord. (Ezekiel 37:13,14)
But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [make alive] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:11)
The resurrection from the dead will make eternally alive the physical bodies of the dead and living saints. The ascension that follows is for the purpose of our rising to greet the Lord as He returns to the earth to sit on the Throne of David.
. . . and great fear fell upon them which saw them. (Revelation 11:11)
Notice the parallel:
And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. (Matthew 28:4)
If the resurrection of one Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, occasioned such terror, how will the peoples of the earth respond when they behold the dead bodies of God’s elect rise from the dead and stand upright on their feet by the power of the Spirit of God?
All over the earth the graves will burst open and the saints will step forth in radiant glory for the world to see. This will be the greatest Christian witness of all time (John 17:21; Isaiah 60:1-5).
The members of the nations will gnash their teeth in despair, turning with accusations on their leaders. Almighty God has spread a table for His saints in the presence of their enemies.
The current delusion that the saints will disappear at the coming of the Lord not only is without foundation in the Old Testament or the New Testament, it also is impractical and selfish. Why should God put such a light under a bushel? Why should the humble of the earth be deprived of beholding the greatest act of redemption in the history of the world—the resurrection and glorification of the Lord’s conquerors?
In fear and desperation the leaders of the earth will organize their armies, hoping they can resist the entrance of earth’s lawful King into the affairs of mankind. It is a futile effort. The Spirit of God acting through Christ and His saints will crush all resistance. The birds of the air will be filled with the flesh of those persons who choose to fight against Christ and His army.
And they heard a great [loud] voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. . . . (Revelation 11:12)
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: (I Thessalonians 4:16)
Neither the Hebrew nor the Greek language makes a clear distinction between the sky and Heaven. A loud voice coming from Heaven is equivalent, in the Greek language, to a loud voice coming from the sky, or from the region of the clouds—that is, from not very high above the surface of the earth.
For example, in the Book of Revelation, John mentions a new heaven and a new earth. It is not at all likely that he saw a new spirit Heaven. What John saw, we believe, was a new sky and a new earth.
In the first chapter of Genesis we notice that the sun, moon, and stars were placed in the "firmament of the heaven."
Therefore we cannot tell whether the "great voice from heaven" came from the spirit realm, or from the sky or the clouds. It probably does not matter in that it certainly originated in the spirit realm. It reminds us of the light that appeared in the beginning before there were sun, moon, and stars. There was at that time a convergence of the spirit and material realms.
We are making an issue of this because we are emphasizing that the first resurrection and ascension of the saints, the Lord’s witnesses, is not for the purpose of bringing them to the spirit realm, to Paradise in the spirit Heaven, but to meet the Lord as He descends at the beginning of the attack of Armageddon.
First Thessalonians, Chapter Four states that we meet the Lord "in the air." There is no suggestion from the passage that the Lord then brings us to the spirit Paradise. The bulk of passages indicate, we believe, that we go out to meet the Lord in preparation for His descent to the Mount of Olives.
The current concept that the Lord descends, catches up His Bride, and then returns to the spirit realm for a season is not taught clearly in the Scriptures, as we understand them.
The shout, the voice of the archangel, the trumpet of God, fit the attack of Armageddon better than they do the catching up of an invisible bride. If God intended for the world to continue for seven more years after a secret "catching away," as taught by so many Christians, He hardly would include a shout of war, the voice of the leader of the army of angels, and the sound of a trumpet.
First Thessalonians 4:16 does not inform us what word or words were shouted. Our opinion is, the shout is the shout of the Lord’s host as it prepares to do battle with Antichrist and his armies (I Samuel 17:20).
Evidently, part of the shout includes the command, "Come up here!"
. . . And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. (Revelation 11:12)
Perhaps not up to Heaven, as to the spirit Heaven, but up to the heaven, up to the region of the clouds.
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (I Thessalonians 4:17)
Again, we believe the ascent of the witnesses "to the heaven in a cloud" is referring to our meeting the Lord in the air. The clouds of God (God always is hiding Himself in a cloud, it appears) will hide the ascended witnesses from the gaze of the peoples of the earth. To this extent we shall be invisible.
But there is no indication whatever that we will proceed to the spirit Paradise to dwell in mansions, as the current fable declares.
Neither will we ascend in order to be judged, as is taught commonly. Those who rise to meet the Lord in that hour have been judged previously. Their very sentence is to be raised, glorified, and rewarded. The remainder of the dead will not receive their bodies until the thousand-year Kingdom Age has been concluded.
The eleventh chapter of Revelation is viewing the resurrection and ascension of the saints from the standpoint of the revived Divine testimony, the renewed proclamation of Divine righteousness before the nations of the earth. Therefore the fact that the testimony could be seen ascending to the heaven, and the dismay of the enemies of the elect, are emphasized.
The passage in I Thessalonians, Chapter Four is presenting the resurrection and catching up from the standpoint of the reunion of Christian families and the entrance of the members together into the Kingdom of God.
The current concept that the purpose of the events of I Thessalonians 4:16,17 is to remove the believers from the tribulation and from the threat of Antichrist is foreign to the thinking and teaching of the Apostle Paul—to the emphasis of the entire Scriptures.
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. (I Thessalonians 4:13)
Notice that the stress is on the welfare of the deceased saints, not the living saints.
Therefore the fact that the living and dead saints are caught up together and are all with Jesus is pointed out. No mention is made of passing into the spirit Heaven.
The burden of Ezekiel, Chapter 37 has to do with the redemption of the nation of Israel and the bringing of the Israelites into their land in unity and peace.
First Corinthians, Chapter 15 describes the resurrection itself. The emphasis is on the overcoming of what is mortal by what is immortal.
Second Corinthians, Chapter Five, speaks of the renewing of our revived body by clothing it with our "house which is from heaven." Our house from Heaven is constructed by the sowing of our present body to death through its participation in the suffering of Christ (II Corinthians 4:17).
Second Thessalonians portrays the vengeance to be exercised on those who were persecuting the believers in Thessalonica.
Matthew, Chapter 24 is an important warning of the suddenness of our Lord’s return from Heaven and our need to be ever watchful.
Matthew, Chapter 25 (the parable of the virgins) points out the need for spiritual preparedness. There is coming a time when it will be too late to prepare for His coming. Then the righteous will remain righteous and the filthy will remain filthy.
The second chapter of Second Thessalonians deals with the timing of the Lord’s return: The Lord’s return will take place after the great rebellion against authority and the personification of that rebellion in the "man of sin."
All these passages are referring to the same event—the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Day of the Lord.
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. (Revelation 11:13)
Notice that the Divine wrath will fall on the "city." It is in the centers of civilization that the calamities of Revelation take place. The remainder of the peoples of the earth, as we understand the events of the end-time, will include nations and tribes that will be brought safely through the tribulation period to the setting up of the Kingdom of Christ.
And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. (Zechariah 14:16)
"Every one that is left" after the Lord Jesus and His army have destroyed the wicked.
The nations and tribes that assist the brothers of Christ while they are bringing the last testimony, and then during the tribulation period while the witnesses are hiding from the wrath of the serpent, will be saved.
Notice that in this terrible hour some people repented and "gave glory to the God of heaven." Not all were hardened.
The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly. (Revelation 11:14)
The resurrection and ascension of the elect take place in the midst of earth’s troubles. There are woes before and after.
It would seem that the terrifying spectacle of beholding the hated elect rising from the dead, standing on their feet, and then ascending into the heaven would be enough punishment for the rebellious of the earth.
Not so! A horrifying future awaits the rebellious of the nations, and also the Laodicean Christians—those who choose to serve Antichrist, the god of the present age.
Babylon, the union of the churches of Christ with the world, has persecuted the saints. The blood of the prophets is on her hands. Now God will avenge the blood of His prophets by burning up the religious whore with fire.
Babylon (man-directed Christianity) is a prostitute because she has taken the things of God and has given them to "strangers," to the demons. This actually is what takes place when Christian believers become involved with the spirit of the world.
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven,.... (Revelation 11:15)
But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. (Revelation 10:7)
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (I Corinthians 15:52)
And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:31)
And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. (Mark 13:27)
Notice, in Matthew 24:29 and Mark 13:24, that the coming of the Lord Jesus in the clouds of heaven with power and glory occurs after the tribulation.
Observe also all the elect are gathered together, from the "four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven."
If this were just for a Jewish elect that had gone through the tribulation, as some teach, it would not state "to the uttermost part of heaven."
For if we believe Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. (I Thessalonians 4:14)
All the elect will be gathered together at the coming of the Lord, not only the new covenant saints but also the old covenant saints—for they too are awaiting the resurrection from the dead (Hebrews 11:40).
That the old covenant and new covenant saints will be gathered together at the coming of the Lord can be seen on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8).
The Mount of Transfiguration was an actual, accurate preview of the "Son of man coming in his kingdom."
Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. (Matthew 16:28)
All the elect were represented on the Mount of Transfiguration: those in Heaven, those on the earth, those from the old covenant, those from the new covenant. All are God’s witnesses.
Moses and Elijah represent the Divine testimony, the righteousness and power of God, the Law and the Prophets, the fullness of all that was under the anointing of the old covenant.
Peter, James, and John represent the Divine testimony, the members of the Body, the Church, the fullness of all that is under the anointing of the new covenant. They exemplify those who forsake all and follow the Lamb of God.
Moses and Elijah were two in number. Two symbolizes the power that comes by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the two wave loaves of the feast of Pentecost, the double portion of the Spirit, the former and latter rain of the Spirit of God.
Peter, James, and John were three in number. Three, as employed in the Scriptures, symbolizes God and the fullness of the working of God in the construction of His Kingdom, His eternal Temple. There are three great platforms of redemption, as depicted by the three major convocations of Israel (Deuteronomy 16:16).
Two from the old and three from the new point out the difference between the old covenant and the new covenant. Two is the number of the witness. Three indicates the Presence of God. The old covenant was administered by chosen human beings on whom the anointing of the Lord rested. The new covenant, however, consists of the forming of Christ in us and the dwelling of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit eternally in us.
The forming and indwelling of God in the believer was not true of any individual under the old covenant. But every member of the Kingdom of God is the dwelling place of God. This is why he who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than any of the prophets of the old covenant.
Revelation, Chapter 11 describes the two witnesses, the double portion of witnessing power, the end-time latter-rain outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the elect so the way of the Lord may be prepared.
Revelation, Chapter 12 portrays the forming of Christ in the members of the Body of Christ, the creating of the Body of Christ, of the Servant of the Lord—He who will rule the creation in righteousness under God forever.
The number five (five humans on the mount) symbolizes the "beginning" of the Kingdom of God. Rosh Hashanah, the Blowing of Trumpets, the first day of the Jewish civil year, is the fifth feast of the Lord.
When we add the Lord Jesus to the two old covenant saints and the three new covenant saints we have the number six. Six symbolizes the Day of Atonement, the Year of Jubilee, the Ark of the Covenant, the creating of man in God’s image and assigning to him fruitfulness and rulership over all the works of God’s hands.
The kingdom-wide fulfillment of the Day of Atonement is the Millennium, the thousand-year Kingdom Age. The term atonement means "reconciliation." It is during the thousand-year Kingdom Age that the fullness of the Bride will be reconciled (married) to the Lamb, and the nations of the earth will be reconciled to the rule of Christ—neither of which is a fact today.
After the vision had been completed, Jesus alone was seen.
And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. (Matthew 17:8)
As soon as the Church has become married to Christ, having come into perfect and complete oneness with Him, and the world has come to believe God indeed has sent the Lord Jesus Christ, and accepts His Lordship, then the Lord Jesus Christ will be seen by everyone who "lifts up his or her eyes."
Notice the similarities between I Thessalonians 4:16, and Revelation 11:12-15:
In I Thessalonians 4:16, a verse dealing with the resurrection of God’s elect, we have three elements: (1) a shout; (2) the voice of the archangel; and (3) the trumpet of God.
In Revelation 11:12-15 we have three elements: (1) a loud voice from the heaven; (2) the sounding of the trumpet of the seventh angel; and (3) loud voices in the heaven.
Notice also the mention of the cloud, or clouds.
In I Thessalonians 4:17: "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, . . . ."
In Revelation 11:12: ". . . they ascended up to heaven in a cloud, . . . ."
In Daniel 7:13: "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, . . . ."
In Revelation, Chapter 11 the two witnesses "ascended up to heaven in a cloud", and then, two verses later, "the seventh angel sounded."
In I Corinthians 15:52: ". . . for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
In I Thessalonians 4:16 the order is: "and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first."
There is a conflict in order here. The passages of Scripture with which we are familiar, with the exception of Revelation, Chapter 11, inform us that the trumpet of God will blow and then the dead will be raised.
The Old Testament feast of Trumpets typifies the resurrection from the dead: first spiritually, and then in the body.
The Divine order is: the trumpet blows, and then the dead are raised into the state of incorruptibility.
How, then, can we account for the fact that in Revelation, Chapter 11 the order appears to be reversed, with the two witnesses being resurrected and lifted from the earth into the heaven, and after that the sounding of the trumpet by the seventh angel?
We may speculate that the two witnesses represent a special group of the elect that is raised from the dead and ascends prior to the first resurrection (Revelation 20:4-6) from the dead. This does not appear to be probable, because the events that follow the sounding of the seventh angel (the events enumerated in Revelation 11:15-19) do not mention a further resurrection of the saints.
It is more likely that the apparent reversal of the customary order is due to one or the other, or both, of the following: (1) the lack of chronological consistency in the Book of Revelation; (2) the fact that there is a period of time referred to as "the days of the voice of the seventh angel," during which events take place as he is about to sound.
The Book of Revelation generally is chronological, with the events of the beginning chapters taking place before those described in the concluding chapters. Certainly the new heaven and earth reign of Christ will take place after the opening of the seven seals.
However, it also seems true that many of the events of history depicted here in symbolic form will take place at the same time, or over long periods of time that overlap. What the Apostle John saw are often different aspects or perspectives of the same spiritual reality.
For example, it no doubt is true that the events described in the eleventh and twelfth chapters take place at the same time and involve the same people. Chapter 11 is describing the testimony of the elect in the last days. Chapter 12 is portraying the forming of Christ in the same elect during the same period of time.
If such is the case, the chronological order of the events of the Book of Revelation cannot always be determined by the order in which they were presented in the vision given to John.
Chapter 11, as we have stated, sets forth in symbolic form the end-time latter-rain outpouring of the Holy Spirit on God’s remnant so they can preach the Gospel to every nation for a witness before the Lord returns.
Chapter 12 portrays in symbolic form these same saints over the same period of time, during the last days of the Church Era. While the elect are busily bearing witness under the anointing, another work is taking place in them. Christ, the eternal Conqueror, the "male son" of God Almighty, is being formed in them in preparation for their rule over the earth and its peoples, as coheirs with Christ.
All this is taking place today. We Christians are bearing witness of the Lord’s atoning death and triumphant resurrection, while at the same time Christ is being formed in us by the travail of the ministries of the Body of Christ. The forming of Christ in us is in preparation for our eternal service as the members of the Body of Christ, the Lampstand of God. Isn’t this true? Aren’t we growing in Christ while we are serving?
We are ministering by the Spirit and at the same time Christ is being formed in us in preparation for our role in the coming Kingdom of God.
Therefore the eleventh and twelfth chapters of the Book of Revelation do not occur one after the other in order of time. Rather, they are describing the witnessing of the saints, and the maturing in Christ of those who are bearing the witness.
It is obvious the forming of Christ, the male Son, in the sons, does not take place after the sounding of the seventh angel. Antichrist does not rise up out of the sea (Revelation 13:1) after "the kingdoms of the world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ" (Revelation 11:15).
In the Book of Revelation, as in the writings of the Prophets of the Old Testament, the visions are not always in order of time. In this respect, the Book of Revelation is not like a history book.
In the books of history, such as First and Second Chronicles, and the Book of Acts, the events are in chronological order.
Some passages of Scripture, such as the writings of Paul, are to be taken literally and factually. Other passages of Scripture, such as the types and prophecies of the Old Testament, and the Book of Revelation in the New, are symbolic and must be interpreted by the Spirit of God. They cannot be analyzed and interpreted by the scholar’s mind.
The apparent reversal of the customary order (the trumpet blows and the dead are raised) may be due, as we have indicated, to the lack of chronological consistency in the visions of the Book of Revelation.
Or it may be due to the fact that the protracted period of time referred to as "the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound," are considered to be an integral part of the blowing of the seventh trumpet.
We know that the trumpet will sound and we know the dead will be raised at that time. But the chronological sequence may not be significant.
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (I Corinthians 15:52)
When we picture mentally an angel with wings blowing a trumpet we may not be understanding what actually will take place.
In Revelation 10:7, before the two witnesses are charged to bear the Divine testimony, we have the following declaration:
But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. (Revelation 10:7)
Notice carefully: "in the days of the voice of the seventh angel."
"In the days of the voice of the seventh angel."
This expression "the days of the voice" suggests to us that the seventh angel speaks over a period of time before he actually sounds the trumpet: "in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to [is about to] sound [the trumpet]."
Some of the "angels" of the Book of Revelation, and also of those described in the four Gospels, may at one time have been human beings; for the term angel means messenger—nothing more.
Even in the event that the seventh angel is a spirit-angel and not a human-angel, it is likely that this messenger will sound his trumpet through people.
The seven angels that sound the seven trumpets may refer to periods of utterance and action that God will bring to pass through the saints of Christ. Attempts to force a literal interpretation (an interpretation that corresponds to our ordinary understanding of "angels" and "trumpets" for example) on the Book of Revelation can cause us to develop fables.
The Book of Revelation is a vision in which the history of the Lord’s working is portrayed in symbolic form.
We know, for instance, that the Beast (Antichrist) coming out of the sea represents a charming person, an able administrator coming from the ranks of mankind. He will seduce the world into believing that he—a human being—actually is God Almighty.
If we visualize, in connection with this symbolic vision, a grotesque monster rising from the depths of the sea and standing on the beach, we are thinking in terms of a fable. We have missed the point entirely.
God beholds a beast having seven heads and ten horns. What we will see is a likable, agreeable human being who expresses a deep concern for the welfare of all peoples, including Christians.
The difference between what God sees and what we see may be true also of the sounding of the seven angels. This symbolic portrayal may have nothing to do with beautiful, white-robed, winged creatures raising golden horns to their lips and blowing fanfares over the marble balconies of Heaven.
What could be meant here are plain, rough, human preachers attempting to deliver the burden of their soul to uninterested congregations that are more attracted to the charming ways of Antichrist than they are to the unvarnished timbers of Calvary.
Something to think about! Only the Holy Spirit can reveal to us the meaning of the Book of Revelation.
The "voice" of the seventh angel will announce that "there should be time [delay] no longer." During the days of this proclamation the two witnesses will testify, will be slain, will stand up again on their feet, and then will ascend into the heaven in a cloud in the full view of their enemies.
In the case of Gideon’s three hundred men (one of the strongest of the scriptural types of the coming of the Lord), it was the soldiers who blew the three hundred trumpets.
Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. (Isaiah 58:1)
Paul taught that the resurrection from the dead will take place "at the last trump" (I Corinthians 15:52). The seventh trumpet of Chapters 10 and 11 of Revelation is the last trumpet; for as soon as it sounds "the kingdoms of the world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ" (Revelation 11:15).
If the seventh angel is the "mighty angel" of Revelation 10:1, he appears first with an open book that is to be eaten by the prophet. Then, the preaching of repentance follows. This takes place "in the days of the voice of the seventh angel" (Revelation 10:7; 11:3).
Perhaps the "voice" of the seventh angel is the prophesying of the two witnesses as they lift up their voices like trumpets and declare to God’s people their sins and self-seeking.
As soon as the witnesses have ascended up to the heaven in a cloud, the seventh angel sounds. This final, climactic blast heralds the triumphant appearing of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Now we behold:
The taking over of the rulership of the world by the Lord Jesus Christ.
The worshiping of God by the twenty-four elders.
The angering of the nations.
The coming of God’s wrath.
The judging of the dead.
The rewarding of the saints.
The destroying of those who have destroyed the earth.
The opening of the Temple of God.
The appearing of the Ark of God’s Covenant in His Temple.
Lightning flashes, sounds, thunderclaps, an earthquake, and a hailstorm.
We know that several of these items cannot take place until after the first resurrection from the dead. Therefore the first resurrection and catching up of the saints already has taken place. Notice that the resurrection of the saints is not in this list. If it had not taken place previously it certainly would be included in this list.
Given that Paul stated we would be raised at the last trumpet, plus the events that immediately follow the sounding of the seventh trumpet (as described in Revelation 11:15-19), can we draw any conclusion other than that the reviving and drawing up to the heaven (up to the level of the clouds) of the two witnesses is one of the major scriptural portrayals of the first resurrection from the dead?—that this is a description of the return of Christ to the earth, of the arrival of the Day of the Lord?
It seems to us there is to be a period of time described as "the days of the voice of the seventh angel." During this period of time the Christian saints will bear the last witness of Christ; Christ will be formed in the members of the Body of Christ (Galatians 4:19); the Divine testimony will be "killed"; the elect will be protected and nourished in places prepared by the Lord; the power of the Divine testimony will be restored in association with the resurrection from the dead of God’s elect (Isaiah 60:1-3); and then the resurrected saints (including those saints who still are alive on the earth) will rise to meet the Lord Jesus Christ in the air.
Perhaps it will be the trumpet of God (voice of the seventh angel) in the mouths of His elect that will gather together the whole army of saints.
Then the part of the trumpet will sound that will announce to the heavens and the earth the assuming of the control of the world by the Lord Jesus Christ.
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)
The righteous, not the wicked, will inherit the earth. Christ, and His saints as coheirs, will inherit the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth as their eternal possession.
Christ will assume the rulership of the world and through His saints bring the world into the liberty of the glory of the children of God (Romans 8:21).
The saints will inherit the earth and earth’s peoples. The nations are our land of promise, our inheritance. Christ in us, and God in Him, will reach out to every person on the earth. Every one who chooses to go up to Zion (the Church of the Firstborn) and serve the Lord will be saved and blessed by the Lord Jesus living in and working through His conquering saints.
Every person who rejects Christ will be removed from the earth in that Day.
Christ will exercise His awesome power, and reign. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. Christ will reign forever over earth’s peoples and we with Him.
The Kingdom Age will be ushered in by "great voices in heaven." The coming of Jesus will not be a secret.
Loud voices do not keep secrets. Christ will descend from Heaven with a shout! All the earth will understand that the King is coming to take possession of His Kingdom.
And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, (Revelation 11:16)
It is time to worship God. Man has been worshiped long enough. It is time for us to cast our crowns at the feet of the Lord and to declare that the Lamb alone is worthy. God is worthy of our eternal worship. He is the Creator. We, the creatures, are to worship our Creator and proclaim that He alone is worthy of adoration and praise.
One of the distinguishing features of the churches of our day is the focus on the welfare of people. Seldom do we hear of a seminar devoted to the Glory of God and the doing of His will. The emphasis is on the spiritual and physical healing of people.
It is important that people are healed spiritually and physically. But what is of first importance is that God is glorified through Christ and His will is performed in the earth.
If we will devote ourselves to glorifying the Lord and performing His will, perhaps He will be pleased to come and heal us and our land. But whether God heals us or He does not, whether our way is reasonably pleasant or consists of one severe problem after another, the most important thing is that God is glorified and His will is done in the earth as it is in Heaven. Any other emphasis is of Antichrist, of man making himself a little god.
Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. (Revelation 11:17)
God will gather up His almighty power and rule the world. Since the time of Adam and Eve the earth has been groaning in travail because of the curse of death that followed the disobedience of the first people.
God’s Presence withdrew from mankind. People then began to call on the Lord, no doubt praying to Him to deliver them from the bondage of corruption (they could still remember Paradise!) (Genesis 4:26).
The promise was given to the obedient Abraham that in His Seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed.
In Revelation, Chapter 11 we behold the fulfillment of God’s promise to return to the earth as our rightful King and Lord. God graciously consents to rule us because of the atonement made by His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Now will all the material creation be released into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.
And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. (Revelation 11:18)
Because this passage is speaking of the period just prior to the descent of the Lord and His army from heaven (Joel 2:11; Revelation 19:14), we know that the spirit of Satan still will be working in the nations of the earth. Therefore the nations are filled with rage instead of joy at the sight of the saints of the Lord ascending to meet the Lord in the air.
If the ascension of the elect were the only Divine act to take place in the Day of the Lord, the peoples of the earth would destroy themselves in their raging and their tormenting fears at the sight of the elect rising from the surface of the earth to meet the Lord Jesus in the air.
What will it be like to witness the catching up of the saints and not be part of it?
But this is just the beginning of the sorrows of the rebellious.
Now the wrath of God is ready to be released—wrath that has been smoldering since the first angel thought of rebelling, of attempting to be like the Most High. All Divine wrath against rebellion will be revealed at once.
The Divine wrath is so frightful, so terrible, that the Rider who leads His army from Heaven will be clothed in a robe dipped in His blood. Only those who follow the blood of the Lamb will be saved in the Day of wrath.
At the coming of Christ, in the Day of the Lord, the dead will be judged. The victorious saints will receive their rewards. The reward we will receive in that Day will depend on what we have practiced during our life on the earth (Revelation 2:23; 22:12).
Those who are teaching that it does not matter very much how the Christians behave themselves in the world, that we will be kings and priests of God on the basis of our profession of faith and doctrinal correctness, are greatly in error. They are ignorant of the fundamental Kingdom principles of cause and effect, of sowing and reaping.
We shall reap, in the Day of the Lord, what we have sown in the world. If we sow to our flesh we will reap corruption in the Day of the Lord. If we sow to the Holy Spirit we will reap eternal life in the Day of the Lord.
God forgives our sins when we come to Him as an unsaved person. Then He expects us to live the Christian life. If we do not we will be treated as any other transgressor. There is no respect of persons with God (Romans 2:6-11).
Those who teach differently from this will bring themselves and those who follow them into tribulation and torment. They will answer to the Lord Jesus Christ at His judgment seat, and also to those people whom they deceived by teaching them it is not necessary to forsake all (even one’s life) in order to be a disciple of Christ.
Let us obey the whole counsel of God in the Scriptures and then there will be no mistakes. Our eternal destiny and the eternal destiny of those who trust in us are in the balance.
If anyone chooses to be ignorant, let him remain ignorant. The behaviors of all persons, Christians and non-Christians alike, will be revealed in the Day of fire that is dawning.
Those who fear the Lord will be rewarded. Those who are teaching today that we are not to fear God, and that God is incapable of wrath, will be caught off guard. They are deceivers and are deluding many in our time. They are deceived because of their love of the world, their love of sin, and their love of their own self. They are self-centered, self-willed, determined to do whatever pleases them. Self-love and self-centeredness are adversaries of the Lord.
Many people are destroying the earth today with their lust for fornication, for material gain, for fame, for power, for preeminence. Christ will destroy them at His appearing.
Christ is coming to take command of the world, of all the nations of the earth. Then righteousness will reign throughout the earth. The destroyers will be gone from the earth. Can you imagine anything more wonderful than that? It will be days of Heaven on the earth. The curse will be lifted and all the marvelous things of earth will be ours to enjoy forever.
Our greatest joy will be to bring the Person, glory, and wisdom of the Lord Jesus Christ to the nations of the earth (Isaiah 2:2,3).
And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail. (Revelation 11:19)
The glory and significance of the opening of the Temple of God in Heaven, and the appearing of the Ark in the Temple, can scarcely be grasped. These revelations portray the unfathomable power and majesty about to be brought into the world.
Because of the history of God’s moving in the earth from the time of Adam and Eve to the present moment, we have gained an idea of what God will do in the earth and what God will not do in the earth. Our idea hinders our grasp of what God actually is able to do and, according to the Scriptures, shall do in the earth.
Perhaps in the recesses of our minds we understand there is nothing God cannot do; and yet our vision is limited by our experience and by what we know to have been true in time past.
The power, the majesty, the glory, the righteousness of the Godhead will fill the whole earth in the near future. First will come the latter-rain revival. This revival is portrayed by the figure of the "two witnesses."
Then there will come a terrible tribulation, a destruction greater than any earth has experienced.
After the tribulation will be the thousand-year reign of Christ and His conquering saints over the nations of the earth.
Finally there will come into being the sublime, incomprehensible glory of the new heaven and earth reign of Christ.
The Glory of God that soon is to come to the world, which even now is beginning, will be so much more extensive than anything the world has witnessed that we may have difficulty believing such a restoration of God’s Presence actually will take place in this sin-darkened world.
We can go to the Scriptures in order to gain the faith for what God proposes to do.
Jesus has stated that the Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached "in all the world for a witness to all nations" and then the end of the Gospel witness will be here. We must understand that this is not a conditional declaration that depends for its fulfillment on self-interested churches of frail humans—humans who are hoping all the while that the Lord will come and catch them away to escape their problems before the end-time Gospel of the Kingdom is preached.
The proclamation of Christ concerning the last-day preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is a Divine declaration. It is a prophecy concerning the last days. It will be a Divinely ordained work of power and righteousness that will command the attention of all persons on the earth.
It is not in the power of men and women to "put on" a revival. True revivals flow down from the Throne of God in Heaven.
The colossal angel standing astride the sea and the earth (Revelation 10:1,2) came from Heaven. He is not a composite of the strength, wisdom, and talents of pitiful, helpless human beings. The universal, galactic authority and power of the throne of Almighty God has been assigned to the angel in order that the prophecies that control the last "week" of the present age may be fulfilled.
If we are to be able to believe God and enter the end-time, latter-rain revival we must turn to the Scriptures and read and accept what God has stated concerning the closing days of the age and the coming of the Lord Jesus.
Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. (Hosea 6:1-3)
God has permitted His people to be "torn" and "smitten" throughout the two thousand years of the Church Age. By "His people" we mean the Lord’s elect whether Jewish or Gentile by physical birth (Romans 9:23,24). The hour will come when He will heal us and bind us up.
God emphasizes the glory that is to come at the end of His working. He will "raise us up, and we shall live in his sight." This refers to the majesty and power that have been reserved for the closing days of the present age and for the ages to follow.
God shall revive His people. God shall raise up His elect and they shall live.
God always is moving toward greater works in the earth, toward the full, complete restoration of all that was lost to mankind in the garden, and then toward unimaginable glory beyond that.
We will come to know the fullness of God’s Glory if we "follow on." We are not just to sit and wait for the Lord to return, we are to follow on to know the Lord. Waiting easily can become stagnant and dead, causing us to lose interest in God and His Kingdom.
As we follow on to know the Lord we make progress in the things of the Kingdom. We press forward toward the mark of the power of Christ’s resurrection. We come to know Christ, to win Christ, which was Paul’s goal.
Christ’s "going forth" always is "prepared." God never does anything without making exhaustive preparations. Every detail is described in advance. Nothing—absolutely nothing—takes God by surprise.
God is the God of advance planning, predestination, foreknowledge, election. This is why it is possible for us to move into the flow of preparation for the future and to be able to speak of it so confidently, prophesying in advance concerning the coming events.
"The works were finished from the foundation of the world" (Hebrews 4:3), therefore, we are able to enter the finished work, into the "rest" of God.
Christ’s going forth always is as assured, as certain, as the morning. Morning speaks to us of a new beginning, a fresh start of the Day the Lord has made. God’s mercies are renewed to us every morning, and each morning we receive grace to overcome the burden of evil of the day.
We do not have to always look backward to behold the Glory of God in the earth, although we are to build on the Divinely ordained works of the past. We never are to remove the old landmarks. The route the saints of old have taken, the highway of holiness on which they marched, guides us as we press forward on the continuation of the same highway, toward the fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham.
We always look back to Calvary and to the resurrection of Christ. Then, as Paul, we press forward to the mark that is before us.
The Hebrew day goes from sundown to sundown, beginning with the nighttime. The Christian Church has passed through the nighttime of the Day of the Lord. There is a dark hour yet to come before the dawning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. In the darkness that continually is deepening on the earth, the Day Star is rising. Christ is dawning in the hearts of the elect, heralding the morning of the Day of the Lord.
Christ is coming to us as "the rain, as the latter and former rain to the earth." It is time now for the Lord to prepare all nations for His glorious appearing, for the Millennial Jubilee release that will bring the created world into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. The creation will be revived, the curse lifted.
God is preparing to send the Lord Jesus Christ back into the earth, not as a helpless baby, not as a gentle teacher, not as a sin offering, but as the rightful King of the nations of the world.
Christ came to us as the former rain, the seed rain. His Presence produced the ministry of the Apostles described in the Book of Acts.
The Book of Acts does not come to a conclusion, as we can determine from reading the last few verses.
The acts of power of the Holy Spirit are continuing today as Christ comes to us as the latter, harvest rain—the double portion of righteousness, wisdom, and power. It is time now for the harvest rain to become an abundance of rain, a downpour (Zechariah 10:1).
The everlasting doors of the Temple of God in Heaven are opening slowly, majestically, powerfully. The Temple in Heaven, that Moses saw on the mountain and from which the Tabernacle of the Congregation was designed, has been cleansed by the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:12).
The Temple of God in Heaven has been closed to mankind since Adam and Eve heeded the counsel of Satan and disobeyed the ordinance of God.
Every person who applies the blood of Jesus to his life by faith may enter boldly past the veil into the Presence of the Almighty God, there to obtain mercy, and also grace by which the spiritual darkness of the world can be overcome.
The unsaved peoples of the earth continue to labor in the darkness of satanic rule, being under the Divine curse. Death still rules over all, although the Lord Jesus alone carries the keys of death. The beasts of the field and all nature groan in the travail of the chained creation.
In the goodness of God, the travail of the creation is not leading to hopelessness and despair but signals the coming of life. The birth pains of the creation already have commenced. The Kingdom of God is about to be born.
The massive, eternal gates of the Temple of God are opening steadily. The elect are beginning to see the golden light of the Day that has no end. There is hope. God never has left His creation without the hope that one day the bondage of futility, of uselessness, of never-ending, backbreaking toil will be finished. The rainbow still appears after the rain.
The Redeemer of the world is preparing to "come out of Zion"; for as soon as "the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory" (Romans 11:26, Psalms 102:16).
What will the peoples of the earth see when they first look into the Temple of God in Heaven?
They will behold "the ark of his testament."
The Ark of God was lost when Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar (B.C. 587). The appearing of the Ark tells us that the Glory of God now is to be restored to the earth.
What, or who, is the Ark of God’s testament? The Ark of God’s Testament is Christ and the firstfruits of His Bride. The Divine Glory will be revealed through those who are one with Jesus in God.
And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: (John 17:22)
Why must the nations of the earth come to the Presence of God through the Ark of the Covenant, that is, through Christ and His Body?
Because no man can see God and live.
God has selected, elected from the nations of the earth a group of people called the Church. These people are required to die in Christ in order that they may come alive in Christ. They are pressed into death, changed into the death of Christ on the cross.
When the elect, the members of the Body of Christ, come up out of the waters of baptism (which represent Christ’s death), they are eternally alive. If they follow on to know the Lord there will come a day when they commence their priestly privilege of beholding the Face of Almighty God (Revelation 22:4).
When the nations of the earth see these who have become one with the Father through the Son they will realize the Church, which has been called out from their ranks, has become an eternally inseparable part of God Himself. They will understand that God loves the Body of Christ as He loves His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Beholding the Church, the firstfruits that has been drawn from mankind, many peoples of the world will fall to their knees in the worship of God who now is being revealed in His Church. The saved of mankind then will believe the Lord God indeed has sent Christ into the world, and that He is God’s Son—the only source of Life for dead humanity.
Witnessing the eternal Glory of God in the Son, and now in the Son in the Church, the nations will say: "Let us go up to Zion. Let us learn from God’s living Temple, His Church, the righteous ways of the God of Heaven.
"We shall beat our spears into farming tools. We shall melt down our swords and from them manufacture plows. We shall not fight any more but shall turn our efforts toward building a world of righteousness, of peace, of joy.
"We cannot gaze at the Glory of the Almighty God, for that is not given to us to do. The righteous seed, the people who are glowing with the Divine Glory, can bring God to us and we shall learn from them.
"The sons of God love us. They love us very much. They know their God but they also have a love for us and are willing to spend time with each of us, giving us eternal life from their personalities.
"When we are blessed and taught by the saints our spirits are nourished, our minds become clear, our sicknesses are healed. They indeed are trees of life to us.
"When we look at them we can see the image of the Lord, Christ, the Son of David—the King who reigns from His throne in Jerusalem.
"Each of them is different. Yet they are part of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. We can see the Divine Godhead in them. The Spirit of God is in them and upon them. Yet, each is a unique, warm, loving, human who is one with us, although one with God also. This is a mystery to us, but now we have a wonderful earth in which to live. God has been good to us.
"When they tell us what to do, the Spirit of God and the holy angels are in the instructions. The earth is being restructured as they speak to it. Some currents are being arranged in the ocean. Climates are changing. Areas of land once uninhabitable are becoming gardens of beauty and fruitfulness.
"We do not resist God’s elect, although we do not always approve of what they say and do, because we have witnessed the sudden, terrible wrath that flames from them. It is as though God Almighty has appeared in our midst and is judging our thoughts and attitudes.
"Each of the saints is a king over us and a priest to us. Yet it is clear that it really is the greatest of all kings, Christ, who is in them and is ruling us, and that God Himself, the Creator, is in Christ.
"How wonderful that we have been given these loving saints to comfort and bless us and to watch over us! We no longer feel the need to rebel, to fight, to lust, to covet. Our world is like Heaven on the earth because God’s will is being done here."
And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves. For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them. (Isaiah 61:4-7)
The Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Babylonians when Jerusalem fell, in the days of Jeremiah. The Ark has never been seen by the Lord’s people since that time.
Now, at the ascension of the two witnesses into the heaven, the Ark of the Covenant appears in the Temple of God. The Lord Jesus Christ is ready to return to the earth. Here is the "invasion of Canaan" by Christ and His saints. The invasion of Canaan is the seizing of the spiritual thrones that govern the material creation. Canaan is resurrection ground and the Ark leads the way.
It is God in Christ in the saints whom the world will behold; and beholding, will believe (John 17:21-23). This is the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
There will be "lightnings" at the disclosure of God’s majesty. The lightnings will shine from east to west. It is the Glory of God in Christ in the saints. We are part of the Light that will illumine the darkness of the earth (Isaiah 60:1-4—note the revival that follows).
There will be "voices." The voices are those of God’s sons, and of the elect angels and archangels, as the rulership of the world passes from the hands of Satan-filled men into the hands of Christ-filled men. We are coheirs with Christ in every sense of the word. He will divide the spoil with the strong (Isaiah 53:12).
There will be "thunderings" as the powers of God are directed by Christ in His Body toward the establishing of the Kingdom of God in the earth.
There will be an "earthquake" as God begins the execution of His wrath in the earth. The nations will respond to the plagues and tribulations by increasing their rage and rebellion against the Lord God of Heaven.
There was a parallel situation in the destruction of Egypt at the time of the exodus of Israel. Egypt was devastated as a prelude to the departure of the Israelites. The Jews carried away with them much of the wealth of the country. The land was left in ruins.
Pharaoh, not being totally discouraged by the destruction of his nation, pursued the Israelites. He annihilated his own army in so doing.
So it will be in the Day of the Lord. God will devastate the cities of the earth, the centers of the rule of Antichrist. It is in the cities that men learn to think like Antichrist and to spend all their time acquiring material wealth in order that they may be independent of God. It is in the cities that the wrath of God will be poured out without measure.
The saints will leave the earth for a brief period to be gathered together with the Lord in the air, taking with them the blessing of God. The saints are the salt, the preservative of the earth. The only reason God has not destroyed the earth long ago is that His dear ones are on the earth and are praising Him. When He lifts them from the earth, woe! woe! woe to the inhabitants of the earth!
The earth, having lost the "gold, and silver, and precious stones" of the virtues of the saints, will be as Hell itself. The peoples of the earth will have only Antichrist, the False Prophet, Satan, the rebellious angels, the demons, self-centered Christian teachers, and the priests of the false religions to help them with their problems. How would you like to be alive on the earth in that hour?
When the sons of God return with Jesus they will restore the cities and institutions of the earth. They will repair what has been destroyed and made desolate by sin, and by the Divine judgment on that sin.
And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. (Isaiah 61:4)
The earth will be scorched by the fires of Divine judgment as Joel’s army, which is the army of the elect led by Christ (Joel 2:3,11), advances through the earth in the fullness of the power of God. The earth will quake before them. God’s army will turn the sophisticated abominations of the world and the world-church into ashes under their feet (Malachi 4:1-3).
After the Divine judgment has been executed the sons of God will rebuild the cities of the earth. Now the cities will be centers of the righteousness, peace, and joy of the Holy Spirit.
Antichrist and the rulers of the earth will attempt to resist Christ and His army. In so doing they will waste the lives of millions of people who otherwise could have been saved had they turned to the Lord in time. Many tyrants of history have wasted the lives of multitudes as they have sought to exalt themselves over God.
There will be a great "hail." Hail always has been one of God’s weapons against the rebellions of mankind.
Behold, to morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now. (Exodus 9:18)
And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Bethhoron, that the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword. (Joshua 10:11)
Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war? (Job 38:22,23)
At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire. The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire. (Psalms 18:12,13)
The Lord God speaks in the voice of thunder, in the voice of hailstones, in the voice of coals of fire. This is the language that God’s creatures understand most readily.
Most of us explain our actions in what we hope are acceptable terms. Our much talking may accomplish something. But the language that moves us to action, that gets results, is thunder, hailstones, and coals of fire.
Teachers can reason with us concerning righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. We may respond with our "excellent" explanations why we cannot do what is right.
But when the thunder frightens us and shakes our confidence, the hailstones break down our works, and the coals of fire are under our feet, we cease explaining and begin to perform works of righteousness, holiness, and obedience to the Lord God.
All nations respect this language.
It is amazing how fear and suffering can move us to perform the "impossible"!
We have presented our viewpoint that the two witnesses of Revelation, Chapter 11 are a symbolic portrayal of the end-time, latter-rain testimony that the saints will give in preparation for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ from Heaven. It is the anointed preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom in all the world for a witness to all the nations of the earth. The Divine testimony will be given at the closing of the present age (Matthew 24:14).
God will confirm His testimony by signs and wonders of a fullness of power never before seen on the earth, power of the magnitude of the stopping of the sun’s movement at the word of Joshua.
Where do these two witnesses come from, for they suddenly are empowered to prophesy? There is no information concerning their origin.
Here is the meaning of Revelation, Chapters 10, 11, and 12 as we understand them:
Chapter 10: the necessary preparation of God’s elect, God’s remnant, for the work of the end-time Divine testimony.
Chapter 11: the latter-rain witness, the removal of the Christian testimony from the cities of the earth, the first resurrection from the dead, the changing of the rulership of the world from Satan to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Chapter 12: the same saints, the eternal rulers, seen from the standpoint of Christ being formed in them.
Chapter 11 portrays the anointing for witnessing that rests on the members of the Body of Christ. The anointing for witnessing is a temporary, partial blessing, a "seeing through a glass darkly," that enables the Christian to bear the Divine testimony of Christ. It is a prophetic anointing.
The prophetic anointing is never part of the saint. It is power and wisdom that come and go according to the current needs of God’s eternal purpose.
This is why the Divine testimony can be "overcome" by Antichrist—overcome by the express permission of the Lord in line with His eternal purpose. The Christian testimony is overcome in the sense that God permits the anointed testimony to be removed as a hindrance to Antichrist’s ambitions. This is for a brief, predetermined, and carefully regulated period of time so the revelation of Antichrist can be completed (II Thessalonians 2:7).
Have you found it to be true that healing and other blessings may be delayed for a season while God is working out something in your life? After God’s objective has been accomplished, if you remain in prayer and thanksgiving, the Lord blesses and heals you. The testimony of the Scriptures then has been restored because the Lord has delivered you from all your diseases and afflictions.
The Divine witness can be "overcome" from time to time according to the working out of God’s eternal purpose in Christ. The saint himself never can be overcome if he continues to do the will of Christ, for that would be contrary to the Scriptures (Romans 8:37-39). The forces of Satan can never, in any manner, by any means whatever, overcome the true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
No authority or power can separate one of God’s elect from the love of Christ. In order to do so the power must overcome the resurrection of Christ; for we live by His Life.
Chapter 11, therefore, is referring to the anointing for witnessing that abides on the saints, for it is this that can be overcome, in God’s appointed time.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
Chapter 12, on the other hand, is referring to the permanent change that is taking place in the personality of the saint while he is performing the work of the testimony. It is the forming of Christ in him or her (Galatians 4:19). While we are serving, Christ is being formed in us.
The trumpets of Gideon’s three hundred men typify the anointed testimony of Chapter 11, the "trumpet of the Lord" that will prepare the way for His return from Heaven in the clouds.
The lamps of Gideon’s three hundred men speak of the forming and revealing of Christ in us, the Divine Glory that will be revealed in Christ and in the saints at His glorious appearing (Judges 7:19).
Christ is being formed in us in preparation for our eternal ministry as kings and priests of God—the coheirship with Christ, the rulership of the ages to come (Revelation 22:5).
The eternal Conqueror, God’s King and Lord, Christ, is being formed in the testifying saint in preparation for the coming Kingdom of God. Christ is the male Son (man child), the Son of God, who is to rule all nations with the strength and inflexibility of the Spirit of God—a rod of iron.
We understand, then, that two works of God are taking place in our lives:
We are being anointed by the Holy Spirit so we can be Jesus’ witnesses in power.
We ourselves are being transformed eternally by having Christ formed in us in preparation for our positions of authority as coheirs with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our ministry and our transformation interact. Our ministry assists in our personal transformation as well as in the transformation of those who hear us. Our transformation causes us to work at our ministry in ever-increasing faith, wisdom, and diligence.
There are instances where believers do not profit from their own ministries. After they have preached to others they themselves are disqualified. They are not built up by their own gifts because they love darkness rather than light. Although they may perform powerful works in the name of the Lord Jesus, He never has known them.
Are both of these Kingdom works (witnessing and transformation) being developed in your life today?
Because the Spirit of God is announcing the forming of Christ in us, and also the coming manifestation of the sons of God, many fervent believers are confusing the coming revelation of the sons of God with what is possible today. Let us remember that we still are in the Church Age. The power of Christ still will be revealed through gifts and ministries. The manifestation of the sons of God, the fullness of the glory, that which is perfect, is not available today. It will appear with the appearing of the Lord from Heaven.
Chapters 10 and 11 (and 12, in the light of what we have just set forth) of the Book of Revelation describe the sounding of the last trumpet (I Corinthians 15:52). We noted previously that the "pictures" of the Book of Revelation are not in strict order of time but are a series of viewpoints from which we may observe the Day of the Lord. The vision of the Book of Revelation is one tapestry of intricately woven threads.
And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: (Revelation 10:1)
It is a powerful angel, a strong messenger, who announces the end-time, latter-rain Divine testimony, and the completion of the "mystery of God." The Divine mystery, a mystery still not understood by the Christian churches, is Christ in us (Colossians 1:27).
Righteousness always is a battle of strength concerning the issue of Divine truth. We know what God wants us to do, But we find an actual war is taking place in the members of our physical body.
We desire fervently to do what God’s truth commands us to do. But another power, the sin and rebellion that are in us, fights continuously and viciously against our desire to obey God’s truth. The power to perform what we know to be the truth, to do God’s will, is not found in our human personality.
The power to perform truth is found in the Personality of Christ. It is Christ who alone is able to make it possible for us to obey Divine Truth. In fact, Christ Himself is Divine Truth as well as the Power to obey Divine Truth.
Our responsibility is to choose with all the determination we possess to obey God’s truth. We are to announce our choice vigorously and continually to the Lord and, on suitable occasions, to the saints around us. For our words will stand in the Day of Christ either to justify us or to condemn us.
As we continue choosing to obey God’s truth, Christ’s unlimited authority and power are pointed in our direction with the result that we receive power to conquer the darkness of the present age. As we ourselves are set free, by the power of Christ working together with the truth He Himself Is, we can assist in the release of other people from their bondages.
When we know Divine truth, and gain enough power to obey that truth, we are released from slavery to Satan.
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)
The spiritual atmosphere of the earth already is becoming oppressive. It is quite difficult (sometimes seemingly impossible) to behave righteously, to speak words of truth and courage, to resist the pull of the lusts of the flesh and of material gain, to think pure, lovely, wholesome thoughts, to avoid self-seeking and self-exaltation.
The darkness is mounting slowly and steadily. We humans do not possess enough power to resist the spiritual darkness. Some people think they do possess enough power and that they can play with sin and then turn away from sin when they get ready. They are deceiving themselves.
The Great Commission to make disciples of all the nations remains as a responsibility to which we should be giving supreme attention. Yet it appears that satanic wisdom and power are driving the nations ever deeper into secular knowledge, political ambition, pornography, fornication, and the destruction of family life. The world is not becoming a more righteous environment in which to live.
What is the problem of righteousness? It is that the saints lack power—power enough to drive the wickedness out of the nations; power enough to compel righteous behavior on the part of the peoples of the earth. Righteousness is a question of spiritual power. Wouldn’t you bring all the nations of the earth into righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit if you possessed enough power to do so?
The Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, possesses all authority in Heaven and on the earth. He is waiting for God the Father to exert the wisdom and power required to bring all of Christ’s enemies under His feet.
God understands better than we the pressures that now are coming on each person on the earth. During the end-time, latter-rain revival of the Gospel of the Kingdom, the Lord Jesus will send a double portion of the power of the Holy Spirit—enough power to overcome every other power during the season of our preaching the Good News of the soon coming of the Kingdom to every nation under the heaven.
It is our responsibility to pray for rain in the time of the latter rain (Zechariah 10:1). God, in response to our petitions, will send Christ to us as the rain, giving every Christian who asks for rain an abundance of rain and fruit. The Lord God stands ready to equip us with authority over all the power of the enemy.
The sounding of the seventh (and last) trumpet is marked by the sending down from Heaven of an authoritative and powerful angel. This signifies that the last revival will be one of unprecedented power.
The angel comes "down from heaven" (Revelation 10:1). The Divine testimony of the last days of this age will not proceed from the wisdom and striving of the flesh and soul.
Some today are teaching that if Christians will exert faith and diligence they can gain control over the political structure of their cities and nations. This is not the role of the Church and such a program will not establish the Kingdom of God.
First there must come the latter-rain witness, and it will proceed from the Throne of God in Heaven not from the efforts of the flesh. After the witness has been fully given, the earth will be visited with the great tribulation. Then the signs in the heaven will appear and Christ will return in His Kingdom.
When God is ready to activate some aspect of His eternal purpose He does not put His trust in human beings. God performs His own works, using the persons of His choosing.
The angel is "clothed with a cloud," reminding us of our being caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Wherever the Scriptures describe the coming of Christ and our being caught up to Him there often is the mention of a cloud or clouds (Daniel 7:13, for example; compare Acts 1:9).
The cloud speaks of the Presence of the Father. Both in the Old Testament and the New, God appeared in the cloud.
And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. (Exodus 16:10)
And the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the Lord. (Exodus 19:9)
While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. (Matthew 17:5)
God Himself will be present to an unprecedented extent in the latter-rain revival. The last witness will be more than a blessing or the presence of an angel. The Lord Himself will come to us as the Rain.
"He shall come unto us as the rain."
. . . and a rainbow was upon his head, . . . . (Revelation 10:1)
The rainbow on the head of the angel speaks of the authority of the Throne of God. The full weight of the highest throne will be behind the end-time witness.
And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. (Revelation 4:3)
The unlimited authority of God will be utilized to prepare the nations for the coming of Christ in His Kingdom. It is the love of the Father that will place such emphasis on the last witness. Apart from the earth-wide revelation of power neither the nations nor the Christian churches would in any manner be prepared for the holy wrath that will be poured out in the Day of Judgment.
There is no other power or authority equal to that which proceeds from the Throne of God.
. . . and his face was as it were the sun, . . . . (Revelation 10:1)
The angel’s face "was as it were the sun." The sun speaks of the righteousness and holiness of the end-time revival, and of the coming of the Kingdom of God, the doing of God’s will, to the earth.
But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; . . . . (Malachi 4:2)
Healing comes to us in association with righteous behavior on our part.
The churches of Christ in the earth today have, in many instances, lost their testimony. We have much ministry but little testimony. In forsaking righteousness and holiness of behavior we have abandoned the Divine testimony.
All the Christian talk is worthless and less than worthless if the lives of the saints are not radiantly glorious with the beauty of righteousness and holiness to the Lord. There is no testimony of Christ apart from the pure, transparent righteousness and holiness that can endure the Divine fire.
In the days of the last trumpet the tares will be separated from the wheat. Everything that offends will be removed from the Kingdom by the angels (messengers) of God. Then the righteous will shine as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father (Matthew 13:43).
The angel’s feet were "as pillars of fire." This speaks of the Divine judgment through which the saints must pass before they are ready to be empowered to bear the anointing of the end-time, latter-rain Divine testimony. After the saints pass through judgment they then will administer that same judgment as part of their witness.
And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. (Revelation 11:1)
The days of the voice of the seventh angel will be a time of judgment on the earth, not only for the world but also for those saints who will bear the testimony. Judgment always begins at the house of God.
The feet of Jesus are glowing bronze (Revelation 1:15). The fiery bronze feet of Christ remind us of the judgment of Calvary, of the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, of the bronze Laver that symbolizes the judgments of the Word of God.
Satan will be crushed under the feet of the Body of Christ (Romans 16:20). The feet of the Body of Christ will march through the earth, bringing every creature under subjection to the Lord Jesus.
We see, therefore, that before the two witnesses are empowered they first must be measured (judged). This is because their testimony will bring the judgment of the Lord upon the nations of the earth. Until the saints have been judged themselves they are not qualified to exercise the judgment of the Lord on other persons. The two-edged sword cuts both ways.
And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, (Revelation 10:2)
We can gain from the above verse some concept of the enormous size of the angel of the latter-rain revival. The days in which we are living are spiritually very dark. The ranks of the demons are increasing in number. It is a cause for rejoicing that before the Lord Jesus returns, the earth will be visited with a revival powerful enough to dominate the sea and the earth. No authority or power is great enough to prevent the end-time witness.
Notice that this highly placed angel had in his hand a "little book." The end-time witness will begin as a little book, with a little cloud, "like a man’s hand," so to speak (I Kings 18:44). But an abundance of rain is coming.
The latter-rain revival will have a humble beginning. The elect will hear the voice of the Lord but the "big" religious operations will proceed in ignorance.
For who hath despised the day of small things? . . . (Zechariah 4:10)
God often works with "little" things. Men look for big things.
Jesus was born in a stable, not in one of the royal palaces of His day.
The Lord asked Moses, "What is that in thine hand?" (Exodus 4:2).
God did not ask Moses to get a new rod. The Lord was ready to use the ordinary object Moses already possessed.
God chooses weak, despised instruments.
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. (I Corinthians 1:27-29)
The latter-rain revival will not consist of "big preachers." God will choose those who are not esteemed. No flesh will be allowed to glory in the Presence of the Lord. It is time for all the members of the Body of Christ to receive their ministries and to move in the Spirit in the name of the Lord.
When we pray for revival we often miss God’s answer. God asks, "What is that in your hand? What do you have at home?"
The first step in our part in the last-day testimony well may be our reconciliation to our wife and children. If we cannot make a success of the Gospel at home it is impossible for us to take part in the worldwide witness of God. (There are instances when the saint cannot mend the situation in his home, and God knows when such is the case. God will show us what to do if we will seek His counsel.)
Sometimes we are looking for large numbers of people when God is ready to work in an extraordinary manner through two or three.
The latter-day witness will be of God. The types reveal that one of its prominent features will be the glorifying of God rather than human beings. The episode of Gideon and his army certainly is one of the major types of the coming of Christ and the Day of the Lord. The number of men in Gideon’s army was diminished from 32,000 to 300 so Israel could not say, "Mine own hand hath saved me" (Judges 7:2).
The testimony of the two witnesses will be "not by might nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6).
The little book was "open." The meaning of the Scriptures is becoming increasingly clear in our day. For many hundreds of years the Scriptures have been sealed, particularly regarding the "mystery" of the Gospel, which is Christ in us. Even today the Christian churches appear to be unaware that the issue of redemption is what is taking place in the saints. In most instances the emphasis is being placed on external, undemanding events such as going to Heaven or ascending to meet the Lord.
The scriptural emphasis is not on these external events, it is on the all-important transformation of the saints, the forming of Christ in us. This is the creating of the eternal Temple of God, which is one of the themes of the Scriptures. The emphasis on external, undemanding events is misplaced. It is not fruitful.
Those who are hearing from the Lord today are stressing the building of the Body of Christ. All else hinges on the perfecting of the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).
The "book" has been sealed until the closing days of this age. It is being opened in our time and we are beginning to understand the mystery of the Gospel. It is Christ in us—the appearing of Christ not only with, but also in, His saints. This is the hope of the glory to come. This is the Kingdom of God, the central truth of the Scriptures. All else contributes to this central Divine purpose.
And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: (Isaiah 29:11)
Theologians have struggled to unlock the meaning of the Book of Revelation. The result has been confusion among the believers. Only the Holy Spirit can interpret the Scriptures. It is not in the ability of the human mind or spirit to do so.
But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. (Daniel 12:4)
It is in "the time of the end" that the seals of the "book" will be opened.
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; (Revelation 5:9)
All that God is revealing today has been in the Scriptures from the beginning. It appears, from Daniel 12:4, that the "book" has been "sealed."
The Lion of the Tribe of Judah has prevailed and the Book now is opening. The Holy Spirit is making clear to us the mystery of God. The truth of God has been before us in the Word all these years. Apparently we have not possessed the Spirit of wisdom and revelation that we must have in order to perceive correctly what the Spirit of God has placed in the holy Scriptures.
The Scriptures cannot be interpreted by the mental efforts of scholars. The Scriptures were written by holy men who were being moved by the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures can be interpreted only by holy men (and women) who are being moved by the Holy Spirit.
No prophetic passage of Scripture will yield to a private interpretation, an interpretation derived from the wisdom and intelligence of a scholar. None of us can comprehend the mysteries of the Kingdom of God except as the Holy Spirit of God makes the meaning clear to us. When the Holy Spirit is guiding us we all come to the same understanding of the Scriptures. It is our fleshly minds that cause division among us.
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (Ephesians 4:13)
It is not the knowledge of the Scriptures that will finally unite the Body, it is "the knowledge of the Son of God." It is the growth of Christ in us that brings us together. This is why all the efforts of well-intentioned Christian leaders to attain unity are doomed to bring forth Babylon (man-directed Christianity), not the Kingdom of God.
The denominations, the divisions in the one Body of Christ, have been created as Christian leaders have attempted to comprehend the Spirit-breathed Word with their mental capacities.
The huge angel assumed control over the earth by placing his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land. This symbolizes the dominion over the planet that will be given to the elect who are bearing the end-time Divine testimony.
Today the population of the earth is expanding so rapidly that our attempts to bring the Gospel to all the nations seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the multiplied millions of people who are being born at an ever-increasing rate.
The idea of testifying in the fullness of Divine power of the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ to every creature appears to be impossible of achievement. However, Jesus commanded: "Preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).
When the Lord from Heaven says, "every creature" He does not mean nearly every creature. There is no person on the earth, no matter how unimportant to us, who is not authorized to hear the Gospel of the Lord Jesus.
No person is an animal to be despised, a creature to whom the Gospel of the Kingdom may or may not come at our whim. God loves every person on the earth with His Father’s heart.
Every person, young and old, is in the image of God. Each human being can be a joyous member of the nations of saved peoples of the earth.
The three-month-old baby, dying from lack of protein in some area of the earth remote to us is greater in the Kingdom of God than the tremendous angel we are studying, unless this angel is in fact a saint. For no spirit-angel can receive Christ into his person and become a son of God.
The little starving baby, if he lives long enough and has the opportunity to hear and understand the Word of the Gospel, can receive Christ into his or her person and become a son of God. He has been born in the image of the Lord God of Heaven, being a descendant of Adam and Eve.
What, then, is God’s answer to the gap between the need in the world and what the Christian churches are doing to meet that need?
The Divine answer is power—an outpouring of the Spirit of God so vast, so awesome, so total, so earth-filling it will command the attention of every person until the testimony has been completed according to God’s measure of completion and fullness.
The Divine testimony will stand astride the earth with one fiery foot commanding the sea and the other fiery foot commanding the land.
And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices. (Revelation 10:3)
The end-time, latter-rain testimony will be a loud voice indeed—loud enough for everyone on the earth to hear. It will be the roaring of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. It is the conquering roar of the mightiest of all kings.
The testimony of the churches of today, in many instances, is weak, craven in some instances, man-pleasing, almost nonexistent because of the worldliness, sin, self-seeking, confusion, lust, covetousness, fear, and unbelief that prevail. There is a lack of Divine truth and vision and the people are perishing as a result.
The colossal angel roared as a lion. The end-time testimony will be powerful, defying all the enemies of righteousness, ready to drive out all challengers to its domain. The latter-rain witness is not the cooing of a dove, it is the terrifying roar of the king of beasts.
The angel from the Throne of God roared as a lion, taking control of the earth. The seven peals of thunder, the perfection of Divine power, roared in response. We are living in the days when God’s power will be displayed as never before in history. It is the age of power as far as the testimony of the Christian Church is concerned.
And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not. (Revelation 10:4)
John heard what the seven thunders stated but he was instructed to seal up those things and not write them.
Why would the Lord not allow John to record the statement of the seven thunders? The reason is, the seven thunders represent the perfection of Divine power, and each member of the elect, of the Body of Christ, must be proven "at the waters of Meribah" before he or she can partake of the fullness of the Divine power of the end-time, latter-rain revival.
Thou calledst in trouble, and I delivered thee; I answered thee in the secret place of thunder: I proved thee at the waters of Meribah. Selah. (Psalms 81:7)
"In the secret place of thunder." The secret place of thunder is the hiding place of God’s power.
And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power. (Habakkuk 3:4)
No person can know the secret place of God’s power until he or she has been proven at the waters of Meribah.
Meribah is the place of thirst, the place of human need and extremity. It is at Meribah that God proves us and discovers what is in our heart.
There, at Meribah, God satisfies our needs from the Rock when all our natural resources have dried up.
Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not? (Exodus 17:6,7)
God tested Israel with thirst. Israel tested God with their grumbling and presumption.
God demonstrated His faithfulness and His ability to perform the impossible. The Israelites demonstrated their lack of faith in the Lord who had destroyed the Egyptians and had parted the Red Sea in order to bring them out of the nation that had kept them in bondage.
God passed His test gloriously. Israel failed its test miserably.
After the death of Miriam, when the people were camped at Kadesh, there was another scarcity of water. Again, the Rock—Christ—was present. Christ, the Rock, followed Israel through the wilderness (I Corinthians 10:4).
But there was a difference this time, a difference that portrays one of the ingredients of the latter-rain revival, a difference Moses failed to perceive and that cost him the opportunity to enter the land of promise.
On the previous occasion, when Israel first left Egypt, the Lord commanded Moses to "strike" the rock. On this second occasion, the event that typifies the end-time anointing of power, the Lord commanded Moses to "speak" to the rock.
Smiting the rock is characteristic of the former-rain revival, because the Lord Jesus Christ was smitten on the cross of Calvary. But the latter-rain revival is announcing the coming of Christ the King. We still are to preach the blood atonement. But now we are announcing also the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. We are to speak to the Rock, to the King. We are to exalt Him, and Him alone. The Lord alone shall be exalted in the Day of the Lord.
Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. (Numbers 20:8-11)
The record of the Scriptures teaches us that the Kingdom of God sometimes advances in major changes, such as the change from the Law of Moses to faith in Christ. Change presents difficulty to the saints who have become accustomed to a certain pattern. Speaking to the rock is different from striking the rock. Moses failed to change with God.
The step forward into the humility and power of the end-time Divine testimony requires some changes in our comprehension of Christ and His manner of working. Are we able to change with the Lord?
We must forgive Moses as God forgave him. There have been few men on the earth who have served God as faithfully as did this extraordinary individual.
The burden on Moses’ shoulders as he led Israel through the wilderness for forty years would have crushed most of us in the first week out of Egypt. The enormous load took its toll: Moses became accustomed to dealing with these "rebels."
The Lord desired that Moses take a more gentle approach. But Moses was so accustomed to "smiting the rock in their sight" he did not perceive what the Lord had said to him. Moses failed to point the Israelites toward their Lord. He drew their attention toward himself and Aaron.
The end-time revival will be a Presence of Christ of unprecedented power and authority. No individual will be entrusted with such awesome power until God has made certain he will point people toward the Lord and not toward himself. If he points people toward himself he is antichrist.
Christ must be lifted up. Not churches, not people, not denominations, not programs, Christ must be lifted up. If Christ is lifted up He will draw all men to Himself, and whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
The mistake made by the Christian churches is to point toward some person, or program, or thing (such as a building) other than Christ. This mistake is made commonly.
And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the Lord, and he was sanctified in them [revealed His holiness among them]. (Numbers 20:12,13)
Moses, being filled with presumption, struck the rock twice with his rod—the same rod with which the Lord had commenced the marvelous deliverance of Israel. God had used the rod of Moses on previous occasions.
But now it was time to prophesy to the rock, to speak to it. If Moses had done that, God would have been glorified. But by striking the rock, and referring to himself and Aaron, Moses failed to exalt the Lord in the sight of the Israelites.
We notice the same admonition to Ezekiel:
Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. (Ezekiel 37:4)
Many today are seeking to bring together the "bones" of the Body of Christ. In so doing they call attention to themselves. God has commanded us to prophesy to the bones, not to attempt to stick them together.
The Lord is gracious. In spite of this rash, self-centered act on the part of Moses and Aaron, "the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also."
Why did God bring water out of the rock when He was not glorified? The answer to this question is important for us to understand.
Numbers 20:2 informs us "there was no water for the congregation." If God had not supplied water from the rock the people and their animals would have died in the desert.
We now are entering the greatest revival of history. The past few years have been a season of increasing thirst. The Word of the Lord has become precious in our day. Many Christian churches have dried up spiritually as the pastors have turned from the Word of God to preach the pre-tribulation rapture, prosperity, magical faith to acquire material possessions, and now a renewed postmillennialism—an attempt of believers to set up the Kingdom of God prior to the return of the Lord.
In addition, citizens of the so-called civilized nations are turning to Satan-worship and to African and Haitian religions that require animal sacrifice.
The true God of Heaven stands ready to bless every person who calls on Him, who claims His promises. Many are perceiving God’s willingness to bless and are setting out to deliver the Lord’s people. Signs and wonders are following the Gospel. People are being saved, healed, and taught.
Of those who are ministering, some are "smiting the rock," while others are "speaking to the rock." Some are pointing to themselves while others are glorifying the Lord Jesus. In every case the water is coming forth because the people are in need and God is meeting that need in every way made available to Him.
The difference between the two types of ministries will become evident as the thunder of God’s power is revealed in the true saints. The difference will be revealed further when the Lord comes and we "pass over Jordan" to inherit resurrection ground.
Those who have glorified Christ will move forward into the Millennial Jubilee. Those who have pointed to themselves will not be allowed to enter the land of promise.
A division between Christ-exalters and the self-exalters will take place when Christ sets up His Kingdom on the earth.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:22,23)
The ministers of the Gospel who are calling attention to their own glory are bringing water from the Rock for needy humanity. But they will not be allowed to enter the inheritance of the righteous. They have disqualified themselves by their sin and self-centeredness. Also, they will never know the thunder of God’s power of judgment during the days of the voice of the seventh angel because they have not been proven at the waters of Meribah.
As far as the Lord’s "two witnesses" are concerned, they will shake the whole earth by the power of God’s judgment. It will be Christ who is seen in them, for they will be crucified with Christ and will be living by His Life. They always will "speak" to the Rock.
It is time now to glorify God instead of men. We shall continue to glorify self until God brings us to the place of thirst, pain, bewilderment, weakness. We shall continue "smiting the rock" in the eyes of the congregation until God brings us to the waters of Meribah.
There God teaches us to "speak to the rock." We have been accustomed to glorifying ourselves instead of God. As soon as we master the all-important lesson of cross-carrying obedience and humility before God, the Lord will bring us to the secret place of the thunder of His power.
Then we can hear and comprehend the voices of the seven thunders. What they declare cannot be written in a book for everyone to read. The victorious saints will come one by one to the place of the thunder of God’s almighty power.
And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time [delay] no longer: (Revelation 10:5,6)
We know by the oath of the seventh angel that God no longer will delay His promises to His saints.
When the Lord desires to assure His people beyond doubt that a promised blessing or deliverance will occur He confirms His Word with an oath. We have the Word of God, which itself is verification beyond all possibility of change. The added oath establishes the fact to a degree of certainty that far surpasses the actual possession of the promise.
What we see, and hear, and touch, and taste, and smell, is dependable to a limited extent. But the Word of God supported by His oath is far more certain than our conscious existence. It is far more sure than the created universe.
Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: (Hebrews 6:17)
The conquering saints march on year after year, persevering in the fear of the Lord. They do not change. They are faithful to God’s Word, to the Gospel of the Kingdom. They are saved by their hope that the Lord will fulfill all His promises to them.
The Lord God is aware of every detail of their personality and behavior. His love for His faithful saints is so great He confirms the promised blessing by His unchanging oath.
The awesome angel, whose face is as the sun because of the righteousness and holiness of Christ that will be revealed in the Divine testimony borne by the two witnesses, swore by the Almighty God that the hope of the saints will be delayed no longer. It is time now for the nations of the earth and the earth itself to come into the possession of God’s heroes of faith.
There will be delay no longer. The only persons who truly can appreciate this saying are those who have borne their cross and waited patiently for what God has promised them. The Lord Jesus Himself is One who has participated in the patience of the Kingdom of God. Although we may wait many years, the answer shall come. No good thing will God withhold from the person who walks in uprightness and integrity of heart before Him.
It appears, from the seventh verse of Chapter 10, that the seventh angel (whom we believe to be the giant who stands with one foot on the sea and the other on the land mass) speaks first and then blows his trumpet.
But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. (Revelation 10:7)
"The days" of the seventh and last angel suggests a period of time during which the climactic events of the last days will take place.
The "days," of Revelation 10:7, could represent several years—the fateful period of the end-time: the first half of which is devoted to the worldwide preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom; the second half of which is devoted to the coming to maturity of sin and lawlessness in the earth.
There shall be no more delay! The mystery of God, which is the forming of Christ in the members of the Body of Christ, will be complete (as to its Church-Age dimensions) "in the days of the voice of the seventh angel." God has promised His elect that He will perform His Word upon the earth, finishing it and cutting it short in righteousness (Romans 9:28).
So terrible, so awesome will be the spiritual operations on the earth during the closing days of the present age that if God did not shorten the time there would not be left one living human being to witness the return of Christ. God will shorten those days for the sake of His elect remaining on the earth who cry to Him continually (Matthew 24:22).
It seems to indicate in verse seven that the angel of God spoke first and later blew his trumpet.
There is, however, another possibility. Sometimes the trumpet of God is a voice—and sometimes a human voice! (Isaiah 58:1; Revelation 1:10 and 4:1). It may be true that part, or even all, of the speaking and blowing of the trumpet, of Revelation, Chapters 10 and 11 is referring to the Word that is to be put in the mouth of God’s saints.
The vision is seen in the spirit realm as an angel, but its outworking in the earth may prove to be ordinary men and women declaring the Word of the Lord.
In our time we can hear the Word of judgment and redemption coming from the mouths of God’s spokesmen. The seventh angel is beginning to speak today, we believe.
What is "the mystery of God"? The mystery of God is Christ in us; not Christ with us but Christ in us.
Today God is bringing us past the feast of Pentecost (Leviticus 23:16) to the feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34).
The Holy Spirit is bringing into view the coming of the Father and Christ into the saints prior to Christ’s coming in the clouds as King of kings and Lord of lords (John 14:18-23).
We now are entering the fullness of the mystery of God—the forming and dwelling of Christ in us. This is a step past the Pentecostal experience and is as real an experience as being born again, as being baptized with the Holy Spirit.
We are commanded to "go and take" the little open book from the hand of the mighty angel—the one who roars with a loud voice and evokes the thunder of the power of God Almighty.
And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. (Revelation 10:8)
Do you want to be part of the Divine testimony that will command the attention of all the nations of the earth?
Today is the day to go and get the little open book. Let go of everything in your life that is hindering you from obtaining the book. Do not let anything stop you. "Sell all." The angel will not bring it to you. You must go and take it from his hand.
This is the hour for God’s people to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. It is a time in which to move forward in the testimony of the Lord Jesus. It is the period of the latter rain (Zechariah 10:1).
The idols of men will continue to speak lawlessness and worthlessness. The "prophets" will continue to behold lying visions and false promises. God’s people will continue to wander like lost sheep because faithful shepherds are few in number.
Every saint who beseeches God for the latter (harvest) rain will receive showers of grace that will bring forth the fruit of the Spirit in his life and also in the lives of those to whom he ministers.
The Apostle John obeyed the Lord. He went to the huge angel and told him to give him the little open book.
Do not expect God to come to you in some spectacular manner. It is a "little" book—so small you will never see it unless you are a person of prayer and obedience to the Word.
Never despise the day of small beginnings. The Lord Himself was born in a manger. The witness of the last days will be a "speaking," not a "striking." The glory of men is diminished when the Kingdom of God is at hand, but the Lord Jesus grows larger and larger.
When the Kingdom is here we will see no man but Jesus only.
The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.
The angel, whose feet are as pillars of fire because of the end-time judgment on all lawlessness, particularly the lawlessness in the house of God, instructed John to "take it, and eat it up."
Many thousands of believers today are reading the book. They are attempting to discover how to use Christ and His power in order to further their own interests. The Scriptures have become a self-improvement course. The result is, self is being strengthened and Christ is not increasing.
We are not commanded to read the book of the Divine testimony, although studying and meditating in the written Word of God continue to be an absolute necessity for the victorious saint.
The end-time, latter-rain Divine testimony must be "eaten" until the believer himself is the message, the testimony.
We must eat the book.
If we would be part of the first resurrection we must learn to live by the body and blood of Christ as He lives by the Life of the Father. We learn to depend on Christ by allowing God to bring us to the waters of Meribah, to the place of desperate thirst for joy, for contentment, for satisfaction, for life.
Then God brings eternal Life from the Rock. This is how we "eat the book," how we learn to live by Christ’s body and blood.
All who are filled with His Life, His body and blood, will be gathered to the Carcass, the slain Lamb, from whom and by whom we have learned to live (Luke 17:37). The first resurrection is the forming of the body and blood of Christ in us. What is taking place in us now will be revealed in glorified flesh and bone at the coming of the Lord from Heaven. It is Christ’s body and blood that will raise us up at His glorious appearing.
Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:54)
The inner Word of Life is sweet as honey in our mouth but it makes our stomach bitter. It makes our stomach bitter because the cross of Christ is in it.
And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. (Revelation 10:9,10)
The "book" is opening today because Christ is being formed in us. Christ will be strengthened in us until we are "filled with all the fulness of God" (Ephesians 3:19).
The seals are being opened. The Scriptures are becoming a new book to us as the Spirit of God gives us the understanding of what is written. The truth always has been there but it appears we have been able to perceive only small fragments of it.
We are to study the Scriptures and rejoice in the wonderful promises of God to us. The saint lives by the written Word. The Word is a pillar of fire to him, a set of judgments, promises, and directions that enable him to follow God "by night" when the cloud of Presence and blessing is not visible to him.
We follow the Scriptures at all times, especially when the inspirations and feelings are absent.
God never will work in a manner contrary to the Scriptures. The written Word of God cannot be changed in any manner whatever. The Word will stand intact when the heavens and the earth pass away. The Scriptures are the "more sure word of prophecy" (II Peter 1:19).
The little open book of the majestic angel is the Word of God lifted from the Scriptures and made alive in our heart. Christ is the Word made flesh, and we live by eating the flesh of Christ. The book is the revelation of Christ in us—that which will enable us to successfully bear the double portion of the end-time anointing, and then will make it possible for us to rule with Christ over the nations of the earth.
We cannot master the little book with our mind. We must eat it. We must become related to Christ as the Lamb whom we eat as well as to the Teacher who is giving us lessons on how to live.
We cannot become strong in God through our knowledge of the Scriptures alone. We become strong in God through eating Christ, drinking Christ, partaking of Christ, living in and by Christ.
The song of restoration, of glory, is sweet in our mouth: "God Has an Army"; "Sons of God, March Forward"; "It Is the Time to Take the Kingdom"; "This Is the Day"; "There Never Was a Day Like This Day."
But making the transition from the life of the soul to the life of the Spirit is not sweet and pleasant. The Christian life is a balance between the sweet Word in our mouth and the death and resurrection of Christ that take place in our personality.
The believer who rejects what is bitter, choosing to accept only the sweet, is a "mouth" Christian. His Christianity is all in his mouth, in his honeyed phrases (see Leviticus 2:11 concerning honey and offerings made to the Lord).
The Christianity of the true saint is in his life, his whole personality. You can sense the cross in him or her.
Some today are testifying only with their mouth, but that testimony is weak indeed! Others are testifying of Christ with their personality, and that testimony is strong and effective.
In many instances the churches are testifying only with their mouth, not with their hearts, or actions, or motives, or imaginations. This is because they accept the sweet but reject the bitter of the end-time move of God.
The latter-rain, end-time witness makes the stomach bitter. The stomach represents the soul life. False teachers have a god—their stomach. They do not worship Christ. They worship their stomach.
Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods. God will do away with the foods and with the stomach as well (I Corinthians 6:13).
The "stomach" is made bitter. The soul life is crucified. Our spiritual life, flowing from the resurrection of Christ, becomes increasingly prominent in our thoughts, our words, and our deeds.
We learn to serve Christ in the Holy Spirit, not in our fleshly ambitions. The righteousness, peace, and joy of the Kingdom of God are all in the Holy Spirit. They are not in the blessings of the flesh, although God has given us richly all good things to enjoy.
The Divine salvation is a delight. It remains a delight throughout our discipleship. For a season we can become upset as God releases us from the bondages of life lived in the lusts of the flesh, in the worship of Satan, in self-will, self-exaltation, self-ambition, self-centeredness, self-love.
We have seen that the two witnesses, of Revelation, Chapter 11 portray the double portion of God’s Spirit that is coming upon the saints of the Lord so the Church and the peoples of the earth may be prepared for the return of the Lord from Heaven.
It is the latter (harvest, spring) rain. It is the second great prophecy to all mankind, the Book of Acts being a record of the first prophecy. The Church must prophesy again. (Revelation 10:11).
There have been many forerunners of the two witnesses, many saints who have reflected in their lives and ministries some of the characteristics of the tremendous revival of the closing days of the present age.
Enoch was raised to Heaven because of his faithful walk with the Lord, becoming a witness of what God expects from mankind. Enoch, a type of the two witnesses, was a prophet of the judgment to come (Jude 1:14).
Moses and Aaron were two witnesses who brought the Word of God to Pharaoh, bringing many plagues upon the land of Egypt as a testimony of the Divine wrath against the gods of Egypt. Joshua and Caleb were two witnesses who left the Church Age, to speak in a figure, searched out the Kingdom Age, and then brought back the luscious fruit of the land of promise so the Israelites could see the goal of their pilgrimage. Ten other men were sent, and they brought back an evil report concerning Canaan. Not everyone who is called is chosen to receive the inheritance.
Elijah and Elisha were two witnesses of the Lord God to an apostate Israel. Their lives and ministries are rich in symbolism concerning the end-time, double-portion revival—the Divine testimony that will herald the coming of the King of kings.
Ezra and Nehemiah were two men of God who were active in the restoration of the city of Jerusalem.
Joshua and Zerubbabel were two witnesses of God who were leaders in rebuilding the Temple of God.
Anna and Simeon bore witness by the Holy Spirit of the Baby, Jesus, that He is Christ.
Jesus sent out His Apostles two by two to heal the sick, cast out devils, raise the dead, and to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God. Their testimony was confirmed by extraordinary signs and wonders of the Holy Spirit.
Moses and Elijah, two witnesses from Heaven, stood with the Lord Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration and discussed with Him "his decease that he should accomplish at Jerusalem."
It has been the writer’s conviction for more than forty years that the Lord Jesus meant what He said when He declared that the person who believes in Him will perform the same works He performed, and greater works than these.
The testimony of the Holy Spirit seems to be that such works are at hand and that we are to give our full attention to the prophecy the Spirit desires to deliver through us to God’s people and also to all mankind.
The Father in Heaven loves all His children with a very great love, a love far beyond our ability to imagine. God loves the nations of the earth—all the nations of the earth (Amos 9:12; John 3:16).
Who among us will lay aside every other interest and allow the Holy Spirit to bring the power and the words of the Kingdom of God to every man, woman, and child on the face of the earth?
And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. (Revelation 10:11)
Books Consulted During the Writing of The Two Witnesses
The Amplified Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1965.
Berry, George Ricker: The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1971. Halley, Henry H.: Halley’s Bible Handbook, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1965.
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown: A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1945.
New American Standard Bible, Foundation Press Publications, La Habra, California, 1973.
New International Version of the Holy Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1988.
The New Testament From 26 Translations, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1967. Rotherham, Joseph Bryant:
The Emphasized Bible, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1971.