Preaching. Who else has God given this too? The Jews? Not now. The Red Cross? That’s a different kind of blood. The United Way? World Vision? The United Nations? Government? Who? No one else but the Church. She is the only one on earth He has given His Word and His Spirit.
Last week we looked at 2 points. First we examined the temple and why John measures it. He measures it, the altar and counts the worshippers there because it conveys that those things being measured belong to God. The reason the picture of the temple is described here is because it contrasts those who belong to God with those who don’t belong to God. Those who don’t belong to God are going to trample on the city for 42 months (3 ½ years), they are going to trample in their sin all over God’s holy city and turn that city inside out with wickedness. All the while 2 men sent from God will preach to them. Two men, empowered by God will say and do incredible things for a 3 ½ year career. Let’s turn to them again.
#3: Their Impenetrable Power (v3-6)
Thirdly let us see their impenetrable power in verses 3-6. These two prophets will be invincible for 3 ½ years. No one will be able to overpower them, stop them, or silence them. Anyone who tries will be fried. Let’s look closely now at their specific abilities.
First their preaching. They will be hall of fame preachers. They will stand in line with Noah, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, John the Baptist, The Apostles of the New Testament. Their preaching will be one of their powers because it will be by the Spirit of God they preach. They will be blazing lampstands before the Lord and two strong olive branches. Lampstands we’ve seen before: in Revelation 1 the seven lampstands before the throne referred to the Holy Spirit. Then in chapter 1 also there were seven lampstands that were the symbols of the seven churches. Lamps burned with fire. They gave light. That is what these two prophets will be: light-bearers to a very dark world. They will be set on fire with the word of God burning in them and the darkness will not understand or overcome them.
Application: We must never underestimate this power given to the Church: the power to preach. Preaching has to do with the word of God and it is done in the power of the Holy Spirit. Preaching produces life! It is by preaching that the the dead are raised to life, that the deaf hear, that the blind see, that the lost are found – in short, only the power of preaching the Gospel can save the soul of anyone. For unless they hear they cannot believe and if they don’t believe they cannot be saved. Preaching. Who else has God given this too? The Jews? Not now. The Red Cross? That’s a different kind of blood. The United Way? World Vision? The United Nations? Government? Who? No one else but the Church. She is the only one on earth He has given His Word and His Spirit. Who are we if we don’t preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ? We’re nothing.
“Go for it Pastor!” you might be saying, “Keep preaching then!” But don’t you see? You must go for it just as much. You must demand the preacher preaches the Gospel and the word of God. You must expect it and nothing less and nothing else. Furthermore, you must submit yourself to the word of God when it is preached. Preaching is the heart of worship – it is God’s people assembling to hear God’s word in order to more completely live by God’s will and in God’s way. Preaching must affect people. Measure your Christianity and your worship by your demand for preaching, your commitment to sit under it, and your submission to what you hear. I came across this definition of worship the other day (Wiersbe 64, Temple’s definition of worship and Mohler’s quote on worship pg 31).
Here’s my point: their preaching will be powerful. It is a sad thing that unbelievers would not respond to God’s word. The bigger question is this though: How ought believers be responding to it?
Second, fire comes from their mouths. Read verse 5, “…” So they will preach fiery words, and, then, they will actually shoot fire out of their mouths. Call me crazy, but, I believe this is literal. As we’ve noted before, enough supernatural activity is going on in this book that we can’t reduce the incredible things we’re told down to symbolism.
This is one of their powers to defend themselves. Anyone disturbed by their preaching enough to go and attempt to physically attack these two men who stand before the Lord and silence them are going to die by fire. Like Uzzah was consumed by fire that came out of the ark, everyone who tries to lay hands on these men will be burned to a crisp.
Now, I can only imagine the live, 24 hour coverage of these two men after this happens once. Someone will get this on camera with their smartphone and it will go viral instantly. And with that the whole world will be watching these two men as they preach over the smoldering remains of the first victims of their God-given power.
Third, they can prevent rain. Verse 6 says, “….” Throughout the Tribulation the sky will the avenue of so much disaster as much destruction will come down out of it. The 6th seal will cause the sun to turn black, the moon to turn blood, and the stars to fall to the earth out of the sky. The first trumpet will cause hail and fire mixed with blood to rain down out of the sky. The 2nd trumpet causes a huge fiery mountain looking object to careen towards the earth out of the sky and land in the ocean. The 3rd trumpet shows us that an angelic being named Wormwood comes out of the sky to turn the waters of the earth poisonous. The fourth trumpet caused a third of the sky to turn dark. So far it is what has come from the sky that has been so terrible for those on earth.
But, during the career of these two mighty preachers the problem will not be what comes out of the sky, but, what doesn’t come out: rain. Just like Elijah, the great OT prophet of Israel(James 5:17), these two prophets of God will prevent rain for 3 ½ years.
I see a possible analogy here: since the world won’t turn to the One who can give the living water it will be denied physical water. God is going to make the world thirsty for rain for 3 ½ years which I suppose is to accentuate their spiritual thirst.
Application: Are you thirsty today? Perhaps your soul is thirsty and you are like the Psalmist who said, “As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you O God. My soul thirsts for the living God”. (Psalm 42:1-2). If so, then turn to Jesus. He is the living water who gives everlasting life. He is the Shepherd who leads us to springs of living water (7:17) and besides still waters (Psalm 23). Whoever comes to Him to drink will never be thirsty again. Quench your soul’s thirst once and for all at the fountain of Jesus.
Fourth, they can turn the earth’s waters into blood. Notice verse 6 again, “….” God is attacking earth’s water supply ferociously. It’s almost like He is going to reduce the whole world to 3rd world conditions. Another power they will have is to turn the earth’s waters into blood, a recurring judgment during the Tribulation. Remember that earlier a third of the sea is turned to blood from the 2nd trumpet judgment. Later during the bowl judgments the whole sea and all the rivers and streams will be turned to blood by the 2nd and 3rd bowls.
Why is God doing this? This is a grotesque judgment. We are told why in Revelation 16:4-7. Turn there with me and lets read. The people of the earth are bloodthirsty and have shed the blood of God’s people – so God gives them blood to drink. God’s punishments always fit the crimes.
Fifth, they can plague the earth. This is your homework: look up other judgments like this in Revelation.
Transition: These men will enrage the listening world with their preaching. For 3 ½ years they will inspire many Kathy Griffin’s. But they will be God’s untouchable’s. They will be equipped with supernatural powers to protect themselves. The fact that no one can stop them will only enrage the world even more towards them. When will they stop? Who will shut these two men down? Who will bring “relief” to the world that is trying to carry on with its wickedness without the barbwire preaching of these men? This lead us to our next point.
#4: Their Death Delights the World (v7-10)
The next point is “Their Death will Delight the World.” Follow along as I read verses 7-10.
When it says they will be killed by the beast it is a reference to the Antichrist. When God permits he will by the energy of Satan kill the two witnesses of God. And when he does it will be the absolute delight of the world. These men were a stench in the world’s nose. Second Corinthians 2 says this: For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death, the the other the fragrance of life.” It’s an interesting way of saying that when Jesus is preached the people of God love it and everyone else hates it.
The people of the world “suffered” (v10) so much under the preaching of these two men that they do two things when they’re finally killed. First, they refuse them burial. The Antichrist will murder them right there on the streets of Jerusalem. Notice the parallel between their deaths and that of the Lord’s. Both took place in Jerusalem (v8) – Jerusalem is meant by “Sodom” and “Egypt”. Why is Jerusalem referred to by these cities figuratively? Because Jerusalem has degenerated to the same level as these two cities and based on human behavior you can’t really tell them apart. Sodom is the poster-city of sexual immorality and Egypt is the poster-city of idolatry. Jerusalem will be filled with both to the farthest extreme during the Tribulation. Where God is rejected, and, where Satan thrives, you will always see these two sins increase in every way possible: sexual immorality and idolatry.
But their deaths will be like that of the Lord’s also because their deaths will be at the hands of evil people energized by Satan. They will also, like Jesus, be dead for 3+ days. And, they will be publicly humiliated like the Lord was in His death: the Lord while being crucified, the 2 witnesses being refused burial. Why bury them? Why close the door and put this behind just yet? Watch the millions of videos on Youtube of their deaths captured on live TV and by people recording with their smartphones. Watch the live feed that will show their corpses laying lifeless in the streets. People will want to soak in the victory, extend the taste of triumph as long as possible. They will want to gloat evilly over the bodies of the two most hated men on the planet. Shame them by refusing to bury them, a symbol of hatred and humiliation – no one cares enough about you to give you a decent burial and respect your dignity. No, society will be so bloodthirsty, life will be so cheap, hatred and murder so common, no one will think twice. Everyone will just be relieved to finally get on with their wickedness without these two thorns in thier side.
Secondly, they not only refuse them burial, but everyone begins to send each other gifts to celebrate their deaths. Basically, like a soccer crowd erupting in celebration when a goal is scored, the Antichrist is going to score the biggest goal and cause the biggest celebration ever when he neutralizes these two witnesses of God. Government will immediately declare the day of their deaths a holiday and to remember such a glorious moment in human history people will swap gifts.
#5: Their Resurrection Will Rock The World (11-14)
Finally, we see that Their Resurrection will Rock the World, follow along in verses 11-14, “…”
The new holiday will be short-lived. In a stunning turn of events they will be resurrected before the eyes of the watching world after being dead for 3 ½ days. Their powers demonstrated they were from God, just like the things Jesus did demonstrated He was from God (John 3:1-2; Acts 2:22-23). Their resurrection will demonstrate they are from God. The voice from heaven calling down to them to come up here, for all to hear, confirms they are from God. Then, in front of everyone, they are lifted up from earth to heaven. Finally, an earthquake occurs and kills 7,000 people in Jerusalem.
Their career is over. Their reward and rest await them.
God is very patient, and wants no one to perish. He gives everyone time to respond. There is no safe space from the wrath of God for those who reject Him. Only in Jesus is someone safe.
In Lee Strobel’s book, The Case for the Creator, he relates a discussion with Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez, an award winning astrophysicist and Iowa State professor. He explains a concept called the Circumstellar Habitable Zone. It’s a narrow range of proximity to a star that a planet must be in to be capable of sustaining life. In other words, too close to a star and you can’t have life. Too far away and you can’t have life. The range is very narrow. But in that range you can have life. Actually, it’s only on the inner edge of the Circumstellar Habitable Zone that you can have life he says. And guess where Earth is? Positioned perfectly. In that zone is the only place where you will find life.
That’ what Jesus Christ is: your Circumstellar Habitable Zone. If you aren’t in Him, you can’t have life. You have to move to Him, the Eternal One, in order that you might enter into eternal life. Don’t stay where you are. Today go to Jesus for life. He can wash your sins away and make you a new person. He will forgive you all you’ve done wrong. He will make you holy.