Thursday, April 28, 2011

Suffering and the Kingdom (7) - Two Witnesses

Persecution will almost destroy the church. John saw two witnesses, two olive trees and two lampstands.

And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth (Rev 11:3-4).
The lampstands and the witnesses represent the church. The church is Jesus witness in the world. The olive trees represent the Holy Spirit. The odd thing about this vision is that their only two lampstands. Earlier John had seven lampstands.
The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches (Rev 1:20).
Seven represents perfection or completion. The perfected, completed church is represented by seven lampstands. A church with only two lampstands is a truncated church. The church is truncated because the Jewish people have hardened their hearts and are missing from it, so it cannot provide a complete witness for Jesus.

In the latter part of this vision, John explains how the political powers persecute the church so severely, that it appears to be dead.
When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them (Rev 11:7).
The people of the world celebrate joyously, because a minor irritant is gone, but God has a surprise for the world. When the church seems to be dead, he breathes the life of the Spirit onto it and raises it up to victory.
The breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them (Rev 11:11).
A radical church that has survived underground and prepared while no one has noticed will burst onto the world stage, knowing that in Christ, it is seated at his right hand of the Father in heaven (Rev 11:12). The people of the world will be shocked when they realise that church is not dead, just different and far more powerful.

The church must get to the stage where it is nearly dead, before victory will come. At the end of the Times of the Gentiles, the church will almost die, but when it is just about dead, it will be purified, and rise to victory.

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