Summary: This sermon introduces the 2 Witnesses of Tribulation and encourages us to be witnesses for Jesus now!

Are You A Witness For Jesus?

Revelation 11:1-12

1 Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, "Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there.

2But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.

3And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth."

4These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.

5And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner.

6These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.

7When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. 8And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

9Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves.

10And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.

11Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them.

12And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up

here." And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them.

Last week we covered Revelation chapter 10.

The strong angel announced the end of God’s "delay"

in punishing the living earth-dwellers

responsible for the death of His faithful followers.

Chapter 11 will explain that God’s suspension of His "delay"

comes at God’s precisely intended time.

In addition, chapter 11 will explain why John must prophesy

against nations, tongues, peoples and kings.

Verse 1 Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, "Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there.

The temple of God is a clear reference to an earthly temple.

The Roman army destroyed the temple in 70 A.D.

or about 40 years after Jesus’ birth.

So there was no temple when John wrote Revelation,

but he sees one in the future.

That means a temple will stand again in Jerusalem,

built before or shortly after the Rapture.

The Dome of the Rock presently sits on this temple site.

Muslims believe this was where Mohammed ascended to heaven.

The Jews will have to take this site away from the Muslims

and build their temple.

The Antichrist will give them protection from the Muslims.

The Bible prophecies say during the first half of the tribulation

there will finally be peace in the Middle East.

The Antichrist will establish a covenant with the Jews

and the Jews will be allowed to rebuild the temple.

John is told to measure the altar.

The Jews at this time will still be rejecting Jesus as Messiah.

Yet, there will be some who have accepted Him.

To measure something means setting a number of something,

Jews were the only people allowed at the temple altar.

So this is a symbol of God separating His chosen people

and then protecting them from judgments to come.

Verse 2 But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.

John is told to not measure the outer court.

The phrase “for it has been given to the Gentiles” explains the reason.

A Gentile is any person who is not a Jew.

God has ordained by His sovereign choice

to allow the outer court to be dishonored by Gentiles.

The phrase “and they will tread the holy city under foot”

explains what the Gentiles will do.

To tread under foot means "to mistreat or abuse."

The pagan worship of the Gentiles will defile the outer court.

The words "the holy city" refers to Jerusalem.

Jerusalem was referred to as a "holy city" in the Old Testament.

Gentiles will dishonor God’s place of worship and abuse the city.

How long will this go on?

The angel says, “forty-two months”.

That equals 3 and ½ years or 1,260 days.

That specific number also appears in the book of Daniel.

Daniel predicted a future period he described in several ways:

(1) time, times, and half a time (Daniel 7:25; 12:7);

(2) half a week (Daniel 9:27);

(3) 1,290 days (Daniel 12:11).

Daniel predicted that a beast (a king) from the sea

would arise and persecute the people of God

for time, times and half a time.

The crucial question concerns how this event

relates to "the holy city" suffering abuse for 42 months.

This trampling of Jerusalem by Gentiles

takes place in the last half of the 7 year Tribulation.

Daniel 11:26-27 says the Antichrist

pours out his fury on the people of Israel.

Jesus predicted this event in Matthew 24:15-21.

Matthew 24:15

"Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.

At the midpoint of the 7 years of Tribulation,

the Antichrist will break his covenant with the Jews.

He will stop their sacrifices

and place an image of himself in the holy place.

He will take his seat in the temple

and demand to be worshipped as God.

This is called “the abomination of desolation”.

Verse 3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth."

These “two witnesses” come forth to preach repentance.

Sackcloth was rough, heavy, coarse cloth

worn as a symbol of mourning, distress, and grief.

The 2 witnesses wear sackcloth to express their great sorrow

for the unbelieving people who refuse to repent.

They will also mourn because of the desecration of the temple.

Verse 3 says God “will give power” to them to preach.

They are able to witness for 1,260 days

in spite of the opposition they face.

The 2 witnesses together with the 144,000 witnesses

will produce an enormous soul harvest.

They will preach the Christian gospel message for salvation.

These 2 amazing witnesses will preach to "all nations!"

They will be seen daily perhaps on international television

as they warn mankind of God's coming judgment.

These two witnesses will have the attention of the entire world!

Their message will be a declaration to all the nations on this earth

to repent and acknowledge that Jesus is the world's rightful ruler.

Many will believe the gospel they proclaim

and will thereafter refuse to worship the Antichrist

or to take his mark

and many will be killed for their faith.

Who will be these 2 witnesses?

Verse 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.

The phrase “two olive trees and the two lampstands”

takes us back to Zechariah 4:2-3 and 4:14.

Zechariah 4:2-3 Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left." 4So I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, "What are these, my lord?"

Zechariah 4:14 So he said, "These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth."

The 2 men in Zechariah's day were Joshua and Zerubbabel.

Those 2 witnesses were raised up to be witnesses for God

and were empowered by the Holy Spirit.

These 2 witnesses of Revelation chapter 11

will also be empowered by the Holy Spirit.

I believe they will be Moses and Elijah.

They are the 2 most influential men in the history of the Jews.

Moses introduced God's written law to Israel

and wrote the first 5 books of the Old Testament.

Elijah was the first of the writing prophets.

When Jesus was transfigured on the mount,

His disciples Peter, James, and John were there.

Matthew 17:3 says And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.

So I believe Moses and Elijah come forth again as the 2 witnesses.

Verse 5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner.

Fire comes out of their mouths to destroy their enemies.

Elijah is famous for calling down fire from heaven.

1 Kings 18: 36-38 describes the contest

between the prophets of Baal and Elijah.

The Lord sent fire down on Elijah's altar on Mt. Carmel

in response to his prayer.

2 King chapter 1 says enemies of Elijah were destroyed by fire.

Malachi 4:5-6 says Elijah will return before the end of the age.

Verse 6 These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.

Elijah is connected to a drought caused by God.

He said to wicked King Ahab in 1 Kings 17:1, "As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word."

God honored the prophet's word and there was a drought.

Moses is connected with the 10 plagues that struck Egypt.

In the first plague God turned the waters of Egypt into blood.

and conditions did not return to normal for a week.

Numbers 16:35 says the enemies of Moses were destroyed by fire.

These 2 witnesses reproduce miracles

that Moses and Elijah performed while on this earth.

It’s fitting that Moses and Elijah would return to Jerusalem.

They will come during Tribulation

to "witness, testify and prophesy."

Verse 7 When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them.

Look at the first part of verse 7, "When they finish their testimony..".

There are times when God gives us a special work to do.

We are given a limited number of days on this earth.

Psalm 39:4 "LORD, make me to know my end,And what is the measure of my days,That I may know how frail I am.

Psalm 90:12

So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Nothing can spoil the purposes of God.

If God wills something, it is going to happen.

God says these 2 men will witness for 1,260 days.

The word “finish” means the work of these 2 witnesses

will be finished.

Now, here’s the sad part!

A “beast” comes out of the bottomless pit

to fight against these 2 witnesses and they are killed.

So who will this “beast” be?

His appearance is described in detail in Revelation 13:1-10.

Some of the mystery behind his appearance

is revealed in Revelation 17:7-18.

This “beast” is the Antichrist.

This is the first of 36 times in Revelation

that Antichrist is identified as "the beast".

It says "the beast ascends out of the bottomless pit".

Though the “beast” is a man,

he possesses demonic power coming from the pit.

He will be a demon-possessed man.

Antichrist will have power

to perform "counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders".

He will deceive "those who are perishing."

The beast or Antichrist will hate the 2 witnesses.

To the great joy of the sinful world,

the Antichrist will finally murder the 2 witnesses.

That leads me to believe that if we are faithful witnesses

we will not be taken off of this earth

until we finish our testimony.

I believe Jesus will allow me to live as long as it takes

for me to accomplish His will in my life.

I believe that’s also true for all born again Christians.

Jesus will protect us until our testimony is finished.

Verses 8 and 9 And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. 9 Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves.

Notice the phrase in Verse 8 “the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt”.

Jerusalem is called Sodom because it will become

a city of immorality.

It is identified with Egypt because of its rampant idolatry.

The inhuman characteristics of people living during the Tribulation

is seen here in how they treat the bodies of the 2 witnesses.

They allow those 2 bodies to lie in the street for all to see.

Working in a funeral home, I know what that will be like.

Dead bodies deteriorate quickly.

If bodies aren’t quickly embalmed,

they begin to swell up, change color, and smell bad.

A dead body should be treated with dignity and respect.

Over the past few years,

we have seen the desecration of bodies

by radical factions of Islam.

It is perhaps one of the greatest insults to a person.

In an act of open hostility, hatred, and total disrespect

the bodies of these 2 witnesses will be left to rot in the street.

They refuse to give them a decent burial.

How could the whole world see their dead bodies?

Not many years ago it was impossible to fulfill that prophecy.

Today it could easily happen.

through satellite transmission technology and the internet.

Verse 10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.

Christmas is a time of goodwill and happiness.

It is the greatest gift-giving day on the earth.

Christmas reminds us of the birth of Jesus.

Well, in the 3 and ½ days

that follow the execution of the 2 Witnesses

they will celebrate what I call "Antichristmas".

Those who hated these 2 Witnesses will celebrate their murder.

They will even give gifts to one another!

Why would they do that?

Well, those people will know what we do now at Christmas.

Christmas is a time to honor the birth of Jesus.

These evil people will give gifts in honor of the Antichrist.

They reject the 2 Witnesses testimony for Jesus.

The preaching of these 2 witnesses and their call to repentance

was a torment for many.

They could not stand to hear the truth.

Verses 11 and 12 Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them.

This happens before the eyes of the watching world.

The enemies of these two witnesses are horrified and astonished.

Just as Jesus in 3 days arose from the dead,

these men will hear the voice of God resurrecting them.

A cloud will receive them out of sight in the face of their enemies.

It is no wonder that "terror struck those who saw them."

The resurrection of these 2 men will be confirmation

that they were men of God.

CLOSING:

Today we have read about the 2 Witnesses

who come forth during the Tribulation.

Their mission will be preaching repentance to the people.

Jesus expects every Christian is to be a witness.

Every Christian is to share ‘his story’ with others.

People need to know when and where you were saved?

You need to be able to tell how it happened.

These 2 witnesses will have special protection from God

and they had great power.

You will experience those blessings as well

when you share your spiritual experience with others.