1. Last week John was given a measuring rod to measure the temple and count the people in it. And as we discussed, this did not mean the physical building but rather the true church which is the temple as described in the new testament. And we saw how the church in general can be described as the holy city. The city itself is the false church which denies the truths of the gospel. The outer courts represent the church which says it believes the right doctrines but does not show a true relationship with Jesus Christ. The measuring takes place throughout this present age - between the first and second comings of Jesus. And this means that throughout this age the true church is being determined and set aside. Those who are not part of it are being separated as the weeds from the wheat. And they end up joining the Gentiles and unbelievers who are trampling upon the church, seeking to destroy it.
2. Today we read about two witness. Again we have a puzzling question before us. Who are these witnesses? The answer to this question is found in our passage and in Zechariah 4.
3. There are a number of possibilities. They are given power by God to prophesy. They are God’s witnesses, they bear witness to him and His word. They proclaim His word and they have been given power by God.
4. The passage in Zechariah clearly refers to them, as we will see. In Zechariah we read that they have been anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth. The setting is the people coming out of exile from Babylon back to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and temple. Specifically two had been anointed by God to lead the people in resettling in the holy city. Joshua the priest and Zerubbabel the governor.
5. Some say that these witnesses are Elijah and Enoch. Neither died but was taken up. And so each would be able to be killed, something that happens to these prophets. O
6. Others suggest Elijah and Moses. Elijah did pray and the heavens were shut (1 Kings 17:1) and did consume his enemies with fire (2 Kings 1:10). And Moses had power to turn water into blood and strike the earth with plagues. These are things the two witnesses have power to do.
7. The two witnesses, however, are not two individuals. The people we mentioned are included among those represented by the prophets. They are a type or model of the people that these prophets are.
8. Remember, last week we said that the 42 months represent this present age. vs. 3 says that they will witness for 1260 days or 42 months. So they will witness throughout this present age. They represent all those who present the word of God throughout this age.
9. And they are clothed in sackcloth. This indicates that their message is a message of repentance. They present the gospel call to repent of sin and to turn to Christ.
10. But the passage describes them further. It says that they are the two olive trees and the two lamp stands.
11. Zechariah explains this vision a little more. He sees a candlestick with 7 lamps. Above the candlestick he sees a golden bowl, a reservoir filled with oil. Pipes connect the bowl to the lampstands and the pipes allow the oil to flow from the bowl to them. They supply the oil for their light. And the bowl has is connected to each olive tree by a pipe. The oil flows from the olive tree to the bowl and to the lampstands.
12. The message of Zechariah 4 is found in vs. 6.
So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.
In other words, Zechariah, you are going to rebuild the temple, by your hands, but you will do so by the Holy Spirit.
13. Friends, it is amazing how there is so much rich symbolism is God’s word and how it all ties together. Here is Zerubbabel building the physical temple under opposition. God assures that the temple will be built by the Spirit. And here are God’s people throughout history building God’s temple, his kingdom. They meet opposition but God assures us that the temple will be completed.
14. We have a role - we are the lampstands, the true church. Some of us are the olive trees. But the oil is the Spirit of God who enables us to shine forth the word, the truth so the temple can be built. Tat light shines forth both in our missionary effort to those who have not heard the word before and also shines in the darkness of opposition and evil around us. Remaining faithful.