Witnesses to the End
Facing overwhelming obstacles, the witnesses boldly broadcast God’s message!
Are we passionately proclaiming God’s message?
Sing to the LORD; bless his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.
Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.
~ Psalm 96:2-3, NLT
In these two chapters of Revelation, we see a broad picture of God’s clear communication with humanity. Here we view the majesty, power, mystery, authority, responsibility, weight, wonder, cost, and veracity of God’s word. The witnesses were unashamed and undeterred in offering a faithful testimony from God. To declare God’s glorious message is a grand adventure, one we should pursue with humility, gentleness, love, joy, and boldness.
We must declare this compelling message!
And they said to me, “You must prophecy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.” (Revelation 10:11)
Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)
See Jeremiah 20:7-18, especially focus on verses seven through nine.
Do our actions consistently communicate our professed belief in God’s word?
We must declare this complete message!
When they have finished their testimony . . . (Revelation 11:7)
God, after He spokelongago to the fathers in the prophets in manyportions and in manyways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. (Hebrews 1:1-4)
See Romans 5:1-11; 6:1-23; 10:1-13; 2 Corinthians 4:1-6
Do we keep our conversations about Christ at a “greeting card” level?
We must declare this costly message!
. . . the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. (Revelation 11:7)
They were on the roadgoing up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again He took the twelveaside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him, saying, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chiefpriests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and threedayslater He will riseagain." (Mark 10:32-34)
See 2 Corinthians 4:7-18; 1 Peter 5:6-11; Jude 1:17-25
Do we believe Jesus is worthy of our highest praise and our deepest sacrifice?
Commentary on Revelation Chapter Ten
God has revealed all we need to know to live for him now. In our desire to be ready for the end, we must not place more emphasis on speculation about the last days than on living for God while we wait.
~ Bruce B. Barton, et. al., Revelation: Life Application Bible Commentary, p. 111.
A further value of our knowledge that the thunders are sealed is that it is a warning against the kind of date-fixing which has characterized some schemes of prophecy based on this book. On John’s own showing we do not have all the information. God has kept some things back from us. Let us beware of proceeding as though all has been revealed.
~ Leon Morris, Revelation, p. 139.
Nonetheless, despite this very clear command to John, many later interpreters have not been satisfied with silence and have thus disobeyed the “voice from heaven” by speculating about what the “seven thunders . . . said.” Such attempts play havoc with the biblical text itself, since the intent here is mystery and awe, not information.
~ Gordon D. Fee, Revelation, p. 142.
Commentary on Revelation Chapter Eleven
The witnesses are probably two in number for several reasons. (1) Biblical rules of evidence required a minimum of two witnesses for valid testimony (Deut. 17:6; 19:15). (2) Early Christian witnesses were sent in pairs whenever possible (Mark 6:7; Acts 13:2-4). (3) More important, the allusion to Zerubbabel and Joshua in Zechariah 4 demands two representatives. (4) Finally, the dual nature of the witnesses provides a literary contrast with the two evil leaders in 13:11-12, one of whom also produces fire (13:13). The anointed king and his priest of chapter 11 contrast starkly with the wicked ruler and his priest in chapter 13. This portrait reinforces John’s contrast between the church and the world system; the latter holds power to kill God’s witnesses, but the witnesses will triumph nevertheless, even through their sacrifice.
~ Craig S. Keener, Revelation: The NIV Application Commentary, p. 293.
The number two may stand for the adequacy of the testimony (as in Dt. xvii. 6). Or it may derive from the two faithful churches in chapters ii-iii, and point to that section of the church which is faithful unto death, the martyrs. The clothing of the witnesses is sackcloth, which points to mourning. They are prophesying doom and their attitude is accordingly sad and penitent. The church is powerful only when it is a penitent church. A comfortable, easy-minded church has no power to stir the world either to salvation or to opposition.
~ Leon Morris, Revelation, p. 147-148.
These two symbolize the witness of the whole church, and perhaps also the certainty of that witness, since the biblical principle is that ‘the testimony of two men is true’ (Jn. 8:17; see Acts 1:8). They are furthermore unquenchable, like the lamps which the prophet Zechariah saw connected directly to the source of oil in the living olive trees (verse 4; Zc. 4:2ff.). They are untouchable, as is the church of Christ as a whole, though its individual members may be hurt (verse 5). They are invincible, producing proofs of God’s power corresponding to those produced by Moses and Elijah (verse 6)—proofs which no more succeeded in evoking general repentance then than they do now, in spite of their perennial qualities of both strangeness and sternness.
~ Michael Wilcock, The Message of Revelation, p. 105.
Old Testament References from Revelation Chapter Ten
For thussays the LORD to me, "As the lion or the youngliongrowlsover his prey, againstwhich a band of shepherds is called out, and he will not be terrified at their voicenordisturbed at their noise, so will the LORD of hostscomedown to wagewar on MountZion and on its hill." (Isaiah 31:4)
The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; the God of glorythunders, the LORD is overmanywaters. The voice of the LORD is powerful, the voice of the LORD is majestic. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; yes, the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the LORD hews out flames of fire. The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. (Psalm 29:3-9)
"The vision of the evenings and mornings which has been told is true; but keep the visionsecret, for it pertains to manydays in the future." (Daniel 8:26)
"But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the bookuntil the end of time; many will goback and forth, and knowledge will increase." (Daniel 12:4)
I heard the mandressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, as he raised his righthand and his lefttowardheaven, and swore by Him wholivesforever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finishshattering the power of the holypeople, allthese events will be completed.
Abramsaid to the king of Sodom, "I have sworn to the LORDGodMostHigh, possessor of heaven and earth." (Genesis 14:22)
"For in sixdays the LORDmade the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventhday; therefore the LORDblessed the sabbathday and made it holy." (Exodus 20:11)
Surely the LordGODdoesnothing unless He reveals His secretcounsel to His servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7)
Your words were found and I ate them, and Your wordsbecame for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O LORDGod of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16)
"Now you, son of man, listen to what I am speaking to you; do not be rebellious like that rebellioushouse. Open your mouth and eatwhat I am giving you." (Ezekiel 2:8)
Then He said to me, "Son of man, eatwhat you find; eatthisscroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel." So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll. He said to me, "Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you." Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth. (Ezekiel 3:1-3)
Again He said to me, "Prophesyoverthesebones and say to them, 'O drybones, hear the word of the LORD.'" (Ezekiel 37:4)
Then He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, 'Thussays the LordGOD, "Come from the fourwinds, O breath, and breathe on theseslain, that they come to life.""' (Ezekiel 37:9)
Old Testament References from Revelation Chapter Eleven
Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a man with a measuringline in his hand. (Zechariah 2:1)
See also Ezekiel 40:3-42:20
He will speak out against the MostHigh and weardown the saints of the HighestOne, and he will intend to makealterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. (Daniel 7:25)
So Jacobtore his clothes, and putsackcloth on his loins and mourned for his sonmanydays.
But as for me, I am like a greenolivetree in the house of God; I trust in the lovingkindness of Godforever and ever. (Psalm 52:8)
He said to me, "What do you see?" And I said, "I see, and behold, a lampstandall of gold with its bowl on the top of it, and its sevenlamps on it with sevenspouts belonging to each of the lampswhich are on the top of it; also two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on its left side." (Zechariah 4:2-3)
Then I said to him, "What are thesetwoolivetrees on the right of the lampstand and on its left?" (Zechariah 4:11)
Then he said, "These are the twoanointedones who are standing by the Lord of the wholeearth."
Elijahreplied to them, "If I am a man of God, let firecomedown from heaven and consume you and your fifty." Then the fire of Godcamedown from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. (2 Kings 1:12)
Therefore, thussays the LORD, the God of hosts, "Because you have spokenthisword, Behold, I am making My words in your mouthfire and thispeoplewood, and it will consume them." (Jeremiah 5:14)
Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD, the God of Israellives, beforewhom I stand, surely there shall be neitherdew nor raintheseyears, except by my word."
(1 Kings 17:1)
I keptlooking, and that horn was wagingwar with the saints and overpowering them until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom. (Daniel 7:21)
Unless the LORD of hosts had left us a fewsurvivors, we would be like Sodom, we would be likeGomorrah. (Isaiah 1:9)
They have given the deadbodies of Your servants for food to the birds of the heavens, the flesh of Your godlyones to the beasts of the earth. (Psalm 79:2)
Therefore the Jews of the ruralareas, who live in the ruraltowns, make the fourteenthday of the monthAdar a holiday for rejoicing and feasting and sendingportions of food to oneanother. (Esther 9:19)
Then the LORDGodformedman of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and manbecame a livingbeing. (Genesis 2:7)
"I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it," declares the LORD.' " (Ezekiel 37:14)