Week 6, Saturday: In the midst of judgment, witness
Recall that John (and we) have been told we must prophesy to the nations. Chapter 11 gives more detail on this, and continues the account of the Rider on the white horse in the midst of a sinful world.
It’s not always a pretty picture.
Read Revelation 11
Meditate on Revelation 11.1-14
1. The temple of God is being built (vv. 1, 2). Really? Or is some other “temple” in view here (cf. Eph. 2.19-22; 1 Cor. 6.19)? The allusion reaches back to Ezekiel 40-48, a primary portion of which Jesus nailed down in John 7.37-39. Keeping in mind the vision of the four horses and riders and the “mystery” of God, what’s going on here? What does this aspect of John’s vision represent?
2. Two “witnesses” are identified, and the image seems to draw on an image Paul used in Romans 11.13-24? Who – or what – are these witnesses? How would you describe what these witnesses are supposed to do (vv. 4-6, drawing on images from Old Testament prophets, especially Elijah)?
3. I contend that verses 7-14 do not describe a single event, but a recurring pattern. The word typically translated “when” (Greek, hotan), is equally well translated “whenever.” The verb that follows, being in the subjunctive mood, then would be “might complete” rather than simply “finish” (NKJV). Thus: “Whenever [the two olive trees might complete their witness…” What if this refers to all generations of the followers of Christ, rather than one generation only? What kind of cycle of experience does this suggest for the Church to prepare generation after generation? How does your church prepare you for this?
4. It’s tempting to want to make all these images and symbols and numbers into literal equivalents. But remember, this is vision and not literal revelation (olive trees don’t actually bear spoken witness, hold back the rains, etc.) Note that the numbers are a combination of incomplete ideas – forty-two months as opposed to thirty-six or forty-eight, then restated as 1,260 days; three-and-a-half days – and complete ideas – a tenth of the city, seven thousand people. The days of Gentile “down-treading” correspond to those of the prophesying of the witnesses. But these are “incomplete” and not meant to suggest everything that happens through all the course of time. How should we think about what these numbers are trying to tell us, as we press on in our work of overcoming?
5. The second “woe” is thus “spread” over the earth (v. 14). Meditate on Revelation 6.7, 8. From what you know about the period of the early Church (Roman persecution, especially), together with the letters to the seven churches, what is Jesus telling us to expect in response to our witness for Him? Realistically, what are some ways you might expect to experience this as you work as a catalyst for bringing the mystery of God to completion?
Do you, personally, expect to know persecution – even suffering – because of your witness for Christ? Why or why not? How should you prepare for this? How can believers help one another to endure in the Kingdom when such tribulation comes to them?
The Glory of God
God always has the first word and the last word in the affairs of men and nations. Those who will not repent under God’s judgment and do not have the Seal of God upon them may think they can silence God by persecuting His followers. But how does God continually show that His Word will not fail and cannot be ignored?
Glory to Glory
How would you assess your faithfulness as a witness for the Lord? Is your understanding of God’s Word adequate to equip you for the work of prophesying? Is this a consistent hallmark of your walk with and work for the Lord?
Recite Revelation 10.10, 11. Pray through these verses in the light of everything we’ve seen so far in Revelation 8-11. Make the words your words. Tell the Lord how you plan to live for, serve, and worship Him as you “ride forth” with Him today.
But in my adversity they rejoiced
And gathered together;
Attackers gathered against me,
And I did not know it;
They tore at me and did not cease;
With ungodly mockers at feasts
They gnashed at me with their teeth.
Lord, how long will You look on?
Rescue me from their destructions,
My precious life from the lions.
I will give You thanks in the great assembly;
I will praise You among many people.
T. M. Moore
The book of Revelation is the culminating episode in the story of God’s covenant. To learn more about that covenant, and to discover the way it integrates all of Scripture into the Gospel of Jesus Christ, order a copy of T. M.’s book, I Will Be Your God, by clicking here.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.