Monday, November 7, 2016

Revelation 11:3-6

Revelation 11:3-6
And I will give my two martyrs and having clothed themselves in sackcloth they will prophesy for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.  These are the two olive trees and the two lamp stands, the ones having set in the presence of the Lord of the Earth.  And if someone desires to injure them, fire goes out from their mouth and devours the ones hostile of them.  And if someone should desire to injure them in this manner it is necessary for them to be killed.  These have the authority to shut up the heaven in order that rain should not moisten the days of their prophecy.  And they have authority upon the water to change it into blood and to smite the earth in all calamities as often as they should desire.

Thoughts for Today

First Thought:

There is a ton of speculation about the identify of these two witnesses.  Many people prefer a symbolic interpretation.  One such symbolic interpretation is that these two witnesses are the Law and the Gospel.  Another such interpretation is that they are the Old and the New Testaments.  While they certainly are neat parallels and cannot be denied that God uses these things as witnesses, I personally think that there is more to it than this.  Other people say that these two witnesses are Enoch and Elijah, as these are the names of the two human beings who did not ever experience death.  The fourth common interpretation, and the interpretation that I favor, is that these two witnesses are real people who come in the spirit of Elijah (Chief of all prophets) and Moses (Lawgiver).  Remember that Elijah was given the power to call down fire from heaven and to cause no rain to fall upon the earth.  Moses was given the power to bring about great plagues and turn the Nile River into blood.  Jesus Himself acknowledges in the Gospels than the coming of the Son of Man is preceded by someone known as the Elijah to come.  What can we learn from John in this section?  God does not leave us without a witness.  God does not leave us alone and abandoned.  Even in dark times, there will be people who stand up and uphold the witness.  There will always be lights of faith, even in the darkest of days.

Have you ever been in the darkness of life and experience a light of faith break into your life?  Why is that witness valuable?  What can this passage teach us about the faithfulness of God and those who love Him?

Second Thought:

We must not forget that the passage we have for tomorrow will involve the death of these witnesses.  That should be remembered as the context of my remarks here in this thought.  But for the time beings, notice that these two witnesses cannot be stopped.  If someone tries to harm them, they actually only end up harming themselves!  When people actively desire to go against the witness of God, they inflict self-inflicted wounds upon themselves!  Our sinfulness hurts us!  Even more importantly, our sinfulness hurts our community as well.  Plagues and drought are things that impact communities, not individuals.

Where does your sin impact your life?  Where does your sin impact your family?  Where does your sin impact your community?  Why is it important to remember that our sin is not greater than the witness of God?

Third Thought:

What can we learn from this passage with respect to human civilization?  Do you ear John reaching back into the stories of the Old Testament when he speaks about these witnesses?  Clear John has an eye for the Plagues in Egypt.  He certainly is remembering the stories of Elijah and the sacrifice at the altar and Elijah and the lack of rain.  Human beings don’t change.  Our culture is tainted with sinfulness, selfishness, and rebellion against truth.  We don’t change.  Our methods change, but our motivation doesn’t.  But that leads us to a point of grace, too.  God doesn’t change, either.  His methods may change.  He reaches us in different means than He reached people thousands of years ago.  But His motivations don’t change, either.  He reaches us because He loves us.  He is righteous because He desires truth.  As we listen to John speak about the witness of God, we can hear a consistency through the ages.

How consistent is God in your life?  Where can you see witness of your unchanging humanity?  How does God come to you and convict you of your humanity?

Passage for Tomorrow: Revelation 11:7-14
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