A TALE OF 2 DESTINIES - REVELATIONS 11 - February 19, 2023
Updated: Feb 20
MESSAGE BY PASTOR ROB INRIG -
FROM BETHANY BAPTIST CHURCH IN RICHMOND, BC.
In the Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens described life just before the French Revolution: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going directly the other way.
Best and worst. Wisdom and foolishness. Hope and despair. Light and darkness. In essence this is the story we find in Revelation as it draws back the curtain to see the battle being played out and the outcome that’s at stake – Heaven and Hell. On one side, Satan who from the beginning has been working to distance us from God. Satan, though losing the battle in the heavenliness, not resigning himself to his loss. Ever since, his assault on truth wanting us to accept truth as situational not foundational; relative not absolute. Against that, God, His Truth clear and absolute – forgiveness of sin in Jesus yet judgment for those who refuse His love.
His Truth – forgiveness of our past As far as the east is from the west, that’s how far He has removed our transgressions from us. The truth of God’s love offered us in Jesus. Truth that He wants us to dive deeply into – through the gift of Jesus’ shed blood we can be: forgiven completely, accepted unreservedly, loved overwhelmingly.
His Truth – power in our present for how He’s called us to live. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. Eph 1:18,19.
wanting us to live in the HOPE of His calling; in
the glory the joy, the treasure of his Inheritance; and the greatness of His Power HIP.
His Truth – hope for our future so as Paul says, You might not be caught unawares, that you may live with hope and expectation. And Jesus, Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me….. I will take you unto myself. Be anxious in nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known unto God.
But how can we be sure the truth we hold to is real and that it will hold us in what’s to come?
1st by the assurance of reliable, ‘I WAS THERE’ witness:
The blind man - blind, now I see. The paralytic – crippled, now I walk. The leper - diseased, now I’m new. Thomas - doubtful, now I believe. The witness of - I was there.
2nd by the reliability of prophecy fulfilled:
The Old Testament contains approximately 330 passages that relate to Christ’s first coming. They describe who the Messiah is and what He will do. Of these, 60 are major prophecies:
descendant of King David from Bethlehem (Judah) born of a virgin
betrayed by friend - 30 pieces silver would be crucified hands & feet pierced
none of His bones broken soldiers gamble for clothes given vinegar drink
These and countless others fulfilled to the letter - coming true just as prophesized.
3rd BY THE CERTAINTY OF PROPHECY TO BE FULFILLED BY A COVENANT KEEPING GOD
Which brings us to Jesus’ Second Coming. 330 prophesies about His 1st coming, 2400 verses about His 2nd coming – 8 times more throughout the Old and New Testaments revealing God's promises about the return of Jesus Christ who will return as conquering King to establish His forever kingdom.
For this, I want to open an Old Testament book we’ll return to in coming weeks. Critics have difficulty with this book due to the accuracy of what it prophesied. Surely, they contend, it was written after events occurred. How else could events be so accurately depicted? I am referring to the book of Daniel that outlines worldly kingdoms that rise up then fall, one after another. More than that, it looks to a time ahead that we see in Revelation. When Jesus speaks of end times in Matthew 24 Olivet Discourse, no book is referenced more than Daniel, though other prophets such as Zechariah, Isaiah, Joel and Amos also speak about end times.
Specifically, let’s look at Daniel’s 70 weeks, He Gabriel gave me Daniel instruction and talked with me and said, “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding… so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision. 70 weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there will be 7 weeks and 62 weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the 62 weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing Dan 9:22–27.
Before going further, I need to return to a statement I made when we began our series in Revelation – and that is there are differing views how some understand what this book teaches. As an admittedly, inadequate summary - there is the Preterist view – where events are primarily seen as historic. A critical need is for Revelation to be written around 60 AD, the events following, describing what happened when the Temple was destroyed in AD 70. Then there is the Idealist view which regards a great deal of Revelation as symbol such as the Temple, the 2 witnesses, the times noted etc. describe the Church. Without question, Revelation does at times use symbolic language. Then there is the Futurist view that regards things we read about as still to come. That the times and numbers talked about are exactly what they indicate and that when symbols are used, they are clearly indicated as that. This view also holds that Revelation was written around 93-95 AD which aligns with what the early church affirmed. So to repeat, good theologians, and a theologian I am not, hold differing views - then WHEN, perhaps in question; the CERTAINTY – absolutely not. For clarity though before I proceed, I am in the futurist camp. So with that disclaimer in mind, let’s look.
70 weeks have been declared … from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there will be 7 weeks and 62 weeks… then after the 69th week, the Anointed One will be cut off.
This is an incredible prophecy. Daniel captive in Babylon for 70yrs, his city and Temple in ruins living out Jeremiah’s prophecy, 2 Ch 1 year for every year Israel failed to keep the Sabbath year
That 70 was winding down but actions this would soon lead to, were definitely not. We begin with 70 weeks or 70 7’s =490 years then 7 weeks & 62 weeks. So with this, consider the Chart
The background is this - Artaxerxes’ decree , Neh 2:1-8 month of Nisan 21st year of Artaxerxes’ reign. In a 1st decree, Ezra was given permission to rebuild the Temple and teach but it was later when Nehemiah went out to rebuild the city. History records this as 445 BC. So 69 prophetic weeks, 483 years places us in the exact day and year when Jesus entered Jerusalem in triumph only to be rejected by the Jews to whom he came and be ‘cut off’ by crucifixion just as Daniel indicated. The 69 weeks completed which leaves one missing week from Daniel’s 70 weeks which most commentators see as the Church age
Daniel 9 cont. And the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. And he will make a firm covenant with the many for 1 week, BUT in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate. 9:26,27.
I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and swore by him who lives for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. Dan 12:7.
He shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. Dan 7:25
And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. Rev 12:14
And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there 1260 days. Rev 12:6
Repeat chart The total of these two events is 7 years – divided into two phases of judgment, the latter half or Great Tribulation being the worst of all.
Which brings us into Revelation 11. Here we are given a picture of the Holy Place and Holies of Holies but superimposed over that is a prophetic picture that the holy city will be trampled over for 42 months - 3½ years.
We know that the Temple will be in operation by the middle of the Tribulation because the 3½ years in, the Antichrist will proclaim from the Temple that he is god which will begin 3½ more years of what the Bible calls, the Great Tribulation. Amos tells us David’s kingdom, including religious practices, will be reborn as in days of old. Amos 9:11.
Into that scene of a return to some sort of religious life, we are introduced to the two prophets who for 1260 days 3½ years stand as God’s representatives proclaiming the truth of God and the reminder that He alone reigns supreme. So too they will be God’s witness against all that the antichrist represents. I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy 1260 days, clothed in sackcloth Rev 11:3. 1,260 days calling people to repent and preaching against the lawless one. Zech 4:3,11,14 Though we aren’t told with certainty, I believe their ministry is in the first half of the tribulation when Israel will be deceived into thinking her safety has once and for all been secured. It would seem this occurs after nations with overwhelming power come against Israel to destroy her but against all odds, is delivered. Nb these 2 prophets will deliver a message of coming judgment for those who continue in their sin. Once their testimony has been finished, God allows the beast to kill the prophets and then he rules the earth for another 42 months or 3½ years. Lunar calendar 360 days.
These witnesses are also described as 2 lampstands and two olive trees – lampstands standing as light exposing the evil that surrounds :4 and olive trees, ref. Zech 4 the 2 who are anointed to serve the Lord :14, having unending power and supply Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit says the Lord :6 to the light and grace these witnesses hold forth in the darkness.
What Do We Know About These Witnesses?
The activity of these witnesses will be in Jerusalem, their impact and reaction to them worldwide (a situation the world has not yet seen).
—They will be hated, those who seek to harm them will die :5. Their message of sin and repentance infuriates, resulting in some rising up against them - such that God says these prophets will be empowered to devour their enemies with fire that proceeds from their mouth.
—They will be supernaturally empowered - granted authority to shut up the heavens – no rain and turn the waters into blood. When God acted in this manner before – Moses with Pharaoh, Elijah with King Ahab, it was to bring deliverance and change man’s heart. Their message? redemption and freedom. Because of their actions, many think these will be Elijah and Moses but the who - irrelevant; the what’s done is not. These 2 cannot be harmed until God allows.
—They will testify until their ministry is completed. Then and only then the beast will come from the abyss and kill these two :7. We are told that a great multitude will come to faith during this tribulation time through the ministry of these 2 and the witness of 144,000 Jewish evangelists. But the hardship of those coming to faith will be great. Nb Matt 24:22 If not cut short, there would be no flesh to be saved.
Don’t miss what the world is like, in short, evil is having a field day. :8 tells us people will be religious in their ceremonies but evil in their practice. Jerusalem is described as Sodom (unchecked evil) & Egypt (persecutors).
:8-10 invites us into Hell’s celebration when these 2 witnesses are killed, their bodies put on display for 3½ days. Jews immediately bury the dead but this was different. This time they are taking selfies over the corpses. And the world is joining with them. 3½ days of flowing wine and celebration. 3½ days of people singing, dancing and exchanging gifts because their tormenters are dead. Little did they know - the torment they think is over, has just begun. Their joy coming to an abrupt end when God breathes life into the 2, then calling them up to heaven as everyone watched :11. And on the heels of that, a great earthquake killing 7000 people. Those killed, men of name :13, likely people of power who played a role in the death of the 2. Others terrified and in their terror giving glory to the God of heaven. What that means is uncertain - I’d like to think a last gathering of those who repent but we don’t know.
Following this, the 7th trump sounds and with that, the dominant message of the Bible and what was prayed for in the Lord’s prayer, has begun - Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven Mtth 6:10 - the future waited for, Jesus coming as King of kings and Lord of lords, His everlasting kingdom established that will never end. The future has become the present. The hoped for has become the now. No longer a Kingdom that is Now but Not Yet – but Christ’s Kingdom that is fully coming into place.
Look again at the several ways this is told us. Before in Revelation we read of Jesus; Rev 1:4 - Him who was, who was and who is to come or 1:8 The Alpha and Omega who was, who was and who is to come, the Almighty; and 4:8 Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty who was, who was and who is to come.
But here? - Then the 7th angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world HAS BECOME the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.’ And the 24 elders who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshipped God saying, ‘We give You thanks Lord God, the Almighty, the One WHO IS AND WHO WAS Nb – no ‘who is to come’ because YOU HAVE TAKEN YOUR GREAT POWER AND HAVE BEGUN TO REIGN. And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.’
Isn’t this – ‘the enraged nations, their battle against God and God’s judgment’ what the Psalmist wrote about in Ps 2?
Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, "Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us."
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, "As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill."
I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."
Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
God’s truth playing out exactly as He said.
And the chapter closing with one last picture – And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder, and an earthquake, and a great hailstorm. 11:15-19
Great joy for some – the Temple of God is opened and the Ark of His Covenant appeared. The Holy of Holies wide open for the ones God calls His own
And for others great terror - thunder, lightning, hailstorm – judgment for those who have rejected their King.
As Charles Dickens observed, It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity
Best and worst. Wisdom and foolishness. Hope and despair.
Light and darkness. The future all determined
by Choice Heaven and Hell
decided by what we do with
this One who is called