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Thursday: The Two Witnesses — 27 Comments

  1. Whatever your views of the prophetic times, the period between the 4th and 18th centuries is one of the darkest chapters of religious history. Christianity virtually abandoned the notion of loving one another, replacing it with coercion, intolerance and outright persecution. Christianity became a political force, encouraging greed and avarice. It is a source of amazement to me that Christianity lost the plot within 300 years of the living example of Jesus. Selfless service was replaced by selfish self-serving. Not only did they persecute Christians who did not conform (ie pay taxes to them) they went to war against Islamic powers and persecuted the Jews. Much of the conflict was also between the various factions within the papal powers themselves. One conflict in Poland between two papal powers wiped out a third of the country’s population.
    The French revolution was more a revolt against the excesses the Christian Church than anything else. After the Church had held absolute power over science, thought and philosophy and people’s personal lives for so long, the French revolted in a bloody revolution, abandoning religion. Even today, I have French friends who will have nothing to do with religion because of their reaction to a religion that they see as abhorrent. They do however appreciate those who live in harmony with the principles given to us by Jesus.
    It is affirming to know that John foresaw the ambush of the Christian brand by personal gain, power, control, and politics, followed by a revolt against religion. However, the lesson for us is that organized religion can seriously go off the rails in an effort to retain control. Efforts to ensure conformity can lead to oppression and persecution even in our day. I don’t want to point the finger at any church organization in particular, but we need to emphasize that our Christian experience has to be a personal one, not dictated by church organization, but developed in a close personal relationship with Jesus.

    As always:

    Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb 12:1,2

    • I believe your observation that "organized religion can seriously go off the rails in an effort to retain control. Efforts to ensure conformity can lead to oppression and persecution even in our day" has been confirmed many times in history during the Christian era.

      It seems highly ironic that the very efforts to ensure doctrinal purity are the very ones that ensure apostasy. But perhaps it is more logical than ironic when we remember that the only compulsion God uses is the compulsive power of love. (See Desire of Ages, p. 466)

      And we must ask ourselves whether we are exempt in this area. Does it apply to the local church - as in attempting to ensure doctrinal purity by controlling what is said and done? Does it apply at the Conference, Union or General Conference level?

      So if control is counter-productive in assuring that the church moves in the right direction, what can leaders do to ensure that the church represents Christ in the community? (Leaders include all church officers, especially those serving on a church board.)

      • Maurice, the "christian" church you refer to is declared by Daniel to be "the abomination of desolation", not Christianity. Yes, it may have been recognized by some as Christian, but how? It has pagan origins, trappings and teachings. Only in name is this religion called Christian by any who do not know the Truth as it is in Jesus, since this power is shown to have cast truth to the ground, perverting the gospel of Christ through superstitions, idolatry, a false priesthood, and veneration of "saints". Men assumed the position of being God's voice on earth, subjecting even God to their decisions while rejecting His Word for their own traditions.

        The true and faithful(white horse and rider of the 1st seal) have always existed, though often hidden from public view(as prophesied). They are the overcomers through faith, who have not bowed to the traditions of the popular churches. Yes, many forfeited their lives to maintain their faith. True Christianity is never popular, nor has it ever ruled over others against their will.

        Inge, the way you express your sentiments might condemn Paul, John, even Christ, for laboring to keep pure the word of God among His people, couldn't they? How is the church to remain pure if just any idea is allowed to be promoted as Truth without those set forth as watchmen proving them by the Word of God? Unfortunately I have seen more congregations throwing off any restraint than those who have followed the Lord in exposing falsehood for what it is; the doctrine of the Adversary. Doesn't Jesus warn all to "let no man deceive you", and "Watch!" with a vigilance equal to the eternal loss/gain that is at stake? I totally agree with you that force is never an option for the servants of God, which is why the methods of Christ must be followed when those refusing to follow the truth persist on a wrong course.

        Leaders serve the congregation(as Jesus demonstrated and taught), and it is the entire congregation that must be found glorifying God in all that is said and done by the "church". It is the responsibility of the congregation to maintain the purity of the church, not a church board. How else does a church avoid the pitfalls of having a wayward pastor or church board? (Yes, they exist)

        You stated that God only uses "the compulsive power of love." I agree, and it sometimes manifests itself as a flood, confounding language, removing sinners and the cities from the earth, whether by fire or the earth swallowing them, etc. But notice when and why. Jesus offers the Gospel "to all men", laying down His life for all, yet He will fulfill Psalm 2, Rev 20, etc. Again, when and why? God must and will have a pure creation once more, and at times must exercise His sovereign power. The church also has an obligation to keep sin/sinners from overrunning the church, lest they be found false shepherds. Look at what happened when they didn't.

        • You are quite right Robert about the description of where the church ended up. The awefulness of the situation is that for many people, it is the only picture of "Christianity" that they saw and experienced. It is no wonder that even today Christianity contains negative connotations for many people. It leaves us with the responsibility of living as a Christian, bearing a true witness to the love of Christ.

          • I would believe that the false christianity was the only idea of truth many have accepted, since the Holy Spirit has never failed to "convince the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment". Look at how many "wonder after the beast" today, but they must do this against the convicting power of the 3rd person of the Godhead, who was there when this world was formed. Remember, when the black horse and rider go forth, the wheat/barley is still available and the warning to "hurt not the oil or the wine" is clear and convincing. The reformer's message was faithfully delivered in all ages, causing no small stir among the unrepentant.

            God will be found just by all, including the wicked, in the end.

        • No, Robert, "Paul, John, even Christ" did not compel the conscience. In fact they used no form of compulsion. Paul recommended dealing with professed Christians who radically diverged from Christian teachings and standards in their behavior, recommending they be disfellowshipped, if the did not reform. Neither Paul, nor John, and certainly not Christ tried to compel uniformity of behavior or belief on side issues. Rather they focused on the fundamentals of the gospel.

          The medieval church enforced uniformity of practice on non-biblical issued. And certain leaders today are also attempting to enforce uniformity of belief and practice in areas that are not central to Christianity but are divisive issues because they are not clearly defined in Scripture.

  2. The beast from the bottomless pit.

    1. Clothed in sackclothes. Rev 11:3.

    During the time of the 1260 years God's witnesses remained in a state of obscurity. Those who dared to proclaim the sacred truth were hunted, tortured, put in dungeon cell and martyred by the papal power.

    Rome's policy was to keep the Bible locked up in an unknown tongue and hidden from the people.

    2. The beast. Rev 11:7.

    At the end of the 1260 years French army entered Rome and made the Pope a prisoner.
    France rose to make war upon the word of God.

    3. The spiritual Egypt. Rev 11:8.

    Pharaoh denied the existence of God. Ex 5:2. This is atheism and France did exactly that.

    France denied the belief and worship of a deity.

    The France legislative assembly pronounced there was no God and its inhabitants rejoiced to hear that.

    4. The spiritual Sodom.

    The corruption of Sodom
    In breaking the law of God was manifested in licentiousness.

    During the revolution France manifested a state of moral debasement similar to that of Sodom.

    They reduced the union of marriage to the state of a mere civil contract of a transitory character, which any two persons might engage in and cast loose at pleasure.

    5. Where our lord was crucified.

    France crucified Christ in the person of his disciples.

    The Waldenses died upon the mountains of Piedmont. The Albigenses were killed with horrible torture. The Huguenots poured out their blood and protestants were hunted down like wild animals. The st Bartholomew massacre was the worst of all.

    They declared Jesus an impostor and they cried " crush the wretch" meaning Christ.

    6. The war

    The institutions of the Bible were abolished.
    The worship of the deity was abolished by the national assembly.

    Bibles were collected and publicly burned.

    The week of seven days was set aside and the one for ten days was established.

    Baptism and communion were prohibited.

    Death was declared an eternal sleep.

    All religious worship was stopped.

    They started to worship the goddess of reason who was a dancing girl of the opera.

    But all this did not stop the Bible. Today the Bible has been taken to every part of the habitable globe.

    The Bible is an anvil that has worn out many hammers. Isaiah 54:17.

  3. I'm intrigued by the question, "In what ways do the two witnesses reflect Zerubbabel and Joshua in their royal and priestly roles? See Zech. 4:2-3, Zech. 4:11-14."

    The "Old and New Testament" did not exist in Zechariah's time. That's one reason I've always had questions regarding the two witnesses being the Old and New Testament. The other reason I've questioned that interpretation is that I see the Bible as the unified Word of God - not two separate entities. Yet I think it's fairly clear that the "two witnesses" refer to the Bible. And I believe the two olive trees refer to the Holy Spirit, because oil usually represents the Holy Spirit in Scripture, and the Holy Spirit, as Christ's Representative, provides light through the lamp stands/ the body of Christ, the church. I see the "power" of the two witnesses as the power of the Holy Spirit, Who inspired the Bible.

    I just have no light on the use of the number "two" here. Does anyone else have suggestions other than the one presented in the lesson?

    • The notion of two witnesses is a powerful one, but I agree that applying them to the Old and New Testament is perhaps a little artificial. An idea that I would like to explore is that one witness is the Biblical revelation of God and the other witness is the "community of believers". By the "community of believers", I mean those who have a personal relationship with Jesus. The whole persecution scene becomes more understandable if we think that the most powerful witness for Jesus is a changed life directed to serving others through their relationship with Jesus. This is the witness that political Christianity despises so much because it values freedom rather than subservience to their selfish political goals. Perhaps it is an idea worth exploring a little more.

    • I have no true evidence, but am exploring the possibility that the two witnesses are the ones with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration - Moses and Elijah. The law and the prophets throughout the whole Bible.

      • That is who I thought of as I read this. It will be interesting to find the answers to our questions when we get to heaven.

    • Two Witnesses
      Rev 11:3 And I will give power to My two witnesses, and they will prophesy a thousand, two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.
      Witness & Prophesy: spread the Good News
      1260 days: reminds us
      1) of the period of Daniel’s prophecy when the truth was obscured and God’s people were persecuted
      2) 3½ years of Jesus ministry
      3) drought of Elijah – absence of God’s messenger and rain

      Rev 11:4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.
      1) light - Jesus
      2) oil – Holy Spirit
      3) lampstands - churches
      4) standing before God – mostly angels/messengers waiting to be sent out Zech 4:14, Lu 1:19, Zec 6:4
      5) number two – legal system needs two witnesses to pass judgement, however their unity is emphasized by the use of the singular form in the original Greek: they have only one mouth, one prophecy (11:6) and one testimony (11:7). Later on, their “body” (ptôma, singular) lies in the street of the great city (11:8), people see their “body” (ptôma, singular– 11:9)

      Rev 11:5 And if anyone will hurt them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone will hurt them, so it is right for him to be killed.
      1) Elijah – trial between Baal & God by fire
      2) Elijah – 2 Kings 1:6-15 fire from God consumed armies against Elijah
      3) Yahweh – fire from his mouth to destroy David’s enemies 2 Samuel 22:9
      4) Jeremiah – God’s word in his mouth is fire to devour God’s rebellious people

      Rev 11:6 These have authority to shut up the heaven, that it may not rain in the days of their prophecy. And they have authority over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.
      1) Elijah – shut up the heaven – drought for 3½ years
      2) Moses – turn water to blood, brought down plagues

      Act 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
      Act 5:32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.
      Rev 1:2 who bare witness of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, even of all things that he saw.
      Rev 1:9 I John, ... was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
      Rev 6:9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
      Rev 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word
      of their testimony;
      Rev 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

      So who are the witnesses? I think they are a symbolic composite of the Everlasting Gospel that is spread by God’s messengers and the trials they experience particularly in the period of 1260 days/years and the period between the end of that prophecy and the end of probation – (Greek martus can be translated witness or martyr)

        • Inge, you are right I was looking at the whole picture of the two witnesses not focusing on your question.
          So why two? Why not one or many? I have not found a clear answer which is why my conclusion was that they were a symbolic composite representative of many ideas.
          The clearest reference for the number is the OT requirement of two witnesses to convict. However I believe it picks up echoes of the other background points and puts them altogether.
          To me the strongest is found at the beginning of Revelation - John bore witness to the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

  4. Seems to me that the Old and the New Testement fit the two witnesses better than the the Bible as one. You are leaving out one witness. Don't get me wrong I too believe in the whole Bible. The belivers of Christ and the Bible as one don't fit the rest of the vision of John in Revelation 11. When I read the point that Zachariah did not have the New Testimemt, the same thought as Joseph gave us, came to my mind before I read Joseph comment. John's vision in Revelation 11 was of the future. So most likey the author is right, though Maurice and Inges ideas do give us some good thoughts outside the box.

  5. We are invited to spread the Good News as witnesses today, wherever we are! If we do not do this, "the very stones" will do it! Hopefully we can open our hearts to Jesus and listen to His steps approaching, and by this relationship may we be compelled to tell others.
    I do see the Spirit of God when I get thanks from someone to whom I simply sent a Bible verse as a message!
    It is time for us to look harder for Jesus! Although He is able to use us even when we do not think we are ready! But how much more efficient this can be accomplished if we are counscious of the work?

  6. Like Inge Anderson l too have queried the interpretation of the two witnesses in Zechariah as she correctly writes that the "Old and New Testament" did not exist in Zechariah's time. Over the years l have concluded that the two witnesses represent the two principal ways GOD communicates His will to His people, namely via the written word and the spoken word. GOD has used prophets, disciples, apostles and a host of other witnesses to communicate to us and mankind in general mainly via the written and the spoken word. Cf Isaiah 8:20 'To the law and to the testimony if they speak not according to this word, there is no light in them.

  7. Our witness to the world is twofold; we testify to God's power through the gospel to change lives, the result of which is seen in our obedience to God's commandments. "To the law, and to the testimony..." "here are they that keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus". Those two aspects of witness were in sackcloth during the dark ages, but today we have an unprecedented opportunity to "cry with a loud voice" the everlasting gospel, the two witnesses, our character, and our testimony, bearing witness to the grace and power of God.

  8. The two witnesses are the Old and New Testaments. They are the word of God and are living because they make changes in lives (through Jesus). They are witnesses to everything that happened re: the plan of salvation, good and evil. Their testimony is True and Faithful. They testify of Jesus.

    • The Bible, Old and New Testaments, are only effective witnesses if we are living examples of their effect on our lives. Otherwise, they are nothing more than papers with marks on them.

      • Someone finds God's word in a dumpster, talks to no one but reads it. More than paper with marks.(This has happened)

        Also, think of Martin Luther, or William Miller and their journey through scripture without any living examples to guide them. The Holy Spirit, as promised, will lead anyone into all truth. Jesus, growing up in Nazareth with God's Word and the Holy Spirit. Living examples are good, but God is more than able where there is a lack of such examples. Where there are no faithful examples, God will lead individuals Himself(wrote Ellen).

        Just wanted to bring this to the discussion.

  9. Will someone identify the “Great City”, Babylon, the harlot? (Rev 11:8; 14:8; 16:19; 17:18; 18:2,10,16,18,19,21). It might be a clue to the two witnesses...

  10. Be patient, we may get into that when we study the latter texts you mentioned. We are only a little over 1/2 way through Revelation yet. Or if you can’t wait you could click on Adult SS at the top left, then click on Weekly Lesson.

  11. I am very very grateful about all this comments and inspiration here,as I a Christian I need to understand more things in the scripture, all the inspiration here is a reflection to my problems I am going through now since last year up to now, so as I was reading my Bible this evening, it draw my attention to find out from the Bible according to the inspiration of our Lord Jesus Christ to the teachers of the law and Pharisees, so I Google the truth of the scripture and I am now understand much more than I was before. Thanks so much, may the spirit of the living God be with you all. Yes I found out true teachings here and I think you are people are the right teachers like He said to us in Jeremiah 3:15 that I will give you a good shepherd who will teach you with wisdom, knowledge and understanding. I wish you all the best and Happy Easter.
    Kind regards,
    Martin Kyere.

    • Martin, so glad the Lord is guiding you through His scriptures, we are co-travellers on that journey of discovering His truth and sharing the treasures we discover.


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