The Unveiling of Jesus Christ
THE TWO WITNESSES
And I will be endowing My two witnesses and they will be
prophesying a thousand two hundred sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the
two olive trees, and the two lampstands which stand before the Lord of the earth. And if
anyone is wanting to injure them, fire is issuing out of their mouth and is devouring
their enemies. And if anyone should be wanting to injure them, thus must he be killed.
These have authority to lock heaven, that there may be no shower of rain for the days of
their prophecy. And they have authority over the waters to be turning them into blood, and
to smite the land with every calamity, as often as they will. And whenever they should be
finishing their testimony, the wild beast which is ascending out of the submerged chaos
will be doing battle with them and will be conquering them and killing them. And their
corpses will be at the square of the great city which, spiritually, is being called Sodom
and Egypt, where their Lord, also, was crucified. And those out of the peoples and tribes
and languages and nations are observing their corpses three days and a half, and they are
not letting their corpses be placed into a tomb. And those dwelling on the earth are
rejoicing over them and are making merry, and will be sending approach presents to one
another, seeing that these two prophets torment those dwelling on the earth. And after the
three days and a half the spirit of life out of God entered into them, and they stand on
their feet. And great fear falls on those beholding them. And they hear a loud voice out
of heaven saying to them, "Ascend here!" And they ascended into heaven in a
cloud, and their enemies behold them. And in that hour occurred a great earthquake, and a
tenth of the city falls, and there were seven thousand names of the men killed in the
earthquake. And the rest became affrighted and give glory to the God of heaven. The second
woe passed away. Lo! the third woe is coming swiftly! (Rev.11:3-14)
GOD has never left Himself without witnesses among mankind. When
revelation is silent and men are mute, nature bears a constant testimony to His
imperceptible power and divinity. In these days of scientific investigation the voice of
nature is very insistent. Every avenue of knowledge leads up to marvels before which the
devout scientist bows his head. He acknowledges, like the wise men of Egypt, This is
the finger of God! We talk of weight, or gravitation, but no one can explain how
matter influences matter without any connecting link. We talk of light, but who knows how
it travels? We dissect living tissue, but whence is the vital force? We consider the soul,
but cannot even connect it with tangible forms.
And the spirit, with
all its Godlike powers, is utterly beyond the range of the faint flicker of scientific
thought. Everywhere we look we find that intangible, inscrutable force which testifies to
the presence of Gods spirit. There is no explanation of creation but God. Neither is
there any reasonable cause for the slightest motion in the universe today but God. The
tiniest raindrop and the mightiest orb of space unite in the grand chorus which celebrates
His presence and power. Only the blind cannot see God in the works of His hands.
As in nature, so in
revelation. The vital power of the Word of God has never been lacking among the sons of
Adam. However much it may be opposed, His written revelation works wonders in the midst of
men and testifies to the living, loving God. But when the testimony of His Word and His
world are rejected, then He makes Himself known by other means. When nature is hushed and
revelation silenced, He sends witnesses which must be heard. Such is the situation on
earth today. Though science never before was so nearly face to face with the God of
nature, its devotees shut Him out of their hearts and lives. Though the Scriptures have
never been more widely circulated, never before have they been so strenuously opposed. We
are in the apostasy, the time of mans mightiest fight to force God outside the realm
of his perceptions.
The seer Zechariah
brings before us a prophetic situation which is very similar to that in which Israel is
found at the time of the end. They had returned from Babylon and, as it will be in the
future, their first concern was the rebuilding of the temple. The nations were strongly
opposed to its restoration. So Yahweh raised up two witnesses, Zerubbabel and Joshua, and
the prophet in his vision saw a lampstand fed by two olive trees (Zech.3,4). Here was the
power He proposed to use in completing the temple. When Zechariah asked what the lampstand
and olive trees signified, he was told, This is the word of Yahweh to Zerubbabel,
saying: Not by valor, nor by vigor, but rather by My spirit, says Yahweh of
hosts (Zech.4:6, CV). This is the key to the testimony of the two
God does not come
into conflict with His creatures merely to manifest His power and their impotence. That
would not be a proper preparation for their ultimate reconciliation. God could wipe all
evil from the earth in an instant. The reason He does not do so is that He needs it in
reaching the hearts of men. He could destroy the wild beast of the end time at the very
beginning of his career. The White Horse Rider could lead forth His army in the middle of
the heptad and clear the earth of its usurpers. Instead of this He gives two witnesses who
rehearse, in that brief period, the whole of Gods testimony regarding the kingdom.
IN THE SPIRIT AND POWER
OF MOSES AND ELIJAH
Whether these two witnesses really are Moses and Elijah we are not told. But they give the
world the same miraculous evidences of Gods presence and power as Moses did before
Pharaoh. They can turn waters into blood (Ex.7:14-21) and smite the earth with every kind
of calamity whensoever they will (Rev.11:6). This suggests that the greater exodus of
Israel is still future. Egyptian bondage is as nothing compared with the slavery demanded
by the great tyrant of that day. Their political deliverance and rebirth as a nation will
follow the same portents as those which accompanied their exodus from Egypt. The same God
Who gained His great name by breaking Pharaohs power of old, is manifestly present
in the persons of the two witnesses.
Elijah called down
fire upon his foes (2 Kings 1:9-12) even as the two witnesses will have power to
project fire from their mouths to devour their enemies (Rev.11:5). Besides this they lock
heaven for three years and a half just as Elijah did in Israel (1 Kings 17:1). The
similarity is so striking that there can be no doubt that the witnesses have the spirit
and power of Elijah, the greatest of all the ancient prophets.
Thus the character
of the double witness is evident from their acts and from the two great men whom they
recall. The man of sin will demand fealty; the antichrist will insist on worship. He will
be their emperor and their god. He will be both the Pharaoh and the Baal of that day.
Israel must serve and worship him or suffer at his hands. The two witnesses, in the spirit
and power of Moses and Elijah, withstand his rule and his religion. In that time of stress
they will enforce, in their narrow sphere, the power of that priest kingdom which Israel
will administer when Messiah comes. Judgment from earth and from heaven sustains the
testimony to the true God and the right Ruler in the very climax of mans rebellion.
It will be a most
memorable spectacle when the great monarch of all earthly dominion and the undisputed
object of nearly all mundane worship is confronted by two men, clothed in sackcloth,
without apparent power or influence, calmly defying his authority and dealing out death to
all who seek to injure them. They testify boldly to the true God and His Christ and rouse
the ire of the wild beast, which has been slain, and whose death stroke was cured (13:3).
After it ascends out of the abyss it attacks them and kills them. But this cannot be until
their testimony is finished. It lasts exactly twelve hundred and sixty daysthree
years and a halfand probably nearly corresponds with the last half of the seventieth
heptad of Daniels seventy weeks.
There is much fine
food for reflection in this fact. If the most powerful man earth will ever see cannot
shorten the testimony of the two witnesses a single day or hour or moment, surely God will
see that our time is fulfilled. Men seek to insure their lives, but the whole
procedure is based on the fact that their death is assured. Gods witnesses
may be called on to face many hazards, endangering their health and happiness and
threatening their very lives, yet nothing but the divine decree can close the testimony of
Gods slave. Each of His saints has his era. We should face the future calmly and
confidently. It is not in the hands of our friends. It is not in the hands of our enemies.
It is in His hands Who overrules where He does not rule, Who cuts every career to conform
to the great purpose of the eons.
The figure of the
olive tree is a familiar one to the student of Scripture. It is a symbol of divine
illumination. All the light in the tabernacle and temple came from olive oil. Israel, as
Gods witness on earth, is figured by an olive tree. This is true of them nationally,
quite apart from their apostasy. The root of all revelation must always be Jewish, for the
inspired penmen were of that nation. This very Unveiling comes through a Jew. If, for a
time, the gentiles are used to dispense the light it contains, that simply gives them a
temporary place in the olive tree, until the holy nation is restored to its proper place
as Gods witness in the earth.
Let us not be
disturbed by the fact that the gentiles will be broken out of the olive tree. It is not a
question of salvation, but of witness bearing. It is not concerned with individuals, but
nations. On the earth the nations, as such, have taken Israels place
temporarily, as witnesses for Him. As a whole they will prove unfaithful to their trust
and Israel will be restored to its natural place. Between these two witnessings, when the
nations are apostate (the faithful individuals having been removed to their celestial
allotment), and before Israel is restored, we have the testimony of the two witnesses.
They are especially provided to fill a gap in Gods testimony to the world.
probably continue to grow in size and importance until, at the time of the end, it will
actually become a vast and teeming metropolis. There it is that the two witnesses testify
and there they meet their death. A lurid light is thrown upon its development by the names
which are applied to it in this connection. Spiritually its condition is like that of
Sodom and Egypt (11:8). The pleasure and wisdom of the world will find full sway in the
city once devoted to the display of divine wisdom and holy joy. The wisdom that knows not
God will change the city into an Egyptian seat of learning, whose savants will withstand
Moses as the wise men did of old. But, with human wisdom, goes human depravity. The Jews,
who have been the chief promoters of pleasure and vice among the nations, will make
Jerusalem a hotbed of iniquity. Sodoms lowest vices will flourish in the place once
dedicated to the most Holy One of Israel.
That the city here
referred to is really Jerusalem is evident from the phrase where their Lord, also,
was crucified. To the contention that He was crucified outside the city we only need
to suggest that the site of Golgotha is already within the limits of the new and greater
city. But it is not really necessary to prove that this is Jerusalem for no one can prove
that it is any other place. It is not Sodom or Egypt, but has their spiritual
characteristics. It is important to see that Gods witnesses are killed in the
capital of the coming kingdom, and the act is coupled with that greater tragedy so much
like it, the crucifixion of their Lord.
In the East it is
the height of indignity to expose the bodies of slain enemies to public gaze. The corpses
of Gods witnesses are taken to the public square and lie unburied. No one is allowed
to entomb them. They are the scorn and butt of the worlds wit. With all their power
to inflict harm, the wild beast was more than a match for them! Now Gods name will
be completely blotted out of the earth! Possibly there will be a world holiday and
festival to celebrate their death. This is the last of the worlds good times that we
read of in Holy Writ. What gory glee is theirs who gloat over the murders that seem to
silence the last whisper of divine interference in human affairs!
who did not spiritualize everything in this Unveiling, might well stagger at
the difficulty presented in the statement that those dwelling on the earth are rejoicing
over them, when it all seems to occur within a few days time. It certainly gives the
impression that, in less than three days, the whole world knows of their death and
celebrates it. Until the twentieth century, this was quite impossible. Now it is easily
accomplished. The great monarch of that day should be able to communicate directly, by
word of mouth, with all nations, all peoples, every individual on earth, and at a
or other technological means, even the two witnesses themselves, silent in death, may be
shown upon a screen in every corner of the habitable earth. In fact, it is not at all
impossible that an astonished world will gaze upon them as they are roused from death.
Perhaps the very voice of God will be heard in every hamlet, calling them back to life.
And then they ascend, the cynosure of every eye on earth! What a program that
But a still greater
marvel appears in the passage we are pondering. How could the writer of the Unveiling know
about television or any such technology? Did not John know that this passage would appear
ridiculously impossible? To me this passage proves that the Writer was a great Scientist.
It was inspired by One Who not only fathoms the future but Who knows the capacities of His
own creation. Scripture is not up-to-date scientifically, but ahead of the
GLORIOUS, UNDENIABLE TESTIMONY
Now comes the closing climax in the testimony of the two witnesses. We are inclined to
suppose that their testimony was cut short by death. But, in a very real sense, death
itself was a part of their final testimony. At first it seemed to mark their whole career
as false and fruitless. But when their death was utterly beyond denial, for their bodies
were subjected to public gaze and they had been dead more than three days, then God gives
the supreme proof of His presence and power by raising them and calling them in audible
tones to ascend into the clouds of heaven.
Life comes from God
alone. All mans efforts to analyze it have failed. All his endeavors to produce it
are futile. The crowning proof that Christ was the Son of God was His power to raise the
dead. The prestige of the wild beast is based on his supposed resurrection. His death
stroke was cured. He is a startling imitation of the risen Christ. His fame is greatly
enhanced by his success in killing the two witnesses. All this is undone in an instant,
when the spirit of God vivifies their corpses, and they stand up in view of all. The
effect is immeasurably heightened by the voice out of heaven, followed by their ascension.
seizes their enemies. It may be that they receive some hint of the awfulness of their
position. The very earth seems to shudder at the moral abyss which yawns before the
enemies of Yahweh. The earthquake takes a toll of seven thousand. At last Gods
marvels begin to affect their hard hearts. The rest become frightened and give glory to
the God of heaven.
Thus ends the second
woe. It covers the period of the sixth trumpet. It comprises the scourge of the two
hundred millions of terrible cavalry, the seven thunders, the seizure of the temple area,
and the testimony of the two witnesses. Nothing comparable with these calamities, in scope
or intensity, has ever visited the earth. These are the last arguments in Gods great
controversy with mankind. His last two witnesses not only testify for God, but testify of
man that he is a hater of God and thirsts for the blood of all who stand for Him. From the
blood of His first witness, righteous Abel, through that of the Faithful Witness Himself,
to this final testimony, man manifests himself a murderer in the first degree.
How thankful we
should be that the evangel committed to us is in utmost contrast to the testimony of the
two witnesses! They call down physical judgments. We invoke spiritual blessings. They
spread havoc and death. We dispense grace and life. They faithfully represent an indignant
God, in the fury of His wrath. We are ambassadors of peace, heralding the amazing marvel
of a suppliant God, Who refuses to be offended, Who is conciliated to all mankind, and Who
prays all to be conciliated to Him. The still small voice of a praying God is a far
greater marvel than the thunders of His wrath.
A. E. Knoch
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