Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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Revelation 10-11

September 26th, 2010 by Vic

“Faithful Witnesses”

September 26, 2010

John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day when God gave him a glimpse of heaven and the risen Christ in chapter 1.  John wrote 7 letters in chapters 2-3 to admonish and encourage the churches.  2 of these churches were faithful and received no criticism.  In chapters 4-5 John heard the songs of a heavenly worship service where the title deed to creation was reclaimed by Jesus the perfect Man.  This was the heavenly Year of Jubilee when all creation was returned to its rightful owner.

Six seals of the title deed were opened in chapter 6 and 6 groups of people ran to hide rather than repent.  They asked the question, “Who can stand?”

Chapter 7 is an interlude that begins to answer that question.  It says the children of God will stand.  They will be protected from the wrath of God.  There were 2 groups of Christians mentioned in chapter 7.  John first heard the number 144,000 and when he turned to see that group he saw a great multitude.  They all received the seal of God on their foreheads.  This was a mark invisible to themselves, but obvious to angels and demons.

In chapter 8 the 7th seal was broken and there was a dramatic silence before the 7 angels received their trumpets.  4 trumpet warnings were then heralded in chapter 8.

In chapter 9, the 5th and 6th trumpets announced the demonic locusts and horses that were released out of the bottomless pit.

Now in chapter 10-11 we have another interlude like we had in chapter 7.  This interlude between the 6th and 7th trumpet tells us why we were sealed in chapter 7.  Some writers consider 10-11 as summaries of the tribulation period of the 7th trumpet.

It is interesting to note that there is no interlude between the 6th and 7th bowls of wrath coming in chapter 16.  God’s delays give us time to repent and be witnesses.  But by chapter 16 all the witnesses are gone from the earth.

The people of this world asked “Who can stand?”  Heaven answered, “The children of God.”  The children of God seem to ask, “Why can’t Christ just destroy all evil and begin His reign in the new heaven and earth right now?”  The Lord answered, “There are some other servants and brothers that need to bear witness yet (6:11).”  God delayed for you and me to be part of His kingdom.

In chapter 7 the children of God were singing their witness, “Salvation belongs to our God.”  They were preaching that you can be saved from this tribulation by trusting in God.

In 7 the saints are sealed and commissioned.  Now in 10 John a fellow witness, is commissioned and told what to say.  We are tempted to search for answers to our suffering and tribulation in teachings that are not in harmony with God’s word.  We are shown here to find real meaning for life and tribulation we must eat God’s Word.  Do you have a hunger for God’s Word?

The people of this world are punished during the first 6 trumpets of the church age.  They in turn persecute the Christians.  The Christians find meaning in the Word of God.  They witness to God’s faithfulness.

10:1  A mighty angel comes from the presence of God down to earth.  He is clothed with a cloud representing God’s powerful presence.  The rainbow represents God’s promise and mercy.  Clouds seem to be the chariots of God.  The pillars of fire recall God’s presence in the Exodus.  God is with us.  He goes before us and is our rear guard.

10:2-3 The little book contains God’s word, His plan of redemption and judgment.  God made it small enough to swallow.  He expects us to take it in and understand.  In chapter 5 the Lamb took the book with 7 seals.  Ezekiel 2:9-3:3 describes eating the book.

Chapter 5 revealed that persevering through suffering was the ironic means Christ used to overcome and claim His title deed and inheritance.  Chapter 10 explains that this is true for Christians too.

10:4 The 7 thunders may have been some additional visualization for the tribulations to be inflicted on the world.  Thunder often was the voice of God.  Maybe God decided we have been given enough pictures.  The angel says (10:6), “There will be no more delay.”

When the 7th trumpet sounds in chapter 11, judgment comes quickly.  Immediately there is a worship scene, then in chapters 12-14 John will describe some of the actors in the drama of the judgment, but there will be no delay.

If the thunders were hidden why did John even mention them?  He just made us curious.  Many speculate about what we do not know.  Why did John tell us something exists if we are not allowed to know what it is like?  Do you understand?  Maybe because life is like that.  We need to trust God.  We will never know everything about everything.  It is better if we are not told some things.  As with Daniel there are some revelations that remain hidden.

10:7  The mystery of God will be accomplished.  God’s secret weapon is to use the suffering of the faithful to give them victory and defeat satan.  Like Christ, Christians have their “book”.  They are imitators of Christ.  We willingly suffer, follow Him and find victory.

The last phrase in verse 7, “as he preached to the prophets” is very interesting.  The word for preached is the word for gospel.  It could be literally translated, “gospelized”.  The gospel required faith in God’s plan in the OT, just like it does in the NT.  God has had one purpose through the ages and the conclusion of his plan is coming quickly.

10:8‑11  God’s word is never forced on anyone.  You must take it.  It is bite size.  You can’t just observe it; you must make it a part of your life.  You are responsible for the word of God that you understand.

The little book’s sweet taste is the salvation that it offers.  The bitterness reminds us of God’s anger over man’s refusal to repent.

For the 3rd time we are told that this great angel is standing on the sea and land.  He has authority.  We had better listen and obey.  We are commanded to take the book (8), eat the book (9), and “tell forth” the book “again” (11).  This is how we are to live in the last days.

The Christian never retires from witnessing.  We are called to give witness to the truth in our hearts.  We are required to tell the world that God loves them and does not want any to perish.  All must turn from their wicked ways to be saved.

At some point in your life, God breaks into your consciousness and makes a claim on your life.  He may put one foot on your social life, one on you family life, another on your financial life.  He will make a claim of all you are.  You will either acknowledge him as Lord or you will retain lordship for yourself.  The choice is yours.

11:1‑2 John is commanded to measure the temple.  This prophetic message is an acted-out parable.  To measure something suggests ownership, protection, and possession.  Like the mark in chapter 7, this measuring is a mark of ownership and protection.  God is claiming possession of His sanctuary.  This may be symbolic of your heart, the church, or the world.  Before the final bowls of wrath, God identifies His own.  Your heart is the temple of God.

Why was the outer court excluded?  What does the outer court symbolize?  Does that suggest that some of the church will not have God’s protection?  Does it mean that our hearts are protected, but maybe not our physical lives?  Do we have an inner protection, but not an outer protection?  Does the measuring symbolize restoration and revival rather than protection and care?  Is the outer court the place of sinners?

In Ezekiel 40-48, the temple was measured to protect against the contamination of idol worship.  This Revelation temple is patterned after the body of Christ, which is the NT temple.  Like Christ, the church will suffer and will appear to be defeated.  The Christian’s heart is also the temple of God.  Believers throughout the entire Christian age are in view.  The temple is a place of sacrifice or living sacrifice where Christians will suffer.

42 months was the period of time that Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the temple before the Maccabean revolt.  The Roman siege of Jerusalem lasted for 42 months.  Israel’s wilderness wanderings included 42 encampments and 42 years.  Daniel’s 42 months became a Jewish symbol for a limited period of time during which evil would be allowed free rein.  For 3 ½ years Jesus did good.  In Rev 12:6, the church is kept safe from the devil for 3 ½ years.  So the 3 ½ years confirms 2 facts for believers.  They will undergo tribulation.  They are protected from spiritual harm.  This 3 ½ years began at Christ’s ascension and will parallel the ministry of Christ.

11:3  Jesus sent his disciples out 2 by 2.  2 or 3 witnesses must confirm a truth.  The 2 witnesses fit the descriptions of Moses and Elijah who were expected to return before the Messiah.  They may be 2 of the 7 “lamp stands” that were in chapter 1.  These powerful, protected, and ideal witnesses represent the 2 of the 7 churches who were faithful and did not receive any criticism.

They are probably representative of a group and not literally individuals because in verse 7 the beast makes war with them.  We assassinate individuals, but make war on groups.

They wear sackcloth.  Their message is a call to repentance.  Sackcloth was the garment of humility, penitence, and mourning.  The church has power in a humble witness.

11:4  The witnesses are compared to olive trees and lamps.  Olive trees are the source of oil.  Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.  Faithful witnesses are the source of the Holy Spirit for the world.  And they are also the bearers of the light.  Lamp stands were instruments that held the oil that gave the light.  They were the source of light and also the bearers of Light.

After the witnesses are resurrected, the Holy Spirit is not on earth?  Christians are a source of blessing to the world.  God rules and reigns in the hearts of the faithful.

11:5  They have unique power within set limits.  The souls of the witnesses cannot be harmed.  Their judgments on others are in direct relation to the offence.  He who lives by the sword will die by the sword.

They will be protected until their task is complete.  Like the plagues were intended to bring the Egyptians to repentance, so the message is the same today.  Repent and obey God.

The beast is introduced here for the first time.  In contrast to the Lamb who conquers by dying, the beast conquers by killing.  Death is his ultimate weapon.  This is THE beast who comes up from the place of demons to make war on God’s witnessing churches.

11:8  Jews normally bury their dead the same day they die.  Here a special holiday will be declared.  Instead of repentance they will be happy because God’s men are silent.  The faithful church will appear defeated in its role of witnessing.  The world will rejoice.

The word for body is actually singular in verse 8 and plural in verse 9.  From God’s point of view they are not 2 dead bodies, but the body of the church as a whole that has been martyred.  From man’s point of view they are individuals.

This great city is best identified as the ungodly world and symbolically called Sodom.  The great city is the place where the voice of God is ignored.  Christ is crucified where the Christians are killed, where helpless children are abandoned, where the young and the old are abused, where money and technology are Lord, where people are dehumanized, where the environment is raped.  The great city is where people gather in rebellion to crucify Christ and His people.  The great city in John’s time would refer primarily to Rome.

Shamed and disgraced, the bodies of God’s children lay in public view.  It looks like the beast has won.  It seems like goodness is dead.  The alien Christians have been destroyed.  The voice of the church had been an irritation and now it was quiet.

11:9-10  The antichrist’s victory is brief.  They will rejoice and party.  They assume that killing the messenger will prevent the predicted judgment.

If God’s faithful witnessing churches cause such hostility and unrest, are we too comfortable in a world of increasing wickedness?

11:11  God breathes.  The world’s party is over.  Terror strikes the inhabitants of the earth.  Death is the worst weapon that Satan has to conquer the people of God.  If death does not work, what else could he do to those that can rise from the dead?  So death where is your sting?  Satan has lost his ultimate weapon because of the resurrection.

This is how God always acts with his church.  He breathes life to dry bones (Ez 37:5ff).  He makes all things new to those who trust Him.  God vindicates His faithful witnesses.

Following His crucifixion and burial there was an earthquake that moved the stone away from Jesus’ tomb.  God announced the resurrection with an earthquake.  Rev 11:9-13 is parallel to Micah 7:8-17.

11:14‑15  As the day of the 7th trumpet begins, a choir starts singing in heaven.  There has not been a heavenly song since chapter 7 when the 6th seal was broken.  This heavenly song in some ways is a summary of the rest of the book.

While the 7th seal brought silence, the 7th trumpet (3rd woe) brings a heavenly song.

11:16-17  We last saw the 24 elders in 7:11.  Now they give thanks to the God who was and who is.  They no longer have to add “and who is to come” because that future rule is now present, His kingdom has come.

Like a police car entering the scene of a crime, justice has come.  The crooks have not been put into jail.  The insurance company has not replaced everything that was stolen, but justice has come.  So here God’s kingdom has come.

11:18  There are 2 kinds of people:  those who repent and fear God and those who pollute the world.  People are divided as righteous or polluters.  And the righteous are further designated as prophets, saints, worshipers, small and great.  Those who are not the children of God are simply described at those who destroy the earth or rape the earth.

11:19  God’s temple in heaven was opened.  The welcome mat is out.  The King is in residence.  With the 7th trumpet, as with the 7th seal, the very end of history has been reached.  Symbolically like the walls of Jericho after the 7th trumpet.  Time is no more.  A new day has come.

The ark is a symbol of God’s faithfulness.  God will carry out His promises and destroy the enemies of His people.  The ark disappeared during the Babylonian captivity.  Some Jews expect it to appear at the end of history.

What will happen to those who hunger for God, eat the scroll, feel compelled to witness, and obey?  They may suffer and die like Christ.  But we will rise again.  There’s no power on earth can keep us down.

God will send believers and churches as trumpets and witnesses into the world to warn of the wrath to come, but rather than repent, men will ignore the trumpets and rejoice when the witnesses are killed.

The message of Revelation is clear.  God is in control.  He protects His own.  Sinners can be saved by responding to God’s love and mercy and receiving Jesus as Lord of all.  Today is the only day of salvation.  Tomorrow never comes.  Jesus has claimed ownership of the world and your life.  Follow Him so He can give you His Spirit and make you a faithful witness.

1 Cor 15:51-

1 Thes 4:15-

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