Ben-Judah, who is a Jew, and rabbinical scholar, confronts the two witnesses, who testify to him that Christ is Messiah.
Video from Left Behind II.
A. Let us remember the purpose for all Scripture, in that all Scripture is based on “The Purpose Of God, (Isaiah 46:10).”
1. In our study of the End Times, we consider God’s purposes for Israel: Nehemiah 1:8-9:
8 Remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; 9 but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.’
2. God has given severe warnings for those who would harm His chosen people: Numbers 24:9:
“He couches, he lies down as a lion, And as a lion, who dares rouse him? Blessed is everyone who blesses you, And cursed is everyone who curses you.”
B. We will begin this article, and each following article, with a Scripture that relates to God’s plans for Israel.
1. Jeremiah 2:1-2:” Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 2 “Go and proclaim in the ears of Jerusalem…;” 2:4. “Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel.” (Notice that the book of Jeremiah was written to Jews, by a Jew (Jeremiah), about Jewish things.)
2. Jeremiah 3:17: “At that time they will call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of the Lord,’ and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord; nor will they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart.”
II. Translation Considerations. “The New American Standard Bible (NASB) translation was chosen for this, and other studies, because of two main reasons. First, the NASB capitalizes the first letter of pronouns that relate to God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit); not all Bible translations show that same respect for God. Second, the NASB has a history of correctness in translation.”
III. Comment Providers. BKC=The Bible Knowledge Commentary. MSB=MacArthur Study Bible; NAC = New American Commentary; NKJV= New King James Study Bible; RRC=Ryrie Commentary; RSB=Ryrie Study Bible; SRN=Scofield Reference Notes; WRC= Walvoord Commentary);
A. Consider the chronology of Jewish places of worship that precede the Tribulation Temple.
1. God commissioned the construction of the tabernacle/sanctuary (Exodus 25:8-9, 1491 B.C.).
2. The tabernacle in the desert was completed (Exodus 40:33, 1490 B.C.).
3. God commissioned King Solomon to build the first temple in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 28:6, 1015 B.C.).
4. Solomon finished the construction of the temple in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 5:1, 1004 B.C.)
5. The forces of Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 36:19, 586 B.C.)
6. The Temple was rebuilt in Jerusalem, being known as Zerubbabel’s Temple (Haggai 1:1-15, 2:1-23; Ezra 6:15, 515 B.C.)
7. Herod’s Temple, which was a remodeling of Zerubbabel’s temple, was completed in 4 B.C., but was not totally completed until 63 A.D.
8. The glory of the LORD (Yahweh) was present in the Tabernacle in the desert (Ex 40:34-38), as was the case in Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 8:10-11).
9. As will be shown below, the Glory of the LORD (Yahweh) departed from Solomon’s Temple prior to its looting and destruction by the Babylonians, and will not return until the “Lord GOD” (Adonai Yahweh) places the Millennial Temple in Jerusalem.
B. As this chapter opens (v 1), we see “the Temple of God,” which is a fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy, Daniel 9:27, “…And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering…” A temple was required for such Jewish practices. This “Tribulation Temple,” will be built under the graces of the antichrist. However, the words, “Temple of God,” show that God is in control of everything about the temple. The phrase, “in the middle of the week,” means “halfway through the Tribulation.” A discussion of the Millennial Temple will show that God does not reside in the Tribulation Temple. Also, when Christ was on earth, He never went into the Holy of Holies of the remodeled Herod’s Temple of Zerubbabel’s reconstruction of the destroyed Solomon’s Temple. Christ was/is the Holy of Holies. Had Christ been accepted as Messiah, at His first coming, He presumably would have entered the Temple (RSB Ezekiel 10:18-19 note). Preceding the time of the treaty between the antichrist and the Jews, the rapture of the church will take place (1 Thes 4:16-17), leaving behind on earth only those whom will not have been born again. The purpose for the tribulation (Jer 30:7) is for God to deal with unbelieving Jews, to draw them to saving faith in Christ as Messiah (Matt 23:39).
1. Ezekiel’s prophecy of 594 B.C.,(Ezek 10:18) tells of the Glory of the LORD (Yahweh) departing from Solomon’s Temple. Ezekiel had a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem (Ezek 10:1-22, 594 B.C.). Ezekiel prophesied of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple (Ezek 24:1-2, 593 B.C.) (Jer 39:1-10, 589 B.C.).
2. Ezekiel’s prophecy of 587 B.C., (Ezek 37:26-28), tells of the “Lord GOD” (Adonai Yahweh) putting the Temple in the Millennium.
2. Ezekiel’s prophecy of 574 B.C., (Ezekiel 43:5), tells of the Glory of the LORD (Yahweh) returning, and entering the Temple, which will be the Millennial Temple; this will take place when Christ returns from Heaven at the Battle of Armageddon (Zech 14:9).
3. In Rev 21:22, we read, “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” (This verse refers to the Eternal State.) (“Lord God”….”kurios theos”)
C. Consider The Two Witnesses.
1. From the time of the antichrist breaking the covenant with Israel, 3 1/2 years remain until the end of the Tribulation, during which time Jerusalem will be under Gentile control (Rev 11:2). The period of time from the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, until the time that Christ reigns on the Throne in the Kingdom, is known as the “Times Of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24). The expression, “Times of the Gentiles,” identifies the era from Israel’s captivity (ca. 586 B.C. to Babylon; cf. 2 Kin. 25) to her restoration in the kingdom (Rev. 20:1–6). It has been a time during which, in accord with God’s purpose, Gentiles have dominated or threatened Jerusalem (MAC).
2. The two witnesses, “olive trees,” will prophecy during the first half of the Tribulation (RSB), and will be protected from harm. They will also exhibit miraculous powers (Rev 11:3-6).
4. After the two witnesses have finished their mission (God is in control), the anticrist (beast) comes on the scene, and kills the two witnesses. The bodies lie in the city of sodomite Jerusalem for 3 1/2 days, as an element of dishonor for the witnesses. The world sees the dead bodies of the witnesses (satellite video); great rejoicing goes on by those “earth dwellers” (Rev 3:10), due to their deaths (Rev 11:7-10).
5. The martyred two witnesses come back to life; great fear comes upon those who see this miracle. The witnesses are caught up (Raptured) to heaven, in clear view of the “earth dwellers.” A great earthquake causes a tenth of Jerusalem to collapse; seven thousand people die; the survivors give glory to God, but not for long. Soon, they will again curse God (Rev 16:11) (Rev 11:11-13).
V. Consider Israel: Past, Present, Future.
A. At this time in the history of Israel, God’s chosen people (Deu 14:2) are returning to Israel in a state of unbelief. When the Rapture occurs (1 Thes 4:16-17), all unbelieving Jews, and Gentiles, will be left behind on earth to undergo the persecution of the antichrist (under God’s control) and the judgments of God. There will be millions of people, “Jew and Gentile,” that will be left behind from the Rapture. God chose Israel to be His chosen people; Israel did not choose God.
B. In today’s world, many Jews are atheistic, and many are in a total state of dishonoring Christ; the same situation applies to Gentiles. But, it is God’s purpose for His chosen people to come to saving faith in Christ, and to be saved from the eternal damnation that will come from such of a lack of belief in Christ as Messiah, as will be the case of unbelieving Gentiles. Anti-Jew verbal attacks are numerous today from such organizations as: news and media, entertainment and globalists, academia and new world order types, and unbelieving members of government, large corporations, and the world community. Unbelieving Jews are found in all of those groups of other unbelievers. Jews do things that are wrong. However, God’s Word will not be changed or negated, in regard to His plan for His chosen people in the Tribulation and Kingdom Age, which are based on His unconditional covenants with Israel (Abrahamic and Davidic).
C. God’s covenant with Abraham (Gen 12:1-3) guarantees the covenant seed of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, “a people and a land and a blessing”, which will be fulfilled in an expanded Israel in the Kingdom Age. God’s Davidic covenant with Israel (2 Samuel 7:8-16) guarantees that an heir of David, who will be Christ, will rule and reign over the expanded Israel during the Kingdom Age. God has guaranteed that Jews of the Old Testament age, including the time of the Gospels, will rule and reign with Christ during the Kingdom Age (Matt 19:28; Dan 12:1-3). God has also specified that for individual Jews to be included in those of national Israel to enter the Kingdom of God, they must believe in Christ as Lord and Savior (John 3:16).
D. John 3:16 is quoted by many Christians as being the key to their eternal life, but the words of that verse were spoken to Jews by Christ. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The necessity for such belief in Christ is echoed in New Testament scriptures.
E. Concerning national Israel, “they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel” (Romans 9:6). Not all Jews will have been born again (John 3:3); not all will have believed in Christ as Messiah (John 3:16-18; Romans 8:1). Christ is God (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23).
F. Concerning the believing Jews who will survive the Tribulation, per Romans 11:26: “all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” (Per Zechariah 12:8-10, believing Jews will call on Christ to save them at the end of the Tribulation, as they are being attacked by all of the nations of the world.)
VI. Video Discussions.
A. Opening Video. In the Left Behind movie, Ben-Judah was commissioned by the Israel I government three years before the Rapture to undertake a study as to how the Jews would recognize the Messiah when he comes. Ben-Judah was beginning to conclude that Jesus of Nazareth met the descriptions of prophecy, but had not committed himself when Christ raptured His church. Video info. Dr. Tsion Ben-Judah is a character in the Left Behind series, is a Jew, a rabbinical scholar. ararat4life. a clip from left behind 2. This video is not my own, it belongs to Cloud Ten pictures. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Left_Behind_characters
B. Second Video, seen by clicking on the following link.
The Two Witnesses – Jon Ankerberg
1. Jon Ankerberg Show. From the series “Revelation: The Last Words of Jesus” featuring very special guests Dr. Ron Rhodes, Dr. Ed Hindson, and, Dr. Mark Hitchcock.
2. Speaker credentials, including those of the moderator, Jon Ankerberg, can be seen on my site Page, “About Sources.”
VII. Two Witness Discussions.
A. MacArthur Study Bible note, from Rev 11:5-6. The Two Witnesses Identity. 11:5, 6 While it is impossible to be dogmatic about the identity of these two witnesses, several observations suggest they might be Moses and Elijah: 1) like Moses, they strike the earth with plagues, and like Elijah, they have the power to keep it from raining; 2) Jewish tradition expected both Moses (cf. Deut. 18:15–18) and Elijah (cf. Mal. 4:5, 6) to return in the future (cf. John 1:21); 3) both Moses and Elijah were present at the Transfiguration, the preview of Christ’s second coming; 4) both Moses and Elijah used supernatural means to provoke repentance; 5) Elijah was taken up alive into heaven, and God buried Moses’ body where it would never be found; and 6) the length of the drought the two witnesses bring (3 1/2 years; cf. v. 3) is the same as that brought by Elijah (James 5:17).
B. My note. There is a lot of discussion about the identity of the witnesses. Such discussion relates to two key Old Testament characters “who did not die”, and were “caught up” to Heaven (Rapture). In Genesis 5:24, we read: “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.: In Second Kings 2:11, we read: “Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.” The accounts of Enoch and Elijah tell of their being “caught up” to Heaven without having suffered death. But, at the time of the Rapture, millions of born again believers in Christ, all around the world, will also be “caught up” and be taken to Heaven without suffering death. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be “caught up” together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” [“caught up,” Italics mine]
VIII. Text: Revelation 11:1-14
The Two Witnesses
1 Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, “Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. 2 Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months. 3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lamp stands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. 6 These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.
7 When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. 8 And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. 9 Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. 10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.
11 But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them. 12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them. 13 And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
14 The second woe is past; behold, the third woe is coming quickly.
1. 11:1. “the temple of God.” Refers to the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place, not the entire temple complex (cf. v. 2). A rebuilt temple will exist during the time of the Tribulation (Dan. 9:27; 12:11; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4). “altar.” The reference to worshipers suggests this is the bronze altar in the courtyard, not the incense altar in the Holy Place, since only the priests were permitted inside the Holy Place (cf. Luke 1:8–10).
2: 11:2. “court which is outside.” The court of the Gentiles, separated from the inner court in the Herodian temple by a low wall. Gentiles were forbidden to enter the inner court on penalty of death. That John is instructed not to measure the outer court symbolizes God’s rejection of the unbelieving Gentiles who have oppressed His covenant people. “tread the holy city underfoot.” Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome all oppressed Jerusalem in ancient times (cf. 2 Kin. 25:8–10; Ps. 79:1; Is. 63:18; Lam. 1:10). This verse refers to the future devastating destruction and oppression of Jerusalem by the forces of the Antichrist. “forty-two months.” This 3 1/2 year period covers the second half of the Tribulation and coincides with the visibly evil career of the Antichrist (v. 3; 12:6; 13:5). During this same time, the Jews will be sheltered by God in the wilderness (12:6, 14).
3. 11:3. “two witnesses.” Individuals granted special power and authority by God to preach a message of judgment and salvation during the second half of the Tribulation. The OT required two or more witnesses to confirm testimony (cf. Deut. 17:6; 19:15; Matt. 18:16; John 8:17; Heb. 10:28), and these two prophets will be the culmination of God’s testimony to Israel: a message of judgment from God and of His gracious offer of the gospel to all who will repent and believe. “sackcloth.” Coarse, rough cloth made from goat or camel hair. Wearing garments made from it expressed penitence, humility, and mourning (cf. Gen. 37:34; 2 Sam. 3:31; 2 Kin. 6:30; 19:1; Esth. 4:1; Is. 22:12; Jer. 6:26; Matt. 11:21). The witnesses are mourning because of the wretched wickedness of the world, God’s judgment on it, and the desecration of the temple and the holy city by the Antichrist.
4. 11:4. This imagery is drawn from Zech. 3, 4 (see notes there). Zechariah’s vision had both a near fulfillment (the rebuilding of the temple by Joshua and Zerubbabel) and a far future fulfillment (the two witnesses, whose ministry points toward Israel’s final restoration in the Millennium). “two olive trees and the two lamp stands.” Olive oil was commonly used in lamps; together the olive trees and lamp stands symbolize the light of spiritual revival. The two witnesses’ preaching will spark a revival, just as Joshua’s and Zerubbabel’s did in Israel after the Babylonian captivity.
5. 11:5. “fire proceeds . . . and devours.” Probably this refers to literal fire. These two will be invincible during their ministry, protected by supernatural power. The false prophet will counterfeit this sign (13:3).
6. 11:6. “power to shut heaven.” Miracles have often authenticated God’s messengers. Here, bringing a ‘3 1/2 year’ drought (as did Elijah before them) will add immeasurable torment to those experiencing the worldwide disasters of the Tribulation—and exacerbate their hatred of the two witnesses. “waters to turn them to blood.” The earth’s water, already devastated by the effects of the second and third trumpets, will become undrinkable, adding immensely to the suffering caused by the drought.
7. 11:7. “the beast.” The first of 36 references to this person in Revelation, who is none other than the Antichrist (see chap. 13). That he will ascend out of the bottomless pit indicates that his power is satanic. “kill them.” Their ministry completed, God will withdraw the two witnesses’ supernatural protection. The beast will then be able to accomplish what many had died trying to do.
8. 11:8. “bodies will lie in the street.” Refusing to bury one’s enemies was a way to dishonor and show contempt for them (cf. Acts 14:19). The OT expressly forbids this practice (Deut. 21:22, 23). “the great city.” Identifying Jerusalem as a city like Sodom and Egypt stresses the city’s wickedness. Its Jewish population will apparently be the focus of the witnesses’ ministry, leading to the conversions of v. 13.
9. 11:9. “three-and-a-half days.” The entire world will watch (undoubtedly on the latest form of visual media) and glorify the Antichrist as the bodies of the dead prophets who have been killed begin to decay.
10. 11:10. “rejoice . . . make merry . . . send gifts.” Wild with joy over the death of their tormentors, those who dwell on the earth (a phrase used 11 times in Revelation to speak of unbelievers) will celebrate the two witnesses’ deaths as a holiday.
11. 11:11. “breath of life from God entered them.” The festivities, however, are short-lived as God vindicates His faithful witnesses by resurrecting them.
12. 11:12. “ascended to heaven in a cloud.” Some may wonder why God will not allow them to preach, assuming their message would have more force following their resurrection. But that ignores Christ’s clear statement to the contrary (Luke 16:31). “enemies saw them.” Those who hated and dishonored the two witnesses will watch their vindication.
13. 11:13. “earthquake.” God punctuates the ascension of His prophets with a shattering earthquake. The destruction and loss of life may be primarily among the leaders of the Antichrist’s forces. “the rest.” This refers to the Jews still living, who will not yet have come to faith in Christ. “gave glory to the God of heaven.” A genuine experience of the salvation of Jews (cf. Luke 17:18, 19), in contrast to those who blaspheme and refuse to glorify God (16:9). This makes a key fulfilment of Zechariah’s prophecy (12:10; 13:1) and Paul’s (Rom. 11:25–27).
14. 11:14. “second woe.” The sixth trumpet (see note on 9:12). The interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpets ends (see note on 10:1). Israel’s repentance will shortly usher in the millennial kingdom (Acts 3:19–21; Rom. 11:25, 26). But first will come the final, climactic judgments.
a. 11:14. The second woe includes the sixth trumpet (9:12–21) and a second interlude (10:1–11:13).
b. 11:14. The third woe is apparently the seventh trumpet (vv. 15–19), since it is said to be coming quickly, and since 8:13 relates the woes to the last three blasts of the trumpet. The final woe may extend further since the word woe recurs in 12:12.
A. After the second woe has ended (Rev 11:14), only the seventh trumpet, which is the third and final woe, is left to come. Even more severe Godly judgments are waiting to be released by God on the earth, and on “the earth dwellers.”
B. It has been said that, “an earth dweller,” is an “earth dweller,” is an “earth dweller.” From the scriptures that tell about the earth dwellers, it is easy to see that those defiant people who have been left behind from the rapture will not come to repentance and change their minds about the deity of Christ, the Messiah. The earth dwellers show a hardening of their hearts, even in the presence of the increasing severity of God’s judgments on the earth, and on everyone that will be present on earth.
C. The following verses refer to earth dwellers of the Tribulation. Rev 3:10; 6:10; 8:13; 11:10; 13:8, 14; 17:8.
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