Saturday, 29 July 2017 19:06

76. The two witnesses: alive by the breath of God * Revelation 11:11-12 - Part 5 of 6

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11  And after three days and a half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them who saw them.

12  And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up here. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

 

PART 5

 

*** After three and a half days the Spirit of God entered into the witnesses ***: We saw in study #75 that the witnesses remained dead for three and a half prophetic days. Human reason had been elevated above God. Christianity seemed to have died. Something unexpected happened and left everyone mesmerized. The “Spirit of life from God entered into [the two witnesses]” (Revelation 11:11). The word “Spirit” is translated from the Greek word pneuma, which means “wind, breath, spirit”. Today, we have words such as pneumology, pneumonia, and pneumothorax. All these words relate to the lungs and the condition of breathing. The relationship between the Father and the Holy Spirit is so close, the Spirit is referred to as God’s breath. Revelation 11:11 says that God’s Spirit entered the two witnesses, in a similar way to the passage describing how God gave life to Adam in Genesis 2:7: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” The condition of living soul only happened once God breathed the breath of life into Adam’s nostrils. Before God’s breath was in Adam, he was nothing but dust shaped like a man, lying on the ground. The two witnesses in Revelation were also lying lifeless on the ground (Revelation 11:8) until God Himself breathed life back into them. The restoration and resurrection of the two witnesses had nothing to do with human effort. It happened by a miracle of God.

There is another Bible passage that helps us understand even more the significance of the witnesses’ resurrection. Ezekiel 37:1-14 talks about the vision of the dry bones. Ezekiel was called to prophesy to the dry bones, so they would come together once again and even grow flesh and skin. The bones only became alive when God sent His breath into them. They stood up on their feet and became a great army. The text is clear about who the dry bones represent: they are the whole house of Israel (Ezekiel 37:11). The restoration of God’s people did not happen by chance or by the people’s hard work. It happened because God did it: “And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall you know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, says the LORD.” (Ezekiel 37:13-14). The people needed to Know that God is the Lord.

*** Great fear fell upon the people of the Earth ***: The people of the Earth had been staring at the two witnesses lying dead on the ground for three and a half days and did nothing to restore their dignity (Revelation 11:9). They actually thought that the death of God’s message was a good reason to celebrate (Revelation 11:10). To their surprise and fear, the two witnesses stood up after God brought them back to life. As we saw before in previous studies, the people of the Earth are those who do not fear God or keep His commands. They were not only surprised by this unexpected turn of events, but they were also afraid. The world thought the two witnesses had been silenced forever but after just a few days, God’s witnesses were standing up strong on their feet.

*** A great voice from Heaven called the witnesses up to Heaven ***: Once God breathed life back into His witnesses, He called them up to Him, "and they ascend to heaven in a cloud” (Revelation 11:12). This sequence of events reminds us of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. On the third day after His death, Jesus resurrected. His ascension in a cloud happened sometime later, after spending several days with the disciples (Acts 1:3,9). The time between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension was spent teaching His followers everything the scriptures had to say about Him. (Lucas 24:44-45). The verse in Revelation does not say how much time passed between the resurrection of the witnesses and their ascension. It doesn’t say it happened immediately or if they spent some time on Earth continuing their witnessing. The similarities with Christ’s death and resurrection makes us think that they were not taken to Heaven immediately.

Let’s keep in mind that this entire vision about the witnesses is symbolic. The witnesses are not a specific group or people. As we’ve seen before in study #72, the two witnesses represent the Bible and the Church. When we have these two elements together, we have the active carrying of the Gospel to the World. The focus of the vision with the two witnesses is in the preaching of the Gospel to the nations.

*** Overview ***: The world thought they had done away with the Word of God and His people. They even celebrated the demise of God’s two witnesses. Human works, however, will never prevail against God’s Truth. Throughout History, unbelievers have tried to destroy the Bible and God’s true followers. Even when the situation seemed hopeless, God was able to display His power and raise His Truth from the dead, making Himself known once again. Just as Elijah and Moses were taken up to Heaven at the end of their prophetic careers, and as Jesus ascended to Heaven once His work on Earth was completed, God’s two witnesses will also be rewarded at the end, once the mission is finished. God will continue to give people a chance while there are still those who will turn back to Him. We will find out in our next study if the display of God’s power in the life of the two witnesses served as another opportunity to call unbelievers to repentance.

   
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