Study 8                                        Two witnesses

        In Revelation 11 John speaks of two witnesses. These witnesses are killed, and left lying in the street. After three and a half days life comes back into them, they stand to their feet while the onlookers are filled with fear. They are then called to heaven and ascend in a cloud. With their ascent to heaven there is a great earthquake which destroys a tenth of the city. After these events it is stated that the second woe is completed.
        I hold the two witnesses to represent two vitally important truths that are to be part of the Churches theology. Two important truths that the Church allowed to die due to neglect. However the present day revival movements are restoring these truths to the Church. So the day is coming when these truths will again take their rightful place in the heavens, with the saints. When they do the second woe is completed.
         In 1 John 5:5-11 the term 'witness' is used repeatedly. (The KJV has translated the word as "witness" as well as "record") In 1 John 5:8 the Spirit, as well as the water and the blood, are said to be witnesses on this earth. According to the text these three are witnesses to Jesus Christ. Now it is self evident that the Holy Spirit is a witness of Jesus Christ. In John 16:14 Jesus declares that the Holy Spirit “shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.”  John tells us that the Spirit, water and blood "agree in one", (1 John 5:7) Therefore the water and the blood, like the Holy Spirit must then be seen as witnesses of Jesus Christ. Given John's discourse concerning the three witnesses on earth suggests that the two witnesses Jesus speaks of in Revelation are the water and the blood.  Note: In Revelation 11:3 Jesus calls the two witnesses “my witnesses”.
          Revelation 11:4 speaks of the two witnesses as two olive trees, and two candlesticks.  To understand these metaphors we must find scripture that explains them. Zechariah 4 does so.  When Zechariah sees the candlestick and the olive trees, he questions the angel about the olive trees. Since he only asks about the olive trees implies that Zechariah understood the symbolism of the candlesticks.  He undoubtedly saw the candlesticks as representing the light of God.
          In answer to Zechariah's question about the olive trees, the angel states "Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." (4:6) The angel’s answer suggests that what is symbolized by the two olive trees is closely linked with the Holy Spirit. However Zechariah is still not satisfied, so he asks a second time about the olive trees.  The Angel's second answer is "These are the two anointed  ones." (4:14) A literal rendering of the phrase “anointed ones” is "sons of oil".  Since oil implies anointing we could say they are sons of the anointing. Now it is clear from verses like Luke 4:18, and Acts 10:38, that Jesus was anointed of the Holy Spirit. Thus it could be said that the Holy Spirit is the father of the anointing.  As the father of the anointing the Holy Spirit uses the water of the word as well as the blood of Jesus to witness to the anointing.
          We need to understand that "Christ" means “the anointed”.  Thus Christians  are anointed; for being in Christ is to be in “the anointed”. Those who have submitted to Jesus for baptism in the Holy Spirit have the rights and privilege of flowing in that anointing. For they have experienced the same Holy Spirit that descended upon Jesus for His anointing to ministry. And the Holy Spirit works with the water and the blood to maintain and enhance that anointing.
          The water is the Word!  Paul tells us that we are sanctified and cleansed by the "washing of the water by the word". (Eph 5:26)  It should be noted that the Greek term for 'word', in Ephesians 5:26, is 'rhema' not Logos. Jesus is spoken of as the Logos of God, and he speaks the 'rhema' which has spirit and life.  Receiving the Holy Spirit is likened to drinking, because He takes the written word - the Logos - and transforms it into the living word - the rhema.  A process in which the word becomes personalized to each of us. To the extent that I respond positively to the work of the Holy Spirit in personalizing the written word – allowing Him to make it a “rhema” word - to that extent I have rivers of living water flowing from within. If I do not allow this personalization of the word, there is no sanctifying or cleansing taking place. To deny this work of the Holy Spirit in the Church will eventually kill the witness of the word. When the witness of the word is killed  the witness to the anointing is also lost.
         Allow me to interject an observation at this point. Many in the charismatic movement are taken up with the anointing. The desire to be anointed is commendable, and it should be desired by all. However to run to every meeting possible hoping to find an anointing is to deny the Word. In Christ you are anointed. For this reason scripture can emphatically state: “These signs shall follow them that believe.” When you are a believer you can lay hands on the sick and see them recover. It is the Logos that says so. Allow the Holy Spirit to take that Logos word and make it a living “rhema” word to you. If you reject that witness, you reject all the benefits of that word.
        “But”, you protest, “don’t I have to be anointed to lay hands on the sick and see them recover?”
        “Precisely!”
        So are you in Christ? Then you’re in “The anointed”. And the way to make that anointing flow is to submit to Jesus Christ for your personal baptism in the Holy Spirit. Then the Holy Spirit will take the things of Christ, witnessed to by the word and the blood and make them personal to you. As you allow Him to make those witnesses personal to you the anointing will become alive in your life. It is because the Logos/Word declares “these signs shall follow them that believe” that you can expect it to happen. Know this, if the Word didn’t declare it, it wouldn’t happen even if you had every “anointed hand” laid on you in the country. For it is not the laying on of hands that anoints you. Being in Christ anoints you, and acting on the Word brings that anointing alive.
          The second witness is the blood. The blood which Jesus shed speaks of more than just the giving of his life.  The  Blood speaks of our life, for His shed blood witnesses to, and is the seal of the New Covenant. (1Cor.11:25 ; Heb.13:20) Because of that shed blood every provision of that covenant is guaranteed to you and I. One of those provisions is the experiencing of the Holy Spirit, who is the earnest - the down payment - of our inheritance. However if I deny that I can experience those provisions, I deny the witness of the blood, as well as the word.  In so doing I have rendered the witness of the blood ineffective and subject to death.
         So if you deny the work of the two witnesses in your life, you in fact render the Holy Spirit powerless.  He no longer has the witness of the word or blood to work with in your behalf.
         According to John's record these witnesses have awesome power.  That power is both positive and negative. Which of those powers are exercised depends on us, and our response to the witnesses. A positive response on the part of the Church, allows for the witnesses to destroy the enemy with fire. We saw it happen under the first trumpet. Acts records it: humanities structures of wood, and hay were burnt up.
          The witnesses are also capable of turning the waters into blood.  A positive response on the part of the Church reverses that which Satan did by turning the waters bitter. The blood speaks of life. As we act on the word, that which the word testifies to becomes reality. So take note: we don't need legislation to overcome.  We overcome as we yield and give ourselves to the working of the Holy Spirit who brings the witness of the water and the blood to experiential reality.
          A negative response on our part results in  the Holy Spirit being bond. As a result heaven is shut, and there is no rain. That is: the Holy Spirit is not allowed to move freely within the Church, resulting in the Church becoming frail and anemic. The second negative result of not giving heed to the witnesses, is that the earth is hit with plagues. The sad testimony of history is just that.  John indicated this would happen: for he tells us that the witnesses were clothed in sackcloth. Sackcloth speaks of grief caused by calamity and failure.  By the fourth century - about 200 years after John wrote Revelation - Church leaders were saying that the work of the Holy Spirit ended with the Apostles.
          As a result Apostolic doctrines and practices were on the wane.  Worldliness was on the increase.  Greek philosophy was allowed to corrupt scriptural teaching. The fire of the Holy Spirit wasn't allowed to burn out the wood, hay, and stubble. The water in the word was not allowed to cleanse and sanctify the Church.  The witness of the blood was disregarded.  Instead of a call to repentance by Church leaders, the trend to worldliness was rationalized as part of the times.  (Sound familiar?)
          A covenant blessing such as healing of the sick, by the laying on of hands and or the anointing with oil, was forbidden by Church councils.  Consequently "by the 13th century, the practice ..... had become 'last rites' for the dying."  (Christian Life Magazine Sept83) As John predicted the two witnesses had been silenced, killed by the 13th century.
          The Protestant reformation changed Christian thinking on many aspects, but it left the witnesses dead. In fact with the passing of years theologians taught that God used sickness, disease, misfortune, and death, for the benefit of the believer. It was held that these plagues enhanced a believers spiritual growth and well being. John predicted this would be so, he said: "And shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves." (11:9) Burial is an act of remembrance. Thus not to be buried is not to be brought back to memory. So it was: all could see the witnesses' bodies of truth in scripture, but none brought them back to memory.  The Churches negative response produced the negative power: no rain, and plagues.
          John in fact states that we as earth dwellers would celebrate the death of the witnesses. And so it was.  Theologians taught, preached, and practiced the death of the witnesses. We could not expect to experience what the early Church experienced. Our denominational gatherings were used to confirm and remind us - celebrate - that fact. To suggest that we should be experiencing the book of Acts was a torment to many. However the witnesses have come back to life as John declared it would be.

                                                 The Witnesses Are Alive

         January 1, 1900 marks the day of a tremendously significant spiritually historical event.  Some believers in Topeka, Kansas began to experience a personal Pentecost. (See Stanley H. Frodsham:  With Signs Following  Full Gospel Publishing; Springfield, Missouri) With it came the realization and teaching that we could personally experience what the Word talked about. This was followed by the realization that believers were covenant people.  We could experience a covenant provision such as healing. The 1950's and 60's saw a surge of healing evangelists. In more resent years we have seen the Holy Spirit renew the Church crossing all denominational lines. The witnesses are alive today, and the revival movements around the globe are daily confirming this fact. More and more the Church is coming into the realization that we are the anointed. God's kingdom is advanced on this earth by those that flow in that anointing.
          True some watching these happenings are gripped by great fear. Their not sure were they should take their stand. If you want my advice, I'd say get into the flow of what the Holy Spirit is doing today. Don't miss what God is doing and what He is going to do. For as John stated the witnesses not only come alive, they will ascend to heaven. Their ascent to heaven portrays the gospel becoming the Everest it was meant to be within the Church. The witness of the word and the blood will once again be the crown of the Churches glory. She will realize the benefits witnessed to by the word and the blood.
          In that same hour John states that there is a great earthquake. The earthquake causes two things to happen. First a tenth part of the city falls. Secondly: the earthquake kills the names of seven thousand men. For some reason many of the translations have omitted the word “names” found in the Greek text of this verse. To understand what is said we need to pay attention to the wording used in this verse.
           To speak of the death of the name of some one indicates their authority no longer has any credibility. John thereby indicates that 7000 theologians loose their credibility. Their name is said to be killed because the theology they were known and noted for becomes irrelevant. It is proved obsolete by the witnesses ascent to heaven. The number of  7000 may be used figuratively, but it could also have a literal fulfillment. There are societies such as the Biblical Studies Society which will soon have the signature of its 7000th endorsee. It could well be such a society that would be the literal fulfillment of the death of  the 7000 names of men.  We need to ask ourselves:  Am I building my own theology or am I building on the witness of the Word and the Blood? The Chruch can't servive on theological tradition, it must experience the reality of what the Word and Blood, and especially what the Holy Spirit witness to.
           Since the earthquake kills the names of seven thousand indicates this is not a literal earthquake. The other earthquakes mentioned in Revelation described spiritually significant events. In order to be consistent with the other earthquakes mentioned in Revelation, this one must also designate a spiritually significant event. In this case the event is so significant that it is stated to be "a great earthquake". It is great in the sense that it brings about a most significant shift in theological thinking. A shift in theology that is as significant as that from an Old Testament to the New Testament economy. Here however it is not a matter of the Holy Spirit being given, but the Holy Spirit being welcomed to once again do as He did in Apostolic times.
          Those activities have been intensifying since January 1 1900.  All the revival movements of the sixth seal period are part of this intensification.  These witnesses will ascend to heaven. The Church will once again live and function under their power.  We are pictured by Paul as being quickened , raised up, and seated with Jesus Christ, in the heavens. (Eph 2:4-6) When we come into a full realization of the anointing that we have in Jesus Christ, the witnesses have ascended to heaven.  That realization will bring cataclysmic changes in the Church and especially her theology.  Changes that John sees as a great earthquake.
          In this earthquake a tenth part of the city falls. The word "fell" speaks of failure, and rightly so. The city referred to is religion.  Religion that was allowed to invade the Churches life giving theology. Our present denominational structures are part of that religion and therefore part of the city of Babylon.  Reginald W. Bibby points out that there is no basic difference between the church and society, in Canada. (Fragmented Gods ; Irwin Publishing, Toronto, Ontario) I am sure that can be echoed in many other nations of the world. So the answer isn't to restructure, but to repent. We need to turn from our own ways and come under and into the anointing that we have in Jesus Christ. Only then will we cease to be part of the Babylonian system. So a tenth part of the city falling is good news, for with that fall comes a restoration of the Church of the Book of Acts.
           John's final observation is "that the remnant were affrighted and gave glory to the God of Heaven". As we have moved through history there has not been much recognition of God, let alone man glorifying God. However as we move into the events described under the two witnesses that will change.
          John’s record of the second woe began with society being involved in military conflict. In that conflict man's atrocities are called devilish and serpent like. Societies acts of aggression will not go unchallenged. Thus in the second half of the woe we are brought face to face with Jesus, who now takes command. Society will come to see and understand just what Jesus did provide for us. (Remember the sixth seal, and the wrath of the Lamb.) That provision is realized in what John describes as the witnesses ascending to heaven. The answer for society is not to improve our structures of wood, hay, and stubble.  The answer is spiritual. We are wrestling against principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places.(Eph. 5:12)   Therefore we must do battle not in the flesh, or with carnal weapons, but with God, and ordained weapons that we inherited in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the earnest of that inheritance.  So let us fight in the power of the Holy Spirit and not with carnal religious weapons.
          In light of our study of this second woe allow me to give you some practical points. The second woe speaks to two aspects of our human life: the spiritual and carnal.  The carnal is spoken to in the military part of the woe, and the spiritual is spoken to in the two witnesses. Our tendency as humans is to put a great emphasis on the carnal aspect of life. That is also a danger in the application of this second woe. Let me explain!
          In addressing the church of Thyatira, Jesus stated: "I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first."  So Jesus considered charity, service, faith, and patience to be more important than works. Applying this to the topic at hand  means that we must see our anointing as of greater importance than the promotion of anti war sentiment.
          Peter calls on us to be holy in our conduct. (1 Peter 1:15,16)  We equate holiness with morallity.  So we immediately assume that if the second woe speaks against war then our response needs to be anti war marches, rallies, and demonstrations. However that is only coming against the enemy with carnal weapons, and it does not constitute holy action.  Because there is something more important when it comes to true holiness.  You see holiness involves two things: First a setting apart from, which could be seen as the carnal; and secondly a dedication to something, which constitutes the spiritual.  We have worked with carnal weapons by promoting  the aspect of being set apart, but we have not promoted or dedicated ourselves to a holy cause. For sure we are to be set apart from warring amongst ourselves.  However that does not mean we dedicate ourselves to peace marches and demonstrations, and thereby feel we have fulfilled the second aspect of holiness. We have been redeemed for a higher purpose. We only fulfill that higher purpose when we get involved in that which redemption has provided for us. Redemption has made us Ambassadors of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:18,19) As Ambassadors we have all the rights, privileges and authority of the kingdom of God. As that Ambassador you are commissioned to do the work of the ministry. (Eph. 4:12) You as a believer have the right, privilege and authority to have signs following, to cast out devils, to speak with new tongues, to not be harmed by deadly things, and to lay hands on the sick, and have them recover. (Mark 16:17,18)   Those are not just the exclusive rights and privileges of Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, or Evangelists, those are the privileges of the believer.  Are you a believer?  If you’re a believer than you’re anointed, and you’re anointed because you’re in Christ, and Christ is in you – you’re in the anointed and the anointing is in you.
          Giving the world another peace march isn't going to get its attention.  But if you as an anointed believer heal the sick, and demonstrate the power and love of God, then the world will take note that you have been with Jesus. Jesus was not holy because he didn't associate with sinners, in fact he did. Jesus was not declared holy because He didn't sin. Jesus was holy because He accomplished that for which He was sent. His holiness is witnessed to by His healing of the sick, the raising of the dead, the casting out of devils and proclaiming liberty to the captive.  He was set apart and anointed to do His Fathers work. Jesus did it and that is why He is declared holy. We are also set apart, and anointed to do God’s work on this earth. If we don't use our anointing for that purpose, the holiness we claim we have because we don't do certain things is a shame.
         The witnesses are alive today, and they will ascend to heaven, i.e. they will take their rightful place in the Church. So if you want to be part of the action then you need to allow those witnesses to enliven your Christian walk today.  Don't allow yourself to be poured into a denominational mould, and think that anything that God does today must come approved by your denomination.
          Let me encourage you to follow through on this study.  Pray for others with the laying on of hands. Believe the anointing will flow through you. "Father in Jesus name, and by the witness of the Word and the Blood I declare that anointing released in all believers who are now exercising their rights, privileges, and authority as your Ambassadors. We dedicate ourselves to flow in that anointing, to be imitators of Jesus and Ambassadors of reconciliation in this world."
 

 
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