THE TWO WITNESSES OF GOD
by: S.R. Shearer
January 23, 2000
"And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they
shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in
"These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks
standing before the God of the earth. (Revelation 11:3-4)
Countless numbers of Christians have been led to believe that the timing
of the Rapture is of no consequence. As a result, a very cavalier and
nonchalant attitude has developed with regard to this matter. But it
is a very grave mistake to adopt such an outlook - because those who
do so, make it impossible for themselves to ever come to a meaningful
understanding of what the "Tribulation" is all about.
urge you, therefore, to examine this matter very carefully. You may
do so by accessing our material on this subject in the Antipas
Papers/Chapter IV . You will find that when you do so,
it will not be all that difficult to come to a rather exact understanding
on this matter - the church will pass through it. You
will be surprised as to how clear the Scriptures are on this matter
- though there exists a mindset in American evangelicalism today to
the contrary. But that mindset exists for reasons having very little
to do with the clarity of the Scriptures on this subject, and a great
deal to do with the spiritual condition of today's church:
"And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans (i.e., the
church of the "Latter Days") write; These things saith the Amen,
the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of
"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I
would thou wert cold or hot.
"So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor
hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
"Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and
have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched,
and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked ..." (Rev. 3:14-17)
We urge you, therefore, to examine this matter carefully. In fact,
please go no further in this article until you have done so. It is of
paramount importance that you understand this matter (i.e., the timing
of the Rapture) for yourself.
No doubt, some will be tempted to say that such an in-depth study is
too difficult and time-consuming for them to undertake. But that is
untrue. You can do it! - remember, the Scriptures were not written for
the edification of a religious elite, but they were written, rather,
to the average saints of God - and that's you and me! I am not saying
that studying the Scriptures is necessarily easy. It's not! Still, you
can master them. You don't need to be a seminarian to do so. God intends
for you to understand them. He wrote them for your sake! So take the
time to get into them.
ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH
In addition to all that we have just discussed, you must possess a commitment
to Biblical literalism: if you possess such a commitment, it will lead
you rather effortlessly and quite naturally to a second matter (beyond
the timing of the Rapture) that is essential to an understanding of
the "Tribulation:" the distinction between Israel and the church. The
fact of the matter is, as you will discover, this distinction is forced
on all those who take the Bible literally - which historic evangelicalism
does - i.e., the evangelicalism of men like Hudson Taylor, C.T. Studd,
Dwight Moody, Harry Ironside, C.I. Scofield, etc. This distinction is
called "dispensationalism" and is the central core around
which the concept of what we today call pre-millennialism is arranged,
i.e., the pre-millennialism embraced by such denominations as the Assemblies
of God, the Conservative Baptists, the Regular Baptists, etc. Charles
Caldwell Ryrie of Dallas Theological Seminary (probably
evangelicalism's premier seminary) writes:
"A dispensationalist (i.e., a biblical literalist) keeps Israel
and the church distinct. This is stated in different ways by both
friends and foes of dispensationalism. Fuller (who embraced amillennialism)
says the basic premise of dispensationalism is TWO
purposes of God expressed in the formation of TWO peoples
WHO MAINTAIN THEIR DISTINCTION THROUGHOUT ETERNITY.
Gaebelein, a friend of dispensationalism, stated it in (the same terms)
"THIS (i.e., THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH) IS PROBABLY
THE MOST BASIC THEOLOGICAL TEST OF WHETHER OR NOT A MAN IS A DISPENSATIONALIST
(i.e., a biblical literalist), AND IT IS UNDOUBTEDLY THE MOST PRACTICAL
AND CONCLUSIVE ..."
Sperry Chafer, first President of Dallas Theological Seminary,
agrees with Ryrie; he emphatically believed that if one read the Bible
literally (reading "Israel" as Israel in the prophetic Scriptures,
and the "church" as the church) one would be led systematically
and logically to the conclusion that -
"... throughout the ages God is pursuing two distinct purposes:
one related to the earth with earthly people (i.e., the Jews) and
earthly objectives ... while the other is related to heaven with heavenly
people (i.e., the Christians) and heavenly objectives, which is Christianity
..." [and one should clearly understand here that God's intention
towards the earth is every bit as powerful and profound as His intention
towards the heavens - editor].
All these men believed that the denial of the distinction between Israel
and the church rested on a very superficial understanding of the Scriptures
and the rejection of a literal interpretation of the Word of God. The
theology which denies that such a distinction exists is known as Covenant
Theology [i.e., post-millennialism (amillennialism is merely a sophisticated
adaptation of post-millennialism)] - and is the historic theology of
the liberal churches and the Roman Catholic Church.
Covenant Theology sees the ages of history as the development of a
single covenant made between God and sinners by which God would save,
through the value of Christs death on the cross, all who come
to Him by faith. While there certainly is much in Covenant Theology
which is in agreement with the Scriptures, it is woefully inadequate
to explain the "doctrine of end times" (eschatology) and ultimately
it leads the church down into the box canyon of the social, cultural
and economic reformation of man-devised institutions - which institutions
are not meant for reformation, but judgment and destruction.
"The theological terms (so dear to the Covenant theologian),
Covenant of Works and Covenant of Grace, do
not occur in the Sacred Text. If they are to be sustained it must
be wholly apart from biblical authority ... Upon this human invention
of two covenants ... [Covenant Theology (and Post-millennialism)]
... (have) largely been constructed. It sees the empirical truth that
God can forgive sinners only by the freedom which is secured by the
sacrifice of His Son - anticipated in the old order and realized in
the new - but that theology utterly fails to discern the purposes
of the ages; the (differing) ... relationships of God to the Jews
... and (of God to) the church, with the distinctive, consistent ...
obligations which arise directly and unavoidably from the nature of
each specific relationship to God. A theology which penetrates
no further into Scripture than to discover that in all ages God is
immutable in His grace towards penitent sinners (which He no doubt
is) and constructs the idea of a universal church (in which Israel
is swallowed up by the church) - a church continuing through the ages
- on the one truth of immutable grace, is not only disregarding vast
spheres of ... (Scripture) but is reaping the unavoidable confusion
and misdirection which part-truth engenders."
then, what do we have? A church that has replaced Israel? - by no means!
Rather, two entities, one heavenly - the church; and one earthly - Israel,
which compliment and mirror the other; both of which reflect
the glory of God, each in its own respective sphere. We encourage
all of you to take the time to examine this matter for yourselves in
the Antipas Papers/Chapter III .
There you have it: the church and Israel. Each is a reflection of the
other - and isn't this precisely what the New Jerusalem is all about?
Note carefully the description of this extraordinary city: the Bible
says that the city -
"had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates
twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names
of the twelve tribes of the children of ISRAEL:
"On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south
three gates; and on the west three gates.
"And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them
the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (i.e., the CHURCH).
"And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city,
and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. (Rev. 21:12-15)
note with care: it's not just the church that is present in the New
Jerusalem, but Israel as well!! - and so shall it be throughout
all eternity - Israel existing side-by-side with the church!! Again,
we strongly encourage you to study this matter for yourself in the Antipas
Papers/Chapter III . Now some of you, no doubt, think
that this is something that Antipas dreamt up - but let me assure you,
it is not. This is exactly what is taught at Dallas Theological
Seminary, and they are right in doing so.
Moreover, these facts concerning the presence of Israel and the Church
insofar as the New Jerusalem is concerned are confirmed by the references
to "Twenty-Four Elders" in the New Jerusalem (please see Revelation
4:4 and Rev. 4:10). However, if the New Jerusalem consists only of the
church, why not just twelve elders (for the twelve apostles, as in Revelation
21:14); but the reference here is not just to twelve, but to twenty-four
- twelve for Israel, and twelve for the church; hence, twenty-four.
then, what do we have here? - if we embrace the Scriptures as they pertain
to the question of the rapture, if we embrace them as they pertain to
Israel and the church, and finally, if we see the "Tribulation" for
what it is - as a "time of testing," a trial, as it were (please see
our material on this in the Antipas Papers/Chapter
XI ), then we are left with both Israel and the church together in this
time of testing; and the question arises, Why? What is God's purpose
in this matter? - and remember, there is nothing "happenstance" with
God. There is nothing "casual" about Him. There is purpose in everything
He does. What then is God's purpose for the church and Israel during
This at last brings us to the matter of -
THE TWO WITNESSES
A witness is someone who attests to a fact, who gives evidence. Moreover,
the testimony which is given must be based on a FIRSTHAND
account - it cannot be based on what someone else said [hearsay].
In a legal sense, and as we have already indicated, a witness is a
person called upon to OBSERVE a legal transaction in order
to testify concerning it, especially if it is later called into question;
he is required to be present at the transaction, HE MUST OBSERVE
IT PERSONALLY. In criminal cases, a witness is someone who can
give firsthand evidence as to the guilt or innocence of the accused.
GODS LAW DEMANDS THE
PRESENCE OF TWO WITNESSES
"... but no person shall be put to death on the testimony of
one witness." (Numbers 35:30)
"A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account
of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence
of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed." (Deut.
"On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who
is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the
evidence of one witness." (Deut. 17:6)
"[Jesus said] even in your law it has been written, that the
testimony of two men is true." (John 8:17)
Throughout the Scriptures, and permeating all of Gods dealings
with man, God has adhered to an iron-clad principle that He Himself
laid down: THAT NO MATTER BEFORE THE LAW SHALL BE ESTABLISHED WITHOUT
THE TESTIMONY OF TWO WITNESSES. This principle is central
to all of Gods dealings with man. There were two tables of testimony
[the law] in the Ark of the Covenant; two cherubim that covered the
Ark; two witnesses were necessary for a fair trial; the disciples were
named in pairs and sent out two by two - not that they might keep each
other company [as some naively suppose], but that the testimony of the
one could be substantiated by the testimony of the other according to
the Law; AND FINALLY, TWO WITNESSES SHALL TESTIFY DURING THE TRIBULATION
[the Seventieth Week].
THE PROPHETIC SCRIPTURES: A MYSTERY
The prophetic Scriptures have been written as parables, a puzzle. Their
meaning has been shrouded in a mystery, a seemingly impenetrable haze.
Why? - to protect them from those against whom their message is directed:
from governments, peoples, and organizations. And most especially,
to protect them from the false religious leaders of todays apostate
church, who - if they truly knew what had been written - would destroy
the Scriptures if they could. As it is written:
"Therefore I [Jesus] speak to them in parables; because while
seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear nor do
"And in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled,
which says, You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive ... "
(Matthew 13: 13-14)
But parables are surely clever devices, for while their purpose is
to obscure truth from some, at the same time their purpose is to reveal
truth to others. To some the prophetic Scriptures will always remain
an enigma, while to those called according to His purpose, they are
a cipher which, with study (II Tim. 2:15), can be unraveled:
"And the disciples came and said to Him, Why do You speak
to them in parables? And He answered and said to them, To
you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,
but to them it has not been granted." (Matthew 13:10-11)
THE MYSTERY OF THE TWO WITNESSES
With all this in mind, lets look now at the mystery of the Two
Witnesses. And we will begin by looking at the reference to them in
"Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel
stood, saying, Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar,
and those who worship there.
"But leave out the court which is outside the temple,
and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And
they will tread the holy city under foot for forty-two months. [3-1/2years]
"And I will give power to my TWO WITNESSES and they
will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days [three and
a half years], clothed in sackcloth.
"These are the TWO OLIVE TREES and the TWO LAMPSTANDS
standing before the God of the earth.
"And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from
their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm
them, he must be killed in this manner.
"These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls
in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to
turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as
often as they desire.
"Now when they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends
out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them,
and kill them.
"And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great
city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our
Lord was crucified.
"Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations
will see their dead bodies three and a half days, and not allow
their dead bodies to be put into graves.
"And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them,
make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets
tormented those who dwell on the earth.
"Now after the three and a half days the breath of life from
God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell
on those who saw them.
"And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, Come
up here. And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their
enemies saw them.
"In the same hour there was a great earthquake seven thousand
men were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the
God of Heaven.
"The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly.
"Then the seventh angel sounded: and there were loud voices
in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world have become
the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever
"And the twenty-four elders who are before God on their thrones
fell on their faces and worshipped God, saying:
"We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who
is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great
power and reigned.
"The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, And
the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should
reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who
fear Your name, small and great, And should destroy those who destroy
"Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark
of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings,
noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail." (Revelation
UNRAVELING THE MYSTERY
OF THE TWO WITNESSES
We have already seen that the Tribulation is a test - a trial; mankind
and the nations of the earth are to be judged. Witnesses are to be called
[subpoenaed] to observe, record, and give evidence as to the test results
so there will be no question at a later date as to the veracity of the
test. The question naturally arises, then, who are these witnesses upon
whom so much rests? Its a puzzle. Certain Christians have attempted
to answer the puzzle by contending that these two witnesses are Moses
and Elijah [some say Moses and Enoch or Elijah and Enoch] who shall
come back to earth and testify in the city of Jerusalem for three and
a half years, breathing fire from their mouths like human torches. But
such an interpretation borders on the absurd and is unreasonable, and
the Scriptures are neither absurd nor unreasonable. Moreover, such an
interpretation makes a mockery of the evidence which is presented in
the chapter. Its a mystery, a puzzle, a cipher - a PARABLE
- the purpose of which is to obscure the meaning from those against
whom it is directed, so that:
"... You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; And
you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive ..." (Matthew
With all this in mind, lets look now at the mystery of the Two
THE OMNIPRESENCE OF
THE TWO WITNESSES
The Scripture indicates that these Two Witnesses have power over the
whole earth and their presence extends evidently to every continent
and land (Rev. 11:6). Now is such a thing possible for two single individuals?
Not even the angels have such power. Only God - and He alone - is omnipresent,
that is to say, capable of being everywhere at once. Even Christ, though
Himself God, confined Himself to the limitations of humanity and restricted
His presence during His earthly ministry to just one location at one
given time, just as you or I are so restricted [and the angels for that
matter also]. Indeed, those living in Rome, Spain, Gaul [France], Britain,
Germany, etc., never heard of Christ or knew of His presence during
His time here on earth. Only later, through the ministry of the Holy
Spirit in acting through the agency of the apostles and disciples [the
Church], did these lands and peoples hear of Jesus Christ. Could two
single human beings [or angels, for that matter] extend their presence
beyond the limits that even Christ imposed upon Himself during His own
earthly sojourn? Could their human [or angelic] presence be translated
from the finite to the infinite? If the answer is no - which it obviously
must be - how then can we account for the apparent omnipresence of the
And more, what does one REASONABLY do with that portion
of the Scripture cited above which says that when the Two Witnesses
desire to injure anyone, "fire goeth forth out of their mouth."
Can anyone reasonably suppose that literal fire will issue forth from
their mouths? If this is so, then one should apply such reasoning equally
across the board and make the same supposition with regard to the references
in Scripture which state that a sword will issue forth from Christs
mouth (Rev. 1:16). Such reasoning on the face of it is absurd! and -
as we have already indicated - the Scriptures are neither unreasonable
nor absurd. If such statements were made in any other piece of literature,
they would, on the face of it, be judged allegorical. The Bible must
be read in the same fashion! The Bible is speaking in parables.
You answer, "Well, God can do anything!" Yes, He can. But
more often than not, He works within the limitations of His own Law.
You say again, "God has, on occasion, set His Law aside in order
to intervene directly in the affairs of man, such as when He made the
sun to stand still for Moses." Yes, thats true, again - though
one is still forced to admit that it borders on the ridiculous to picture
two human beings [Elijah and Moses] walking about the streets of Jerusalem
breathing fire out of their mouths like human torches. But NEVER has
He shared His divine essence with any of His creation - and thats
exactly what He would have to do in order to grant the quality of omnipresence
to these Two Witnesses.
THE WAR BETWEEN THE TWO
WITNESSES AND THE ANTICHRIST
Moreover, Revelation 11:7 states that:
"... the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit [Antichrist]
will make war against them [the Two Witnesses], overcome them, and
kill them ..." (Revelation 11:7).
Once again, certain Christians have attempted to interpret this verse
as meaning that the Antichrist will seize the Two Witnesses in the city
of Jerusalem [where they will be preaching] and murder them. But is
this an adequate explanation? It hardly seems so.
Lets examine this verse in greater detail, for we know from the
context that Antichrist does something to them, but exactly what, we
are not yet sure. The verse says that he makes war with them. The interpretation
we have just examined has watered the word war down in latitude to murder.
Now, while both war and murder are heinous in themselves, their scope
is vastly different! The word war implies killing on a huge scale, while
the word murder implies killing on a much more limited scale.
The Greek word for murder is phoneuo and means killing in the
same sense that the word murder means in the English language, usually
the criminal killing of a single isolated individual [or, rarely, individuals,
plural]. But that is specifically NOT the GREEK word that is used here.
So, whatever it is that Antichrist does to the Two Witnesses, it is
much more than this.
continue our examination by looking at the actual Greek word for war.
As we saw earlier in Chapter XI of the Antipas Papers,
there are two words for war in the Greek language - mache and
polemos . The word mache means battle, while the word
polemos means war. Their meaning is the same, but, once again,
their scope is vastly different. A battle is a single isolated engagement
between two opposing armies which - though it can be terribly intense
in and of itself - is still limited in time and space, while polemos
is a whole SERIES of battles fought over a much longer period of time
and over a much greater stretch of territory. While the scope of killing
implied by mache is obviously much greater than what is implied by the
word phoneuo, the scope of slaughter implied by polemos
is that much greater still than that which is implied by mache.
These distinctions are observed by Trench [New Testament Synonyms],
Thayer [Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament], and Vincent [Word
Studies in the New Testament].
POLEMOS IS THE WORD USED IN REVELATION 11:7. Even if
the word mache had been the one used in connection with the Two
Witnesses, the use of that word in connection with two single human
beings would have been rendered unintelligible. But to use the word
polemos in reference to the murder of two single individuals
in the city of Jerusalem is akin to using a nuclear bomb to kill a gnat.
It renders it impossible - its sheer idiocy.
THE TWO WITNESSES & THE "GREAT
CITY" OF REVELATION 11
But lets continue. How should we understand the passage:
"And their dead bodies [the dead bodies of the Two Witnesses]
will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually [which
in this sense is better translated as "allegorically"
(NEB)] is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
"Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations
will see their dead bodies ..." (Revelation 11:8-9a)
Once again, there are certain Christians who interpret this passage
as meaning that Moses and Elijah will be killed in the city of Jerusalem,
and that through the medium of television all the peoples of the world
will see their dead bodies in the city and will rejoice over their murder.
But is this an adequate explanation? No, it does not appear to be so;
it breaks down at several points. And more than that, in this specific
instance, the passage is clearly called ALLEGORICAL.
Lets look at the evidence. The above interpretation says that
the Two Witnesses will be murdered in the city of Jerusalem. But
the name of Jerusalem is not mentioned. The reference given is
simply to "... that great city" which, allegorically, is called
"Sodom and Egypt."
But Jerusalem is not known in Scripture as a "great" city; nor is it
ever referred to as "Sodom and Egypt." Indeed, the King James
and the New King James version of the Bible mistranslated the words
in Revelation 21:10 as that "great city, New Jerusalem." The
Revised, Emphasized and the New American Standard Bibles correctly render
the same phrase as that "holy city..." The word great
does not appear in the older Greek manuscripts in reference to Jerusalem,
only the word Holy.
Thus, while Jerusalem is referred to as the "Chosen City"
(II Chron. 6:6), the "City of Peace" [which is its meaning],
the "Holy City" (Neh. 11:1, Rev. 21:10), the "Throne
of the Lord" (Jer. 3:17), the "City of Truth" (Zech.
8:3), the "City of the Great King" (Matt. 5:35), and the "City
of the Living God" (Heb. 12:22), it is not known as a "great
city." Indeed, Psalm 122:3 says that Jerusalem is a small, compact
city - a city limited in space and area. Jerusalem has never derived
its prominence because it was one of the great cities of the earth -
a Babylon, a Ninevah, a Rome, a Paris, a London, or a New York; rather,
it is because Jerusalem is a "holy city" that its fame is
known throughout the earth. Why then would God here [in Revelation 11:8]
refer to "Holy Jerusalem" as "great?"
But you say, "the passage refers to the city where Jesus was crucified
- and clearly He was crucified in Jerusalem!" But Jesus was
NOT crucified in the city of Jerusalem at all. The Scripture
is quite clear about this! All the Gospel accounts are extraordinarily
careful to point out the fact that Jesus was crucified OUTSIDE
the city walls at a place called Calvary or Golgotha, a place close
to Jerusalem, but definitely OUTSIDE the city proper!
[Please see Davis, Dictionary of the Bible, Baker, pg. 110.] This is
substantiated by Hebrews 13:11-12:
"For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into
the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, ARE
BURNED OUTSIDE THE CAMP.
"Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through
His own blood suffered [was crucified] outside the gate
[Jerusalem]." (Hebrews 13:11-12)
The reference, then to "that great city which ALLEGORICALLY
(NEB) is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified ..."
could not possibly be to Jerusalem. This is no small point, and neither
is the Scripture playing games with us here. Its a puzzle! A cipher!
THE BREAKDOWN OF THE COMMON
INTERPRETATIONS OF THE TWO WITNESSES
It seems then that on every point the interpretation which makes the
Two Witnesses merely two single human beings [or even angles] breaks
down and collapses into ruin when examined closely. Then, who are these
Now, before we begin our inquiry, there are certain rules with which
we must agree. Parables are puzzles - ciphers. They must be decoded.
But in decoding a cipher, we must stay within the bounds of Scripture
and reason. Parables are never unreasonable. They do not demand illogical
conclusions such as the perception of the Two Witnesses as human torches
breathing fire from their mouths. With this in mind, lets start.
Lets begin our examination by inquiring into the apparent omnipresence
of the Two Witnesses during the Tribulation. They appear to be everywhere
at once. Yet we know that its not possible for any creature to
possess the divine quality of omnipresence - so we seem to have reached
an impasse. This means then that the Two Witnesses could not possibly
be two single human beings; neither could they be angels, for even the
angels do not possess omnipresence. Its a puzzle, its a
THE TWO WITNESSES AS CORPORATE PERSONS
But again, the answer is not all that difficult. Anyone with even a
modicum of knowledge concerning the Bible knows that the Bible has a
lot to say about another kind of being, another kind of entity; God
calls these entities by name and refers to them as "beloved."
They are two in number and they are CORPORATE beings:
Israel and the Church!
Now what is a corporate being? A corporate being is a body or group
of people united together in a common cause. The everyday business corporation
is an example of a corporate being - for instance, General Motors. General
Motors is composed of thousands of single human beings united together
to build automobiles. All the members of General Motors work as a team,
and they all work under one authority. Furthermore, General Motors [like
all CORPORATIONS] is not limited in time and space as is a single human
being; it is, in a very real sense, OMNIPRESENT! Moreover - unlike
a single human being whose activities can be carried on only in one
place and at one time - its activities are GLOBAL. It exists simultaneously
in Detroit, New York, and San Francisco; in Europe, Asia, Africa and
Latin America. It makes automobiles on one continent and sells them
on another, and it does all this simultaneously from city to city, nation
to nation, continent to continent. Its members come and go, live and
die, but General Motors just continues on. Moreover, the laws of the
United States treat General Motors as if it were a citizen like any
other citizen. It is a "Corporate PERSON." It even
possesses all the protection afforded to you and me as citizens by the
Constitution. It can sue and be sued at a court of law; it can buy and
own property; it can sell property. And all this is as true in any other
country as it is here in the United States.
Business corporations derive their existence from man - specifically
from the nations in which they are chartered. Indeed, nations themselves
are another type of corporate being - though much broader in scope.
The number and variety of corporations, CORPORATE BEINGS or CORPORATE
PERSONS, are staggering. There are nations, from Uganda to China,
and from France to Italy; there are business corporations from General
Motors to IBM, and from Nissan to Standard Oil; there are farm trusts,
charity trusts, hospitals, and so on, and so on. Its almost endless.
ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH -
GODS CORPORATE PERSONS
And in all these instances, these CORPORATE PERSONS are the creations
of man - EXCEPT FOR TWO: ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH!
Israel and the Church stand alone! For they, and they alone, derive
their existence from God! For what business corporation, or for that
matter, nation, can say with Israel:
"Look down from heaven, and see from Your habitation, holy
and glorious. ...
"Doubtless You are our Father, ... You, O Lord, are our Father;
Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name." (Isaiah 63:15-16)
And again, to what other nation or corporate person did God ever say:
"... For I am a Father to Israel, ...
"Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the
isles afar off, and say,
"He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as
a shepherd does his flock.
"For the Lord has redeemed Jacob [Israel], and ransomed him
from the hand of one stronger than he." (Jeremiah 31:9-11)
And to what corporation of man did Christ ever say [as He does to the
Church] that it is,
"... His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all."
"... Christ ... loved the church and gave Himself up for her;
"that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing
of water with the word,
"that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory,
having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should
be holy and blameless.
"... for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and
cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church ..." (Ephesians
ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH AS GODS WITNESSES
Moreover, these divine corporate beings are referred to SPECIFICALLY
as Gods witnesses. To Israel, God says:
"But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and
he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed
you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.
"Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people
be assembled ... Let them bring out their witnesses ...
"[But] YOU ARE MY WITNESSES, says
the Lord, And My servant whom I have chosen ..."
And to the Church, He says:
"... and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the
earth." (Acts 1:8)
ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH AS THE TWO
WITNESSES OF REVELATION 11
Finally, lets examine the two objects to which the Two Witnesses
- The OLIVE TREE
- The LAMPSTAND [Candlestick]
These are code words. Ciphers. But ciphers for what? Again, its
really not all that difficult.
Almost all biblical scholars agree that the term "Olive Tree"
is a Scriptural reference, not to a single individual such as Moses
or Elijah, but to a whole people and nation - a CORPORATE being or person
- Israel (Romans 11).
The same is true with the term, "Lampstand." It is common
knowledge in the church that the term "Lampstand" is a Biblical
reference to the Church. In fact, in the book of Revelation, the seven
Churches (Revelation 1-3) are all represented by a lampstand.
Finally, the Scriptures, as if to emphasize further the corporate nature
of the Two Witnesses, represent each single witness with two objects,
not one. Why? Why should not the one witness be represented by just
one lampstand, and the other witness by just one olive tree? The reason,
again, is simple. The number "two" in this case signifies
PLURALITY and indicates that the Scripture has in mind
here two CORPORATE or PLURAL beings rather than single individuals.
THE MYSTERY UNVEILED
If we once see the Two Witnesses as CORPORATE PERSONS - ISRAEL
and the CHURCH - than the entire puzzle falls into place.
A parenthetical comment here is perhaps necessary:
Israels blindness with regard to Christ is not destined to be
fully removed until the Second Advent [i.e., the Coming of Christ in
"And I will pour (out) upon the house of David and upon the
inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace (unmerited favor), and
of supplications. And they shall look (earnestly) upon me whom they
have PIERCED (when Christ appears at the Mount to rescue Israel during
the siege of Jerusalem - i.e., Armageddon), and they shall mourn for
him (i.e., Christ), as one mourneth for his only son, and (they) shall
be in bitterness (deep sorrow) for Him as one who is in bitterness
(deep sorrow) for his firstborn." [(cf. John 19:37 and Rev. 1:7);
Zech. 12:10 RSV.]
There are those who would object to Israel being a Witness of God while
not yet fully saved. But, it must be remembered that the Tribulation
is the very process (a process in which the many very courageous messanic
Jews in Israel are today playing a very crucial part) whereby Israels
blindness is to be removed, the Second Coming of Christ being merely
the culmination of that process. And even today, ISRAELS VERY
PRESENCE IN THIS PRESENT EVIL WORLD AFTER 2,000 YEARS OF DISPERSION
IS A TESTIMONY TO GODS UNMERITED GRACE. Indeed, the entire
world finds itself today revolving around a nation of little more than
a few million souls - a seeming absurdity by any standard. The Church
also will be undergoing a similar transformation, for prior to the Seventieth
Week the condition of the Church [and we mean here the so-called born-again
Church] is characterized by the Scriptures as being one in which Christ
can no longer find a home, a condition where Christ finds Himself outside
the gate, knocking to get in (Revelation 3:14-20). [That this passage
has specific reference to the "End Times Church," all evangelical
scholars would agree - please see Millers Church History.] For
the Bible says with regard to us both [both Israel and the Church] that
"God hath concluded them all [both groups] in unbelief, that he
might have mercy upon all. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom
and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways
past finding out.] [Romans 11:32-33.]
The cipher is now solved. While it was ridiculous to speak of the Beast
[Antichrist] making war [polemos] against two individual saints,
such in not the case if these Two Witnesses are Israel and the Church
- for both Israel (including those Jews in the Dispersion) and the church
[especially the latter] are worldwide in their reach, touching in their
presence every continent and every nation.
And while it bordered on the absurd to speak of fire coming out of
the mouths of two single individuals, like dragons in a fairy tale or
human torches at the circus, one can with J.P. Lange [in his Commentaries
on the Holy Scriptures], apprehend that fire now as the fire of
"When they [the Two Witnesses] desire to injure anyone, fire
goeth out of their mouth. This can of course only be spiritual fire;
just as the sword issuing forth from the mouth of the Lord. Nevertheless,
it is the fire of judgment; it devoureth their enemies."
It is like the fire of judgment that devoured Ananias and Sapphira,
"But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your
heart to lie to the Holy Spirit ...
"And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and ... [died];
and great fear came upon all who heard of it." (Acts 5:3, 5)
Moreover, the difficulty which we encountered with regard to the references
to the great city which allegorically is called "Sodom and Egypt"
is cleared up. While Jerusalem is not referred to as "great"
in the Holy Scriptures (at least not so in reference to the other great
cities of the world), there is such a city to which this adjective is
appended over and over again:
"... mystery, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER
OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH."
"While Jerusalem cannot be supposed to be this city ... another
collective city, Babylon, might easily correspond."
The term "great city" must then have reference not to "holy
Jerusalem," but "Babylon the Great," for within Babylon
are both the beauty of Egypt and the wretchedness of Sodom. Both Egypt
and Sodom constitute the "makeup" of Babylon; Egypt with its
treasure, civilization, art, education, etc; and Sodom with its homosexuality
and unnatural affections - both are a part of Babylon the Great. It
is here, in the streets of Babylon in its empire-wide sense, that the
Two Witnesses shall lie; and it is here in the streets of Babylon -
where false and apostate religion has always thrived - that the Lord
of Glory was crucified.
The existence side-by-side of Sodom and Egypt has always been the hallmark
of Babylon the Great - i.e., the world - and most especially Western
Civilization. Violence, corruption, and bloodshed coupled with luxury,
a refined culture, and a love of art and music: this is the "coupling"
of Sodom and Egypt spoken of in chapter eleven of the book of Revelation.
The immorality and sensuous intellectuality of Athens is an example.
A parallel is also easily discernible in the descriptions of ancient
Rome given by Tacitus, Juvenal and others in the time of the Caesars.
For then the whole society was utterly corrupted, the temples were merely
mad excuses for houses of prostitution, and that in the name of their
religions: the streets were filled with violence, and the sport of the
day consisted of the gleeful slaughter of thousands in the Coliseum
for the amusement of the citizens of Rome. And yet, in the midst of
this vice, immorality, gluttony, and cruelty there prevailed in the
company of magnificent splendor a high appreciation of music, sculpture,
and art, generally, as well as a refined taste for literature and especially
Nor were the times of Leo the Tenth (Pope 1513-1521) much different,
or of Paris during the Jacobins, Berlin in the 1920s, and New York and
San Francisco even today. Lange continues:
"It is most significantly said: their corpses lie in the streets
of the great city ... The great city itself is called Sodom and Egypt
... There, adds the Seer [prophet], their Lord was crucified. The
crucifixion of Christ was itself the result of a coalition of ...
[Sodom and Egypt] ... Their corpses lie there ...[for] three days
and a half. And precisely this fact is a cause of delight to those
who dwell on the Earth ... They rejoice over the apparent destruction
of the Two Witnesses; they hold feasts and contemplate further festivities;
mutual greetings, in the way of presents or compliments, are exchanged
... The reason for all this is as follows: these two prophets
tormented them that dwell upon the earth."
There is nothing so tormenting to the minds of unrighteous men than
to be confronted with pure and unsullied righteousness in the midst
of their own vile, hateful, and loathsome wickedness. Why? Because -
deep down in their hidden parts, in the deeper recesses of their souls
- they know right from wrong! They can hide it, sublimate it, bury it,
and put it out of sight in the frenzy of their lusts. But when confronted
with it in others, it is torture!
"... because that which is known about God is evident within
them; for God made it evident to them.
"Professing to be wise, they became fools ...
"Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts
to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them [in
"For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped
and served the creature rather than the Creator ...
"... being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed,
evil [fornication] ...
"... although they know the ordinances of God, that those
who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the
same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them."
(Romans 1:19, 22, 24, 25, 29, 32)
They cannot abide righteousness in others; they cannot stand to be
in the presence of righteous men. And they will do one of two things
when confronted with such a situation: they will first of all seek to
subvert them - to bring them down to their level. And, oh, the joy and
happiness, the pleasure and delight when they are successful. The laughter!
The slap on the back! The assurances that, "it wasnt all
that bad, now, was it? Youre still alive, arent you? Lightning
didnt strike you? And wasnt it fun!"
But when unsuccessful, oh, the hatred! the hostility! Murder and slaughter
enter the heart, and death is the only answer of the unrighteous to
the righteous who refuses to be subverted. This was the answer of the
Roman state to Peter and Paul, to Ignatius and Polycarp; it was the
answer of the Apostate Catholic Church to Huss and Jerome; it was the
answer of the Nazi state to Bonhoffer. And so it will be the answer
of Babylon the Great to the Two Witnesses.
THE TWO WITNESSES OF DANIEL 12
In addition to the references to the "Two Witnesses" in Revelation
11, there are additional references to them in the Scriptures; one is
found in Daniel 12 and it substantiates Revelation 11. It reads as follows:
"... and there will be a time of anguish for Gods people
greater than any previous suffering in their history (i.e., the
"And those who are wise - the people of God (Israel and the
church) - shall shine as brightly as the suns brilliance (because
of the purging effects of persecution and tribulation), and those
who turn many to righteousness will glitter like stars forever (because
of their righteousness and testimony).
"Then I, Daniel, looked and saw TWO MEN (lit.
persons, the Two Witnesses) on each bank of the river. And one of
them (one of the Two Witnesses) asked the man in linen robes (Christ)
who was standing now above the river (hovering over it). How
long will it be before the terrors end? (i.e., the terrors
of the last half of the Tribulation).
"He (i.e., Christ) replied, with both hands lifted to heaven
... that they will not end until three and a half years (i.e., the
last half of the tribulation; other translations read "time,
times, and half a time") after the power of Gods people
(Israel and the church) has been crushed.
"I heard what he said, but I didnt understand what he
meant, so I said, Sir, how will this come out?
"But He said, Go now, Daniel, for what I have said is
not to be understood until the time of the end (i.e., until the
"Many shall be purified by great trials and persecutions.
But the wicked shall continue in their wickedness, and none of
them will understand. Only those who are willing to learn
will know what it means." (Daniel 12:6-10)
THE TWO WITNESSES AND THE 144,000
Finally, coded - but very specific - references to the "Two Witnesses"
are made insofar as the "marking out" or "sealing"
of the "saints of God" during the last half of the Seventieth
Immediately after the Abomination of Desolation - and just prior to
the blowing of the seven trumpets (which signifies the beginning of
the second half of the Tribulation and the supernatural events which
pertain to it) - the "saints of God" are sealed. Why? - to
protect them from the supernatural events of this period.
The sealing of Gods servants directly concerns the passages of
Scripture which deal with the so-called "144,000." There is
perhaps no other group of verses around which so much misunderstanding
and confusion swirl than those verses which deal with the 144,000 of
Revelation 7:1-8 and Revelation 14:1-7. It is a sad commentary on all
of us in the Christian community that so much "elitism" has
resulted from false interpretations concerning the message of these
passages of Scripture. It is of the utmost importance, therefore, that
once again we recognize that these Scriptures - like the Scriptures
which dealt with the Two Witnesses, etc. - have been written in code,
their message hidden in a parable or a cipher.
THE 144,000 OF REVELATION SEVEN
AND REVELATION FOURTEEN
The first important fact that we should note with regard to these passages
is that the 144,000 of Revelation 7 are different from the 144,000 of
Revelation 14. WE ARE DEALING WITH TWO DIFFERENT GROUPS.
In comparing the 144,000 of Revelation 14 with the 144,000 of Revelation
7, Kelly writes that the group in Revelation 14 is:
a remnant, not merely sealed as the servants of God
[like a similar band out of the twelve tribes of Israel in chapter
vii (7) - Kelly], but brought into association with the Lamb in Zion,
that is, with GODS ROYAL PURPOSE IN GRACE
In commenting on Kelley, Pentecost writes:
held that those in chapter 7 are on earth and
these (in chapter 14) in heaven, making Mt. Zion the heavenly city,
New Jerusalem. Those in chapter fourteen are said to be identified
with the Lamb and those in chapter seven are not. Those in chapter
seven are "sealed" but those in chapter fourteen have "the
Fathers name written in their foreheads."
One group is heavenly, the other earthly, one group "
follows the Lamb whithersoever he goeth," the second group is numbered
exclusively from the twelve tribes of Israel. Thus, there can be no
doubt as to their identity: the 144,000 of Revelation 7 being Israel,
and the 144,00 of Revelation 14 being the Church.
Both groups must be protected or sealed, but look - in actuality only
one group is shown to be sealed, the group in Revelation 7. Why? Because
the group in Revelation 14 - the Church - has already been sealed. Those
in the Church - when they received Christ as their Savior - were "sealed
by the Holy Spirit of Promise" at that time and there is no further
need to reseal them, as it were, like some half empty bottle of soda:
"In whom ye also trusted after that ye heard the word of truth,
the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed,
YE WERE SEALED WITH THAT HOLY SPIRIT OF PROMISE,
"Which is the earnest [down payment] of our inheritance until
the redemption of the purchase possession, unto the praise of his
glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14)
Lets look at both groups of 144,000 in greater detail.
THE 144,000 OF REVELATION SEVEN - ISRAEL
begin by examining the 144,000 of chapter 7. We first come in contact
with this group just prior to the events described in the previous chapter,
that is to say before the commencement of the supernatural events of
the last half of the Seventieth Week - the Great Tribulation. Just prior
to the blowing of the seven trumpets [which signify the beginning of
the phenomenal events of this period], an angel of God descends from
the east having the seal of the living God and it is announced to the
fallen angels and the demons that they at last have permission to torment
(Please see Chapter VIII of the Antipas Papers) the very
spirit of man itself - which now, through the Abomination of Desolation,
has been abandoned by the "Restrainer" and given over to the power of
Satan - EXCEPT THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN SEALED BY GOD:
"And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass
of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only
those men which have not the SEAL OF GOD in their foreheads."
It is extremely important at this point to ascertain the exact sequence
of events which now occurs. In order to do this, a number of verses
must be brought together - all specifically related to the events surrounding
the Abomination of Desolation: namely Revelation 7:1-8; 9:4-5; and 12:1-17.
Revelation 7:1-8 describes the sealing itself and those who are sealed
(i.e., Israel); Revelation 9:4-5 describes why; and Revelation 12:1-7
gives the events surrounding the sealing; these events pertain to the
woman "clothed with the sun," in Revelation chapter 12.
THE WOMAN OF
REVELATION CHAPTER TWELVE
"And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed
with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown
of twelve stars:
"And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and
pained to be delivered
. And she brought forth a manchild,
who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was
caught up unto God, and to his throne.
the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared
of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and
threescore days [three and a half years].
and when the dragon [Satan - please see Chapter IX
of the Antipas Papers] saw that he was cast [out of
heaven] unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth
the man child.
"And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that
she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is
nourished for a time, and times, and half a time [three and a half
years], from the face of the serpent.
"And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after
the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
"And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her
mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his
"And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make
war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of
God, and have the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 12:12; 5-6; 13-17).
THE IDENTITY OF THE WOMAN
there has been general agreement among commentators of all types concerning
the identity of the two aforementioned individuals [i.e., the dragon
as Satan (Please see Chapter IX of the Antipas Papers)
and the manchild as Christ, there is a great diversity of interpretation
concerning the key individual in this passage" [i.e., the woman].
There have been many false interpretations of the identity
of this woman. Some have held that it was Mary.
the only feature to make this possible would be the fact of motherhood,
for Mary was never persecuted, never fled into the wilderness, was
never cared for 1260 days. Others have held that this woman is the
church that is travailing to bring Christ to the nations. This, however,
and must be rejected
Still others have identified the woman as the leader of some particular
sect; but only by the wildest vagaries of the imagination could some
present day individual be pressed into the interpretation here.
It has [always] been the interpretation of dispensational
premillennialists [i.e., evangelicals] that the woman in this passage
represents the nation Israel.
Inasmuch then as the woman represents that which is
to display divine government in the earth, and Israel is Gods
appointed instrument to that end [the Church being the instrument
of divine government in the heavens], this woman must be identified
Again, a short parenthesis:
"The quotation from Psalm 2 [Thou art my SON; this day have I
begotten thee ... Thou shalt break them (the nations) with a ROD OF
IRON (Psalm 2:7,9)], which all would agree is a Messianic Psalm, identifies
the man child here as none other than Jesus Christ. The fact of the
birth, the fact of the destiny of this child, for He is to rule
all nations with a ROD OF IRON, and the fact of the ascension,
since He is caught up unto God, and to His throne, all cause
the identification to point to one person, the Lord Jesus Christ, for
of none other could all three statements be made." [Pentecost,
Things To Come, pg. 286.]
the parallel between Revelation 12 and Micah 5 establishes once and
for all the identity of the woman as Israel. Micah 5:2 records the birth
of the ruler who shall rule all nations "with a rod of iron."
It then records the rejection of this ruler by the nation of Israel
and the resulting setting aside of the nation ["therefore will
he give them up
(Mic. 5:3)], which brings to an end the first
Sixty-Nine Weeks of Daniel [see chapter VI of the Antipas Papers].
The nation is then pictured by the prophet as being in TRAVAIL [dispersion
in, and PERSECUTION by the Gentile nations] "
until the time
that she [Israel] which travaileth hath brought forth" (Mic. 5:3);
that is, until her blindness concerning Christ [her Messiah] is removed
(Romans 11:25) and she is once again restored into Gods plan and
in conjunction with the accomplishment of the purpose
of God respecting Israel
Christ was born (Micah v. 2); then
comes His rejection
the prophecy passes by all that has to
do with the church and takes up Christs birth
it is put figuratively, as Zion travailing till the birth of this
great purpose of God as touching Israel
[and continuing until]
Gods people will [at last
resume their ancient place."
Finally, in Romans 9:4-5, Paul writes concerning Israel:
of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came
And insofar as the identification of the "manchild" is concerned,
"The quotation from Psalm 2 [Thou art my SON; this day have
I begotten thee ... Thou shalt break them (the nations) with a ROD
OF IRON (Psalm 2:7,9)], which all would agree is a Messianic Psalm,
identifies the man child here as none other than Jesus Christ. The
fact of the birth, the fact of the destiny of this child, for He is
to rule all nations with a ROD OF IRON, and the fact of
the ascension, since He is caught up unto God, and to His throne,
all cause the identification to point to one person, the Lord Jesus
Christ, for of none other could all three statements be made."
Since the "manchild" must be identified as Christ, and since,
according to Paul, the one from whom Christ came [was born] according
to the flesh is Israel, the woman must be identified as Israel.
THE WOMAN IN THE WILDERNESS
It is then said of the woman that she flees into a place called the
"wilderness" where she has a "place prepared for her,"
and where she will be safe for "a thousand two hundred and threescore
days" [three and a half years] (Rev. 12:6). Now, this part is not
too difficult to decipher; what is being said here is this: that Israel
[which is the same as saying the "144,000" of Revelation 7],
immediately after the abomination of Desolation, will escape the perils
of the last half of the Seventieth Week by fleeing into the "wilderness."
Why? And more, why is this said of the 144,000 of Revelation 7 [Israel],
and not of the 144,000 of Revelation 14 [the Church]? Why is Israel
so protected and not the Church? A fair question. The reason is this:
Because the protection that the Scripture has in mind here for both
Witnesses [both groups of 144,000] - as we have said before - is SPIRITUAL
protection, and not necessarily physical protection; but since Israel,
by the time of the Abomination of Desolation, has not yet fully recognized
her Messiah as Christ (Please see "parenthesis below concerning Israel
as one of the Two Witnesses), their spirits do not as yet - indeed,
cannot yet - contain the protecting presence of the Holy Spirit; thus,
extraordinary care must be taken in the case of Israel that is not necessary
with regard to the Church. Israel must be offered physical protection
in addition to spiritual protection, for if they were to die as a result
of the turmoil of the second half of the Seventieth Week, they would
share the same fate common to all unbelievers who die outside of Christ.
Thus, in the case of Israel, physical death means spiritual death, while
the same is not true of those who die in Christ [i.e., the Church]:
"For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we
die, WE DIE UNTO THE LORD: whether we live therefore, or die, we are
the Lords." (Romans 14:8).
"For me to live is Christ, AND TO DIE IS GAIN." (Phil.
"But when ye shall see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION spoken
of by Daniel the prophet, STANDING [DWELLING] WHERE IT OUGHT NOT,
[let him that readeth understand], then let them that be in Judea
flee to the mountains [the wilderness]:
"And let him that is on the house top not go down in the house
neither enter therein, to take anything out of the house.
"And let him that is in the field not turn back again for
to take up his garment.
"But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give
suck in those days!
"And pray that your flight be not in the winter.
"For in those days shall be affliction such as was not from
the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time,
neither shall be [again]." (Mark 13:14-19)
Daniel 11:40-45 states that Antichrist shall invade the Middle East
and conquer it, but that three countries will escape his grasp:
"He [Antichrist] shall enter also into the glorious land [Israel]
and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out
of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of
Ammon." (Daniel 11:41)
God shall preserve, quite miraculously, this portion as a refuge for
the children of Israel. This is the "wilderness" spoken of
in Revelation chapter 12 where the woman [Israel] is to flee immediately
after the Abomination of Desolation; it is the same place referred to
in Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Matt. 24:1-22; Mark 13:14-20; and Luke 21:7-21).
It is that portion of land east of the river Jordan which sweeps in
a large arc [with the Dead Sea as the fulcrum] from about 40 miles north
east of the Dead Sea southward to about 50 mile due south, southeast
of the same sea - a barren, mountainous, and desolate wilderness devoid
of any significant vegetation. Mt. Nebo is located in this wilderness
where it is reputed that Jeremiah hid the ark of the Covenant in order
to prevent its capture by the Babylonians. There are scholars today
who suggest that it is still there (Numbers 35). Here God will care
for His people much in the same fashion that He cared for them when
Moses led the people out of Egypt.
THE BLINDNESS OF ISRAEL REMOVED
And the certainty that all of Israel will be saved and brought back
as a nation - and not just as scattered individuals - into a place of
blessing is vouchsafed for by the Word of God.
"For the children of Israel shall abide many days [during
the dispersion] without a king, and without a prince, and without
"Afterward, shall the children of Israel return, and [through
the trials and pressure of the Tribulation] seek [at last] the Lord
and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the
LATTER DAYS." (Hosea 3:4-5)
"AND SO ALL ISRAEL SHALL BE SAVED: as it is written,
There shall come out of Sion [Zion] the deliverer [Christ], and he
shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob [Israel]."
And Zechariah prophesies:
"And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants
of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they
will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for
Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly
over Him, like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.
"... They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I
will say, They are My people, And they will say, The
Lord is my God." (Zech. 12:10; 13:9b)
THE 144,000 OF REVELATION
FOURTEEN - THE CHURCH
And now, what about the 144,000 of Revelation chapter fourteen? The
"And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and
with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Fathers
name written in their foreheads.
"And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters,
and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers
harping with their harps:
"And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and
before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn the
song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed
from the earth.
"These are they which were not defiled with women; for they
are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever
he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits
unto God and to the Lamb.
"And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without
fault before the throne of God." (Revelation 14:1-5)
The fact that we are here speaking of the heavenly Mt. Sion [Zion]
is confirmed by verse 3 of Revelation 14: "And they sung as it
were a new song before the THRONE, and before the FOUR BEASTS, and the
[TWENTY-FOUR] ELDERS" - and as there can be no doubt as to the
location of these dignities [the heavenly Jerusalem], there can, therefore,
be no doubt that we are here speaking of the HEAVENLY JERUSALEM: that
we are here speaking of the heavenly Jerusalem is further substantiated
by Revelation 4:1-6:
"After this I looked, and behold, a door was opened IN
HEAVEN; and the first voice which I heard was as it were
of a trumpet talking with me; which said, COME UP HITHER
"And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a THRONE
was set in HEAVEN
"And round about the throne were FOUR AND TWENTY SEATS and
upon the seats I saw FOUR AND TWENTY ELDERS
"And before the THRONE there was a sea of glass like unto
crystal: and in the midst of the THRONE, and round about the throne
were FOUR BEASTS
" (Revelation 4:1-2, 4, 6)
All of these things - the throne, the four beasts, and the twenty-four
elders - are in heaven; and it is precisely among these things
(i.e., the throne, the four beasts, and the twenty-four elders) that
the 144,000 are located. Thus, there can be little doubt as to the identification
of this 144,000 - it is the Church, for just as the earthly Mt. Zion
can only be apprehended as pertaining to Israel, so also the heavenly
Mt. Zion must be apprehended as pertaining only to the Church - and
the fact that it is the heavenly Mt. Sion (Zion) [not the earthly Mt.
Zion] to which Christians should be looking is confirmed by Hebrews
"But ye [dear Christian] are come unto MOUNT SION, and unto
the city of the living God, THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM,
and to an innumerable company of angels,
"To the general assembly and CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN, WHICH
ARE WRITTEN IN HEAVEN, and to God the Judge of all,
and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
"And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the
blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel
Finally, the Scripture says of this group that they have: "
his Fathers name written in their foreheads." This is a clear
reference to Revelation 3:12 which, once again, places this group in
the "heavenly" Jerusalem [as opposed to the "earthly"
city], and clearly numbers it with the Church:
"To him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of
my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the
name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem,
which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write
upon him my new name." (Revelation 3:12)
Now we come to a mystery: the Scripture says - "These are they
which were not defiled with women." What does this mean? Can it
possibly mean that these 144,000 are all men [with no women in their
company] and that none of them has ever been married? Of course not!!
- if only because such an interpretation would contradict other portions
of the Scripture and would render this passage an absurdity.
First of all, such an interpretation would seem to say that sexual
intercourse between husband and wife is to be avoided, or at least frowned
upon. But this would contradict one of the clearest warnings of Scripture
concerning the End of Days - that evil men would appear commanding men
to avoid marriage:
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times
some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits,
and doctrines of devils;
"Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared
with a hot iron;
"FORBIDDING TO MARRY." (I Timothy 4:1-3)
Moreover, the Scriptures plainly teach that sexual intercourse between
a husband and wife [but, only between a husband and wife] is HONORABLE
and a pleasure ardently to be desired. Indeed, the Lord devoted
an entire book in the Old Testament to a rapturous (and even erotic)
description thereof: The Song of Solomon. And the teaching of the New
Testament is also quite clear on the subject:
"Marriage [sexual intercourse within the institution of marriage]
is honorable in all [in everything], and the bed undefiled [i.e.,
both husband and wife remain pure before God]." (Hebrews 13:4)
"If thou [a male] marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin
[in this case, female] marry, she hath not sinned." (I Corinthians
Finally, the above interpretation which insists that the 144,000 of
Revelation 14 are all male virgins [and, as ridiculous as it might sound,
there are many who insist on this interpretation], flies in the face
of the clear teaching of the Scripture concerning the status of the
female in the Church and in the Heavens, for the Scriptures manifestly
teach that in heaven there will no longer be any distinction [insofar
as standing before God is concerned] between the male and female [though
such a distinction remains while we are yet on the earth - and it must
be remembered that the picture we have before us in Revelation 14 is
that of the Church IN HEAVEN ]:
"For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in
marriage [there is no distinction before God between the two], but
[they] are as the angels of God in heaven." (Matt. 22:30)
And Paul writes:
"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus
[both male and female].
"For as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on
"There is neither
male nor female: for ye are all one
[in standing] in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:26-28)
So then, what does the passage before us really mean? It is rendered
more intelligible when read in its entirety. The passage says of this
group that they have been "redeemed from the earth;" that
"they follow the Lamb [Christ] whithersoever he goeth;" that
they have been "bought from among men;" that they are "the
first fruits unto God and to the Lamb;" that "in their mouth
was found no guile;" and that "they are without fault before
the throne of God." Now, what does all this speak of? It speaks
of SPIRITUAL PURITY!!
Through the affliction and distress of the Tribulation - like gold
tried and refined in a burning fire or like a precious stone [a diamond
or a ruby] made perfect through INTENSE pressure - they have cast off
all that bound them to the cares of this life and this present evil
world. They have been redeemed from the earth. They no longer belong
to it, but rather their citizenship is now of the heavens; so high have
they been lifted above the earth, that they cannot even be numbered
among men anymore. They have been lifted up to the heavens - even above
the angels. Their testimony has been made pure in everything - there
no longer is any "guile" or deceit in their witness; no self-serving
nor double-dealing in their testimony; no attempt to serve both God
and mammon - they follow Christ now wherever He goes, be it into fire,
death, torture, whatever. Their love for Jesus no longer permits any
separation from Him Who now is the ABSOLUTE object of their love and
desire. Their love and their service has been made totally SELFLESS.
They are "undefiled with women" - which means they no longer
go whoring after the delights of this world. It no longer has any attraction
for them. They have been cleansed from all their whoredoms [see Hosea]
and their love is now only for their divine Husband - the Lord Jesus
Christ. They have been transformed from their whoredoms into a Bride
made perfect and pure, and worthy of His love.
THE MEANING OF THE 144,000
Finally, we must come to grips with the meaning of the number 144,000.
Are we to understand that only 144,000 out of all Israel and out of
all the Church are to be saved? Or are we perhaps to perceive these
two groups of 144,000 as some kind of elite to be honored above their
companions in Israel and the Church? The Scripture does not indicate
this at all. Israel is one, and the Church is one. They are not to be
divided into segments according to some kind of intrinsic value of their
several members. Each members standing is the same, and their
standing has nothing to do with any merit of their own, but it is based
solely upon the merit of their dear Savior!!
"But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise
by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe."
"For by grace [unmerited favor] are ye saved through faith;
and that not of yourselves [no merit of yours had anything to do
with it]: it is the gift of God:
"Not of works [not out of any merit you might have], lest
any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
The Bible does speak of a "remnant" in both the Church and
Israel. But this is the "remnant" that is left after much
tribulation - in other words, the true believers. In no instance are
we to ever perceive the "remnant" to be some kind of special
caste or class in either the Church or Israel - they are merely what
is left over, or what remains [hence, remnant] after the winds of persecution
have swept the chaff away [those who were merely playing at Christianity
Then to what does the number 144,000 refer? Once again, the Scripture
is speaking in a parable, a riddle. The number has a specific meaning,
and we can begin to discern that meaning by examining its several parts.
It is made up in this way: 12 x 12 x 1000 = 144,000. Now, in Scripture
twelve is the number of CORPORATE TESTIMONY; for instance, there were
twelve Apostles of the Lamb and twelve tribes in Israel; and we have
already seen that the number one thousand is the number of magnification.
The number 144,000 then, means the MAGNIFIED, COMPLETED TESTIMONY OF
GOD AND THE LAMB - pure, unmixed, clean, spotless, without blemish,
chaste, and holy!! This is now the condition of both Israel and the
Church, the Two Witnesses of God.
THE RAPTURE, THE RESURRECTION, AND
THE TWO WITNESSES OF REVELATION 11
Now, two last ciphers; two last puzzles. First, the Rapture and Resurrection
as they pertain to the Two Witnesses:
"And 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 beholding them.
"And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, Come
up here. And they went up into heaven in the cloud and their
enemies beheld them." (Revelation 11:11-12)
What is this? Where have we heard such terminology before? The terms
"three and a half days;" "time, times, and half a time;"
"42 months;" "1,260 days" - all these are Biblical
code words for either the first half or the second half of the Tribulation
[Daniels Seventieth Week]; in this case, the second half. There
is no reference here as some believe, to the time Christ spent in the
grave - which was only three days, not three and a half days.
What must be meant here is that shortly after the Abomination of Desolation
[which occurs midway through the Tribulation or the Seventieth Week],
the Beast [Antichrist] will make war on Israel and the Church - those
who keep the commandments of God [Israel], and those who have the testimony
of Jesus [the Church] (Rev. 12:17); that he will prevail on a worldwide
basis in a holocaust that will dwarf the Holocaust of Hitler (Rev. 11:7);
and that the dead bodies of both Jews [i.e., those who were unable to
escape according to Matt. 24:15-16: "When ye therefore shall see
the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand
in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them
which be in Judea flee into the mountains ..."] and Christians will
be scattered about in every city, town, and village of the whole earth
where the inhabitants thereof will gaze upon them in glee and great
joy because there is now no "righteous man" to torment their
But after three and a half years [the last half of the Seventieth Week,
the "Great Tribulation"], Jesus will return, and the rapture
and resurrection will occur - and this is the precise meaning behind
the verse: "And they heard a loud VOICE [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 shall rise first. Then
we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in
the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be
with the Lord. (I Thess. 4:16-17)] from heaven saying to them, "Come
up here." And they went up into heaven in the cloud and their enemies
beheld them." (Rev. 11:12)
Again, a short parenthesis:
For those who find it difficult to admit to the resurrection of Israel
along with the church [as one of the Two Witnesses], it should be noted
that all scholars of the evangelical persuasion see the resurrection
and rapture of Israel at the end of the tribulation period. J. Dwight
Pentecost of Dallas Theological Seminary writes: "... Israel
will be resurrected at the close of the tribulation period ..."
[J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come. Grand Rapids: Zondervan,
1958, pg. 411.]
GOD IS NOW THROUGH WITH
THOSE WHO REFUSE TO REPENT
Lastly, many are puzzled about the reference to the fraction "one-tenth
of the city" and about "7,000 persons killed" in conjunction
with the Resurrection and Rapture of the Two Witnesses in Revelation
11. These figures are symbolical. Not, however, in a good sense, but
in an evil sense. Lange (Lange's Commentaries on the Holy Scriptures)
suggests an answer:
"... ten denoted completeness; one-tenth denotes a minor completeness
of destruction and wreck. The added figure, 7,000 is to be understood
in the same manner. Three [denoting God] and four [denoting man],
thus seven denoting Gods dealings with man, multiplied by 1,000
[the greatest completeness, 10 x 10 x 10]: GOD IS NOW UTTERLY THROUGH
WITH UNREPENTANT MAN - "My Spirit shall not always strive with
man" (Gen. 6:3). Hence, the complete and final removal of His
Two Witnesses. What this removal means is written by this figure of
7,000 killed in Babylon. The removal of the Two Witnesses is a catastrophe
such as is caused when a terrific earthquake rocks the very foundations
of the world, as when the central pillar that upholds the whole earth
is removed. When the task of the Two Witnesses is through, GOD IS
FINISHED WITH THE WORLD. The catastrophe first strikes Babylon, the
headquarters of the beastly opposition. When this totters, the rest
will not stand for long."
That this entire section is symbolical can easily be seen: to calculate
that one-tenth of the city was 7,000 people, and that hence the entire
city (i.e., Jerusalem - or New York, or Washington D.C, or whatever)
was 70,000 (i.e., ten-tenths) borders on the absurd. "And the rest
became terrified and gave glory to the God of the heaven" cannot
mean that now at last all who were not slain repented. When judgment
descends, it is too late for repentance. When under the power of the
Beast, the enemies of God are struck with terror as the first blow of
judgment falls, and then acknowledge that there is a God of heaven;
they have not thereby shown repentance. "The demons also know and
SO, YOU SEE ...
So, you see, dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, you have been called
to play a great part in the drama surrounding the "End of Days." No
room here for "spectators" - only active participants.
More about all this in our next article!
God bless you all
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