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PART 3: THE WORLD

"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world [Gk. Kosmos] is the enemy of God."

James 4:4

INTRODUCTION

In the last two sub-sections, we have been discussing God's purpose in the Tribulation - and to a large extent we have discussed this matter in relation to the church; but it is not the church that constitutes the actual focal point of the Tribulation, but the world. It is not the church that is being "tried" [remember here, that's what the word "tribulation" (or Tribulum) means] and "judged," it is the world. And so we now turn our attention to this matter.

The word "world" (Gk., kosmos) is used in three ways in the New Testament:

  • First, it means the MATERIAL WORLD (Acts 17:14; Matt. 13:35; John 1:10; Mark 16:15).

  • Second, it means THE INHABITANTS OF THE WORLD as a whole (John 1:10; 3:16; 12:19; 17:21) - THE WHOLE RACE OF MAN ALIENATED FROM GOD AND HOSTILE TO THE CAUSE OF CHRIST (Heb. 11:38; John 14:17; 14:27; 15:18).

  • Third, it means the whole circle of WORLDLY goods, endowments, riches, advantages, pleasures, which though hollow and fleeting, stir our desires and seduce us from God, so that they are obstacles to the cause of Christ (I John 3:17; Matt. 16:26; I Cor 2:12; 3:19, 7:31; Titus 2:12; II Peter 1:4; 2:20; I John 2:15-17; James 1:27).

The Bible calls the world (as described above) - and this is very, very serious - the,

  • "ENEMY of God."

And -

  • It equates the world with "DARKNESS."

THE WORLD: THE ENEMY OF GOD

The Bible tells us that world is the enemy of God; specifically, it says:

"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? WHOSOEVER THEREFORE WILL BE A FRIEND OF THE WORLD IS THE ENEMY OF GOD." (James 4:4)

As we just suggested, that's serious, that's very serious - and very frightening! Are you a friend of this world? Is the world a friend of yours? If so, GOD IS YOUR ENEMY! - and that's not a good thing. Jesus said:

"I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.

"But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him." (Luke 12:4-5)

NOTE: Only God has this power.

THE WORLD IS EQUATED WITH DARKNESS

The Bible also equates the world with DARKNESS. Specifically, the Bible says:

"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and MEN LOVED DARKNESS (i.e., the world) rather than light, because their deeds were evil." (John 3:19)

And that's not all! The Bible goes on to say -

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the DARKNESS OF THIS WORLD, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Eph. 6:12)

And -

"I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not ABIDE IN DARKNESS (i.e., should not abide in the world)." (John 12:46)

And again -

"Then spake Jesus unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me SHALL NOT WALK IN DARKNESS (i.e., should not have his "living" and "being" in darkness), but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)

And, finally, John writes,

"In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and THE DARKNESS (i.e., the world) COMPREHENDED IT NOT." (John 1:4-5)

THE GREAT KOSMOKRATER

Moreover, the word kosmos implies that behind the world there is a mind - the "PRINCE OF THIS WORLD" - which gives order and arrangement to it. He is the KOSMOKRATER or world-ruler - a word which, however, appears only once, and is used in the plural of his lieutenants: "the WORLD RULERS OF THIS DARKNESS" (Eph. 6:12). The Bible says:

"The WHOLE world [kosmos] lieth in the evil one" [i.e., the WHOLE world is under the control of Satan]. (John 5:19)

The world [kosmos] is Satan's grand creation and he has directed all of his strength and ingenuity into causing it to flourish. To what end? To capture man's allegiance and draw him to himself. Satan has one object - to establish his own dominion in human hearts worldwide!

THE WORLD ENCOMPASSES BOTH THE "GOOD"
AND THE "BAD;" THE MATERIAL AND THE SPIRITUAL

Now we cannot stress this fact enough: Satan controls the WHOLE world (kosmos). Not just part of the world, but the WHOLE world.

That's why the Scriptures say that to be "a friend of the world is to be the enemy of Christ." This includes both the "good" and the "bad" of this world; both the "ugly" and the "beautiful" - and it is for this reason that I rather suspect that most Christians have a difficult time differentiating between what is "of the world" and what is "of God." They are unable to grasp the fact that BOTH the "good" and the "bad" of this world are of Satan. Christians confuse "worldliness" with "carnality" (i.e., the "bad" of this world - e.g., lust, lewdness, eroticism, sensuality, etc. - and even such mundane things as watching TV, going to the movies, listening to "rock and roll" music, etc.) - and, as a result, they naively think that if they avoid carnality everything will be okay.

They fail to recognize that the "world" (Gk. kosmos) which the Bible has in mind is much more than that; that it encompasses ALL that is of this life and of this present world; everything: both the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the sweet and the bitter - i.e., all those goods, endowments, riches, advantages, pleasures, etc. which, though hollow and fleeting, stir our desires and make us feel "at home" and "comfortable" in (with) this life.

Moreover, the Bible's use of the word kosmos indicates that it has more than just the material world in view; that it's view of the "world" encompasses abstract things as well which have spiritual and moral value (e.g., I Cor 2:12, "the spirit of the world;" 3:19, "the wisdom of this world;" 7:31, "the fashion of this world;" Titus 2:12, "worldly lusts;" 2 Peter 1:14, "the corruption that is in the world;" 2:20, "the defilements of the world;" I John 2:16, 17, "all that is in the world, the lust ... the vainglory ... passeth away;" etc.).

There are no exceptions - both the "good" and the bad," the "spiritual" and the "material" are included, and it is, therefore, futile for those who think that asceticism is a way out; a special means or path to holiness and purity, and that if they somehow or other avoid the material things of this life, they will escape the lusts thereof. Nothing could be further from the truth. Asceticism is just another road to corruption - and a very uncomfortable one at that.

Why? Because when Adam sinned, he brought ALL the world - again, the "good" and the "bad," the "material" as well as the "abstract" - under the curse of sin. As a result, and regardless of the differing guises in which the world may from time to time present itself (and no matter how it tries to hide its real character), it is IMPLACABLY hostile to God. The Bible is very clear on this matter: I Corinthians 1:21 says that the world "knows not God" - and more than that, John 14:17 says that it is not even capable of receiving (i.e., competent or able to comprehend) "the Spirit of Christ." Indeed, John 15:18 says that the world "HATES" Christ. John puts it this way:

"If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (John 2:15)

MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD

And so at last we begin to understand the unbreachable chasm that separates the "Kingdom of God" from the "Kingdom of this World." There can be no truce between these two kingdoms; no possibility for a "negotiated settlement" (i.e., peace) between them, or - put another way - the "world" (on the one hand) and Christ (on the other hand). One is either "of Christ," or "of the world." There is no middle ground, no "moderate" position. (John 8:23)

Hence, Jesus says,

"My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36).

In other words, no one who has his "living" or "being" in the world can be made a "living" stone in Christ's building (i.e., His church). I repeat: the "Kingdom of God" has nothing to do with the "Kingdom of this World."

PILGRIMS AND STRANGERS

The Bible - in describing the people of God - says:

"For they look for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb 11:10)

In this great passage on Scripture (Hebrews, chapter 11), Paul describes in unmistakable terms the attitude towards the world which all those who wish to serve God must have if they are to please Him; there's no ambiguity here; no equivocation; no avoidance; no attempt at evasion. Paul declares that all those who wish to serve God must consider the world as alien territory, and they themselves as only "sojourners" in it - people who are merely transiting through it on their way to another land - a heavenly country whose "builder and maker is God" (Heb. 11:10); and that while here on earth, there is a necessity laid upon them to continually remind themselves of their "alien status" by -

"... confessing (both in word and in the way they live) that they are strangers (foreigners) and pilgrims (travelers, wanderers, wayfarers) on the earth ..." (Heb. 11:13).

The Bible says that they must not only accept this fact, they must "embrace" it; they must be "persuaded" (convinced) by it, and by doing so to demonstrate that they are actively -

"... seeking another country ... a better country, that is, an heavenly (one)." (Heb. 11:14)

"... wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them (a heavenly) city." (Heb. 11:16)

WE ARE NOT ONLY ALIENS TO THE
WORLD, WE ARE DEAD TO THE WORLD

And there is more: not only are we to consider ourselves as aliens to this world, but we are to consider ourselves as DEAD to the world. There is no way that the world can have any effect on a dead man. If you are dead to the world, you are safe from the world. No Christian can serve God and still be "alive" to this world. The "THINGS" of this world will always keep him back. We must be able to say with the Apostle Paul:

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)

That's what BAPTISM is all about. When you chose to be baptized, you made a pledge that you would conduct your life as if you were DEAD to the world, but alive unto Christ. If Christ says, "Go," you will go; if Christ says, "Come," you will come. You will be as James and John when Christ called them:

"And when he [i.e., Christ] had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.

"And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him." (Mark 1:19-20)

Neither John or James hesitated. They didn't ask Christ, What about our father? What about our fishing business? They just went! Or like Matthew sitting at the receipt of customs:

"And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him." (Matthew 9:9)

Matthew IMMEDIATELY left his "receipt of customs" and followed Jesus.

"BE IT UNTO ME ACCORDING TO THY WORD"

We must have that attitude that Mary, the mother of Jesus had when she said to the angel,

"And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her." (Luke 1:38)

She didn't protest to the angel that by obeying him people would question her virginity; that they would, no doubt, call her a prostitute - seeing that she was not married; that she was running the very grave risk of being stoned to death. She simply obeyed.

Are you able to do this? Are you able to say with Mary, "Be it unto me according to thy word." If you are still "alive to the world," you will NEVER be able to do it - no matter how hard you try.

WE ARE BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST'S DEATH

The Bible says:

"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his DEATH?

"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

"For if we have been planted [buried] together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." (Romans 6:3-5)

Clearly, James and John and Matthew and Mary had set their minds on the "things above," not on the "things of this world." That's what ALL of Christ's servants MUST do if they are to get anywhere with Christ. The Bible says:

"Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

"FOR YE ARE DEAD [to the world], and your life is hid with Christ in God.

"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." (Col. 3:2-4)

Jesus said:

"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5)

The two [that is to say, baptism (being born of water) and being "born again" of the Spirit] are equated in the Scriptures. You can't have one without the other. If you are truly "born again" you will consider yourself DEAD to the world. If you are not DEAD to the world, then your salvation stands in jeopardy.

OUR HEAVENLY CITIZENSHIP

The Bible says that as Christians we have been -

"... delivered ... from the power of darkness, and ... TRANSLATED ... into the kingdom of God's dear Son ..." (Col. 1:13)

What a wonderful and precious thing - and so, with countless others of like mind, we can sing:

"This world is not our home,
we're just a passing through,
Our treasures are laid up
somewhere beyond the blue,
The angels beckon us
from heaven's open door,
And we can't feel at home
in this world anymore.
"Oh Lord you know,
we have no friend like you,
If heaven's not our home,
then, Lord, what will we do,
The angels beckon us
from heaven's open door,
And we can't feel at home
in this world anymore."

Now that is very important! - to be able to sing with the saints of God, "This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through ..." And to be able to say that "we have been delivered ... from the power of darkness, and ... TRANSLATED ... into the kingdom of God's dear Son ..." (Col. 1:13)

THE WORLD IS GOING TO BE "TRIED" AND "JUDGED"

Dear brothers and sisters: the world is gong to be "tried" and "judged," and you don't want to be around when that happens. The Bible says,

"He hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness ..." (Acts 17:31)

God help you if on that day you are still "ALIVE" unto the world.

PART 4: THE TWO WITNESSES

INTRODUCTION

In our last sub-sections, we have been discussing the matter of the Tribulation. We learned that the word "Tribulation" means TEST. It is derived from the Latin word, Tribulum.

The Roman word, Tribune, is also derived from the Latin word Tribulum. A Tribune in ancient Rome was a magistrate or judge appointed to hear civil and criminal proceedings. It is the word from which our modern English word, "Tribunal," is derived - which means a seat of judgment. This is the exact sense that the translators of the King James version of the Bible were trying to convey when they translated the Greek word, Thlipsis, as Tribulation in Revelation 7:14. As with the Latin word, Tribulum, the Greek word, Thlipsis, means pressure and stress applied to an object for the purpose of testing.

It is this sense, then, of the word, "Tribulation," which the translators of the King James version of the Bible wished to convey to the readers - A TIME OF TESTING!! This is substantiated by Revelation 3:10 when Jesus referred to the Tribulation as "the hour of testing."

What is to be "tested" or put "on trial:" the WORLD. The Bible says:

"He hath appointed a day, in the which HE WILL JUDGE THE WORLD." (Acts 17:31)

The world is going to be put on trial - and to this end the witnesses are gong to be called against the accused, i.e., the WORLD.

A WITNESS

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 [hear-say].

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 first-hand evidence as to the guilt or innocence of the accused.

GOD'S 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. 19:15)

"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 God's 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 God's 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 today's 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 they understand.

"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, let's look now at the mystery of the Two Witnesses. And we will begin by looking at the reference to them in Revelation 11:

"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 [3-1/2 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 ever'!

"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 the earth'.

"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 11)

UNRAVELING THE MYSTER
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? It's 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 3-1/2 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. It's 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 13:14)

With all this in mind, let's look now at the mystery of the Two Witnesses.

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 Two Witnesses?

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 Christ's 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, that's 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 that's exactly what He would have to do in order to grant the quality of omnipresence to these Two Witnesses.

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