The Beast and the Two Witnesses
In Revelation 11:7-10 John continues to tell us about the vision the Lord gave him, assuring us of the security and sure triumph of ChristŐs church. Yet, in these verses he tells us that when GodŐs two witnesses have finished their testimony, they will be slain by the influence of the beast (antichrist – free will, works religion), and that the world will rejoice when their voices are silenced.
The beast, the antichrist and his religion, the outer court religionists, will arise with hellish, worldwide power, and kill GodŐs two witnesses. That does not mean that all GodŐs saints and all true preachers will be killed, though many may be tortured and put to death by men who think they are doing GodŐs service (John 16:2). There will be true believers and true witnesses upon the earth when Christ comes again (Luke 18:8). The gates of hell shall not prevail against ChristŐs church (Matthew 16:18).
It must be remembered that the picture before us is symbolical, not literal. John is simply telling us that there is a time coming when the true church of God and true gospel preachers will appear to be almost totally eradicated from the earth. Religion will thrive. But the church of God will appear to be a dead corpse in the earth, altogether without life and power (Amos 8:11-12).
That is precisely what the Holy Spirit here tells us must take place just before our LordŐs glorious second advent. The voice of GodŐs church will be smothered by the religion of antichrist. It will lie like a dead corpse on Main Street in the world. Sodom and Egypt, which crucified Christ, will again join forces to silence his church. For 3 1/2 days, a brief but definite period of time, the church in this world will appear to be dead. It will cease to have power and influence. The faithful will be so few that they cause no disturbance in the world.
Nothing is out of control. Though this will be a time of terrible trial and religious deception (Matthew 24:22-25; Revelation 20:7-9), this time of heresy and religious deception must come. God has ordained it (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 1 Corinthians 11:19). And in this reprobate age GodŐs elect are safe and have great reason for thanksgiving and praise (2 Thessalonians 2:13-16). While the corpses of GodŐs two witnesses lie in the street, the world will throw a party (vv. 9-10). But their joy is premature. God is not finished yet. The end has not yet come. Christ has not yet turned the last page of the little book in his hand (Revelation 10:2). Something else must take place...
Just before the end, just before the Lord Jesus returns in his glory, he will revive his church. Revelation 11:11-14 portrays the revival and final triumph of ChristŐs two witnesses. John saw a day coming when the church of God would be revived, when the servants of God would be heard, when the gospel of GodŐs free and sovereign grace in Christ would again be declared with heavenly power.
The whore of Rome and the peddlers of freewill will not party forever! God will send the Spirit of life into his church again (v. 11). Just before ChristŐs second coming, right in the midst of wholesale apostasy, God will raise up his witnesses again! The church of God will again be triumphant (vv. 11-12). When GodŐs church is revived again, as in the days of the Reformation and the Great Awakening, the religious world and the political world will be frozen with fear.
Could it be that we are living in such a time? None can say with certainty; but I like to think it is so. Maybe, just maybe, the end is at hand! This much I know, there has never before been a day when the gospel of GodŐs free and sovereign grace has been preached more clearly or by so many as it is today; and there has never been a day in history when it has been preached to so many! — Yes, in wrath God has remembered mercy! In the very midst of worldwide apostasy he has made a way for the gospel to be preached in every nation, and is causing it to happen!
Then the end will come. A voice will be heard, as the voice of the archangel, saying, ŇCome up hither!Ó As the saints of God, both the living and the dead ascend in a cloud of glory to meet the Lord in the air, Ňtheir enemies behold them!Ó There is no secret, mysterious rapture here. This is talking about the glorious resurrection of the sons of God (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). In that same hour GodŐs judgment will begin to fall upon the earth (v. 13). It appears that immediately preceding ChristŐs appearing in judgment, there will be a great earthquake, perhaps a great series of earthquakes. Multitudes will be slain. Those who remain will be terror struck. Though they will not repent, they will give Ňglory to the God of heaven.Ó Now the stage is set. This is the beginning of the end. — ŇThe second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quicklyÓ (v. 14). Are you ready?
ŇDay of judgment, day of wonders!
Hark! The trumpetŐs awful sound,
Louder than a thousand thunders,
Shakes the vast creation round!
(Are you ready?) How the summons
Will the sinnerŐs heart confound!Ó
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