April 14, 2008
AN HONEST QUESTION ABOUT THE TWO WITNESSES
Subject: An honest question about the Two Witnesses from J. H.
Dear J. H.
Jack’s second response –
I have just finished studying the section on the “two witnesses” and it leads me to a question I can NOT answer. Perhaps you could help. If I understood correctly the two witnesses are Israel and the church. Does this mean ALL of both? How many individuals would this include? It seems like this would be into the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands. Rev. 11: verse 8 says their dead bodies will lie in the streets of Jerusalem. My question is this. Would the streets of Jerusalem be large enough to hold that many people? I can't get my mind around this picture. Can you help me? Thanks for any enlightening you might be able to share.
Jack’s first response –
Dene, I mainly wanted to say thank you for your website and your wonderful article on the Tribulation. I found your site from a link on Jack Hook’s site and was really surprised that he would add you as a link since your opinions about the truth about the Rapture are exactly opposite. You have no idea how many websites I've searched through, and so far I've only found yours which teaches The Truth exactly as God himself has taught me. Exactly as you said, the Pre-Trib Rapture is only a last days’ deception by Satan.
The majority of those who teach the Pre-Trib Rapture will defend their beliefs to the death. I say God bless you for teaching the truth as written by God. Again, I just wanted to say thanks and invite you to our website where we have many articles mostly pertaining to the last days. One in particular you might enjoy is titled "The Rapture - (the Resurrection)."
I haven't spent much time on your site as yet but definitely will. From what I have read so far I’m thinking you know that the Rapture is only the 2nd half of the Resurrection and follows immediately, and it does take place in Rev. Chapter 11 at the last TRUMP. Apparently those who have chosen to believe flesh pleasing lies rather than the TRUTH of God do not understand the meaning of simple words like ALL, the FIRST, or LAST.
I would love to hear back from you and perhaps share with you if perhaps I could help you in anyway. As of now, we are adding some links so hopefully we will add your site also. Oh, by the way, if you do have time to visit our site, the teaching articles are found by clicking on the navigation link titled, "Wisdom from Above" because that's exactly where every teaching on (J. H.’s website) came from.
If it's not found in God's Word it's NOT from God. I am not speaking here of God's Word twisted or perverted into a doctrine of devils. God bless your ministry and website and please know that already I consider you a brother in Jesus. J. H.
Doug’s Response to J. H.
Dear J. H.
First of all, we concur that Revelation 11 addresses a “post-tribulational” resurrection/rapture of the Church. Our reasons for such a declaration is based, not only upon other Scriptures which demand a SINGULAR (i.e., only one general resurrection of the JUST and one SIMULTANEOUS rapture of the JUST – e.g., Daniel 12:2; I Cor. 15:51-54; I Thess. 4:15-17) but upon the general context of Revelation 11 itself. Likewise, these two, in the First Century context (i.e. “technology” of television, etc. was not available) are seen in their resurrected state before all the “earth dwellers” – it is absurd to surmise that John the Apostle understood this to be some form of the spectacular advancement of modern technology! Their universal visibility before all the earth connotes the corporate nature of their “entity” – the ancient world of the apostles is altogether familiar with the “corporate man” – “in Adam, all were, etc. – in Christ, all made alive, etc.” The “Roman Man” (or “Western Man”) was and still is understood in his “corporate context.” Modern man is understood to be all those who live in the modern world. Even so, Israel was understood to connote the sons and daughters of Abraham’s seed, the Jews; whereas the corporate man – One New Man – stood clearly as the Church comprised of all those born from above – whether they be “Jew” or “Greek” – “Barbarian” – “Bond” or “Free.” These are all corporate in nature. Even so, the TWO OLIVES TREES (are clearly Israel) and the TWO LAMPSTANDS (are clearly the Church) in the context of the Revelation – they are CORPORATE BEINGS and are TWO – the symbol of WITNESS and/or TESTIMONY (“two” in biblical numerology clearly stands for witness) – as in TWO OLIVE TREES as a witness to the Gentiles World Powers; and TWO LAMPSTANDS, as a witness to Principalities and Powers in high places.
The FLOW of events taking place Revelation 11 addresses the general witness of the Two Witnesses – which “witness” is prevailing during the first “one thousand two hundred and sixty days” or the first half of Daniel’s 70th Week (Rev. 11:3); and that the second half of their witness involves persecution and the “wrath of the beast” (vs. 7) which is directly connected to vs. 2 -wherein the “Holy City” is tread underfoot for “forty-two months” or an additional 3.5 years. We take the meaning of the “holy city” as the opposite of the “great city” found in Rev. 11:8 – which is the “first mentioning” of that Great City, juxtaposed to that Holy City. Here we have in, if you would, in “embryonic form” Jerusalem vs. Babylon – the Holy City vs. the Great City.
I think it can be clearly grasped that the TWO WITNESSES are being called forth in the Latter Days as a culmination of God’s pending judgment – their corporate witness ascends before the bar of heaven’s justice against that Great City, Babylon. The Judge of all the earth in Revelation’s Court Room has summoned them to give such a witness, a testimony against that Great City – and they shall so prevail in so doing!
We strongly disagree with well-meaning brethren, who we feel take out of context, the words “holy” and “great” and make them wholly JERUSALEM on the earth – and we will clearly state those reasons in Revelation 11. For one, we must look at the “big picture” in this chapter—the MAJOR ESCHATOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK is clearly laid out. There is an obvious contestation taking place between the people of God as “personified in the Two Witnesses” and the Beast from the bottomless pit who “makes war against them, overcome(s) them, and kill(s) them” (); and who, as well, is in league with the Gentiles of Revelation 11:2 who trod underfoot the Holy City (i.e., the Two Witnesses) for 42 months.
There are TWO in opposition to the Two Witnesses: (1) The Gentiles or Gentile World Powers (vs. 2) – who are in full collaboration with the Beast – and (2) The Beast from the bottomless pit (vs. 7). Together these two constitute the third item as one entity: The GREAT CITY, Babylon (which will be seen from here on out in the Revelation). The identification of the Gentiles in vs. 2, in league with the Beast in vs. 7 is accomplished by the realization that the 42 months in vs. 2 simply cannot be superimposed over the 1,260 days of the testimony of the Two Witness—these time frames are utterly distinct – the one in the first half of the 70th Week of Daniel’s prophecy (the 1,260 days of unmitigated testimony by these Two Witnesses); and the other in the second half of the 70th Week of Daniel’s prophecy (the 42 months or 3.5 days of their open persecution by the Gentiles/Beast).
There are TWO in opposition to the Gentile World Powers and the Beast: (1) The Two Olives Trees – which are in context Israel, which answers to the earth as a witness – primarily to these same Gentile World Powers; and (2) The Two Lampstands – which are in context the Church which answers to the heavens as a witness (vs. 4). The HOLY CITY, Jerusalem or, if you would, the New Jerusalem (which will be seen from here on out in the Revelation) is in direct opposition to the GREAT CITY, Babylon.
We have already declared the overcoming testimony of these Two Witnesses in their timeframes:
(1) Prevailing witness – unmitigated – relentless – without objection and/or resistance from Antichrist or Gentile World Powers – the first 1,260 days (vs. 3, 5, 6.). It must be noted in this context that for the Holy City or even the physicality of Jerusalem to be trodden under foot of the Gentiles for 42 months can NOT be during the same time frame. For these Two Witnesses, so empowered, to stand by and see the treading down of a physical Jerusalem for 42 months while they allegedly have such a prevailing testimony “during the same time frame” is disingenuous of them, incompatible with their prevailing witness (for it would exclude Jerusalem proper); and, to think that they would have both a prevailing witness and a trampling asunder going on simultaneously is an insult to the divine, let alone human, intelligence – no, these are two distinct time frames. The unmitigated testimony occurs at the commencement of the first 1,260 days and then . . .
(2) The persecution of the Two Witnesses – the treading down of the Holy City – for forty-two months. It is at this juncture that this “open persecution” must be seen in Rev. 11:9 and Rev. 11:11 wherein it mentions that their DEAD BODY (the Greek is “singular” as in “corpse” – which emphasizes the CORPORATE and ultimately SINGULAR nature of the Two Witnesses which, as in the ultimate New Jerusalem (i.e., the ultimate manifestation of the HOLY CITY) the City is one, but two proper nouns are mentioned: The 12 Gates of the City have the Names of the Twelve Tribes of Israel and the 12 Foundations - the Names of the Twelve Apostles – Rev. 21:9-14 – take note that the words “great city” in Rev. 21:10 do not appear in the early manuscripts – Jerusalem is always the HOLY CITY; Babylon is always that GREAT CITY). This is the divine guarantee of WITNESS – which is TWO – the Earth (Israel) and the Heavens (the Church). This persecution of the Two Witnesses is for three-and-one-half days. These “days” are problematic to most pre-tribulationists and most post-tribulationists (e.g., Dr. Grant R. Osborne of Trinity -Chicago); however, if they could just step back and see this entire period as the 70th Week of Daniel and that there are but 7 days in a week—then it would be altogether simple to understand that 3.5 days is 3.5 years or 42 months of treading down by the Gentiles (to compare this 3.5 day time frame to Jesus’ 3 days (as Osborne does) being in the grave and resurrecting on the third day does NOT do justice to the precise nature of the Scripture – 3.5 days versus 3 days is NOT the same time frame) – this is a world-wide persecution. The Two Witnesses experience the resurrection, as Jesus was raised from the dead, but the time frames are decidedly different! We have in our other writings spoken of the Greek words for “war” – as in “the beast . . . will make war against them” (vs. 7) – this word in the Greek is not a “fist fight” – a small skirmish – it is an enveloping conflagration of immense magnitude which bespeaks of mass armies, horrific numbers of peoples engaged in global conflict/persecution (in this case).
Osborne, like many post-tribulationists, though well-intentioned, is, nevertheless, out in left field – thusly, he confuses the resurrection of the Two Witnesses with a separate resurrection and not the general resurrection of the just or, he allows for “multiple resurrections” like most pre-tribulationists do and as some do in excess with their “overcoming-elites” who periodically rapture throughout the Revelation (in their confusing interpretations of “first-fruits” – “gleanings” – “Overcomers” – five foolish/five wise virgin interpretations, ad nausea, ad infinitum). At issue here is not who is taken and who is left behind – but of “rewards” and “losses” – those who have suffered and lived for Christ have assembled “gold, silver and precious stones” and those who have not “will suffer loss” – God forbid that we find ourselves in the latter! Now Osborne’s multiple resurrections and raptures . . .
“However, one must still question whether the resurrection of the two witnesses is to be seen as the resurrection of the church. The difficulty is in the timing (Note: Osborne’s “timing problem” was invented by himself and others when he/they did not acknowledge the 3.5 days of the persecution of the Two Witnesses as the same 42-month time frame in Revelation 11:2 wherein the Holy City is trodden underfoot by the compromise of the Court of the Gentiles which, in turn, is connected to the persecution wrought by the Beast in Revelation 11:7; therefore, he/they are thrust into multiple resurrections/raptures). The resurrection of the witnesses does occur at the end of the three-and-a-half-year period (I ask: Which one is he talking about—the first half or second half of the 70th Week? He leaves it open-ended!) but is still followed by the eschatological earthquake and the conversion of many spectators (Note: Which “earthquake?” Osborne should have immediately recognized this great earthquake as the final judgment of Babylon – which he in point of fact does: “After the witnesses ascend to God, another terrible earthquake occurs (seismos megas, great earthquake) occurs three times in Revelation 6:12; 11:13; 16:18;” (P. 433) . . . and I, Doug Krieger, who hasten to draw Brother Osborne’s attention to the apocalyptic fact that in each case this seismos megas deals with Babylon’s cataclysmic judgment!) (11:13)—a period of time which lasts for 30 days beyond the resurrection/rapture of the Church – see Daniel 12:11).
“Yet it is clear in 19:11-12 that the Parousia occurs at the end of history, with only the battle of Armageddon to follow (Note: He’s right here—it is after the resurrection/rapture that the battle of Armageddon takes place within the 30-day time frame until the 1,290th Day), and the resurrection of the church (Osborne writing again) clearly occurs at the return of Christ in the NT (Mark 13:24-27, par.; I Thess. 4:16-17). (Note: Here, Osborne is confused again – the Resurrection and Rapture of the Church at the conclusion of the 1,260th Day at the close of Daniel’s 70th Week – yes, but the actual Second Coming of Christ to the earth does not occur until the end of desolations, after Armageddon, on the 1,290th day!) Thus, it seems more likely that the resurrection of the witnesses is a proleptic anticipation of the “rapture” of the church rather than being the ‘rapture’ itself (Note: No—this is not a “proleptic anticipation of the rapture of the church” – this IS THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH.). It does occur at the end of history, but the order seems to be the ascension of the witnesses, the eschatological earthquake, the conversion of many earth-dwellers, the return of Christ and rapture of the church, the final battle, and the aftermath (millennium, great white throne judgment, and the coming of the new heavens and new earth). The death and resurrection of the witnesses would be concurrent with he gathering of the armies for Armageddon (the sixth bowl, 16:12-14).” (Osborne, Revelation, p. 432). (Note: Osborne is truly confused and he knows it too. A simple change in the mathematical formula will easily adjust the equation to fit his conviction and strengthen his argument!) (All quotes from Osborne in his text, REVELATION – pp. 432-3)
Osborne’s confusion is easily explainable – his honesty is refreshing! He is conflicted – and that is a very healthy sign of “post-tribulational stress syndrome!” The ascension of the witnesses is the rapture of the church!
His “eschatological earthquake” is the judgment or the Day of the Lord – the Wrath of God – the Wrath of the Lamb is poured out – the seven bowls are poured out upon the “earth dwellers.” (Note: There is no need for multiple resurrections and no need for a whole bunch of GREAT EARTHQUAKES – one resurrection and one great earthquake are all that is needed!) His resurrection and rapture does occur at the end of the 3.5 years or 3.5 days—no conflict here. It is understandable that Osborne has now confused the appearance of the Two Witnesses at the end of the 70th Week, not at the beginning—even he is confused on this! His chronology is warped so that the Two Witnesses somehow are eliminated on the 1,263rd day or 3.5 days into the second half of the 70th Week of Daniel’s prophecy immediately AFTER their prevailing prophesying/witness; however, he hedges his bet on this (perhaps their dead body is on display at the close of the 70th Week and not after the immediate mid-point) and then in essence says that the Two Witnesses “lead the way” into the persecution under the Beast which persists beyond their 3.5 days and their miraculous resurrection in front of the whole world apparently does little to impress the “earth dwellers” (for the remainder of the latter half of the 70th Week or for 1,256.5 days) who continue to persecute the saints left behind. However, the one GREAT EARTHQUAKE (not the multiple uses thereof, as Osborne suggests) is the same one which splits open the earth and creates the Zechariah 14:4 cataclysm, wherein “…in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be SPLIT IN TWO, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south.”
Confusion of the Holy City being the Two Witnesses themselves as CORPORATE BEINGS – representative of both Israel and the Church (olive trees and lampstands) is critical to our “understanding in context” of the entire chapter – as opposed to being the physicality of the city of Jerusalem. The physicality of the City of Jerusalem in so far as the “street of the great city” is an inaccurate understanding of this verse:
“And their dead body will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our (lit. “their”) Lord was crucified” (Rev. 11:8).
The mentioning of the “Holy City” (capitalized by me to highlight its personification – not the literal physicality of the city of Jerusalem per se—it’s more than a mere temporal Jerusalem in the Latter Days) in Revelation 11:2 which “has been given to the Gentiles…and they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months” is juxtaposed with the same persecutors under the headship of the Beast in Revelation 11:7 and his “Great City” (capitalized, again, to highlight its corporate identity) wherein the Two witnesses are so persecuted for 3.5 days (or 42 months) in the “street of the great city” (vs. 8). There are but TWO CITIES in direct defiance of one another: The HOLY CITY vs. the GREAT CITY – the TWO WITNESSES vs. The Beast/Gentiles.
At issue is the identification of “the great city” which SPIRITUALLY (which tells you right out front that to understand the identification of this city, one must understand its “spiritual” dimension) is called Sodom and Egypt. That spiritual dimension is directly connected with SODOM and EGYPT—the, if you would, extremities of Babylon the Great – her worst (SODOM) and her best (EGYPT) – no matter, “spiritually” it is this “great city” which is wholly identified with Great Babylon – there is no GREAT JERUSALEM! There is “Holy Jerusalem” and that identification was not transferred to the New Jerusalem when the Jews did not acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah. There never was and there never will be a GREAT JERUSALEM! Christ was NOT crucified in Jerusalem proper – He was crucified OUTSIDE THE CAMP – outside the gates of the city of Jerusalem – and that is precisely why in Rev. 11:8 it clearly states “where also their Lord was crucified.” We are enjoined to “go to Him outside the camp bearing His reproach” – that is the “spiritual” overview/interpretation to which the Apostle John desires us to note!
“For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, OUTSIDE THE CAMP, bearing His reproach . . . for here we have NO CONTINUING CITY, but we seek the one to come” (Hebrews 13:11-14). (My emphasis.)
The measuring of the HOLY CITY in Revelation 11:2 is likewise the measuring of the people of God – “Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and THOSE WHO WORSHIP THERE. But leave out the court which is outside the temple (i.e., the “court of the Gentiles” for those “uncircumcised” and unable to make the final commitment to the Almighty) and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles . . . and they (the uncircumcised and compromised Gentiles) will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.” Here we have the immediate identification of the Holy City – the people of God! The ones who will trodden underfoot of the Gentiles for 42 months under the leadership of the Beast (Rev. 11:7) after their prevailing witness of 1,260 days!
Sorry to pick on the post-tribber, Osborne (whom I thoroughly acknowledge has done a masterful job on his text, “REVELATION, an Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament – a Baker compendium of various authors who do likewise); however, his exegetical commentary of “the great city” in Revelation 11 miserably fails in so far as the issue of biblical consistency concerns (In quoting Osborne, I will leave out his Greek and only include those portions which are essential to the discussion.):
“The identification of the great city is quite problematic. Everywhere else in the Apocalypse the phrase refers to Rome (16:19, 17:18, 18:10, 16, 18, 19, 21 = ‘Babylon the Great,’ a euphemism for Rome; cf. I Pet. 5:13. It must refer to Jerusalem in this context, however, for 11:8 describes it as the place ‘where also the Lord was crucified,’ and in 11:13 the population of the city is 70,000, the size of Jerusalem, not Rome (i.e., Osborne assumes that if “a tenth of the city fell” and if the earthquake killed “seven thousand people” (vs. 13) – this “great city” could not possibly be Rome because one-tenth of Rome (at the time of John’s writing) would have been a much greater number than 7,000; therefore, the city of reference must needs be Jerusalem of John’s day wherein one-tenth would approximate 7,000 out of apparently 70,000 would-be inhabitants at John’s writing of the Revelation).” (p. 426)
Osborne further complicates his immediate vision of John of the First Century with what John sees into the future, by the following ambiguity:
“ . . . Jerusalem is under the power of the beast/Antichrist (at this time), who degrades the bodies of the witnesses by exposing them unburied in the former Holy City, now under his sway. It is likely that Jerusalem and Rome are combined into a single, symbolic ‘great city,’ the capital of the new ‘unholy Roman empire’ headed by the Antichrist himself. As Bauckham (1993b; 172) brings out, Jerusalem forfeited its place as the Holy City when it rejected its Messiah, so in Revelation that is transferred to the New Jerusalem (21:2, 10). In a secondary way, it also represents all cities that oppose God. ‘The ‘great city’ is every city that embodies self-sufficiency in place of dependence on the creator, achievement in place of repentance, oppression in place of faith, the beast in place of the Lamb, and murder in place of witness to God’ (Krodel 1989: 226; see also Giesen 1997: 255).” (pp. 426-7 – Ibid.)
Here, quite frankly, there’s room for virtually “anything goes.” The despised Jews are at fault and since they’ve rejected Christ, their city is no longer the “holy city” but the “great city.” Therefore, since in Osborne’s estimation, Jerusalem was clearly the place where Christ was crucified, this “great city” (even though all other places in the Revelation it is Babylon the Great) is Jerusalem (this time only it conveniently means Jerusalem to fit Osborne’s eschatological system). Notwithstanding the confusion witnessed here by Osborne (and others brought into his discussion), he nevertheless, makes a gallant effort to pin the tail on the donkey by piecing together Scriptures which would grant Jerusalem in the latter days the “spiritual entitlements” of “Sodom and Egypt” …
“Instead, he (the Apostle John) is pointing either to its ‘spiritual’ nature or to what those with ‘spiritual discernment’ realize about it. Bauckham (1993b: 168-69; also Aune 1998a: 620) translates it ‘prophetically’ (with the NRSV) and says the ‘Spirit of prophecy’ is speaking to the church through this image. Jerusalem is linked with Sodom in Isa. 1:9-10 (its leaders are called ‘rulers of Sodom’), Jer. 23:14 (‘they are all like Sodom to me’ in their ungodliness), and Ezek. 16:46-49 (she is like ‘her sister Sodom’). So it is like Sodom in its depravity and rebellion against God and like Egypt in its bondage and oppression (Hos. 8:13; 9:3; Joel 3:19). Thus, apostate Jerusalem will be like Egypt in its persecution of the people of God (see Minear 1966: 93-96, who calls this a fusion of eschatological and historical realities in the interest of an ontological definition of the church and its destiny).” (p. 427 – Ibid.)
Osborne sums up his contemplations – confusing as they are:
“The ‘great city’ (Osborne’s “apostate Jerusalem”) had killed Jesus, and now it has killed the two witnesses, who are one with their Lord in suffering and death . . . Note also how much shorter is the duration (3.5 days) is the duration of their celebration compared to the three-and-a-half-year period for the prophetic ministry of the two witnesses” (p. 428 – Ibid.).
Crucifixion within the walls of temporal Jerusalem would have been prohibitive by the Jews! The Romans were altogether clear about that (especially, regarding Passover)—therefore, in fulfillment of the Mosaic Law and in accordance with the custom of the Jews, understood by the Romans, Jesus was crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem. Indeed, the “spiritually astute” – as Osborne and others suggest – should be able to determine which “great city” the Apostle is speaking about!
There are, as far as the divine perspective concerns—and it is that perspective which is so sadly lacking by even the most learned Bible students among God’s people (and forgive if this sounds arrogantly boastful; it is not meant to be that). Mixing up these “spiritually” sensitive phrases and deriving such grandiose and careless meaning and interpretation – making their hermeneutic altogether incoherent (i.e., here “it” means one thing – “there” it means another) – throws the Biblical hermeneutic out the window – consistency in context is the only way we should interpret this passage – if not done in this way, we will find ourselves, like Osborne, all over the prophetic map! Unfortunately, Osborne is not alone in assuming that “great city” here in Revelation 11:8 is not connected to Babylon’s Great City—picking and choosing which “great city” has become an eschatological art form by numerous eschatologists and theologians!
It does not say their dead body was left in the street of Jerusalem for 3.5 days! No – it does not. It clearly says that these two witnesses are NOT (specifically) Moses and Elijah or Enoch or whoever the reincarnated soul may be—translated or not from this earth to the heavens—(Note: The Scriptures militate against ALL FORMS of reincarnation – “after death the judgment” – that’s it!). And, clearly it does not say these Two Witnesses are Jewish evangelists! It clearly states these Two Witnesses are TWO OLIVES TREES – AND TWO LAMPSTANDS. For us to assume that the conjunctive here (AND) means that these two items (i.e., Olive Tree and Lampstand) are someone domiciled into one person’s body or entity (i.e., the Church) is pure conjecture. Therefore, they are not wholly THE CHURCH – nor are they wholly ISRAEL – which some have construed. They are TWO OLIVES TREES and then looking, if you would to the other side, they are TWO LAMPSTANDS – TWO SETS OF TWO DISTINCT ENTITIES!
If one goes back to Zechariah 4 and beholds the TWO OLIVES TREES on either side of the LAMPSTAND – then one can clearly see they are Joshua the High Priest (one of the olive trees) and Zerubbabel the Governor (the other olive tree). They clearly at this juncture represent the Priesthood (Joshua) and the Kingship (Zerubbabel), with the UNIVERSAL LAMPSTAND in their midst as the FULLNESS OF THE SPIRIT Whose oil pours from both olive trees into SEVEN LAMPSTANDS or 49 conduits or lamps atop SEVEN SEPARATE LAMPSTANDS. The picture is abundantly clear – the Temple of the Lord can and will be built by the power of the Spirit, not by human means and schemes. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord!” – and, indeed, after 49 years from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, the post-exilic Temple was completed and so dedicated (Daniel 9:25 – wherein 7 weeks + 62 weeks = 69 weeks and then 69 + 1 (Daniel’s 70th Week) = 70 Weeks).
It is not until the book of Revelation Chapter 1 that we see that the PROPHET of Zechariah’s vision – the BOWL which flows into the 7 GOLDEN LAMPSTANDS is CHRIST, THE PROPHET “standing in the midst of the seven golden lampstands” in Revelation 1:12-20. Therefore, the TESTIMONY OF JESUS (the Seven Churches which shine and are golden) are PRODUCED and SUPPLIED by the SPIRIT OF PROPHECY! Christ is our PROPHET – in this CONTEXT in the Revelation He is TESTIFYING THROUGH HIS WITNESSES – Israel and the Church. Again, it is in this context that Joshua the High Priest (Zechariah 3) as one of the TWO SONS OF OIL (i.e., Anointed Ones) answers to the “heavens” as the Church today does; and Zerubbabel the Governor answers to the earth—whose testimony and witness of the Almighty is to Gentile World Powers – to the “earth.”
It is not until one gets to Zechariah 6:9-15 that the PROPHECY follows the VISIONS OF ZECHARIAH – it is in this prophecy that we BEHOLD THE MAN WHOSE NAME IS THE BRANCH. It is he who, as the High Priest, bears the CROWN – so that Christ is seen here as our KING-PRIEST, our Melchisedec (Heb. 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:1, 10-11, 15, 17, 21; Gen. 14:18; Psalms 110:4).
Yes, He bears the TRIPLE CROWN – for this is precisely the nature of the golden crown borne by Joshua the High Priest – who has made of the TWO (the Kingship and the Priesthood – if you would, the State and the Church (at last) ONE NEW MAN – “So He shall be a PRIEST ON HIS THRONE, and the counsel of peace shall between them both” (Zechariah 6:13); and as our PROPHET He TESTIFIES, He SHINES His light out to the world – He is our PROPHET, PRIEST and KING! Yes, Christ in the Revelation is the Prophet Who has made us “kings and priests” unto our God!
Revelation 6:4 speaks of the GREAT SWORD borne by the rider on the Red Horse – WAR! This is truly the first expression of such GREAT(ness) connected to the Beast and his fabrication, Babylon. The GREAT CITY which crucified the Lord of Glory and persecutes those TWO WITNESSES who must endure the open wrath of that persecution and its purification for 3.5 days/42 months or time, times and half a time, shall surely rejoice to see that in Revelation 14:8 . . .
“And another angel followed, saying ‘Babylon the Great is fallen, is fallen, that GREAT CITY, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Rev. 14:8).
This statement must be understood in anticipation of the “Wrath of God” – “Wrath of the Lamb” – “for the hour of His judgment has come” (Rev. 14:7) – Babylon the Great endures the WRATH OF GOD (Rev. 14:10). Indeed, are not the TWO WITNESSES celebrating this destruction? Indeed they are, for we read:
“Here is the endurance of the saints, here are those who KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD (Israel) and the FAITH OF JESUS (the Church)” (Revelation 14:12).
Again, these “dual phrases” which bring together these TWO WITNESSES appear throughout the Revelation – Revelation 12:17 “keep the commandments of God (Israel) and have the testimony of Jesus” (the Church). The “entire thrust” of the Revelation is directly in concert with the divine’s prerogative of Witness and Testimony through His selections of Israel and the Church—even John’s immediate declaration in Revelation 1:9 brings together these Two Witnesses as “the word of God (Old Testament—Israel) and the testimony of Jesus Christ (the Church)” (Revelation 1:9) – I will not belabor this point at this time; however, I will belabor Babylon’s demise!
Now, as much as I dearly love our brother Joseph A. Seiss, the great Lutheran theologian and pre-tribulational rapturists, I am decidedly opposed to his interpretation of both Rev. 11 and, in particular, his overt dismissal of Revelation 16:19—i.e., the “great city” of Rev. 16:19a refers to Jerusalem – to wit:
“The great city became into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell.” The great city here is Jerusalem, for it is specifically distinguished from the cities of the Gentiles, which are entirely ruined. It is only partially destroyed, because now in part possessed and appropriated as the Lord’s. (Rev. 11:1, 2.). At the resurrection and ascension of the Two Witnesses, there was a great earthquake, when the tenth of the city fell (chapter 11:12, 13). Here there is a greater earthquake, and a much vaster effect. This is the time when the Mount of Olives is to cleave in two from east to west, ‘and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south,’ leaving a very great valley between he two parts, etc.” (p. 381 – The Apocalypse, Joseph Seiss)
Seiss completely disregards the CONTEXT of Revelation 16:19 – how on earth he can do this is beyond me – look at the verse at face value and you will see it is IMPOSSIBLE to disassociate the first half of the verse with the latter half; the latter half being obviously Babylon the Great for it clearly says it is:
“Now the great city was divided into three parts (I affirm these three parts are to be judged in Revelation 17 (Religious Babylon); Revelation 18 (Commercial Babylon); and Revelation 19 (Political Babylon), and the cities of the nations fell (Note: This is the total judgment of tripartite Babylon!). And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath” (Revelation 16:19).
To slice up Revelation 16:19 in the manner that Seiss suggests does great disservice to the contextual treatment of the Scripture in discerning its meaning. He uses Rev. 11:1, 2 regarding the Temple in Jerusalem (which has, I believe, a two-fold meaning – both earthly – in the expression of a new literal temple in Jerusalem, yet future; and secondly, the “Temple” of God’s people—for it is they who are measured “at the altar”) to substantiate his interpretation that the phrase, great city, which he claims refers to the physicality of Jerusalem proper. Seiss convolutes the Scripture to substantiate his meaning of Jerusalem. The GREAT CITY throughout the Revelation is a direct reference to BABYLON THE GREAT and the HOLY CITY throughout the Revelation is a direct reference to THE NEW JERUSALEM—the complete composition and eternal manifestation of the divine scheme for both the earth and the heavens as EMBODIED IN THE TWO WITNESSES: Israel and the Church. The GREAT CITY is BABYLON THE GREAT and its meaning and association can be no greater than in this very verse which Seiss tries to bifurcate!
May I bring your attention to these passages which clearly bespeak of that GREAT CITY as BABYLON THE GREAT?
“Thus with violence the GREAT CITY Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore” (Rev. 18:21).
“And cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What is like this GREAT CITY? They threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and wailing, and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that GREAT CITY, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth!” (Rev. 18:18-19a).
There are others but this shall suffice.
At least Dr. Osborne understands that the “great city” mentioned here in Revelation 16:19 is Babylon the Great, not Jerusalem past or future—although, Dr. Osborne appears to leave his options open as a scholar, and that is perfectly acceptable; notwithstanding, the overwhelming evidence that the entirety of Revelation 16:19 refers in its totality to Babylon the Great:
“The earthquake is so severe that ‘the great city split into three parts’ (16:19). This is reminiscent of the great earthquake in 6:12-14 that shook every ‘mountain and island from its place.’ There is debate as to whether the ‘great city’ is Jerusalem (Lohmeyer, Chilton), on the grounds that Babylon is mentioned separately later in the verse (cf. 11:8) (Note here that Osborne is referencing Rev. 11:8 which he clearly depicts as Jerusalem or an admixture of Jerusalem and Babylon or “something like that” – so why break with his previous interpretation and lead us to believe that Rev. 11:8 refers to Babylon the Great?); Babylon/Rome (R. Charles, Lohse, Prigent, Mounce, Aune); or symbolic of rebellious humanity (Kiddle, Bruce, Morris). Yet Babylon/Rome, the ‘great city’ in 17:18; 18:10, 16, 18, 19, 21, makes by far the best sense, and the mention in 16:19b is meant simply as an identification of the ‘great city’ here. The city is split ‘into three parts,’ indicating the totality of the devastation. The added note that ‘the cities of the nations fell’ is proleptic of the last judgment, as in the description of the fall of ‘the great city’ in 18:21-24 here applied to all the cities that had followed her. The description that (epesan, the fell) means that the earthquake was worldwide, and the cities of the nations “fell (see also the ‘fall of Babylon’ in 14:8; 18:2-3) in the same conflagration that hit Rome.” (pp. 598-9 – Osborne, Revelation)
Therefore, dear brother, GREAT CITY and the STREET OF THE GREAT CITY, as found in Revelation 11:8 is naught but BABYLON THE GREAT herself!
And, YES, that putridity is wide enough – for BROAD IS THE WAY THAT LEADS TO DESTRUTION AND MANY THERE BE THAT GO IN THEREAT – to persecute the HOLY CITY – the saints of the Most High. But, PRAISE GOD, the LAST TRUMPET SHALL SOUND, and the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we which are alive and SURVIVE (“remain” is NOT the operative translated word here – it is much stronger and connotes “survive from persecution”) shall be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air!
Even so – that is precisely what you have indicated in Revelation 11 – for this resurrection and rapture is SIMULTANEOUS:
“Now after the three-and-a-half days (i.e., the 3.5 years or 42 months of persecution by the aforesaid) the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them (Note: This IS the general resurrection of the Just with SPECIAL EMPHASIS upon those recently persecuted by the Beast/Gentiles Power.) . . . 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 (Indeed – doesn’t sound like nor is it a SECRET rapture going on here!) – then vs. 13 the judgment of Babylon takes place and ALL THIS COMMENCES at the SOUNDING of the LAST TRUMP (the Seventh Trumpet) of Revelation 11:15:
“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!”
Thus, from the 1,260th Day or after the 42 months (and, remember, for those who claim that after 1,260 days, then the Two Witnesses are slain and their dead “bodies” remain an additional 3.5 days in open disgraceful display---that would necessitate that there would be a total of 1,263.5 days – listen, God’s math is too precise for this loosey-goosey math! Those 3.5 days of “open persecution” are the same 42 months of trampling asunder of the Holy City found in Revelation 11:2. It is at the close of the 1,260th Day or the 42 prophetic months (42 x 30 days = 1,260 days) or 3.5 days or the latter half of Daniel’s 70th Week that the resurrection/rapture occur and at the same time that the LAST TRUMPET or Seventh Trumpet commences its SOUNDING – and that SOUNDING will persist until the termination of the abominations on the 1,290th Day . . .
“And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up (i.e., in the “midst of the week” will occur the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION as seen in Daniel 9:27), there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days (or 30 days beyond the time of the persecution of the saints of the Most High – or 30 days beyond “time, times, and half a time” (Daniel 12:7).
Yes, 30 days of the WRATH OF GOD, WRATH OF THE LAMB – the finality of the Battle of Armageddon – and the very JUDGMENT OF BABYLON THE GREAT! Then on the 1,290th day shall be the return of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints and for the next 45 days shall be the JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS (Matthew 25:31-34) and the unveiling of Messiah, the Lamb of God and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, to National Israel, who shall cry out: Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord, Hosanna!
“Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days!” (Daniel 12:12).
So – when you inquire: “Would the streets” (Note: “Street” – singular – not “streets” plural – for this GREAT street is juxtaposed to that STREET in the New Jerusalem wherein it is said: “. . . the STREET OF THE CITY was pure gold” or “In the midst of the STREET of it . . .” (Rev. 21:21; 22:2) of Jerusalem – will Jerusalem be large enough to hold that many people?” Well, I think now you can most definitely answer your own question – and, yes, you can absolutely “get your mind around this picture” if you’re looking (which I now believe you are) at the right picture!
I have undoubtedly bored you to tears—dragging brothers Seiss (pre-tribulational, partial rapturists) and Osborne (post-tribulational, a multiple rapturists) into our boredom! By the way—I deeply appreciate both brethren (we’re on the same side; well, on most eschatological issues).
Like the pre-tribulational rapturists – why, oh why, are they looking at the wrong picture? For the same reasons Dene and I were looking at the wrong picture for literally decades! It was not until the early ‘80s we then saw the post-tribulational rapture of His people and immediately thereafter, because of our strong and healthy dispensational background, we clearly saw the Testimony of the Two Witnesses from God’s perspective as Israel (EVEN IN THEIR UNREGENERATED STATE—because they are STILL A TESTIMONY to those Gentile World Powers who dare to crush them – their survivability is a clear and unyielding testimony to the Eternal’s persistence in the affairs of the nations!), and the Church, must STAND AND DELIVER to Principalities and Powers, to the Gentile World Powers, the TESTIMONY OF JESUS – and, as the Savior so suffered, even so, He may call many of us – for their number cannot be numbered from all tribes, tongues, nations, and peoples – that tribulation throng of Overcomers (Rev. 7:9-17) who openly suffer in the Street of that Great City nigh those 42 months/3.5 days – but isn’t this the TESTIMONY OF JESUS – His Life, His suffering, His death, His burial, His Resurrection, His Ascension, and ultimately, His coming in Glory to this earth from the heavens? Amen – even so, COME LORD JESUS! MARANATHA!