The Weekend Word
We continue our discussion about the 2 witnesses and their place in church life and the world.
5 And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed.
- When the soldiers came to arrest Elijah, what did he do? He called fire down from heaven – 2 Kings 1 – similar to Mt Carmel 1 Kings 18.
- It is funny that in Luke 9:54-56, James and John were rebuked by Jesus for wanting to ‘do’ an Elijah.
- But the example here is not Elijah but the power and authority the church has in its prophetic preaching voice when it is under opposition.
- The reference here is to the word of the spirit of God that the church speaks. This was the topic of chapters 1-3 where it spoke in broad terms of ‘he who hears the spirit, let him hear.’
- This word is like fire that judges and devours those who reject it – we will see this again in Rev 20:9 – so the fire that consumes and destroys cannot be separated from the word preached.
- It is not as some teach that while 2 guys are preaching, literal fire comes out of their mouth dragon style, to kill the enemy.
6 They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire.
- What do the hearers think? This is familiar language to them — Elijah and the drought and famine. The other is a reminder of the plagues from Moses.
- So the witnessing, prophesying church is given authority and power to emulate Elijah 1 Kings 17 by inducing droughts.
- Now this is my speculation – that the church can create a drought of God’s word in places where the word has been rejected. This happens when God’s preachers shake the dust from their feet and declare that they are going to move on as suggested in Matthew 10:14.
- Those who do not have ears to hear – the drought could also be a drought of hearing – God stops listening. Amos 5:23
7 And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them,
- All power and all authority have been given to the church and the result is confrontation.
- This is the road that the church between the two advents travels. When the church refuses to compromise and remains faithful to God’s word and to the Lamb, her fate is like that of the Lamb.
- What we will see is that appearances are deceiving – just as the appearance of the cross looked like God lost – we will see the same here – the church does not lose. Hidden in there is his victory – life where you only see death.
- The beast appears in the midst of the life of the church.
- Soap Box Time – this is a funny thing about the relationship between the world and the church – as long as the church is silent, as long as the church keeps it’s thoughts within its own four walls, the world is fine with church.
- However, when the church brings its case into the marketplace of ideas, the world goes nuts and ventures to silence the church.
- The minute you speak publicly, watch out!
- Sometime back when Tiger Woods was going through his life meltdown, Brit Hume, a devoted Roman Catholic suggested that Tiger Woods, a Buddhist, might want to consider Jesus Christ and Christianity because there he could find reconciliation with God – which is not available in Buddhism.
- With those remarks, the fun began and the fur began to fly at the other networks as the other commentators, as if their ears were bleeding when they heard this – and soon the story was not about Tiger Woods but about those narrow minded, radical religionists Christians like Hume.
- Think about this – the world had no issue with Wood’s Buddhism which has no sin and no forgiveness. But the comment Hume responded to was when Tiger said “I have much to atone for.” Which is really secular talk for “I will make it better on my own” – probably to much applause.
- As I said, Hume’s response was “you may want to consider Christianity. No one would have uttered a peep if Hume had suggested “try a Tony Robbins weekend course to improve your life.”
- Tiger, during his press conference ended with what the secular world could accept – just when you hoped he would say something like “I hope one day you could forgive me.” – he said instead “I hope one day you can believe in me again.”
- *** a footnote – I don’t agree with Brit Hume’s position that one should give Jesus a try to help change your life – but my point was the usual angry reaction that the secular world has toward Christians who speak out. ***
8 and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified.
- Where their Lord was crucified – the church will go through what Jesus went through – see John 15:20.
- The church is not immune from attack and what appears to be certain death and extinction. We have seen this in places like Russia, China and much of mid 20th century Eastern Europe.
- It looks like a big defeat at this point for the church, but appearances can be deceiving. This is the reason that the idea of the church being raptured out before physical harm does not make sense. The church is not protected against physical harm but that their faith will remain intact.
A little bit of an awkward break, but come back next week and we will pick it up.