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May 2, 2022 2:00 am
Or continuing our study on the book of Revelation that we've been sojourning in. I want to begin tonight by speaking to you about 33 areas of ministry that God is assigned to the church and they all three start with the knee. So there fairly easy to remember and I have a direction to them. The first is exaltation as a vertical dimension to it.
The church exists to glorify and honor God to exalt him to worship him and we are mindful of that when we come together as a church to offer praise and worship and direct our hearts toward him. So if we can think first of exaltation think number two of evangelization that has a horizontal focus, but it's outward.
We been called to evangelize the lost and you ain't even more than that to make disciples of all nations, so it's the outreach of the church. The focus of the church of taking the gospel to the world so exaltation, evangelization, and 1/3 is pointing inward in its edification, where we come together to strengthen one another to build one another up and engage ourselves as a body of Christ obey the one another. Commandments see people build up in the most holy faith, so exaltation, evangelization and edification is worth considering. The church year in our study the book of the Revelation as we come here to Chapter 11.
The church is facing intense persecution. John is been exiled to the island of Patmos. And he says this in Revelation 1 verse nine I John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. John's an old man. John's contemporaries of all died a martyr's death.
The church has faced persecution and John is writing for a number of reasons, but one reason he's writing is to strengthen the church to fortify the church to encourage the church to persevere and to endure and look to Christ as they endure persecution persecution from the Roman Empire.
The demand to bow the knee to Caesar and the church says we cannot do that we will not do that. Whatever the consequences are to that civil disobedience we will accept. So John is writing to encourage the church in the midst of persecution else pick up in verse so tonight my messages about the church seven realities related to the church and its ministry in the world. Verse three says this is notice with me on the back of the verse one John says, 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 is been given to the Gentiles, and they will tread the holy city underfoot for 42 months and I will give power, so this is not what John says he's received this from the Lord and he's giving instruction. I will give power to my two witnesses, these two witnesses are later identified in verse 10 as to profits and the question immediately comes to mind. Are we to think of to individual men that will come on the scene and carry on a ministry of prophecy or is this symbolic language is this to be understood spiritually. Is it representative and there's a couple of clues and factors three that I think inform us and help us to know which direction we should take number one is that our primary hermeneutic as we been studying here is that were to understand this Revelation is been given to us. Representative layers symbolically that if we insist on a literal interpretation we are going to be beef bottled. We are going to be confused where we are going to lose our way right from the very beginning the church is referred to as lampstand self organ insist that the church is a lampstand know it's figurative language. So that's the first thing number two we have in the context here. Chapter 11 verse eight is referring to the dead bodies of these two witnesses. Their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, so again were to understand that portion spiritually, not literally. Number three.
He says I will give power to my two witnesses, verse four says these are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. What is the antecedent to these of verse four with the antecedent to these in verse four are the two witnesses so I have a II find it difficult to insist on a literal interpretation that we have here to individuals that are going to come on the scene and carry on a prophetic ministry know it says these are the two olive trees know it's going to take us back to Zachariah so will you turn with me to Zachariah chapter 4 and we are attempting to identify these two witnesses wire turning here, let me say a word about Zachariah to just provide a little bit of context. Zachariah is a prophet and in 536 BC.
There were a remnant of Jews who had returned to Jerusalem to reestablish the city while they were there they encountered opposition, difficulty, and they were given to weariness and 16 years have gone by very little progress being made.
God reveals truth to Zachariah through eight visions, one of the visions is recorded here he receives this vision for the purpose of encouraging those who have come back to the city to persevere to look to God for power look to God for enablement. That's the purpose of his writing. I'll follow with me and were were observing the. The similar language that were finding in Revelation. John's audience would have made the connection to Zachariah. We don't think that way our minds are wired that way, but we need understand what's going on here… Again Zachariah for now, the angel talk with me, came back and awakened me as a man who was waking out of his sleep and he said to me, what do you see so I said I am looking and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps to all of trees are biased one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left so I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, what are these, my Lord than the angel talk with me answered and said to me, do you not know what these are and I said no, my Lord, so he answered and said to me this is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel not by might nor by power but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts who are you, O great mountain before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain, and he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of grace, grace to it. Moreover the word of the Lord came to me saying the hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple. His hand shall also finish it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you, for he has despised the day the four who has despised the day of small things for the seven rejoices for the seven rejoiced to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
They are the eyes of the Lord which scanned to and fro throughout the whole earth that I answered and said to him, what are these two olive trees at the right of the lampstand and at its left and I further answered and said to him, what are these two olive branches that dripped into the receptacles of the two golden pipes from which the golden oil drains. Then he answered me and said do you not know what these are and I said no, my Lord, so he said these are the two anointed ones who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth know that's you need to hear that language and see that back in Revelation chapter 11, the two witnesses are said to be to lampstands. Remember in Revelation chapter 1 in verse 20 and throughout the seven letters to the churches. The lampstands refer symbolically to the seven churches now that picture that that vision that Zachariah had is two olive trees one on one side and one on the left and a huge reservoir or bowl and all of oil whizz continually dripping in and filling this reservoir, and from this reservoir were playthings that went to the lampstands what God is saying to Zachariah in the midst of this going back to Jerusalem to reestablish the city. The people of lost energy and had become confused and discouraged, and what is being communicated to Zachariah is verse six. Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit, says the Lord of host that God is going to provide everything that's necessary for them to fulfill what he has assigned for them to do this is in a work that's accomplished by the strength of man, it's God's work in God will supply everything that's needed now back to Revelation chapter 11. The question we have now are why two witnesses. Why doesn't single out to witnesses. Let me don't turn there is going to read one verse to you and then explain what this verse means in this context is Deuteronomy 17 verse six the says who whosoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
He shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness saw two witnesses were required to validate truth to establish authority and were told that God's going to their. These are the two back to Revelation 11 for these are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth think with me.
When God revealed himself on this earth.
How did he do that and what context did he do that when he sent angels to Sodom many angels that he sent to two angels to pronounce judgment on Sodom when he certified the historical event of the resurrection. He sent to angels, to the tune the validate to verify the truthfulness of Luke chapter 10 in verse one.
Jesus sent them out to buy two so I think that's what is to be understood here. The emphasis of two witnesses speaks of the church in its evangelistic calling.
Even in the midst of persecution and threat churches not abdicate that role nor this or that responsibility.
So the seven aspects related to the church's number one where we've considered the identification of the church. The identification of the church now I've read behind some man who teach that these are two individuals. Perhaps Elijah, perhaps Moses those men who appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration and but I read behind more men who are taking the view that I'm taking tonight so I'm not going to break fellowship with anybody who says well I just don't you.
I think this to individual people will get wiggle get along fine.
I will get along fine, but for my purposes tonight were talking about the church.
The church and we've identified the church as we seen these two witnesses. It is the visible church in the world that were thinking about here. Number two I want you to think with me about the purpose of the church. That's why started with those three emphases exaltation, evangelization and edification. What is the purpose of the church in the world. It is to bear witness to prophesy in the midst of a world that is growing more and more hostile and opposed to our gospel to our Savior to our God to the word of God. It is the churches main responsibility toward the world to bear witness of the truth when we see prophesy or prophecy. The prophets we tend to think of that special office that God had, but when we are speaking the truth. We are perfect prophesying truth were speaking truth were not speaking about the future.
There's an aspect of prophecy that is simply declaring truth and is we live in the world. There is an active aspect to it in there's a passive aspect to it.
Active involvement is opening our mouth and speaking truth when God opens a door for us being bold in that regard. But there's a passive aspect as well, and that is bearing up under the circumstances in which we find ourselves persecution comes what we do we run in high do we fail to acknowledge that were Christian know it's how we respond to the world which have a passive approaching in our response. We are bearing witness that God is worth our our pain and discomfort even even our death if it comes to that are allegiances to him and to him alone so's there's that passive aspect. So the identification of the church.
The purpose of the church. Number three the power of the church.
The power of the church knows work nose with me. Verse three and I will give power. I will give power to my two witnesses, not not just any witness but God says this voice from heaven. My witnesses my two witnesses, they represent him and he says the Bible says God gives power and authority to his church. I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy work. I need power were going to need that authority because not something that's going to come naturally is not something were going to enter into without divine enablement. Why is that because it will be it will. We will be called to do this in a time similar to these prophets that are being alluded to their inverse verse six. These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy who's been referred to their Elijah first came chapter 17 he went to Ahab and he said they had his mother rain for three and half years, but was sealed. How is that message received, not well he was enemy number one and were being told here that were to carry on this ministry of prophesying, speaking truth defending truth standing up against opposition in days, simpler similar to what Elijah endured not just Elijah but who else is being referred to. These have power to shut heaven, so the no rain falls in the days of the 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. When Moses stood before Pharaoh of Egypt and Moses turned the water into blood. He won the popular person either. There was persecution there was enslavement. There was Pharaoh and his army was opposing God and God's man Moses but God promises power and in fact it we won't go back there to Zachariah but again with me about that picture to all of trees, a huge bowl piping that's going to the candlesticks that they might illuminate and bear light and shed light in the darkness of this world and in the picture is that God is going to provoke provide a perpetual supply of oil.
Whatever is needed for his church to bear witness of him in this world of growing hostility. He's going to provide that NSR encouragement and that's what is being communicated here to the power of the church think with me about the posture of the church. What posture should we have. She would be like a Jonah who reluctantly went to Nineveh proclaimed judgment unless they repent. No, that's not to be our posture verse three. I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy 1260 days.
Claude in sackcloth, clothed in sackcloth going in humility going in brokenness going bearing the word of God, weeping over the sin that we see about us. That's what's being communicated grief and absolute total dependence upon God to sustain us into a empower and to intervene in the lives of the people that were carrying this message message to bearing the message of impending judgment calling the world to repentance and the seeking after God. So we've seen the identification of the church. The purpose of the church. The power of the church, the posture of the church.
Number five look with me concerning the protection of the church, the protection of the church's prophetic ministry, are witnessing in this world is to be carried out in the context of great hostility danger, persecution, notice verse five 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. In the foregoing to be carrying on this ministry. In the context of enemies and are not our enemies.
There God's enemies. There opposed to him there opposed to his rule there opposed to his word with there's promise here of protection if anyone wants to harm them, and there will be those who will want to harm them. What is meant by fire proceeding from their mouth. You see again if if were given to a literal interpretation we got the right drab what José firebreathing firebreathing prophets running around. No, that's not what is being conveyed here. Jeremiah chapter 5 in verse 14.
Listen to this. Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts. This is to Jeremiah because you speak this word, behold, I will make my words in your mouth fire and this people would and it shall devour them while the prophetic word through the mouth of Jeremiah will have a an impact will have a powerful impact those who rejected God's is altering them to would the words come out of your mouth will be like fire and it will devour them. Take that back to Revelation chapter 11. If anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies in the same way that God said would happen when Jeremiah's day if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. This is the prophetic word of judgment for the enemies of God witnessing what the identification of the church. The purpose of the church.
The power of the church, the posture of the church. The protection of the church notice with me. Number six, the opposition of the church. The opposition of the church numbers were seven 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 were also our Lord was crucified. Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies 3 1/2 days, and not allow their bodies, their dead bodies to be put into graves and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make Mary and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. Folks from John's day all the way through church history to our present day believers have and are and will endure persecution for their testimony and for their faithfulness to Christ and his cause. There is opposition hard for us to understand God's ways in God's purposes in allowing evil to triumph.
But that's what's happening for brief time in urban periods in church history where this is happened brief times were evil triumphed over good were darkness prevailed over light and where error succeeded over truth. All the whole world worldly minded opposers to God's truth.
While it's all happening are having a party and rejoicing again.
I don't think were talking about two individual people blinded in the streets were talking about truth falling in the streets and being trampled upon truth becoming a casualty of man's war against God. If you don't think that's a possibility. Open your eyes what's going on in our world.
The very few places where truth word of God is valued and esteemed is ridiculed if they could they just assume it be trampled in the streets like dead in the streets. So what is a lesson for us from the mention of Sodom and Egypt, and the great city referred to their in verse eight there.dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Sodom what are we to think about Sodom, Sodom calls the mind moral depravity and rebellion against God. Egypt calls to mind bondage and oppression, the great city is Jerusalem and what was the great city Jerusalem guilty of killing the king killing Jesus. And it is intent on killing those who bear witness of him.
So we see a manifestation for the world's contempt and its utter hatred for the word of God and its faithful messengers and for its faithful churches. It's hard for us to think of depravity manifesting itself in such a way that the enemies of God and of his word and of his gospel being so gleeful that they would add further shame and contempt, not allow dead bodies to be buried the line the streets but has that happened in church history. Haven't martyrs been denied the decency of burial left exposed to the elements burned at the stake fed to the lions and all the while the enemies rejoicing, making Mary gleeful over that manifestation of depravity is its chilling is so what should be our attitude, which should be our attitude well. Our attitude should be in line with what Jesus said in Luke chapter 12 in verse 40 not be afraid of those who will the body and after that have no more that they can do do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that no more. There is no more that they can do what John say early on in this Revelation chapter 2, he said he who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Chapter 2 in verse 11 he who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death. People fear death.
When I say that they they fear the first death lost people don't fear the second death that's eternal separation from God forever and ever and ever. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death. I did not choose seven things to speak to about the church tonight. It just fell out that way. The identification of the church. The purpose of the church, the power, the church, the posture of the church, the protection of the church. The opposition of the church. Number seven excess of the church. The success of the church. The word of God will be preached and it will be heard throughout the world before men are permitted to silence it. Notice again verse seven when they finish their testimony when they finish their testimony, God will not permit anyone to silence them us. The church until their witness is completed and God's purpose accomplished. I have profited from Donald Johnson's devotional commentary on Revelation's entitled victory in Jesus and he says this at this point quote though the devil would have the gospel flames extinguished God will see that his word is preserved and empowered and sustained until it's appointed work is done. When they finish their testimony.
They were invincible until they finish the work that God assigned for them to do nothing was going to hurt them. Nothing was going to stop them. Notice over in chapter 13 verse seven we see something similar.
This is related to the beast. It was granted to him. That is, to the beast to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe and tongue and nation. It was granted to him will granted to him by home by our sovereign God's whatever power the beast as its limited. It is constrained by the purposes that God has for it.
It was granted to him to make war with the Saints and overcome them. And authority was given him another words he didn't have that authority on his own. It had to be granted to him had been given to him. I remember Paul's words in second Thessalonians chapter 2 in verse three. Both said let no one deceive you by any means for that day, what day the second coming. It will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition is necessary is a necessary aspect in the dispute. The display of God's future. Revelation so just before the second coming. We are to expect a violent crisis that will bring conflict and persecution and less those days be shortened.
Jesus said that the elect wouldn't even survive. So what is the task of the church who were on the Victor side nothing going to hinder God's purposes.
He's going to build his church and the gates of hell are not going to prevail against it. God has purposes in allowing persecution. So what should be our posture. What should we be committed to what remember where we started exaltation, evangelization and edification. Think this is calling the church to evangelization. The task of the church during this final period of world history is to maintain its witness, even in the midst of terrible persecution and opposition and hostility. We need to be fortified. We need to be strengthened. We need to have resolve this were praying for our missionary family. We need to be praying. Likewise for them, this is not a time for week need Christians. This is a time to be strengthened and emboldened and fortified who might be steadfast in what God has called us to will Lord willing, we will pick up verse 11 of chapter 11 next Lord's day. Let's pray father how we thank you for your word and for its instruction with prayer God that you will use your word to equip us to strengthen us to embolden us that we might be all that you would have us be in this world that is growing darker and more hostile to you and your gospel strengthen us in the inner man and help us, that we may be steadfast, unmovable, abounding in the things of the Lord, we pray in Jesus name, amen