Brethren of the Inner Court:
Revelation Chapter Eleven
The Inner and Outer Courts
In the previous Chapter Ten, the Apostle John, who is figurative of the church, is given a little book by an angel and is told to prophesize before many nations. The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus, (Rev. 19:10), so we see that John is being commissioned to preach the Gospel; to testify of Jesus.
In the following Chapter Eleven John is given a measuring rod most likely by the same angel, indicating that this chapter is basically a continuation of the period of evangelism described in chapter ten.
And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, “Rise, and measure the temple of the altar, and them that worship there” (verse 1).
The word for “temple” here in the Greek is naos, which designates the inner court, specifically the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The word hieron which means the literal temple building is never used in Revelation.
The symbolism of this first verse is related to Ezekiel chapters forty through forty-two. In these chapters we observe the prophet as he follows an angel who is measuring every detail of a vision of a temple.
In the time of Ezekiel’s vision, Israel had gone into the captivity that had been prophesied by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:11), and Solomon’s magnificent temple had been destroyed. Thus the vision of the temple Ezekiel was being shown was a prophetic promise of Israel’s restoration, also foretold by Jeremiah, and was a symbolic foreshadow of a new temple. A second temple was eventually built and was the temple that was destroyed in 70 AD, forty years after Jesus’ death and resurrection.
We continue to follow Ezekiel in this vision to Chapter Forty-three where the glory of God appears to the prophet and he is transported to the - inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house (verse 5).
Ezekiel is told by the Lord that His people shall “no more defile” the place where He dwells among them (verse 7). God shows us in the following verse that His place is defiled by –
… their setting of their thresholds by My thresholds, and their posts by My posts, and the wall between Me and them, (the partition that separates the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies) they have even defiled My holy name by their abominations that they have committed: wherefore I have consumed them in Mine anger (verse 8).
He promises them restoration, but it is conditional upon repentance. –
Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcasses of their kings, far from Me (“their kings” is a reference to the apostate leadership they had been following and are seen as spiritually dead) and I will dwell in the midst of them forever (verse 9).
Then Ezekiel is commissioned to show the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern (verse 10).
It is here we realize that the “house,” and the pattern of the temple in Ezekiel’s vision is designed to represent the word of God, and is not a literal temple. His people have disregarded the words of the Lord and placed their thresholds and pillars next to His, making their doctrines equal to the words of the Most High and polluting the structure of His house (church) by their own corrupted ways. They have not followed His pattern for repentance, redemption and their behavior. Thus God allowed the literal symbol of their corruption, the defiled house, Solomon’s grand temple, which had become a testimony and a shrine of their rebellion against God’s instructions, to be annihilated by their enemies. Therefore God’s people are commanded to measure the pattern for themselves; to contemplate His design for their lives and adjust their behavior accordingly.
With this principle in mind, we return to our place with the Apostle John who has been given the rod through which he has been instructed to measure the Holy Place and the people who worship there.
In the previous Chapter Ten he was told to eat the little book that was given to him by the angel. The book represents the word of God contained in the prophecy he is writing. The word of God is sweet to the taste. –
Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by Thy name, O LORD God of hosts (Jeremiah 15:16).
How sweet are Thy words unto my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103).
But these words made John’s belly bitter – in other words, they upset his tummy. The ingestion of God’s word can be unsettling, convicting and can result in persecution to those who have willing consumed its testimonies fully and are sharing the whole counsel of it, not just the parts that taste good; they refuse to “tickle itching ears” (II Timothy 4:3) by manipulating the Scriptures.
The rod has been handed to John who is qualified as an apostle to measure, because he has measured himself by the holy standard he has obediently consumed. He has been instructed to measure the Holy Place and the people who worship there, and they are measured by the measuring rod of God’s word.
As the temple in Ezekiel’s vision is figurative and not a literal temple, but a representative of the pattern of God’s word, we can assume that what we are being shown in John’s similar vision is not a literal building, but is also figurative as the word hieron that designates an actual building is never used. This is a prophetic clue that what we are being shown is an illustration of a principle that God is communicating to His people.
John is instructed not to measure the outer court. –
But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given to the Gentiles: (unbelievers) and the holy city they shall tread forty and two months - three and one-half years (verse 2).
Today, what some refer to as the outer court, was originally called “the mountain of the house,” which was an open space around the actual temple building. Anyone was permitted entrance there, including unbelieving Gentiles.
The actual perimeter of the temple was surrounded by a barrier called the sorg and only Jews were allowed through the gates of this fence which gave them access to the temple.
Inside the temple was the inner court and the outer court, also called “the court of women.” It was there that the tithe boxes were kept and certain rituals were performed including the cleansing of lepers.
The inner court could only be entered by the priests. This was the “Holy Place” which also contained the curtained area which was the Holy of Holies. This was where the priest entered once a year to make atonement for the people by the blood of animal sacrifices.
Because Gentiles already had access to the “mountain of the house” surrounding the temple, the outer court referred to in verse two is the court of the women where non-Jews were forbidden to enter.
What we are being told here, is that the Gentiles had gained entry to the outer court of the temple. That means God’s people were allowing pagan influences to infiltrate His church and their lives, repeating the sins that brought ruin to the first temple. Once again the people were placing their pagan influenced doctrines, their thresholds and pillars next to His, reconstructing the pattern of God’s word to suit themselves. They were no longer seeking to allow Him to conform them to His standards and His pattern He had established for the redemption of their sins.
This defilement would initiate a repeat of events that God brought against ancient Israel for their correction in Ezekiel’s day -…and the holy city shall they (the Gentiles) tread under foot forty and two months (three and one-half years).
Let’s keep in mind that the destruction of the second temple in Jerusalem had already taken place twenty-five years before John received this vision. According to Irenaeus, John’s imprisonment occurred in the later portion of the reign of Domitian in 95 AD. The destruction of the temple occurred in 70 AD, so we are being shown here a portrait of the spiritual condition of Israel and the apostate church, the whore of Revelation seventeen and eighteen.
To confirm this we will briefly skip ahead to verse eight of Chapter Eleven where we are shown that Jerusalem “is called spiritually Sodom and Egypt.” Jerusalem is also used in the Scriptures as figurative of the church where the presence of God resides, the New Jerusalem, (Rev. 21: 9-23), so we can see the contrast of the two Jerusalems; one polluted by sin and the other faithful and redeemed.
The symbolic measuring of the temple, which represents a time where God is calling His people to repentance, precedes the sounding of the final seventh trumpet in verse fifteen, that announces the beginning of the finale of time (Rev. 10:7) and the end of the second war related “woe.” The seventh trumpet warns us of what is to come, the third woe, when God’s judgments are finalized upon a rebellious and sin scarred planet in the great tribulation, which begins in Chapter Fourteen and correlates to Daniel’s time of trouble in Daniel 12:1, (the forty two months of Rev.11:2) and prophesied by Jesus in Matthew 24:21, which is the period of time that directly precedes the Lord’s return in Zechariah 14: 1-3.
So, we conclude, that in the space of time represented by verses one through fifteen, the apostate church and Israel will be given time to repent, and that repentance is proclaimed during the period of evangelism illustrated in Chapter Ten to the calling up, the “rapture” of those who are preaching that repentance, the two witnesses described for us in that wisp of time that precedes the coming storm.
And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. – Matthew 24:14
The Two Witnesses
These mysterious witnesses seem to appear out of nowhere, yet, we suspect that they have emerged from the inner court of intimacy with the Lord. They have been measured, or evaluated by their Savior, and deemed worthy for ministry during this critical time in church history, and have kept themselves from the polluted outer court.
And I will give power unto My two witnesses, and they shall prophecy a thousand two hundred and threescore days clothed in sackcloth (verse 3).
The word “power,” exousia (ex-oo-see’-ah) does not appear in the original translation. The literal rendering is “I will give to them,” therefore the verse reads – “I will give to them, and they shall prophecy…”
Jesus gave to His disciples “power.” –
And when He had called to Him His twelve disciples, He gave them power (exousia) against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease (Matthew 10:1).
So we conclude that the power that is given to the two witnesses is the Holy Spirit. These witnesses represent a revival among a remnant of God’s people who are operating with the same zeal and empowerment of the first century believers with an unwavering devotion to Jesus and His word.
The time of their testimony is “a thousand two hundred and threescore days” – three and one half years. This period of time precedes the “forty and two months,” another three and one half years that Jerusalem is trampled or invaded by the Gentiles (unbelievers) during the great tribulation which begins in Chapter Fourteen.
Prophetically, the distinction in the wording shows us, that while we are dealing with the same time frames for the witnesses’ testimony and the Gentile invasion - three and one-half years, the events are occurring at different times. If the witnesses were testifying at the same time Israel is being invaded by the Gentiles, then the wording would be the same “forty two months.” The distinction between days and months is merely telling us that the witnesses will be operating for three and one half years prior to Israel’s invasion which will last as long as the witnesses/evangelists have been testifying. The witnesses are “raptured,” in verse twelve before Israel and the apostate church are consumed by their adversaries in Chapter Fourteen.
We must also take into consideration that these time frames may be symbolic. The precedent for this is explored in our study of Daniel's Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks in Chapter Eleven of this book.
Many scholars have recognized that these two witnesses are the 144,000 that are sealed in Chapter Seven and this author agrees with that assessment. As we watch the witnesses raptured in verse twelve, we also observe the 144,000 in a symbolic position of protection and safety with the Lord on Mount Zion at the beginning of the horrors that are transpiring in Chapter Fourteen. We will explore the significance of that mountain scenario as this study progresses.
The number associated with the witnesses is in multiples of twelve, the number twelve being typically the number that designates the chosen. Some view this number as a literal 144,000, in that case only a very small amount of believers will be raptured. While this author personally believes the number is representative of a much larger group of people, the number itself tells us that in comparison to the amount of Christians that are on the earth, those who will be raptured are a mere remnant who have not succumbed to apostasy.
We see them in Chapter Nine (verse four), so we can assume that they are functioning during the warning period of the trumpets and the period of evangelism exemplified in Chapter Ten.
Here we must reiterate the fact that because of the previous and widely accepted interpretations of Revelation that teach this time frame only concerns Jewish believers, and that the 144,000 are seen traditionally as Jews only, we need to briefly review the symbolism in Chapter Seven that negates this view and we also need to understand how the early church saw itself in relation to the Jews.
In Chapter Seven verses four through eight we witness the 144,000 being sealed and they are portrayed as twelve tribes of Israel. However, we note that Manasseh replaces Dan. Manasseh was not one of the original twelve tribes. This symbolism tells us that we are not being shown literal Jews. If the Lord was conveying the fact that these are Jews only then there would be no additional symbolism to consider.
Manasseh was the fruit of Joseph’s marriage to a Gentile. Therefore symbolically we see that the Gentiles are being grafted in through Joseph who is a type of Christ. The Gentile wild olive tree is now one with the Jewish remnant olive tree as taught by the Apostle Paul (Romans 11:17).
The tribe of Dan could not obtain his inheritance, thus the omission of that tribe here is symbolic of the Jews who could not obtain their inheritance in Christ because of their rejection of Him. They are the Jews who say they are Jews and are not in Rev. 2:9, and 3:9.
The early church saw herself as true Jews. In Justin Martyr’s (100-165 AD) “Dialogue with Trypho,” we read in Chapter 135, verse 14; “He (Jesus) shall shine, and shall not be broken, until He set judgment on the earth. And in His name shall the Gentiles trust. Then is it Jacob the patriarch in whom the Gentiles and yourselves shall trust? or is it not Christ? As, therefore, Christ is the Israel and the Jacob, even so we, who have been quarried out from the bowels of Christ, are the true Israelitic race.”
We do not replace the Jewish race, God still has a plan for Israel. In Jesus we become Jews; believing Jews in contrast to non-believing Jews. Perhaps one of the reasons the truth of the Scriptures is resisted in this area is as one person has said to me, “Maybe we don’t like to think of ourselves as Jews.”
Justin Martyr’s statement is also confirmed in Daniel 12:1, where we are shown that the Lord sees Daniel’s people as those whose names have been written in the book of life, and only those who have received Jesus as the Messiah through faith in His atonement can be written into that book, according to the word of God. Therefore, God is not accepting them according to their race, only by their belief in the atonement; this is what qualifies them to be Daniel’s people.
The Apostle Paul makes it very clear that the Gentiles are now one with the Jews and there is no longer any distinction between them. –
But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off (the Gentiles) are made near by the blood of Christ.
For He is our peace, who has made both (Jew and Gentile),one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us (Ephesians 2:13, 14).
We have been reconciled “unto God in one body by the cross” (Ephesians 2:16).
The last seven epistles in the Bible; James, first and second Peter, the three epistles of John and Jude's epistle, are assembled together because, unlike the previous epistles which are directed to specific churches, these epistles are written to the church in general. Therefore, in James’ epistle he addresses the entire Christian church as “the twelve tribes” (James 1:1).
This view is confirmed by the Apostle Paul’s statements that the Gentiles, by faith in the blood of Jesus are counted as heirs of the seed of Abraham (Romans 9:5-8, 4:16). The natural branches, the Jews, have been cut off by their rejection of the Messiah, but God is able to graft them in again, (Romans 11:23) which is why the time of evangelism illustrated for us in chapters ten and eleven is so important. In these chapters we are shown that God is allowing a period of evangelism for the purpose of bringing salvation to the Gentile unbelievers, the recovering of an apostate Christian church back into the Lord’s embrace from her love affair with the world, and Israel to faith in Christ.
We return to the second portion of verse three where we assess the witnesses’ outfits and we see that they are both wearing sackcloth; unfashionable attire which makes them stand out in a church age that has adorned itself in the stylish garments of compromise with a Babylonian society.
Sackcloth as it is used in the Scriptures, represents humility, mourning and/or repentance. Sackcloth is a black fabric similar to burlap. It’s not that comfortable to wear, but these testifiers of God’s word are not seeking their own comfort; they are fully committed to serving and obeying the Lord, even when it is uncomfortable or inconvenient.
The symbolism of their garments tells us that they are mourning or grieving over the sins of God’s people in both houses, the church and Israel. They are preaching an appropriate repentance which is the inseparable companion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it was preached by the first century believers. -
Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:46, 47).
I have learned that there are three words in the Greek language for repentance in the New Testament. Metamelomai is a verb which means a change of mind that produces remorse or regret for sin, but does not produce a change of heart. This word is used to describe Judas’ repentance in Matthew 27:3, and I think we can all do much better than that.
The word metanoeo is used to denote a change of mind and heart after knowledge. This verb is used with the cognate noun metanoia and is utilized to describe a true repentance of a changed life, desires and purpose. This is the repentance that appropriates the atonement through which grace and forgiveness of sins are imparted.
Repentance is important, the kind we choose is vital.
For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world works death (II Corinthians 7:10).
Therefore the concept of repentance as it was conveyed by the Apostles, and as preached by their counterparts in the future requires at least a willingness to turn from sin. The Apostle Paul reiterates this point in his testimony to King Agrippa. –
I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: but showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance (Acts 26:19,20).
And the Lord Jesus declares – They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Mark 2:17).
The Apostle Peter concurs that Jesus was sent to bless us by “turning away every one of you from your iniquities” (Acts 3:26).
As the world and a worldly church gap at these odd strangers in their midst clothed in what they deem as inappropriate attire for the age, the witnesses gaze back at them, seeing them as they appear before God, naked and wallowing in the leprosy of their sins.
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).
The Two Olive Trees
We have examined the timing of their mission, part of their job description and their work clothes, but we turn to the Lord to ask specifically, “Who are these witnesses, really?”
He replies to us through the angel who is revealing this vision to John and we hear, -
“These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth” (verse 4).
He says it as if we should know what He means. We nod and smile. We have temporarily forgotten that the Lord enjoys a good riddle or two and - It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter (Proverbs 25:2). We arise to the challenge and so we begin our quest to discover the identity of these two exquisitely beautiful examples of God’s spiritual horticulture that are blooming before us in Revelation’s pages.
We have already been shown that candlesticks represent churches and so we know that the witnesses are churches, assemblies of God’s people, Gentiles and Messianic Jews, the 144,000, united in the cross of Jesus, the Messiah.
The imagery of the Olive Trees directs us back to their first appearance in Scripture and we find ourselves encompassed by another vision that is being shown to the prophet Zechariah in the fourth chapter of the Old Testament book that bears his name.
In this vision we are shown that the two Olive Trees are standing on either side of a candlestick with seven pipes connecting to seven lamps. –
And He said to me, “What do you see?” And I said, “I have looked and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are on the top of it: And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side of it” (Zechariah 4:2, 3).
The candlestick represents one church with many branches; reminiscent of the seven churches or branches of the one church of Jesus Christ in Revelation chapters two and three. The olive trees are symbolic of the remnant within that one church in the latter day prophecy of Revelation eleven.
Zechariah’s prophecy contains many references to the coming Messiah and we are reminded that it is the purpose of the Messiah to gather the Gentiles to Himself so that there would be one church under one Shepherd. –
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice; and there shall be one fold,
and one shepherd (John 10:16).
We see in verse three that the Olive Trees are on either side of a bowl. The bowl on the top of the candlestick is representative of service or their servant-hood. A bowl is filled to be poured out in service to others.
The candlestick/church they represent has seven lamps. In verse ten we are told that these lamps “are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth.” Plural eyes in the Scriptures are symbolic of God’s omnipresent Holy Spirit. One eye can see in one place, two eyes can see more and multiple eyes can see all over the place! These eyes are seen in Ezekiel’s vision on the wheels (Ezekiel 1:18, 10:12) and in the creatures before God’s throne (Rev. 4:8) showing us that God oversees His creation. In the previous chapter of Zechariah’s prophecy, Chapter Three, verse nine, we are shown that God has laid a stone before Joshua, who was the high priest at that time. God says, “Upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the engraving thereof, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of the land in one day.”
Jesus is referred to as a Rock in Scripture (Romans 9:33, I Cor. 10:40) and we see a symbolic portrait of Him in Revelation 5:6 having seven eyes, bearing the Holy Spirit. As God gave the law to Moses upon stone, He engraves His Holy Spirit upon the Rock, the Messiah Jesus to give to us.
Relating all this to the period of time depicted in Zechariah’s vision where the command to rebuild the temple had been decreed, we see through the references to the coming Messiah, that this would be the temple that would witness His arrival. His feet would tread upon its floor, thus Zerubbabel, the governor of Jerusalem, would oversee the placing of the symbolic foundation stone that represented the Messiah’s coming and purpose. –
Who are you, Oh great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain (the stronghold/mountain that opposes God’s
purposes shall be removed) and he (Zerubbabel) shall bring forth the headstone (chief cornerstone)thereof with shoutings, crying, “Grace, grace to it” (verse 7).
The stone which the builders refused is become the headstone of the corner (Psalm 118:22).
The witnesses to this event in Zechariah’s day are the two olive trees representing the individual leadership and the church that is being restored. The rebuilding of the temple is symbolic of this restoration, which in turn represents the coming Messiah.
The leadership in Zechariah’s vision is Joshua the High Priest, and the governor, Zerubbabel. Joshua represents the spirit of prophecy, the ministry of the Holy Spirit through the prophets, and Zerubbabel, the restoration of the law, God’s word to His people. Thus, the two olive trees that stand before the God of the whole earth in this vision are Joshua and Zerubbabel, who are symbolic of the law and the prophets; His word and His Spirit.
We have observed Jesus on the mount conversing with Moses and Elijah, also symbolic of the law and the prophets; standing before the Lord (Matthew 17:3).
In “The Prophecy of Elijah,”21 (a first century document), the olive trees of Revelation are interpreted to represent Enoch and Elijah. While we see that God wants us to acknowledge the importance of the restoration of the law, (God’s word to His people), and the prophets; (the ministry of the Holy Spirit), we also see that the addition of Enoch and Elijah is also applicable. Enoch and Elijah both have something more in common than being prophets: they were raptured, as our two olive trees are raptured in Revelation eleven verse twelve.
Zerubbabel and Joshua also represent those believers that God has promised to make “kings and priests” (Rev. 1:6). –
And you shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6).
God told Moses that it was His desire for all of His people to be priests. Moses must have wondered how that could be when God said only those from the tribe of the Levites were permitted to minister before Him in the holy order of the priesthood. Was God contradicting Himself? No, He was prophesizing of a time when there would be a change in the priesthood which was fulfilled through Messiah Jesus. We are a Royal priesthood and a chosen generation (I Peter 2:9) and we are admonished to walk worthy of our high calling in Christ (Ephesians 4:1, Colossians 1:10).
It is a characteristic of a priest to – put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean (Leviticus 10:10).
And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean (Ezekiel 44:23).
We return to our place in Revelation’s pages and we realize that the Olive Trees are symbolic of this holy priesthood of believers. They represent a remnant among God’s people who take their faith seriously and are enabled by the Holy Spirit to operate in a harmonized balance of His word and His Spirit, His law and His grace; His mercy. They have kept themselves from the prevailing apostasy of the age, by remaining faithful to God and His word.
As Joshua and Zerubbabel were building a temple that would foresee the first coming of the Messiah, so these two Olive Trees, candlesticks/churches, are striving to prepare and rebuild God’s people, His house before His second coming. Those who can hear and respond will take their place among the safety of their branches.
In the Scriptures, olive trees in general are viewed as symbols of the righteous who trust in God. David says in Psalm 52:8; but I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.
They stand out in contrast to the wickedness in the world around them just like the two olive trees of Revelation eleven.
The spiritual climate in which they are ministering is hostile to the word of God they are proclaiming. Jesus said that the day and age that precedes His return would be like the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37) and in a sense our two witnesses have a role similar to that of righteous Noah, calling people to repentance, to board the ark of safety which is the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul details the age in which the olive trees are functioning. –
This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come (II Timothy 3:1). (Let’s keep in mind that Paul lived in a pagan environment rampant with sin, yet he foresaw a time in the future that was so much worse. What he is describing to Timothy is a disintegration of the character of the people that makes this period of time so hazardous). For men shall be lovers of their own selves, (a symbol of this self-love is an increase of homosexuality) covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent (without self-control), fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness (religion), but denying the power thereof: (the atonement through which the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit is received) from such turn away (II Timothy 3:3-5).
We envision our beautiful evergreen olive trees standing out among a forest of the dead, leafless trees Paul has described to us in his epistle to Timothy. Slithering among this spiritually lifeless forest is an abundance of false prophets and doctrines that the devil has sown to further deceive the people of this age.
Jesus forewarns us of the deception that has been engineered to resist and cloak the truth of God’s word. –
And many false prophets shall arise and deceive many. For there shall be false Christs, (Messiahs) and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect (Matthew 24:11, 24).
Paul reiterates. –
Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith (II Timothy 3:8).
But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived (II Timothy 3:13).
One of the characteristics that distinguishes a false prophet from the true is exemplified for us as God speaks through Jeremiah who operated in a spiritual climate similar to that of his olive tree counterparts for – in the latter days you shall consider it perfectly (Jeremiah 23:20). God says; -
I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied, but if they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings (Jeremiah 23:21, 22).
The olive trees of Revelation have stood in the true counsel of God’s word. They have not placed man’s words, his doctrines, his pillars and thresholds within God’s house to defile it. Thus the God ordained, corrective sound doctrine that proceeds from the mouths of these witnesses is like a pure fire. –
I will make My words in your mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them (Jeremiah 5:14).
Is not My word like as a fire? Saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaks in pieces? (Jeremiah 23:29).
The holy, uncompromised, corrective word of God, bursts forth from the mouths of the witnesses and consumes the dead forest of apostasy that surrounds them.
And if any man will hurt them fire proceeds out of their mouth; and devours their enemies (they are hurt when God's word is abused and their enemies are God’s enemies).
And if any man will hurt them, (they will be persecuted for their testimony) he must in this manner be killed (Rev. 11:5).
Those who have persecuted God’s people will ultimately reap what they sow; the Lord’s servants will be avenged as promised.
Because of their faithfulness, their separation to God from the pollutions of the Babylonian society that encompasses them, and their chosen intimacy with the Lord, they have been endued with -
…power to shut heaven that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will (verse 6).
The miracles ascribed to them are reminiscent of Elijah and Moses. The olive trees have been granted great power through prayer which is available to all who are following Jesus with all of their hearts. –
Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months (James 5:17).
Is this remnant operating today? A pastor I know was watching a live on the scene news broadcast covering the Los Angeles riots years ago and he shared what he saw with me. An obviously nervous woman reporter was being coaxed to describe what she had just witnessed. She said, “There was a fire in a building across the street. A police car drove up. The policeman got out of the car, got down on his knees on the sidewalk and he was praying. Then a big cloud came over the building. It rained and put out the fire.”
There was no further comment from the broadcasters and the scene was quickly cut to something else.
Those representatives of Elijah and Moses are here now. They are operating without any fanfare and they are not pre-occupied with attaching titles before their names like “prophet” or “apostle,” - except maybe just one – “servant.”
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, (Rev. 13:17, 17:8) and shall overcome them and kill them (Rev. 11: 7).
As we shall see in our study of Revelation thirteen, that chapter is in two parts; verses one through eight describes “the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit,” (Rev. 17:8), the seven headed monster that is a collaboration of many elements and is a collective empire. Verses eleven through eighteen describes the anti-christ. In the first part of the beast/empire’s reign, co-operation with the system is desired and voluntary (verse four). It is only after the anti-christ is revealed and the system has gained full control that allegiance to the demonic empire is forced (verses 16, 17).
It is in the initial stages of the empire’s development the war against the church is made by the collective organization. It seems as we look at verses nine and ten of Chapter Eleven, the people of the nations are rejoicing that the convicting voice of true Biblical Christianity has been silenced in their midst; overcome and presumed dead by the apostasy of the age. This tells us that the beast world empire develops initially in response to the will of the masses who have rejected the truth of the Gospel.
This persecution of the Christian church is physical as well as spiritual and there are and will continue to be many martyrs. Adherents to Christ are the most persecuted people in the world. They are condemned by Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and any others who find the testimony of the cross of Jesus Christ offensive.
The word “overcome” in the Greek means ‘to have victory over.’ The devil had victory over Jesus while He hung on the cross, but the situation was triumphantly reversed at the door of Jesus’ empty tomb. Likewise, this silencing of the witnesses’ voices is temporary as we shall see.
And their dead bodies shall lie in the streets of the great city, which is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified (verse eight).
As of this writing, many souls are being won to the Lord in Jerusalem, but not openly as it is against the law to proclaim the Gospel in the streets of that city. In this sense the Gospel is “dead” in the streets there, but still functioning. As the ugly head of the beast arises, the witnesses proclaiming the Gospel will be silenced and the cessation of that evangelism in Jerusalem is a major sign of the rapture and the unleashing of God’s judgment on a humanity that has rejected Him through His messengers.
The Gospel lies silenced in the streets of a city that is described as Sodom and Egypt. As we have previously mentioned, Jerusalem can be also symbolic of an apostate Christian church that has embraced the practices of the unbelieving Gentiles in her outer court. The sins of Sodom and Egypt are now abundant within her gates, which has caused her to be renamed in heaven’s eyes; her new titles are a reflection of the Lord’s disfavor.
The sexual sins of Sodom are no longer a shame, but blatantly celebrated. Jerusalem has opened its streets to a yearly gay pride parade, and the nation of Israel is promoting itself as welcoming to the gay and lesbian community. The city of Tel Aviv is now considered to be the gay capitol of the Middle East.
The same Jezebelian “spirit of whoredoms” (Hosea 4:12) is also infecting many denominations within spiritual Jerusalem’s Christian counterpart; the apostate segment of the legitimate church that no longer views the word of God as absolute truth and a guide to be followed.
The witchcraft and idolatry of Egypt creeps undetected in the back alleys of Judaism that has neglected the Torah with its own “pillars” and “thresholds” in the Babylonian Talmud it prefers above the authority of Moses. Its counterpart runs rampant in apostate Christianity where the doctrines of men overshadow the words of Jesus and the God appointed authority of the founding Apostles.
And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and a half and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves (verse 9).
(Note that the beast system arises from the sea which is representative of these people, Rev. 13: 1, 17:18).
The figurative dead bodies of the witnesses (also symbolic of the martyrs of the age) will lie in the streets unburied. It is unlikely that the sanitary codes of the city will permit literal corpses to rot on the streets. What we are being told here is that these witnesses and the Gospel message they proclaim are held in great contempt by the Jewish people. In the Old Testament, God told the Jews who had rejected His word, that their bodies would be unburied as a reproach (Isaiah 34:3-5, 66:24). Likewise God’s servants are treated symbolically with the same contempt.
The bodies lie in this state of inactivity, (which can also indicate that their message is no longer being received because of the apostasy of the times) for three and one half days (verse 11). This symbolic period of time when the Gospel has been silenced, is prophesied by Jesus as a sign that will proceed His second coming and relates to the increased persecution and martyrdom of His servants. –
For wheresoever the carcass is there will the eagles be gathered together (Matthew 24:28).
Eagles are predators and symbolize those who have preyed upon His people and then feast, or celebrate their demise as scavengers.
What we are being shown here is that there will be a period of time when the Gospel message will have been temporarily silenced by persecution and/or its message will no longer have any effect on the people because of the massive falling away prophesied by the Apostle Paul which precedes the revealing of the anti-christ (II Thessalonians 2:3).
The eagles gather to feast upon what they have crucified in their streets and we witness the people celebrate the apparent demise of true Christianity.
And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwell on the earth (verse 10).
The Christ in Christmas has been deleted and replaced by an x as the celebration continues, oblivious to the gathering storm clouds above their heads.
It is a characteristic of a Jezebel spirit to negate the judgments of God upon sin. “God doesn’t punish” is a motto that has infused many segments of the Christian church where man’s words have been embraced above the actual words of God.
In Jeremiah’s day, the same spirit of whoredoms prevailed and the prophet’s warning of God’s judgments upon the sins of His people were ignored. –
They have belied the Lord, and said it is not He; neither shall evil come upon us; neither shall we see sword or famine (Jeremiah 5:12).
The Biblical pattern is that whenever God’s people fell into blatant, continuous sin, the Lord would permit the enemies of His people to operate as His chastening rod, after an extended period of warning through the mouths of His prophets. When the judgment upon sin is completed, then God in turn would punish their enemies. We will witness this pattern being repeated as the tribulation unfolds in Revelation’s pages.
The party continues until; –
And after three days and a half the Spirit of Life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them (Verse 11).
A revival among the remnant that was presumed dead, precedes their “rapture.” –
And they heard a great voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them (verse 12).
There are many in the Christian camp who do not believe in the rapture, rightly rejecting Scofield’s timing of the event, yet they fail to recognize the calling up of the two witnesses as the rapture. Belief in a rapture is prophesied in the apocryphal book, 11 Esdras 6:26, where Esdras (Ezra of the Old Testament) is told by the Lord through an angel that “They shall see those who were taken up, who from their birth have not tasted death.” This event would instigate a change in the hearts of the people who witness those being taken up – “and the heart of the earth’s inhabitant’s shall be changed” – at least for some. So we recognize that the rapture is a sign of great importance, designed by God to have a major impact on those who remain, causing many to receive a soul saving faith in Christ prior to the great tribulation and the death it harbors.
And the same hour there was a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were afraid, and gave glory to the God of heaven (verse 13).
This event signals the end of the second woe, and the beginning of the third and final woe, God’s judgments unleashed upon the beast and its God-rejecting kingdom.
Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah (Isaiah 1:9).
The remnant has been removed and those who remain are about to experience the great tribulation.
The second woe is past; and behold, the third woe comes quickly (verse 14).
The third woe is God’s judgment, or war on the wicked.
And the seventh angel sounded: … (verse 15).
This is the last trumpet, telling us that the warning period is now over. We have been told in Chapter Ten that when the seventh angel begins to sound “time will be no longer” (Rev. 10:6) and the mystery of God should be finished… (10:7).
…and there were great voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever” (verse 15).
The celebration over the demise of God’s witnesses is now replaced by a heavenly celebration at the foot of God’s throne.
And the four and twenty elders which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, (These are the same elders who made their initial appearance in Rev. 4:4, and 10) …saying ‘We give thanks, O Lord God Almighty, who are, and was, and are to come; because You have taken to You Your great power, and has reigned.'
From this vantage point at the foot of God’s throne, we look back upon all the turmoil that has transpired upon the planet earth, and we realize that no matter how chaotic things have been at times, God has always been in control.
God speaks things as if they are before they come to be, (Rev. 4:17) and victory is declared in this finale of time; the great tribulation to come is merely a prelude to this victory.
And the nations were angry, and Your wrath is come, and the time (resurrection) of the dead that they should be judged, and that You should give reward to Your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy them that destroy the earth (verse 18).
While the rebellious rail at the apparent injustice of God, His audacity in interrupting their wanton sinfulness with His justice, they have failed to realize that He is giving them the fruits of their own desires. They preferred a world without God and now He is giving them what they wanted as the consequences of their own sins are poured back upon them in the coming bowl judgments that are unleashed in chapter sixteen during the great tribulation.
Let’s take a few moments to contemplate the principle God is illustrating for us here; the nations who are so enraged had forgotten one important fact – God is the Boss.
Now let’s imagine a massive business that has been built from the ground up by the genius of one man. He’s constructed his company according to a well thought out plan and skillfully engineered his operation into a highly successful, productive empire. To work for his business means a dream job, with a more than generous salary and out-of-this-world benefits.
You apply for employment and are thrilled to learn that you have been accepted.
You are given a complete set of mandates on how your boss wants you to operate within his business. There’s only one problem – you don’t quite agree with all of those rules. So you begin to “wing it” in certain areas that you don’t agree with. You are positive your way is better, even though your boss has proven that his company operates the best way according to the plan he has designed.
Slowly, over the course of time, things that you have implemented start going wrong. Only you don’t quite see it that way. In your mind the changes you have made are starting to turn the company in a different direction, one that suits you, even though your employer does not see it the same way you do.
Fortunately, your boss is a very kind and patient man. Over and over again he has tried to make you see that your ways are not his ways, and even though you may not agree with him, to abide by his course of action is what he requires.
In spite of a series of warnings, you blatantly refuse to “repent” so to speak, from doing things your own way and you are subsequently fired from your dream job.
You are angry and disappointed. But you still have to realize the one thing that has gotten you into this mess in the first place – you are not the boss; and your boss has every right in the world to fire you for not operating according to the rules of his organization. In other words, you deserved to be fired.
Now let’s apply this scenario to God. He is the CEO of the universe. He has created everything according to His liking and everything runs in perfect order as a result. The sun arrives on the horizon at the proper time every morning and goes down in the evening as programmed. The law of gravity keeps everything and everybody from floating off into outer space. The oceans have their proper boundaries; the seasons come and go precisely as programmed by their Creator. Mankind has been given a perfect, absolutely gorgeous planet to inhabit.
In order to help us abide by the Creator’s specifications and maintain what He has created according to His will, He has given us a set of rules to live by. He has promised that if we live by His word, things will go well for us and there will be many blessings and company perks along the way. But mankind has other ideas. He sees God’s way as too confining. Sin is more fun than obedience and so the employees decide to take things into their own hands. Suddenly things start happening that are not part of the Creator’s design for the project. People are being murdered, kidnapped, robbed and sold into slavery. They fall victim to horrendous diseases and poverty. There are wars and bloodshed, chaos and riots. Yet the employees still believe that their way is better even though the creation around them is groaning with earthquakes, floods, fires and violent storms.
But the Creator is very patient with them. He continually sends other faithful employees to try and turn the rebellious ones back to Him and His ways. He even sent His Son to die for them so He can forgive them and give them the bonus of eternal life with Him. Those who respond are guaranteed a secure position for life and beyond. But the others however, refuse to admit they have been wrong in their approach to management and blatantly continue on in willful, deliberate rebellion against God’s authority.
The result is that things keep getting worse and worse until the unmanageable employees reach the inevitable end of their employment and they are fired – literally.
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15).
Mankind failed to recognize the one thing that has gotten them into this mess in the first place – they are not the Boss. And their Boss has every right in the world to fire them for not operating according to the rules of His organization. In other words, they deserved to be fired.
It’s a sad ending for those who could have reached the pinnacle of their careers on this planet. The outcome for these ones might have been a whole lot different. Yet they would not repent “of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts” (Revelation 9:20, 21).
They had a clause in their contract that would have changed the horrendous world they had created back to their Boss’s original wonderful plan for all of them. It’s too bad they refused to read it.
“At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do to them” (Jeremiah 18: 7,8).
We return to the last verse of Revelation Chapter Eleven. The great tribulation is about to begin that precedes the second coming of Jesus and the first resurrection. In the unsettling wake of the rapture and a devastating earthquake, the worship in heaven continues as –
…the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament :…(verse 19).
The ark is a reference to the Ark of the Covenant, the wooden box in the Old Testament that signified the Presence of God in Israel’s midst. That ark today in the New Covenant represents the presence of God in the Messiah Jesus.
Jesus said that before His return the spiritual climate upon the earth would be as in the days of Noah. There are storms all around us today, and like Noah, we must heed God’s command to build a relationship with Him through the Messiah Jesus that will carry us above the turmoil of a world writhing in its sin.
Our ark is constructed by faith in the atonement and the assurance that God loves us and has made a secure provision for our soul’s survival in His Son.
No matter what storms we must face because of the sin that has scarred and ruined this planet, the ark that is our Savior Jesus, will carry us above the turbulent waters of this world to set us upon the pinnacle of eternal life. –
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
By faith Noah being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith (Hebrews 11:7).
And as in the days of Noah, things were continuing on as normal until a cataclysmic change in the environment produced a rain storm that would last forty days and forty nights. Likewise a similar event could trigger an abundance of … lightenings, and voices, (civil unrest, riots) and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail (verse 19).
An acquaintance of mine related this incident to me. A friend of his was having lunch with some co-workers. One was an atheist, the other a fellow Christian. The Christians were talking about Noah when the atheist interrupted the conversation.
“I don’t know how you Christians can believe it rained for forty days and forty nights.”
One of the Christians replied calmly, “Your own scientists will tell you that during the ice age it snowed every day for one hundred years.”
The atheist returned to his sandwich in silence, while the storm clouds are gathering.
The Mountain and the House
We have reached the conclusion of Chapter Eleven and we find ourselves about to cross the bridge of Chapter Twelve that will lead us to the gate of Chapter Thirteen. Chapter Fourteen is basically a continuation of Chapter Eleven, with chapters twelve and thirteen serving to transition us into the period of time that is the great tribulation which begins in Chapter Fourteen.
With this in mind, we temporarily peer under the bridge and over the gate to view the continuity of chapters eleven and fourteen. It is in the first verse of Chapter Fourteen we witness our olive trees of Chapter Eleven blooming upon Mount Zion with the Lord. They have been raptured and are symbolically appearing with Him in a position of safety and protection from the tribulation described in Chapter Fourteen.
Mount Zion has traditionally been viewed in association with the temple mount. Therefore the mountain is the “Mountain of the House” and the witnesses are the house; the temple where God’s Presence resides. They are symbolically positioned in the Holy of Holies, a place of intimacy with God. As Moses retreated to a mountain to commune with God and Jesus resorted to mountains for the same purpose, Mount Zion is symbolic of a place where intimacy with God is obtained.
Through Jesus, God has made His people His place of residency, His dwelling place. It is a building made without hands, constructed by faith in the atoning blood of the Messiah. Our witnesses are symbolic of the house/temple, the church, where God resides.
Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto a holy temple in the Lord: in whom you also are built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22).
You are God’s husbandry, you are God’s building (I Cor. 3:9).
All true believers who have escaped the apostasy of the last age are God’s plantings, His husbandry, His olive trees and His temple.
We glance ahead to another description of the remnant in Chapter Fourteen, verses four and five, where we are shown that they “follow the Lamb wherever He goes” and He is not leading them into sin, but away from it. “They are not defiled with women, for they are virgins.” They are not literal virgins, as God refers to His entire church as virgins (Matthew 25: 1-13). This is showing us that these ones are not committing any form of sexual sin, they are not defiled with women, (or men) and if they have sinned in this regard, they have fully repented.
These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and the Lamb (Rev: 14:4).
Firstfruits are harvested first, sealed or marked for their preservation. In ancient Israel the first of the firstfruits were marked with a string to designate them as an offering to the Lord and were harvested first to be taken to the temple. We witness the sealing or marking of the firstfruits in Chapter Seven. Thus this designated remnant is sealed or marked, through their faith in Messiah Jesus to be a firstfruits offering to the Lord.
Like the Philadelphian remnant these witnesses represent, they have been sealed to be kept from the hour of temptation (Rev. 3:10) the apostasy, which in turn keeps them from the hour of His judgment (Rev. 14:7), the great tribulation.
It should be the goal of every pastor/teacher to guide the Lord’s flock into that Philadelphian fold and it should be the desire of every believer to be included among that faithful remnant kept to bloom with Jesus upon Mount Zion’s holy pinnacle.
And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God (Rev. 14:5).
The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid (Zephaniah 3:13).
While no believer is perfect by any means, the Grace that has been appropriated to them through the blood of the Lamb they follow, continuously shepherds them, conforming them into their Shepherd’s loving image. Those He knows are His, will be found rejoicing with Him upon that holy mount.
Jesus said, "My sheep 'hear' My voice, and I 'know' them, and they 'follow' Me" (John 10:27).
Jesus’ sheep “hear;” – the Biblical meaning of this word is basically to understand. Jesus told His disciples, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears for they hear” (Matthew 13:16). A disciple values God’s word and seeks its meaning.
Jesus “knows” them. There is a relationship between the Lord and the believer.
Jesus said, “I stand at the door and knock: if any man hears My voice, (a disciple is listening and seeking) and opens the door I will come in to him and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).
A disciple has responded to Jesus’ knock on the door of his heart and he communes with the Lord on a daily basis. In other words, a disciple doesn’t wait until Sunday morning to enter God’s presence and worship Him.
A disciple “follows.” Jesus said, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). Jesus is saying that a true disciple of His will endure hardship for His name’s sake and not fall away when the going gets tough - or fall away when God tells him to let go of something that is not pleasing to Him.
The beatitudes in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount are in essence a description of our olive tree disciples. We see in the fifth chapter of Matthew that even though there were many people around, it was the disciples that exerted themselves to climb the mountain with Him and the sermon is addressed to them (Matthew 5:1,2).
“Blessed are the poor in spirit” (verse 3).
The word "poor" in the Greek literally means beggar or to beg. Jesus is describing people that are spiritually hungry, or needy. When Jesus was being followed by a large crowd of people, He told them that they were following Him not because they saw the miracles, but because they had eaten the
physical bread He had provided (John 6:5-13) and were more concerned for their physical needs (John 6:26,27). When He told them to ingest Him, (John 6:53) most of them left – except His true disciples who valued His word, the Truth, more than anything else. His disciples were spiritually hungry and were fed and satisfied by the things of God.
“Blessed are they that mourn;” there is a grieving for sin, personally and for the sin and suffering in the world, and these ones hunger and thirst for righteousness in themselves and in others (Matthew 5:4,6).
Jesus’ disciples are blessed because of their willingness to abide in the vine (John 15:5) and are allowing the Lord to produce His holy character in them. Therefore they have the strength of His character in them to be meek and are blessed (Matthew 5:5). They can turn the other cheek when they are reviled by unbelievers (Matthew 5:39).
A disciple is a reflection of their Lord, so they are merciful, as their Lord is merciful, they are pure in heart, for they are allowing the Holy Spirit of Christ in them to remove attitudes and inner sins, for they are willing to judge, or evaluate themselves (Mathew 5:7).
They are peacemakers (Matthew 5:9) – first by sharing the peace of Christ through the Gospel, making peace between God and man, and secondly by sowing peace where there is discord.
They are blessed because they are followers of Jesus and willing to be persecuted for His sake (Matthew 5: 10-12) for they are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13) and the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). Salt is a preservative. God always reserves to Himself a remnant that will preserve His word and shine as lights in the dark times of apostasy.
The blessed olive trees of Chapter Eleven are this remnant; they are not perfect by any means, but they are representatives of all those believers who love God enough to let Him change them into the people He wants them to be.
Revelation Chapter Twelve
copyright 2014 by H.D. Shively
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