Revelation 11:4-13 (KJV) predicts that "two witnesses" (later called "two prophets" Revelation 11:10) will manifest themselves during the three and a half year period of Great Oppression just prior to the Parousia of our Lord Messiah. Are these "two prophets" among us now? Who are these two? How can we identify them? How can we pinpoint the prophetic moment when they will appear?
We propose here at the beginning that the "two prophets" are symbolic of that class of Christians who are alive when the Lord returns. In other words, these "two prophets" include those Paul identifies as "we the living who survive to the Parousia of the Lord" at 1 Thessalonians 4:16. We propose that three chapters of Revelation precisely describe the same three and a half years of Great Oppression which precede the Parousia. These chapters are eleven, twelve, and thirteen. They may be viewed as overlays which may be applied to each other as they view this period from different prophetic angels. In this process these chapters provide details based on Daniel chapter seven where the period three and a half years first occurs in the context of "the People who are the Saints of the Most High." (Daniel 7:21, 27)
First, we consider it appropriate to begin with the context itself where the "two prophets" are mentioned in the Book of Revelation. From these cryptic verses we can glean prophetic hints as to their identity. First consider Revelation 11:1-3.
"And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth."
We focus on a precise period of time mentioned in all three chapters of Revelation. Here the Two Prophets have an experience lasting 42 months or 1,260 days which equals three years and six months. During this period they prophesy in sackcloth -- a symbol of grief -- apparently while being trampled underfoot by the "nations" (Gentiles) as worshippers within the "courtyard" of the Temple of God. Verse 2 would seem to infer that the Two Prophets are some how connected to, or citizens of, the Holy City New Jerusalem to appear in detail later. (Compare Hebrews 12:22, 23)
Jesus had promised to the faithful members of the Philadelphia ecclesia: ""Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name." [Revelation 3:12 (KJV)] It seems fair to conclude that while on earth these loyal disciples of the Nazarene are not yet in the Temple but worship in that "courtyard outside the Temple." Just so, they are prospective inhabitants of the New Jerusalem, "citizens" of heaven. (Ephesians 2:19-21; Philippians 3:20)
This special period of three and a half years finds its source first in Daniel 7:21-25, and thereafter, Daniel 12:7. This prophetic root helps us identify who the Two Prophets stand for. Daniel 7:21-25 and 12:7 read in part :
I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; [that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.] Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time [A Hebrew way of saying "three and a half years."]. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." [Daniel 7:21, 22, 25, 27 (KJV)]
It does not seem taking matters out of context to see here something exactly like Revelation 11:1-4 -- here in Daniel it is the "saints of the Most High" who are oppressed by the 11th Horn for exactly the same length of time given in all three chapters of Revelation (11, 12, 13) -- three and a half years. From this it would seem clear that the Two Prophets are a prophetic metaphor for those "Saints" on hand at this critical moment in Biblical history.
We arrive at this same conclusion by comparing chapters twelve and thirteen of Revelation. These also mention this same time period, both in the context of an oppression. For example, consider Revelation 13:5-7 and compare it with Daniel 7:21-25 and Revelation 11:1-3:
And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies [compare Daniel 7:8, 20, 25]; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months [compare Revelation 11:2]. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints [compare Daniel 7:21], and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints." [Revelation 13:5-7, 10 (KJV)]
Again the parallels and similarities seem to lead to the conclusion that the Two Prophets symbolize the "end-time" Saints who experience the Great Oppression of three and a half years. It would appear that the Two Prophets are a "remnant" left on earth at the historic moment when the Lord returns to rescue the Saints from that oppression by that one who fulfills the role of the Eleventh Horn or Small Power of Daniel and the Wild Sea Beast of Revelation. That the Two Prophets are a "remnant" is seen in Revelation 12:6, 13, 14, 17:
And the woman [The Holy City New Jerusalem of Revelation 11:2] fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days [three and a half years]. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman [the Holy City’s courtyard "citizens"] which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time [three and a half years], from the face of the serpent. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war [compare Daniel 7:21 and Revelation 13:5] with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." [Revelation 12:6, 13, 14, 17 (KJV)]
Again it seems fair -- and not at all ‘twisting Scripture’ -- to see that the Two Prophets of chapter eleven, the Saints of chapter thirteen, are the same as the "remnant of the woman’s seed." Thus we may summarize by stating that the Two Prophets are indeed those Paul describes as "we the living" at 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 which are the same as the "great crowd" of Revelation 7:9-17 -- Saints who survive the Great Oppression. (Compare Matthew 24:20, 21, 29-31 and Daniel 7:21-25; 12:1)
Jesus alludes to Daniel 12:1 when he mentions "a great oppression of a type not occurring from the beginning of the world until now and will never occur again." (Matthew 24:21) The "great oppression" here is the Greek thlipsis megale as it is in Revelation 7:14 (thlipseos tes megales). (Compare Daniel 12:1 in the LXX = thlipseos) Many render thlipsis at Revelation 7:14 as "tribulation" (KJV) which conveys to some that it is a tribulation brought on the world by God. However, others note that the root of this Greek word is to "press" and thus render the word "affliction" (KNX) or "persecution" (TCNT; WMS). This would harmonize with the prophetic contexts above that this "great oppression" is not against the world but against the Saints, or "chosen ones." Since the English word "oppression" is closer to the Greek thlipsis we prefer it.
How can we further identify the Two Prophets? How is their prophecy described? What happens to them at the end of the three and a half years of Great Oppression. Let us consider further verses in Revelation 11:4-6 -
"These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have 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."
First, we note the Two Prophets are compared to "two olive trees and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth." This cryptic phrase is really a quotation of Zechariah 4:2-14 and Zechariah 6:11-13 -
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 upon the top thereof: And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD [YHWH] unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD [YHWH] of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone [of the Temple] thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. Moreover the word of the LORD [YHWH] came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this [Temple] house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD [YHWH] of hosts hath sent me unto you. For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD [YHWH], which run to and fro through the whole earth. Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth. ... Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest; And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD [YHWH] of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD [YHWH]: Even he shall build the temple of the LORD [YHWH]; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both." [Zechariah 4:1-14; 6:11-13 (KJV)]
We see clear connections between Revelation 11:1-4 and Zechariah 4:1-14 -- the context is the building of Yahweh’s Temple. It also seems fair to conclude that the "two anointed ones" are the Jewish Governor Zerubbabel and Priest Joshua. Thus the Two Prophets (the end-time Saints) act as representatives of the true Branch and King, Jesus Christ who is the builder and architect of the "the greater and more perfect Tent." (Hebrews 9:11) Lord Messiah serves in both offices as King and Priest (Hebrews 7:2-26) and will one day be joined by his entire Body of Saints, his Church, who will become "kings and priests" during his Millennial Reign. (Revelation 5:9, 10; 20:4) Even while serving on earth -- within the spiritual "courtyard" -- they are seen by Peter as "living stones" and to some extent "kings an priests." (1 Peter 2:9; compare Ephesians 2:19-22; Revelation 1:6, "He made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father"; Revelation 5:9, 10: "You made them a kingdom and priests to our God and they are reigning upon the earth.")
However, there are two other famous Biblical men identified with the Two Prophets. We note above that during the three and a half years of their prophesying the Two Prophets are described -- a) fires issues from their mouths and devours their enemies; and, b) as shutting up the rain of heaven for three and a half years. These two characteristics identify the prophet Elijah who was used as an instrument to do exactly those things described in Revelation 11:5, 6. (Compare 2 Kings 1:10; 1 Kings 17:1)
The account in First Kings does not reveal the exact length of time of this drought. However, Jesus does. In Luke 4:25 the Nazarene gives the period as three and six months. His inspired disciple James gives the same period. (James 5:17) Based on this it seems fair to conclude that from one standpoint the Two Prophets are like Elijah. Elijah was foretold to make his appearance at some prophetic moment. (Malachi 4:5) To this day in many Jewish homes a special empty chair is left at Passover in case Elijah should return.
What was it about Elijah that we can find in the Two Prophets (that is, the end-time Saints)? First, their message is a torment to others like fire descending from heaven. (There is something of the Trumpet Blasts 1-4 here.) Elijah does this on one occasion in order to prove that the true God is Yahweh or Jehovah. (1 Kings 18:20-40 NJB) Also, Elijah is associated with 7,000 fellow worshippers of Yahweh who have refused to bow to Baal. Elijah is hounded and persecuted and he runs to hide alone in a desert cave where he is fed by ravens. (1 Kings 17:2-6; compare Revelation 12:14.) ) Later he feels completely alone when Yahweh reveals there are 7,000 others. (1 Kings 19:10, 14, 18).
Judging from Revelation 13:5-10 the Two Prophets (the end-time Saints) will have to endure great oppression, including executions and concentration camps. None may buy or sell without the mark of the beast. This must place great burdens on those who are "the least of Messiah’s brothers" in the parable of the sheep and goats, finding some without food, drink, proper clothing, and in prison. (Matthew 25:31-46) Surely, there will be times when these Saints feel alone like Elijah. While prophesying the fiery word of God (Jeremiah 23:29), and fearlessly declaring the judgment upon those who worship the wild Sea Beast, they can draw comfort from Elijah’s own experience, knowing there at least 7,000 others who are true friends of the Nazarene. But, there is another Biblical character which adds to the identity of the Two Prophets.
We note in Revelation 11:6 the Two Prophets also, a) can turn water into blood; and, b) strike the earth with various plagues. We cannot help but remember the trumpets in Revelation 8:7, 8. But, more we cannot read this verse without thinking of Moses. Just as Moses brought plagues upon ancient Egypt, the Two Prophets will do something similar by their prophesying to a spiritual Egypt. (Revelation 11:8) We see striking similarities with the plagues on Egypt in the seven trumpets at Revelation chapters 8 and 9 as well as later the plagues which befall Babylon the Great in Revelation chapters 16 and 17.
Moses was also the main instrument in revealing the Name of God Yahweh as well as delivering the Israelites out of Egypt. Surely, the Two Prophets must be willing to identify themselves with the Name of God as well as the means of salvation, the redemptive sacrifice by the "blood of the Lamb." (Revelation 12:11; 15:3, 4)
So, in summary thus far, we see that the Two Prophets are the corporate body of the Remnant, those "Saints of the Most High" in Daniel 7:21, 22. (Revelation 13:5-7) Though suffering the great oppression brought upon them by the wild Sea Beast (the Eleventh Small Horn of Daniel) they fearlessly trumpet the messages of Revelation chapters 8 and 9. Now, having endure faithfully -- though some will be martyred (Revelation 6:9-11; 13:10) -- what happens at the close of the three and a half years of Great Oppression?
The great oppression cannot begin until after the wild Sea Beast "ascends out of the abyss" having experience a "sword stroke" followed by a healing or revival. (Revelation 11:7; 13:1, 3, 12, 14; 17:8-11) At the end of three and a half years of oppression the Two Prophets (the end-time Saints) are "killed." Let us consider these verses in Revelation 11:7-10 -
[Babylon], which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. 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 dwelt on the earth." [Revelation 11:7-10 (KJV)]
"And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city
It seems obvious that the outcome to the Two Prophets is known by "the people, kindreds, tongues, and nations" [Compare Revelation 13:7, 8, 16.] so there is a global awareness that for all appearances the wild Sea Beast has brought an end to genuine Christianity. We, of course -- possible future members of this Two Prophet class -- greatly desire to know if this means a literal death to every one of the "Saints of the Most High"? There is a clue to our answer.
Note the next verse:
[Greek = pneuma zoes; exactly as at Ezekiel 37:5 LXX] from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them." [Revelation 11:11 (KJV)]
And after three days and an half the Spirit of life
The phrase, "the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet," is borrowed from Ezekiel 37:5, 10. This will answer our question whether this ‘killing’ is literal or figurative. Compare now Ezekiel 37:1-14 -
The hand of the LORD [Yahweh] was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD [Yahweh], and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord [Yahweh] GOD, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD [Yahweh]. Thus saith the Lord GOD [Yahweh] unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath [Greek LXX = pneuma zoes; exactly as at Revelation 11:11] to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath [Greek LXX = pneuma] in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD [Yahweh]. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath [Greek LXX = pneuma] in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind [Greek LXX = pneuma], prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind [Greek LXX = pneuma], Thus saith the Lord GOD [Yahweh]; Come from the four winds, O breath [Greek LXX = pneumati], and breathe [Greek LXX = pneumaton] upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath [Greek LXX = pneuma] came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD [Yahweh]; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD [Yahweh], when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit [Greek LXX = pneuma] in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD [Yahweh] have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD [Yahweh]." [Ezekiel 37:1-14 (KJV)]
The phrase above in Ezekiel 37:10 in the Greek Septuagint (LXX) is identical to the Greek of Revelation 11:11. Thus we are not speculating or distorting the prophetic context if we judge from this that the ‘killing’ of the Two Prophets is not literal. The dead Israelite bones above in Ezekiel pictured the "lost hope" of Israel -- a dried up state judging from only a human perspective. This is also something of the state or condition of that apocalypse New Israel (Galatians 6:15) in Revelation 11:7-10. The whole earth sees what appears to be the wild Sea Beast’s victory in its war of oppression against the Two Prophets (end-time Saints) and for all practical purposes genuine Christianity has ended. The wild Sea Beast has executed, imprisoned, or possibly driven completely underground those symbolized by this Two Prophet class of end-time Saints. However, this earth-wide rejoicing is misplaced as seen from the next verses.
"And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city [Babylon the Great] fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven." [Revelation 11:12 (KJV)]
The language of verse 12 is so similar to 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 to judge that this resuscitation to heaven is actually the Rapture. (Note: The word "rapture" is based on Jerome’s Fourth Century Latin Vulgate version of 1 Thessalonians 4:16.] If we combine in a conflate related verses from Paul’s two letters to the Thessalonians we end up with language very similar to that in the Book of Revelation. Consider -
"Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation [Greek, thlibousin] to them that trouble [Greek = thlipsin = oppress] you; And to you who are troubled [oppressed] rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels [compare Matthew 24:29-31; Luke 17:30], In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; [by the coming [Greek = parousia = Presence] of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him (compare Matthew 24:29-31)] When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. ... For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [or, precede] them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the [Seventh] trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." [2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 (KJV);1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 (KJV)]
It seems fair to conclude that the rapture is very much associated with tribulation or oppression in the verses above. The Nazarene makes it clear that this angelic gathering (by resurrection and rapture) occurs after the "great oppression." Note his words at Matthew 24:20, 21, 29-31 -
"For then shall be great tribulation [Compare Revelation 7:14; Daniel 12:1], such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's [the Two Prophets; end-time Saints] sake those days shall be shortened. ... Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet [Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 15:50-52; Revelation 11:15], and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. ... so shall also the coming [Greek = parousia = Presence] of the Son of man be. .... Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. [Compare Revelation 11:12, 13] Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." [Matthew 24:21, 22, 29-31, 40-43 (KJV)]
First, there is a "great oppression" following which Lord Messiah returns to gather his Saints from all over the globe -- some asleep (Luke 17:34) and some working. (Luke 17:35) This pattern fits the apocalyptic one in Revelation chapters 11, 12, and 13. What happens though at this moment within the great city Babylon where the remnant of New Israel were held bondage?
"And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city [Babylon the Great] fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven."
The Two Prophets are within the "great city" Babylon as Revelation 11:8 has shown. The only way the end-time Saints can escape Babylon is by a miraculous rescue just as it occurred in ancient times to those Jews who were released out of that ancient city Babylon on the Euphrates. This divine rescue is foretold by the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah. Consider their prophecies [Isaiah 48:20 (KJV); Isaiah 49:9-10 (KJV); Jeremiah 51:6 (KJV)]:
Go ye forth [Greek LXX = exelthhe] of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans. That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth [Greek LXX: exelthate]; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them [Compare Revelation 14:4, 5.]. Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD. For ye shall not go out [Greek LXX = exelthate] with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your reward. Flee out of [Greek LXX = exelthate] the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD'S vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence."
These delivered Jews did not leave Babylon piece-meal. They did not dribble out slowly, or one at a time over an eighty year period; but altogether as one united body with the purpose of restoring the Temple. Their leaving Babylon was as a group. This is similar to the deliverance of the end-time Saints out of that apocalyptic Babylon the Great in the Book of Revelation. Note how Revelation describes the triumphant event:
"And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."
The phrase "Come out of," is exelthate in the Greek. It is the same word used in the texts above from Isaiah and Jeremiah. This is a resounding call by a celestial Voice. It speaks of deliverance. Surely, this is the same Voice who once called to his dear friend Lazarus, "’Lazarus, come on out!’ And the dead man came out." (John 11:43, 44) This later phrase is drawn from the Greek exelyhen. Surely, this is the Voice the Christian dead are to hear! (John 5:28) This surely is that "commanding voice" in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 heard by the living Saints.
At this historic and prophetic moment -- as Babylon is seized by a great seismic phenomenon (Revelation 11:13; 6:12-14; 16:) -- a very small percentage of Babylon’s inhabitants are delivered, something of a "remnant" who had been declared "dead" by their enemies. Consistent with this Revelation 11:13 says, "A tenth [Greek = dekatou] of the city (of Babylon) fell and seven thousand names were killed."
What can this mean? To whom do these cryptic terms apply? Let us examine them with a heart thrilled with the idea of deliverance. Consider Isaiah 6:13 where a "tenth" refers to a remnant which is preserved: "But while a tenth part [Greek LXX = epi-dekaton) yet remains in it, it shall repent." This may indicate that "tenth" in Revelation 11:13 refers to the delivered (raptured) Remnant as that part of collapsed Babylon.
The second number in Revelation 11:13 also points to a Remnant. The number 7,000 we have already considered in the context of Elijah. Based on this it would seem that the number would deal with those who had not worshipped the wild Sea Beast and its apocalyptic number. We remember that Paul quoted from 1 Kings 19:10-18 at Romans 11:4, 5 and applies the "7,000" to a "remnant" in Paul’s own day. Thus, it does not seem unreasonable to view the number as applying to that same "remnant" mentioned in Revelation 12:17. What of those others still in Babylon?
Revelation 11:13 also refers to some "left-over" who now "fear God" and "give Him glory." Thus, as witnesses of this rapture there are those within Babylon, former enemies, who repent. Though the King James Version uses the word "remnant" the Greek is really "those left over" (loipoi). This reminds us of those "left behind" or "abandoned" in Matthew 24:40, 41 -- those who miss the Rapture but whose experience is not lost on them resulting in their repentance. It is possible these become part of those "nations" which survive into the Thousand Year reign of Messiah, free of the Devil’s influence. (Revelation 20:3; 21:24 KJV)
Upon the deliverance of the Two Prophets (end-time Saints) what worthy announcement is most timely? What will the Seventh Trumpet triumphantly make clear? Read Revelation 11:15-18 to see for yourself:
"And the seventh angel sounded; 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 for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord [YHWH] God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament." [Revelation 11:15-19 (KJV)]
Now has arrived that moment our Lord the Nazarene had warned his disciples about: the need to remain awake and alert in expectation of his sudden Coming. (Matthew 24:42-51; Luke 12:35-40) It is the appointed time of the parousia-judgment: the Master has returned and begins to judge his own Household of faith. It is that time Paul and John wrote about: "For it is a necessity that we all appear in front of the Judgment-Seat of the Messiah so that we might be awarded for those things done while in the (physical) body, whether good things or vile things. ... And now, little children, remain in him so that whenever he becomes visible we might speak freely (in the day of judgment) and not be ashamed before him at his Parousia [presence]." (2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 John 2:28; 4:17; Compare Daniel 12:2 and John 5:29)
It is the wonderful moment to reward those Christian slaves and prophets who feared the Divine Name -- the Saints of all periods during the Gospel Age -- and thereafter to ruin those who have ruined the earth. Those liberated Saints, now part of the Church Triumphant, will return with their Lord for Armageddon. (Revelation 17:14)
Are the Two Prophets among us now? That will depend on future developments on the prophetic horizon. They may will be gathering now. But, world and historic events must continue to point to that moment when the Great Oppression bursts upon the Christian world in the worst Holocaust ever experienced by mankind. The Great Oppression will be a horror of an experience worst than anything which befell the Christians of the first two centuries. Whether we are privileged to be sealed as martyrs as part of the Two Prophets only the future will reveal. it is possible we are nearing that foretold prophetic horizon.
Whether we experience the Great Oppression ourselves, what will ensure final victory? There are several factors highlighted in the Book of Revelation. Revelation 13:10 counsels, "Here is where it means the endurance and faith of the Saints." Consider some of the following factors which will guarantee the approval of the Father and His anointed Son.
"And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by (1) the blood of the Lamb, and by (2) the word of their testimony; and (3) they loved not their lives unto the death. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which (4) keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. These are they which (5) follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth."
Here are five important attributes of those who will prove to faithful end-time Saints enduring he test of the Great Oppression.
(1) The Lamb’s protective blood and conviction in its power is paramount. The "large crowd" of survivors of the Great Oppression are described as those who "wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb." (Revelation 7:15; 22:14) This requires great faith and deep belief as a result of continuous meditations on the Nazarene’s teachings.
(2) The word of their testimony includes their initial confession of faith that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father. (Romans 10:9, 10) It also includes having their "feet shod with the Gospel" -- that is, "beautiful feet declaring the Gospel." (Ephesians 6:15; Roman 10:15)
(3) They loved not their own lives. It was the Nazarene himself who taught,
"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works." There can be no question that a life of genuine discipleship following Jesus is one of self-sacrifice. The true Friend of the Nazarene must love his Lord more than life itself. Throughout the Gospel Age millions of Christians have shown themselves willing to die rather than deny their faith or disobey God. Fear of death is a satanic tool and thus it is a triumphant victory when a martyr does not succumb to this dread.
(4) They keep the commandments of God. In the context of the beloved apostle John these "commandments" are two-fold: "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us." There it is in all its simplicity: faith and love. These are the commandants of God and the life of the Saint must be characterized by deep conviction and genuine love for others.
(5) They follow the Lamb no matter where he goes. This is true discipleship. It requires a full knowledge of what Jesus taught and did in his own walk on earth. A book which is of great help in this regard is Nazarene Principles for it outlines the full breadth of our Lord’s teachings. Discipleship then requires a strenuous effort to walk after the model of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:21) As our Lord put it, "You must strain every nerve to enter the narrow gate." (Luke 13:24 GDSP)
Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller
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