There are loads of passages in the Bible about the future. Lots of them are obscure or hard to understand, perhaps the most difficult being those in the book of Revelation. Since people have argued about the timing and meaning of Revelation’s details for centuries, I am skeptical when someone says they have discovered exactly what these mysterious passages all mean. It sounds like they have discovered a secret decoder ring that decrypts the prophetic passages in the Bible.
Today I will argue that Revelation gives us great encouragement in living our Christian lives, even if we can’t decode lots of the prophetic details.
Today let’s look at one passage with lots of mystery, the tale of the two witnesses. These guys appear in Revelation 11:3-12. I’ll give more Scripture than I usually do in my posts:
And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” They are “the two olive trees” and the two lampstands, and “they stand before the Lord of the earth.” If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.
Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city—which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt—where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days some from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.
But after the three and a half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on. (Revelation 11:3-12)
You can find many attempts to decode just who the two witnesses are. Are they Moses and Elijah? Are they someone else ? And what in the world is the significance of 1,260 ?
So many theories ! But let’s look at what’s more important. We know that all scripture has something of use for us to live more fully for God today. So — How do the two witnesses affect how I live now?
Let me suggest three ways.
- The two witnesses speak the truth in spite of opposition—- and God wants us to boldly, confidently speak the truth even when we face opposition.
- The scorn of wicked people for the two witnesses ends. God sets it right. And here’s a promise : Later, God will set all wrongs right. We don’t know the timing, but God promises that evil will end.
- The two murdered witnesses come alive. And, Jesus brings us back to life. First, we were dead in our sin and Jesus brought us back to spiritual life. And Jesus promises that sometime after we die, he will return and give us new, live resurrection bodies.
See, we don’t need a secret decoder ring for Revelation to be helpful. Even though the details of the timing and sequencing of future events remain hidden, Revelation encourages us to live more fully for Christ today, and strengthens our hope that our Lord is fully in control of our future.