In the middle of suffering, pain and trails be it in our own lives or in the lives of the world around us we are often tempted to question God, complain to God and even curse God. But the words flowing from our lips should always be to greater trust, deeper repentance, and bolder proclamation.
Revelation 10 details the vision that John not only had but is now caught up and in the middle of it. This section begins an interlude between the 6th and 7th trumpet which highlights the role of John and the church in the midst of God’s judgment. Even after all the pain and destruction that has occurred, John is reminded by the mighty angel who comes with Christ’s authority that there is still more to come though the end is near and there will no longer be a delay! And John’s task is not to sit back and wait, nor to question and complain, but to take and eat the scroll and to prophesy. That is to say, John is to embody the words of God and to speak them to the ends of the earth! That even in the midst of God’s judgment, there is hope and salvation.
Revelation 11 describes the ministry of the 2 witnesses of God, which is symbolic for the authentic church, and their task in prophesying to the suffering and watching world. John identifies them as the 2 olive trees and the 2 lampstands (11:4) which from Revelation 1:20 and Zechariah 4:1-6 together symbolise the Spirit empowered church. The picture of two witnesses is symbolic the added authenticity and validity of their prophesy and the description of what happens when people try to harm them (11:5) in their work of prophesying is reminiscent of the Old Testament Prophets. Fire from the mouth points back to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 5:14). Shutting the sky points to Elijah (1 Kings 17-18, 2 Kings 1:10). Turning water to blood and bringing plagues points back to Moses (Exodus 7:17-21) All of this is to say, the church as those indwelt by the Spirit, have the protection, the power and the presence of God in their God ordained purposes of prophesying to this world.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean that the church will escape suffering, pain, temptation, and trials. For Revelation 11 shows how even the 2 witnesses are killed, humiliated and mocked. Not coming to harm is to say that even in death – though their bodies, their worldly honour, their earthly lives have come to harm – their eternal life has not for a second come close to harm nor has the unfolding plans and purposes of God. For even in the death of these 2 witnesses when all hope seemed lost, God resurrected them for all to see and then saved many on that day – all to the glory of God.
If we know how we are to live in the final days when all hell breaks loose, how should we live in these last days?
My brothers and sisters in Christ, let us be the lampstand powered by the Spirit shining forth the light of Jesus into this dark world to the glory of God.
Youth Pastor Boon Guo