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First Christian Reformed Church || Lynden

The Two Witnesses (evening)

I know it’s a little tough to remember where we are and what’s going on when we have these breaks between preaching on Revelation. We have heard six trumpets sound and we are now in a two chapter intermission. In chapter 10 there was an angel with a scroll who told John to eat it. Now we come to the second half of the intermission in chapter 11. We are still waiting for that seventh angel to sound the seventh trumpet. As you know every chapter of Revelation is an invitation to all kinds of wild interpretations, and this chapter has been subject of some of the most diverse interpretations. I haven’t spent a lot of time talking about other interpretations, I have mostly just tried to give the sane balance that takes in the OT allusions and the symbolic rather than literal approach. But just to give you a taste of what’s out there let me briefly mention two other prominent perspectives. The Preterist interpretation, so named from the Latin word for past, views most of Revelation as having already happened in the first century before and leading up to the fall of Jerusalem. They take Revelation and this chapter very literally, that it’s about the real temple in the real Jerusalem. The two witnesses are either the religious and civil authorities, or some say they are James and Peter. At the other end of the chronological spectrum is the dispensational, pretribulational (or futurist) interpretation which says all of this is yet in the distant future. This is a time when the temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem and the worshippers will be faithful Jews. There will be a final 7 years of tribulation the last three and a half years of which will be particularly severe. The witnesses will either be Moses and Elijah themselves or two people who speak and act much like them. At some date in the future two great preachers are going to rise up in Jerusalem and witness for three and a half years and then be martyred, after which there will be a resurrection and rapture. I believe that Revelation as apocalyptic literature like in Ezekiel and Daniel is to be taken symbolically, not literally, and is applicable to the whole church through all the church age, from the time of Christ first coming to the time of His second coming. The message is not just for the seven churches in the first century, and the message is not just for some yet far distant Christians.
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