Witnesses Fuel God's Light on Earth And Are Ready To Be Counted (first 7.31.12)
Zechariah 4,12-14: "Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right of the candlestick and the left side thereof? v. 12 And I answered again, and said unto him, "What are these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? v. 13 And he answered me and said Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. v.14 Then said he, These are the anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth."
Revelation 11,3-5: And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score  days, clothed in sackcloth. v. 4 These are two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. v. 5 And if any man hurt them, fire procedeth out of their mouth...
The image of Zechariah 4 is of Israel as a golden lampstand in the Temple (an attractive light to the gentiles per Isaiah 60,1-3) with seven lamps fed by the powerful anointing of two leaders rather than the traditional olive oil fed menorah. The two leaders are Zerubbabel (the would be messiah, who turned out to be just the governor of Judah under the Persians), and the High Priest Joshua.
Their joint task was to rebuild the Jerusalem temple after it was sacked by Babylon (Psalm 74,6) in 586BC. How could they do it after 70 years of exile and without much resources? "Not by might or, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." (Zechariah 4,6)
Revelation 11 builds upon Zechariah 4 and adds another seven lamp lampstand representing the two different but connected bases of light in the Christian church, the Jewish and gentile base.
These two bases of the faith corresponsd to two endtime witnesses- Spirit filled messianic Jews and Spirit filled faithful gentiles. Both these groups have come to the light of Israel and light of the world, and thus, as one people, are welcome into the inner court of the Revelation 11,1. (For this same two witness typology see also Zechariah 12,10 and Revelation 1,7)
John the Revelator is told right from the begining of this chapter 11 to measure the temple, that is, count number of saved in the inner court. The point of counting is vitally connected to the image of being a source of oil, an olive tree, and thus a burning witness in this world.
This lesson is similar to that of the parable of the wise virgins (Matthew 25,2). Only those who have access to the continuous power of their own oil, their own witness, their own Holy Ghost fire, their own Jesus filled temple. Only this supply of oil gives the power to continually empty ourselves in prophetic witness and survive the ridicule and persecution of the end times.
This ridicule and persecution ends up with the very public martyrdom of these two witnesses and their improper burial on the streets of the world, outside the Holy walls of Jerusalem "where Jesus was crucified" (Revelation 11,8).
Revelation 11 is both comforting and daunting.
It's comforting in that we all have experienced many compassionate and Spirit filled faithers wherever we have been in the world. We have perhaps even lived in areas of our own country that still allow the public expression of our faith (and any other faith). Praise God.
Yet daunting too in that in some small way our spirits have already glimpsed the ridicule and rejection and marginalization that now sometimes comes with any unapologetic public expression of Christian biblical morality and lifestyle.
Two committed and outspoken Christian witnesses come to mind- Tim Tebow and Sarah Palin. As for Tim the football player, no one piles on his "Tebowing", or his public faith statements, because well he's a ball player, and there's no bigger religion than football in the USA.
But Sarah, who is good looking enough to cause considerable envy and hatred (and does have strengths and weaknesses as we all do), gets the VP nod in 2008, holds up her handicapable baby at the convention, does her best on the campaign trail, and has since pulled no punches in expressing her political or Christian biblical beliefs, and yet she is now portrayed by the party brass who picked her as not having been ready? And perhaps even the reason John McCain is not President? And so on...
I don't want to get lost in the weeds of politics, but I bring up Tim Tebow and Sarah Palin to suggest that her present rejection by her party and others, may not primarily be based on her political performance or even experience level, but on her outspoken type of Christian witness that apparently is no longer welcome in any public political discourse.
In that sense, perhaps Sarah Palin offers many Christian folks here in the good old USA their first memorable glimpse of the fact that there are real costs to the public Christian witness we are called to give.
Regardless of whatever politics here or all the world over, the basic truth of Revelation 11 is that faithful witness trumps unfaithful success.
The two witnesses of Revelation 11 (Spirit filled Jews who see and come to Jesus in the end and Spirit filled gentiles who don't waver) live with great faith, and this makes us ready to be counted, full of oil and burning with the light of God, even here on earth.
Praise God for faithful witnesses wherever we find them, and may we all withstand the tests to our conscience and our faith, In Jesus NAME I pray.
PREACHING HOUR TV
TUESDAY EVENINGS - 8PM EST
Preaching Hour TV weekly on Cox PATV Channel 15 in Cheshire, Southington and Meriden CT and on VCAM Channel 15 10pm Fridays in Burlington VT.read more...
Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...