Gamma 16 – The Persevering Disciple (Study 10)

Study 10

The Angel with the Scroll and the Two Witnesses


John Goh012 207
Dr Lee Fook Sin019 230
Moh Ee Lin019 273
Ng Cho Hoo012 878
Susanah Ng012



Please look at the questions and discuss the answers. The case histories are designed to let you apply what theoretical knowledge you have gleaned from the study. There are intentionally many more questions and case histories than you can manage in one session but this is designed to cover the many and varied needs of the individuals in the church hence please pick and choose which ones to discuss as long as it gets people sharing and applying the Word to real life situations. Never feel obligated to finish all the questions The answers will be posted on the web the next day.

The angel is described with characteristics of authority ie …wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire all of which is like the description of Jesus. His feet are on dry land and sea indicating authority and dominion over all. However he is not Jesus as he swears by God the Creator and he is described by John as an angel. The description is to focus the readers on his message. There are some parts of the message that are not to be revealed and some to be revealed.

This is an area of God’s sovereignty, He always gives us the general trajectory of prophecies like the coming of Jesus for his ministry but not the full details as He wants us to wait in anticipation and in faithful trust. Our great temptation is to over read the signs and do newspaper prophecy and second guess what God is doing especially for the second coming of Jesus so that we can be caught up with all sorts of wild speculations and miss out on what is really important which is the fulfillment of the gospel in verse 7 which is to be fulfilled without delay.

The mystery comes from the Greek word “Musterion” which means something that was hidden but now revealed. Our common everyday contemporary understanding of this word mystery is some complex puzzle to be worked out with careful study which completely misunderstands the word.

The “musterion “ refers to the gospel of Jesus Christ. At the trumpet call of the 7th angel the gospel will be fulfilled which means the “good news of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ His son will finally come to fruition or completed.

For years and years the plain trajectory of prophecy was that there would be a Messiah coming to save His people and the clues were straight forward enough as Gen 49 stated he could come from the tribe of Judah and Isaiah 11 from the line of Davidic kings and Micah prophesied he would be born in Bethlehem. This part most folk understood and they assumed he could come in power and be crowned king and rule the nation. What they did not understand despite years of history and exile would have taught them that the main problem in their lives was not the tyranny of the colonial powers in Rome but their own slavery to sin as seen in the repeated idolatry of Israel with the exile of both Northern and Southern kingdoms. When Jesus did come he ruled indeed but not in the manner that they had expected he came to die in their place to pay for the penalty of their sin and free them from the grip of slavery to sin. This was the hidden part of the “musterion”. They never saw that their sins would need the Son of God himself dying for them they simply assumed He would come and wrap up all the conflict and rule with an iron fist must like what a human king would do.

In retrospect, the clues were there all along as way back in Genesis we saw the ram being caught in the thickets being provided for the sacrifice instead of Isaac . We say the blood of the lamb being painted on the doorway of the the houses of the Israelites in Egypt being protective of the first born of the family whilst those Egyptians without this blood on their doorways were killed by the angel of death. We saw the sacrificial lamb and the sacrificial system both in the tabernacle and temple all rituals given by God to the Israelites for them to understand the holiness of God and the need for sacrifice to atone for sin. God provided the clues in the manner of “types” or “images “ hence the lamb was a type of the Messiah that was to come. The temple was a type or image of the Messiah that was to come. The message was embedded in these types which they knew of but did not make the connection to the messiah as they thought it was just something that it was required that they do , they sacrifice the lamb etc. That the Messiah would be both king to rule and the sacrificial lamb to die at the same time was the part of the mystery that they could not understand and now in the NT we all understand. However that is not all of the gospel as the gospel is the good news of what God had done for us in Jesus and the good news would need to be presented and witnessed to and those who accept it will be saved from impending judgement by the blood of Jesus and those who refuse to repent will face the judgement. Hence the gospel or musterion is both salvation and judgment.

The fulfillment of the gospel is salvation for those who believe and judgment for those who did not and this is fulfilled in the final 7th trumpet which is why John writes “ 7 but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets”

The scroll of sweet to the mouth as when we take in God’s words it gives us comfort and peace and Joy to understand the beauty of God’s righteousness and love. In times of trouble and pain, the fact that He cares for us and provides for us and is with us is welcome news to us which is metaphorically described as sweet to the mouth.

However the bitterness comes when we consider the entailments of God’s word. God’s word demonstrates His righteousness and when we measure up to it we fall woefully short. When we endeavour to be obedient to it we feel overwhelmed by its standards. It is all very good to say it is such a wonderful concept that we are to love our enemies and if everyone did this in the world there would be absolute peace which the world really needs but this involved us forgiving our enemies and reaching our with our hand in love not retaliation and we will find this very very hard emotionally to actually put into practice. It is easy to say we are to endure but it is really hard for us to love our persecutors and we struggle with all his commands as we struggle with our own sinful selfish nature.

The other way in which the word causes us bitterness is that the Word changes our attitudes towards sin. When the word is assimilated it changes the way we think and feel . Pornography in the past might be gratifying and exciting but once the Word of God comes in we learn the true purpose of sex, we learn to have compassion for the people forced into these blue films and our feelings for gratifications are replaced gradually by feelings of revulsion and indignation which actually marginalises us from the rest of our unbelieving friends who cannot understand why we have to be so “holy”.

The act of measuring is a metaphor for God protecting and preserving His people spiritually. What is not measured is the outer court and that is the part that will be persecuted for a time. Hence this metaphor is teaching us the paradoxical nature of God’s protection.

On one hand we are in His presence and He protects us spiritually and keeps us faithful to Himself and on the other hand He actually allows us to undergo physical persecution which is metaphorically cast as leaving the “outer courts to be trampled on” and this happens for a short time 42 months.

The two things can happen at the same time. Persecution and Protection. Why is it that the people of God are both measured and allowed to be persecuted why can’t God protect His people and now allow them to be persecuted? This is a paradox that the church has struggled with for centuries. The answer lies in the metaphor of the two witnesses

The short anwser is that the two witnesses symbolise the witnessing church. The reason for this the sentence it self
Revelations 11: 3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.

Firstly we see the connection, the two prophetic witnesses (humans) are two olive trees and two lampstands. Here we have the language of symbolism because we have mixed metaphors just like Jesus described as Lion as well as the Lamb these two prophets are also described as olive trees and lampstands. Hence the rationale for believing John is taking about symbolism and not actual persons.

Secondly, the mention of the two olive trees and lampstands is a reference to Zechariah 4 which details a vision of the two olive trees representing Zerubabbel the governor and Joshua the high priest at the time of the rebuilding of the second temple on return from the Babylonian exile. God makes the connection just as the two olive trees supply the oil for the lampstands God will use Zerubabbel and Joshua to lead Israel to complete His temple and over come all the obstacles they are facing in re-establishing the temple which is the focal point of the witnesss of God in Israel on its return from exile.

So here is the principle of the Zechariah vision that it is God who will enable the rebuilding of the temple despite all opposition through the work of His two witnesses just like olive trees supplying oil to light the lampstand in the vision.

Thirdly, the use of lampstands in Revelations is to represent the ”church” as we can see in revelations 1 so John has changed the metaphor slightly as in Zechariah the two olive trees supply oil to the one lampstand.

So in this Revelations passage, the two witnesses are symbolic of the witnessing church which stand in the presence of God. They are protected and enabled by His Spirit to over come all resistance and establish God’s witness to the world. Just like how God enabled Zerubabbel and Joshua to re-establish the 2nd temple after the return from exile.

In the first few verses of Rev 11 we see how God is both protecting and allowing persecution of His people and we naturally ask the question why? If He is going to protect us why allow persecution? The ministry of the two witnesses answers this question and gives us a theology of suffering.

The main reason that God both protects His people and allows their persecution and suffering for a short period of time is for the sake of their witness of the gospel the “musterion”. The gospel must be fulfilled without delay the message must go out and God’s church must be both preserved for the specific purpose of its witness of this gospel and yet allowed to be persecuted in order to actually bring the message both in word and deed to an antagonistic world so that those who respond will be saved and those who do not will reap a well deserved judgement. Only when this is accomplished will the gospel be finally fulfilled and the judgment phase of the gospel will ensue.

There are 6 lesson we can draw
The witnessing church is
1. Eternally secure in the presence of God
2. Can undergo harm but God will repay
3. Come with the authority and power of God
4. Protected to finish her mission
5. Will seem defeated in the eyes of the world
6. Hated by the world
7. Ultimately will be vindicated by God

1. Eternally secure in the presence of God

The commentary presents the two witnesses (representing the church) as standing in God’s presence even while suffering. They draw their strength from the Spirit. The oil from the olive trees and the light from the lamp flow through them, empowering their witness to the unbelieving world. This paints a picture of the church’s need for utter dependence.

The most important verse from Zechariah 4 is verse 6 Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.
The issues we need to ponder over is
To what degree are we personally dependent on the Spirit? In what measure are our churches dependent? How do we express this dependence? What is the role of personal and corporate prayer? One thing is for sure: when the time of testing or opposition comes, the degree of our dependence will be revealed.

2. Can undergo harm but God will repay
The church is allowed to be persecuted and undergo harm

REV 11: 5 And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed.

The reason for vulnerability of the church is twofold

1. It is because the gospel needs to be presented in love where the church embodies the message. The reason we share the gospel is because we love the world and we want them to be saved. It cannot be forced on others by the point of the gun. The message is presented in humility, gentleness and dependance of the power of God. Hence the people who present the gospel are always vulnerable and seek to win the hearts of unbelievers with their love empowered by the Spirit.

2. At the same time when the light of the gospel comes into the lives of unbelievers it more than often causes a violent response because men love darkness instead of the light.
John 1:9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.John 3: 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.

The violent response as well as the denial of the truth of the gospel will result in judgement on those who reject the gospel. The harm meted out to the witnessing church will have its consequences on its persecutors who will have no excuse at the judgement seat at the end of time.

3. Come with the authority and power of God
Look at Rev 11: 5 And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. 6 They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire.

The witnessing church assumes the power of the ancient prophets like Elijah who caused drought on the impenitent Israel and Moses who turned the waters into blood when the Egyptians refused to release the Israelites.

While these actions may not necessarily be literal but they do indicate that God backs the witnessing church with authority as the people who oppose them will come under the judgment of God.

4. Protected to finish her mission
The witnessing church will be persecuted and harmed but no matter what the church will complete its mission on bringing the gospel to all the nations and this mission will not thwarted. No matter how intense the persecution the church will complete its mission

5. Will seem defeated in the eyes of the world
The persecution will cause the apparent defeat of the church where in many places it will seem to have been defeated which metaphorically here is seen as the witnesses being killed by the beast which embodies the world controlled by Satan opposed to the gospel. They will rejoice at the apparent defeat of the church. There will be little sympathy

6. Hated by the world
The reason the unbelieving world hates the church is that they will be tormented by the church as the gospel is presented and men are made aware of their sin and unrighteousness and impending judgement from God. This insults and provokes the unbelieving world. The world laughs at the weak and mocks the poor as stupid and is angry when the church instead values the poor and pours itself out to serve the poor and yet subconsciously the noble actions of the church puts the world in an uncomfortable position where their conscience is pricked and they know the church is right to help the poor and this action shows up the world for what it is …uncaring and unloving and they hate to be put in an uncomfortable position as their unrighteousness is obvious to all.

The world turns values on its head. They make black white and white black. Take for example, homosexual relationships which are immoral but they now re-cast it as a human rights issue and the moral church is now cast as an uncaring vindictive intolerant group of people which is open to ridicule and hate.

7. Ultimately will be vindicated by God
The death and resurrection of the witnesses and their ascension to heaven by the power of God is the metaphorical way in which the witnessing church is vindicated by God. This occurs at then end. During the course of human history the church will often seen as powerless and defeated and humiliated like the dead bodies of the witnesses being left on the streets rotting and defiled. The church needs to take heart and believe that this will be rectified.

God will vindicate them at the end. They do not have to resort to violence or even use the same means as the world like political power to overcome their enemies, their hope lies in the personal vindication of God.

It is in the understanding of all these 7 points illustrated by the vision of the witnesses that we are able to understand the role of the church in the world. We can see how we are protected and yet persecuted and that the main reason for the paradox is the nature and primacy of the gospel.

No, this is the unbelieving worlds final realisation of the sovereignty and power of God and the authenticity of the gospel. They are forced to acknowledge this by the turn of events in history probably grudgingly but not willingly and certainly not coming to faith in Jesus.

To be handled by groups if they want more depth otherwise please do not try this question.

There are many false prophets that will plague the church in the last days and this is a classic example of one. The passage in question deals with the impending judgement of Israel due to idolatry.

Amos 3: 1 Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt: 2 “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.

Their unique privilege of being the chosen race came with the heavy responsibility of obedience which they had rejected and this incurred judgement and ultimately it will come in terms of foreign powers in this case Assyria coming to conquer her people and enslave them. The entire passage is a poetic rendition of this warning. The focus of the passage is the inevitability of impending judgment when a warning is given. The warning is real and not to be ignored as the warning is tied to the judgement event.

Amos 3: 3 Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet? 4 Does a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey? This parallel pair above indicates the inevitability of action that will follow warning. Two people will not walk together unless they have agreed to meet and a lion does not roar unless there is prey. It is common sense.

A series of examples are given until this last couplet
Amos 3: 6 Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?
Again and again there is a pairing of the warning with the judgement. Like a modern city, an air raid siren will definitely warn you of an impending air raid by bombers in WW11.
In this context
Amos 3: 7 For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. 8 The lion has roared; who will not fear?The Lord GOD has spoken; who can but prophesy?”

Hence before judgement falls on any city and in this case the nation of Israel the Lord will reveal it to his prophets and in this case Amos so the Lord is cast as the proverbial lion who has roared and the roar is not to be dismissed but to be taken seriously as the next action will be the deadly strike of the lion.

If one understands the context of the verse which was given one can easily understand how Sid Roth has torn the text out of its context and given it a global meaning covering all circumstances.

The text talks about prophetic warning against Israel on impending judgement and if we apply it to our circumstances all prophecies warn us about sin and rather need to repent and God certainly tells us of this time and time again and we must heed it. The warning cannot apply to predict who will win the presidential race. Just because someone uses Scripture does not legitimise its use.

Revelations 10:4 even states that there are certain things or even judgements that God does not allow disclosure which discounts Sid Roth’s wrong interpretation of Amos 3:7 that God discloses all things to prophets including who will win political races. Also the in 1 COr 14: 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets.

It is clear that prophecy needs to be subject to other prophets it cannot be unfettered. We need to be very careful about deception and false prophets.