Powerful Prophecies, Pt. 9
Study Guide, May 21, 2017
Pastor Clay Olsen
Who doesn’t like Moses and Elijah, right? These faithful men were not only heroes of the faith, but they also did heroic things. How about Moses with his turning the waters of the Nile into blood and directing other plagues upon the Egyptians; and then Elijah praying for drought and then for rain with both of them happening just as he prayed, along with calling down fire from heaven. These were certainly amazing things accomplished by these amazing saints. However, some commentators think that this world has not seen the last of Moses and Elijah. That’s right. They think that these two prophets of history are about to visit the Earth again in the near future.
Actually, they already visited the Earth after they left it the first time. Do you remember what’s called ‘The Transfiguration’ of Jesus? Matt 17:1-3- “Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.” NLT Can you imagine these disciples, walking up this mountain with Jesus, and all of a sudden, after over a thousand years, Moses and Elijah are right in front of them, talking with Jesus? And then they left the Earth again and went back to base camp in Heaven.
But in the near future two men are going to appear on the scene of Earth, and as we mentioned, some think it could very well be Moses and Elijah back again. And why do they think that? Because in the first half of the Tribulation period, two witnesses appear on the Earth, and the things they do sound a lot like what Moses and Elijah did awhile back. Let’s take a look: Rev 11:1-6- “Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. And I will grant authority to My two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 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. 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.” ERV
And that’s why many think that Moses and Elijah are going to visit the Earth again in the near future. The Bible doesn’t identify them exactly. Some think that it might also be Enoch and Elijah, since neither of them died, but were caught up to Heaven before they died, or were raptured into Heaven. ‘Raptured’? How about that? You see, people have already been ‘raptured’ from the Earth without dying. So the coming ‘Rapture of the Church’ is nothing new. No, the experience of being caught up to Heaven without dying has already happened. It’s just that it’s going to occur on a really huge scale this time!
But either way, the world is about to witness the powers of these two witnesses, the likes that this world has never seen. And their judgments against this world continue for 42 months, or three and one-half years…which is why it is called the first half of the Tribulation period, which is the ’70th Week of Daniel. And it’s called the ’70th week of Daniel’ because the Angel Gabriel said this to Daniel in Dan 9:24- “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.” NASU And in this one verse Gabriel revealed six things that were going to occur, which we ought to unpack sometime, but we also ought to finish the account of these two witnesses.
So after they complete their judgments and their testimony this happens: Rev 11:7-13- “And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth. But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on 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, and their enemies watched them. And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.” ESV
It’s fascinating how the Bible anticipated the reality of people the world over being able to witness an event all at the same time…no doubt through some kind of video or media feed. And did you catch that John called the city of Jerusalem ‘Sodom and Egypt’ here? Why is that? What a terrible irony that the city which God chose to be His temple city of Earth is now the center of corruption and idolatry in the end times. And, you see, that’s one of the important points about prophecy that people ought to know about and for Christians to be able to help them understand, that no, the future of the Earth is not about mankind figuring out a way to make life better and better and how to get along more and more until the world is a harmonious and prosperous and caring world. No, the future of the Earth is one in which the corruption and evils of mankind continue to grow worse and worse, and that only God has figured out a way to usher in a Kingdom of harmony and prosperity and world-wide compassion, extending even into the animal kingdom. But before He does so, mankind, along with the little ‘g’ god of this world, Satan, will continue to sin against their Creator and do harm to each other to such a degree that these judgments of prophecy are going to become judgments of reality. The only so-called ‘utopia’ on Earth is not a time when man or the Beast, the Beast of Revelation, are in charge. Utopia, or an ideal state of harmony and pristine living conditions, otherwise known as the Kingdom of God, is a time when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to take charge of His Earth.
But back to the passage. Did you notice what many people of earth do after the death of these two witnesses? “… and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents.” What an epitome of how upside down the sin nature of mankind is! It’s like Isaiah said about the ungodly mind: The ungodly mind calls evil ‘good’ and it calls good ‘evil’. This event when the world exchanges gifts while they rejoice at the deaths of God’s two witnesses has been referred to as ‘Satan’s christmas’. But their ‘satanic christmas’ season doesn’t last long, because after three and one half days, it turns into Easter! God resurrects these two witnesses before the eyes of a watching world. And then a shocked and trembling world watches them get ‘raptured’ into Heaven. Wow! But those in Jerusalem don’t have too long to set around and ponder what just happened because within an hour of the rapture of these two witnesses a massive earthquake hits Jerusalem that takes out 7,000 people.
That’s another thing about prophecy that is not only amazing, but also practical, in that, because of these prophecies you and I know about real things in real places and with real people that are about to happen. We know that in the near future an earthquake is going to hit Jerusalem and 7,000 people are going to perish in it. And many other judgments are coming to this world as well. It’s going to happen as sure as today is today. But there is also a sure way for anyone to prepare to deal with it all, and that is by turning to God in repentance and putting their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Then, in that eternally saved condition, a person is ready for anything.
However, for those in this Church Age, praise God we won’t have to experience this judgment spoken about here, as the Rapture will have occurred before then. But for those in the Tribulation Age, we pray for the salvation of many living in that time; for the salvation of those from every tongue, tribe, and nation.
And speaking of their salvation, here is another mind stretching event that is going to happen in the Tribulation Age. Are you ready? Do you remember how from time to time we kind of half-heartedly talk about how much better Angels would be at witnessing than we Christians are? Well, they would be! Well, guess what? One day they will! Rev 14:6-7- “And I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.” NASU
We have just gone way past ‘door to door’ witnessing here! This is now Heaven to Earth witnessing by an Angel who appears in mid-air and proclaims the eternal gospel to every person and people group on Earth. Some commentators believe that this specific witness that goes out to the whole world just before Jesus returns is what Jesus was primarily pointing to in Matthew 24 as one of the signs of His second coming. Notice Matt 24:14- “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” NASU
And isn’t that just like our loving and long-suffering God, that before He ushers in His Kingdom on Earth He makes sure everyone clearly understands His offer of salvation and their chance to repent and believe the eternal gospel. It’s also important to point out that the Bible begins with clearly revealing to mankind that God is the Creator who personally made the heaven and earth and everything in it, and then the Bible ends the last book by clearly revealing that God alone is the Creator who made the heaven and earth, as well as each person. Even as this Angel proclaims the eternal gospel he reminds the people of Earth that Jesus is both Creator and Savior.
But the people living in the Tribulation Age are not done with hearing from Angels because another Angel comes to Earth and proclaims this: Rev 14:8- “And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.” NASU This is a judgment that’s made against Babylon, which refers to more than just a place, but especially to the entire system of the Antichrist and all who defy God’s authority over the Earth.
And then, well, we know how God often does things in ‘threes’…sort of a ‘trinity’ theme you know…well, a third Angel then speaks to the people of Earth. Rev 14:9-13- “Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name. Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.” NASU
From the testimonies of three Angels the whole world hears the eternal gospel; they are reminded that their rebellion against the Creator is coming to an end; and they are warned about a judgment that is coming to all who continue to rebel and do not repent while there is time. And how remarkable that this Angel specifically reminds the people of earth that this whole concept of a place called ‘Hell’, which so many throughout history tried to deny as existing, is very very real after all. And when an Angel from Heaven comes to earth and testifies to every nation that this place of judgment called ‘Hell’ in the Bible is very real…well, that settles it!
But again, how like our God, who said that He is not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance, to send His Angels to give people the world over a chance to repent right up until the time He returns to establish His new Kingdom upon the Earth. What love!
So the world hears from the voices of three Angels. But then, there’s another voice from Heaven that says to the inhabitants of Earth: “And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on! “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.” This voice is not identified, other than ‘the Spirit’, which would indicate it being the voice of God the Holy Spirit. And the thing is; whereas the Angels spoke from mid-heaven to the unbelievers in this Tribulation Age, God Himself speaks from Heaven to His believers with this amazing encouragement.
We often read this verse at memorial services of our Brothers and Sisters in Christ. It speaks to how they have entered complete peace and rest from any earthly trial they endured, along with encouraging all believers that great rewards follow any and all for the good they have done in their works for Lord. How wonderful to know that! And this does apply to all believers, but the primary interpretation of it is God’s direct and audible message to the Tribulation believers, encouraging them that their times of trial and struggle are just about over, and God is assuring them that He is going to personally reward them for every good word and work they were sharing and doing in these troubled times.
These are powerful prophecies indeed. And God has given them to us to help us understand what’s going on in our world and what’s going to happen soon. Heaven is coming to Earth, and all of these prophecies are also opportunities for the people of Earth to get ready for its coming; to get ready for Christ’s coming – Christ’s coming back to the Earth He created and for the people He has saved.