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“The Witness of the Witnesses” (Revelation 11:3-13)

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth noting that nearly every time someone suggests a book of the Bible that I should preach, they usually suggest the book of Revelation. Well, today is your day . . . today, I am preaching from the book of Revelation.

Today, I will be preaching from Revelation 11:3-13 about the famous two witnesses. Today’s sermon is entitled “The Witness of the Witnesses.”

Let’s pray together and then journey into this passage.


Ok, so let’s look at the passage. Look at Revelation 11:3-13:

3 I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophesy for 1,260 days, dressed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 If anyone wants to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and consumes their enemies; if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. 6 They have authority to close up the sky so that it does not rain during the days of their prophecy. They also have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every plague whenever they want.

7 When they finish their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war on them, conquer them, and kill them. 8 Their dead bodies, will lie in the main street of the great city, which figuratively is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. 9 And some of the peoples, tribes, languages, and nations will view their bodies for three and a half days and not permit their bodies to be put into a tomb. 10 Those who live on the earth will gloat over them and celebrate and send gifts to one another because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.

11 But after three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet. Great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” They went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies watched them. 13 At that moment a violent earthquake took place, a tenth of the city fell, and seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake. The survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

Ok, this is a weird story, right? So, let’s talk about a few introductory comments, then we’ll get into three truths we can take from this story.

First, let’s try to answer the question, “Who are the witnesses?”

Well, I’m going to come right out and say it: we don’t know who they are. How’s that?

However, there are several different theories of who they might be.

Some believe that these two witnesses are Moses and Elijah, who are two of the greatest heroes of Israel, and two of God’s most faithful servants. Also, Moses and Elijah were miraculously present at the transfiguration of Jesus in Matthew 17.

Others think these two are Elijah and Enoch. Elijah and Enoch are both heroes of the Old Testament who didn’t actually die but were miraculously taken to God in heaven.

Others think they may be Elijah and Elisha, both who had powerful prophetic ministries during the Old Testament days.

Some think that these are not actually people but representative symbols for something. This is certainly possible as the book of Revelation is full of symbols and signs, such as the lampstands, the bowls, the stars, the thrones, and so much more.

So, perhaps the two witnesses represent the Old Testament law and the prophets.

Perhaps they represent the law and the gospel.

Perhaps they represent the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.

A leading theory is that they represent the Church.

However, there’s no way to prove who these witnesses actually are or what these symbols represent. In fact, perhaps they are two new people who have not yet ministered on the earth.

So, we really don’t know the identity of the witnesses.

Second, notice all the similarities with other biblical figures.

First of all, they prophesied, as many figures did in the Scriptures, including the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptizer, and Jesus.

Second, they wore sackcloth. Several prophets dressed in sackcloth or meager clothing, including Elijah, Isaiah, and John the Baptizer.

Third, fire comes from their mouth and consumes their enemies.

Hebrews 12:29 says, “ . . . our God is a consuming fire.”

Also 2 Peter 3:12 says, “ . . . the heavens will be dissolved with fire and the elements will melt with heat.”

Also, in Zephaniah 3:8 God says, “. . . for the whole earth will be consumed by the fire of my jealousy.”

They control the natural world and create plagues, as Moses and Aaron did, Elijah did, Elisha did, and Jesus did.

They suffer and die, as many of the Old Testament prophets suffered, as John the Baptizer suffered and died, as Jesus suffered and died, and as the apostles suffered and died.

They were raised to new life, as Jesus was raised to new life, and as all who are in Christ will be raised to new life.

A voice from heaven spoke, as at the baptism of Jesus in Matthew 3, and the transfiguration of Jesus in Matthew 17.

They went up to heaven in a cloud, similar to how Elijah went up in a chariot of fire, or how Jesus ascended into heaven in a cloud after His resurrection.

An earthquake came, as at the crucifixion of Jesus.

After seeing these amazing events, people glorified God, as at the ministry of Elijah on Mt. Carmel, when Jesus calmed the storm and sea, at the crucifixion of Jesus, and so many other stories.

That’s a lot of similarities, isn’t it?

So, we’re not sure exactly who these witnesses are, but there are an amazing number of parallels between them and other people of God throughout the Bible.

Not only are there some parallel factors about these witnesses, there are also some parallel truths that apply to these witnesses and every servant of God.

Let’s look at those three parallel truths now.

First, . . .

‌I. There will be great victory for God’s servants.

As with these two witnesses, who initially had great victory, so also there will be times of great victory for the Church.

Look again at verse 3. It says, “I will grant my two witnesses authority . . . ”

God has given these witnesses authority, and with authority comes victory.

We hear of another time when authority is given to God’s servants. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 28:18-19? “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations . . . ”

Also, remember, as we’ve mentioned a lot recently, Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 that the gates of Hell would not prevail against His church.

What we witness with these witnesses, whether they are actual people, or whether they represent something, is nothing less than the reality that God’s servants will have a time of powerful ministry and success when it comes to the mission of God.

These men prophesied, and we learn in verse 5, that if anyone got in their way, fire came from their mouths to destroy them. I don’t know about you, but that sounds victorious to me!

Verse 6 also says that they have authority; authority to do many miraculous wonders in the world, including stopping rain, turning water to blood, and striking the earth with plagues.

These servants of God have great victory, and there is victory for all of God’s servants.

However, victory is not always constant. That takes us to a second parallel truth:

‌II. There will be great suffering for God’s servants.

There will be great suffering in this world for God’s servants.

Jesus said in John 16:33, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”

Jesus never said that there wouldn’t be suffering. Quite the opposite! He said there would be suffering.

Many of God’s servants suffered, not only in the Bible, but throughout Christian history, and many are suffering now.

Notice in this passage, starting in verse 7, that these servants of God suffered greatly.

We see that the beast from the bottomless pit comes up to conquer and kill these servants of God.

This beast is surely a powerful evil spiritual force who is determined to stop the work of God. The beast does, indeed, stop the work of these servants of God (at least for a little while).

Not only are these servants of God killed, but we see in verse 8 that their bodies lie in the street, which according to Jewish culture, is a disgrace.

As their bodies lie in the street, the entire earth celebrates their death, and even exchange gifts with one another as if it is a holiday.

Now, again, we don’t know if these are two literal men or whether they represent something bigger. But, we do know that these verses describe a terrible experience of suffering for God’s servants.

However, this is not the end for these servants of God, is it?

Finally, we see that . . .

‌III. There will be a great resurrection for God’s servants.

This weird story does not end in verse 10. It continues on.

Look again at verses 11-13 again:

11 But after three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet. Great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” They went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies watched them. 13 At that moment a violent earthquake took place, a tenth of the city fell, and seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake. The survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

You see that these witnesses are standing up alive again. As a result, great fear fell on those who witnessed the witnesses.

I imagine part of the fear that fell on everyone was that they were freaked out that two dead people came back to life.

However, they may have also remembered that these prophets were shooting fire from their mouths and killing their enemies not that long ago. Meanwhile, the bad guys had been celebrating the fact that the witnesses were dead and they left their bodies in the street.

Then, we hear a voice from heaven, which is always a sign of God’s authority speaking into the situation.

The voice says, “Come up here.” Then, the men went up to heaven in a cloud.

That’s not the end. After the men go up to heaven, an earthquake came and killed many of the people who were on the earth, then they gave glory to God.

Now, to say that they gave glory to God doesn’t necessarily mean that they became Christians and started going to church and everything.

What it means that these people gave glory to God, means at a minimum, that they recognized and acknowledged the greatness and power of God.

Clearly, God did this, and clearly, God is wonderful.

Church, the witnesses had great victory, then they suffered greatly, but they certainly experienced a great resurrection.

There is a great resurrection promised for all of us who are in Jesus!

Paul describes the resurrection of all followers of Jesus in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. Paul says, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

Paul said in

Philippians 3:20-21, “Our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of his glorious body, by the power that enables him to subject everything to himself.”

Jesus said in John 14:3 “If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also.”

No matter what happens on this earth, God will make all things new, good, and right, and He will raise you and all of us who follow Jesus to new life.

There will be a great resurrection for God’s servants.

That brings us to our bottom line:

‌Bottom Line: God has great plans for His servants.

Listen, God never promised that life on this earth would be perfect and lovely. However, He did promise that eternity would.

God has great plans for you; trust Him.

Romans 8:28 says, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”

We’re reminded in Hebrews 13:5 that God said, “. . . I will never leave you or abandon you.”

Church, God has great plans for you that culminate with you entering into His presence, into His glory, and into His paradise for all eternity.

God was doing something weird and mysterious with these two witnesses, and we don’t have it all figured out. However, we do know this much: this story ended with these witnesses in heaven and with God receiving glory.

Challenge yourself this week in the following ways:

‌Weekly Challenge #1 – Determine if you trust God with your future.

The reality is, some of us could end up suffering. In fact, the Bible seems to describe a lot of suffering for followers of God.

Do you trust God with your suffering? Do you trust God for your resurrection? Do you trust God with your future?

‌Weekly Challenge #2 – Submit yourself as a servant of God.

These two witnesses, whoever they are or whatever they represent, clearly trust God and His plan for them. They were submitted as servants of God.

What about you? Are you submitted to be a servant of God? Will you be faithful, not only in moments of victory but also in moments of suffering?

Will you be a faithful follower of God?

Jesus was faithful, and Jesus trusted the Father, so that we could be changed forever.

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

Response Song – He Will Hold Me Fast

(Announcements – Richard)

(Giving emphasis – History Room)


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