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The Two Witnesses

I am now 42 years into this Christian journey. I have heard thousands of sermons from some of the best theologians, with a broad exposure to many diverse belief systems. In all this cacophony of opinion, I continue to be amazed by what I read in scripture and how it settles my spirit at critical points in my journey.

The scriptures, though read differently by so many, have never failed to provide substance in my daily walk. However, I must confess that there have been times when I have doubted at least my own ability to understand the mystery behind these sacred writings.

How can a book with a story line that was drafted over centuries of time, through people who had never met, compiled across multiple continents, translated from numerous languages, yet speak with such relevance to each generation?

Some prophecies fulfilled so specifically that they are undeniable, while others seem so incredible that one would wonder how they were even imagined. The History Channel has had a heyday with their interpretations, stories made to verify aliens, dazzling space craft and weapons easily nuclear in their descriptions.

I have to admit that at times I am challenged to accept the literal interpretation over mythical allegory. Then there are times when the horrors of human depravation speak so clearly to our brokenness that the fundamentalist in me gives way to that quite simple story of Creation, the fall and the sacrificial demonstration of redemptive love that eventually brings a new heaven and a new earth.

Last evening was one of those moments, as I viewed the atrocities being played out in the Middle East, now gaining global momentum? The denial of justice in our own country, the national unrest at such a critical moment, all seems prophetic. Our moral fabric is in decline and the nation that was once heralded as a beacon of freedom for all, now seems vulnerable. Keep in mind that this nation has been the stabilizing country on our globe for decades, when despots would have threatened earth’s sustainability. That seems to have changed?

All this said, it may bring context to what has been troubling my soul through the night. For years I have held Revelation 11:1-12 as test scripture for the concept of “end times.” This remote passage speaks of two witnesses that will be empowered during a time when the holy city, which implies Jerusalem, would have been trampled for 42 months. In the midst of that time two persons will prophesy for 1260 days, clothed in sackcloth. “If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies.” That’s’ fairly descriptive. The author goes on to describe a time of plagues akin to the Exodus story with Moses, but then the story suddenly turns on the two prophets.

They are killed and their bodies left in the streets, “where also their Lord was crucified.” “For three and a half days men from every people, tribe, language and nations will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial.” All this written at a time when the technology to afford such a possibility wasn’t even thought of. Yet last night, I watched numerous videos of atrocities in Syria and Iraq where similar stories are actually being played out. Not the miracles, but the brutality and horror of bodies beheaded and thrown into the streets, denied burial.

“After three and one half days a breath of life from God entered them and they stood on their feet and terror struck those who saw them.”

Is it possible that we are approaching such a time? The technology for live interplay by the world is certainly available. The Biblical literacy is also missing, such that many would have no clue what was happening? Certainly this would conjure quite a stir, especially if miracles had been previously tweeted for 1260 days!

Verse 15 then becomes even more interesting, as an angel, the seventh in a series, sounds a trumpet and the loud voices in heaven declare: “The Kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ and he will reign forever and ever.” Not the context preferred for the typical production of Handel’s Messiah!

It never hurts to think through these things.  Just sayin!

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