Revelation 11:7-10

Sermon preached on June 2, 2013 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

When Marg and I lived in Newfoundland we had a friend who had a ministry to the lumberjacks. He would travel to the camps in the backwoods and hold services and preach the gospel. To do that he always had a 4 wheel drive truck whose body was fairly high off the road. That way he could handle the rough wood roads that led to the logging camps. He and his wife were very kind to us. One time we were across the bay with Maynard and he was showing us some of the sights, including a chapel that was there. On this particular day Maynard was driving and we were going along normally when all of a sudden Maynard started weaving from one side of the road to the other and let out a shout— ohhhhh—like he was having a heart attack. We weren't going very fast when he started doing that but we were actually on a little bridge, just at the end of it and he went over on the other side of the road and then made a big turn to the right so that we were going perpendicular to the road and then we went flying over the bank at the side of the road. It all happened so fast I was in shock. But when we hit Maynard let out a big laugh and was all smiles. There was actually a car path that went down over the bank that people who wanted to go fishing used. Before you got to it you couldn't tell it was there. Maynard knew it was there and he thought it would be a great joke on us if he did that heart attack thing and appeared to be going off the road. He had a great laugh about that. He almost scared us to death—but he thought it was great.

I don't know if people around here do things like that. I haven't experienced it since I left the east coast. I actually think it's a good thing that you don't do things like that. When I was a kid some adults used to scare us all the time. My dad had a first cousin, Nelson, who loved practical jokes. One day when I was 10 or 11 he was driving me somewhere. I was in the car alone with him. About 5 miles from where I lived there was this 90 degree curve and the curve was all downhill. As we approached the curve we were probably going 30 miles and hour and he took his hands off the wheel, turned completely sideways to me, holding both of his hands out toward me—when he should have had them on the wheel—then he hesitated a moment and then he said,

"Are you scared yet!?"

It was unbelievable.

When you were around people like that, you had to make certain adjustments. You had to expect the unexpected. And, as unusual as it may seem, I adjusted by not letting things like that bother me. I knew that Nelson was a good driver and I knew that he wasn't going to run his nice car off the road—so matter what he did, after awhile it didn't bother me.

Those stories show us one aspect of what our faith in Jesus is to be like. Our Savior is not like the people in the story. As our Good Shepherd He does not play games with us. His leading is for our good, to make us holy. His leading is a means of bringing us to glory. His leading has the purpose of His glory—it is a means whereby we may fulfill our greatest calling and bring glory to the name of our great God.

Thus we should trust Him, serve Him and praise Him in whatever situation He places us. Last week we looked at how the two witnesses were overcome and killed by God's enemies. One of the things that we saw was that the object of our faith is Jesus—we have faith 'in Him'. We have faith in His Word. We have faith in His work—it's all centered in Jesus. Our faith is not to be in whether good things or bad things happen to us. We are not to take the advice of Job's wife, who, when she saw all the bad things happening to him, said, (Job 2:9)

"Are you still holding on to your integrity?
Curse God and die!"

We learned that troubles should not shake our faith in Jesus. We're going to continue this theme today.

One of the reasons our faith in God should not be shaken is because

in our troubles Jesus is accomplishing His purposes.

One of the great teachings of Revelation is that Jesus Christ rules. In Revelation we see Him accomplishing His purposes—in ways that are baffling, puzzling, and sometimes at cross purposes to what we think they should be. Yet over and over again Revelation tells us and shows us that Jesus is in compete control. We see this first in chapter 1. In verse 8 we read,

"'I am the Alpha and the Omega,'
says the Lord God,
'who is, and who was,
and who is to come,
the Almighty.'"

He has all power. In His messages to the seven Churches in Revelation 2 and 3 Jesus showed that He has unlimited power, both in the warnings and promises that He utters. The promises He gives describe the highest possible for human beings—eternal life, eating from the tree of life, not being hurt by the second death, a new name, being able to eat the hidden manna, authority over the nations, the morning star, names that will never be blotted out of the book of life, having our names acknowledged before the Father, being made pillars in the temple of God, having Christ's new name, having the right to sit with Jesus on His throne.

Jesus has power to do all that. This is confirmed by what we saw in chapters 4 and 5—in John's vision of heaven. There we were taught that God is eternal, that in created all things and that they are sustained and by God's will. In chapter 6 we saw that Jesus was the One that was worthy and able to open the scroll.

I could go on because this theme of God's unlimited power is presented throughout the book of Revelation. In Revelation we see all God's enemies defeated. In chapter 19 we see that the beast and the false prophet are both captured and thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. In chapter 20 we see that the devil was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur—where the false prophet and beast had been thrown. They will be there forever and ever. All God's enemies are judged and cast into the lake of fire. As 1 Corinthians 15:25 says of Jesus,

"For he must reign until he has
put all his enemies under his feet."

The fact that after 3 and a half days a breath of life from God enters them implies that God is in complete control of their situation. Not only that, but Jesus' words in Matthew 10:29 show that God was in control when His two witnesses died. Jesus said,

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?
Yet not one of them will fall
to the ground apart from
the will of your Father."

It's also worthy of note that the words of our text are repeated in Revelation 13:7, only with an addition. In Revelation 13:7 we read about the beast out of the sea,

"He was given power to make war
against the saints and to conquer them.
And he was given authority
over every tribe, people,
language and nation."

He was given power. Who gave it to him? It was ultimately God. God is in control. You'll remember from the book of Job that Satan couldn't touch Job without God allowing him to do it. We see this in Job 1:12 where the Lord said to Satan,

"Very well, then, everything he has
is in your hands, but on the man himself
do not lay a finger."

Satan could not touch Job's property without God's permission. Satan could not touch Job without God's permission. Jesus holds the power of life and death in His hands. In Revelation 1:18 Jesus described Himself as,

"the First and the Last.
I am the Living One;
I was dead, and behold
I am alive for ever and ever!
And I hold the keys of death and Hades."

Jesus is in complete control. Ephesians 1 tells us that Jesus, being raised from the dead, was seated at God's right hand in the heavenly realms, (Ephesians 1:21–23

"far above all rule and authority,
power and dominion,
and every title that can be given,
not only in the present age
but also in the one to come.
And God placed all things under his feet
and appointed him to be head
over everything for the church,"

Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus has been raised to the highest place, and that at his name every knee will bow. In our Responsive Reading this morning we saw that Isaiah 46 taught that God accomplishes all His purposes.

So it is quite clear from all this that the death of the two witnesses, was something that accomplished God's purposes.

One of those purposes is given to us in verse 13. God enemies saw the two witnesses ascend into heaven and after the earthquake, the survivors,

"were terrified and gave glory
to the God of heaven."

Their death and resurrection was witnessed by many, and it resulted in glory being given to God.

But of course, we don't always see the connection.

God's ways are often baffling to His saints.

We saw this in chapter 6. The souls of the martyred saints were under the altar. They called out and asked the Lord how long until He judged the inhabitants of the earth and avenged their blood. They were, (Revelation 6:11)

"told to wait a little longer, until
the number of their fellow servants
and brothers who were to be killed
as they had been was completed."

Isn't that puzzling? We can readily understand some of the reasons for the delay of the second coming. For example, we can understand 2 Peter 3:9 where it says,

"The Lord is not slow
in keeping his promise,
as some understand slowness.
He is patient with you,
not wanting anyone to perish,
but everyone to come to repentance."

God delays so that people can be saved.

But Revelation 6 is very different. They are told to wait until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they were was completed. God is telling us that He has a certain number of Christians who are going to die for their faith in Him and He is not going to judge the inhabitants of the earth until they have all been killed.

Why would God have a certain set number of His people to be killed? Furthermore, but how would this knowledge help those souls under the altar?

Those are difficult questions. They're baffling. The saints under the altar are obviously perfectly sanctified and that answer is acceptable and helpful to them—but I don't understand it. The fact that more had to be killed, martyred for Jesus, was helpful to them because they knew what a privilege it was to die for Jesus and the fact that others were going to share in that privilege was enough for them.

But that may not be it. With many of the questions we face about God's providences it's like we're groping in the dark.

But there are some clears lessons for us.

First, you can trust Jesus even when you don't understand His plan.

We know that God's plans are wise. Jesus is our Good Shepherd and Colossians 2:3 tells us that in Him,

"are hidden all the treasures
of wisdom and knowledge."

In Ephesians 3 the apostle Paul talks about the mystery, that the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body. This mystery was kept hidden in times past but now, God's purpose is that,

"now, through the church,
the manifold wisdom of God
should be made known to the rulers
and authorities in the heavenly realms,"

Paul says that God's wisdom is 'manifold'. It is 'diverse, multicolored, intricate'. Or as one commentator translates it,

"beautifully complex".

(Frank Thielman, (Ephesians, BECNT; p. 215)

William Hendriksen says that this word, (Ephesians, p. 159)

"it calls attention to the infinite diversity and sparkling beauty of God's wisdom. For both of these characteristics one is reminded of the rainbow. Hence, iridescent… (like "many-splendoured" suggested by Bruce) would seem to be a reasonable English equivalent…"

R.C. H. Lenski writes,

"God's wisdom is one, yet it can be termed "multifarious" because it weaves a thousand apparently tangled threads into one glorious pattern. So out of the most diverse elements, where the strongest opposites clashed, where men saw only impossibilities, God, coming with means which looked hopelessly inadequate to men, worked out results which no man would have dreamed, and no angel could have foreseen. By thus telling the Ephesians how God makes this wisdom of his appear to the angels in heaven Paul magnifies the church in the highest degree. Let us as members of the church appreciate it."

In observing God's plan we should be like the apostle Paul who proclaimed in Romans 11:33,

"Oh, the depth of the riches
of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!"

Do you do that? Or do you complain and bemoan your situation when things don't work out as you planned?

Or, to put the question another way,

Do you trust Jesus?

That's what it comes down to. Do you trust Him? Are you confident leaving your life in His hands? Is your faith in Jesus like that which Jesus displayed when He faced the prospect of imminent death? He said, (Luke 23:46)

"Father, into your hands
I commit my spirit."

Luke tells us that He said this in a 'great' or 'loud' voice. He was absolutely confident and He wanted everyone to hear. He was showing us the way of faith.

Secondly, this means that

you need to be prepared to serve God in any way He sees fit.

We are servants of Jesus. We should be willing to serve Him in whatever situation He places us. These two witnesses, at the end of their lives, were overcome and killed. That was God's will for them. They lost everything for Jesus.

Are you willing to do that? In the Lord's Prayer we pray, (Matthew 6:10)

"your will be done on earth
as it is in heaven."

But do we really mean it as it applies to our lives? Yes, in a general way we do. We want God's will to be done on earth. But when it comes to us—we really want good things to happen to us and when bad things come our way—we can be disappointed and feel ill-used by God.

God's call to service is varied. Paul told slaves to serve God as slaves. God told Isaiah to preach to the people of Israel yet He also told him what his ministry would be like. (Isaiah 6:9–12)

"He said, 'Go and tell this people:
'Be ever hearing,
but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.'
Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.'
Then I said, 'For how long, O Lord?'
And he answered:
'Until the cities lie ruined
and without inhabitant,
until the houses are left deserted
and the fields ruined and ravaged,
until the LORD has sent everyone
far away and the land is utterly forsaken."

The two witnesses had a ministry similar to that.

Christians, you are in the hand of God. You can trust Him to lead you to glory. Serve Him in the situation you are in. Even if it means seeming defeat and death—serve Him.

Lastly, for those who aren't Christians,

you need to go to Jesus.

These two witness are killed. They lose their lives. But Jesus said, (Matthew 16:25)

"whoever loses his life
for me will find it."

If you lose your life as you are—you will be lost forever. Go to Jesus. Find life in Him.