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God's two witnesses: in the church, and among the Jews, the living out of the word of God in us

Reader comment on item: Another Voice Predicting Islamism's Doom
in response to reader comment: Two Witnesses Video Study

Submitted by Michael S, Apr 22, 2017 at 12:47

Hi, Paradox. It's hard to follow the video, with Johnny Cash singing in the foreground and all. I can't walk and chew gum at the same time. If you want, I'll spend a little time here, picking at the scripture:

Rev. 11:
[1] And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.
[2] But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
[3] And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

I guess the first thing we have to tackle, is the bit about the temple. A similar scripture is,

Ezek.40:
[1] In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after that the city was smitten, in the selfsame day the hand of the LORD was upon me, and brought me thither.
[2] In the visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain, by which was as the frame of a city on the south.
[3] And he brought me thither, and, behold, there was a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate.
[4] And the man said unto me, Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thine heart upon all that I shall shew thee; for to the intent that I might shew them unto thee art thou brought hither: declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel.
[5] And behold a wall on the outside of the house round about, and in the man's hand a measuring reed of six cubits long by the cubit and an hand breadth: so he measured the breadth of the building, one reed; and the height, one reed...

Ezek.47:
[1] Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar.
[2] Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side.
[3] And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ancles
[4] Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins.
[5] Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over.
[6] And he said unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen this? Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river.
[7] Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other.
[8] Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.
[9] And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh....

Notice that the Ezekiel passage covers eight chapters; and the messenger with the measuring rod measures not only the temple, but the courts and everything outside. The dimensions also let us know that he's describing an EARTHLY city, because the dimensions roughly correspond to the earthly Jerusalem and Israel. The heavenly Jerusalem, on the other hand, described in Revelation, is 1,500 miles cubed, just slightly smaller than the moon.

Both "measuring" passages have this in common, though: the river coming from the temple (in Ezekiel; the throne of God, in Revelation), a river which gives life; and both passages described trees on either side of the river, which are described elsewhere, in the NT and OT, as being the tree of life, giving twelve kinds of fruit, each in its season.

There's a peculiar mixing of heavenly and earthly in Revelation, especially the mention of the "gentiles", or "nations". Where will the gentiles tread the courts of the temple for 3-1/2 years? On earth, not in heaven. And what about the leaves of the tree of life, which are for "the healing of the nations (=gentiles)". Where are those gentiles?

I was born a gentile, as far as I know. Though I am probably descended through my mother from Jews, I was not counted by the Jews as part of their nation. Then, in my twenties, I heard and believed the gospel, which told me that in Christ, I had died to my old personality and nationhood; so that now I am an alien in the earth, but a citizen of heaven. Jesus had a Jewish body; but he died to that body; so that he, too, is an alien here but a citizen in heaven. We are both, therefore, a new creation. No longer being a gentile, I do not require healing in my spirit; yet Revelation says the Tree of Life gives healing to the gentiles.

That healing must happen on earth; so the imagery in Revelation is something of a mixture of the heavenly and the earthly: a river begins in heaven, at the throne of God; but it pours out onto the earth -- representing, I assume, the Holy Spirit. On earth, is the tree of life; which I assume is the Word of God. Without the watering of the Spirit, it is a dead word; but when the Spirit quickens it, it brings healing and life.

I wonder, then, whether the river in Ezekiel doesn't also represent the Holy Spirit, and not an actual river but an allegorical one. This, in turn, leads me to wonder whether the "two witnesses", the olive trees mentioned in Revelation and in Zechariah 4, are allegorical. They both supply oil to menorahs: In Zechariah, there is only one menorah, which lights up the holy place in the temple. In Revelation, there are two menorahs; and one seems to be the country of Asia Minor, which supports the seven "candlesticks" representing the seven churches.

What both the temple and the church have in common, is that they are the preservers and transmitters of the word of God -- Etz Chaim, the Tree of Life; but in this case, it is not a tree but a menorah, bearing a flame. That flame, it seems, is our testimony (i. e. our "witness") of the word of God living in and among us, which gives life and healing to this dead world.

That's how I see it, to the best of my understanding.

Submitting....

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Reader comments (61) on this item

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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