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 Sermons on important subjects by Rev. Paul C. Jong

 

Who Are the Two Olive Trees and The Two Prophets?


< Revelation 11:1-19 >

"Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, 'Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.' These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire. When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, 'Come up here.' And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them. In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly. Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!' And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying:

'We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty,

The One who is and who was and who is to come,

Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.

The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come,

And the time of the dead, that they should be judged,

And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints,

And those who fear Your name, small and great,

And should destroy those who destroy the earth.'

Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail."

The Word of Revelation 11 is very important to us, as is all the Word of God. To destroy the world, there is a critical work that God needs to do beforehand. This is harvesting the people of Israel for the last time. God also has another work to do for both the Israelites and the Gentiles, and this is to make them participate in the first resurrection and the rapture by having them martyred.

As the Bible provides an overall account on these issues, we need to find out how God's salvation of the remission of sin is fulfilled in the New Testament. The Scripture speaks to us on these topics because if we do not examine them closely, we would get confused about the saints, the servants of God, and the people of Israel appearing in the Book of Revelation.



Exegesis

Verse 1: Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, "Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there."

This tells us that the work of saving the Israelites from sin by the grace of God is now set to begin. "Measuring" here means that God will personally intervene to save the people of Israel from their sins in the end times.

In the main passage of chapter 11, we must place our focus on the salvation of the Israelites from sin. This Word tells us that the gospel of the water and the Spirit will be spread to the people of Israel from then on, signifying the beginning of God's work that turns the Israelites into God's people delivered from all their sins through the grace of salvation given by Jesus Christ. God recorded Revelation 11 to also give His remission of sin to the Israelites in the end times. The "measuring" in verses 1 and 2 means setting the standard for all things. The purpose of God in measuring His Temple is to find out, having already planned to save the Israelites, whether or not their hearts are ready to receive their salvation. And if their hearts are not ready, then it is to make them ready, so that their hearts may stand upright.


Verse 2:"But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months."

God gave Satan power to trample on the Gentiles for three and a half years. Therefore, all the Gentiles must receive into their hearts the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the Word of redemption, as soon as possible within the first three and a half years of the seven-year period of the Great Tribulation. The history of this world will end as the Great Tribulation passes its midpoint and enters into its second half-period. Soon, the time will come in the near future when all the Gentiles, as well as the saints who have already been saved from all their sins, will be trampled on by Satan.

The Gentiles thus must receive the remission of their sins and prepare their faith of martyrdom before the first three and a half years of the Tribulation pass by them. At this time, the people of Israel will also suffer under the fearful Tribulation during the first three and a half years. But they will also accept the fact that Jesus is their Savior at this time. In the end, the people of Israel will receive their salvation from all their sins during the first three and a half years of the Great Tribulation. We must realize that God will allow the remission of sin to the Israelites even during the period of the Great Tribulation.


Verse 3: "And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth."

God will especially raise two witnesses as His servants for the people of Israel. The two prophets that God will raise for the Israelites are given twice as great power as that of the old prophets, and through the words of their testimony, God will begin to work among the people of Israel so that they would accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. Through the works of these two prophets, many Israelites will become the truly born-again people of God.

By having the two prophet, whom God would send in the end times to save the Israelites from their sins, perform miracles and wonders, He will make the Israelites, who would then be led by these prophets, return to Christ and believe in Him as their Savior. These two prophets will feed the Word of God to the people of Israel for 1,260 days during Great Tribulation's first three and a half years. By giving the gospel of the water and the Spirit to the Israelites and making them believe in it, God will allow them the same salvation that had saved the Gentiles of the New Testament's times from all theirs sins through faith.


Verse 4: These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.

The "two olive trees" here refer to the two prophets of God (Revelation 11:10). The "two lampstands," on the other hand, refer to God's Church that He founded among the Gentiles, and the Church that He permitted to the people of Israel. God has built His Church among both the Jews and us the Gentiles, and He will continue to do His work of saving souls from sin until the very last day.

By the "two olive trees" and the "two lampstands," God tells us that just as He had raised up His prophets in the Old Testament's times to save the Israelites from their sins and had worked through these prophets by speaking to them, when the end times come, He will also raise up from the people of Israel two prophets who would preach His Word, and lead the Israelites to Jesus through these prophets.

The Israelites have failed to take seriously the servants of God who are of the Gentile origin, and they do not listen to what these servants of God have to say to them. As they know everything about the sacrificial system and the prophecies of the Old Testament, the end times' prophets of God need to be raised from their own people of Israel. The Israelites are so well-versed in the Scripture that they might as well recite the whole Torah even as they are running. This is why they never believe in what the Gentile servants of God say to them.

But God's servants, hearing the gospel of the water and the Spirit that you and I are now preaching, will rise from their own people. When the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit rise from their own, and from them rise the two prophets established by God who would explain and preach the Word of God to them, only then will the Israelites come to believe.

The people of Israel will know that these two witnesses are the prophets sent and raised by God Himself to save them from their sins in the end times. These prophets will exercise their mighty power, just as the servants of God in the Old Testament, whom the Israelites know well and believe in, had exercised before. The Israelites will therefore see with their own eyes the powerful wonders that two witnesses would actually perform. From this, the people of Israel will return to Jesus Christ and believe in the Lord. When they recognize Jesus Christ as the Son of God and their Savior, just as we do, they will have the same faith as ours-that is, they, too, will be saved by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.

These two witnesses will explain the Word of God and feed it to the people of Israel for 1,260 days during the Great Tribulation of seven years. Just as you and I, who are the Gentiles of the New Testament's times, have been saved by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, God will also allow the Israelites to be saved in the end times by believing in this gospel of the water and the Spirit.

As verse 4 tells us, "these are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth," the Bible calls these two witnesses as "the two olive trees." The two olive trees refer to the two prophets of the end times. In verse 10, it is written, "And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth." Here, we must solve this Word by focusing on who the two olive trees are.

Olive trees were used in the age of the Old Testament to consecrate the furnishings of the sanctuary and the altar in the Temple of God by anointing them with their oil. This olive oil was used for other purposes as well, such as in lighting the Temple's lamps. They had to use only the pure olive oil in the Temple. God did not allow whatever oil to be used in His Temple, but He made sure that only the olive oil would be used. Thus, we have to know that the olive tree, as well as the fig tree, represents the people of Israel.

There are many interpretations on these two olive trees and two lampstands. Some people even claim that they themselves are the olive trees. But the two olive trees refer to the anointed ones. In the Old Testament's times, people were anointed when they were established as a prophet, a king, or a priest. When one was thus anointed, the Holy Spirit descended on him/her. As such, the olive tree refers to Jesus Christ who was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Romans 11:24). But people have many misunderstandings on this point.

Nevertheless, the two olive trees, who are the two witnesses mentioned throughout the main passage, refer to the two servants of God whom He would especially raise in the end times for the salvation of the Israelites.

This is what verse 4 is telling us. And the two lampstands here refer to God's Church that He allowed among the Gentiles, and the Church permitted to the people of Israel. In the age of the Old Testament, the Israelites had God's Church originally. But from the age of the New Testament, they no longer have had this Church of God. Why? Because they are yet to recognize Jesus Christ, and also do not have the Holy Spirit in their hearts.

As they have accepted neither the gospel of the water and the Spirit nor Jesus Christ, God's Church is no longer found among them. However, before the final end of the world, during the first three and half years of the Great Tribulation, God will allow His Church to the people of Israel also. This is why the Bible tells us about the two olive trees, who are the two witnesses.

The Lord will establish His Church and do His work of saving souls from sin among both the Jews and us the Gentiles. And through these churches, He will make them serve this spiritual work of saving souls from sin until the appearance of the Antichrist. This means that God will make the vessels out of the saints, the members of His Church, to have them serve the ministry of saving the souls lost in sin. We must therefore diligently carry out our remaining ministry in faith.


Verse 5:And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner.

God gave this power to the two prophets so that they may carry out their special mission. To make the people of Israel repent and overcome Satan in the end times, God shows us that whoever tries to kill the two witnesses will themselves be harmed, and that the power of His Word will be with these two witnesses.

As such, the people of Israel, believing in the teachings of these two prophets, will return to Jesus Christ. This is why God would permit the two olives-that is, the two witnesses-to the Israelites, so that they may be saved from their sins during the end times.


Verse 6:These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.

Because the people of Israel would not repent unless the servants of God whom He would raised for them perform these acts of power, God will permit the two witnesses to work with His power. The two prophets will not only lead the Israelites to Jesus, but they will also overcome God's enemies with power and fulfill all the works of their calling. God will give them special power so that they may preach all the Word of prophecy to the people of Israel, testify that Jesus Christ is their long-awaited Messiah, and make them believe.


Verse 7: When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them.

This Word tells us that the Antichrist will appear in this world when the first three and a half years of the seven-year period of the Great Tribulation pass by. It is at this time that those who believe in Jesus Christ as their awaited Messiah would finally rise from the people of Israel. But many of them will be martyred to defend their faith from the Beast, who is the Antichrist, and his followers. The two prophets of God will also be martyred when they complete the works of their calling.

That these two witnesses would be killed by the Antichrist is according to the will of God. Why? Because God also wants to give them His reward for the martyrs. This reward is for them to participate in the first resurrection, join the Lord in the marriage supper of the Lamb, rejoice forever, and receive eternal life. To give this blessing to all the saints, God wants them to be martyred for their faith. All the saints, therefore, must neither fear nor avoid their martyrdom, but instead embrace it in affirmative faith and receive their blessed reward.


Verse 8: And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

This verse tells us that the "two witnesses" are exactly from the people of Israel. The two servants that God will raise for the Israelites are not from the Gentiles, but from their own people of Israel. As such, the two witnesses are killed in the same place where Jesus was crucified. This fact tells us clearly that these two witnesses are Israelites. For the people of Israel, they are the servants of God.

To the people of Israel, who are spiritually like the people of Sodom and Egypt, God will establish His two prophets, give them power, and make them testify that Jesus is the Messiah for whom the Israelites have waited, so that the people of Israel may repent and believe in Jesus.

The Antichrist will kill the two servants of God on the place of Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified. Because the followers of the Antichrist have evil spirits, they will hate to death these two witnesses who believe in Jesus and testify for Him. Like the Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus and pierced His side with a spear before, those with evil spirits will hate not only Jesus, but they will also hate the two witnesses of God and kill them.


Verse 9: Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves.

Among the people of Israel also, there are those who do not believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior. Seeing the death of the flesh of the two servants (two olive trees), these people will get overwhelmed by their sense of triumph, and to enhance this sense of victory, they will not even give their victims a proper burial. But their victory will be shattered to pieces when God brings the "two witnesses" to life again, and they will therefore come to fear God.

They may congratulate themselves for the death of the two servants of God, but this will not last long, for they will soon realize that the Antichrist is no match for Jesus Christ-disappointment and emptiness will thus overwhelm them.

These people dislike God's Word of prophecy preached by the two prophets. By standing against these two servants whom God would raise, they will eventually be cut off from the last harvest of salvation and end up turning into Satan's followers.


Verse 10: And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.

As they would preach God's Word of prophecy, the two witnesses raised for the salvation of the Israelites would be a great pain in the neck for the followers of Satan. As such, they will all rejoice with the death of these two witnesses and send gifts to each other to congratulate themselves.

We, too, are happy when those who had been bothering us disappear. The Antichrist and his followers will hate it when the two witnesses raised by God preach His Word. Every time they hear the Word of God, their spirits would be overwhelmed by agony. Because they would thus have been so tormented whenever the two witnesses spoke to them about Jesus, they would rejoice when they see them put to death by the Antichrist. This is why they would exchange gifts and congratulate each other.


Verse 11: Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them.

God, however, will make the two witnesses participate in the first resurrection. This Word is the evidence of the fact that the saints, who are martyred to defend their faith after having been saved from sin by believing in the Word of salvation given by the Lord, will participate in the first resurrection.

That the breath of life entered them in "three and a half days" tells us that the Lord will allow their resurrection in a short while, just as He Himself was resurrected from His death of the flesh. That God has allowed all the saints this faith of the first resurrection is, for the saints themselves, a great blessing of God, but for all the sinners, it will bring them great disheartenment and fear. The first resurrection of the saints is the promise of God and His reward for their faith.


Verse 12: And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them.

This Word points out the resurrection and rapture of all the saints. Having believed in the Lord's Word of prophecy, those who have been saved from all their sins would have no choice but to be martyred to defend their faith. This verse shows us that the Lord will resurrect all these saints and rapture them. The saints and the servants of God who are martyred in their faithfulness to Him will be blessed by being lifted up to the air (rapture) because of their faith in the Lord. We cannot help but thank the Lord for giving us our resurrection and rapture as the reward for being martyred after being saved by believing in the remission of sin that He has given us.

God the Father will allow the resurrection and rapture to all those who stand against the Antichrist and are martyred by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by Jesus Christ. We must believe in this fact. The saints' resurrection and rapture are the blessings that flow from their salvation through their faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by God. Satan and his followers of the end times would find all their efforts evaporating into thin air when they see the saints, whom they had so persecuted and killed, are resurrected and raptured.

God will resurrect and rapture the martyred saints, but He will destroy those who still remain on this earth by pouring the plagues of the seven bowls. When this work is quickly completed, He will come down to this earth with the saints and invite the righteous to the marriage supper of Christ. Our Lord will have this feast last for a thousand years. When this millennium is over, He will allow Satan to rise from the bottomless pit briefly and fight against God and His saints, but He will eventually destroy Satan and His followers and judge them to be thrown into the eternal fire. The righteous, however, will enter the Lord's Kingdom of Heaven and live with Him forever.


Verse 13: In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven.

After the martyrdom, resurrection, and rapture of the two prophets whom God would raise for the salvation of the Israelites, He will allow His angels to freely pour down the plagues of the seven bowls on this earth. Those who still remain on this earth after the saints' rapture will receive these plagues of the seven bowls as their gifts. Only then will they be grappled by fear and give glory to God, but this would be no use for them, for it would not be an act of the true faith in God's love.

When this world is destroyed, the righteous would have their eternal Heaven, eternal resurrection, and eternal blessings, but for the sinners, only the suffering of the eternal fire in hell would await them. This is why everyone must receive the remission of their sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And because those who have thus been redeemed of their sins believe in the new world that God promised them, they preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to everyone.


Verse 14: The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly.

For both the Gentiles and the Israelites, the third woe from God would await everyone except those who have participated in their resurrection and rapture by being saved and martyred.

The plague that lasts from the angel's sounding of the sixth trumpet to the beginning of the plagues of the seven bowls with the sounding of the seventh trumpet is called the second woe. The plagues of the seven trumpets are divided into three periods-the early, the middle, and the late periods. The natural plagues and the saints' martyrdom by the Antichrist are included in the first and second woes. The third woe, on the other hand, is the plagues that will destroy the world completely. This third woe is the bowls of the wrath of God that will be poured on the sinners still remaining on this earth.


Verse 15: Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"

The phrase "there were loud voices in heaven" shows us that the saints and servants who have been saved from all the sins would already be in Heaven by the time the plagues of the seven bowls begin in this world. As such, God's people will no longer be found in this world by this time. We must realize this. "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"

At this time, the saints will praise the Lord in Heaven, but after all the plagues of the seven bowls are poured down, they will also descend to the renewed earth with the Lord and reign with Him for a thousand years in this world. This will then be followed by the Lord and the saints reigning forever in the New Heaven and Earth.

To deliver us from sin, our Lord has served us as a servant all this while, instead of reigning over us as the King. He has bestowed us with His grace of making those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit as their salvation into God's children. As our Lord is the eternal King for us, He would also make His people reign forever. Hallelujah! Thank the Lord!


Verse 16: And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God,

God is worthy to receive all glory. It is only proper for those who have been saved from all the sins to fall on their faces, and worship and praise God. Our Lord, who has done all these works of saving the sinners, is worthy to receive praise and worship from all the saints and all the creations forever and ever.


Verse 17: saying: "We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great power and reigned."

To reign with His people forever from then on, our Lord would conquer Satan and receive great power from God the Father. As such, the Lord would reign forever. He is worthy to do so. I give glory to Him, for the Lord who has made all the sins of the world disappear, who has saved all those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and who has judged His enemies, is worthy to take His majestic power and reign forever. As such, all those who recognize God's sovereignty will be clothed in the glory of praising God forever with the Lord's almighty power and love.


Verse 18: "The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, And the time of the dead, that they should be judged, And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, And those who fear Your name, small and great, And should destroy those who destroy the earth."

Simultaneous to the pouring of the plagues of the seven bowls will now come the destruction of the flesh of those who remain spiritually Gentiles. This Word tells us that then would be the time for God to judge everyone as the Judge of all, rewarding His servants and prophets, the saints, and those who revere Him, and destroying those who stand against and disobey His will. The Lord will bring the judgment of His wrath on those who do not recognize His sovereignty, but He will allow the saints to be glorified with Him. This means that the Lord has become the Judge of all, good and evil.

When the Lord sits on His throne as the King of the born-again and judges everyone, all the sinners and the righteous of the world will receive their fair judgment. At this time, as the verdict of His judgment, the Lord will give Heaven and eternal life to the saints, but to the sinners He will bring their eternal destruction and the punishment of hell. The sovereignty of Jesus Christ and the blessing of His people's reign will go on forever. The first world will end at this time, and the second world, the Kingdom of Christ, will thus begin.


Verse 19: Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.

God will allow His saints, the righteous, His blessing of living in His Temple. All these things are fulfilled according to God's Word of promise to the mankind in Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of God begins with God's Word of prophecy, and it is completed by the fulfillment of this prophecy.

All the promises of God, from the resurrection and rapture of the saints to their participation in the marriage supper of the Lamb with Jesus Christ and their blessing to reign forever as kings, are given equally to both the people of Israel and us the Gentiles. Also, He treats the salvation of the Israelites during the end times and our salvation in the same way, makes us both to be martyred at this period, allows us the same resurrection and the same rapture thereafter, and clothes us in the same glory. The Word tells us that though the Israelites and we the Gentiles are different peoples in the flesh, we are nevertheless the same people of God spiritually.

Many people claim and believe that the born-again will be raptured before the Great Tribulation of seven years properly begins. But this is not the case. Biblically speaking, people will continue to hear the true gospel and be saved throughout the first three and a half years of the seven-year period of the Great Tribulation. The Antichrist will then emerge, the saints will be martyred, and after their resurrection and rapture will come Christ's marriage supper of the Lamb, allowing the saints to reign with Him for a thousand years.

The saints must have the exact knowledge of the time of their martyrdom, resurrection and rapture. Without knowing this time, they will continue to wander in their confusion and die spiritually in it.

Those who have the exact knowledge of God's Providence about the end times hope for their resurrection and rapture, and will diligently serve the gospel. Those who know that there is no hope on this earth must have the same hope as that of the born-again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And the saints are martyred by believing in the Word of God.

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The faith that can discern the times is indispensably needed in this age. The time has almost come for the fearful plagues and tribulations to descend on the whole world and for the Antichrist to emerge. Now is the time to wake up from your sleep. We must keep it in mind that we have to go through almost all the tribulations of the Great Tribulation. And it is imperative that we believe in Christ's return, in our resurrection and rapture, and in our participation in the marriage supper of the Lamb with Christ. For us to have the most appropriate faith for this era, we must enter the ark of the gospel of the water and the Spirit.

I hope and pray that by knowing this present era, you will have the faith that is most urgently required and the most proper for this age.

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