That They May Know

“Now after 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” Revelation 11:11

God’s two witnesses will be a thorn in the side of those who oppose Christ for three-and-a-half years. Those who want to silence them will be consumed by fire (v 5). As part of their testimony God will give them power similar to that which He gave to Moses and Elijah. They will cause a drought for the whole time they testify, turn water into blood, and strike the earth with plagues (v 6). No wonder many will wish them dead and attempt to kill them – but the Lord will protect them. John records that those who oppose Christ will make war against the two witnesses and eventually kill them but not before they have finished their ministry (v 7). We can be comforted by this in that the Lord takes care of His people until their work is done.

It will seem a triumph when the two witnesses are finally killed. Television, newspaper and other media will give this first event full coverage. Social media will run amuck with celebration for a few days (v 10) until God raises them from the dead (v 11). Television and newspapers will not headline this second event, however. Heads of government will endeavour to shut down social media conversation just as they do now with any news that is unpalatable to them.

Why will the Lord allow the two faithful witnesses to experience such opposition and the pain of death?

A purpose for the plagues in Egypt through Moses was so “that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord” (Exodus 14:4). The same is true of this future event. Also it would appear that many Egyptians left their homeland with Israel in the Exodus (Exodus 12:38; Numbers 11:4). The Egyptians had seen the destruction of their false gods and the revelation of the one true God and been moved in heart (Exodus 12:36). Those who left with Israel presumably had chosen to follow the God of Israel much like Ruth did years later.

The death and resurrection of these two witnesses was a final testimony to Israel first and to all mankind that Jesus Christ who rose from the dead is the one true God and has power to raise up and give life to whom He will. While the majority will harden their hearts there will be many who will repent and humbly surrender to the Lord. The book of Revelation reveals that multitudes will be saved during this time even though it may cost their earthly lives (i.e. Revelation 12:11). They will have discovered and now know the truth about Jesus Christ.

For This Purpose

“For this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16)

If we read this verse in isolation we might be inclined to wish that it spoke of us but the context reveals an entirely different circumstance than what we would desire. The Bible reveals that it is God who raised up nations and kings and brought them down and that He is still doing so even in our day to accomplish His purpose. In addressing Egypt’s Pharaoh on this occasion the Lord gives us the primary reason for the plagues on Egypt. It is “that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth” (v 14) and, “that I may show my power in you and that My name may be declared in all the earth” (v 16; cf. 11:7).

The Egyptians had many gods who arose out of the imaginations of men and were, therefore, imaginary. The God of Israel, on the other hand, was truly God who created all that is and sustains it. The judgments against Pharaoh and Egypt showed the power of God so that they would know that He really is the Creator. None of the gods created in the imagination of men could do such things. The extraordinary nature of the plagues would forever be a testimony of declaration of the name of the Lord. History tells us that the account of the plagues in Egypt has been retold many times in every generation all round the world. God accomplished His purpose in a manner that cannot be explained in naturalistic terms. The attempts of men to do so fall flat in light of the biblical historical record.

The Lord had made a distinction between Israel and Egypt after the third plague. This was so that Israel and Egypt and all who hear of the plagues will know that the plagues have their origin in the Lord God of Israel and not in any other god or naturalistic cause (Exodus 8:22; 9:26; 11:7). The Lord also made a distinction among the Egyptians (9:19-21). Those who took God at His word literally and acted upon it were not destroyed and their animals saved in accordance to the degree that they acted upon the literal word of the Lord.

This is the basis of God’s revelation to people throughout history and, in particular, the salvation that is offered to all people in Jesus Christ. Anyone who will take God at His word, interpreting it literally and act upon that word will not suffer God’s wrath and judgment. The Bible reveals that many did not regard the word of the Lord as faithful and true and they lost everything that they treasured (v 21).

Pharaoh must have been under cover to avoid the hail but he still hardened his heart further against the Lord. This is an eternal principle, seen many times in the Bible, that when a person says “No” to the Lord it becomes harder in the future to say, “Yes” until eventually the heart is so hardened it cannot change.

God could have destroyed Egypt at the beginning and set Israel free (v 15) but He chose to set His people free this way for the purpose stated. This would benefit Israel, the Egyptians and us.

Are you as soft clay in the Potter’s hand, or hard and brittle resisting His attempts to mould you in the way He wants? Pharaoh is an example of one who resists the Lord’s hand.