Witnessing, Slain, And Glorified - Rev. Herman Hoeksema

Behold He Cometh - Chapter 27Index to "Behold He Cometh"

Revelation 11:5-13)

5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.

6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.

7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

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

9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.

10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.

11 And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.

12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.

It seems to me that in the words of our text quoted above we have a very strong corroboration of the conclusion which we reached thus far in regard to the two witnesses. In our first discourse on Revelation 11 we reached the conclusion that Jerusalem and temple and worshippers must not be taken literally, but in the symbolical sense of the word. Jerusalem in its all-comprehensive sense stands for the new dispensation, that is, for Christianity in its broadest and most inclusive sense. The city outside of the temple and the court is used as being typical of the false church, representing the masses of Christianity which still have the seal of the covenant on their forehead and which perhaps would deem it a shame if they were not baptized. But they have renounced the real essence of Christendom, the blood of atonement. The outer court, we found, must be understood to symbolize the show church, the church outside of the real sanctuary but outwardly belonging to the real people of God, that is, therefore, the hypocrites. And, finally, the temple building proper is symbolic of the real, spiritual body of Christ, the elect of God, who certainly shall be saved. We found, further, that the ultimate outcome of this three-fold form of Christendom will be that the show church identifies itself with the false church, and together they shall trample under foot the holy city all through this dispensation, but especially toward the end.

Now I said that in the words which we are about to discuss I find a very strong corroboration of what I have explained in regard to the two witnesses. What is here said cannot be taken as referring to two single persons, for the simple reason that they are pictured in universal features, as having a universal influence, noted by all the world, and as being the object also of universal hatred and contempt. And their death appears also as an object of universal joy. Neither Enoch nor Elijah created such a stir as these two witnesses. Nor is it conceivable that two single human beings in a single city would cause so much commotion. No, only when we conceive of these two witnesses as the candlesticks and the olive trees, according to Scripture, shall we be able to understand and appreciate to the full all that is told us in the text we are now discussing. And we note immediately, of course, that this passage still speaks of the two witnesses.

The Activity And Power Of The Two Witnesses

If we inquire into the purpose and task of these two witnesses, the answer is ready, as we have already explained. They must bear testimony of the truth and of the name of Jesus Christ. The church with its ministry is placed as a testimony in the world. That is the sole calling of the church. That this is true is plain from the fact that they are called witnesses. A silent witness is impossible. They must speak, therefore.

This is evident, further, from the fact that they are called prophets and that they must prophesy. This does not mean necessarily and merely that they must speak concerning the future. Surely, also that is the case. The church of Christ must also bear testimony in the world concerning the future, especially in times when the world lives for the present and strives after ideals which are only for the present. The church has a solemn calling to speak on the basis of prophecy of the future that is coming, of the judgment that will befall the unrighteous and the glory that shall be revealed in the children of God. But that does not exhaust their calling as prophets. A prophet is simply a person who speaks for someone else. Just as Aaron is called Moses' prophet in Scripture, so the prophets in general are persons who speak for someone else. And thus the church is called to witness of Christ; and the prophet of Christ speaks for Christ, on His authority and in His name. This is indicated, finally, by the symbolism of a candlestick and of the olive trees. Also this is in harmony with the thought that the church must be a testimony in the world, a witness of the truth. The purpose of a candlestick is that it may give light; and the two olive trees which supply the light, the media through which the church receives its light, serve no other purpose. They must themselves be witnesses in the world and be mouthpieces of the church. But at the same time they must witness for the church before the people of God, so that they receive more light to shine for the Lord of the whole earth. Hence, if you ask what the two witnesses do, and what is their calling, the simple answer is: they witness and bear testimony of the Christ and of His truth.

As to the contents of their message, they find their commission in the Word of their God. They stand before the Lord of the whole earth. They are servants of the Lord of the whole earth. They belong to God's party. As such, therefore, they will speak nothing but that which their Lord has commissioned them to speak. Centrally, they speak of Christ and His atoning blood. That blood is the witness of the righteousness and holiness of God, but at the same time of His mercy and redeeming grace. That blood is the witness to the glory of God in the midst of a world of sin. Of it they speak. They emphasize, therefore, that there is no hope in man, but only in the blood of the Redeemer. In it there is life and bliss. They openly condemn all efforts to seek salvation outside of that atoning blood, and they will know nothing of man or of a world that can save itself.

The name of Christ they bear, and that in two ways. In the first place, they bear that name to fields where never it was mentioned before, all nations. In their missionary efforts they carry the sound of that name into all the world and before every tribe and tongue. But, in the second place, also in the midst of the world in which they live do they testify. In the midst of Jerusalem, in the midst of the false church, as well as in the midst of the show church, do they bear witness. When the false church would attack the truth and trample under foot the blood of Christ, these two witnesses, the church and the servants of God in the church, stand upon the basis of God's infallible Word and defend it over against the enemy. When that world indulges in sin and iniquity more and more, they speak of judgment and of wrath to come, and openly express that there is no hope for them. In a word, they display the glory of God's name in Jesus Christ our Lord in the midst of the world, outside of Jerusalem that it may be extended, and in Jerusalem itself against those who trample the truth under foot.

It is in harmony with this essential calling of the two witnesses that we read of them how they kill those that oppose them and try to hurt them. We read: "And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed." This may sound strange at first. It is indeed because of such expressions as these that many interpreters do not know what to do with these two witnesses of Christ. Surely, they say, this cannot mean the church: for the simple reason that she never had this power, nor ever will have it. Hence, they must be altogether two unique human beings, who can kill their enemies at will.

But let us investigate.

In the first place, it may be remarked that these two witnesses do not kill those who rise against them and who wish to do them hurt in the literal sense of the word. If that were the case, no one would be able to touch them and to kill them. Yet the power of the beast rises against them and takes away their lives. And the fire that proceedeth out of their mouth is not of any avail against this. In the second place, let us consider that they kill with the fire that proceedeth out of their mouth. This is emphatically stated. Twice in the text it is said that this is the way in which these witnesses kill. They do not kill by the sword those who try to do them hurt, but simply by the fire that proceedeth out of their mouth. It is as if the Lord were afraid that this part of it should be misunderstood, so emphatically does He state this. Not by the sword, nor by the strength of their arm, but by the fire that comes out of their mouths are the opponents who try to do them hurt killed.

To understand this we must, in the first place, ask ourselves the question: what does it mean to hurt these two witnesses? How can the church possibly be hurt? Do you hurt them by persecution and tribulation? If that were the case, the word "hurt" in the text must be taken in the physical sense of the word. Then the meaning is: if any man try to cause them suffering, pain, persecution, affliction, if any man in that way try to kill them... And then it is also plain that the latter part of this sentence must also be taken in the same literal sense of the word, and that these witnesses kill their enemies and take their lives away. But that is evidently not the case. You do not hurt the church by persecution. You do not hurt the people of God by doing them physical harm. You cannot even hurt them by taking away their lives and killing them. No, in that sense these witnesses are willing to lose their lives. They have learned of their Lord that they need not fear those who can kill the body but who cannot kill the soul. And therefore, these two witnesses can never be hurt in the physical sense of the word. Indeed, you may persecute them, you may put them into prison, you may torture them on the rack, you may even kill them and burn their bodies; but by doing so you have not hurt them in the least. To hurt these two witnesses you must get at their spiritual existence. You must fight with them spiritually. You must make them waver in their testimony. You must lead them to deny the Christ, to renounce the truth, to be silent in regard to the Word of their Lord. Then indeed you hurt them. But if that is attempted, so the text has it, fire proceedeth out of the mouth of these witnesses, and in this manner the opponents are killed. That is, their efforts are put to nought, so that they cannot do them harm.

In the second place, we must now turn to Scripture in order to find the meaning of this fire that proceedeth out of their mouths. We must not think here of the fire which came down from heaven on the captains and their fifties who wished to do Elijah harm. For that fire came from heaven, not out of the mouth of Elijah. But we must think of the word in the prophecy of Jeremiah 5:14: "Wherefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them." The people of Israel wished to do Jeremiah harm by opposing and gainsaying his prophecy and making it of none effect. And because of this, the words of Jeremiah shall be like fire, and the people as wood. Their opposition shall not stand. It shall not hurt the prophet as such. And the same is true here. The two prophets shall meet with opposition. The enemy from the false church shall try to hurt them. They shall try to make them renounce the truth. They shall attempt to gainsay their words and to make them of none effect. But all the time these opponents shall meet with the fire that proceedeth out of the mouth of the witnesses. Not their own word, but the Word of God is in their mouth. And before that Word the enemy shall not be able to stand, but be completely defeated. In this manner they fight the battle, in harmony with their character as witnesses, in harmony also with the spiritual battle they fight, with the Word of God as their weapon. And in this they are invulnerable!

Still more strange, it has been thought, is the power with which those two witnesses are invested. We read of them that they have power to shut the heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy; power to turn the waters into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague, whenever they deem fit.

First, there is a plain reference to Elijah and Moses and what they did in these words. When the glory of the God of Israel was at stake, the prophet turned the water into blood, that God's people might be delivered. And again, when the glory of Jehovah was trampled under foot by Israel itself, the prophet kneeled down in the wilds of Gilead and prayed that it might not rain; and it rained not. Through the agency of these witnesses and for the sake of the true people of God and the glory of Jehovah these plagues were brought upon the land. And the plain meaning is that even as these prophets had this power, even as they could shut the heavens and turn the waters into blood, so also these two witnesses of the new dispensation have this same power to strike the earth with every plague whenever they so desire. It will not do to change the meaning of the words by trying to spiritualize them. This has often been attempted. Just because these expressions seem so strange, at first sight, that interpreters would hardly dare to maintain them in their literal meaning and apply them to the church, they have attempted to spiritualize these words and found here a reference to the key-power of the church. They have received the power to shut the kingdom of God and to turn the waters of the truth to blood, so that they be a curse rather than a blessing, a savor of death unto death. But this is not the sense of the passage. The text speaks of a literal heaven and a literal rain of literal waters and of literal plagues with which the earth will be visited. And there is nothing that indicates that we must look for a different meaning behind these words. And therefore we must accept them as they stand. Just as the historical incidents which are here cited are also literal, so also the power of these witnesses is to be taken in the literal sense of the word.

Nor must we hesitate for a moment to maintain that this power is really given to the church and especially to its official ministry. There is indeed nothing strange and nothing new in this. Moses and Elijah had this power. The early church had this power. We read of many wonderful things of the early church. They revealed a power which they had received through the Holy Spirit which did not become revealed in the later history of the church. Besides, there is nothing strange, nothing surprising, in this assertion of the text. Christ told His people before He left that they would do still greater things than He if they believed in Him. He told them that faith was sufficient to remove mountains. Of course, they do not perform these things in their own strength. They have not this power of themselves. In themselves they have nothing, no power whatsoever. But they have it all in Christ. Christ is their head, and they are in Him. The church is organically connected with Christ. And Christ has all power in heaven and on earth. Christ certainly has power to shut the heaven, and will. He has power undoubtedly to turn the waters into blood. He has the power to strike the earth with every plague conceivable. And therefore, there is nothing strange in the assertion that His people have that same power.

But how, in what way, do they have that power? In order to understand this at all we must, in the first place, remember that the people of God always have this power, but that it is not always equally manifest that they have it. The judgments on earth, the plagues of war and famine and pestilence, and all the terrible things which must still take place in the future, as pictured in this Book of Revelation, are there for the completion of the kingdom, and for the salvation of the people of God, and for their sake. It is for their sake that the earth is visited with all kinds of plagues. Still more: it is not only for their sake, but it is also upon their prayers that these plagues come. The people of God may not always be equally conscious of this, but fact is that the judgments come on the earth as an answer to their prayers. When the prayers of the saints are offered upon the altar in heaven, the result is voices and thunders and an earthquake, caused by the fire taken from the same altar. In that connection we have explained that this means nothing else than that the prayers of the saints are answered by judgments from heaven. Just as heaven was shut because of the prayer of Elijah, so the judgments on the earth in the new dispensation come in answer to the prayers of the saints. They pray, "Thy kingdom come." That kingdom must come through tribulation and through all kinds of plagues and calamities; and the saints know it. And the more they become conscious of this, the more they also pray for the coming of the kingdom, even through their prayers now as well as in the times of old. We do not have to stop here. Though the church and their servants really have that power and also use it, it is not always actually plain that this is the case. On the one hand, it is not always equally manifest before their own consciousness that their prayers really do bring judgments upon the earth. And, in the second place, the world certainly is not conscious of that fact. But also this shall change again. When the world increases in wickedness and iniquity, when the blood of Christ is trampled under foot more and more, and when the people of God towards the end shall be subjected to tribulation because of the wicked world, when they shall have gained a clearer insight into the word of prophecy and understand that it is through judgment and plagues that the kingdom must come and be completed, they shall also once more deliberately pray for these plagues on the wicked world.

Do not think that this is strange. You do not think it strange that Moses brought the plagues on the land of Egypt, do you? You do not criticize Elijah for praying that it might not rain for three years and six months, do you? Well, then, the lines shall be drawn just as sharply once more. It shall become very plain to all the people of God through their faithful servants that the world departs from God and His precepts. It shall become very evident that the blood of Christ and the name of the Most High is trampled under foot. And in those times they shall employ the power which they have in Christ Jesus consciously and deliberately, just as Elijah kneeled down in the wilds of Gilead and prayed that God might withhold His blessings from the apostate people, so the people of God shall know the time in the future when they shall consciously refuse to pray for blessings on the wicked world, and that they shall beseech the God of hosts for plagues and judgment, that His kingdom may come. And it shall become plain to all the world, even as it was plain to Ahab in the case of Elijah, that it is the two witnesses who bring these plagues.

The Opponent And Defeat Of The Witnesses

If this is plainly understood, we shall have no difficulty to understand the rest of the text. It is perfectly plain, in the first place, why the beast which rises up out of the abyss comes against these witnesses. We read: "And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them."

On the one hand, you may notice that although the beast has never been mentioned before in the Book of Revelation, yet the plain presupposition is that he is well-known by the church. It is the beast. The reference is evidently to the seventh chapter of Daniel, where this beast has been pictured. There we find the picture of the fourth beast, more terrible than the preceding, with ten horns. And from among the ten horns rises another little horn, who destroys three of them, and who becomes more terrible than all the rest, speaking blasphemous things against the Most High, and warring with the saints of God. From this we learn the following. In the first place, the beast that is here mentioned is not the same as the dragon that is mentioned in Chapter 12. He is indeed closely connected with that dragon, but he is not to be identified with him. Nor is it the same as the prince of the locusts that rose up from the abyss. For it is a beast, an earthly form, while that was a spirit. In the second place, here we have the first mention of the Antichrist, the little horn of the seventh chapter of Daniel. Thirdly, this Antichrist rises out of the abyss, that is, he finds his spiritual origin there, although he will appear in human form. Just as we may say that believers are hid with Christ in God, that their walk is in heaven, so also Antichrist is hid with Satan in hell and has his origin in the abyss. Fourthly, it is to be understood that this power of Antichrist exists all through this dispensation. He does not just rise out of the abyss at the moment that the witnesses have finished their testimony, but he was already in the world in John's time. The fourth beast also exists before the little horn arises. But just as the power of the fourth beast in Daniel culminated in the little horn, so also this power of Antichrist shall culminate and finally rise against the people of the kingdom of God. For the rest, we need not discuss this beast in detail in this connection. As I have said, this chapter pictures the general history of the church with a view to the end in broad outlines; and individual pictures of it will be given us in subsequent chapters. Then we shall also have ample opportunity to discuss this beast, the Antichrist, in detail in connection with the thirteenth, seventeenth, and nineteenth chapters of this book. Sufficient it is, therefore, in this connection that we now understand that the Antichrist, though existing all through this dispensation and revealing himself in weaker form in special periods, shall toward the end be allowed to gather his strength and make war against the saints of the Most High.

To one element in the text, however, I must still call your attention. And that is to the statement that this beast shall rise against the two witnesses after they have finished their testimony. Paul also tells us that there is a power which holds the Antichrist so that he cannot appear before the God-ordained time. He cannot manifest himself as yet in his full power. And the power which holds him back is undoubtedly the Spirit of God, working out the decree of God, namely, that the power of Antichrist may not come to its full manifestation until the prophecy of the church shall have become finished. This implies two things. In the first place, as we gather from other parts of the Word of God, it implies that the gospel must have been preached to all nations. This does not mean that the gospel must have come to every individual, but that it must have been spread over the whole earth and come within reach of all. But, in the second place, it also means that this testimony against the wicked world and against the false church must have been finished. The measure of iniquity must be full. The world must hear the testimony of the church, must hear it repeatedly, must become conscious of its sin, must know it and reject the Christ of God willingly and deliberately. Then the testimony shall have been finished. And then it may be silenced, and it shall be silenced by the power of Antichrist himself.

For we read in the text that Antichrist shall rise against the witnesses and overcome them and kill them. This is a very pregnant and brief statement of the time of the last and terrible tribulation that shall come over the church of God. Antichrist shall prevail at last. He shall overcome the church. He shall persecute the saints of the Most High. That does not mean that he shall kill all the people of God individually. For we do not receive that impression from other parts of Holy Writ. We receive the definite information that also at the time of the end, with the second coming of the Lord for the deliverance of His people, there shall be living saints who shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump. But it does mean, in the first place, that it shall be a time of general and terrible persecution for the faithful people of God. The acts and testimony of the witnesses have aroused the anger of the Antichrist. Their testimony is now finished. Antichrist comes to silence it. And he succeeds. I imagine that he will succeed in two ways. In the first place, I do not doubt but that he will persecute the people of God in the literal sense of the word. He shall put them in prison and deprive them of their liberty and property. He shall kill some of them, especially some of the ministers and faithful servants. But, in the second place, the true church of God shall be declared dead. They shall be cast out of society. They shall be considered outlaws. They shall be left no standing room on earth. They shall be allowed to buy or sell no more unless they bear the mark of the beast. And literally they shall be forbidden to worship. It shall be a victory for the beast, and the church shall be heard of no more. The testimony, the prayers, the powers, and the actions of the two witnesses shall have been silenced and removed. The Antichrist shall reign supreme.

Thus we can at the same time understand what it means that their dead bodies shall lie in the streets of Jerusalem, the great city, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt. This cannot mean that two dead bodies shall lie in the literal sense of the word in the literal streets of Jerusalem. For it is inconceivable how in that sense all nations and tongues and tribes should look upon these two dead bodies. The text itself clearly shows again that something else is meant. Jerusalem is false Christianity, the false church, now united with the show church of hypocrites, trampling under foot the holy city and rejoicing over their victory over the church of God. The church still exists in their midst, but she is now dead. She has been declared dead. She has been silenced. And she is the object of greatest contempt all over the world. "Ye shall be hated of all nations" has now become literally true. And just as the lying unburied in the street was symbolic of greatest contempt and deepest shame, so the church, silenced in her testimony, perfectly overcome, exists in the midst of Christendom as an object of extreme contempt and shame. Her power is gone. Her influence is no more. Her prayers are silenced. She cannot pray for plagues any more. She has been annihilated as far as her manifestation in the world is concerned. And all the world rejoices because she is dead. They rejoice and make merry, they send gifts to one another, only because the church which spoke of blood and judgment has been overpowered.

The Reappearance And Glorification Of The Witnesses

However, this is not the end of these two witnesses. On the contrary, we read in the text: "And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them."

Let me call your attention, in the first place, to the fact that the tribulation is to last three days and a half. This implies, first of all, that the time of the Antichrist shall be cut short. He shall not be able to finish his work, but shall be allowed only half a week. He shall not accomplish his purpose. Just as the time of this entire dispensation in general is indicated by three and one-half years, or by time, times, and a half, so also the time of the end stands in the same sign. The power of Antichrist in its culmination of the little horn of the beast that cometh up out of the abyss shall be cut short. But it means, in the second place, that the days shall be shortened for the elects' sake. This the Lord has promised definitely, and it is plainly indicated here. At the end of the three days and a half the days of tribulation for the people of God shall be ended. But the time of the end is not there as yet.

I do not know how I can make this more plain than by referring you again to Daniel. In the ninth chapter of that prophecy the prophet reveals to us the vision of the seventy weeks. Let me call your attention to the following facts, on the basis of this vision. First, that the seventy weeks as a whole indicate the period from Daniel to the end of time, when iniquity shall be finished. Secondly, that this period from the time of Daniel to the end of all time is divided into three smaller periods. The first consists of seven weeks, and reaches to the first coming of Christ. The second consists of sixty-two weeks, and reaches unto the time of the culmination of Antichrist, the twelve hundred and sixty days of the two witnesses, the building up of Jerusalem in the new dispensation. At the end of the sixty-two weeks we read that Christ shall be cut off and shall have nothing, which means the same as what is indicated in our text when it says that the witnesses are lying dead in the streets of Jerusalem. Thirdly, there is still one week left. That is the week of Antichrist, the week in which he shall reign supreme. But also in Daniel this week is cut in half. For in the midst of the week he shall have accomplished his work against the church, so that even the sacrifice and oblation has ceased.

So also in our text that last period, the last week, shall be cut in half. The first part of that week is the time of the great tribulation. But after the time of the great tribulation, after the church has been dead and her testimony has ceased for some time, Christ shall cause a certain revival. A spirit of life entered into them from God, and they stood upon their feet once more. A voice comes from heaven, and calls them up thither, and they ascend into heaven in a cloud. At the same time an earthquake, a terrible earthquake, is felt, which destroys a large part of the city, but which undoubtedly at the same time accompanies the resurrection of the saints. And the church has been delivered. In other words, before the time of the end, while the Antichrist and the Gog and Magog are still on earth, the church shall be taken away from her shame and persecution and terrible suffering. The living saints shall be changed. Those who have died shall be raised. And the church of Christ shall be glorified. The days have been shortened for the elects' sake.

In regard to the power of the Antichrist that still remains behind, the text tells us that one tenth of its power is destroyed. That is evidently the meaning of the destruction which is caused by the earthquake. One tenth of the city is destroyed, and seven thousand people are killed. Ten is, as we have remarked before, the symbolic number which indicates the power that is given to the Antichrist by the decree of God. He has ten horns, has dominion over ten kingdoms, - all of which indicates that he has just as much power as God allows him. But now one tenth of his dominion is destroyed. Jerusalem at large, the holy city, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, has, of course, developed into the power of the Antichrist and has served him in the culmination of his power. One tenth of that power is now taken away, that is, just as much as is in harmony with his existence. To take one tenth of his power and his dominion away simply means that he is definitely curtailed, so that he will not be able to maintain himself as Antichrist. And this is for a purpose. For a time they acknowledge the glory of God, just as Nebuchadnezzar would when he was witness of the power and glory of God. To a definite conversion it does not come. The time for conversion is now past. It is only a time for judgment. For the witness of the Word has been taken away, and the church is already in heaven. Terrible things shall still take place. Battles shall be fought between Antichrist and Gog and Magog, and the church shall be no more in tribulation. The time of her tribulation is past, and with Christ she reigns in glory, till she shall return with Him to judgment.

This, then, is the general picture we receive from this chapter and from other parts of Scripture. The true church, endowed with power and light from on high, will witness of the truth and of Christ throughout this dispensation. When the testimony is finished, the Antichrist will be allowed to develop and persecute the church. The time of the great tribulation shall follow, of which Scripture has warned us so frequently. But that time of great tribulation is to be cut short. At the darkest hour Christ shall deliver His church. History shall be continued for a while, with Antichrist and Gog and Magog as the inhabitants of the earth, till Christ shall come to judge with His church and shall establish His glorious kingdom forevermore. Now we are still in the twelve hundred and sixty days. We must still witness. Perhaps the days of tribulation will come soon. It seems as if we are fast becoming prepared for these days. But still the testimony is not finished. Still, therefore, it is the calling of the church and its ministry to witness. And the purpose of this picture is to spur us on to be faithful even unto the end, that no one may take our crown. And on the other hand, the people of God may be comforted by the fact that Christ shall not leave them alone, but that even the days shall be shortened for the elects' sake.

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