April 10, 2012

Apocalypse Prophecy XLVI: An Interesting Aside: The Two Witnesses

Before launching into my discourse on the Two Witnesses, I should note something that should jump out to any reader of Revelation when they read Chapter 11. There are striking parallels between the Two Witnesses and the Trumpet Judgments in Chapters 8 and 9, and they should be noted.

There is a grocery list:

  1. Both are referred to as “plagues” (πληγή, πλήσσω, 8:12; 9:20; 11:6)
  2. They are directed against “earth-dwellers” (τοὺς κατοικοῦντας ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, 8:13; 11:10)
  3. Delivered by beings whose mouths have been “authorized” to judge (ἐξουσία, 9:3, 10, 19; 11:6).
  4. The plagues include famine conditions (cf. 8:8–9; locusts in 9:7–10; 11:6a)
  5. They include “killing” (ἀποκτείνω, 9:15, 18, 20; 11:5)
  6. They include “harming” (ἀδικέω, 9:10, 19; 11:5)
  7. They involve “fire proceeding out of the mouth” of executioners (πῦρ ἐκπορεύεται ἐκ τοῦ στόματος αὐτῶν, 9:17–18; 11:5; cf. 16:8–9)
  8. They involve water becoming “blood” (αἷμα, 8:8; 11:6)
  9. There are effects in and from “heaven” (οὐρανός, 8:10; 9:1; 11:6; cf. 8:12)
  10. The nature of both the trumpets and the witnesses’ prophesying and the spiritually depressing effects of both are apparently the same. The witnesses’ testimony is like the first four trumpets, which deprived the ungodly of earthly security because of their persecution and idolatry in order to indicate their separation from God.
  11. The narratives of the first six trumpets and of the witnesses both conclude with a specific percentage of unbelievers being killed and “those remaining” continuing unmoved in their unrepentant stance
  12. The plagues also have the effect of “tormenting” the minds of unbelievers by reminding them of their hopeless spiritual plight, which results in forms of depression (βασανισμός and the verbal cognate, 9:5–6; 11:10).
  13. The effects of the witnesses’ message, like the fifth and sixth trumpets, also torment and punish hardened unbelievers. Intractable impenitence in the face of the prophetic witness sets in motion the judgment, which is part of the witness itself. The main theme of all of this is God’s righteousness.
Interestingly, this chain of agents in performing judgment is consistent with the Exodus plague background. Like the Exodus,  judgment came from God through the testimony of Moses because of rejection of that testimony. Some of the judgments then as they will be in the future, were executed through angelic agents (Exodus 12:23; 14:19–28).

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