Day 354: The Suffering Church

Micah 1-2Revelation 11

We begin Micah today! Micah was a contemporary of Amos and Isaiah. He probably lived during the Assyrian invasion of Israel and their failed attempt to capture Jerusalem under Hezekiah’s reign. Micah brings God’s legal case against His people – outlining their many sins which justify the judgment that was to come. But there is a cycle of grace within Micah as he ends each judgment oracle with the promise that God would gather and restore. Today’s reading ends with the promise of the Shepherd-King who would come to redeem Israel (Micah 2:12-13)!

Transitioning to Revelation, we are still in the midst of an interlude (between the 6th and 7th trumpets) which shows what happens to the church. This chapter is subject to many different interpretations, but I believe that both the temple and the two witnesses are symbols for the church.

Let me briefly run through the symbolism (summarized from P. Gardner’s commentary, Revelation)…

  • 11:1 – Measuring the temple shows that the church is sealed and protected.
  • 11:2 – Outer courtyard of the temple represents unbelievers.
  • John’s vision of the temple hearkens back to Ezekiel’s 2nd temple vision (Ezekiel 40-48). One of the interpretations of this vision is that the restored temple is the New Testament church – especially since God’s presence returns to the temple. Now that Christ has come and been crucified – New Testament references to God’s temple or household refer to the church.
  • 11:3 –  The church will prophesy for 3.5 years. This time period is symbolic of half of the time of fulfillment (7 years) which shows that the time is limited and sovereignly controlled by God.
  • 11:4 – The two witnesses are called “the two lampstands” which is what the 7 churches were called in Rev. 2-3.
  • 11:4-6 – The “two olive trees” symbolize “two anointed ones (Zech. 4:11-14). Also, the special powers attributed to the two witnesses in 11:6, represent Elijah and Moses – who were also supported by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the church is empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Then we read in vs. 7-12 of the Beast killing the two witnesses, the world mocking them and then miraculously, after 3.5 days, they are resurrected. According to Gardner, this is probably not the final resurrection, because this is all happening before the 7th trumpet is heralded, in other words, before the final judgment. No, this seems to be only a precursor to the final resurrection.

If the two witnesses are the church – then it is the church which is killed by the beast and the church which is resurrected. We’ve seen this happen throughout history – how the church is persecuted so heavily that it seems to be wiped out, but somehow it grows and multiplies in spite of the persecution. Consider China…Mao tried to rid his country of Christianity, but today, there are millions of Christians in China!

I believe we are living through this part of Revelation, and that the church will suffer until the final judgment comes…

We read of this final judgment at the end of the chapter (11:15-19) when the 7th trumpet sounds. The elders sing of the God who was, and the God who is (11:17), but they do not say the familiar “The God who is to come” because he has come! This is the day when the unbeliever will be judged and the believer will be rewarded. This is the day our Shepherd-King will come again and gather His people and we will enter His rest!

I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob;
I will gather the remnant of Israel; […]

Their king passes on before them,
the Lord at their head (Micah 2:12-13).

Disclaimer: I humbly and cautiously offer an interpretation of the book of Revelation based on my Reformed understanding of Scripture, an Amillennialist eschatology, and a heavy reliance on the book, Revelation, The Compassion and Protection of Christ by Dr. Paul Gardner.
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