Revelation 11:3-6: Power from on high
3 And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.’ 4 They are ‘the two olive trees’ and the two lampstands, and ‘they stand before the Lord of the earth.’ 5 If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. 6 They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.” NIV
We have seen that the ‘’two witnesses’’ stand for the whole church in the last days. (Do you recall how Jesus sent out His disciples ‘’two by two’’ Mark 6:7?)
The witness of the church is an empowered witness. Note the words:
‘’And I will give power…’’
‘’These men have power…’’
Two Old Testament witnesses in particular stand behind this passage: Moses and Elijah. I’m sure you will be able to pick up the allusions to them, and their ministries. They were men powerful in word and deed; in sign and wonder; and powerful in prayer. God empowers His servants to do things they obviously could not do naturally and normally. He does this to bring glory to His own Name: ‘’But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us’’ (2 Corinthians 4:7)
Jesus said, ‘’ …you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…’’ (Acts 1:8).
It is by the ‘oil’ of the Holy Spirit’s anointing that the church is able to endure, and faithfully witness to Christ in an angry, violent, opposing world (4; see the references in Zechariah 4). It is by the supply of the Spirit that the witnesses have light and power.
Notice that being Spirit-empowered – having a dynamic ministry – is not incompatible with suffering (something we associate with weakness, frailty and vulnerability). When the church is most ‘weak’ she is most powerful. It seems to me that the more powerful the people of God are, the more they will be opposed; the more opposed they are, the more powerful they will be.
I believe R.T.Kendall is on to something when he asserts that ‘suffering is the key to anointing’. So:
‘’Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart’’ (Hebrews 12:3).
How could Jesus endure ‘’such opposition’’ (underlining mine)?
Answer: ‘’…through the eternal Spirit…’’ (Hebrews (9:14).
The church on earth is called to walk this way of Jesus.