Lesson Eleven • Witnesses
Dr. Randy T. Johnson
God loves us (Psalm 103:11; John 3:16; 13:34; 15:12; 16:27; Romans 5:5, 8; 2 Corinthians 5:14; Ephesians 2:4; 3:19; 1 Timothy 1:14; 1 John 3:1; 4:8-11, 16, 19; Jude 1:21)!
As we work through the book of Revelation, it is good to pause and reflect on the love of God. The Bible is a love story of God redeeming His wayward people.
1. How do most people view the Bible?
2. Please further explain how the Bible is a love story.
Romans 8:38-39 is so beautiful, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
3. How does this passage relate to the book of Revelation and even to our lives today?
In 2 Peter 3:9, we read, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” God loves us and wants everyone to get saved. However, many and even most have and will reject Him. He loves mankind so much that He even sends witnesses during the Tribulation. There are two key sets of witnesses – the 144,000 and the two.
One Hundred Forty-Four Thousand Witnesses
Revelation 14:1-5 describes the 144,000 witnesses, “Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.”
4. What are some of the characteristics of the 144,000 witnesses listed here?
Revelation chapter 7 records more information about these witnesses. Verses 1-8 record, “After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, ‘Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.’ And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:
12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed,
12,000 from the tribe of Reuben,
12,000 from the tribe of Gad,
12,000 from the tribe of Asher,
12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali,
12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh,
12,000 from the tribe of Simeon,
12,000 from the tribe of Levi,
12,000 from the tribe of Issachar,
12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun,
12,000 from the tribe of Joseph,
12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.”
5. What characteristics of the 144,000 do we see here?
The fact that the 144,000 witnesses were Jewish, virgin men should probably change the thought patterns of those considering being associated with the cult Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Revelation 7:9-12 continues the narrative, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.’”
6. How many people were before the throne?
7. Who were they worshiping?
8. How were they worshiping?
Revelation 7:13-17 adds, “Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?’ I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. ‘Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’’”
9. What blessings do these witnesses receive?
God uses the masses to proclaim His message, but He is also interested in the willingness of individuals. The book of Revelation also documents the ministry of two witnesses.
Revelation 11:1-3 says, “Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, ‘Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.’”
10. Which is longer, “forty-two months” or “1,260 days”? How many years are they?
Revelation 11:4-14 continues, “These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire. And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth. But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here!’ And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them. And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe has passed; behold, the third woe is soon to come.”
11. What powers do these witnesses have?
12. Do these men remind you of any Old Testament characters?
13. Who kills them? How long will they be dead?
14. What was the result of their coming back to life?
One of my favorite sermons is by Andy Stanley and is titled, “If You Don’t, It Won’t.” Stanley encourages us to pray big. Our prayers should include the phrase, “God if you don’t step in, it won’t happen.” It is the concept that we need God. All too often our prayers are vague and will resolve themselves eventually. Remembering that people are more important to God than things, we need to pray big. Pray for people. Pray for the salvation of the one who comes to mind right now. Pray for the chains of addiction to be broken on your loved one. Pray for relationships to be healed. Pray big.
15. Who do you need to pray for right now?
16. What will you do this week to reach out to them?
Witnessing starts with prayer. Pray Big!
Please remember to thank God after He answers.