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Lowell Brueckner

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Grace, Grace to It!


 An expository study
with some comments on Revelation 11:1-15

Zechariah 4:7-14

The great mountain of opposition is always there to hinder the work of God (v.7). In this case of the reconstruction of the temple, we see it clearly in Ezra 4. But in chapter 5, in obedience to the Word of God, the work is begun anew and, in chapter 6, Darius made an edict, in which he prohibited any interference in this work, but God’s people know that it was only in compliance with the Word of God (6:14). The word was detained for a while, but had to be completed, because what is of God is never left half done.

Faith (Mt.17:20; 21:21) removes the mountains of opposition (2 Co.10:5; 2 Th.2:4). So that the work of the temple can begin and the first stones of the foundation be laid, the mountain must be made a plain. If the plan of God is followed, He removes the obstacles. Who are you, oh great mountain? It may be great, but soon and easily, it will fall and there will remain no evidence in its place. And how will it be done? Well, as Zerubbabel and Joshua moved forward (by faith – Ezra 5:2), the obstacles were removed before them. They began to work before the edict of the emperor arrived with permission to proceed.

In our days, we are witnessing the final installment of this prophecy, as the nations oppose Israel and especially its temple (Be sure that you are on Israel’s side, or you will be resisting the fulfillment of a prophecy that is well over 2,000-years-old!).  The opposition will be dissolved, when the Messiah returns the second time. All Israel will be saved (Jer.51:25; Dn.2:34, 45; Ro.ll:26). The word of the prophet is essential here, because by human power there are no guarantees, and at times, no possibilities, but the Word of God assures that it will be finished. Christ, the living Stone, comes again to take His place.

As the last stone is laid upon the temple, all will recognize with joy that it was obviously a work of God… His grace from start to finish… “grace upon grace” (Jn.1:16). If it had not been for an opposition, which was impossible to overcome, something far above what man could do, God does not receive the glory. Stories of revivals relate that, before they began, there were often powerful and palpable manifestations of demons. The people of God, with these manifestations taking place before their eyes, went to prayer, because it became real and clear that humanly speaking, there was no way to combat them. Then, as a work of grace, God moved supernaturally and no man could take credit, because all were convinced that they were experiencing something beyond human strength or ability. What should make us shout with joy is to know that God is present and that we are involved with something, which is surely from Him. 

It may be that the people lose heart and courage, because of the ferociousness of the enemy’s opposition, and those two elements cause a slowdown in the work, but since it is something that God initiated, according to His purposes, it will surely be completed. Christ is the beginning and the end. “Without Me,” He said, “you can do nothing.” The work was finished in the sixth year of the reign of Darius.

Until the word of God comes, a prophet does not speak, but thank God, He continues to speak (v.8)! We ought to be thankful, specifically, for this word that lies before us. Keil: “This word of the Lord is not addressed through ‘the interpreting angel,’ but direct from the Lord, and that through the ‘Angel of the Lord’ (who is the Son of God). For though in the first instance the words, “the hands of Zerubbabel etc.,” relate to the building of the material temple, and announce its completion through Zerubbabel yet the inference, “and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you,” shows that the meaning is not exhausted thereby, but that here too this building is mentioned only as a type of the building of the spiritual temple ; and the completion of the typical temple is but a pledge of the completion of the true temple. For not through the completion of the material temple, but only through the building of the kingdom of God, shadowed forth by it, can Judah know, that the Angel of the Lord was sent to him.” Concerning the reality of the eternal will of God that this temple only typifies, many times more will it be recognized that the Word of God Himself was sent to do the work. The same one, who speaks here in verse 9, is He that speaks in 2:9.

“The day of small things” (v.10) characterizes the things of God… it can as well be proclaimed the day of God. We need to learn to appreciate these days. They mark the way of the cross, where the hand of God is strong in weakness. We see a small stream of water flowing under the threshold of the door of the temple that converted into a river and later into rivers (Ez.47). The Lord put His hand in the hand of Zerubbabel, as he put His hand in that of David with his small sling; the same happened when the small fish and bread passed through His hands into the hands of His disciples. They lifted Joseph from his prison, David from his sheepfold, and Daniel from slavery. He converted the world through the hands of fishermen and of one, who made tents. His hands were the hands of a carpenter. Now the small plumb line of Zerubbabel is used to build a small temple.

 The same eyes of 3:9 and 2 Chronicles 16:9 see and discern perfectly. We have seen that Satan, as well as angels, patrol the earth; and now we see the eyes of the Lord range through all the earth “to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him”. That heart is the heart prepared by God to carry out His purposes. The Lord gives him support. The seven eyes are involved in the work.

Zechariah has asked concerning this whole scene in this chapter and he received its message. Now he wants to know specifically about the olive trees, but he doesn’t receive an answer (v.11). He insists (v.12), teaching us an important lesson: He cannot be indifferent, passive and conformed… We must insist in prayer. Ask and you will receive. More specifically still, he asks about the lower branches of the trees, from which the oil flows. They are vitally connected to the trees, as the branches to the vine (John 15). We must learn this picture, along with the account of the Apostle John in Revelations and we will speak later about that. The oil is golden and proceeds from heavenly trees, signifying that the oil is of the highest quality… that which only comes from God. The pipes take it to the receptacle above the lamps.

As in verse five, the question is turned back to Zechariah and anew he confesses his ignorance (v.13). He must humble himself before he can receive divine knowledge. “If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise” (1 Co.3:18). He is a disciple, a student, and only those receive from the Lord. They are the only ones, who have something to share with others and we had better listen to those who have heard and learned from the Lord.

We must look at these anointed ones, along with those who appear in the last days; because only that way can we see the entire fulfillment of this vision. However these two are priest and king, who are before God and before the people (v.14). Doesn’t it seem that this scene describes a work of the trinity, as Christ describes it, in which the Spirit proceeds from the Father, sent by the Son?

So, along with this chapter, we want to study Revelation, chapter 11, which is the final fulfillment of what we are studying in Zechariah. In this chapter four, we are seeing a prophecy for Zerubbabel, which has to do with rebuilding the temple. Zerubbabel is a king without a throne and without an army, and Joshua is the high priest without a temple. These are the two witnesses in their day, the branches connected to the two olive trees.

A last-day revelation

Revelation 11 begins with a measuring rod for measuring a temple. In Zechariah 1:16, God promises that a measuring line will be stretched over Jerusalem and in chapter two again a measuring line appears. It signifies that Jerusalem will be measured and established again. Chapter three speaks of the purification of Joshua and four tells us of Zerubbabel and his part in rebuilding the temple. So it shows the Lord’s care for Jerusalem and especially for the temple in Jerusalem.

God’s vision extends across the ages and John sees it in a more perfect form, occurring in the first half of the seven last years described in Daniel 9:27. I give a brief resume of Daniel’s extremely important prophecy, when he is informed by the angel, Gabriel, of a 490-year period that has to do exclusively with his people, Israel, and its fulfillment begins in the time of Zechariah. That is how these two portions, one in the Old Testament, the other in the New, are joined. Zechariah’s vision occurs as the commencement of a work that relates to the time of John, when a perfect fulfillment takes place.

The Persian emperor gave the order to rebuild Jerusalem and it was completed 49 years later. Then, a time period of 434 years went by that ended with the violent death of the Messiah… a total now of 483 years. Then the “clock” that was marking those 490 years, the times of the Jews, stopped, and the times of the Gentiles began. During this time, which now has lasted more than 1,900 years, the gospel is preached in the entire world and the Jews have had no temple. The Jewish “clock” will begin to run once more and terminate the last seven years that have not yet occurred, when the antichrist offers a seven-year pact or treaty that will include the building of a third temple, precisely in the place where the first and second were destroyed.

In Revelation 11:1-2, this temple is now in place and John has orders to measure it, leaving out the temple courtyard, which is given over to the Gentiles and they will trample the city of Jerusalem for 42 months, or 3 ½ years. At the same time, the ministry of two witnesses begins, who, for many reasons, seem to be Elijah and Moses, returned to the world (v.3). In John’s revelation, these are the two olive trees, which also appeared in Zechariah’s vision, but here instead of one seven-fold candlestick, there are two (v.4). We established clearly that the candlestick that Zechariah saw represented Israel, and my six or seven commentators are in agreement over that issue.

The question now is what or who is the second candlestick? The Bible is its own interpreter and it will have to answer that question for us. The only other candlestick that I can see in the entire Bible, besides the one that represented Israel, is represented by the seven lamps in the first three chapters of Revelation. These lamps symbolized seven churches. They are not joined by a central lamp stand, but are churches in cities that, more or less, form a crude circle in Asia Minor. They are united into a spiritual union by Someone who stands in the middle of the lamps, who is the Lord Jesus Christ. They are better united in the Spirit than the candlestick, whose lamps are physically united.

Now, I cannot give you a dogmatic truth about this matter, beyond any doubt, so I will simply say that the best explanation, as far as I am concerned, is not the one that the majority, who study eschatology (the study of end times), will give you. However, there are some who think that the second candlestick of 11:4 is the Gentile Church. I think that this is something important enough, so that it should not be easily discarded, but kept in mind and considered, now that these days are approaching. These people think that the seven churches in the time of the Apostle John represented far more than just seven historic churches in Asia Minor.

The problem is that this theory assumes that the Church is still in the world during the first 3 ½ years, to which we have already referred.  As Israel was led by Joshua and Zerubbabel in the time of Zechariah, so in the end times Elijah and Moses (probably) will be in front of two tremendous companies of people for these 1,260 days, ministering with the same power that stood behind Elijah and Moses historically.  

A revival will result that neither Israel nor the Church have ever seen before, during the darkest and most deceitful time in the world… and also the most dangerous (Greek: extremely fierce in Matthew 8:28 and times of difficulty in 2 Ti.3:1), for all the reasons that Paul gives in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. The witnesses stand before the Lord and will be supernaturally protected during those days, because God is fulfilling His will through them (v.5). From the time of Daniel and Zechariah, He declared and had His purpose written.

As Elijah did in his day, these witnesses will have the authority to shut the heavens so that it does not rain and, as Moses, they will have the power to convert water into blood and loose plagues upon the earth (v.6). They will also see the results of the ministry of Elijah and Moses… repentance and the liberation of God’s people. They will have the authority to do this because they stand before the Lord and are in harmony with heaven. When these two finish their ministry, the great deceiver, the man of iniquity, the son of perdition (2 Th.2:3-12) will be revealed (2 Th.2:8)… the antichrist. He will kill these two (v.7), because they have finished their ministry and once the plan of God has been completed in anyone’s life, why should he live any longer on earth?

They are killed in Jerusalem (Jerusalem - Sodom and Egypt symbolically - one city in this revelation), where their Lord was killed (v.8), and all the world will gaze at their corpses for 3 ½ days (easily understood in our day, due to satellite TV). The earth’s population will celebrate, because they were tormented by these two (v.9-10). Imagine a drought, as in the days of Elijah, and a plague, like those of Egypt, all occurring at the same time over the earth. The people will not be able to endure such torment and also take into consideration that God’s witnesses are spoiling the utopia of the antichrist. It will be the most outstanding, powerful and clean ministry, during the most perverse time that has ever been witnessed in the earth’s history.

Only here, in the middle of Revelation, several things take place. In verse 11 there is a resurrection. There is a great voice from heaven and a rapture; the witnesses went up in a cloud (v.12) and the seventh or final trumpet sounds (v.15)! Does that sound to you like something that the Apostle Paul wrote about? “”For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air …” (1 Th.4:16-17). Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (1 Co.15:52).


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