Standing Up On Their Feet

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Revelation 11:1-14 | December 3 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
December 3
Standing Up On Their Feet | Revelation 11:1-14
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Father in heaven, as we come now to the reading and preaching of Your Word we ask that You would give us good ears to hear and that our hearts might be good soil, that the seed of Your Word would be planted in us and would bear good fruit. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

We come this morning to Revelation chapter 11. You’re thinking it’s Advent, will Pastor Kevin, deviate from the Revelation series for Advent. No. But the good news is Advent is about Jesus, and Revelation is about Jesus, so it connects.

This morning we’re looking at verses 1 through 14, but I want you to hold off before you turn there, but hold off from putting your eyes there for a moment because we’re going to go through this verse by verse, line by line. There are a lot of, there are easy passages in Scripture, love your neighbor, easy, not to do but to understand. Simple passages. This is not one of them. So we’re going to take most of the time to just go through line by line to try to understand what this is about and what is happening and then wrap it up with some points of application. That’s what we’re doing.

But I want to orient you to the big idea in this passage, and to do so I want to take you back to this summer and two experiences I had this summer while working out in the yard. They’re experiences that if you have a yard you may have had something quite similar.

So one, we have two trees, although now we have zero trees in this spot. We had two trees looking out our back window to the back yard and I noticed ever since we’ve been here, every year fewer and fewer leaves go on these trees. The bark is looking more and more diseased. I even had the tree doctor himself, Rick Ely, come out and say, yeah, I don’t know, these trees don’t look so good. So we waited, waited, it just kept getting worse and worse. Decided you know what? They’re just, they’re not doing anything and they need to come down.

But being impatient and not knowing exactly whom to call and just wanting to get it taken care of, I wondered if I could just take care of the tree myself. Turns out, I could. It was so diseased and so dead I wish you could have been there, because here I am telling you about it and it will probably be a recurring sermon illustration. There are a few witnesses who can testify to this fact – I pushed over the tree myself. It wasn’t a little Charlie Brown Christmas tree, either. It wasn’t a big, mighty oak, but it was, you know, 15 feet tall and maybe like this sort of its trunk. You could push it and I realized this thing is swinging and swaying and swinging and swaying and put my shoulder. Sure enough, I pushed over a whole tree. Yes, very, very impressive. Great strength. Then we had to figure out what to do with the tree and cut it up and haul it off and neighbor’s yard or something. Our yard.

The tree was so dead, so far gone. Though it still had some height and some girth, it was easy to topple, and there no more.

Second experience. We have in our front yard, in those hot, humid summer months, patches, patches, and patches of gross but beautiful mushrooms that come up all the time. I mean, just weird sort of looking mushrooms. Sometimes kind of gleaming white, other times brown or gray. I go and if I’m on my walk in the morning and I see a patch of these 10, 20, 30 mushrooms, I think we cannot have that so I go and I try to get them all the way down until they pop out of the ground. It’s very satisfying. Then I’ll come and I’ll have a bundle of them and I’ll throw them somewhere in a bundle of them and I’ll go on a walk. This is hardly an exaggeration – 20 minutes later back from my, more mushrooms! They’ve come back by later that evening right in that very spot. So I think, I think I took up 30 mushrooms, and yet more mushrooms, more mushrooms. Do some every day in that spot, they keep coming back, and as long as it’s hot had humid, they spread and you have to keep going at them because although they’re small, and although you can pluck them up easily, you cannot finally eradicate them.

Now here’s the point. What we’re going to see in this passage, and I know there’s no verse in the Bible, there’s verses in the Bible that God’s people are like a tree, not a mushroom, but here we’re reversing it. Because this passage is about the church of Jesus Christ, which the world would think is like that old diseased tree. Oh, sure, there’s buildings, sure, there’s Christians, but this thing is rotten on the inside, and just some pushes and pull and sway and put your shoulder into it and the whole thing will come toppling over. It’s weak.

I want to suggest to you from this passage, no, the church of Jesus Christ is more like those mushrooms. Yes, at times, they’re easily plucked up, easily discouraged, but you cannot finally remove the Church. The Church of Jesus Christ will stand to the very end. That’s what this passage is about. All of the bizarre imagery, just keep that in mind. Not an old diseased tree, ineradicable mushrooms.

So let’s go through this verse by verse. Remember where we are. We had six seals and now we have had six trumpets. We’re coming to the conclusion before we get to the seventh trumpet. Remember with the six seals, in between six and seven there was an interlude, that was Revelation chapter 7, to show before we have the cataclysmic ending of human history and God’s judgment to show a picture of the Church, though threatened, safe and secure.

In chapter 7 we had two of those pictures. First, the Church was numbered as 144,000 and second that the Church was seen as a great multitude. Well, here in between the sixth and seven trumpets, we have the very same thing. Two pictures.

Now I think I said last week that the two pictures are chapter 10 and chapter 11. It really would be better for me to say that chapter 10 is the introduction with that metaphor of eating the scroll, an introduction to the two pictures of the Church that we have here in chapter 11. Just like we saw in chapter 7. It’s a picture of the Church that is threatened, at times persecuted, but in the end will be protected and will endure.

Chapter 11. Let’s just look at the first two verses.

“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.”

Going to spend more time on these first two verses than any other verses, so just be prepared because this will help us kind of get our Revelation lens on.

I said there are two pictures in this chapter of the Church, threatened but protected. One picture is of the Church as the temple/city of Jerusalem, that’s verses 1 and 2, and then the picture we’re going to come to is the two witnesses on the earth. So this is the first image.

The Old Testament background comes from Ezekiel 40 through 48 where the prophet is taken through the temple and the city with the measurements of the temple and the city, and the conclusion, the last verse in that book, “The Lord is there.” The temple and the city are images describing the place where God dwells. God dwells in His temple, He dwells in the holy city of Jerusalem. It’s a metaphor, temple/city, a metaphor for God’s people.

We should know this image of the new Jerusalem comes in Revelation 21. It’s a holy city. There it’s actually without a temple because the whole city has become a temple.

So it’s very important to realize, contrary to how some would interpret this, I think it’s very clear we are not talking about, in verses 1 and 2, a literal temple in literal Jerusalem. This is not foretelling a time in perhaps the Great Tribulation, a seven year period, or when Christ will return physically, bodily, sit on the throne and there will be a new temple built in Jerusalem. I do not think that’s what this passage is about.

Frequently in the New Testament we know that temple and city are symbols for God’s people. 1 Corinthians 3, Ephesians 2, 1 Peter 2, Revelation 3:12 – the one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, never shall he go out of it and I will write him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem.

That’s important because that’s in the very same book just a few chapters ago, temple and the city of Jerusalem are given as a description of God’s holy people.

And they’re measured. What does measuring signify? Measurement signifies protection, preservation. It functions in the same way that the ceiling or the numbering of the 144,000. The numbering, 12,000 of each tribe. To number them indicates they are known and counted and preserved by God. In the same way, to measure off the temple is to say God’s people are known, preserved, and protected by God. It’s an indication of their spiritual safety.

Now look at what it says in verse 2, “Leave out the court outside the temple.” The temple had an outer court, sometimes called the courts of the Gentiles, or the court of the nations. Here it functions nations meaning those who are not among God’s people.

The point is that inside the temple measured are God’s people. Outside the temple, that’s why it says “do not measure,” “do not measure the court outside the temple.” That indicates that area is not safe and secure. So to be in the temple metaphorically, to be counted among God’s people, is the spot of ultimate safety and protection. To be outside of the realm of God’s people, you are not measured, you are not counted, you are not safe and secure. That’s the warning. Outside – danger, inside – safety.

Revelation is heaping up images to help us understand what it means to be the people of God. The measured temple is a picture of God’s people protected and safe from ultimate spiritual harm.

Now some people think that Revelation 11 here was fulfilled in 70 A.D. with the fall of Jerusalem, the literal destruction of the temple that would necessitate having and earlier date for the book of Revelation. It’s not that that’s an unorthodox opinion, but I think there are better reasons to have a later date. And though it’s true the city was overrun and it may be that the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. is a kind of mental word bank or mental picture for this imagery, maybe an allusion to it, the rest of this chapter does not sound anything like the events of 70 A.D. So I’m inclined to think this image may allude to the fall of Jerusalem, but this is written after the fact, and it’s referring to the kind of continual opposition to the Church, which we’ll see in a moment, and God’s over-arching enduring protection of the Church.

Before we move on, we have to deal with some numbers. Look at the end of verse 2: “They will trample the city for 42 months.” So verse 2 has 42 months. This is going to be very important for the next few chapters.

Look at chapter 13, verse 5. There we see a beast, a beast coming up to exercise authority for 42 months.

Look at verse 3 back in chapter 11, the two witnesses will prophesy for 1260 days. 42 months, if you figure 30 days in a month, 30 times 42 is 1260 days. So 42 months means the same thing as 1260 days which, look at chapter 12 verse 14 for a moment, “When the woman,” 12:14, “was given two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.”

Time, times, half a time. That’s one plus two plus a half, three and a half. So sometimes this is given as time, times, half a time, or year, years, half a year, or look at chapter 11, verse 11. There’s it’s called 3-1/2 days. 3-1/2 days, 3-1/2 years, time, times, half a time. Well, how many months are in 3-1/2 years? 42 months. 42 months is the same as 1260 days which is the same as 3-1/2 years which is the same as 3-1/2 days which is same as time, times, half a time.

So that’s to get our head around what all of these numbers are doing.

Now you’re very good at math, so you’ve already realized that 3-1/2, you didn’t know you had to do fractions this morning, is half of what important number in Revelation? Seven.

Now where does this imagery of 42 months, 1260 days, time, times, half a time, come from? It comes from the book of Daniel. So keep your finger in Revelation, turn to Daniel for just a moment. We need to turn there because I want you to see it with your own eyes because this is very important for how we understand chapter 11, chapter 12, and chapter 13.

Look at Daniel 7, verse 25. Daniel 7:25 is talking about this beast. Now in Daniel it’s the fourth beast. I think it’s the same beast imagery that John is going to draw from in Revelation 13. So this beast, here’s what he says, 7:25, “he shall speak works against the Most High and shall wear out the saints of the Most High and shall think to change the times and the law and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.”

You see something similar. Go over to Daniel 12, verse 7. Daniel 12, verse 7, last chapter of the book, “and I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream. He raised his right hand and his left hand toward heaven and swore by him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time, and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished.”

So this time imagery comes from the book of Daniel. 3-1/2 days, 3-1/2 years. There is, like most Old Testament prophecy, a near fulfillment and then a cosmic fulfillment.

So the near fulfillment of this prophecy came, we think, in 167 to 164 B.C. This is the abomination under Antiochus Epiphanes the IV, sacrificing pigs in the temple, slaughtering the Jews, for a time period that was roughly 3-1/2 years. So this 3-1/2 years had a near fulfillment.

Some also argue that the Roman siege of Jerusalem lasted about 3-1/2 years, though that timeframe is less exact.

So 3-1/2,42 months, 1260 days, becomes a kind of mental numerical picture for a season and a time of oppression for God’s people. The numbers function as a metaphor for a time of trial.

Now I don’t know if this is coincidence, I’m inclined to think it’s not, that if you counted in Numbers chapter 33 the wanderings, they wandered for 40 years in the wilderness, if you were to count starting with the first and the last and everything in between, there were 42 encampments that the Israelites had in their wandering in Numbers 33. There again 42, a symbolic number for a time of trial for God’s people.

Or think about Elijah and the drought in his day. Luke 4:25 says he shut up the sky for 3 years and 6 months.

So 3-1/2 years, 42 months, 1260 days. There are lots of this kind of numeric imagery in Scripture to say this is a time period representative of trial and tribulation for God’s people.

Go back to Revelation 11. When you see these numbers, in 11, 12, and 13, I want you to think this time in which the Church is both protected and opposed, is threatened and preserved. What I’m going to argue is it’s actually represented not of a particular 3-1/2 year window to come, but the entirety of the Church age in which the Church is simultaneously growing, expanding, given a great Gospel harvest, and also opposed and persecuted.

Verse 3. You say, “We’re never going to get through this.” We’ll speed up. Verse 3.

“And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”

The two witnesses, as we’ll see, is another metaphor for the Church. First metaphor, temple/city. Next metaphor, two witnesses.

The whole earth will see their demise, we’ll see that in verse 10, which suggests a worldwide presence. The witnesses prophesy for 3-1/2 years, which is the same time of the holy city, the woman’s flight into the desert chapter 12, and the time in which authority is given to the beast. So these things are happening at the same time.

The beast in one sense has this granted authority to persecute the Church for 3-1/2 years, but the witnesses also for 3-1/2 years are bearing testimony to the Gospel, and in particular what we see here is they are calling the world to repent. That’s why they are clothed in sackcloth. This is the garment of the prophets calling people to repent.

Think about the Old Testament law and two witnesses. No one shall be condemned under the law except on account of two witnesses. So these two witnesses are kind of prosecuting attorneys to bring to bear on the peoples of the earth God’s claims against them, to call them to repentance, before it is too late. This is the work of the Church.

Verse 4: “These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.”

So we’re transitioning from Ezekiel imagery to Zechariah imagery. In Zechariah 4, the two anointed ones in Zechariah’s day were Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel. In Revelation, the two witnesses, I’ll argue in just a moment, I think are Moses and Elijah. Not literally Moses and Elijah coming back, just like Elijah came back, so to speak, in the person of John the Baptist, but rather Moses and Elijah are representative of the entire witnessing community. You have with Moses and Elijah the law and the prophets, and you’ll see in a moment why they’re Moses and Elijah.

But the reference to the two olive trees is important, because in Zechariah’s imagery, we don’t have time to go there, there are two olive trees pouring down into this lampstand, and there’s golden pipes. The point of Zechariah 4 is that famous verse, “not by power nor by might, but by My Spirit, says the Lord.” I’m going to do this by the power of My Spirit, not your strength.

The imagery tells us that. When you hear “olive trees,” you may think, “Oh, olive oil. That’s nice. I’m going to saute something and cook something.” You need to not think food, you need to think fuel. Olive oil is what they used to light their lamps. Olive oil is fuel. So when you have a lampstand which is a symbol for the light of the Gospel, the witnessing community of the Church, connected to two olive trees, you have to think the Church connected to two gas stations, the Church hooked up to two oil rigs. The imagery would make sense to us, ah, they are not going to run out of fuel. They will have power, not in themselves but by the Spirit of the Lord.

That’s what the two olive trees represent. God’s Spirit will be so at work in the witnessing Church that it will not finally be snuffed out.

Verse 5: “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.”

So the Word of God is true and powerful and victorious. The speech of the witnesses condemns the inhabitants of the earth. The two witnesses is the number needed in the Old Testament law to judge a dispute, Numbers 35:30. So these witnesses are accusing the world before God. This is very important. The world, the world stands in the dock. Or the world is under trial.

Verse 6: “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.”

So here’s why with many commentators I’m convinced this is Moses and Elijah, law and the prophets, Moses with the plagues, Elijah with shutting up the sky with no rain for 3-1/2 years. Who appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration? Moses and Elijah. They are symbolic of the while witnessing Church. The power of the Church to win the nations to Christ, that the Church will accomplish this Great Commission and then the end will come.

Verse 7: “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.

So we have at the same time, you see this in this Church age? You have the witnessing community of the Church, which is condemning those who do not repent, and you have the beast who is unleashed to conquer and to kill the Church. Throughout this whole section, there is a mixture of events that mainly, I think, are true of the Church in every age, but also as we’ve seen earlier in Revelation, there is a time of intensification we can call the Great Tribulation where all of these things will be brought to a final climax.

In general, I think this paragraph is mainly about what happens through the whole Church age, though in a most pointed way it will be what happens at the very end.

Speeding along. Verse 8: “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.”

The picture is of how much the people of the earth hate the Church. That doesn’t mean that everyone of your non-Christian neighbors or friends are, should think of them as just horrible people. No, there’s common grace, many decent people in this world. But the spirit of this age and of every age, the spirit of the world, is to treat the Church shamefully and with reproach. The people of the earth here rejoice. Notice they’re likened to Sodom and then to Egypt and then to Jerusalem where the Lord was crucified. This is just saying wherever you have God’s people persecuted, wherever you have God and His ways under attack, that’s Sodom, that’s Egypt, that’s the city that killed Jesus. Later, that’s Babylon. That’s New York City. That’s London. That’s Charlotte. Wherever there is this hatred and opposition to the Church.

For 3-1/2 days, the Church will look as though she went under, as though she failed. The idea is that for 3-1/2 years a symbol of the Church age, the Church is both witnessing and gaining ground and also at times appears to have gone silent. The Church here in these verses is slain, dead, unburied, looked upon with contempt. The wicked gloat over the demise of the Church. They celebrate the downfall of the Church. They exchange presents. They invent a holiday to overthrow the Church.

“But,” verse 11, “after the 3-1/2 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.”

Now some interpret this as at the very end of the age, this is the physical resurrection and ascension of believers. I think what we have here rather a picture of the spiritual resurrection of the Church. The imagery comes from Ezekiel 37:5, “This is what the sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.”

Ezekiel’s prophecy was about hard-hearted Israel coming back to spiritual life. John’s vision is about the trampled, beaten down, spat upon, persecuted Church coming to life again, which he symbolizes as a kind of resurrection and ascension. In other words, this happens throughout history and supremely so at the end of history. It will be clear once and for all that the Church of Jesus Christ are God’s chosen people and though the members of the Church may be killed and cut off, as Christ’s body she cannot ultimately be destroyed. Even though the Church exists in deadly danger, she will always be divinely defended.

Verse 13: “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.”

So here’s why I think verses 11 and 12 do not refer to the very end of the age and the physical last resurrection, because verse 13 doesn’t seem to be the very end of the age. We’ll get to that with the seventh trumpet. By now you should understand how some of Revelation works, and when you see percentages, it’s meant to signify a restrained judgment that is not yet the end.

So here a tenth of the city fell, 7000 people killed in the earthquake. Why 7000? Probably because during the days of Elijah there were 7000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Now it’s reversed. There are 7000, not everyone, but 7000 who are killed. Again, it’s a symbolic number and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

It may be that giving glory to the God of heaven means a kind of begrudging, “Wow, I guess you were right,” or we can be more hopeful and think that this verse means there will be a very pronounced turning of the nations to Christ, that there will be a large conversion of people to Jesus at the end, who will see that God has vindicated His people, vindicated the Church, and so they’ll say this Church which we have hated, this Church which we have spat upon, this Church can finally not be destroyed, their God must be the God.

Let’s hope that it is so.

Verse 14: “The second woe has passed; behold the third woe is soon to come.”

So the interlude is done. We finished the sixth trumpet, which is the second woe, and this interlude. These two pictures of the Church, threatened but preserved, first as the temple/city of God and then as these two witnesses, Moses and Elijah. Both are references to the Church of Jesus Christ throughout this Church age, both successful and both at times seemingly defeated.

Where does this leave us? Take a breath. Two second pause. Three final points. Three truths we must not forget.

Number one. Do not be surprised by the Church’s unpopularity.

We’re used to sort of, some of us, a cultural memory, and I agree, let’s not just give up, but we’re used to a cultural memory of the Church by and large having a lot of cultural cache, of Christianity being a kind of public truth that brings everyone together. That is fast eroding and in many parts is long gone. We should pray and ask the Lord for revival and ask that it might be so, and yet this passage reminds us we should not be surprised when the Church is unpopular.

They are given, and we are given, a message of repentance. We cannot do our job as a witnessing church just to tell people Jesus is your best life now, you’ll get heaven, you’re going to be together with your family, it’s all going to be great, if we aren’t calling people to repentance.

Remember the two witnesses, because they are giving God’s message to the world. The world is on trial, not God. That’s the flip. The world likes to think, “Yeah, tell me about this God of yours. I’ve got some questions for God.”

It’s true. There’s plenty of passages in the Bible we offer honest laments, honest questions. That’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about the spirit of the age that puts God in the dock and says, “God, You stand trial. You must defend Yourself to us.” No, these two witnesses go out in the earth because the world is to stand trial.

Notice what we read: “They,” verse 10, “those who dwell on the earth will rejoice with it looks as though the Church has failed.”

When they see churches close, turned into bars, when they see pastors fall, when they see churches capitulate, of course the world rejoices. They gaze at their dead bodies. They refuse to let them be placed in a tomb. No, they don’t say, “Well, let bygones be bygones.” No, they rejoice and they positively start a holiday. They make merry, verse 10. They exchange presents. People will invent holidays to commemorate the apparent overthrow of the Church. Perhaps they will fly flags. Maybe they will call it Pride month.

We must not be surprised by the Church’s unpopularity.

Number two. We must accept the Church’s vulnerability.

You heard me say throughout this message there is both the Gospel going forth and winning, and yet the Church is opposed and at times seems to be failing. So the Church is vulnerable.

There are too many judgments in Revelation, too much hostility right up to the end, for me to think that we just slip into a nice, earthly millennial reign where the world is essentially Christianized. Which is why I’m not in the end a post-millennialist. We see in our own day a decline of public morality, a decline of Western Christian consensus, secularized universities, the rise of militant Islam, persecution in many parts of the world. We can expect that the Church’s hardest days are still ahead of her, and that some of the Church’s best days are still ahead of her.

Which leads to the final point. So do not be surprised that the Church’s unpopularity, accept the Church’s vulnerability, and third, believe in the Church’s invincibility.

So I cannot in the end agree with my post-millennial friends, who I think are a bit too optimistic, nor in the end can I agree with my pre-millennialist friends who I think are a bit too pessimistic. I believe that Scripture teaches that in the midst of so much suffering and pain and uncertainty, God is nevertheless going to protect His Church, maintain her witness, the Gospel will not be lost, the nations will worship Jesus, the Church is not going to lose this fight.

The mushrooms in your front yard cannot be eradicated.

There is a doctrine that many of us have not really reflected on called the indefectibility of the Church. It does not mean that the Church cannot act in ways repugnant to its own nature or that the visible Church in different places cannot be snuffed out by persecution, or by waywardness, but it does mean that the Church scattered across the globe cannot altogether fail. The promises of God, the preservation by the Spirit, the power of Christ, all ensure there will never cease to be a true Church on the earth. Nations will come and go, empires will come and go, civilizations will come and go, great men and women will rise and fall, powerful institutions will wax and wane, and we know from Jesus’ promise that there is no institution except the Church which Jesus Himself will build and no other organization whose ultimate mission is assured of success. The Church’s perpetuity is guaranteed by Christ Himself.

We may lose our lives. You may lose a promotion. You may lose your reputation. But ultimately the Church will not lose and the only struggle that matters on the rock of Jesus Christ God will build His Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. God has made the Church in this age vulnerable but also invincible.

Think about when this was written. Maybe 90 A.D., just some scattered Christian communities throughout the Roman Empire, already have suffered and faced persecution, here facing more persecution. They have the audacity to say that you can’t kill us. You can’t. You can’t snuff us out. You can’t. You rip up that mushroom, you’re going to get another one. The Church of Jesus Christ, those witnesses, though you kill them they will be brought back to life.

So it has been so. The Gospel for all these years has not been lost. 2000 years later, half a globe away from these people, here you are. Believing in Jesus, singing songs to Jesus, singing songs this morning that Christians have been singing for centuries, some of them for more than a millennia.

There are tens of thousands of faithful churches, praise God, in our land, and because God has measured us inside the temple even as the holy city is under attack, we will not finally be snuffed out. Christ died and rose again so that the Church, which is His body, will live forever.

Let’s pray. Father in heaven, we thank You for Your Word. Continue to teach us by this book, that we may be encouraged, equipped, courageous and faithful, for the cause of Christ, the cause which will not fail. In Jesus we pray. Amen.