The Lord’s witnesses have needed power through every era, but during the end times they will need special power because the hearts of the people of this world will grow cold and indifferent; they will seek self-satisfaction, riches and pleasures. Every day eight hundred million people go to bed hungry, more than one billion people do not have clean drinking water, there are food shortages, gasoline prices have skyrocketed, everything has become so expensive, the amount of garbage is so great that we are having trouble dealing with it , there are so many sick people that it is impossible to care of every one of them. If you are suing someone, you might have to wait on line for a long period of time. There are wars everywhere. During these terrible times, people line up to buy computer games that are full of violence, they are taught to steal and rob but are not warned about the consequences of being caught by the police, and if you lose, you can start a new game. The general attitude of the people toward the Gospel and the Church is to make fun of it.
These two witnesses need special power to do their work. They are being witnesses for the Lord during the most difficult times in the midst of the great tribulation. We might not have the opportunity to meet them, but the way they work can be applied to every era. Power is needed to spread the Gospel under all circumstances. In this secularized world, doing God’s work means to go against the tide. Spiritual power is needed to serve the Lord. May the Lord help us to have the power to stand up and witness for Him as they did.
POWER TO BRING REPENTANCE
3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”
Jews wear sackcloth and ashes as a sign of repentance. Zechariah chapters 12 and 13 prophesy of a great revival during the end times, everyone will weep bitterly and mourn greatly as they come to repentance. Many churches want to see revival but when a great revival happens what will we really see? Will we see tens of thousands of people gathered in a stadium? Will we see many people coming forward as they make a decision? What characterizes a great revival? A great revival is when multitudes of people fall on their knees, weep bitterly, mourn deeply, confess their sins and repent; that is truly the work of the Holy Spirit.
Every time that there is a great revival, the scene is very overwhelming, everyone will be weeping and confessing their sins in a loud voice, the voice of the preacher would be completely covered, the whole congregation will seem as if they were stricken by the Holy Spirit.
Revival starts with repentance, true repentance shows the work of the Holy Spirit. What the witnesses of the last days need the most is a life that shows repentance.
THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.
Here we see lampstands and olive trees together. How does a lampstand give out light? It is through the supply of oil. Olive trees are the source of the oil. Zechariah chapter 4 also mentions a lampstand and olive trees. There it says: “ Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” With power and abilities a lot can be accomplished. It can bring people to respond in such a way that a project can come to completion as planned. When the boss wants to hire workers, he will look for people with education and talent, which is understandable. People might have the ability to get things done but that doesn’t mean that they could accomplish great things in the Kingdom of Heaven; they might have high-tech knowledge but that doesn’t mean that they could bring a person’s heart to repentance. The verse mentioned above describes the work of the Holy Spirit; confession of sin and repentance is solely His work. Here the great power of the Holy Spirit is attached to the words that are spoken and the hymns that are sung which penetrates to the hearts of people like a sharp sword so that sinners will be willing to turn over their hearts.
The witnesses of the last days will have the power of the Holy Spirit. This is something that Christians in America lack because they are very resourceful and have a lot of specialized knowledge. Being resourceful and having knowledge is not a bad thing. But people who are resourceful tend to rely on their own methods, like when a person gets sick, the first thing they do is to rely on medication and when the doctors cannot do anything for them, then they go to the Lord. At work is the same, first they rely on their own methods, skills, eloquence, knowledge. Why is it like this? Because we think that we know our own hearts, our own needs.
Businessmen want to know about market trends, preachers want to know about the mentality of the masses. Wrong. The witnesses are not standing before the people of the earth; they are standing before the Lord of the people of the earth, before the Lord of the earth. They were serving the Lord of the universe; that is the only way they could do God’s work.
POWERFUL MESSAGE OF FIRE
5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way.
God made the words that came out of their mouth to be like fire (Jeremiah 5:14).
The message that came out of their mouths was as swift and forceful as fire. Normally, we speak a lot about God’s love but we seldom talk about God’s wrath. Moody, a great preacher from the 19th century preached mostly about God’s love, many people repented after listening to his preaching, so they believed that speaking about God’s love was the right thing to do. They thought that preaching about God’s wrath was unacceptable. But the Bible speaks more about God’s wrath than about His grace and mercy. It is the same in the Old Testament and in the New Testament . “God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. ””… a God who displays His wrath every day.” “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven.”
In Revelation we can see more of God’s wrath and God’s judgment because the witnesses will need a message of fire during the end times so that those who are against God will fear them and those who are asleep may be awaken.
Jonathan Edward 1741 年七月在康州講的信息是Sinners in the hands of an angry God 。當時這烈火一樣的信息，使教會大大復興，大家搶著到台前悔改、認罪、流淚、禱告。這時代有很多人的信仰是有偏差的。認為神就是愛，不會忍心把人放入地獄裡，地獄只不過是傳道人用來嚇唬人的。我們不要忘記，講地獄講得最多的，是基督自己。
The message that Jonathan Edward preached in Connecticut in July 1741 was “Sinners in the hands of an angry God.” That message brought a great revival to the Church like a fire. Everyone scrambled to come forward to confess their sins, repent, weep and pray. The beliefs of the people of this age are distorted. They think that God is love and will not have the heart to put people in hell and that hell is just something preachers use to scare the listeners. Don’t forget that the One who spoke the most about hell was Jesus Christ Himself.
Hell is not an imaginary place. The people of this world think that God does not have the time, the motivation or the power to send people to hell. The most He could do is to just let go of His hand and not care about us . In a way, that thought is correct; yet don’t think that God needs to use a lot of effort to throw people into hell. The people of the world are still alive today because of God’s grace. He makes the sun shine on the good and on the bad; He gives rain to the righteous and the unrighteous. He makes many nutritious foods grow in abundance so that it can be bought at a very low price, and the poor may also be able to eat nutritious meals. He does not discriminate against sinners or is hostile toward them. He is forbearing and patient, waiting for the people to repent. God’s hand has always been at work protecting the people of this world so that they will not perish. When God decides to let go of His hand, sinners will instantly be destroyed, like a piece of paper that is thrown into the fire, the ground that people step on will be as a sheet of thin ice, it may break suddenly, this will happen if God would just let go of His hand and not care about us.
THE POWER OF PEACEFUL UNITY
The two witnesses worked together, preached together, they performed miracles together, and were killed together. They had the spirit of unity; they worked in an environment of harmony and peace. They united their efforts for a common purpose; difficult things became easy, impossible things became possible. Their message, though as fierce as fire, was full of the power of peace, gentleness and humility. They did not need an army to fight or protect. The disciples were like Christ, they did not kill, they were the ones who were killed, and they did not need the power of weapons. The heroes of old, though they had the most powerful weapons, were not able to change the world; but the Lord was able to accomplish that without using any weapons or an army.
Christians are called “sons of peace”, “peacemakers”. During difficult times, when everyone is quarreling, when conflict arises, that virtue will show up. The problem in many Chinese churches is that their leaders do not want to cooperate with each other , they are not willing to humble themselves or be self-sacrificing, this attitude causes a lot of strive. People fight to prove that they are right. Whoever is right wins. The Holy Spirit fights to prove who is willing to be self-sacrificing . Only those who are willing to be self-sacrificing will be victorious. The witnesses during the end times are people who know how to be self-sacrificing. It doesn’t matter how outsiders will treat them, as long as there is unity inside . Paul told the Church at Ephesus: “to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace;” because that is the characteristic of a powerful Church; that is the testimony of a powerful Church.
6 These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not 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 plague, as often as they desire.
In the older English version translations of the Bible, there is no distinction between the word “power” and “authority”. Power and authority are two different things. Satan has great power, but he lost authority. That is why even though people do not have any magical powers, they can still be victorious over him. They way to overcome him is through spiritual authority.
When the Lord sent His disciples out to preach the Word of God, He sent them out with the authority to heal the sick and to cast out demons. Jesus also said that He watched Satan fall from heaven, indicating that when the disciples preached they really were using their authority causing Satan to suffer a heavy blow.
A car has so much power that can run over a person and kill him; a policeman does not have much power, a car could easily kill him. But when he signals a car to stop, the car has to stop because he has the authority to do so. Those who work for the Lord do not have much power, but they have the spiritual authority to defeat Satan doings. They could perform miracles because they have authority. That authority is not given to all believers automatically; they are only given to those workers who have been specially sent by the Lord. Only God’s workers will possess this kind of spiritual authority.
POWER TO BE FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH
7 When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them.
These two witnesses did not receive the best of the treatments; they had to endure persecution, they even had to become martyrs. They were faithful unto death, until they were defeated, they did not want to flee in the middle of the persecution.
Some people serve the Lord based on feelings, when they feel good they are willing to work, the next day they feel neglected and they just resign. This kind of attitude will not make a powerful impact.
We need to have an unswerving determination that will never change even when having to face death. Chinese people like to admire plum blossoms because when the weather is nice all the flowers are in full bloom which is not surprising. But when the weather is bitterly cold the plum blossoms continue to bloom, that is hard to come by. They are like the witnesses who were faithful even during extreme difficult times. Americans use cedar trees to symbolize disciples who are faithful to the end, those who are not be affected by the weather be it good or bad, those are the disciples that God values.
很多人唸神學，到畢業時減半，工作一年後辭職，20 年後只有30% 事奉主。這問題在美國土生土長的傳道人中最嚴重。他們受不起打擊批評，缺乏堅定受苦的心志。因為在美國以學歷定資格。受神學教育實在太容易了。有學位不等於有資歷。看中國大陸的牧者就知道，他們不是看讀了多少年的神學，乃是看坐了多少年的牢。只要坐過牢，就成有資歷的傳道。坐得越久資歷越高。
Many people who study theology have reduced their credit hours to half by the time they graduate and quit after working for only a year. Only 30% continue to serve the Lord after 20 years. That is a very serious problem among American born Chinese ministers. They cannot take the criticism or the attacks against them. They lack a steadfast heart when facing hardships. This is because in America your qualifications are determined by your educational background. It is so easy to get a theological education. Having a degree does not mean you are qualified to do the work. Just take a look at the pastors in mainland China and you will know that they do not look at how many years you have studied theology, but how many years you had been in prison for the cause of the Gospel. If you have been in prison, you are qualified to be a pastor. The more years you had been in prison, the higher your qualifications.
Serving the Lord is like running a marathon, by the time you get to the finish line maybe a lot of people have already disappeared, so as long as you finish the race you will get a certificate. The crown is not given to the one who runs the fastest but the one who finishes the race. Paul said: “I have finished the race.” Being a worker for the Lord does not depend on just a short blast of strength. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of Life. Jeremiah and Ezekiel endured abuse, humiliation and injury from the people but they did not change the way they preached and served God, they did not cater to the people’s mentality, they were not seeking to please the crowd. Are we prepared to face whatever comes our way?