Featured

[Featured][bsummary]

Passing the Torch: Ministry Transfer from the Church to the Two Witnesses

To my brother or sister in Christ who is gearing up to go into the Tribulation, guns blazing, ready to light up the night with your biblical insight and off-the-grid survival skills...let's reason together, please. While I appreciate your enthusiasm and commitment to spreading the gospel as the wrath of the Lamb rains down on the earth through the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments, you need to get all your work in for Christ now, before the start of Daniel's 70th week.

Is that all right with you? Am I now just one of those escapist Pre-tribbers who doesn't have the guts and gall to suffer for Christ? If you insist. However, I'm only seeking to interpret faithfully the revelation given to us all from the Bible, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15). According to God's word, it is my understanding that the Church, the body of Christ, has a specific role to carry out during this present age. This unique era of God's grace and purposeful delay of final judgment is nearing twilight and rapidly coming to a close. Before Zion [Israel] goes into labor (Isa. 66:7), we will be leaving—seized and taken suddenly—and transferred to God's throne in heaven (1 Thess. 4:16-17; Rev. 12:5).

This means we will be passing the torch. The message of Christ will be taken up by two major prophets of God in a similar fashion to the prophets of old—Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and John the Baptist. These super-messengers will have the authority to call down fire from heaven and induce famine at will (not so with us today). Just like a relay race, or an Olympic games ceremony, where a baton or torch is passed from one athlete to another until everyone reaches the finish line, we will be relinquishing our duties and cheering on the rest of the saints from box seats alongside our Father in heaven (Heb. 12:1-2; Rev. 4:1-4).

In this post we will take a look at an Old Testament precedent for a future Church-to-Israel ministry transfer found in 2 Kings 2; then we will venture over to 2 Thessalonians 2 and examine Paul's insight on a transition between two temples; finally, we'll conclude with the book of Revelation, where the apostle John provides a brief yet enlightening glimpse into the transfer of authority from the Church to the two super-witnesses of Israel.




The Elijah/Elisha Template: Raptured Alive, A Mantle Taken Up, and Mockers in the Midst

When students of the Bible first become acquainted with the word of Yahweh, it won't be long before they realize this biblical principle: The way in which God acted in the past is the key to understanding how He will act in the future. It is through types and shadows that we finally arrive at the fulfillment of prophecy. And it is only through Jesus, and by the illumination and power of the Spirit, that we discern the perfect will of the Father. To Him be the glory through past ages and those to come, because "the testimony about Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Rev. 19:10).

A while ago it occurred to me that the transition of authority from the Church to the sealing of Israel's 144,000 (Rev. 7:1-8; 14:1-5) and prominent ministry of the two Jewish witnesses (Rev. 11:1-14) could be likened to a pivotal event recorded in the second chapter of the book of Second Kings.

Here are three things from Second Kings (chapter 2) that foreshadow the future Church/Israel transition:

1. Elijah, like Enoch before him, is taken up alive in a manner similar to prophecies concerning the rapture of the Church.

2. Elisha, who is left behind, takes up Elijah's mantle [garment] and assumes the role of God's newly deputized vessel for mercy and judgment on earth (hence, a biblical/historical precedent for a 'passing the torch' concept).

3. A complacent nation "under God" wouldn't be complete without last-days mockers and scoffers—Elisha encountered them, and "Christian" churches are filled with plenty who deny final judgment (and especially the Rapture!).

Let's look at each of these observations in further detail:

#1 — Elijah's sudden departure from the earth is reminiscent of a peculiar incident from the foundational chapters of the Bible. It should come as no surprise then that the same Hebrew verb, laqach (Qal stem), is used in both 2 Kings 2:3 and Gen. 5:24, where the LORD God is the one performing the action in both instances. The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT) lists three ways to translate this verb in the first category for the Qal stem: to take, grasp, [or] seize. Wow, that sounds a lot like our Greek verb for rapture [harpazo] found in 1 Thess. 4:17 and Rev. 12:5.

Another curious thread connecting the sudden seizing of Enoch, Elijah, and the Church is the overwhelming judgment that follows each of their departures. After Enoch is taken, Noah and his family are left behind on earth to endure the Flood (Gen. 5-9); after Elijah is taken, Elisha and his generation put up with an unrepentant nation until the "flood" of Assyrian forces takes away the Northern Kingdom circa 722 BC (2 Kgs. 17; Isa. 8:7-8); lastly, when the Church is taken, the "flood" of the end begins with the start of Daniel's 70th week and the signing of the 7-year covenant with the Antichrist (Dan. 9:26-27; Matt. 24:37-39).

#2 — Have you ever heard someone use the phrase "taking up the mantle?" Typically, you will hear this expression whenever there is a transition in leadership within an organization. It's one of those myriad phrases from the Bible (KJV, especially) that has entrenched itself into our everyday language, yet we so often neglect to appreciate the source. It's my understanding that when Elisha takes up Elijah's mantle [which is literally his garment, or cloak], he has now assumed Elijah's role and responsibility to the nation—a major weight on his shoulders according to Elisha's own proclamation in 2 Kgs 2:12. Elisha knew this day would come, and it was foreshadowed in 1 Kgs. 19:19. Even the other prophets knew about Elijah's departure (2 Kgs. 2:3), though nothing could quite prepare Elisha for the day when his mentor disappeared suddenly out of his sight. Likewise, when Christ takes up His body, the nation of Israel will have a great burden to bear in a world emboldened by the absence of God's light and restraint.

*Side note: As I was researching the Elijah/Elisha connection, I was struck by the term often translated "whirlwind" in 2 Kgs. 2:1, 11. It got me thinking about tornadoes, hurricanes, and various wind-storms, which are called "natural disasters" in today's world. Is there anything "natural" to you about a disaster? Anyway, I discovered that there are multiple occasions in Scripture where the LORD God intervenes and appears to people on earth by means of a violent storm (see Ex. 19:16-19; 20:18-21; Job 38:1; 40:6; Isa. 29:6; Jer. 23:19; Ezek. 1:4). Theologians call these events "theophanies," or literally, "God appearances," and, colloquially speaking, we might say, "God shows up in a big way!" In the not-too-distant future, the LORD is going to bust into this realm in a big way again. The resurrection of the dead in Christ and the sudden translation and removal of the living believers will be accompanied with similar elements from Old Testament "theophanies." There will be trumpet blast, clouds, a great shaking of the earth as the dead awake, a soul-stirring shout, and even the return of the "whirlwind!" Maybe the rest of the people on earth will only experience "natural" phenomena, or I could also see the Resurrection/Rapture event as a dramatic conclusion to what began at Pentecost, where the Church departs in a "violent, rushing wind" (Acts 2:2) on the Feast of Trumpets.

#3 — As one who ministers to broken people every day, I get questions like these a lot: Why is it that scoffers can scoff and mockers can mock, and God doesn't rain down fire from heaven on them? Why do unbelievers seem to have any easier time in life? Why can't we be agents of justice and take-out known blasphemers and heretics in cold-blood? Plainly put, we are in an age of immense grace and mercy—like no other. This Church age has been a grand demonstration of the LORD's patience, and yet, many misunderstand and continue to scorn the prospect of the literal, physical, return of Christ (2 Pet. 3:3-4). How disheartening for those of us who long for His appearing. How reminiscent of a time in Israel's history when the people of God became complacent and despised the truth (see 2 Chr. 36:15-16).

It's possible that the young boys from Bethel who were chanting at Elisha were making a contemptuous jab at Elijah's "rapture" (2 Kgs. 2:23). Commenting on this intertextual connection, my former prof Dr. Robert Chisholm writes:

The youths' command to Elisha to "go up" may suggest more than meets the eye. On the surface they appear to be telling him to continue on his way...as if they do not wish for him to stop in Bethel. This alone would be a serious enough offense, but their words also echo the narrator's description of Elijah's departure...[see 2 Kgs. 2:11, "and he went up"]...Is it possible that the youths had heard the rumor of Elijah's ascent to heaven and were sarcastically urging Elisha to do the same? (Handbooks for Old Testament Exegesis: Interpreting the Historical Books, pg. 207)."

Yes! I concur that in the context of the chapter, the narrator hints at Elijah's "going up," (you will see this connection, especially if you compare the Hebrew phrases of 2 Kgs 2:11 and 2:23). These arrogant boys of Bethel (ironically, "house of God") mock Elisha, showing their disdain and disrespect for God's prophet, and by corollary, God himself.

Postscript: No, sorry fellas, 2 Kgs. 2:23-25 is not saying that God will wipe-out those who make fun of your male-pattern baldness...if only.

Many left on earth after the departure of the Church will share similar sentiments toward the LORD's two end-time prophets, who, like Elijah and Elisha, will have the authority to call down both fire and plague on anyone who tries to harm them (Rev. 11:5-6, 10).


A Temple Removed and a Temple Rebuilt

To further support a clear transition of power between the Church and Israel, I see a parallel argument from Paul in the New Testament—only this time, it is a shift from the invisible temple of the Holy Spirit to the much-hyped physical temple to be rebuilt in Jerusalem (see also Google, and the Rabbis). Echoing many Unsealed articles that have discussed various Church/Israel distinctions in the last days, the LORD God will shift His focus from sanctifying the Church to sealing the remnant of Israel and protecting them to the end—until all Israel is saved (Mic. 5:3; Rom. 11:25-27). So, get ready to pass the torch (or, since we are also the "salt of the earth" (Matt. 5:13), pass the salt while you're at it too).

Does the context of 2 Thessalonians 2 provide clear-cut and explicit references to the temple-to-temple transfer that I am arguing for? No, not if you are fishing for the literal terms: "Holy Spirit," "temple of the Holy Spirit," "Rapture," "Trinity," and... you catch my drift. However, rather than take up space here on an already lengthy post, I strongly recommend investigating three sources that have inspired me to include this section of Paul's letter in support of the Church-to-Israel ministry transfer:

Dr. Thomas Ice's article entitled The "Departure" in 2 Thessalonians 2:3.

Daniel Matson's paper entitled The Identity of the Restrainer.

Scott Clarke's video entitled The Antichrist's Restrainer Revealed! The End-times Light Switch 2017.

Assuming "the apostasia" referred to in 2 Thess. 2:3 is the departure of the Church (c.f. 1 Thess. 4:16-17), we can then make perfect sense of the literary structure of 2 Thess. 2:1-12 and truly follow the consistent parallelism of Paul's argument. The apostle says "the departure" comes first (2:3)which alludes to the gathering mentioned earlier (2:1) as well as the removal of "the Restrainer" (2:7); and then, and only then, will the Day of the LORD commence (2:2-3) and the Antichrist be allowed to burst on the scene like a rabid dog unleashed (2:3, 6, 8).

And since we know the same apostle refers to the Church as a temple elsewhere (see 1 Cor. 3:16-17; Eph. 2:19-22), I think we can most assuredly assume that the removal of "the Restrainer" (a.k.a. the departure and gathering of the Church), is also the dramatic conclusion to the unique ministry of the Holy Spirit-indwelled temple of God. As God's glory departs the earth once again (c.f. Ezek. 10-11; Jn. 1:14; 16:7; Acts 1:9-11), the absence of the Church will create a vacuum that will be filled by a feverish effort to rebuild the third temple. This is a cooperative effort on the part of the Jews and neighboring Gentiles according to a peace covenant (Dan. 8:25; 1 Thess. 5:3), which is, in reality, a deadly deal with the devil mediated by his false christ—the man of lawlessness (2 Thess. 2:3-4, 9; c.f. Isa. 28:14-22; Dan. 9:27).

When the light of this world goes out (Matt. 5:14-16), the remaining residents of the earth will be plunged into spiritual darkness. Delusion and deceit will flourish under these conditions (2 Thess. 2:9-12; c.f. Matt. 24:4). The sudden absence and restraining influence of God's temple [the Church] will result in a "crusade" for Jerusalem on a scale greater than those during the Dark Ages (Zech. 12:2-3; Lk. 21:24; Rev. 11:2; 16:12-16). Thankfully, the world will not be without a witness. In His wrath, Yahweh remembers mercy (Hab. 3:2). Little lights will arise all over the earth at this time, and two men, especially, will be like two torches flickering in a dark room...


The Church is Gone, so Leave a Light On

At a time or two in your walk with the Lord, you may have felt like Elijah—backed into a corner, singled out, and saying to God, "I alone am left..."(1 Kgs. 19:10, 14). After telling the forlorn prophet to get back on his feet in order to anoint a king of a hostile, neighboring country, the LORD says to Elijah:

You are to anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel and Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel-meholah as prophet in your place. Then Jehu will put to death whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death whoever escapes the sword of Jehu. But I will leave 7,000 in Israel..." (1 Kings 19:16-18, HCSB).

In bold print: Two instruments of God's wrath (Jehu and Elisha, descendants of Jacob/Israel) will replace Elijah when he is gone, and there is also the promise of a remnant (7,000 descendants of Jacob/Israel).

Get ready to pass the torch, brother or sister in Christ. I see history repeating again as we will be taken and the mantle of authority transferred to the two witnesses of Rev. 11 (physical descendants of Jacob/Israel). Oh, and the LORD will again leave a remnant (144,000 physical descendants of Jacob/Israel). You are not in the picture, because you are not the focus—unless you happen to be one of the aforementioned prophets or 144,000...hello, from up here!

*Postscript: Paul must have been on a similar train of thought in Rom. 11:1-6. Interesting, isn't it? He is arguing that the nation of Israel has a future while appealing to 1 Kgs. 19.

Let's go now to the book of Revelation and explore this ministry transfer from John's perspective. From the brief vision concerning the two witnesses in chapter 11, there is enough written to see the immense power and authority these two men possess while on the earth. And let me put it this way, Church...in my best Southern accent, "There ain't no room for the both of us. God don't need us to preach the gospel 'til the end (Rev. 14:6-7), and He certainly don't need us to proselytize the whole world in order to usher in Christ's kingdom."

Here are some quick observations from Revelation related to the Church/Israel ministry transfer:

— The seven churches are called "lampstands" as defined in Rev. 1:20; longevity of ministry is not a guarantee as Christ threatens removal, both negatively (2:5) and positively (3:10); after the ministry of the Church comes to an end (4:1; 12:5), the torch is passed along to two other "lampstands" as described in 11:4 (the reference to "olive trees" comes from Zech. 4:11-14, historically typified by Joshua and Zerubbabel).

— Some have taught that the 144,000 are like thousands of "Jewish Billy Graham's" sent out into the world, but I think that this is misleading. From the few details given to us in John's visions, they are not depicted as evangelists but only as the sealed remnant who will survive and be preserved throughout the Tribulation (for more on the remnant of Israel, see my previous post here). Conversely, the focus of action is on the two super-witnesses and their ministry.

— The two super-witnesses of Israel directly oppose the false prophet (Rev. 13:11-18), providing yet another fulfillment of Deut. 19:15 (c.f. Deut. 13:1-5).

— For details on the timing of the Church/Israel ministry transfer, see a previous post here.


Conclusion

From Elijah to Elisha; from the temple of the Spirit to the third temple of the end-times; from the Church to the two super-witnesses of Revelation; there are many "transfers" that span both Testaments. It is my hope that the picture is a littler clearer, and I pray that we all submit to the Lord's will and our role in His plan. We now await the final transition, and so I say again: Get all your work in for Christ now, because you will be passing the torch soon.

Before you go, please listen to this song from the band Coldplay entitled "Midnight." Read the lyrics as you listen. Can you hear the heart cry of desperation from one who senses a foreboding future? In the darkness that is coming, there is a plea for mercy...for light. Thankfully, for those left behind, God has already spoken and said that He will leave a light on:




"In the darkness before the dawn
In the swirling of the storm
When I'm rolling with the punches and hope is gone
Leave a light, a light on

Millions of miles from home
In the swirling swimming on
When I'm rolling with the thunder
But bleed from thorns
Leave a light, a light on
Leave a light, a light on

In the darkness before the dawn
In the darkness before the dawn
Leave a light, a light on
Leave a light, a light on"






Post A Comment
  • Blogger Comment using Blogger
  • Facebook Comment using Facebook
  • Disqus Comment using Disqus

21 comments :

  1. Fantastic! I learned a lot myself from this study. Thx Jeff! Just serves as even more confirmation to me that we're on the right track.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think the boxseat views with the biblical references are not correct. The cloud of witnesses refers to those who have gone before us as examples to follow. The context is referencing having faith. The Revelation comment is speaking of heaven and God's throne room. I find it difficult to think you are viewing this as redeemed humanity viewing the events on earth at the time of the Tribulation.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The Two Witnesses are here now, they've been here. They are Victor Hafichuk and Paul Cohen of www.thepathoftruth.com

    An in depth website has been published for anyone in the world to read, including Forum and now Youtube. Think about it? What better way to reach and minister to the world and spread the message of the Lord Jesus Christ? It's all there, not in the way most think- even the most highly regarded of Christians but it's all there.. Don't know how this whole thing plays out but the Lord surely does.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Um, no. The Path Of Truth is as false as they come. I've studied the cult myself and it's not pretty. At the heart of it is a couple of self-proclaimed believers who have isolated themselves from the Christian community and all sound wisdom. No one else can substantiate their beliefs because they are alone in holding them.

      In fact, its actually one of the more ironic cults out there because its two-man team spends an inordinate amount of time calling everyone else a cult or wrong, etc.

      Delete
    2. Wow, Gary, I looked at their website. Doctrines that go against just about everything I've ever thought was true. Ultimate reconciliation of all men through judgment of fire. Denial of the Trinity. Forsaking of any form of water baptism.

      Delete
    3. What amazes me is the explosive growth of cults and small sects over the past couple decades. The internet is filled with these kind of guys who essentially reject the larger Church and think that they have a unique corner on truth. The Bible has much to say against their teachings and isolation.

      I wrote about this some here: http://www.unsealed.org/2017/02/the-importance-of-prophetic-discernment.html

      Delete
    4. We'll keep on, keepin' on. Shine the light of sound doctrine to the darkest corners of the Net!

      Delete
    5. I just went over to this website and what I noticed was that it was not a very open website like the blogs are. I may go over and share my testimony one day, it certainly is a good thing to do that. However, I do believe that the influence with all of us has to be from the Holy Spirit, we can only build one another up. If we put too much reliability on a person we can become disciples of that person more than disciples of Jesus Christ.

      Delete
    6. I whole-heartedly agree with you, Brenda. We gotta be like the Beroeans (Acts. 17:11).

      Delete
  4. I don't think I agree with Mr./Ms. Anonymous about the two witnesses being here now, and already identified. But I do find it interesting in the Elijah/Elisha example that Elijah actually selected Elisha and worked with him a while before being raptured up. Is there any possibility that there is an overlap time between the two?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Might be some overlap. I can also see something similar to John the Baptist being filled by the Spirit even from the womb, "He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:16-17). How about being discipled and prepared by the Holy Spirit from birth?

      Delete
  5. Who will the 2 witnesses actually be?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Got Questions Ministries has a solid, concise write-up on this: https://www.gotquestions.org/two-witnesses.html

      Delete
  6. Amen, Jeff! I with you 110% !

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm a 'different ' anonymous ...

    ReplyDelete
  8. The 144,000 are Spiritual Israel.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I find it absolutely amazing how when a scriptural truth is revealed how the enemy of God attacks and tries to discount the Almighty's power.

    Romans 12:19...For it is written, Vengeance is mine I will repay, saith the Lord. Proverbs 25:21-22 If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee. We need to pray as Elijah did my friends. Because of the Spirit that lives within us, "Greater is he that in you than he that is in the world" our prayer, the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man, availeth much!

    So how awesome is the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man? My friends our prayers ascend before God and the Heavenly Angels as sweetness. The realm of heaven responds with coals of fire, thundering,lightning and shaking of the earth.

    Revelation 8:4-5 "And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thundering, and lightnings, and an earthquake."

    My friends be not deceived the whirlwind is coming.


    Isaiah 66:15 For behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.

    ReplyDelete
  10. A good word, brother. Nice addition of Isaiah 66:15 as well. Just as the fire can either provide warmth or burn to ashes, so also the whirlwind can either lift up or destroy.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I believe that the scriptures are discerned spiritually and that everything that is happening now is reflected in the Old testament through the stories of the ones who lived then. We are shown that every day in our lives is written in His book before even one of them was formed, and it is true.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I would like some of you here to go check out the Messianic Jewish organization One for Israel. Then view videos from Eitan and Moti. They present a powerful message. If there's anyone out there right now who could be the two witnesses it's these two guys. In fact, twice they have already had their lives threatened by Rabbi's who want them to quit teaching about Jesus. Here's videos of them: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLXiBkdTbRi-zx-ZHrrh4lN0w9QUWF0okN

    ReplyDelete
  13. Jean - When You read the book of Revelation 11, the 2 Witness don't come
    to the beginning of Tribulation, but to the beginning of Great Tribulation...
    It is a big difference !!! Normaly, it is very clear ?
    It is why, I don't understand...

    One of 2 witness is Jew, but the other witness, it is probably not Jew !!!
    The 2 olive tree...

    If You know the purpose of Tribulation of God,
    the salvation of maximum people, We must be mid-tribulationist for the rapture,
    and after come the 2 witness...



    ReplyDelete


Recommended

[Top Post][grids]

World News

[Top World News][bleft]

Highlights

[Highlights][twocolumns]

Bible Study

[Bible Study][list]

Astronomy

[Astronomy][bleft]

Greg's Thoughts

[Top Greg][twocolumns]

Jeff's Musings

[Top Jeff][bsummary]

Birth Pangs

[Birth Pangs][bleft]

Politics

[Political][twocolumns]

Wolf Watch

[Wolves][bsummary]

In-Depth Articles

[In-Depth][bleft]

Archaeology

[Archaeology][twocolumns]

Science

[Top Science][list]