Revelation 11:3-8 "And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. 4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. 6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. 7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. 8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified."
Theologians identify the Two Witnesses as Moses, by virtue of the " power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues;" and Elijah, by the "power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy."
SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT, NOT THE PRODUCT OF INTELLECT
There is a general notion that anybody can understand the Word of God as written in the Holy Bible. This is not so if one truly submit to the Word. God classifies men into natural and spiritual with the way they understand the Word of God:
THE NATURAL MAN:
1 CORINTHIANS 2:14 "But the NATURAL MAN receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned."
THE SPIRITUAL MAN:
1 CORINTHIANS 2:13 " Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual."
1 CORINTHIANS 2:16 "For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But WE have the mind of Christ."
The natural man may profess comprehending "things of the Spirit of God." Things of the spirit are the spiritual message of the Word. He does not know that the spiritual message cannot be perceived by the senses, nor are they understood with the intellect, neither are they appreciated with the feeling - the only faculties available to him. The natural man insists on getting the CONTEXT of the story. He does not know that in doing this, the most that he can get out of the word is the historical message. He may derive moral lessons from the story and events, mistaking these for the spiritual message of the Word of God.
If we want to know something about God and His words, He directs us in the following:
Isaiah 28:10 "For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:"
1 Corinthians 2:10 "But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?... 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual."
The spiritual message is greater than the moral lessons. The spiritual message can only be discerned spiritually. Without the Spirit, therefore, there is no way for the natural man to understand spiritual things. These are, in fact, foolishness to him. Spiritual discernment necessitates spiritual consciousness. Spiritual awareness stems from the total dependence on the Word of God. Total dependence on the Word of God gives no place for human reasoning and personal feeling.
Matthew 11:25 "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes."
Spiritual discernment is the comprehension of the spiritual message of the Word of God as explained by the Word itself. It is a case of the Bible interpreting itself. It is not the fruit of philosophy or human conviction. It is written:
2 PETER 1:20 "Knowing this first that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation."
It is spiritual discernment to realize that the whole Bible is a book of prophecy. While historical events literally-physically did happen in the past, they have spiritual message that is true all the time:
ECCLESIASTES 1:9 "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done, is that which shall be done; and there is no new thing under the sun."
ECCLESIASTES 3:15 "That which hath been is now, and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past."
Jesus Christ put it this way:
MATTHEW 24:35 "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."
Let it be noted that it is not only the red-letter words that constitute the words of Jesus Christ. It is the whole Bible, for the Holy Bible is the inspired word of God (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21). The relevance of everything that is written in the Bible makes it a prophecy that is being fulfilled all the time. Christ stated it this way:
Matthew 5:18 "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."
SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT - THE LAMB HAVING 7 HORNS AND 7 EYES
How can man, following the literal language, identify the following?
REVELATION 5:6 "And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne...stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes..."
1. To use the sense of sight and the intellect, man will describe the animal as a small sheep, a lamb, as written. But it is not an ordinary lamb. A normal lamb, young as it is, has no horns yet. If ever it has horns, the most that it will have would be two. But this lamb has seven (7) horns! What more, a normal lamb has only two eyes. But this extraordinary lamb has seven (7) eyes! Therefore, using the senses and the intellect, the components needed for the application of the literal language, the animal described must be a frightening monster!.
2. Perhaps, it is with this example that the LITERAL LANGUAGE of the Old Serpent is fully exposed (Still remember you would not die?). Spiritually, the animal pictured in verse 6 points to JESUS CHRIST! But Satan, using his literal language, would portray Jesus Christ as a physical monster!
3. As stated, spiritually the animal described symbolizes Jesus, the Christ, and the Savior. The Bible, not an opinion of any man nor the product of human wisdom, gives this conclusion:
FIRST - What John the apostle saw was a Lamb. This agrees with what John the Baptist also saw in:
JOHN 1:29 "The next day John (the baptist) seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!"
John the Baptist saw Jesus as the Lamb of God who, "taketh away the sin of the world;" so did John the apostle see the same Lamb, "as it had been slain." Jesus Christ became the Savior by virtue of His death on the cross.
SECOND - The Lamb having seven (7) horns indicates total power. Horns symbolize power; not physical power, but spiritual power to save:
PSALM 18:2 "The Lord is my rock...and my deliverer...and the horn of my salvation."
Jesus answered this distinction and description in the prophecy of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, just before the birth of Jesus:
LUKE 1:69 "And hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David."
Number seven (7) symbolizes totality, perfection, and completeness (Genesis 2:2, Joshua 6:4). Seven (7) horns, therefore, represent total and perfect power to save.
THIRD - The Lamb having seven (7) eyes means total vision and perfect knowledge:
HEBREW 4:13 "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him..."
ACTS 15:18 "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world."
PSALM 139:15-16 "My substance was not hid from thee when was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth."
SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT - CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION
The Christian world celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25 of each year. They call it CHRISTMAS. The basis of the festival is found in:
LUKE 2:8-20 "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore much afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, saying, glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them."
1. Today's celebration of Christmas, therefore, is some sort of a reenactment of the rejoicing of the heavenly hosts and the shepherds who were informed of the good news.
2. What is surprising is that the first century Christians did not celebrate this day as their modern counterparts. At first glance, it would appear that the modern Christians are "more Christians" than their counterparts almost 2,000 years ago. But God is the judge, not any man.
3. In the first place, Jesus Christ could not have been born in the month of December, nor is the specific date revealed in the Bible. The month of December is too cold in Israel for the shepherds to tend their flock at night, supposedly the time they received the news of the birth of our Lord.
4. The origin of the celebration was actually derived from the pagans of Europe, and has evolved over many centuries. History records this fact. Following is an excerpt from the Encyclopedaea Americana, volume 6, pages 622-623, 1967 Edition:
"Christmas, the feast commemorating the birth of Jesus, observed by the Christian church annually on December 25. The name is derived from the medieval Christes Masse, the Mass of Christ. The celebration was not observed in the first centuries of the Christian church, since the Christian usage in general was to celebrate the death of remarkable persons rather than their birth...In the 5th century the Western church ordered the feast to be celebrated on the day of the Mithraic rites of the birth of the sun and at the close of the SATURNALIA, as no certain knowledge of the day of Christ's birth existed. Among the German and Celtic tribes the winter solstice was considered an important point of the year and to commemorate the return of the sun they held their chief festival of yule, which, like other pagan celebrations, became adapted to Christmas.
Most of the customs now associated with Christmas were not originally Christmas customs but rather were pre-Christian and non-Christian customs taken up by the Christian church. Saturnalia, a Roman feast celebrated in mid-December, provided the model for many of the merry-making customs of Christmas. From this celebration, for example were derived the elaborate feasting, the giving of gifts, and the burning of candles. Lights also played an important part in most winter solstice festivals. The giving of gifts has varied considerably, many peoples exchanging presents on other days and reserving Christmas solely for religious observances. The Teutonic yule feast also provided customs for the Christmas festivities, such as the yule log and wassail bowl. In many places a part of the yule log is retained to light the yule log of the following year.
The origin of Christmas tree has been variously traced; however, the tree was not in the wide usage until the 18th century. The Saxons made use of ivy and holly, and mistletoe in such festivities is a Celtic remnant. Nativity plays early became a part of the Christmas celebration, and about the 13th century merry songs on religious themes became an important part of the Christmas festivities. The sending of Christmas cards by way of friendly greeting and remembrance has grown up since the middle of the 19th century.
In the United States the customs and traditions of many nationalities and faiths have gradually blended into common usage forming a new tradition."
The following is a compilation of more data about Christmas, lifted from an article published in a popular daily, December 23, l990:
"Christmas is the day on which Christians celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ. And the word Christmas comes from the early English phrase, Christes Masse which means Christ's Mass.
Christmas is the happiest and busiest time of the year for millions of Christians all over the world. They observe the holiday with religious ceremonies and prayer. Many persons look forward to happy family parties and exchanging of gifts. Christians everywhere unite in their feelings of joy on Christ's birthday.
Scholars don't know the exact date of Christ's birth. For more than 300 years, people observed His birthday on various dates. In A.D. 354, Bishop Liberous of Rome ordered the people to celebrate on December 25. He probably chose the date because the people of Rome already observed it as the Feast of Saturn, celebrating the birthday of the sun. Christians honor Christ, instead of Saturn. The Christians in Egypt celebrated Christmas on January 6, and many members of the Eastern Orthodox Church still observe this date.
St. Francis of Assisi is known as the Father of caroling, because only church officials had been encouraged to sing carols before his time. In 1223, St. Francis placed a creche (miniature Nativity scene) in a hermitage of Greccio, Italy. And after this, many churches began displaying a Nativity scene at Christmas. Soon the people began acting out the events as part of the development of mystery plays (the age of Chaucer). The actors composed Christmas carols to sing with Nativity plays. After the religious services, the carolers strolled down the street, still singing. In that way, street carolling was born.
Nativity scenes and carol singing generally are associated with St. Francis of Assisi. When he created the first nativity scene in Greccio, Italy, in 1223, he led the people in songs of praise to the Christ Child.
In Great Britain, an old English dinner includes brawn (headcheese). English cooks originally baked the pies in shape of a manger. During the late 1440s King Henry VII introduced the wassail bowl to England from Scandinavia. The bowl contains a mixture of hot ale, spices, and toasted apples.
The custom of decorating Christmas trees most probably originated with Germans. Martin Luther, in Germany in the early 1500s, is said to have lighted and trimmed for his family the first Christmas tree as it is decorated today.
Carol singing is of great antiquity among Christian communities, and during the Middle ages. Carols became very popular both on the continent and in England. The first printed collection of English carols was issued in 1521 by Wynkyn de Worde. The earliest carols were songs of the Nativity, the Incarnation, and the Annunciation. Later, carols with shepherds themes and the Epiphany were composed, and there were also many of folk origin on the festivities of the Christmas season.
For many years, people observed Christmas as a religious festival only. But people gradually adopted more and more customs unrelated to the church. In England, during the Middle Ages, Christmas became the merriest day of the year. Celebrations eventually became so rowdy that the Puritans in England did away with the observations or observance by the law in 1643. Colonists in New England copied the English laws. The blue laws of the Massachusetts Bay and New Haven colonies even outlawed mince pies. But immigrants brought with them Christmas customs from many lands.
Christmas carol like Adeste Fideles is not strictly a carol, but a Latin hymn of praise. It was composed by John Reading in the year 1700s. The tune first appeared in the collection known as Cantus Diversi in 1751.
Silent Night, Holy Night is known throughout the world. Joseph Mohr, a pastor in Oberndorf, Austria wrote them on Christmas Eve in 1818. Franz Gruber, the schoolmaster and organist composed the tune at the same time.
Good Christian Men, Rejoice was originally a very old Latin Christmas song called In Dulci Jubilo. John Mason Neale translated it about the middle of 1800. The melody is probably German in origin and dates back from 1300 or earlier.
The Christmas carol, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is an old English song, and dates at least as far back as the 1500s. While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks was the only psalm of David sung in the Anglican church before 1700. Among the first compositions produced after this time was the carol written by Nahum Tate in 1703. The familiar melody for this carol was taken from Siroe, an opera by Handel. Isaac Watts, the great English hymn writer, based this carol on the Psalm 98. Its words indicate the missionary spirit of the early 1700s. Lowel Mason arranged the word to the music of several chorus from the Messiah by Handel. And the Christmas carol Hark, The Herald Angels Sing, was written by Charles Wesley in 1739. The carol at first began with "Hark, how all the Welkin rings," the tune is from Festgesang by Mendelssohn. No one knows who wrote the words or music of The First Noel. This carol comes from the west of England. It first appeared in 1833 in Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern, collected by W.B. Sandys.
In 1823, an American minister and poet, Clement C. Moore, first described Santa's fur trimmed suit and his sleigh with reindeer in the poem A Visit from St. Nicholas, later called The Night Before Christmas."
It is fully documented in history that Christmas beliefs and celebration evolved as customs and tradition. The intensity for the celebration of Christmas is further fueled by the business community all over the world. The motivation is a multi-billion dollar revenues to big as well as small businessmen around the world."
1. The "spirit of Christmas" of thoughtfulness and generosity had its roots in a short story by Charles Dickens published in 1843. It is fiction, relating to three characters, concerning an episode that happened on Christmas Eve. Ebenezer Scrooge, a selfish, disagreeable merchant in London, returns to his living quarters with no thought of celebrating the holiday season. He has spurned an invitation to spend Christmas with his nephew Fred, and only begrudgingly granted a one-day holiday to his underpaid clerk, Bob Cratchit. When a request for charity is made of him in the name of his dead partner Jacob Marley, he answers that the Christmas Spirit is wasteful and foolish. After Scrooge goes to sleep, three apparitions appear to him: the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come. Their appearance results in a complete change in Scrooge, who became generous, kind, and thoughtful to relatives and his fellowmen on Christmas Day and for all days to come.
The present Christmas greetings are taken from the most frequently quoted lines between Bob Crachit and his crippled son, Tiny Tim, "A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us," and to which Tiny Tim replies, "God bless us every one (Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 6, page 623, 1967 edition)."
2. The way the Christians today celebrate the birth of our Lord reveals the kind of understanding they have of the Word of God. It delves on the historical and the moral, mistakenly considered to be spiritual.
Isaiah 8:20 "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."
Colossians 2:8 "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."
3. Historical and moral lessons are perceived by the senses and are greatly appealing to the intellect and feeling. But as stated, the spiritual message of the Word is explained by the Word itself and can only be "spiritually discerned." The birth of our Lord is a good illustration. Watch now how the Word of God leads us to the spiritual message, which is actually the spiritual food or the "living bread," for this part of the Word - Jesus Christ came down on earth:
a. Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, a town in Israel. There is a "line" in the following verse that is clearly expressed in the King James version of the Bible of 1611, indicating that "God was manifest in the flesh:"
1 TIMOTHY 3:16 "And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh..."
b. There is only one God (1 Corinthians 8:6) and this is a spirit. John wrote in his gospel:
JOHN 1:1 "...and the Word was God."
JOHN 1:14 "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us...full of grace and truth."
John further wrote in the book of Revelation, actually a revelation of Jesus Christ to him, which clearly relates to what was written in the gospel:
REVELATION 19:13 "And I saw him in a vesture dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God."
c. Summarizing the message that the lines want to convey, the Spirit God became a physical being in the person of Jesus, the infant born in Bethlehem. Spiritually, Jesus is the Word that could dwell in men. Everybody may profess this, but as the Word leads us to the spiritual message, one will be startled to know how the Word of God becomes a real spiritual food.
4. Jesus was born in the little town of Bethlehem in Israel on this planet earth. Literally, the natural man looks at the physical aspect of the story.
5. Before the Middle Ages, religious preachers taught that the earth did not move. This was because they read in the Bible about the fixed foundation of the earth:
JOB 38:4 "Where wast thou when I laid the foundation of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding."
PSALM 82:5 "They know not, neither will they understand...all the foundations of the earth are out of course."
Isaiah 13:13 "Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger."
That was how great theologians interpreted the Word of God about the earth. And this is a typical example of understanding the Word of God using the intellect, and trying to perceive the meaning with the senses. Man drew a logical conclusion supporting his interpretation with what he sees with his eyes. He saw the sun moving around the earth every twenty four hours! So, who can refute his understanding of the Word of God regarding the earth?
It took science to refute this solid belief! Science which is used by the atheists to disprove Bible truths: it was science that repudiated man's "authoritative correct" understanding of the Word of God. God has His wondrous way of shaming man to his unscriptural way. This proves that man, without the Holy Spirit's guidance, no matter how prudent and intelligent he may be, cannot really understand spiritual things. Man must realize that it was the Satanic literal-physical language which caused the downfall of Eve. Read the article THE SIN OF ADAM AND EVE.
6. Taking the spiritual perspective of the Word of God, the literal-physical perception of man is completely changed. This is made possible through the Word of God itself that explains the spiritual meaning. This is how the Bible explains the spiritual earth. Spiritual discernment is beyond the comprehension of the natural man:
GENESIS 3:19 "...till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."
GENESIS 18:27 "and Abraham answered and said, Behold, now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, who am but dust and ashes."
PSALM 103:14 "For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
Thus, the earth, which is composed of the ground and dust, actually refers to man. As such therefore, the earth is capable of being filled with knowledge:
HABAKKUK 2:14 "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord..."
The earth as it refers to man is capable of rejoicing and being able to sing:
ISAIAH 49:13 "Sing, O heavens, and be joyful, O earth, and break forth unto singing."
The earth, because it refers to man, is capable of hearing:
JEREMIAH 22:29 "O, earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord."
The earth, because it symbolizes man, is subject to trembling:
ISAIAH 14:16 "...is this the man who made the earth tremble, who did shake kingdoms?"
Who can refute the Word of God's explanation of man as the spiritual earth? Gradually, we are introduced to the spiritual Word which is actually the spiritual food. This is distinguished from the literal-physical message that only satisfies the senses and the intellect, and caters to the feeling.
7. Man celebrates the birth of our Lord by mimicking the jubilation of the heavenly host and the excitement of the shepherds who heard the good news. The event is relived every December 25 with Christmas songs, lively greetings of good will, multi-colored lights, beautiful decorations, exquisite food, and merrymaking. All these satisfy the senses and greatly appeal to the feeling. But these are not yet the spiritual "living bread" from the Word of God.
8. Again it takes the Bible to have spiritual discernment of spiritual things. JOHN 1:14 states that "The Word was made flesh and dwelth among us...full of grace and truth." This confirms Jesus'statement in JOHN 14:6 "I am the truth." There are two ways of looking at Jesus as the truth:
FIRST TRUTH ABOUT JESUS - Believing that the physical Jesus indeed existed. That He was born of a virgin in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, began His ministry in Galilee, preached and performed many miracles in different towns and cities of Israel, was falsely accused and crucified and killed, and after three days rose again from the dead, ascended into heaven, and will be appearing again. This may well be considered as the "historical" Jesus.
SECOND TRUTH ABOUT JESUS - Accepting that the spiritual Jesus is the Word of God (Revelation 19:13), and that the Word of God is truth. If, indeed, it is believed that Jesus is the Word, then the Word must be accepted as the truth, and never should it be maligned. Everybody may profess faithfulness to the Word, but this is easier said than done. Any human doctrine or precepts of men added to the truth is adding to the Word. And any truth rejected is deducting from the Word.
Love for the physical Christ cannot be equated with love for the spiritual Christ. The love for the physical Christ was demonstrated by the women of Jerusalem (Luke 23:26-28). But this did not make them closer to Him. They were even rebuked, and were directed instead to love themselves by loving the spiritual Christ. It is the love for the Word of God, the spiritual Christ, that makes one cleansed from his sins:
JOHN 15:3 "Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you."
One cannot love sin and falsehood, and the Word of God at the same time. He will love one and hate the other (Matthew 6:24). God emphasized the spiritual, but Satan accentuated the literal and the physical. Still remember when Satan tempted our Lord to turn the stones into bread? Our Lord spoke of spiritual bread. In the beginning, God revealed how Satan represented the physical through his literal language; however, God countered it with the spiritual:
JOHN 6:63 "...the flesh profiteth nothing, the words that I have spoken unto you, they are spirit..."
Christ emphasized the spiritual over the physical. God values the SOUL over the BODY.
9. After the Bible has given us the spiritual meaning of the earth as referring to man,and the spiritual Jesus Christpointing to the Word of God, it is now easy for us to understand why the Christians of the lst century did not celebrate Christmas. Their spiritual celebration was more than the physical celebration of later Christianity. Here is how the Bible leads us to the spiritual celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
10. The jubilation of the heavenly hosts for the physical birth of Jesus Christ was continued by the early Christians spiritually. Here is the occasion for that event:
LUKE 15:7 "I tell you that in the same way there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents..."
11. The repentance of a sinner marks the birth of the Spiritual Christ in the spiritual earth. The Word of God is born in a man that cleanses him of his sins. That is the cause of the great rejoicing in heaven.
12. If the physical heavenly hosts are the angels, the spiritual heavenly hosts are the real Christians who compose the family of God:
EPHESIANS 2:19 "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God."
The members of the household of God are the spiritual heavenly hosts. They are the real Christians, and not the pseudo, not the counterfeit, not the professing. They are the ones who have loved the Truth, the Spiritual Christ. In having the Word born in them, all the vestiges of falsehood and deception of the "old serpent, the great dragon, called the Devil and Satan" have all been renounced and forsaken (Revelation 12:9).
13. The celebration of the spiritual birth of the spiritual Christ in the spiritual earth is the real spiritual joy of the true believers. This is the kind of joy that can never be enjoyed by the natural man. This is the "inexpressible joy" of the spiritual heavenly hosts, as written:
ACTS 8:4-8 "Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake...and there was great joy in that city."
ACTS 14:48-52 "And when the Gentiles heard this they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed....and the disciples were filled with joy..."
1 THESSALONIANS 2:20 "For ye (new believers) are our glory and joy."
This is the kind of "joy unspeakable and full of glory" that Peter wrote about. This is the kind of celebration that the real Christians had over the birth of Jesus Christ.
14. God emphasizes the spiritual over the physical. God values the SOUL over the BODY. Now, who can truthfully say that the lst century Christians, who did not celebrate Christmas, are "less Christian" than their latter counterparts? Theirs is the real spiritual JOY that is one fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5:22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance..."
15. The promise of "peace on earth" upon the birth of Jesus Christ was never fulfilled literally-physically. At no time in the history of the world since the birth of Christ has the earth known real political and social peace. But God never tells a lie. God fulfilled this spiritually in the spiritual EARTH. There was, indeed, real spiritual peace on the spiritual earth - and this refers to the individual believer. Peace to the Christians is one fruit of the Holy Spirit:
PHILIPPIANS 4:7 "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Heart and mind are ascribed to the SOUL. It is peace and joy to the soul that God promised. But man thought it is for the body. He tried to acquire this through his own human way, through friendly greetings, good social relations and revelry.
16. The infant Jesus was born in a manger. He was not given the chance to be born in the Inn, nor in palaces; so with the spiritual Jesus. The elementary truth about the Word of God will never be "born" in the spiritual Inn or in the spiritual palaces. Jesus Christ Himself said:
MATTHEW 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
"Poor in spirit" refers to people who are poor in human spirit. The human spirit or the soul is what makes man a natural man. Richness in human spirit, therefore, makes man more of a natural man. A man rich in spirit is more philosophical, more emotional, and more sensual. This is the equivalent of the physical Inn and palaces. The infant Jesus was not bound to be born in those spiritual "places." The "infant" Jesus or the basic spiritual truth is to be born in the spiritual manger - the people who are poor in spirit.
SENDING OF GIFTS ON CHRISTMAS DAY
At this point, it is opportune to consider the great prophecy revealed by our Lord to John the apostle, as he was exiled in the island of Patmos. John wrote, "... bare record of the Word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw (Revelation 1:2)." He further wrote, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet (Revelation 1:10)." John wrote about things that were yet to come as "he saw them happening." One of these is the great rejoicing of the people on earth, and their enthusiastic exchanging of gifts on the death of the two witnesses:
REVELATION 11:10 "And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth."
THE TWO WITNESSES
1. John saw the people on earth rejoicing at the death of the two witnesses. And in their jubilation, they "send gifts one to another." In no other instance in the history of mankind have people been as happy and joyful as on Christmas Day. And on no other occasion in the history of the world can people be, or will be, seen exchanging gifts one to another as they do on Christmas Day.
2. The prophecy states that the occasion is the celebration over the death of the two witnesses, also known as the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks:
REVELATION 11:3-8 "And I will give power unto my two witnesses...these are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them and kill them.And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified."
Because it is not the purpose of this short treatise to explain the details of the entire prophecy, only one point is considered. This is the identification of the two witnesses, also called the two olive trees, and two candlesticks. Who are they?
3. To think of the prophecy literally, the two witnesses will point to the two servants of God, Moses and Elijah. This is because it was through Moses and Elijah that the power given to these two witnesses is identified. The power to "turn water into blood (Exodus 7:20)," and smiting Egypt with "all kinds of plagues (Exodus 8,9,10)," can be related to the power given to Moses. The power to "shut the heaven that it rain not," can be traced to Elijah (1 Kings 17:1). That is all that man could relate to these two physical witnesses.
4. However, the spiritual word of God has something more that will clearly identify the two witnesses, leaving no room for doubts. References to the two witnesses can be found in the different books of the Bible, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament.
ZECHARIAH 4:3-6 "And the two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then he answerd and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord...Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."
ZECHARIAH 4:11-14 "Then answered I, and said unto him, what are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches, which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth."
The line in ZECHARIA 4:6 gives one clue, "not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."The line in ZECHARIA 4:12 further states, "what be these two olive branches, which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?"
5. Let us be careful not to inject any opinion or human judgment on the identity of the two witnesses. Let alone the Word of God explain everything we want to know about them. Suffice it to say that we simply submit ourselves to what is written.
6. ZECHARIAH 4:14 refers to the two witnesses as the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth. Who can qualify under this characterization? Moses and Elijah?
7. The Bible talks of the anointed one in:
PSALM 2:2 "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his Anointed..."
ISAIAH 61:1 "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound."
To whom does this verse refer to? Let us now see what Luke wrote in his gospel:
LUKE 4:18 "...the Spirit of the Lord is upon me (Jesus speaking), because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised."
Look how the Bible points to Jesus Christ as one of the two anointed:
ACTS 4:27 "For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed..."
ACTS 10:38 "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power..."
With the foregoing as clues, it is very easy to identify Jesus Christ as, indeed, one of the anointed:
PSALM 18:2 "The Lord is my rock...and my deliverer...in whom I will trust...and the horn of my salvation..."
PSALM 132:17 "There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed."
There can be no other person answering the foregoing qualification but JESUS CHRIST, the horn of David. The horn of salvation is the power of salvation.
LUKE 1:69 "And hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David."
8. Jesus' actuations further support the conclusion that He is indeed God's Anointed One, Who was given power, and with nothing emanating from Himself:
JOHN 5:19 "...verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do..."
JOHN 5:30 "I can of mine own self do nothing..."
9. Jesus revealed that He is one of the two witnesses of the truth - and Himself is the truth:
JOHN 5:31-32 "If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that bear witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true.
10. Finally, Jesus Christ revealed the other witness of Himself - a witness of the truth for Jesus is the truth:
JOHN 5:37 "And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath born witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape."
Jesus Christ gave the reason for people who cannot recognize this other witness:
JOHN 5:38 "And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he sent, him ye believe not."
Thus, the non-recognition of Jesus "who was sent." His advice:
JOHN 5:39 "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."
John 8:28 "Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he..."
11. Is it not clear here that Jesus refers to the Word?
Hebrews 10:7 "Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,)..."
"...Scriptures...and...they which testify of me." This is the first witness: Jesus Christ called the Word of God.
12. This is the second witness: the Father (John 5:37) Who is pointing to the Holy Spirit:
EZEKIEL 44:28 "...I (the Father speaking) am their inheritance..."
PSALM 16:5 "The Lord (referring to the Father) is the portion of mine inheritance..."
The Father promised Himself to be the inheritance; but it was the Holy Spirit Who was actually received as the inheritance:
JOHN 7:39 "But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given..."
Confirmation of the promised inheritance was made at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-3). It was made to appear here that the Father was, in fact, the Holy Spirit Who took the characteristics of a dove that He could dwell in the real believers. Finally, it was revealed that the Father, testifying about the Son, actually is the Holy Ghost:
JOHN 15:26 "But when the Comforter is come...he shall testify of me."
11. Further proof that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the TWO WITNESSES and the "anointed ones," is their complete reliance on the Father:Jesus as the First Witness, and His reliance on the Father:
JOHN 5:19 "...the Son can do nothing of himself..."
JOHN 5:30 "I (Jesus) can of mine own self do nothing..."
The Holy Spirit as the Second Witness, and His dependence on the Father:
JOHN 16:13 "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come...he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak."
12. Jesus as witness: REVELATION 19:10 "...for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." The Holy Spirit as a witness: l JOHN 5:6 "...and it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth."
13. Are not the two witnesses also called the two candlesticks? Candlestick indicates light and fire. The First Witness, Jesus called Himself the "light of the world (John 8:12)." The Second Witness, the Holy Spirit, is referred to as "fire (Acts 2:3)."
14. Now it is clarified why the Two Witnesses, also called the Anointed Ones, "stand by the Lord of the whole earth."
15. It is further clarified why the Two Witnesses are also referred to as "the two golden pipes that empty the golden oil out of themselves." Read the article THE GOD OF THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT.
16. These Two Witnesses always go together in the New Testament:
- Jesus and the Holy Spirit
- The Word and the Spirit
- Flesh and blood
- Bread and wine
- Water and the Spirit
In the Old Testament:
- The two Cherubim
- The two turtle doves
- The two pigeons
- Manna and water
- wheat and oil, among others.
John 3:5 "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
17. These Two Witnesses, the Literal Word and the Spirit, make the Word of God spiritual. This is the TRUTH. Thus, the testimony of Two Witnesses is what is required of the Truth:
Deuteronomy 17:6 "At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death."
The two must always go together. One cannot stand without the other. It is the spiritual word that gives life, not the literal word! Paul gave a warning on one standing alone:
2 CORINTHIANS 3:6 "Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."
Paul further emphasized the spiritual Word of God in:
ROMANS 7:14 "For we know that the law is spiritual..."
Jesus Christ earlier stated this:
John 6:63 "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
How many people realized this? Now, Bible verses are getting clearer and easily understood, as they give the spiritual meaning of the Word.
18. Can the literal understanding of the Word suggesting that MOSES and ELIJAH as the two witnesses be credible? How far is the LITERAL from the SPIRITUAL! Man must learn to abhor the literal language of the Devil. Does this mean that the literal meaning of the word be disregarded? No! Read the article CLEANLINESS ON THE "OUTSIDE" AND "INSIDE."
DEATH OF THE TWO WITNESSES
Literally, it is impossible for the two witnesses, who are clearly and definitely identified as Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, to die. This is where the literal-physical language of the "Old Serpent, also called the Devil and Satan" cannot truly be applied to the Word of God. For how can the Beast cause the death of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, for which, "they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth?"
But God has revealed to us through the holy Scripture that these two witnesses, spiritually, are the Word and the Holy Spirit Who make up the spiritual word. The spiritual word isthe truth. Truth hurts (Hebrew 4:12). Truth "torments the people." The death of the two witnesses, therefore, marked the "death" of the truth. This means setting the truth aside.
It is the Beast, actually Satan with his literal language, who is responsible for this. "He comes from the bottomless pit," means strange and spectacular appearance of deception. It is the Beast, the enemy of God, that overcame the "two witnesses" and "caused their death" or the "death" of the truth.
Is there Biblical truth to all the beliefs and practices related to the celebration of Christmas? Ignorance of the truth gave way to the sensual, i.e., pertaining to the senses, and emotional merriment every December 25. Everybody can testify to all these facts. But is there a real spiritual joy? The temporary character of the felicity negates this.
THE RESURRECTION OF THE TWO WITNESSES
After the identification of the two witnesses, and the revelation of "their death," let us now see "their resurrection."
REVELATION 11:11-13 "And after three days and a half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies behold them...and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven."
We have seen that the death of the two witnesses is not a literal death, nor is a literal resurrection for them. As in their identification, let us not take up the details of the entire prophecy, just the relevant facts related to our discussion.
1. Since seven days symbolizes the complete number, "after three days and a half" means somewhere in the midst of the history of mankind.
2. "The Spirit of life from God entered into them and they stood upon their feet." Since the two witnesses represent the spiritual truth, their resurrection therefore means the emergence and the realization of the truth.
3. No doubt "great fear fell upon them which saw them." People who are confident they have the truth, and suddenly realize they are on the wrong way, will certainly feel fear in their hearts. For the reader who just found the truth, this very moment may be the time as prophesied.
4. "And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, come up hither. And they ascended up...and their enemies beheld them." This indicates the towering of the truth over everything that opposes it. People "whose names have not been written in the Lamb's book of life" will simply "behold the emergence of the truth but without the will and the strength to embrace it." (Revelation 13:8, 17:8)
5. "The remnants were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven." These are the few chosen who, upon realizing the truth, feared following falsehood. They rejoice in embracing the truth, and give their praise and glory to the God of heaven.
SATAN IS TRYING TO MAKE GOD A LIAR WITH HIS LITERAL LANGUAGE BLINDING THOSE WHO CAN SEE
"Those who can see will be made blind." This is what our Lord told the people. Anybody professing to believe in the Holy Bible must justify the literal truth of this:
JOHN 3:39 "And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind."
Did Jesus make the foregoing statement literally true? If so, then practically all the people in Israel should have been made blind, for only very few did not have their sense of sight. If this did not happen, then Satan had succeeded in making Jesus Christ a liar, for this is what his LITERAL-PHYSICAL LANGUAGE seemed to convey.
The Scribes who taught the Law of God, and the Pharisees who took pride in following the Law, sensed the spiritual nature of Jesus' statement. They asked Him?
JOHN 9:40 "And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?"
The Scribes and the Pharisees knew they were not literally-physically blind. So they felt being alluded to. Jesus bluntly told the spiritual meaning of blindness. But they did not follow Jesus and were doomed, except a few of them:
JOHN 9:41 "And Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth."
Whosoever believes shall never die. In the same manner, how could the LITERAL LANGUAGE of Satan justify the physical truth of the following?
JOHN 11:26 "And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?"
Did not the Jews themselves see the people who believed in Jesus? Did they not die physically? Even the faithful followers of Christ who received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost died physically. Satan, with his LITERAL-PHYSICAL LANGUAGE, is indeed making Jesus Christ a liar. This is how he opposes Him. This is the great temptation of the Devil. Satan's literal-physical language is his instrument.