Scripture shows that heaven has been shut, for many centuries. John wrote of the two witnesses,
These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy.
The duration of their prophecy is 1,260 days. [Revelation 11:3] These 1,260 days are a symbolic period of three years and a half, that represent the age of the Church.
Jesus identified two things that would testify of him, the Spirit of God [John 15:26], and the Word of God [John 5:39]. They are therefore two witnesses, as one who testifies is a witness, and these two things can be identified with the two witnesses of Revelation 11.
How has heaven been shut? The "rain" is symbolic of the word of God, and the gifts of the Spirit of God to his saints. As rain causes crops and other plants to grow and provide us with food, the Spirit of God causes us to develop and grow spiritually. Isaiah compared God's word with rain:
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
Instead of growing spiritually, many Christians today are struggling, and one reason for this is because heaven has been shut. For example there has been no scripture since the days of the Apostles, miracles have ceased, and Christians are scattered amongst thousands of sects and denominations. Which is the true church? There is no sect or denomination in the world today that fits!
As the prophet Elijah held back the rain in ancient Israel, the Spirit of God has been held back from Christians, since the days of the Apostles, and there has been a long famine of "hearing the word of God." This famine was foretold by the prophet Amos:
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and froto seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it."
The famine during the time of Elijah was mentioned by Jesus, who tells us that it lasted for three years and six months. Jesus said to the Jews:
But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.
The period of three and a half years is significant in prophecy. It is the duration of the ministry of the two witnesses, and it corresponds to the "time, times and a half" of Daniel 7:25, and with the last half of the 70th week, the period in which Christ confirms his covenant with his people [Daniel 9:24-27]. The covenant is the promise given to Abraham, that in his seed, all nations will be blessed. Peter preached this, [Acts 3:25-26] and Paul called it the gospel [Galatians 3:8].
James also referred to the three and a half years of no rain in the days of Elijah, as an example of faith:
Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rainednot on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
The three years and six months are symbolic of the age of the Church. It is period of time the prophet Elijah was hidden from Israel, when there was no rain. In the prophecy of Revelation 11, Elijah is a figure of the holy Spirit of God. Just as Elijah held back the rain in Israel, God's spirit has been lacking among Christians. Although men have sought for truth, andfor the word of God, they have failed to find it.
The prophet Zechariah said the spirit of grace and prayer will be poured upon the house of David, which is the Church, those who believe in Christ as their king.
And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him,as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
The phrase "they shall look upon me who they have pierced" depicts people coming to know Jesus Christ, who is our king, and the saviour of all. People mourn when then they understand how misguided they were. At that time, many turn to God! Just as Elijah in ancient times turned the hearts of the people of Israel to the true God, the Spirit of God, hidden for centuries, reveals God to us.
Zechariah's prophecy is parallel to Matthew 24:30.
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds ofheaven with power and great glory.
Jesus said all the tribes of the earth will see the glory of God, which is when the Spirit of God is poured out upon his Church, the holy city where Christ rules. This is what Malachi foretold. Elijah the prophet was to come before the day of the Lord. And Jesus said that prophecy was fulfilled by the ministry of John the Baptist. [Matthew 17:12] Malachi wrote,
Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
The scriptures, and the holy spirit have been with the church, but as John's prophecy shows, heaven has remained shut. And the two witnesses are overcome and killed by the beast from the bottomless pit, and are like corpses lying in the street. The great city, where their bodies are exposed, is the world, which John identifies with Babylon, because Jesus was crucified outside the city of Jerusalem. Sodom and Egypt were placesfrom which God's people escaped. [Revelation 11:7-11]
The spirit of life from God revives the corpses of the two witnesses, and causes them to stand up on their feet. When they hear a voice calling them to come up to heaven, those who are in Christ begin to understand Bible prophecy.
Copyright © 2010, 2011, 2013 by Douglas E. Cox
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