This is the first of a series discussing the two witnesses of Revelation chapter 11, and ultimately the reason why Jesus told His disciples to be on the alert and ready for a day and hour of which they know not.
Who or what is a witness?
There are three broad statements we can make about being a witness and having a testimony:
- All witnesses have participated in some sort of an experience.
- Witnesses form a testimony during an experience regarding the thing observed.
- A false witness has a false testimony (a lie). A false witness tells a lie concerning a matter either by deliberately falsifying information experienced or observed, or by creating a completely false narrative.
An Example of a False Witness
When I was a young Christian, my church leaders would occasionally correct or discipline other church members regarding certain infractions. In doing so, they would gather two or three people who had no first-hand experience in the original offense, or those who might have knowledge of the offense via rumor or gossip. The purpose of these individuals attending the discipline meeting was to observe (to be witnesses) under the guise of a biblically sanctioned correction.
Thus, those so-called witnesses were indeed witnesses to the correction, but they had no first-hand knowledge of the original offense. In effect, they were there to give credence to the admonishing, agreeing with the elder’s words as witnesses to the proper handling of the offense, assuming that the offense actually took place as charged by the elder.
Biblical Examples of a Witness
A Witness provides Testimony, which is Evidence.
A testimony is “a formal written or spoken statement, especially one given in a court of law.” In the Bible, the definition is no different.
The first occurrence of “witness” in the Bible is found in Genesis 21:30. It is Strong’s H5713, and it means to testify, to provide testimony. This instance specifically refers to the transaction between two people as a testimony of an agreement reached.
Deuteronomy 17:6 speaks of witnesses and provides rules of the condemned: those being put to death. This scripture provides rules regarding how such a thing should not happen without two or three witnesses’ testimony. This word for witness is in this passage is Strong’s H5707. This word speaks more towards the legal sense and the recording sense of the act of providing testimony.
John the Baptist and Faith
John the Baptist provides us an example of faith and how faith makes one a witness.
When John was baptizing beyond the Jordan, he was doing so before the public ministry of Jesus had begun, and clearly before the resurrection when His divinity and completion of work was clearly demonstrated.
It is clear to any reader or expositor that John acted in faith while performing his preaching and baptizing ministry. He understood Elijah’s call (Isaiah 40:30) and the role he was fulfilling. In the end, he even wavered a little in his faith (Luke 7:18-23).
Faith Makes One a Witness
Faith is evidence; it is a witness.
faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Faith is the currency of heaven, by which we are approved.
For by it, the men of old gained approval … and without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
Faith establishes a testimony.
By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous
Faith establishes one as a witness.
By faith, Enoch was taken up … for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up, he was pleasing to God.
” … you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
We now have a better understanding that our walk of faith is our witness giving rise to our testimony in Christ Jesus. We must therefore un-learn that limited definition of one’s testimony as being defined solely as a enumeration of a salvation experience. Our testimony is the summation of our entire witness of God’s work in our life.
“Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down, the one who accuses them before our God day and night.
And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”
Matthew 24:42-44 NASB
Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason, you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.
Matthew 25:13 NASB
Be on the alert then, because you do not know the day nor the hour.
Luke 12:35-39 NASB
Be prepared, and keep your lamps lit. You are also to be like people who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door for him when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will prepare himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and he will come up and serve them. Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into.
Acts 20:29-32 NASB
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves, men will arise, speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore, be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. And now I entrust you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
1 Corinthians 16:13 NASB
Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
1 Peter 5:6-9 NASB
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 having cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares about you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. So resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brothers and sisters who are in the world.