THE TWO “CANDLESTICKS”
It has been almost 29 years since I first discovered that the two most prominent nations in the modern world are prominently described in the Bible. And isn’t this exactly what one would reasonably expect to be the case? Between the two of them, first one then the other, this prominence has spanned almost 1250 years now. By “prominence” I’m referring to both spiritual and natural characteristics — first, spreading the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and secondly, holding the highest positions upon the earth in virtually every other nationalistic sense.
Not to discredit them, for I consider many of their studies to be believable works, but almost as surprising as this discovery is the fact that those who consider themselves prophetically-wise seem to be totally oblivious to this understanding. If I am correct in my perspective, then I must confess that the reason why God has not allowed this insight to be widely spread among the body of Christ, the Church, remains a bit of a mystery.
Ever since the first printing in 1990 of my book The Two Witnesses, I have been laughed at, sometimes scorned, and often rejected by some scholars and other church leaders because of the identifications I ascribe to the “two witnesses” who I believe are described in Revelation 11. There are, thank God, a few exceptions. One minister, Dr. Dennis Lloyd, wrote a supportive statement which appears on the back of the latest version of my book. He once said something like this to me: “Lance, it was about the third complete reading of your book before I began to see and appreciate that your analysis of the symbolism found in many of the ‘mystery’ prophecies in the Bible is simply God’s Word made plain, not mere opinions and conjectures of yours”.
Dr. Lloyd was not bragging on me or my writing skills. He was thinking more along the lines of God’s wisdom, design and ability to place His Word right before Christian eyes for centuries in the manner He did, reserving comprehension to Himself in certain areas of prophecy, until the fulness of time, before those “mysterious” parts would be allowed to be seen plainly. And I’m glad to report that some others — those “Berean students” who have taken the time to focus on the concepts in my book in an unbiased way, combined with their own careful attention to the Word of God — are also beginning to see the same picture as my pastor friend and I have been privileged to see.
Now, let me offer an admitted opinion: I think the prophetic Word of God may continue to unfold understandably in an ever-increasing way as we approach the end of this age and the coming of the Lord. Exactly who in the body of Christ will be given the most accurate understanding is God’s business. Some may be very learned, trained and skilled academically and professionally, or they may be much lower in the prophetic “ranks” than one might expect. But, brothers and sisters in Christ, be alert! Be ready to listen to those you sense are saying things which make sense. Hear those who present insights and concepts which will (1) align with other Scriptures and (2) stand the test of aligning with prevailing conditions and current circumstances.
Having said that though, let me also encourage you to exercise caution in your evaluation of “prophets” (defined simply as those who are strongly interested and vocal about Bible prophecy). If you are saved, you have a “new man” in your spirit. Use him! Wise discernment should not be based merely on listening to excited “prophets” who like to comment on the upheavals and current events in the world today. Many false teachers and false “prophets” are already on the scene, and, according to Jesus, these will increase all the more as we progress in time. I invite you to use this same method in your appraisal of my concepts. In spite of the fact that I have strong convictions about what I believe, I make no claim of possessing perfect understanding of any part of Bible prophecy. But I do want you to know that, beginning about 1978 and continuing up until the present hour, I believe God has called me and given me certain prophetic understanding of His Holy Word. It is also important to realize that my motivation and drive to pursue this study has been, and is, way above my natural inclinations.
A WORD ABOUT INTERPRETATION:
Bible scholars and other teachers say there are three primary methods of Biblical interpretation. I agree with all of these. Here is a brief definition of the three approaches:
This method of interpretation means acceptance of the historical records as presented in the Bible are God-inspired, and thus totally accurate, believing that the descriptions are about real people with real names who lived in real geographic territories on the earth, including descriptions about real situations and events that took place exactly as recorded. In short, God’s Word means exactly what it says!
This method of interpretation means that believers in the God of the Bible (namely, in our day, Christians) can read and apply the Word of God to their own lives and receive the same blessings, salvation and promises which the Scriptures literally describe. For the individual believer, this is the most important of the three methods (since both present and eternal consequences are involved), the final outcome of which is dependant upon one’s obedience or disobedience to the spiritual reality of the eternal Word of Almighty God. In short, God’s Word applies to you and me.
This method of interpretation is also literal, but more complex, requiring strong determination and commitment to unravel through diligent study and, even more importantly, listening to the Holy Spirit. Similar to the literal interpretation of Scripture, the prophetic method also refers to God’s predictions and purposes concerning real times, places, people and events, but involves a broader view of the past, present and future.
To further elucidate, prophetic understanding is the most difficult to grasp, which requires careful study, meditation, prayer, and belief that this method is also part of the design of God’s Word. To see this application, one must first study and absorb the literal and figurative methods, but then be prepared to put them “on hold” and in the “back” of his/her mind. This can be achieved only if one is willing to attempt seeing a bigger picture over and above the plainer literal and figurative methods. (But please don’t forget this — as pertaining to personal salvation, etc., the literal and figurative are the more important aspects for Bible inquirers to see.) In short, God’s Word also has deeper meanings than the obvious.
ANOTHER DIMENSION OF PROPHETIC INTERPRETATION!
Not to confuse you, but there are also multiple applications of the Prophetic method of interpretation. And I don’t say this merely in order to make differing views of different people compatible and acceptable with each other. Many perspectives relative to prophecy are simply ‘flat-out’ wrong. But, let me give you an example of what I mean.
Another brother, whose work I do appreciate (who shall remain nameless), sees the prophetic interpretation of Martha and Mary in John 11 as two portions of the Church which he believes picture those who will be raptured at two different points in time: initially, according to this interpretation, the “Firstfruits” will occur Pre-Tribulation (pictured by Martha), and secondly, the “Main Harvest” will occur at the mid-point of the Tribulation (pictured, he believes, by Mary). I’m not attempting to validate whether this is true or not, but it may be one applicable prophetic interpretation of John 11.
On the other hand, in my book, Images From God’s Darkroom (the first draft of which was written in 1980), I present my prophetic interpretation of the two sisters of John 11 like this: To me (similar to the “two witnesses” of Revelation 11), the two sisters prophetically portray two nations — the older sister symbolizes Great Britain, and Mary symbolizes the USA. You’ll need to read my entire book in order to get a full perspective of just how plausible this interpretation really is. Here, you’re simply reading the ‘headlines’. But, once the ‘image’ appears, you’ll see that this understanding holds up and flows amazingly well throughout the whole chapter.
But, I must admit that my friend also makes a good case in his evaluation of John 11. The amazing thing is that both of us (independently) arrived at the same prophetic conclusion about Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary. We both see him as a symbolic forecast of another nation: blinded and “deceased” Israel being raised from the dead and given new life when Jesus returns to earth to set up His earthly Kingdom. Also, we both arrived at the very same conclusions time-wise, i.e., seeing Israel as having been ‘dead’ for four thousand years as being symbolized by Lazarus having laid in the grave for “four days” before Jesus came to raise him from the dead. (This understanding is based on the 1-day = 1000-year concept. See 2 Peter 3:8).
I could provide more examples of dual meanings, but I make this one point in order to explain how multiple, prophetic interpretations can both possibly be true and applicable. About the best I can offer to explain this phenomenon is to say that God is amazing and awesome way beyond my wildest dreams as to how He can accomplish such fantastic, multiple truths using the very same words to do it!!
NOW, LET ME COME TO THE MAIN FOCUS OF THIS ARTICLE:
Virtually all of the following concepts and teaching can be found in my book, TTW, but I will highlight a few Bible forecasts which are so pertinent to the hour in which we now live. Let me begin with this Scripture:
“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 mouths, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.”
As is well known, most prophetic writers limit their understanding of this passage to two individuals, some say Enoch and Elijah, or, Moses and Elijah. Others suggest two individuals being raised up at the end of this age who possess traits like one of these two pairs. But regardless of who these two individuals are, according to this understanding, they will be prophesying for 1260 literal days during the final Tribulation. Thus, in the two-individual sense, the above passage is usually interpreted as referring to supernatural things which will result when these “two witnesses” speak God-inspired words of wisdom against God’s enemies in the earth, especially against the Anti-Christ and his regime. I’m not opposed to this interpretation, but I’m convinced that it is not the sum-total meaning of this Scripture.
I believe that virtually all of Revelation has a dual, literal meaning. One application is long-range; one is short-range. This is known as the Law of Double Reference. It is this truth and this principle which God has graciously opened up for me to see over the past 29 years (speaking as of 2007 A.D.). I now will go so far as to say that without understanding and applying the Law of Double Reference, the book of Revelation (and many other prophetic Scriptures) will, at best, remain “gray” to any honest seeker of prophetic truth and reality. Much more could be said to prove the existence of God-intended dual meanings in His Word, but accepting the reality of this principle of interpretation will suffice for now, and will help immeasurably to understand Biblical prophecy.
One of my main “discoveries” over the past quarter century is that Revelation 11 also has a long-range Historical application which comes before the last-days application. We are living it out right now, and have been doing so beginning in the 8th century A.D. In our day, and historically during much of the Church age, the words in the above two verses must be interpreted just as literally in the long-range sense as they must later be interpreted in the short-range sense. The long-range application of Rev. 11 which is so evident is that nations which have tried to “hurt” GB and/or the USA have “in the same manner” (i.e., in the same manner as they tried to inflict on us) been killed themselves. That this is the record of these two nations throughout the centuries cannot be denied. Admittedly, whether it is what the Scriptures actually mean, only God knows for certain. But, I’m completely convinced that the understanding is correct, and thus, for 29 years have been sharing this conviction with those willing to hear the message.
To me, America and Britain’s move to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein and to free Iraq’s people is in alignment with the above Scripture. What we saw in Iraq, and are still witnessing, relates to the above Scriptural promises which God gave the “two witnesses”, i.e., out of whose “mouths” (i.e., our national, military resources) will come “fire” power against the evil forces which are satanically designed to bring the “candlesticks” down.
Pacifism is not in conformity with the God of the Bible. People who know me realize that I am not a violent person. Personally, I try always to be a peacemaker, emulating as best I can the characteristics of the Lord Jesus Christ. But, rising up against evil forces, militarily and otherwise, in no way means a person, or nation, has lost its trait of being a loving, Christian peacemaker. God-permitted force measures must often coexist with ultimate peace objectives.
Sometimes, evil must be fought against with real fire power, not just words. Surely most of us are very much aware of the price that has been paid, and is being paid even as I speak, of the freedoms and liberties which is a possession we enjoy in this nation. Make no mistake, it is God who has placed “walls” around us in GB and the USA, the purpose of which has been, and is, to fulfill that part of the Great Commission which has been our honor and responsibility to act on since our inception. This “anointing” is here regardless of the presence of sin, immorality and all kinds of ungodliness currently rising to the full in our nations. This power is not based on perfect performance. It is simply a manifestation of the faithfulness of God’s gift to us!!! (Don’t misunderstand me. This blessing will come to an end, which is fully discussed in my book, TTW.)
Of course, there will be no lasting peace on this earth until the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ, reigns as its King. But, in the meantime, under the watch-care of the Holy Spirit who the LORD sent to guide us, it sometimes becomes appropriate and necessary to take a firm stand (even war) against very real evil influences in this world. Someday, perhaps in the not too distant future, God will personally rain down great fire power upon evil people and evil forces in the world when their opposition to God is risen to the full. The Bible says that Christians are citizens of heaven, spiritually speaking. But, in this age, we are obviously limited to earth-dwelling, and thus must take appropriate actions and measures to maintain the territory God has given us from which we proclaim the message and Gospel of Christ to the world.
Yes, Christians are God’s ambassadors. And, like natural ambassadors in this world, we must sometimes step aside and allow those God has prepared to do the job of exercising judgment against evil forces in the here and now. I recognize God’s sovereign action of what is going on right now against the evil influences so prevalent among the leadership of Iraq’s present controlling regime. It is no accident that this forceful action is primarily coming again from the governments of Great Britain and the United States of America. It is by God’s design.
Is this a statement of national pride? Absolutely not! I am a patriot, but that is not what I am talking about here. If there is any boast at all, it is simply in recognizing that the God of the Bible blesses and anoints whole nations, just as He does individuals. As important as they are, I want to be clear in stating that my purpose is definitely not merely to exalt or defend the current actions of the governments of Britain and America against Saddam Hussein and his regime. While I do think George W. Bush is a Christian, and I do believe he and others under his leadership have handled the Iraq War situation admirably, my main focus is on what I believe to be the reason for GB and the USA to be blessed as they are — which is, to house and protect two important aspects of the Church who have been given the mandate to translate, publish God’s Word and proclaim the Gospel throughout the earth over roughly the past 1250 years.
The war in Iraq is one of many examples of God’s two ordained and anointed “witnesses” doing what they were called to do, which the apostle John described this way:
“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 of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies; and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.” Rev. 11:4&5.
Do you want to be as convinced as I am about the identity of the long-range “two witnesses”? Then, read in this order carefully (meaning a slow progression of line-upon-line, precept-upon-precept study): First,
The Two Witnesses, followed by...
Images From God’s Darkroom
Both books are available online at:
If you prefer, the books are also available in hard print. Ordering instructions will be found at the website.
God’s best to you today,
Lance Johnson, O.D.
Founder & Director
COME & SEE Ministries
P.S. There is a prevalent teaching in the Church today that America is Babylon The Great, which, according to Revelation 17 and 18, is probably the most evil nation of all time. If this is true, how could this possibly square with my conviction that the USA is one of the “two witnesses”, i.e., a nation anointed of God as described in Revelation 11? God willing, I plan to discuss this subject in another article.