Saturday, 13 February 2021
And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. Revelation 11:10
The previous verses noted the killing of the two witnesses. It then mentioned that they were left in the street for three- and one-half days with the whole world able to see it. From there, John says, “And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry.” The verbs are actually in the present tense in order to make the scene more graphic – “And those who dwell on the earth rejoice over them and make merry.”
John is describing the future in his words as if it is happening as he writes. It is understood that when someone’s foes are defeated, there is a sense of elation. In the case of these two witnesses, they were the enemy because the world hated the convicting message they spoke out. With that testimony ended, the world at large goes into a party of jubilation. Along with that, John says they will “send gifts to one another.”
The verb here is in the future tense, “and will send gifts to one another.” The change from the present to the future tense seems to convey a sense of revulsion by John – “They do this and this and then they will even do this.”
The sending of gifts is a middle eastern way of showing elation. For example, it is found in Nehemiah 8:10 –
“Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’”
It is also seen in Esther 9 when the Jews gained victory over their own enemies –
“But the Jews who were at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day, as well as on the fourteenth; and on the fifteenth of the month they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. 19 Therefore the Jews of the villages who dwelt in the unwalled towns celebrated the fourteenth day of the month of Adar with gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and for sending presents to one another.” Esther 9:18, 19
Likewise, when the world thinks it has gained the final victory, they will send gifts “because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.”
The word translated as “tormented” signifies to examine by torture. It can be literal or figuratively applied. The sense here is the same as in 2 Peter 2:8 where it speaks of Lot’s righteous soul being tormented by the wicked conduct around him. Where wickedness dwells, the soul of the righteous is tormented. And where righteousness is proclaimed, the souls of the wicked are tormented. This is the sense of what is being conveyed now. The earth wants to follow its own perverse path, but the call out – by the two witnesses – brings about unwanted conviction.
Life application: In John 16:20, Jesus said to his disciples – “Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.” The world rejoices when it seems that God’s plans are thwarted or defeated. It has always been this way, and it will continue on during the tribulation period. But what the world does not stop to consider: God is God, and He is above His creation. He knows what will occur – from beginning to end.
What may seem to be a defeat to us may still be a part of His plan. If so, it comes about because He determines it to be that way. This is a trick people. Instead, it is proof of His sovereignty over what happens. This is because He will tell, in advance, concerning what and how things will happen. When those things come about, we can then know that it was because He directed the events. Such is true with the entire redemptive narrative. God promised He would restore man to paradise, and He shall do so. And that promise is centered on the giving of His Son. The promise is fulfilled through our Lord JESUS.
Heavenly Father, it truly is heartbreaking to stand back and see people rejoice over deeds of evil and wickedness. There is a sense that there is no control at all left in the world. However, we know there is, and we know that it is found in You. Help us to change hearts and minds through the gospel of Jesus before judgment falls and it is too late for these wayward souls. Amen.