This is quite the passage full of images, numbers, and a strong message. Many have wanted to take this literally and found ways to connect it to many Old and New Testament stories. Others simply see the beauty in the message God intends for us.
We’ll start by thinking about the temple John is supposed to measure. If you’re not up on your history, the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. So, at the time John was being given these visions, the temple would have laid in ruin. Think back to Revelation 3:12. Christ promised the faithful would be made into pillars in the temple of God. And, in 1 Corinthians 3:16, Paul asks, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple?” The temple, then, could represent faithful Christ followers. We are the temple.
So what about the numbers? We’ve heard that the number 7 signifies completion. So the three and a half reference, being half of seven, would perhaps signify being incomplete or imperfect. I’ve also heard it referred to as speaking about a limited period of affliction. That would fit with how it is used here for both 3-1/2 years (42 months) and 3-1/2 days for which the witnesses lay on display, dead.
So what do we glean from the vision John had in today’s reading? We will be preserved despite the world’s attempts and threats to overwhelm us. Do we retreat when the going gets tough? What did the two witnesses do? They were faithful to the point of death. We also saw how God rewarded them. We witnessed the resurrection of the faithful. That’s a promise for us, too.
How do we continue the legacy? How do we speak our faith into this world? We need to be ready to be unpopular like the witnesses in our reading. Take some time today to think about who you are, who people see when they look at you. I did an exercise with our coaching clients to get them to dig deep with the question, “who are you?” Several of us all said the same thing. At our core, we are children of God. Period.
If you’re not sure how God wants to use you, ask him. The chorus of a song (The Potter’s Hand) we sang in online church yesterday is still resonating with me. “Take me, mold me, use me, fill me. I give my life to the Potter’s Hand. Call me, guide me, lead me, walk beside me. I give my life to the Potter’s Hand.” God is an amazing artist. Let him mold your life today.
Let’s pray. Lord, I thank you that I can call myself your child. I want to be a faithful witness to all you have done for me. It’s my story, my legacy of faith. Give me the words, open up the doors, show me where I can be your shining light in this world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.