Prophecy speaks of the rise of Atheism as the formidable foe of the Word of God and the people of God; but descending so violently as to crush even false Christianity. It is written in Revelation’s eleventh chapter, which we will explain in detail below.
Several symbols must be explained to understand this chapter, and how prophetic atheism is foretold and in another study, we shall examine why it matters. So in this study, we will examine these five points.
(1) A Brief Understanding of the History of Babylon which Desolated Jerusalem while the people of Jerusalem were under the worship of false gods.
(2) How the Catholic church repeated this history in the dark ages.
(3) Who Are The Two Witnesses: The Two Candlesticks?
(4) Who Are The Two Witnesses: The Olive Trees?
(5) Who Is The Beast from the Bottomless Pit?
THE HISTORY OF DESOLATE JERUSALEM AND THE REPETITION OF HISTORY
“Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.” (Rev. 11:2)
The holy city was to be trodden underfoot for forty-two months by a Gentile power. Since the book of Revelation is given in symbolic language, this illustration is using symbolism from the days of Jeremiah: a time when many of the people of God went into apostasy, departing from the faith through the worship of the gods of Babylon, and in turning away from the law of God, and worshipping the queen of heaven; thus were they were overthrown, to be “trodden underfoot” by the the kingdom of Babylon, a Gentile power.
This kingdom was permitted to come upon them and utterly tread them down with the sword, and thus did the Gentile power both persecute and gain dominion over the church of God in those days.
These scenes were repeated before the rise of Atheism on the world stage. Atheism itself is only a little older than two hundred years old, but the world power that came before it was repeating both the apostasy of the church, and the Gentile persecution and dominion of the church. But we will speak more specifically about this as we continue.
THE TWO WITNESSES: THE TWO CANDLESTICKS
“And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.” (Rev. 11:3-4)
Who are the two witnesses? They are jointly two olive trees, and two candlesticks. There are seven candlesticks before the Lord in the first chapters of Revelation, and the Bible tells us that “the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” (Rev. 1:20)
These seven candlesticks are a delineation of seven symbolic churches from Asia Minor, typifying the rise and fall of the church era in seven different great church movements, and their respective conditions in every generation.
Thus, the two candlesticks are two churches which stand as faithful witnesses in a time of great persecution and apostasy when prophetic Babylon, which is the Catholic church, rules the world (To understand how the Catholic church is prophetic Babylon, and how it introduced both apostasy in the church, and was the Gentile power which persecuted the rest of the holy church, read here.)
What are the two churches that existed during the dark ages, when the Catholic church ruled the world? What churches were faithful witnesses, as lights shining from the candlesticks, in a world of apostate darkness?
THE FIRST CANDLESTICK
The one that deals with the time period of forty-two months, which is three and a half years, or 1260 prophetic days, which was the 1260 years of the reign of the Catholic church over the Roman-European empire. It was the church which fled into the wilderness: “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and sixty days.” (Rev. 12:6)
The woman is the church, and is also a type of Elijah, who was fed in the wilderness for three and a half years during the wicked reign of Jezebel under the apostate king of Israel. He was hidden from the persecuting power of an apostate church, and prayed that for the rebellion of Israel, according to the judgment of Deuteronomy (Deut. 11:17, 28:24, 1 Kings 8:34), that there would be no rain upon the land.
This church of Thyatira fits the parallel of the faithful Elijah as a faithful church being sustained in hiding from the face of persecution. “These [witnesses] have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy…” (Rev. 11:6)
In the symbolic sense, the Holy Spirit would not fall upon a wicked church; and when the waters of the Euphrates were diverted and prevented from Babylon, it would afterwards fall by the hand of a new world power, which will be identified more shortly; thus by the faithfulness of this church which is hidden, preserved, and fed in the wilderness, it brought about repentance and also prepared the Catholic church to be ripe for judgment.
Church in the Wilderness
It is called Thyatira among the seven churches, to which it is said, “Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.”
Jezebel reigned under the conditions of three and a half years without reign because of her persecuting the true people of God, and for her worship of idols.
Thyatira answers to the Church of the Wilderness, who kept the apostolic faith in times independent of the state churches throughout Europe. Their names were diverse, and some were kept purer than others, but they are generally known as the Waldenses, Vaudois, Albigenses, Sabbatini, Bogomils, Cathari, etc.
These were the ancestors churches which developed in time into the Anabaptist and Mennonite movements which observed Sabbath, kept the holy festivals of Scripture, and kept a very primitive faith in the simplicity of Christ.
However, it is also noted that this prophetic Jezebel (representing the Gentile Babylon power that reigns and treads underfoot the “holy city”, that is, the church because of apostasy, for three and a half prophetic years), will seduce the servants of Christ to be seduced into her heathen idolatry.
Sunday worship, Christmas and Easter observances, the natural immortality of the soul, and the eating of unclean meats, with the disregard for the law of God were points of faith upon which the Church in the Wilderness was tested, and had to a certain degree failed, as leading members of the churches began to lose the old paths of the ancient faith once delivered to the saints, and assumed the idolatrous practices and teachings of the Roman church; hence such vestiges exist today in the Mennonite and Baptist confessions, and a great loss of purity has been the result ever since.
This Thyatira was the church in the wilderness which succeeded Pergamos, the church with the throne of Satan in it; that is, the Catholic church when it joined with the throne of Rome.
Of this church, it was given the promise of God’s special care for His Christian-Israel in the wilderness when they should came out from the apostasy of the Catholic church of Pergamos, and officially be the Wilderness church of Thyatira, who fled and hid from the hatred of persecuting Catholics: “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna…” (Rev. 2:17)
THE SECOND CANDLESTICK
The second candlestick is the second church which existed during the long reign of the Catholic church’s persecution, and was a great light in the midst of the dark ages of church apostasy.
This was the only other church which strongly resisted the advancements of the apostate church, and held forth the Word of God to the people. This was the reformation church of Protestantism, called Sardis among the seven churches.
Of this church, it was likened to Moses, who was in the system of Egypt, and then came out of it, and delivered many of God’s people out of its captivity, and gave them the knowledge of the Word of God, as Moses did with the law of God from Sinai.
“These [witnesses]…have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.” (Rev. 11:6)
The Reformation church was foremost in a mass exodus out of the Catholic church and it’s bondage. Furthermore, the leaders who were entrenched in her system came out and translated the Word of God, and delivered it into the hands of the common people, as Moses did with the law.
By this that to a large degree that Catholic church was smitten with the sword of God’s word, and its loss of power led to its eventual loss of state power over the countries of Europe.
It is said characteristically true of Sardis, “I know your words, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” The church claimed to be the reformation church, but ceased to reform. It claimed to be the Protestant church, but ceased to protest the abuses of a corrupt state church.
Furthermore, he stated to Sardis, “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.” (Rev. 3:2-3)
The greatest issue with the Protestant reformation is that it only went as far as its reformers, and then each of the varied Protestant churches set their stakes, retaining many of the pagan vestiges of the Catholic apostasy.
If they continued the reformation, they might have and had continued protesting the Catholic church’s corruptions, been reformed out of all error and guided into all truth, but in many cases, as the truth began to shine, many would only go as far as the reformers of their generation, and when the new reformers were risen up, they were despised and rejected by the majority.
They were at very least called to strengthen the things which they did have, which were ready to die with their dead name, since they were no longer Protesting, they would go further and renounce the Protest. They would lose all of their characteristic prophecies which made them protest against the Catholic church, and they became largely Evangelical-Ecumenical, embracing the Catholics and the apostasy they once vigorously resisted.
THE TWO OLIVE TREES OVER THE CANDLESTICKS
The two olive trees, which are associated with the two candlesticks, are also the two olive trees over the candlesticks seen by the prophet Zechariah.
“And said unto me, What seest thou? I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it…and his seven lamps thereon… two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.” (Zec 4:2-3)
The seven candlesticks to receive their light need the olive trees above it so that the oil of the olive trees might enter into the candlesticks so they can shine their light. Thus it is the Spirit of God that must come to the churches, and that Spirit comes through the Word of God, for Jesus says, “The words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63)
Thus when Zechariah asks what the olive trees are, and what the lampstand is, the answer is given: “So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord?
Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Zec 4:4-6)
The two olive trees are the word of God giving the Spirit to the church, which is represented by Zerubbabel, who was one of the fathers of Jesus, and is the spirit-filled representation in this symbol of the church of God: the candlesticks.
Thus it is the word of God, the law and the gospel, which sustained the churches of Thyatira and Sardis, the Churches of the Wilderness and the Protestant churches.
THE RISE OF ATHEISM
How the prophetic power of Atheism arises at the very end of Babylon’s persecuting dominion over the church of God is worth noting carefully.
“And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them…And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.”
When the 1260 years were finished, these two churches were to be severely persecuted, and the Word of God was to be utterly burnt up by a great power from the bottomless pit. This power was that of Atheism as manifested in the French Revolution.
The bottomless pit represents the removal of the foundation of the Word of God, and the moral relativisms which overthrow the word of God.
This is the power that crucifies Christ; it is lawlessness and the exaltation of man and his own judgment which crucifies the Word of God, as Eve did in favor of the word of the serpent, and as Sodom did with its sensual sins of strange and contrary lusts against the Creator.
Moreover, there were in this great revolution cries to put to death the Word of God and to kill all religion and it’s adherents. This was the power that overthrew Babylon, that is, the Catholic church, at it’s end, and which persecuted the Protestants and the Mennonite and Anabaptists for what still was retained of the fidelity among the churches.
For three and a half years, this persecution of the atheistic lawlessness reigned in France, and from it arose a great rise of Atheism across the world.
THE STRONGHOLD OF ATHEISM
In 1798, France, under the administration of a secretive group called The Directory, overthrew the Catholic church, and from it, where religious liberty came, but also secular atheism began to wax stronger. In 1844, Charles Darwin would propose what would become “The Origin of Species”, which contained Darwin’s evolution theory which was so pervasive in scientific camps and in Atheistic circles until recent years, where it has begun to sharply decline.
Also in 1844, Karl Marx issued what would become the Communist Manifesto, which was the bulwark of many Atheistic societies which cast off the word of God, and became high totalitarian regimes that suppressed any religious ideals.
Thus it was that “spiritual Egypt”, which is Atheism, began to push against “spiritual Babylon”, which was the Catholic state power, but also against the “holy city” that spiritual Jerusalem, which is the church of God.
From Jerusalem, Babylon was located north, and Egypt was south. And it was prophesied of these two powers of Atheism and Babylon, the north and the south, would enter into great controversy: “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him [that is, the king of the north]: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.” (Dan 11:40)
Thus we see that when Atheism from the Egyptian south came against the Catholicism of the Babylonian north, it would cause great conflict; but just as the beginning of Atheism and it’s kingdom are foretold, so is it’s end.
For more detail on the great war between Atheism and the Apostate church, and how the Bible foretells of the fall of Atheism, click here.