Who Are the Two Witnesses in the Book of Revelation?

TODAY’S READING: REVELATION 8-11

“And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.” (Revelation 11.3-4)

There are many theories about the identity of the  two witnesses in Revelation 11.3. Some theories propose the two witnesses are:

  • Moses and Elijah
  • Enoch and Elijah
  • Two unknown people in the end times
  • Israel and the church
  • the Old Testament and the New Testament

You can easily find explanations of all these theories. But, I believe all of them suffer from one or both of two problems.

First, these interpretations try pin all of the symbols of Revelation to specific people, institutions, or nations in actual history. But, the symbolic world of Revelation is not a secret code to decipher actual historical events. The symbolic world described in Revelation is meant to help its readers see beyond the physical world to the spiritual world behind it so that our thinking can be changed.

Second, these interpretations believe all of the events of Revelation to take place in the future. However, if you do a careful study of the latter days, the last day, the end of days, etc. throughout the Bible, then you will find that the events described sound eerily like the crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. All of God’s promises are yes in him. The completion of the fulfillment may be yet future in some cases, but the fulfillment began on the cross. On the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.” This is the now but not yet nature of the kingdom of God at the present time.

Further, we rule out some of the theories based on other books of the New Testament.

We see Moses and Elijah at Jesus’ transfiguration just before his death in Matthew 17.1-13, Mark 9.2-8, and Luke 9.28-36. When Jesus was transfigured, Moses and Elijah appeared. Peter wanted to make Moses and Elijah equal to Jesus. But, a voice from heaven says, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” At that moment, Moses and Elijah disappeared. God’s people are to listen to Jesus not Moses and Elijah. Therefore, I find it very unlikely that Moses and Elijah are the two witnesses.

Further, many Jews believed that Moses and Elijah would return. But, the New Testament indicates they already have come.

John the baptist was the return of Elijah. In Matthew 11.13-14, Jesus said, “For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.” Also, Luke 1.17 says, “And he [John the baptist] will go before him [Jesus] in the spirit and power of Elijah.”

Jesus is the prophet like Moses that Moses himself prophesied about in Deuteronomy 18.15, 18. In Acts 3.20-22, Peter says, “That times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you.'” And, speaking of Jesus, Stephen said in Acts 7.37, “This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.'”

Therefore, we can rule out any theories involving Moses and Elijah as the two witnesses.

Israel and the church are a popular theory for the identity of the two witnesses because two olive trees are mentioned in Revelation 11.4. But, Israel and the church, which is generally made of gentiles, are a single olive tree. Gentiles have been grafted into the olive tree that is Israel. And, Israelites that have been cut off temporarily will at some point be grafted back into that same olive tree. (Romans 11). Further, God’s people are one. In Christ, there is no more Jew or gentile (1 Corinthians 12.13 and Galatians 3.28)

The theory of the Old and New Testaments as the two witnesses places far too much emphasis on a book. But, the book cannot be understood without the Holy Spirit. And, the world being witnessed to does not even acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit. Further, the book is not the witness to the world. God’s people are the witness to the world.

So, who are the two witnesses?

I think the answer is likely found within the book of Revelation itself. The seven letters to the seven churches Revelation 2 and 3 often seem to get treated as a completely separate book from the rest of Revelation. But, they are all part of the same book. There is a reason they come together.

In Revelation 11.4, we read that the two witnesses are identified as “two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.” The only other time the word lampstand is used in the book of Revelation is in the first three chapters of the book in regards to the seven churches. Revelation 1.20 says “the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”

But, in Revelation 11.4, why are there only two lampstands, two churches, two witnesses?

The answer is in the letters to the seven churches.

Each letter follows a similar pattern. Part of the pattern is that Jesus speaks a word of commendation and then a word of judgment to each church. But, the pattern gets broken on the word of judgment.

To the church in Ephesus, Jesus says, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” (Revelation 2.4)

To the church in Pergamum, Jesus says, “But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.” (Revelation 2.14)

To the church in Thyatira, Jesus says, “But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.” (Revelation 2.20)

To the church in Sardis, Jesus says, “I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” (Revelation 3.1)

To the church in Laodicea, Jesus says, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, blind, and naked.” (Revelation 3.15-17)

Jesus speaks a negative word of judgment to five of the seven churches.

However, Jesus does not speak a negative word of judgment two churches – Smyrna and Philadelphia. Instead, Jesus only commends these two churches and encourages them to remain faithful to his witness despite the suffering they will endure.

To the church in Smyrna, Jesus says, “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2.9-10)

To the church in Philadelphia, Jesus says, “I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say they are Jews and are not, but lie – behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.” (Revelation 3.8-10)

The churches in Smyrna and Philadelphia are the two witnesses of Revelation. They symbolize any body of believers, any church, that holds to the faithful witness of Jesus Christ – that he suffered, died, and rose against for repentance and the forgiveness of sins – through their own suffering, even to the point of death.

In Revelation 11.4, the two olive trees are reference to a prophecy in Zechariah 4. He sees two olive trees and asks what they are. The angel tells him, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” Therefore, the churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia, the two witnesses, are powered by the Holy Spirit and not by might and power. These two churches witness by their faithfulness in suffering. By might and power, war and violence, are how the kingdoms of this world make themselves known.

These two churches witness before the seventh angel blows the seventh trumpet towards the end of Revelation 11. When that seventh trumpet blows, “the mystery of God would be fulfilled.” (Revelation 10.7) Therefore, these two churches, two witnesses, witness to the mystery of God.

Where else in scripture do we see the mystery of God being revealed?

Who is responsible for making the mystery of God known?

“Assuming that you have of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ephesians 3.2-11)

A mystery.

Made known to Paul by revelation.

To the holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, the working of his power.

Through the church.

To the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

The eternal purpose of God realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The two witnesses are the faithful, suffering churches.

When we make the two witnesses anything other than the faithful, suffering church, then we give ourselves license to to slough off our duty to be witnesses now. We come to believe that it someone else’s duty to witness. We come to believe that the witness will  take place at a future date, in the end times.

But, the end of the age has already arrived. The kingdom of God is here now.

You are the witness now, if you are faithful to suffer for Jesus.

“Now the salvation and power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” (Revelation 12.10-11)

The two witnesses have been prophesying since Jesus was crucified. The two witnesses are prophesying now. The two witnesses will prophesy until Jesus returns.

What Is Revelation About?

TODAY’S READING: REVELATION 1-3

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants the things that must soon take place.” (Revelation 1.1)

The book of Revelation is also known as the Apocalypse. This alternative title for the book derives from the very first Greek word in the book, apokalypsis. But, the name Apocalypse either has contributed to the confusion in understanding the book or is a sign of our misunderstanding of the book.

When you hear the word apocalypse, what comes to your mind?

Odds are the word apocalypse conjures up thoughts of devastation and destruction. Indeed, one of the meanings of the English noun apocalypse is a great disaster. And the adjective, apocalyptic, can mean foreboding imminent disaster or final doom or wildly unrestrained. Clearly, these meanings come from the extremely dramatic symbolic imagery in the book of Revelation.

But, none of these English meanings of apocalypse or apocalyptic have anything to do with the meaning of the Greek word apokalypsis. The Greek word simply means a revelation, an uncovering, a disclosure, an unveiling.

Somehow we have come to believe that “the revelation of Jesus Christ” in the book of Revelation is entirely different than the Jesus Christ is revealed in the other 26 books of the New Testament. Somehow we have come to believe that the book of Revelation says that Jesus is coming back to violently slaughter and kill millions of people, plunging them into an eternal lake of burning fire, even though that revelation would completely contradict the revelation from the other 26 books of the New Testament.

Further, the revelation of Jesus Christ as one who would violently slaughter and kill millions of people would completely contradict the revelation of Jesus Christ in the other four books of the New Testament written by John. John’s gospel is dominated by the words light, love, and life. The book of 1 John is also dominated by these same three words. And, we know the full meaning of these words through the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. All of this points to Jesus Christ as the revelation of a God who suffers and dies for you to bring you life.

The phrase “revelation of Jesus Christ” appears three other times in the New Testament.

Galatians 1.11-12 says, “For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

What is man’s gospel?

The gospel, or good news, was a term used of Caesar, the Roman emperor, returning from a successful battle in which he had militarily conquered and killed his enemies. The word gospel was used of a victorious king returning back to his capital city. But, this was not the gospel that Paul received from any man.

What was the gospel that Paul received through a “revelation of Jesus Christ?”

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15.1-4)

Unlike man’s gospel that had a conquering king that killed, Paul’s gospel had a Christ, a messiah, a king, that died and was buried. In Paul’s gospel, the king died of instead of killing. Therefore, Paul said in Romans 1.16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

Doesn’t it make sense that Paul would say those words to the Roman church given what their mind would think of when they heard the word gospel?

The phrase “revelation of Jesus Christ” also appears twice in 1 Peter.

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1.6-7)

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.” (1 Peter 1.13-15)

Peter is preparing the hearers of his letter for suffering for the followers of Jesus Christ will suffer as he suffered. But, this suffering will result in praise, glory, and honor. They have a living hope because of the resurrection of Jesus after his suffering. The revelation of Jesus Christ will bring them grace.

The other three uses of the phrase “revelation of Jesus Christ” have to do with the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These other uses do not involved Jesus killing anyone.

The same is true for the book of Revelation, which begins with the phrase “the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

The first time the noun apokalypsis is used in the New Testament is Luke 2.32. In fact, this is the only time the noun is found in any of the four gospels. This first and single use is from the Simeon’s blessing spoken over the baby Jesus.

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2.29-32)

Jesus is a light for revelation to the Gentiles in order to bring them to God. Therefore, the revelation that Jesus would bring was inclusive. It was meant to draw all nations and all peoples to God. It was not a revelation that Jesus would kill millions of people.

We can say exactly the same thing of the book of Revelation. If we read the book correctly, we will see that “the revelation of Jesus Christ” says “for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Revelation 5.9)

Also, there is a very important use of the verb apokalypto in the gospels.

“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed [apokalypto] this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16.13-17)

The Father revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Christ.

Now read again the start of the book of Revelation.

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants.”

The same thing that the Father revealed to Peter is being revealed in the book of Revelation.

What is the significance of the revelation that Jesus, the son of man, is the Christ?

“And he [Jesus] said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

Jesus said it was necessary for the Christ to suffer.

It was necessary for the Christ to suffer.

The Christ, the messiah, the king of kings, suffers.

Jesus suffers.

Jesus does not cause suffering.

He does not kill.

Not only does every one of the 26 books of the New Testament not Revelation testify to this. But, Jesus says everything written in the entire Old Testament, from Moses to the prophets, says the same thing.

It was necessary for the Christ to suffer.

And, you think that the book of Revelation contradicts the other 65 books in the Bible?

Why was it necessary that the Christ suffer?

“Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.'” (Luke 24.45-47)

It was necessary that the Christ suffer for repentance and forgiveness of sins.

This is “the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Jesus said that all scripture says this one thing.

This is the sum total, the revelation, of everything we need to understand when reading scripture.

The last book of the Bible, Revelation, does not suddenly trump the revelation that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer. The book of Revelation does not change this necessary fact.

The Christ suffers.

He does not cause suffering.

In Galatians 1.13, Paul said, “For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it.” Paul was a murderer. He sought to kill, to persecute, to violently destroy, those that were following Jesus. He thought he was serving God by doing this.

What changed Paul?

God “was pleased to reveal [apokalypto] his Son to me.”

Paul received the revelation that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer for repentance and forgiveness of sins. Therefore, Paul went throughout the whole Roman empire preaching this gospel. He suffered and died as a result of preaching this revelation from God.

Yet, we want to think that the book of Revelation says something different. We want to think that the book of Revelation says that Jesus is going to return to violently slaughter and kill millions of people, sending them for eternity to a burning lake of fire.

Seriously?

That is not the revelation God gave to Jesus.

That is not the revelation Jesus gave to his disciples.

That is not the revelation of his son God was pleased to reveal in Paul.

That is not the revelation Paul preached to the Gentiles.

That is not the revelation of every single scripture.

That is not the revelation of the book of Revelation.

Every word God has spoken, every word and deed of Jesus, every scripture ever written says one and only one thing.

It was necessary for the Christ to suffer and rise from the dead three days laters for repentance and forgiveness of sins for all nations.

Read the book of Revelation with this one thing in mind and it will no longer be a mystery to you.

How Is the Mystery of Christ Made Known?

TODAY’S READING: EPHESIANS 1-3

“How the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ.” (Ephesians 3.3-4)

Jesus used the Greek word for mystery, mysterion, one time, although it is record in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In Matthew 13.11, Jesus said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets [mysteries] of the kingdom of heaven.” Mysterion is used a few times in Revelation, but, for the most part, mysterion is exclusive to Paul’s writing.

Here is a sampling of what Paul says about mystery.

  • “I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers.” (Romans 11.25)
  • “The mystery that was kept secret for long ages.” (Romans 16.25)
  • “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” (1 Corinthians 4.1)
  • “This mystery is profound.” (Ephesians 5.32)
  • “Of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.” (Colossians 1.25-26)
  • “To reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ.” (Colossians 2.2)

The mystery is Christ.

The mystery is the word of God, Jesus, not the Bible, which was hidden for ages but can now be fully known.

What exactly is this mystery that is Christ?

Jesus told us himself in Luke 24.46-47, saying, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations.”

It should be no surprise that Paul writes so much about this mystery since it is the one thing he was occupied with.

It is quite interesting to know that the Greek word for mystery, mysterion, is derived from  the Greek word muo, which means to shut the mouth. Perhaps this is why Paul said, “Now we know that whatever the law speaks it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped and the whole world may be held accountable to God.” (Romans 3.19)

What does the law speak?

According to Jesus in Luke 24, the law speaks that he had to suffer, die, and rise from the dead. This mystery of Christ was meant to shut every mouth. The mystery of Christ crucified, God suffering and dying, was meant to shut us up so that we behold God in utter amazement that he would do such a thing.

How is such a mystery made known?

Luke 24.27 says, “And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

Luke 24.45 says, “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”

A mystery cannot be known through effort, hard work, reading, study. The mystery of Christ cannot be seen and understood no matter how much time and effort you put into reading and studying the Bible. The mystery can only be shown to by Jesus. He has to interpret and open up the scriptures so that you can know the mystery.

Paul says “the mystery was made known to me by revelation.” According to Merriam-Webster’s, this is the very definition of the word mystery – something profound and inexplicable, something beyond understanding, a religious truth that one can know only by revelation but cannot be fully understood.

So, what is revelation?

The Greek word for revelation is apokalypsis, which literally means the act of uncovering. A mystery is covered. Revelation uncovers it. Jesus opens it.

The holy of holies, the place of God’s presence, was covered by a veil. When Jesus was crucified, the veil that covered God’s presence, God’s true character and nature, was torn. Through the crucifixion of Christ, God was uncovered.

In Ephesians 3.4-5, Paul says. “When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.”

The sons of men in other generations had the Bible, scriptures, writing, letters. But, none of these made the mystery of Christ known to anyone. But, the mystery has known been revealed, uncovered, opened, by the Spirit. More literally, Paul says it has been revealed “in spirit.”

Therefore, in 2 Corinthians 3.6, Paul says he is a minister “of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit.” He literally says “not of letter but of spirit.” Again, the new covenant, the mystery of Christ, cannot be known by letter, writing, scripture, the Bible. It can only be known, only be revealed, by spirit. This is why God caused the Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts. It is  our only hope for knowing him. The Bible is useless, a collection of dead letters, without the Spirit revealing, opening, and interpreting the true meaning of the mystery of Christ to us.

In 2 Corinthians 4.3-4, Paul says. “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” Here Paul alludes to the veil in the temple that covered the true nature and character of God from us. And, again, it was Christ’s crucifixion, which is shorthand for his suffering, death, and rising from the dead, that removed the veil and uncovered, revealed, who God really is.

We must keep in mind that we are not talking about knowing about God. We are talking about knowing God, experiencing God in a practical way. The deepest knowing of anything is always by experience.

And, we must never forget the one writing to us that says the true knowledge of God could not be known by the literal letter of scripture. Paul was a Pharisee. I would venture that he spent more time studying, memorizing, and practicing the scriptures than anyone of us could ever dream of. Surely, his understanding of the scripture was far greater than any of ours.

So, if Paul says that you cannot know God by a literal reading of scripture by the letter, through effort, hard work, diligent study, but that you can only know God, the mystery of Christ, by revelation through the Spirit who dwells in our hearts, then we probably should take him at his word.

No Jesus, No Revelation

“In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.” – 1 Samuel 3:1

“Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.” – Proverbs 29:18

The word of the Lord. That’s Jesus. When Jesus isn’t around, there’s no vision. And, where there is no vision the people cast off restraint, or perish.

This stood out to me this morning as I read the first seven chapters of 1 Samuel. A distinction was drawn between Samuel and Eli and his sons. Samuel was wholly dedicated to Lord while Eli and his sons were serving themselves. The word of the Lord may have been rare in those days, but Samuel had him. Eli and his sons did not.

One sign of this was Eli, the judge of Israel, went blind. He had no vision because he did not have the word of the Lord. But, Samuel slept near the ark of God and heard God speaking. He heard the word of the Lord and had prophetic vision. Samuel heard Jesus, then saw the truth. This is true for us to day – first we have to hear them we can see. We hear Jesus and his words then he enlightens us with the truth.

A second sign was that Eli’s sons were treating the offerings of the people to God as if they were their own. They weren’t following God’s commands and were taking whatever portion of the offerings they wanted. They had no vision and they had cast off restraint. Even though Eli knew, he did nothing to stop it. In fact, the text seems to say that Eli ate of the offerings too. Instead of ministering to the people and mediating God’s presence to them, they were taking advantage of the people via their position. Samuel on the other hand heard the Lord and he received a clear revelation of the situation. The Lord told Samuel, “And I declare to him [Eli] that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.”

What was the end result? Eli and his sons were punished just as God said. But, for Samuel, “The Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.” (1 Samuel 3:21)

You could say Samuel continued to see God by hearing Jesus.