THE TWO WITNESSES OF REVELATION 11
Revelation 11:3-13 records –
“And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.
And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner.
These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.
When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies 3½ days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. 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.
Now after the 3½ days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here.’ And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them.
In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven.”
For centuries people have argued as to who these two witnesses are. The answers to that question have not only been interesting, but have included groups and spiritual divisions as well as individuals. A incomplete sample of answers as to the identity of the 2 witnesses are –
The Old & New Testaments
Enoch and Elijah
The Law and the prophets
Moses and Elijah
Zerubbabel and Joshua (2 lampstands and 2 olive trees)
The Man child company
The overcomer Churches (Smyrna & Philadelphia.)
There is only one correct answer, regardless of how good an argument is.
Sound theology tells us that some of these can be eliminated immediately.
How can a “system”, witness, lie in the streets, or call down fire from heaven?
How can a company of people be numbered as just two?
How can the Old & New Testaments be killed?
We will comment later on this in full.
But one thing is certain – these Scriptures apply to two persons who have bodies, not a body of people.
The location of this event is not contested.
Verse 8 is clear -“And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the Great City, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord is crucified.”
Some may blanch at Jerusalem being called “spiritually Sodom and Gomorrah” but this refers to the profanity of the Antichrist’s rule over a City that becomes corrupt and depraved.
Jesus was unmistakably crucified in Jerusalem.
This is not the City we look for as Christians.
Paul teaches in Galatians 4 that the Jerusalem which now exists is in bondage and is a picture of the Law, but we look for a heavenly City, the New Jerusalem, whose builder and maker is God. (Hebrews 11.10-16)
Jerusalem is called spiritually, Sodom and Egypt.
Sodom and Gomorrah were societies that had been given over to immorality and corruption. Sodom’s name lives on in a most infamous way, as the very name of the City gives us our English word ‘sodomy’, describing the act of homosexuality.
John’s vision shows us that Jerusalem will have 2 witnesses who will prophesy over the corrupt City and the World system for 3.5 years. Sodom also had two angelic witnesses.
As Sodom had2 witnesses before its destruction, so shall Jerusalem have two witnesses before its destruction.
It will be destroyed by fire and brimstone because of blasphemy against Christ and His 2 witnesses.
The Book of Exodus gives us a remarkable preview of the events of Chapter 11 in the Book of Revelation.
That which happened in Egypt also, will happen in Jerusalem.
Egypt was brought to its knees and destroyed under the ministry of the 2 witnesses of God in their day, these two being Moses and Aaron.
Egypt was consumed in idolatry and held God’s people in slavery. Here then is God’s consistent pattern –
Sodom & Gomorrah Sin abounds 2 witnesses destroyed
Egypt Sin abounds 2 witnesses destroyed
Jerusalem Sin abounds 2 witnesses to be destroyed
These witnesses are witnesses of the Lord.
A witness must be qualified to do that to which he is called.
A witness must see, hear and speak.
Many times John himself testifies by saying that he writes of things of which he heard and saw.
Therefore the two witnesses of Revelation must have understanding of the spiritual realm and have seen and heard the events of Jesus life and ministry in order to give a faithful and accurate testimony.
It is vital there are two.
The Bible teaches that proof of anything is only believable when it is corroborated.
The Scripture that applies here is “Out of the mouths of two or three witnesses are all things established.”
These witnesses represent the Law and the Prophets. They will rebuke and challenge the Jewish nation to come to repentance.
From the first day of their appearance they will say that Jesus Christ, who was rejected, is the very Messiah.
They will condemn sin and wrong living, and rebuke those who are ready to worship the devil in the form of the Antichrist.
They will testify how God judged righteously in the past and will do so again.
They will call men everywhere to repentance.
They will denounce the work of the enemy as a lie from the pit of hell. And they will announce the imminent judgments to come on the City which is spiritually Sodom and Egypt.
They will witness of the 1st coming of Christ, and his trial, crucifixion, burial and resurrection and they will witness of the 2nd coming again of the Lord of Glory.
This is the end time hour when the work and the ministry of the true Church on earth is about to conclude.
But God never leaves himself without a witness, and so the two witnesses take the place of the Church, but minister to the House of Judah.
They will speak strongly against the Mark of the Beast and counsel people to have faith in God that He will supply all their needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.
This prophetic voice against sin and apostasy echoes down the corridor of time, repeating once again the major means by which God has dealt with His people when they sin and err – the correction coming from a prophetic voice. It boggles the mind to think how the generally anti-Christian media will handle this time bomb. This event will challenge every news gathering agency to the core, because the rebuke will have a powerful spiritual conviction attached to it.
God provides a time of ministry in the front line which will take 3.5 years from start to finish.
This is the final 3.5 years of God’s dealings with the Jewish nation as prophesied in Daniel 9.
The fact that their Messiah has already come will be the main thrust of their message. This will no doubt cause as much strife as it did 2000 years ago, when Jesus was crucified on the demand of His own people.
This time however, the Cross is not the end result, although death is. However, during the course of their time of appointed ministry, verse 5 of Revelation 11 tells us that they will be protected totally from any harm directed their way. Anyone who tries to harm them will be devoured by fire that comes from their mouths.
This fire may very well be a different fire.
Hebrews 12.29 says, “Our God is a consuming fire.” It may be words spoken under the anointing of the Holy Spirit that may cause life to be taken from their opponents in the same way as Ananias and Sapphira perished.
This has also occurred previously in the Old testament with Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10.2.
These 2 witnesses also have power to shut the heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy, and they have the power to turn waters into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague as often as they desire.
Can you imagine the emotions of the Antichrist?
He would be going through exactly the same roller coaster of hate and fear that Pharaoh was forced to endure when the plagues were unleashed one by one on Egypt.
Who are these two witnesses?
They cannot be New Testament people, because the Church does not have the ministry of calling down fire from heaven on her adversaries.
The Church has been called to the ministry of mercy and grace, not the judgements of the Law.
There is an interesting Scripture in Romans 2.12 which says –
“For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law.”
Except for the 120, the 3000, the 5000 and the multitudes, the Jewish nation rejected the Messiah, so God turned to the Gentiles with the dispensation of mercy and grace.
It is very appropriate therefore that the two witnesses be Jews who lived under the Law.
There are 3 names that are generally discussed as to the identity of the two witnesses.
They are Enoch, Moses and Elijah.
Almost everyone agrees on Elijah, but there is controversy as to whether the second witness is Enoch or Moses.
These 3 men are the only 3 in the Bible record to be translated to heaven, which is a powerful recommendation.
Let’s look at Elijah’s credential’s first.
1 Kings 17 tells us He stopped the rain in Israel for 3.5 years.
This is the same power given in Revelation 11.6
Elijah called down fire from heaven upon another antichrist group, the prophets of Baal.
He is translated to heaven bodily in the whirlwind and chariots of horsemen.
Malachi 4.5-6 prophesies Elijah’s coming before the Lord.
John the Baptist fulfilled this, but this was an interim fulfilment, as he was not Elijah personally, and the Lord said after John’s death in Matthew 17.11, that the real Elijah was still to come.
Now let us look at the credentials of Moses.
When he came before Pharaoh, a forerunner and prophetic picture of the Antichrist, one of the plagues he commanded was that the waters be turned to blood.
Revelation 11.6 tells us this will be the ministry of the two witnesses. We find that Moses brought a series of various plagues upon the earth, and this is also the mandate given to the two witnesses.
Moses is also translated to heaven.
Enoch does not have any recorded miracle acts which will be duplicated by the two witnesses of Revelation 11.
But it is important to understand why Enoch is such a popular choice as being one of the two witnesses.
Let’s look at how each of these 3 left this life –
Enoch – translated to heaven alive
Elijah – translated to heaven alive
Moses – died and God buried him.
Many have used the Scripture in Hebrews 9.27 to be the deciding factor as to who were the two witnesses, where it says –
“It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgement.”
The argument is that Enoch and Elijah never died, so God will bring them to earth to fulfill their ministry and their death-appointment.
Yet Enoch in his original ministry never demonstrated any of the manifestations prophesied in Revelation 11.
Is this Scripture, which says it is “appointed once for men to die, then the judgement” relevant?
If Hebrews 9.27 is correct literally, then any type of “catching away” can’t take place.
1 Thessalonians says, “that those who are alive and remain” will follow the dead in Christ in rising to glory.
John 8.51-59 has Jesus saying, “if a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.”
Psalm 102.20 says that the Lord will “loose those who are appointed to death.”
Psalm 79.11 says he will, “preserve those that are appointed to die.”
In the light of this, we see that Enoch is not one of the two witnesses, but is a prophetic type of the Church.
Enoch foreshadows those who are alive and remain because Enoch was the 7th from Adam, so his life points to the Millennial reign, beyond the 6000 years of man’s dominion on earth.
Enoch was translated by faith to show the sting of death has been removed from the Triumphant Church.
Even though Moses died and the Lord buried him, he appears in the Bible as one who in later times, appeared at the transfiguration along with Elijah.
We can read this in Luke 9.28-36.
I believe that this is the strongest evidence of all that shows the two witnesses are Elijah and Moses, for they appear as witnesses at the transfiguration of the Lord.
Therefore they will be able to truthfully tell that they have seen, heard and testify to the reality of Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
Their appearance on the Mount of Transfiguration was for this purpose, as it was the only time Jesus was seen as a man and as God simultaneously for as he ascended into heaven the glory was upon Him.
Finally, we should look at similarities in their lives which are hard to ignore –
Meets God at Mt Horeb Exo 3.1-6
Sees God reveal himself through fire Exo 13.21
Sees God miraculously provide food Exo 16
Reveals God’s power through miracles Exo 7-12
Emphasizes that the Lord is God Deut 6.4
Is succeeded by Joshua Deut 31.7-8
(name means the Lord is Salvation)
Death shrouded in mystery Deut 34.5-6
Jordan river parts Josh 3.14-17 successors ministry begins
Appears with Jesus at Transfiguration Matt 17.3
Meets God at Mt Horeb 1 Kin 19.8-11
Sees God reveal himself through fire 1 Kin 18.38
Sees God miraculously provide food 1 Kin 17.8-16
Reveals God’s power through miracles 1 Kin 18.30-39
Emphasizes that the Lord is God 1 Kin 18.37-39
Is succeeded by Elisha 2 Kin 2.12-14
(name means God is salvation)
Death shrouded in mystery 2 Kin 2.11-12
Jordan river parts 2 Kin 2 13-14
– successors ministry begins
Appears with Jesus at Transfiguration Matt 17.3
God has chosen out of all Creation, two witnesses who have a unshakeable testimony of the Divinity of Christ to counter the lies, deceit and demonic control of the Antichrist – and won’t he just hate that!