At Revelation 11:3, we learn of God’s two witnesses who “will prophesy for
1260 days.” This refers to the last half of the 70th week of Daniel, which
begins when the man of lawlessness is revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:2-10) as
the beast out of the sea who will “make war with the saints,” and reign for
42 months, which is the SAME period of time (Revelation 13:1-7).
It is determined therefore that verses 1-13 constitute an addendum that BACK
TRACKS from the chronological progression seen from chapter 6 through 10. At
chapter 6, the vision begins with the start of the 70th week via THE PEACE
that is established by the rider on the white horse. The rider on the red
horse is said to take THE PEACE from the earth, which begins the tribulation
of the beast’s oppression via the breaking of the covenant of peace and
tolerance. The rider on the black horse represents the economic controls of
the beast’s reign that are administered by the false prophet (Rev.
13:11-17). The rider on the ashen horse AND the horse that follows him,
represent the DEATH that occurs from the economic controls and the
persecution during the beast’s reign.
At the 5th seal, we are shown a group of martyrs who represent the
Christians who have been killed by the beast’s oppression. Justice for them
is to be delayed for a while longer, but it will BEGIN with the 6th seal,
which represents the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky to bring
judgment on the earth dwellers. This occurs at some unknown day and hour
AFTER the midpoint of the 70th week. This is as Jesus taught in Matthew 24,
saying that we would know the SEASON of His return (the time of the beast’s
persecution - the tribulation), but could not know the day or the hour.
According to Matthew 24, it is at this arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the
sky with power and great glory, that He will gather His elect out from all
over the earth and take them to Himself in the sky.
After the rapture occurs, there will be a conversion of 144k Jews who will
then function as bond-servants of God to minister truth (the gospel) to the
rest of the world (Rev. 7:1-8).
Once the bond-servants are converted, Jesus will begin to judge the earth
dwellers through the 6 trumpet judgments. These judgments are
chronologically progressive and take us through Revelation chapters 8 and 9,
and to the end of the 70th week.
Chapter 10, which gives some personal information for John alone, then gives
us the chronological notation at verse 7 that indicates the 70th week will
have ended by the sounding of the 7th trumpet.
“. . . there shall be delay no longer, but in the days of the voice of the
seventh angel, when is is about to sound, then the mystery of God is
finished, as He proclaimed to His servants the prophets.”
The mystery of God refers to what was proclaimed to the OLD TESTAMENT
prophets and revolves around the establishment of God’s personal reign on
the earth via Jesus the Messiah. The purpose of the 70 weeks of Daniel is to
bring history to that point where the Messiah will take possession of the
kingdoms of the earth and reign from Jerusalem as the Prince of
Righteousness. This does not mean that all is accomplished WITHIN the
parameters of the 70th week, but once the 70 weeks are concluded, then the
Messiah will lay claim to the kingdoms of the earth and begin to cleanse it
from the unbelievers. This cleansing will take place in three stages.
Stage one is judgment on all the nations of the world through the seven bowl
judgments, which produces extreme negative reactions from the unbelievers
(Rev. 16:9, 11, 21).
Stage two is Armageddon where Jesus destroys all the armies of the world
that are gathered in the Middle East.
Stage three is the separation of living unbelievers from believers so that
only believers can go alive into the earthly kingdom over which Jesus will
reign for 1000 years.
Verses 1-2 set the stage by focusing in on the earthly temple in Jerusalem.
Of course the safest course is the literal interpretation.
That means that everything mentioned should be viewed as actual.
There is a literal temple and altar and literal worshippers.
The outer court is the actual outer court, the nations are the literal
Gentile nations, and the 42 months is a literal and actual time period.
In fact, this mold should be followed throughout the entire section of
verses 1-13. I reject any allegorical interpretations.
This temple will obviously be built some time between 70 AD and the rise of
the beast. That this is an earthly temple is confirmed by five factors: (1)
it mentions “those who worship in it,” which refers to national Israel
operating under the covenant of peace and toleration, although the worship
activity of the Jews at this time will not be acceptable to God.
The covenant of peace will be established
at the beginning of the 70th week through the world ruler of the first seal
(Revelation 6:1-2; Dan. 9:27), who is described at Daniel 8:23 as “a king
will arise, arrogant and skilled in deception.” He is usually designated as
"the willful king."
(2) the outer court is to be dominated by the Gentiles, and in fact, the
entire city of Jerusalem will be controlled by Gentiles under the leadership
of the beast, for 42 months.
(3) At 2 Thessalonians 2:4, the man of
lawlessness is described as one who “take his stand in the temple of God,
displaying himself as being God.”
(4) In Daniel 9:26, this man of
lawlessness, who corresponds with the “prince who is to come,” will “put a
stop to sacrifice and grain offerings,” which indicates that there needs to
be a functional temple or sanctuary existing in the city of Jerusalem.
Accordingly, it is consistent with Scripture and context to understand this
as reference to an earthly temple, even though other references to a temple
in the book of Revelation seem to have a HEAVENLY temple in view.
arrival of the Messiah is described as “will suddenly come to His temple,”
at Malachi 3:1b. Even though the temple in view is constructed by the Jews
in unbelief, it is constructed according to God’s specifications, and as the
POINT OF CONTACT between the Jews and their worship of God, it is still HIS
TEMPLE. But since they are not in relationship with God, all worship
activity through sacrifices or otherwise is totally rejected by Him.
Verse one then, represents an evaluation AT the midpoint of the week, of
what has been going on BEFORE the midpoint of the week.
The thing that is being measured and the people
who are being measured are ALREADY THERE.
The temple is ALREADY THERE. The people are ALREADY worshipping BEFORE the
measuring begins. It is the measuring that EVALUATES the situation and
results in divine judgment.
Worship in the Jewish sacrificial system is NOT
valid. It has not been valid since the crucifixion. It will not be valid
UNTIL the millennial kingdom.
The temple that is constructed during the 70th week is not honoring to God.
Animal sacrifices are not honoring to God. Amos 5:18-24 (Day of the Lord
Verse 18, "Alas, you who are longing for the day of the LORD,
For what purpose will the day of the LORD be to you?
It will be darkness and not light."
Nor do I
delight in your
though you offer up to Me
offerings and your grain
offerings, I will not
And I will not even look at the
offerings of your
away from Me the
noise of your
songs ; I will not even
listen to the
sound of your
righteousness like an
The Jews are operating under the deception of the
confirmed covenant with the world ruler.
toward Jesus WILL STILL BE total rejection and disdain. They are still
looking for a DIFFERENT Messiah. They won't recognize that Jesus is that
Messiah until after He comes back. This is why the MEASURING is an
evaluation that has a negative verdict. There is nothing positive in
unbelievers “worshipping” in a religious system that has been rejected by
God. For that matter, there is nothing positive in “believers” worshipping
in a religious system that has been rejected by God.
1. Although the nation is still under discipline and the "worshippers" at
this temple are NOT in right standing with God, IT IS STILL God's temple and
the worshipers are still God's PEOPLE (the Jews).
Even though this is an "unauthorized" temple, the SYMBOL is there, and it is
to THIS TEMPLE that Yahweh comes suddenly (Mal. 3:1b) to cleanse it (Dan.
2. It seems that other "measurements" in Scripture have to do with Divine
ownership and Divine authority over the items being measured. Sometimes
blessing is in view and sometimes judgment is in view. (Zech 2; Ezekiel 40;
3. This measurement indicates that there is to be an ACCOUNTING from God and
that will begin at the midpoint of the week, when the beast begins his
4. After the beast takes over, the temple will be desecrated and the altar "abominated," and there will be no Yahweh-worshippers in the
5. The "worshippers" will now have to choose between God (or rather, their
"godly" traditions") and the beast. And yet, choosing these "traditions of
the fathers" (Mal 4:6) does not guarantee their salvation, for they do not
become "saved" until they accept Jesus as the
Messiah. But the CHOOSING will prepare them to make that decision after
Jesus arrives and they will then KNOW.
Thus, the reason for the ministry of the 2 witnesses is to "restore the
hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to
their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse." Mal. 4:6
Those who choose to reject
beast worship will have to flee Jerusalem, and will find shelter and
protection in the wilderness area of Edom. Revelation 12:6, 13-16. They leave BECAUSE OF THE THREAT, not because of
reading the warning given by Jesus at Matthew 24:16-20. That warning is for
BELIEVERS who are living in Judea. Of course, ANYONE who reads this part of
the Bible might understand and heed the warning.
There will probably be no one left in
could be considered FAITHFUL to Moses.
Most of these will probably take the mark of the
beast. However, many will somehow avoid taking the mark, for AFTER the 1260
days + the 3 ˝ days of the 2 witnesses, AFTER 7000 Jews are killed in
Jerusalem by the earthquake, THE REST will believe (Rev. 11:13). Thus, when
Jesus later arrives IN
Jerusalem we find the “believing” inhabitants of
Jerusalem at Zech. 12:4-9.
The clans of
Judah here are
PERHAPS the Jews who return from Edom after Jesus rescues them by this
defeat of the armies garrisoned there (Isaiah 63:1-6).
6. The reason the outer area is not measured is because that indicates the
NATION is STILL under ultimate divine discipline as it has been since 70 AD,
just as Jesus explained at Mat.23:37-39 and Luke 21:24. "Jerusalem will be
trodden under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles is
7. The time factor indicates the END of that period of discipline.
After the 3 1/2 years, Israel will be restored to a right relationship with
God, "for all Israel will be saved," (Rom. 11:25-29; Mal. 3:1b-4).
Rom. 11:25, "a partial hardening has happened to Israel UNTIL the fullness
of the Gentiles has come in."
THE TWO WITNESSES
“And I will grant authority to My two witnesses, and they will prophesy for
1260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”
Just as there was a herald for the arrival of the Messiah at His first
advent, there will be one for the second advent. But at the second advent
there will be two heralds.
The first herald will be a resuscitated Elijah. Malachi 3:1a predicts the
coming of the first advent herald who was John the baptizer.
"Behold, I am going to send My messenger,
and he will clear the way before Me."
This is clear from Mark 1:2 where Malachi 3:1 is quoted in reference to
John. Isaiah 40:3 is also quoted as fulfilled in John. This is confirmed at
"for this is the one referred to by Isaiah the Prophet. ."
Malachi 3:1b continues,
"And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple;"
This indicates that the arrival of Messiah will occur in close proximity to
the ministry of the herald. Now although, this second part of the verse is
never quoted in the New Testament, it is probable that we can find a
preliminary fulfillment in the abrupt manner in which Jesus presented
Himself to the nation of Israel during His ministry. He did indeed "come
suddenly to His temple," as suggested - -
1. At the beginning of His ministry: John 2:13-22
2. At the conclusion of His ministry: Matthew 21:12-13
However, based on the text following Malachi 3:1b, the direct fulfillment of
this phrase, "The Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple,"
refers to the arrival of the Messiah at the Day of the LORD. Verses 1-3
"that is, the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight,
behold, He is coming, says Yahweh of the armies."
"But who can endure the day of His coming?
And who can stand when He appears?
For He is like a refiner's fire and launderer's soap.
And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver,"
This did not happen at the first advent of the Messiah, but it is at the 2nd
advent when He comes to pour out the wrath of the Godhead upon the kingdom
of the beast and to purify the world so that He might bring into His earthly
kingdom "the wheat" of Jews and Gentiles who become believers between the
rapture and Armageddon.
Now back to the first advent arrival of the Messiah we discover that the
nation, did not recognize either -
1. The herald: Matthew 21:32
2. Or the Messiah: Matthew 19:44
They did of course know about the prophecy but rejected its application to
John and Jesus. Jesus however clarified it to them at Matthew 11:7-15. Here,
He associates John's ministry with the prophecy concerning Elijah at verse
"and if you want to accept it,
he himself was Elijah who is to come."
But that association is based on similarity of ministry and not equation.
The phrase, “if you want” refers to a POSITIVE attitude toward Jesus as the
Messiah. If they are WILLING (Greek verb, thelo) refers to acceptance of
John as the spiritual counterpart of the YET FUTURE coming of Elijah. If
they do, they will see his ministry as one of both blessing and judgment
since Yahweh Elohim will become flesh and dwell among men; carry the sins of
the world; and be the focal point for either salvation or eternal
Jesus is exhorting them to recognize the difference between the first and
second comings of the Messiah, "he who has ears, let him hear," (verse 15)
and trust in Jesus as the Messiah.
Gabriel shows this association in his message to Zacharias, John's father at
Luke 1:16-17. And Zacharias himself, later taught it as recorded at Luke
Malachi records another prophecy of a herald for the Messiah.
Malachi 4:5 says,
"Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet
before the coming of the great and terrible Day of the Lord."
However, John was not the fulfillment of Malachi 4:5-6. Jesus makes two
statements at Matthew 17:11-12, to clarify this.
Verse 11, "Elijah is coming."
This is still future and refers to the arrival of Elijah as a herald to the
Messiah's second advent.
Verse 12, "But I say to you that Elijah has already come."
This refers to John's ministry, "in the spirit and power of Elijah," but
does not, indeed, cannot fulfill Malachi 4:5-6.
What then of the future coming of Elijah?
As already indicated, that coming will be directly related to the coming of
the Day of the Lord. His PURPOSE as indicated by what Jesus said at Matthew
17:11, “Elijah is coming AND will restore all things,” is to bring Israel
back into a covenant relationship with God. This refers to trust in the
Messianic promise and acceptance of the Messianic person, who is Jesus. This
ministry is summarized by Malachi at verse 4:6, “And he will restore the
hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to
their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.”
Their ministry takes place BEFORE the Day-of-the-Lord arrival of Jesus and
seeks to save a large number of Jews so that they might escape the time of
God’s wrath. This plea for RESTORATION of the Jews into a covenant
relationship with God is given at Zephaniah 2:1-3.
“Gather yourselves together, yes, gather, O nation without shame,
before the decree takes effect — The day passes like the chaff — before the
burning anger of the LORD comes upon you, before the day of the LORD’S anger
comes upon you. Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth who have carried
out His ordinances; seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be
hidden in the day of the LORD’S anger.”
Elijah’s primary focus will be on the Jews in Palestine, but he will have a
worldwide impact as he seeks to convict and convince Jews everywhere. The
difference between Elijah’s ministry and the ministry of the 144,000, is
that they seem to be scattered all over the world, whereas Elijah is
centered in Jerusalem. Both however, have the same purpose in bringing
Israel back into a covenant relationship with God through acceptance of
Jesus as the promised Messiah.
Proof that Elijah is one of these two witnesses is found in the event
recorded at Matthew 16:27 through 17:8. This event is crucial for
understanding the future coming of Elijah.
At Matthew 16:27, Jesus says,
"For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father
with His angels, and will then recompense every man
according to his deeds."
This statement correlated with all that has been taught to God's people up
until this time, refers to the Day-of-the-Lord return of the Messiah. It is
at this time that He will
1. Deliver His elect from their affliction: Matthew 10:21-23
2. Evaluate their deeds. Matthew 16:27
3. Administrate divine justice on those left in the world. Ezekiel 30:3
4. And establish his earthly reign. Daniel 7:14, 22
He then tells the disciples a very strange thing at verse 28.
"There are some standing here who will not taste of (physical) death
until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."
The term, "coming in His kingdom," refers to the second advent presence of
Jesus in resurrection glory to BRING to the earth His 1000 year reign upon
David’s throne in Jerusalem.
This strange prediction is fulfilled 6 days later when He takes Peter, James
and John up onto a mountain and appears to them in the manner He will appear
at His second coming. This is recorded at Matthew 17:1-8. We know that this
fulfills the words of Jesus at Matthew 16:28 because Peter tells us so at 2
"For we did not follow cleverly devised fables when we made known to you the
power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His
We also learn from this reference by Peter that the SECOND COMING that Jesus
displayed to the disciples is the VERY SAME second coming that the church is
looking for. For, later, Peter writes that we should be “looking for and
diligently promoting the coming of the day of God,” (Verse 3:12), which is
the alternate term for the day of the Lord (and the day of Christ), and
refers to the very same second coming that Peter has mentioned in his
earlier letter (1 Peter 1:7, 13; 4:13). There is no contextual basis for
seeing TWO events in Peter or Paul, but one visible and glorious revelation
of Jesus in the clouds of the sky at the day of the Lord. One exception is
found at Romans 11:26, which quotes Isaiah 59:20, and very clearly refers to
a physical descent to the earth to rescue national Israel from the invading
armies of the Armageddon campaign.
At Matthew 17:2, it says that Jesus was "transformed" before them. He
appeared the way He will look in his resurrection glory which is called,
"the body of His glory," at Philippians 3:21.
Then Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus, "in glory," according to Luke
9:31. "In glory," refers to their radiance in association with Christ's
glory. Neither Moses or Elijah have a resurrection body (1 Cor. 15:23), so
that is not in view. But they did not appear in their "old" bodies either.
There is evidence that the soul has a visible appearance that resembles the
"image" of the physical body that was its "house" while on earth (Luke
16:23; 1 Samuel 28:10-14)
How the disciples knew it was Moses and Elijah is not indicated and there is
no point in trying to figure it out. Obviously, there was a valid
They were also carrying on a conversation with Jesus about "His departure
which He was about to accomplish in Jerusalem (Luke 9:31)." That departure
refers to the sacrifice on the cross and the subsequent resurrection and
exit from the earth via His ascension 40 days after the resurrection. The
conversation also probably revolved around His return at the Day of the Lord
which God "will make known at His own time (1 Timothy 6:15)," since it is
“coming in His kingdom” (Mat. 16:28) that is what this APPEARANCE is all
Based on the appearance of these two men here with Jesus in a foreshadowing
of His second coming, we can conclude that Moses is also a herald of that
coming. There is no prediction of this for Moses as there is for Elijah, but
because of the association presented here, it seems best to conclude that
the two of them function together in the capacity spoken of in reference to
Elijah at Malachi 4:6, "And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to
their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers."
But how can either of these men come back and minister on the earth?
First, it is no trick for God to bring back to life one who has died.
Abraham's understanding of this is quoted for us at Hebrews 11:19, "having
concluded that God is able to raise up even the dead." And Lazarus is a
prime example of this (John 11:17-44). But of course, Lazarus was only 4
days dead and we are speaking of those who have been dead for many
Actually, this is no problem if God has preserved and protected the physical
bodies of those involved. In fact, there is no problem even if the bodies
had been incinerated, but we do have specific information that the body of
Moses was protected (Jude 9). It is quite interesting that only three people
in the entire history of Mankind went through physical death apart from the
normal mechanics; Enoch (Hebrews 11:5), Moses (Deuteronomy 34:5-7), and
Elijah (2 Kings 2:11-12).
Furthermore we have specific information concerning the protection of the
body of Moses after his soul left. Jude verse 9 tells us that Michael the
Archangel was given the responsibility to place the body of Moses in a place
for safe keeping and preservation, and there seems no reason for this unless
it is to be used by God for some very special purpose in the future, which
Satan knew about and would attempt to prevent. The soul of course, went to
paradise in hades (Luke 16:22) as did all Old Testament believers at death,
including Enoch and Elijah. None of these men either received a resurrection
body, or ascended into heaven.
Jesus is the only one to have received a resurrection body and no one else
will until the Day of the Lord return of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:20-23). In
addition, no one had ascended into heaven prior to the resurrection and
ascension of Jesus (John 3:13), at which time He took to heaven all Old
Testament believers who resided in hades (Eph. 4:8-9).
In view of God's special protection of the body of Moses, it is easy to
assume the same protection assigned to Elijah's body. Thus, it is totally
possible for these two men to be resuscitated at the end time to fulfill the
ministry foreshadowed at the Mount of Transfiguration; the ministry of
Elijah prophesied to occur prior to the coming of the Day of the Lord as
recorded at Malachi 4:5-6. There is no need for the body of Enoch to be
protected in this manner, since there is not even a hint of a future role
for him. It is suggested that his body was simply "buried" by God to await
resurrection at the Day of the Lord return of Jesus.
Concerning the suggestion that Enoch is one of the two witnesses, it need
only be pointed out that the presence of Moses and Elijah with Jesus at the
Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17) in a second coming context, gives
Moses "the nod" in choosing between the two; as well as the miracle
activities ascribed to them at Revelation 11:6.
Furthermore, in that some suggest that Enoch is the other witness for the
reason that he did not “see” death, let me point out that both Enoch and
Elijah did indeed die physically. Both were placed into Paradise in hades,
when their job was done here on earth. These men simply received a special
gathering up from God, and as their bodies were left behind and privately
buried by God, their souls interacted with God and the angels in a very
special manner. At 2 Kings 2:11, Elijah is NOT taken into “heaven,” but into
“the heavens,” (Hebrew) ie., the sky.
Enoch did not “encounter” death in the normal manner and that is why it is
said of him that he “did not see death” (Hebrews 11:5).
As mentioned earlier, John 3:13 tells us,
“And no one has ascended into heaven, except the Son of man.”
This indicates that Enoch and Elijah did NOT go into heaven.
Another reason they could not have gone into heaven is because NO Old
Testament believer was given the “completeness” of salvation in heaven
BEFORE the church (Hebrews 11:39-40).
Now, can we find fulfillment of this prophesied ministry of Elijah in an end
times context? I am suggesting that the two witnesses of Revelation 11
fulfill this prophecy. The two witnesses of Revelation 11:3-7, are not only
testifying about the things of God to the whole world (Revelation 11:9-10),
but minister specifically BEFORE and after the arrival of the Day of the
Furthermore, when describing these two witnesses, they are characterized by
actions which are Biblically and traditionally associated with Moses and
"These have the authority to shut up the sky,
in order that rain may not fall during the days of their prophesying; and
they have authority over the waters to turn them into blood,
and to smite the earth with every plague as often as they desire."
It has been suggested that this verse indicates that the two witnesses are
omnipresent, since they seem to have jurisdiction over the whole earth.
However, this does not say that they are “present” everywhere, but that they
have “authority” (exousia) to smite the earth. This simply indicates that
where ever they are, they have the authority and power to administrate
divine judgment over the ones who persecute them. And even if their ministry
is limited to Israel (which is quite possible) they have authority to
“reach” to anywhere on the earth to defend their cause. Indeed, verses 9-10
indicate that their jurisdiction extends worldwide, but does not require an
When their ministry is completed, the beast will “make war with them, and
overcome them and kill them,” (Verse 7).
It has been suggested that the term, “make war” indicates a massive campaign
against a “group” or “corporate body” rather than against two individuals.
The reasoning is that the word, “polemos,” which is used here, refers to a
whole series of battles rather than a “limited” campaign. However the word
polemos is used for a “single isolated engagement” in the NT at Revelation
19:19; 1 Corinthians 14:8 and Luke 14:31.
Not to mention the several times in the LXX: 3 Kingdoms (1 Kings) 22:34; 1
Maccabees 4:13; 10:78.
Furthermore, even if the word usage was restricted to a “large” campaign,
that would not militate against someone waging a “detailed” and drawn out
campaign of aggression against an individual or two or a whole group. The
same construction is used at Revelation 13:7 and 12:17 for making war with
believers. The use of polemos does not militate against these two witnesses
being two actual people.
As a result of this “warfare” waged against the two witnesses, they will be
killed by the beast and their bodies will lie in a street of Jerusalem for 3
1/2 days. The city in view here is called “the great city” and although
Jerusalem is never called “great” elsewhere, That need not be a problem, for
it is indeed “alegorically” designated as Sodom (Isaiah 1:9-10; 3:9;
Jeremiah 23:14; Ezekiel 16:46, 49). And it is indeed, the city where, the
Lord was crucified. Someone has argued against this referring to Jerusalem
because Jesus was actually crucified “outside” the city rather than in it.
However, this reference does not state that Jesus was crucified IN
Jerusalem, but simply AT Jerusalem. Nothing is violated by understanding the
idea of “where” as designating the general geographical location.
After the bodies lie in the street for 3 1/2 days, they will probably be
resurrected and then ascend into heaven to take their place with the rest of
the elect, as part of the bride of Christ.
It is true that if these two men are the two witnesses, then they will "miss
out" on the resurrection of the elect which takes place at the Day of the
Lord. But that might simply be a matter of timing, and this is a sacrifice I
would guess they are willing to make in order to participate in this very
special aspect of God's plan of providing a final evangelistic outreach to
Israel and to the world prior to Armageddon. Some have suggested that this
“raising” is only a restoration to physical life rather than resurrection,
but there is nothing that I can think of that would prevent these two from
receiving a resurrection body at this time, since they were indeed,
believers prior to the GATHERING of the elect, and are officially part of
Thus as they are brought back to life after the 3 1/2 days, they receive a
resurrection body at that time and they go right up into the third heaven
with all the Jews in the city staring after them (Revelation 11:12). There,
they join the others of the elect waiting in heaven for the reward seat and
their preparation for the marriage of the Lamb.
Someone might reject this application to the two witnesses for the very
reason that Moses and Elijah would not be included with Israel at the
resurrection, but God can and has made many exceptions to His plan as the
years have gone by and this is not a hurdle that concerns me, since as I
suggested above, it is probably simply a matter of special timing.
It has been suggested that these two witnesses are other than two
individuals but from the perspective of the "Golden Rule of Interpretation,"
this option is not viable.
GOLDEN RULE OF INTERPRETATION
When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense;
therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning
unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related
passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise.
Although there is an abundance of symbolism employed in the book of The
Revelation, there is no clear or even implied indication that the
characteristics ascribed to these two witnesses, should be taken in any
other way than "ordinary, usual, literal."
1. Clothed in sackcloth - verse 3
2. Dead bodies in the street - verse 8
(the fact that the word “BODY” is singular instead of plural,
does not militate against the idea that these are two individuals.
The plural designation is preserved by the use of the plural pronoun,
“their.” We must not try to understand “number” in Greek grammar from
the perspective of English grammar but according to Greek usage.
It is quite normal to use a singular word and indicate its plurality
by using a plural pronoun.)
3. Not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb - verse 9
4. Stood on their feet - verse 11
5. Even the fact that "they will prophesy" - verse 3
It is therefore unacceptable from my perspective that these two witnesses
"symbolize" ANY thing, but rather refer to two literal individuals.
Suggestions such as the church, Israel, the word, the Spirit, or anything
else are totally inadequate and violate the "individualistic" flavor
employed in describing them.
The three symbolic factors ascribed to these witnesses must be viewed as
subordinate to the identification of them as two individuals.
The first two symbols assigned to these witnesses are the "lampstand" and
the "olive tree."
The olive tree ALWAYS speaks of oil. Oil primarily was used to "anoint"
someone when they had a specific job to do. Sometimes "oil" speaks of the
Holy Spirit, so this factor must be considered. The best example of this
symbolism is found at Zechariah 4:2-14 where we see the two leaders of
restored Israel, Zerubbabel and Joshua, in about 520 BC.
Verse 11 asks, what are these 2 olive trees?
and verse 14, the answer: these are the two "sons of oil" (which designates
them as "anointed ones") who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth.
That is, they are anointed with a specific job to do in ministering to the
nation of Israel.
It is also significant that we have a lampstand and 7 lamps here which speak
of some aspect of Divine provision as indicated at verse 6, "not by might
nor by power, but by My Spirit."
Is it not most likely then, that the lampstand speaks of "witness" via the
power of the Holy Spirit? And that it is used that way in connection with
the 7 churches also (for notice at Revelation 2:5, "I will remove your
lampstand out of its place, unless you repent." Ie, their witness will be
removed, perhaps that local church even destroyed)?
The lampstand then, simply reflects the idea that all believers are to be
"lights of (to) the world," (Philippians 2:15; Matthew 5:14-16) and fulfill
their responsibility as ambassadors for Christ. These two witnesses just
have a very specialized ministry as heralds to the second coming of the
Messiah and as catalysts for bringing the nation of Israel back into a right
relationship with God (Malachi 4:6) as they "prophesy" right up to the very
end of the 70th week.
Thus - the 2 witnesses are:
1. Anointed (commissioned) by God to testify for 1260 days.
2. Specially provisioned to be "lights to the world."
The third symbolic factor concerning these witnesses is the term, "Fire from
"And if anyone desires to harm them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and
devours their enemies;"
This is adequately explained by John F. Walvoord in his commentary on
Revelation, page 180.
"Verses 5 and 6 record the miraculous powers given to the two witnesses.
Anyone who attempts to hurt them will be destroyed by fire proceeding our of
their mouths. This is at once a judgment of God upon their enemies and a
means of protection of the two witnesses, so that no one can lay a hand on
them. A parallel is found in the prophetic ministry of Elijah, who on two
occasions called fire from heaven upon the company of fifty soldiers sent to
arrest him. . . (2 Kings 1). In a similar way, the enemies of Moses were
destroyed (Numbers 16:35)."
We need not think of fire coming LITERALLY out of their mouths, but rather a
VERBAL judgment on the enemies that is pronounced by the mouth and results
in a judgment of fire coming from God.
In conclusion, let me say that the identification of these two witnesses
"before the fact" is not important and certainly not a reason for
contention. I simply feel that when all the pertinent passages are
considered and correlated, Moses and Elijah come forth strong and clear as
the two witnesses of Revelation chapter 11.
These two witnesses are given authority for 1260 days, which extends from
the midpoint of the 70th week, at the inception of the tribulation; the
oppressive reign of the beast, and concludes at the end of the week, at
which time they are killed by the beast, and their bodies lie in the street
for 3 1/2 days. Although the week ends at this time, there still remains 30
additional days during which God will pour out the final wrath of His
justice upon the earth and the beast’s kingdom. These are the first 3 1/2
days of that next 30 day period.
Even though the beast is officially given only 42 months to reign, he
continues to be present on the earth for the next 30 days as God takes that
amount of time to bring to a just end both his influence and his physical
life. Just as Paul wrote, “whom the Lord will slay with the breath (word) of
his mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming,” (2
Thessalonians 2:8). This of course refers to the Day-of-the-Lord arrival of
Jesus in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory, portrayed at the
6th seal, and which initiates the judgments that will be finalized at
Armageddon. However, the beast is NOT SLAIN at this arrival in the clouds,
but remains alive until after the battle of Armageddon which is portrayed
for us at Revelation 19:11-21. Paul is not giving us a chronological factor
but simply a statement of fact, that it is “the appearance of His coming”
that will EVENTUALLY bring about the destruction of the man of lawlessness.
These 30 additional days are mentioned at Daniel 12:11, where we learn that
“from the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished, and the abomination
of desolation is set up” which is the midpoint of the week, “there will be
1290 days.” Thus, the removal of the desolation in the Jewish temple will
not occur until 30 days after the end of the 70th week. Armageddon occurs
toward the end of that 30 day period, and it might very well be that the
believing Jews in Jerusalem remove the idol image from the temple afer the
invading armies are all destroyed.
After the two witnesses are taken up from the earth, there is a great
earthquake which demolishes a tenth of the city, killing 7,000 people
(Revelation 11:13a). As a result of this it seems that the remaining Jews in
the city (or most of them) finally change their minds and express reverence
toward God, giving Him glory - AND probably accepting Jesus as the Messiah
at that time. The gospel message which has been being proclaimed since the
rapture is “Fear God and give Him glory . . . and worship Him,” (Revelation
14:7). These people left in the city at this time do that. And this is how
we can find so many believers in Jerusalem and vicinity at the time the
armies of the world invade during the Armageddon campaign (Zechariah 12:5-8;
14:14). And these are the ones for whom the Lord descends to the earth as
recorded at Isaiah 59:20, “And a Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those
who turn away from transgression in Jacob.” This is not the Day-of-the-Lord
arrival of Jesus, for that is described in verses 59:17b-19.
It has been suggested that verse 13 takes place in an Armageddon context.
However, the focus is on Jerusalem and NOT the valley of Megiddo, where the
final physical conflict occurs, known as Armageddon. Here, there is not
military confrontation. Here, there is no judgment on the beast, but a very
specific judgment on the CITY and the citizenry. There is a great
earthquake; one of FIVE that occur on the earth during that time period
known as the end times. It is a LOCAL earthquake which destroys one tenth of
the city and kills only seven thousond people. THE END, which is Armageddon,
has not yet occurred.
After the two witnesses are ascended into heaven, the 7th trumpet sounds
which announces the arrival of the final wrath of God to be dealt upon the
world of unbelievers (Revelation 11:14-19; 15:1-8).
Daniel 12:12 further indicates that there will be another 45 days (1290 + 45
= 1335) that will mark the BLESSING for those left on the earth. This must
refer to the cleansing of the earth from all unbelievers that is described
in two ways. (1) the sheep and goat judgment of Matthew 25:31-46. Those who
are left alive on the earth after this judgment are believers who go into
the kingdom in their normal bodies as subjects of King Messiah (Zechariah
(2) the fat and lean sheep judgment of Ezekiel 34:17-31. Those alive after
this separation go alive into the blessing of Messiah’s kingdom.
1. The two witnesses are Moses and Elijah.
2. Their ministry is to woo Israel back to trusting in the Messianic promise
and seeing Jesus as the fulfillment of that promise.
3. They minister for 1260 days, from the midpoint of the week until the very
4. They are killed by the beast but resurrected 3 1/2 days later, at which
time they are taken up into heaven to join the rest of the bride.
5. The immediate result is that the vast majority of Jews in the vicinity of
Jerusalem become believers in Jesus as the Messiah.