Things to Come, Lesson 23, The Great Tribulation, Part 11, Revelation, Chapter 11
We continue our study in the last half of the Tribulation period known as the Great Tribulation.
The times of the Gentiles continue in Jerusalem but these times only have a season, for God will allow them to continue for only 42 months.
And it is during these 42 months that God sends his witnesses to the world, with power to prophesy.
It is another example of Godís love continuing to be extended to the world in spite of His worldwide wrath befalling mankind.
We read of this in Revelation 11:3-7, And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. 4These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 5And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. 6These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
So the third event scheduled to take place at the 2nd Woe (6th Trumpet) of the opening of the seventh seal will be the powerful work, death and resurrection of Godís Two Witnesses.
Deuteronomy 19:15 establishes Godís law regarding witnesses for it tells us that at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.
When Jesus took Peter, James and John (they were to become three witnesses to this event) to the mountain top it is reported by Luke in chapter nine that two men talked with him, who were Moses (representing the Law) and Elijah (representing the Prophets): 31Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.
God brought these two witnesses, Moses and Elijah, to the mountain where Christ was transfigured, and by the way, in this, God the Father joined Moses and Elijah to become the third witness in saying: This is my beloved Son: hear him.
And here in Revelation 11 God brings forth two witnesses clothed in sackcloth, endowing them with power to prophesy 1260 days or three and one half years.
Remember we are in a Jewish dispensation and Jewish law requires at least two witnesses to give competent evidence concerning matters of law, religion, or the dealings of men with each other.
For example two angel messengers visited Sodom before its overthrow by fire and brimstone.
Two angels were in the tomb of Jesus the morning of his resurrection to give evidence that Jesus lived.
Again when Jesus returned to the Father in Acts 1 there were two men who testified that this same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
And remember how Jesus sent out the seventy disciples in Luke 10, two by two for in the mouth of two witnesses shall the matter be established.
God tells us these two witnesses were clothed in sackcloth.
In Bible times sackcloth was most often made of coarse, black goatís hair and was worn by mourners or as a sign of deep repentance and humility.
Sackcloth is also associated with calamity and judgment.
In the case of the two witnesses we can probably conclude that sackcloth was worn to display both mourning and repentance and an announcement that calamity and judgment were coming.
God describes the two men as two olive trees and two candlesticks.
Olive oil is symbolic of Godís Spirit and candles are symbolic of Godís light.
They were endued with power by Godís Spirit to broadcast light to the ever darkening world.
Zechariah 4:11-14 speaks of two olive trees: Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? 12And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? 13And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 14Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
So the two witnesses are anointed ones, anointed by the Lord of the whole earth, specially prepared and empowered ones who are used as channels to bring to the earth oil and light for: they empty the golden oil out of themselves.
The two witnesses are not angels but men, for they are killed at Godís appointed time.
Their ministry will be to the whole earth for their deaths will bring celebration to the entire earth.
When they arrive there will be no mistaking them or the absolute authority with which they preach.
Even in the city of Jerusalem, which at the time will be under Gentile domination, they will declare the message of God with powerful effect.
No earthly authority will dare restrain them, for like Elijah of old they are able to reduce their opponents to ashes; and like Moses and Aaron, can cause all manner of plagues.
These two divine messengers will appear on the world's scene at God's appointed time, which is when a third of the world's population will be slain and the city of Jerusalem is under Gentile control.
When they do arrive, they will bring to all mankind a final appeal from God. They will proclaim Godís final call!
Their message will be the same call to repentance and obedience which every true prophet of God has delivered since the days of Enoch.
Every true prophet declared that God is holy and will judge every sin, that all men are born in sin and must face Godís judgment, and that God will send a Redeemer who would bear the punishment of sin.
The prophets of old spoke of a coming Savior but the two witnesses will speak of a Saviour that has come.
Multitudes of believers from every nation, kindred and tongue will heed their call and begin to obey God's law.
The vast majority of mankind, however, will reject the two Witnesses and their powerful call to repentance, faith and obedience.
For there will also be upon the earth Satanís epitome of Evil, the man of Sin, who will continue to celebrate and encourage sin as the way to achieving complete freedom from Godís law.
Such seduction of the inhabitants of earth will have never been seen before.
And in Godís timing the Two Witnesses will be murdered by this being, who is symbolically referred to in the Revelation as the Beast.
Now you will note from scripture that the identity of the two witnesses is not given.
It is given that they will receive power from on high to control their environment and to preserve their lives until God so deems.
They have power to live for 42 months declaring to the world the plan of God.
To do so they are able to keep hurt from themselves by using fire, weather, water, and plagues as often as they will.
To say who they are is conjecture but it does seem they are witnesses who fit into this dispensation which we have said is a Jewish dispensation.
This period continues the dispensation of law which has been interrupted by the Church Age, with great emphasis upon Israel for Jerusalem will become the world capital from which Jesus Christ will rule and reign for 1000 years.
Many Bible scholars have conjectured that the two witnesses are Enoch and Elijah, two men who escaped death because God took them.
This conclusion is based upon the scripture that tells us it is appointed unto men once to die and since these two men, Enoch and Elijah have not died they must take their turn at dying so therefore God brings them back during the Tribulation in order to die.
But Hebrews 11:5 says this: By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
So this tells us that Enoch should not see death.
Also what about the Rapture of the church where a great multitude will go without dying when the shout of the archangel and the trumpet sounds, calling home the saints of God?
Yes, it is appointed unto men once to die but God may choose for certain ones to be exempt from that appointment as he has demonstrated with Enoch, Elijah and all the living saints at the Rapture.
So the statement in Hebrews seems to indicate that God is talking about the race of men, not every individual in the race.
Also another reason why one of the witnesses may not be Enoch is that Enoch was not a Jew.
He did not live in the dispensation of law.
I believe that a case can be made that Enoch was a type of the New Testament church when raptured.
Enoch lived before judgment water fell upon the earth at Noahís time.
Enoch was not appointed unto wrath.
Noah and his family went though the flood but were protected similar to what we see concerning the believing Jews who were given the seal of protection during the Tribulation.
Enoch walked with God and was taken, and the church, Christís body will as well be taken, many without passing through the vale of death.
So, many commentators exclude Enoch and insert Moses in his stead.
Moses and Elijah are both Jews.
Moses was the one to whom God gave the Law.
Elijah is considered the Chief of the Prophets.
In Moses and Elijah the Law and the Prophets are represented during this time of Great Tribulation.
Also remember Moses and Elijah were witnesses on the mountaintop speaking to Jesus when God witnessed regarding His son, saying This is my beloved Son: hear him.
Now as to Elijah being the second witness the Old Testament tells us plainly that Elijah will come again before the coming of Jesus in power and great glory.
Malachi 4:5,6, Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
And there was understanding of this in the New Testament as revealed by questions to John the Baptist whether or not he was Elijah indicating an expectation for Elijah to come as told of by the prophet Malachi.
Our passage in Revelation 11 speaks of prophets who have the power to breath fire out of their mouth and to shut up heaven that it not rain during the days of their prophesy.
This certainly could apply to Elijah, the chief of Prophets, who called down fire from heaven and shut up the heavens so that it rained not for the space of three and one half years during the reign of Ahab.
Take notice that the period of time during which it rained not is the same as that of the period of time given to the two witnesses during the Great Tribulation.
The nation had departed from the Lord under Ahab and Jezebel and God sent Elijah to deliver Israel from spiritual bondage after the same fashion Moses delivered them from physical bondage.
As to Moses fitting the bill for a witness in the Great Tribulation he performed as a deliverer in the days of the Exodus.
When Moses went down to meet Pharaoh, a type of Antichrist, he turned the water into blood, and called down ten plagues upon the Egyptians.
What took place in Egypt in those days is a small foretaste of what is to come in the Great Tribulation.
Under the hand of Moses God opened up the sea for safe passage for his people Israel and used that same sea to swallow up the enemies of Israel.
Moses was the instrument of God and these two witnesses will be Godís instrument to turn many to righteousness who will be allowed to pass through the sea of Godís judgment.
It could not have looked worse as the Israelites stopped at the sea awaiting the slaughter from the Egyptians and that same fate will seem to await the nation Israel at the end of the Great Tribulation.
But these two witnesses will have power to destroy men and to preserve Israel until God takes them off the scene when Jesus comes to rescue his people.
As we have already seen in the opening of the seven seal book this time will be a time like no other.
The silence of God will be broken for this time will be a time of supernaturalism which means things will take place outside of Godís natural order of things.
Natural laws, upon which we absolutely depend will be allowed to fail at times during this period.
The heavens will announce judgment, the heavens not only will declare the glory of God but during this time the heavens will declare the judgment of God.
The two witnesses will be untouchable for 42 months with powers to dry up the clouds that it not rain.
They will have power to turn water sources to blood that it not be drinkable.
They will have power to bring forth all kinds of plagues.
They will be sent forth to engage the powers of hell in this earthís climatic conflict.
They will be sent forth to purge and to prune and prepare for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
John the Baptist was a voice that cried in the wilderness proclaiming what Isaiah the Prophet wrote of in:
Isaiah 40:3-8, The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: 5And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. 6The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: 7The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. 8The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
The two witnesses are sent to participate in preparing the way of the Lord, for the Great Tribulation will result in making straight the highway for our God, the exaltation of every valley, the making low of every mountain and hill, and the making straight every crooked thing.
For the seventh trumpet of the seventh seal will open to all flesh the glory of the Lord.
Revelation 11:14,15, The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly. 15And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.