Future Prophesies - During the Tribulation & Beyond
The Two Witnesses
Rev 11:1 Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, “Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. 2 But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. 3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”
4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. 5 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. 6 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.
The Witnesses Killed
7 When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. 8 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. 9 Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. 10 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.
The Witnesses Resurrected
11 Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 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. 13 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.
14 The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly.
Zechariah – The two olive trees and the two lamp stands recall a similar scene in Zechariah:
“Then the angel who spoke with me returned and aroused me, like one awakened from sleep. He said to me, ‘What do you see?’ I replied, ‘I see a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl on top of it. There are seven lamps that are on top of it, with seven spouts on each of the lamps that are on top of it. And beside it are two olive trees, one on the right of the bowl and one to its left.’” (4:1-5)
The angel then explains to Zechariah that:
the lamp stand is the Temple being constructed under the supervision of Zerubbabel, governor (and heir to David’s throne) of those who returned from Babylon (520-516 B.C.)
the two olive trees are Zerubbabel and Joshua, the high priest.
Revelation – The lamp stand in Revelation is a fitting symbol of the Church, for as the lamp stand brings light into the world, so does the Church bring the light of Christ into the world.
The two lamp stands may represent, as many of the early Church Fathers suggested, the Old and New Testaments
or perhaps they represent both Jews and Gentiles who comprise the Church in John’s day
Throughout Scripture, two witnesses are required for a valid testimony (Deuteronomy 17:6)
Just as Zerubbabel and Joshua are God’s witnesses in building the second Temple, so are there two witnesses in building God’s Church
This is one reason why Jesus sends out his disciples two-by-two (Mark 6:7; Luke 10:1)
Who are the 2 witnesses?
Represents the Jewish Law
Turns the water of the Nile River into blood in the first plague on Egypt and who brings the additional nine plagues (Exodus 7:14–11:10),
Present at the at Transfiguration in Caesarea Philippi, where God the Father validates Peter’s confession of faith before two credible witnesses: Moses and Elijah.
Represents the Jewish prophets
Shuts up the heavens so that it doesn’t rain for three and a half years during his battle with King Ahab and his miserable wife, Jezebel (1Kings 17:1).
Was raptured – did not die
Present at the at Transfiguration in Caesarea Philippi, where God the Father validates Peter’s confession of faith before two credible witnesses: Moses and Elijah.
Represents the Gentiles
Was raptured – did not die
Death and resurrection of the 2 witnesses
Satan rises from the abyss, slays the two witnesses, and all the people rejoice!
As on New Year’s Eve, parties erupt throughout the land as people celebrate the slaughter of the prophets who had been telling them what they didn’t want to hear!
As Jesus had said: “They will hand you over to persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name” (Matthew 24: 9).
But then, after three and one half days of rotting in the sun, the two witnesses draw breath, stand on their feet, and as the world watches, they ascend into heaven!
Technology has to be advanced enough that the whole world CAN watch as this happens
Who are the two witnesses in the book of Revelation?
In Revelation 11:3–12 is a description of two individuals who will help accomplish God’s work during the tribulation: “I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth” (verse 3). Nowhere does the Bible identify these two witnesses by name, although people through the years have speculated.
The two witnesses in Revelation will have miraculous powers to accompany their message (Revelation 11:6), and no one will be able to stop them in their work (verse 5). At the end of their ministry, when they have said all they need to say, the beast will kill them and the wicked world will rejoice, allowing the bodies of the fallen prophets to lie in the streets (verses 7–10). Three and a half days later, however, God’s two witnesses will be resurrected and, in full view of their enemies, ascend to heaven (verses 11–12).
There are three primary theories on the identity of the two witnesses in Revelation: (1) Moses and Elijah, (2) Enoch and Elijah, and (3) two unknown believers whom God calls to be His witnesses in the end times.
(1) Moses and Elijah are seen as possibilities for the two witnesses due to the specific miracles that John says the witnesses will perform. The witnesses will have the power to turn water into blood (Revelation 11:6), which duplicates a famous miracle of Moses (Exodus 7). And the witnesses will have the power to destroy their enemies with fire (Revelation 11:5), which corresponds to an event in Elijah’s life (2 Kings 1). Also giving strength to this view is the fact that Moses and Elijah both appeared with Jesus at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:3–4). Further, Jewish tradition expects Moses and Elijah to return, based on the prophecy of Elijah’s coming in Malachi 4:5 and God’s promise to raise up a prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18), which some Jews believe necessitates Moses’ return.
(2) Enoch and Elijah are seen as possibilities for the two witnesses because of the unique circumstances surrounding their exit from the world. Enoch and Elijah, as far as we know, are the only two individuals whom God has taken directly to heaven without experiencing death (Genesis 5:23; 2 Kings 2:11). Proponents of this view point to Hebrews 9:27, which says that all men are appointed to die once. The fact that neither Enoch nor Elijah has yet experienced death seems to qualify them for the job of the two witnesses, who will be killed when their job is done. In addition, both Enoch and Elijah were prophets who pronounced God’s judgment (1 Kings 17:1; Jude 1:14–15).
(3) Two unknowns are seen as possibilities for the two witnesses because of the lack of specificity in Revelation 11. Scripture does not identify the two witnesses by name, and no well-known person is associated with their coming. God is perfectly capable of taking two “ordinary” believers and enabling them to perform the same signs and wonders that Moses and Elijah did. There is nothing in Revelation 11 that requires us to assume a “famous” identity for the two witnesses.
There is an interesting passage in Zechariah 4 that gives us a prototype of the two witnesses of Revelation. Zechariah has a vision in which he sees a solid gold lampstand. On top is a bowl of oil, and an olive tree stands on each side (verses 3–4). The lampstand gives its light without human maintenance, being constantly supplied by the olive oil flowing from the trees into the bowl. God’s message to Zechariah was that God’s work (rebuilding the temple) would be accomplished “not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit” (verse 6).
Zechariah asks about the meaning of the olive trees and the branches supplying the oil, and the angel who speaks to him says, “These are the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth” (Zechariah 4:14, ESV). In other words, God’s power to sustain His work is flowing through two individuals set apart for the task. In Zechariah’s context, these two individuals are Joshua (the current high priest) and Zerubbabel (the current governor of Judah). We can also see a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ here, as the Messiah would combine the offices of priest and king. Then we come to Revelation 11:4. In the description of the two witnesses, John says, “They are ‘the two olive trees’ and the two lampstands, and ‘they stand before the Lord of the earth.’” John quotes from Zechariah 4. The two witnesses of Revelation, like Joshua and Zerubbabel, will have God’s power flowing through them to accomplish God’s work.
So who are the two witnesses of Revelation? The Bible does not say. All three views presented above are valid and plausible interpretations that Christians can have. The identity of the two witnesses is not an issue Christians should be dogmatic about.
The Two Witnesses - Who are the two witnesses who will preach in Jerusalem? By Dr. David R. Reagan
Revelation 11 says there will be two miracle working witnesses of God who will preach in Jerusalem for 3 1/2 years. They will serve as the conscience of the world and will be hated by most people. The Antichrist will kill them at the mid-point of the Tribulation, and the world will rejoice.
The mystery regarding these witnesses has always been their identity. Who will they be? The book of Revelation does not tell us. Tim LaHaye postulates that they will be Moses and Elijah, and there is good biblical evidence for this conclusion. These two were present at Jesus’ Transfiguration (Matthew 17:3). And the miracles performed by the two (described in Revelation 11:6) are those that characterized the ministries of Moses and Elijah.
Still, I believe the two most likely candidates are Enoch and Elijah. Both were men of righteousness who were raptured to Heaven. Neither experienced death. Both were prophets, and one was a Gentile (Enoch) and the other was a Jew (Elijah).
I think it is interesting that this was the unanimous opinion of the Church Fathers during the first three hundred years of the Church. All of them identified the two witnesses in their writings as Enoch and Elijah. One, by the name of Haymo who served as the bishop of Halberstadt (840-853 AD), even quotes a version of Malachi 4:5 as stating that both Enoch and Elijah will appear before the day of the Lord. Our modern versions mention only Elijah.
So, we know for certain from the passage in Malachi that one of the two witnesses will be Elijah. The identity of the other is unknown. He could be either Moses or Enoch. I side with Enoch because he was a Gentile, and I believe the Lord is going to supply two witnesses instead of one because He is going to ordain one to speak to the Jews and the other to the Gentiles.
The Two Witnesses :: By Scott Harris
The Two Witnesses really captivate my deep thoughts. I believe it’s because they are two men standing boldly amid a world filled with evil, delivering the final messages of truth to people who have not totally hardened their hearts and souls.
These men will proclaim the Gospel Truth to the world in a final struggle to affirm Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior – and declare His offer of glorious salvation to anyone who will accept their message.
Here are some of the unique attributes of the two witnesses as described in Revelation 11:3-6.
* Christ Jesus personally appoints them for this task.
* They will prophesy for 1,260 days (3 ½ years).
* They will wear sackcloth.
* They are “the two olive trees” and the “two lampstands.”
* If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies.
* They have power to stop it from raining during the time they are prophesying.
* They have power to turn the waters into blood.
* They can strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.
These men will speak pure truth as bestowed on them by Christ Jesus. They will preach in Jerusalem, and their message will be aimed at the Jews. They will be broadcast internationally, no doubt, and people all over the world will be amazed at them and their message. Their presence and message will declare Almighty God’s impending judgment on this world.
Almighty God will continue to provide the opportunity for repentance to both Jew and Gentile. Remember what is written in 2 Peter 3:9; “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Additionally, John wrote in Revelation 7:9-10 that he saw a great multitude beyond human computation coming from “all nations,” “kindreds,” “people,” and “tongues” standing before the throne, clothed with white robes, with palms in their hands, ascribing salvation to Almighty God and to the Lamb. This passage affirms that Gentiles and Jews will be saved during the Tribulation.
Have you ever been curious as to why there will be two witnesses instead of just one? The answer to that is found in scripture. For the Jews, two witnesses were mandatory to fulfill the legal requirement for judgment. The three verses below provide clarity.
On the testimony of two or three witnesses, a person is to be put to death, but no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness (Deuteronomy 17:6).
One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15).
Anyone who kills a person is to be put to death as a murderer only on the testimony of witnesses. But no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness (Numbers 35:30).
One of the great conversations that Christians have about the two witnesses is “who are they,” and is there anything in scripture that gives us that answer? I personally believe that Moses and Elijah will be the two witnesses as spoken of in the Holy Bible. Please let me explain in greater detail how and why I came to this conclusion.
Each of the scriptural references below points toward these two men as being ideal for the task ahead in the Tribulation.
“There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus” (Matthew 17:2-3). If you read Mark 9:4 and Luke 9:30, you will find that both confirm what you just read.
“If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die” (Revelation 11:5). You may recall reading about how Elijah (two different times) called down ﬁre from heaven when soldiers came to arrest him (you can read about that in 2 Kings 1). Additionally, idolaters and the enemies of Moses were destroyed by ﬁre in Numbers 16:35.
“They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want” (Revelation 11:6). Now consider the very same miracles performed by Moses long ago. “This is what the Lord says: By this you will know that I am the Lord: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood.” Moses also brought forth plagues upon the Egyptians (you can read about that in Exodus 7:14-11:10).
Also, in Revelation 11:6 (as above), Elijah performed the very same miracles – preventing the heavens from raining as told to us in 1 Kings 17:1; Luke 4:25; and James 5:17. One very noteworthy fact is that the length of the drought in Elijah’s time is “exactly” the same amount of time of drought in Tribulation.
Revelation 11:3 tells us that the two witnesses will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. The three key words from that verse are the basis for why Almighty God is sending these two men.
Prophecy is to reveal by divine inspiration and to speak about imminent events without error.
For 1,260 days (3-½ years), they will speak the gospel truth – that’s half of the 7-year Tribulation.
They will be clothed in sackcloth. Wearing of sackcloth expresses mourning, submission, grief, and shame. A few examples of this are in 2 Kings 19:1; Psalm 69:11; Isaiah 37:1-2; Daniel 9:3; Joel 1:13; Jonah 3:5-8).
The ministry of the two witnesses will include preaching, prophesying, and performing miracles that demonstrate the glory and power of Almighty God. The messages they preach are to call people to repentance and to announce that the Holy Kingdom is at hand.
When they have finished their testimony, Satan will come up from the Abyss. He will kill them and leave their bodies lying in the open in Jerusalem – not giving them a burial. People (unsaved and depraved) will celebrate by sending each other gifts because the two prophets pierced the spirits of those who reject Christ Jesus and those who detest Almighty God.
For three and a half days, some from every people, tribe, language, and nation will look at their bodies and believe that they were simply false prophets and had no real power.
All the evil and ignorant people who hated the two witnesses will see the truth and power of Almighty God.
To learn what happens next, read Revelation 11:11-13!
Can We Know the Identity of the Two Witnesses? :: by Mark A. Becker
For many years into my own studies of the Scriptures, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that the Two Witnesses were Moses and Elijah. Later on, I came to believe it would be Enoch and Elijah. Then I was introduced to the concept that it was John and Elijah. Finally, I had heard a new theory that the Two Witnesses were actually two angels.
We sure have come a long way since the days of what seemed to be a universally agreed to interpretation of the Moses and Elijah scenario: Moses representing the law and the 10 plagues of Egypt, and Elijah being the other undisputed representative of the two.
So, I decided to tackle this issue for myself and see what I could find. As I have mentioned before, I usually don’t like to consult other commentaries or search other Bible teachers’ studies, as I really enjoy trying to figure things out for myself. This study is no different.
This article was not written in linear fashion. It began with the two major passages of Scripture cited, and the body of the article was written around them as my research progressed.
Using only the Holy Scriptures, and starting with a clean slate, let’s find out where the evidence leads.
The Passage Without Refute?
The following passage is considered the go-to portion of Scripture identifying Elijah as one of the Two Witnesses:
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And 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” (Malachi 4:5-6). (Emphasis mine)
Notice that God states that He “will send you Elijah… before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.” This is very important: The Two Witnesses have their ministry “during” the day of the Lord, not “before.”
(Please see my article, An Examination of the ‘Day of the Lord’ here https://www.raptureready.com/2020/08/11/an-examination-of-the-day-of-the-lord-by-mark-a-becker/ or https://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=205363 for a detailed look at what the “Day of the Lord” entails).
Now, let’s examine what this prophecy in Malachi is actually referring to.
What Did Jesus Say?
Jesus, answering his disciples’ questions regarding just this topic, paves the way for us to know how Malachi’s prophecy was to actually be fulfilled:
“And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist” (Matthew 17:10-13). (Emphasis mine)
Is there other Scriptural support for what the Lord had revealed to His disciples?
What Did the Angel of the Lord Say to Zecharias the Priest and Father of John the Baptist?
The answer to this question shows the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy:
“And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:11-17). (Emphasis mine)
Some similarities to note between Elijah and John the Baptist:
Both preached repentance from sins (1 Kings chapter 18 & Mark 1:4).
As we can plainly see, Malachi’s prophecy was fulfilled in John the Baptist. Therefore, Elijah – based on Malachi’s prophecy alone – is not one of the Two Witnesses. This prophecy has nothing to do with our investigation, so we must move on.
What Does Revelation Say?
Let’s try to analyze the definitive passage on the Two Witnesses’ ministry in Revelation:
“And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
“And 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. These 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.
“And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
“And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them” (Revelation 11:3-12). (Emphasis mine)
“Fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies” brings to mind the demonic/fallen angel horde of Revelation 9:17-19 where “out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.”
(For more information on this demonic/fallen angel horde, please see my article, Do The Kings of The East Field a 200 Million Man Army? here: https://www.raptureready.com/2020/10/22/do-the-kings-of-the-east-field-a-200-million-man-army-by-mark-a-becker/ or https://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=206207 ).
In the whole of Scripture, not one time has fire ever proceeded out of the mouth of a man. Elijah called fire down out of heaven (1 Kings 1:10-14), but never a case of a human being spewing out fire from their mouth.
Another interesting item I noticed in this passage is that the Two Witnesses are never mentioned as “men,” let alone Jewish men. The closest their description comes to human is “prophets” as they “prophesy,” and that their “bodies” will lay dead and then rise again. They are referred to only as “these,” “them,” “their,” and “they.”
We should keep these facts in mind as we proceed.
The Greek word for “prophets” in Revelation 11 regarding the Two Witnesses is “prophḗtēs,” with the following definition:
A prophet (4396/prophḗtēs) declares the mind (message) of God, which sometimes predicts the future (foretelling) – and more commonly, speaks forth His message for a particular situation. 4396/prophḗtēs (“a prophet”) then is someone inspired by God to foretell or tell-forth (forthtell) the Word of God. (Biblehub.com).
When we think of “prophets,” we invariably think of human agents of God, speaking on God’s behalf. And while this is most certainly true, we tend to omit angels from the realm of prophet when, in truth, they are just as much a prophet as a human agent would be. From Genesis to Revelation, we have numerous accounts of angels “declar[ing] the mind (message) of God, which sometimes predicts the future (foretelling) – and more commonly, speaks forth His message for a particular situation.”
There is one passage of Scripture I believe we should consider, in light of this thought, when defining who a prophet can be:
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world” (1 John 4:1-3). (Emphasis mine)
John tells us that it is the spirit’s message that defines a prophet, and that spirit should by tried – whether a man or an angel (as both are spirit beings) – to determine whether the spirit is “of God” or “of antichrist.”
The Olive Tree
One thing that is common knowledge is that the nation of Israel is often compared to an olive tree. The only other passage regarding the olive tree in the Old Testament that caught my eye in my research is below.
The following is from the detailed account of Solomon’s Temple:
“And for the entering of the oracle he made doors of olive tree: the lintel and side posts were a fifth part of the wall. The two doors also were of olive tree; and he carved upon them carvings of cherubims and palm trees and open flowers, and overlaid them with gold, and spread gold upon the cherubims, and upon the palm trees” (1 Kings 6:31-32). (Emphasis mine)
The “oracle” is often translated as “the inner sanctuary” or “the Holy of Holies.”
Notice that the “two doors” were made from the “olive tree.” This is the only other Scripture where I could find a relationship between the number two and the olive tree.
What is interesting is that the two doors were carved with “cherubims.”
Of course, the candlesticks are usually referring to what we commonly call the Menorah, the “lampstand” found in the Tabernacle and Temple located in the Holy Place across from the table of shewbread.
We also know of the seven candlesticks in Revelation, representing the seven churches (Rev. 1:20).
Other verses of importance to consider regarding light and light’s relation to the symbolism of the candlestick(s), or lamp(s), would be:
“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).
God’s first recorded act of creation: “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Genesis 1:3).
“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).
And finally, Paul said that we should, regarding our enemy, not marvel “… for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14b).
Returning to Revelation’s description of the Two Witnesses:
“These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth” reminds us of a passage in Zechariah. Let’s investigate this.
The Prophet Zechariah’s Vision
“And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep. And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.
“So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.
“Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you. For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth.
“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? And 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? And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth” (Zechariah 4:1-14). (Emphasis mine)
In both the Zechariah vision and the Revelation account of the Two Witnesses, we learn they “stand by the Lord of the whole earth (Zechariah 4:14)” and are “standing before the God of the earth (Revelation 11:4).” These are definitely one and the same; but who are they?
Here’s where it starts to get interesting. The phrase “These are the two anointed ones” brings to mind the description of Lucifer (Satan) in Ezekiel’s prophecy of the “prince of Tyrus.” In particular:
“Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire” (Ezekiel 28:14). (Emphasis mine)
I find it fascinating that the Two Witnesses are standing by the Lord/God “of the earth,” and not “heaven” or “heaven and the earth.” Is this a clue?
When we consider what a “witness” is, we understand that witnesses are defined by what they have observed and have firsthand knowledge of. In our case, these Witnesses have knowledge and have observed the Lord/God “of the earth.” This seems to imply that they were there from the beginning of the foundation of the “earth” and, therefore, are witnesses to all that God has done since witnessing that foundation.
This brings my mind back to God’s demand of Job:
“Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7). (Emphasis mine)
Scripture reveals that the angels were present when God “laid the foundations of the earth” and “all the sons of God shouted for joy.” Obviously, this was before the fall of Satan and his rebellious host, as “all the sons of God” witnessed God’s creation of the foundation of the earth and “shouted for joy.”
Angels, as we know, are “messengers” and are “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 20:14).
And if that wasn’t enough to consider: “Who [God] maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire” (Psalm 104:4).
Ezekiel’s Living Creatures/Cherubim and Revelation’s Four Living Creatures
The mighty cherubim, or living creatures (Ezekiel 1:5-25 & Ezekiel 10:3-22) that Ezekiel witnessed are very similar to the four living creatures in Revelation 4:6-11. These cherubim, like Satan “the anointed cherub that covereth” (Ezekiel 28:14), seem to be the closest of the angelic hierarchy to the throne of God.
We know the role of the four living creatures from Ezekiel’s visions, but what about the role of some of the others? What was the role and position of Satan (Lucifer), and did he have any cohorts that “covered” or stood by the throne of God?
Can it be that the “two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth” signify these covering cherubim? That at one time, there were three surrounding, or “covering,” cherubim at the throne of God – one to each side of the throne and one (Lucifer) over the throne? That these three angels were the first of God’s creation of the angelic host?
With what we have learned up to this point, we really do have to consider this possibility. This is where we can infer the idea that the two angels that stand by the throne of God and have “witnessed” God’s creation from the foundation of the world might, in the future, take on human form as God’s Two Witnesses.
Some may ask, “Why would God use angels to be His witnesses when human agents could suffice?” This is an honest question and should be reciprocated with a Scriptural answer: “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (Revelation 14:6).
Also, “What is an angel doing in a human body?” Another good question. Remember, humans are spirit beings living in earthly bodies, and angels very often appear in human form. Not to mention the Genesis 6 account.
(For my thoughts on this controversial subject, please see Genesis 6:4 Commentary and Genetics, that can be found here: https://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=204120 )
So, what do I make of this? Honestly, I don’t know. We just don’t seem to have enough information to state unequivocally and emphatically that this is, in fact, the case. But, in light of what we have learned in this study, it certainly seems possible that the Two Witnesses could be angels in human form.
Some Observations on the Popular Candidates for the Two Witnesses
Moses died (Deuteronomy 34:1-12). “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this is the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). It would seem outright unfair, and without Biblical precedence, for Moses to have to die twice. I realize that Scripture documents others that had died and were resurrected, but in each case, these were short-lived deaths, and one could reasonably presume their spirits never made it to their final destination.
Enoch and Elijah:
As two of the clearest pictures in the Old Testament of the rapture of the church, it would seem more than odd that these two righteous men would need to die. As representatives of saints living on earth at the rapture, it seems clear, at least to me, that they would never need to die. Sure, God can do anything He wants, but He is also a God of order; to me, this would seem to be somewhat out of order, but then again, I’m not God and am in no position to define what His order may or may not be. This is only my observational and logical opinion.
The rationale for John being one of the Two Witnesses usually comes from the dialog between Jesus and Peter in John chapter 21. Jesus, in essence, told Peter that he would die a martyr’s death, and Peter, referring to John, asked, “What shall this man do?” Jesus replied, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.” John summarizes this account by adding, “Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?“ (John 21:22-23).
The point I would like to make is this: Even if the Lord supernaturally kept John alive for the last 2,000 years, John most certainly would be taken in the pre-Tribulation rapture of the church and, as all other believers in the body of Christ, wouldn’t be allowed to live during the Tribulation when God’s wrath is being poured out on the world.
If someone had put a “gun to my head” and asked me who the Two Witnesses were before I began researching this article, I would have answered, “Enoch and Elijah.” After examining this issue in-depth and writing this article – with that same “gun to my head” – I would have to answer, “Two angels in human form.” But in both cases, I would have to admit, “I really don’t know for sure.”
The answer to our question, “Can We Know the Identity of the Two Witnesses?” seems to be, “No. Not with unequivocal conclusiveness.”
It does seem that the Scriptural evidence points to the Two Witnesses as being angels in human form, but I’m just not willing to take that leap… yet.
There are a lot of things I don’t know; but one thing I do know is that I don’t know who the Two Witnesses are with absolute certainty. At least I don’t think I do… right now… at this very moment…
Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!
The Two Witnesses of Revelation :: by Jeff Van Hatten
Scripture tells us that there are two witnesses who will testify and prophesy for three and one-half years (1,260 days) during the first half of the tribulation period whose primary purpose is to testify to Yeshua and denounce the Antichrist or Beast. Both witnesses are also able to cause the rain to stop and defend themselves with fire.
Have you ever wondered who the two witnesses of Revelation 11 might be? If so, you are in good company. Lately, there have been many that have tackled this subject, concluding that the two witnesses are two human beings. Favorites are Moses and Elijah, followed by Enoch and Elijah. But what if the two witnesses are not even human? Let’s take a look at the possibilities:
Revelation 11:3-4 – “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 lamp stands standing before the God of the earth.”
Hebrews 9:27 – “It is appointed for humans to die once and after this comes judgment.”
Scripture tells us that there are only two types of death. The first type is the death of the body when the soul is either assigned to Sheol [Hell] or ascends to be with Yeshua (Philippians 1:23). Most human’s bodies only die a physical death once, but there are some who have physically died more than once. Lazarus is one example scripture gives us (John 11:43), and many have experienced what is called “Near Death.” This first type of death is only temporary, as all will be resurrected.
Each human, once resurrected, will then be assigned to live eternally with Yahweh and Yeshua on the New Earth or in the New Jerusalem, or will be consigned to eternal death in the Lake of Fire. The second type of death is permanent.
Let’s examine the possibilities of who those two witnesses may be, if they indeed be human beings:
Malachi 4:5 – “I will send to you Eliyahu the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible Day of Yahweh.”
Elijah is considered to be the premier candidate for one of the two witnesses, as he would clearly represent the Prophets and/or the Jews for those who contend that the two witnesses portray either the Law and the Prophets, or the Gentiles and the Jews. As far as we are aware, he has never physically died, having been taken alive into heaven. Yeshua states that Elijah must come before the terrible and great day of the Lord, as prophesied in Malachi 4:5. He stood before Yahweh and stopped the rain from falling (1 Kings 17:1) and also was able to call fire down from heaven (2 Kings 1:10).
Elijah is considered to be the premier candidate for one of the two witnesses.
Deuteronomy 34:4-7 – “Moses the servant of Yahweh died there in the land of Moab, and was buried in the valley across from Beth-Peor.”
Moses has only physically died once, as far as we are aware. Scripture clearly tells us that he died and was buried by Yahweh (Deuteronomy 34:4-7). His candidacy for being one of the two witnesses is based on the assumption that the two witnesses portray the Law and the Prophets. Moses, therefore, would represent Law. He also had the ability to turn water into blood and the power to plague the earth (Exodus 7:14-21), which the two witnesses will also be able to do. Matthew 17:3, Mark 9:4 and Luke 9:30 tell us that both Moses and Elijah appeared before Yeshua just prior to his crucifixion and resurrection.
Adding these three passages to the many scriptures above cause many to contend that Moses and Elijah are the two witnesses of Revelation.
Genesis 5:24 – “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.”
Hebrews 11:5 – “By trusting, Enoch was taken away from this life without seeing death.”
Enoch’s primary qualification for being one of the two witnesses stems from his having been taken alive into heaven (Genesis 5:24 and Hebrews 11:5). He would portray Grace, for those who contend that the two witnesses portray Law and Grace. The first, second, and third century Church Fathers believed that Enoch would be the second witness to accompany Elijah.
Many others contend that the two most likely candidates are Enoch and Elijah. Both were men of righteousness who were raptured to Heaven alive, never having to experience the first death. Both were prophets. Enoch was a Gentile and Elijah was a Jew.
Amos 3:7 – “Surely Yahweh does nothing unless he reveals his secret counsel to his servants the prophets.”
Scripture does not give us any indication that either Enoch or Moses are prophesied to return before the Day of the Lord. If either or both are one of the two witnesses, surely scripture would tell us clearly that they are.
Scripture does, however, indicate that Elijah is to return before the Day of the Lord. His mission: He will turn the heart of fathers to their sons, and the heart of sons to their fathers (Malachi 3:23-24). But wait; Yeshua clearly states that Elijah has already come! He says in Matthew 11:14 and 17:12, “If you are willing to accept it, John is Elijah, whose coming was predicted,” then indicates that he will indeed come again, next time to restore all things (Matthew 17:11).
Further, at death, Moses was buried in the valley across from Beth-Peor in the land of Moab (Deuteronomy 34:6) – he did not go directly to heaven to stand in Yahweh’s presence! Yeshua confirmed this by saying to Nicodemus: “No one has gone up into heaven; there is only the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man” (John 3:13). This means that he was not standing in Yahweh’s presence when Zechariah’s prophecy was given!
Humans who died before Yeshua was born were buried and were in the portion of Sheol called “Paradise,” or “Abraham’s Bosom.” They did not ascend to Heaven to stand before Yahweh!
Let’s examine the possibilities of who those two witnesses may be, if they indeed be someone other than humans:
Revelation 11:4 – “These are the two olive trees and the two lamp stands standing before the God of the earth.”
The two witnesses stand before Yahweh.
They will be clothed in sackcloth, a symbol of humbleness, which today might easily be similar to denim – a tough, durable fabric that could stand up for three years of service.
The two witnesses have the power to destroy their enemies with fire from their mouths, control the weather, turn water into blood, and cause plagues.
They will be killed in Jerusalem, and their bodies will lie in the street for three and one-half days.
They will be resurrected and ascend into heaven while all the world watches.
Zechariah 4:14 gives us further insight into who the two lamp stands may be. They are the “two anointed ones who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth.” Isaiah 6:1-7 gives us another picture of who these beings are who stand beside Yahweh: “In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw Yahweh sitting on a high, lofty throne! The hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphim stood over him, each with six wings – two for covering his face, two for covering his feet and two for flying.” 1 Kings 6:23 tells us “In the inner sanctuary Solomon made two cherubim of olivewood, each ten cubits high,” and 1 Kings 6:32 tells us “He covered the two doors of olivewood with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers.”
In both the Revelation and the Zechariah accounts, we see the same thing. The two olive trees were “two witnesses” or “two anointed ones” standing before Yahweh, and Isaiah and 1 Kings tell us who they are. So does the Ark of the Covenant. The two who sat at either end of the Ark were Cherubim, another name for the Seraphim! These may very well be the same two “angels” who accompanied Yahweh when He came down to investigate Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis chapters 18-19).
The two witnesses are never called sons of Adam, nor are they called human beings; scripture simply calls them lampstands and olive trees! We also noted that they have power to kill with fire from their mouths, and ascend into heaven while all the world watches. Not typically behavior demonstrated by humans, eh?
The two lampstands are the two Seraphim or Cherubim, carved of olive wood on the Temple doors and in the inner sanctuary – the Holy of Holies!
Those Who Called Fire Down from Heaven
Many have called down fire from heaven, but scripture never states that they breathe fire from their mouths. There are humans who have called down fire, and two who wanted to call down fire, but Yeshua did not allow them to do so. Even a beast who comes up from the earth calls down fire. They are:
Exodus 9:23 – Moses: Yahweh sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground.
2 Kings 1:10, 12, 14 – Elijah: prayed, and fire came down from heaven and consumed the captain and his fifty.
1 Chronicles 21:26 – David: called upon Yahweh, and fire from heaven came down upon the altar of burnt offering.
2 Chronicles 7:1 – Solomon: finished praying, then fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering.
Revelation 13:13 – The Second Beast: makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.
Luke 9:54 – James and John: wanted to because the people of the village did not welcome Yeshua, but did not!
True Fire-Breathing Beings
Revelation 11:5 – “If anyone desires to harm them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies.”
Job 41:18-21 – “From Leviathan’s mouth go flaming torches; sparks of fire leap out. Out of its nostrils comes smoke, as from a boiling pot and burning rushes. Its breath kindles coals, and a flame comes out of its mouth.”
Isaiah 27:1 – “In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.”
Scripture only gives the ability to breathe fire from their mouth to Leviathan. And Leviathan is synonymous with the serpent, the snake, the sea monster, and the dragon. All apt descriptions of Lucifer, or Satan. And guess to what genus, phylum, and order Satan belongs: the order of Seraphim, or Cherubim!
Is Revelation giving us yet one more hint that the two witnesses are not human, but also of the genus, phylum, and order of Seraphim, or Cherubim? I say it is. What do you say?
The Hebrew Words
The Hebrew word translated dragon is tannı̂yn [תַּנִּין H8577]. It means: Dragon, serpent, sea monster, river monster, or venomous snake.
The Hebrew word translated Serpent is nâchâsh [נָחָשׁ H5175]. It means: Serpent, or snake.
The Hebrew word translated Leviathan is livyâthân [לִוְיָתָן H3882]. It means: Sea monster, or dragon.
The Ability to Kill the Witnesses
Revelation 11:7 – “When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them.”
Scripture indicates that neither of the two witnesses can be killed by a human being. Only the beast can do so. The timing of their murder is at about the mid-point of the tribulation period; at about the same time that Satan, former chief of the Seraphim, is allowed to indwell the Antichrist. And the Antichrist, also referred to as the beast, is able to kill the two witnesses.
There is an old saying: “It takes a thief to catch a thief.” Perhaps it takes a Seraph to kill a Seraph, eh? Is Revelation giving us yet one more hint that the two witnesses are not human, but also of the genus, phylum, and order of Seraphim, or Cherubim? I say it is. What do you say?
Death of The Witnesses
Hebrews 13:2 – “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
Scripture indicates that neither of the two witnesses can be killed by a human being. Only the beast can do so at about the mid-point of the tribulation period; at about the same time that Satan, former chief of the Seraphim, is allowed to indwell the Antichrist. Can angels, Seraphim, or Cherubim become human and thus be subject to death and resurrection? Yeshua, who is God, came in human form, died a physical death, and was resurrected! Have we forgotten this? Scripture gives us many examples of angels who have taken on human form and interacted with human beings. Could the two witnesses be Seraphim / Cherubim who may come in human form, are killed, and are then resurrected? Perhaps so!
Matthew 12:25, Luke 11:17 – “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.”
Satan, too, was a Cherubim / Seraphim. Have we forgotten this? How appropriate and fitting that Yahweh might use two members over whom Satan once had authority to divide his house and lay it waste! Are these witnesses in truth dragons who do not lose their ability to breathe fire from their mouths, even in human form? Perhaps so!
The Ascension into Heaven
Revelation 11:7 – “I heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here!’ They went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies saw them.”
Once again, we see a “rapture” or a going up into heaven witnessed by many, just as Enoch, Elijah, and Yeshua were witnessed going up.
Revelation makes no mention that the two witnesses are carried up to heaven, as was Elijah – they simply went up. If they are Seraphim, then they can easily fly up to heaven using their own wings!
Is Revelation giving us yet one more hint that the two witnesses are not human, but also of the genus, phylum, and order of Seraphim, or Cherubim? I say it is. What do you say?
Can Heavenly Beings Die?
Isaiah 28:10 – “Precept by precept, precept by precept, line by line, line by line, a little here, a little there.”
Matthew 10: 28 – “Do not fear those who kill the body but are powerless to kill the soul. Rather, fear him who can destroy both soul and body in Gei-Hinnom.”
Psalm 82:1 – “Elohim has taken his place in the divine assembly; he judges among the gods.”
Psalm 82:6-7 – Yahweh says to the gods: “My decree is: ‘You are gods, sons of the Most High all of you. Nevertheless, you will die like mortals; like any prince, you will fall.’”
Pastors, especially sharp pastors who know their Greek and Hebrew, and who know scripture from beginning to end, or should I say from aleph to tav, are a blessing to all. One major objection has been raised by just such a pastor to the question: “Can an angel, seraph, or cherub really be killed.” So, can heavenly beings die? Indeed, they can. My thinking on this stems from several scriptures, but primarily from: Isaiah 28, Psalm 82, and Matthew 10.
One must combine several concepts throughout scripture to make the above comment that a heavenly being can be killed while on earth, whether in human form or not.
Matthew 10 tells us that Yahweh can destroy not only bodies, but souls as well. The real question is: Does this apply to heavenly beings that may or may not take on human form? I say perhaps so!
Psalm 82 makes it very clear that the heavenly beings, here called gods and Sons of the Most High, can indeed die like a mortal human being, if Yahweh makes that decision.
The Two Witnesses will one day be revealed. The Two Witnesses may (or may not) be in human form during their three-year stint here on earth. I am not sure it makes any difference, and I am not dogmatically stating that the Two Witnesses are Seraphim, but Revelation gives us some very strong hints that they may indeed be the two Seraphim that stand before Yahweh.
If so, then they are of the genus, phylum, and order of Seraphim, or Cherubim – the same genus as Satan. If so, they may take on human form when they come to testify of Yeshua and denounce the Antichrist or Beast. In their earthly form, do they, too, face death and resurrection just as did Yeshua? Perhaps so! With Yahweh, all things are possible.
When the Two Witnesses are killed, however, it is my contention that it is only their bodies that die just as it is only a human’s body that dies; their spirit lives on. Three days after the Two Witnesses’ bodies are killed, their spirits re-enter their bodies, the bodies resurrect, and they rise into heaven using their own wings to do so.
Revelation hints that the two witnesses are not human, but are of the genus, phylum, and order of Seraphim, or Cherubim. What do you say?