May 12 2022
Today, Thursday May 12
The Two Witnesses Prophesy
“And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire.”
Up to this point in Revelation the seven seals have been opened and six trumpets have sounded, and two woes have taken place. Now we are looking at the middle of the Seven-year Tribulation which begins with giving us more detail about the first three and half years of it. As we have already noted, we believe that these two witnesses minister during the first half of the Tribulation (Rev. 11:3; 1,260 days). Jerusalem is then overrun by the Gentiles for forty-two months (Rev. 11:2), the last half of the Tribulation.
These two men, “witnesses”, are specifically called prophets (Rev. 11:3, 6), and I take this to mean prophetic ministry in the Old Testament sense, calling the nations to repent and return to the true God of Israel. While it is impossible to be dogmatic about the specific identity of these two preachers, there are a number of reasons that suggest that they may be Moses and Elijah.
First, the miracles they will perform (destroying their enemies with fire, withholding rain, turning water into blood, and striking the earth with plagues) are similar to the judgments inflicted in the Old Testament by Moses and Elijah for the purpose of stimulating repentance. Elijah called down fire from heaven (2 Kings 1:10, 12) and pronounced a three-and-one-half-year drought on the land (1 Kings 17:1; James 5:17)—the same length as the drought brought by the two witnesses (Rev. 11:6). Moses turned the waters of the Nile into blood (Ex. 7:17-21) and announced the other plagues on Egypt recorded in Exodus chapters 7-12.
Second, both the Old Testament and Jewish tradition expected Moses and Elijah to return in the future. Malachi 4:5 predicted the return of Elijah, and the Jews believed that God's promise to raise up a prophet like Moses (Deut. 18:15, 18) necessitated his return (cf. John 1:21; 6:14; 7:40). Jesus' statement in Matthew 11:14 that "if you are willing to accept it, John [the Baptist] himself is Elijah who was to come" does not necessarily preclude Elijah's future return. Since the Jews did not accept Jesus, John did not fulfill that prophecy. He came "in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:17).
Third, both Moses and Elijah (perhaps representing the Law and the Prophets) appeared with Christ at the Transfiguration, the preview of the Second Coming (Matt. 17:3).
Fourth, both left the earth in unusual ways. Elijah never died, but was transported to heaven in a fiery chariot (2 Kings 2:11-12), and God supernaturally buried Moses' body in a secret location (Deut. 34:5-6; Jude 9). Since the text does not specifically identify these two preachers, the view defended above, like all other views regarding their identity, must remain speculation. Interestingly, J. Vernon McGee, with Thru the Bible Ministries, speculated and believed that these two witnesses are Elijah and John the Baptist.
Instead of relating the ministry of the witnesses to Moses and Elijah, the angel who spoke to John connected their ministry with Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest (Zech. 4). These two men helped to reestablish Israel in Palestine and to rebuild the temple. It was a discouraging task, and the Gentiles made it even more difficult; but God provided the special power they needed to get the work done.
Every day the news reminds us that everything is setting up for these end time events to happen! We also need to be witnesses that proclaim God’s truth about the coming judgements and plead with people to repent and receive God’s offer of salvation through Jesus Christ!