By Matt Leasher
In Chapter 11 of the Book of Revelation we are given the account of the two witnesses that are chosen by God to proclaim the testimony of the Gospel for three and a half years sometime during the seven year Tribulation. Although these prophets are sent to minister to the rebellious earth dwellers that inhabit the world during the time of God’s wrath, we can actually learn some insightful things from these two witnesses that reveal the lateness of the hour in the present day that we are currently living in.
For starters we know that the rebuilt Jewish temple will be standing during the time that two witnesses are on earth giving their testimony as they are mentioned in the context of the angel telling John to measure the temple. While we don’t see the Jewish temple standing in our present day we do see several indications that it is soon to come. For instance almost all of the artifacts that are to be used in the temple are currently being prepared for use and can be observed at www.templeinstitute.org, as well as all of the preparations that are being made for the rebuilding of the temple that have been in progress since 1987. Even among the Islamic community there is indication that supports a rebuilt Jewish temple and this comes from a Turkish man by the name of Adnan Oktar, an extremely intellectual leader and writer who has written over 300 books that are very influential in the Muslim world of the Middle East. Adnan Oktar, (who also goes under the pen name of Harun Yahya), has recently made a proposal for the rebuilding of the Jewish temple of Solomon. In an interview with Joel Richardson last summer Mr. Oktar said this:
“The Palace of Solomon is a historically important palace and the rebuilding of it is a very wonderful thing, something a normal, devout person, a regular Jew, a Christian or a Muslim will welcome with enthusiasm. Every Muslim, every believer will want to return to those days, to experience those days again and, albeit partially, to bring the beauty of those days back to life.”
What makes this even more significant is that Mr. Oktar has a respectful friendship with the Sanhedrin Rabbis of Jerusalem and has been in dialog with Rabbi Menachem Froman, a chief rabbi of Tekoa in the West Bank and a negotiator with close ties to Palestinian religious leaders from the PLO and Hamas. Rabbi Froman has also surprisingly embraced Oktar’s endorsement for a Turkish led Islamic coalition, (which is relevant for the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38 & 39), and has also appealed to the Obama administration to utilize Adnan Oktar as a peace negotiator for theMiddle East. Surely this is something we should be keeping our eyes on!
The next insight that we can obtain from the two witnesses is the supernatural attributes that they will possess. They have power to expel fire from their mouths, power to stop the rain during the days of their prophecy, power to turn the waters to blood and power to strike the earth with all plagues as often as they desire, (Revelation 11:5-6). Certainly today we don’t see any mortal individuals possessing these powers but in Old Testament times God did give these powers to certain men. Moses was able to turn the waters to blood and Elijah stopped the rain and provoked fire to come down from the sky by the hand of God. This is one of the reasons why many believe the two witnesses will be Moses and Elijah who were also with Jesus at the Transfiguration on the Mount. They are also mentioned together at the very end of the Old Testament in the book of Malachi in the context of the coming of the Day of the Lord. Then there is the consideration that they may just very well be two chosen men spiritually equivalent to Moses and Elijah in the same way that John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah, (Luke 1:17). Whoever they are we can see that the seven year tribulation will be, for all intensive purposes, a return to Old Testament times as the Age of Grace will have ended with the Rapture of the Church. We know that these supernatural powers of judgment are not commissioned for use by the saints during the current Age of Grace or even in Jesus’ day for that matter. When Jesus and His disciples passed through Samaria on His way toJerusalem, as recorded in Luke 9:51-56, the people of Samaria did not receive Him and when James and John saw this they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” Jesus rebuked them and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them”. This shows that these supernatural powers are reserved for the time of Judgment that is the seven year Tribulation. Jesus is still at work today saving lives through the working of Holy Spirit in the church but the Church Age will be finished during the ministry of the two witnesses at the time of the Great Tribulation and it will be a return to Old Testament ways. Even animal sacrifice will be back in place as we observe the mention of “an altar” being seen by John (vs. 11:1)
A clue from the two witnesses that supports a pre-trib Rapture is that the Scripture says their testimony will torment those who dwell on the earth and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice when they are killed and they will be merry and send gifts to one another. If Christians and the Church of Christ were still on earth during the Tribulation then the gospel ministry of the two witnesses would be music to our ears and certainly not torment. Nor would we rejoice at their public execution. This shows that the earth at this time will be mostly a Christ rejecting population and for those that have come to faith in Christ during the Tribulation then the only reason that the testimony of the two witnesses would seem like torment is because of regret that they didn’t embrace the gospel and accept Jesus Christ into their hearts before the Rapture occurred as well as the realization that they could have avoided this horrible time of Judgment. People will be able to be saved during the Tribulation but it will come at a costly price.
When the two witnesses are killed it says that people from the tribes, tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies, (v.9 NKJV), and that they will also see them come back to life after three-and-a-half days and ascend to heaven on a cloud, (v. 11-12). These verses show how close we very possibly are to these events being able to take place in the age that we are living in. There has never been a time in history when all nations on earth could visually witness an event occurring somewhere in the world at the same time until the 20th century. On July 21, 1969 when Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon at 2:56 Universal/Greenwich time, everyone in the entire world watched simultaneously providing they were near a TV set. That was over 40 years ago. Today with the advent of cable TV, the internet and the digital age it is even more likely that more people could witness a live event as it is happening. We saw this on 9-11-2001. When those horrible events began to unfold most of the world was tuned into it within the first hour. Now a days with the use of an iphone someone could even stream a live event as it is happening and view it right in the palm of their own hands without even having to be near a TV set or computer. We certainly live in a time where it is undoubtedly feasible for people from all tribes, tongues, and nations to simultaneously witness a live event as it is happening such as we are told will happen in Revelation 11 when the two witnesses are seen dead in the streets by everyone and then are resurrected and ascend to heaven right before their very eyes. We even currently have a 24 hour surveillance on the very spot where this just may actually take place. The Western Wall in Jerusalem can be viewed on a 24/7 live camera stream from Aish Ha Torah’s World Center’s websitewww.aish.com/w/e/ at anytime, by anyone, anywhere in the world. Go ahead take a look for yourself! It is almost like the stage has been prepared for them and is just waiting for their arrival. Certainly if the two witnesses choose to minister to the entire world from Jerusalem, as the Scriptures imply, then the source to do so is already set up and ready for use at their disposal.
Back in verse 10 it says that when those who dwell on the earth see the two witnesses dead they will rejoice and send gifts to one another. This is also very feasible in the digital age that we live in. How easy it is now a days to instantly send a gift via email or iphone whether it is an item purchased on Amazon, an e-card, a photo, a money transfer or virtually anything to someone anywhere in the world. Those who dwell on the earth are sending gifts to one another because their torment from the two witnesses has ended with their deaths. Again, this would not be the conduct of Christians but it is interesting to note that the next time the phrase“those who dwell on the earth” is used, in Revelation 13:8, it is followed with “whose names have NOT been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” This is describing the people that will worship the Beast and undoubtedly they are the same people that rejoiced over the death of the two witnesses and the Church is certainly not among them!
The two witnesses are going to be a light to a world that is in rebellious darkness and they will be fully empowered by the Holy Spirit as they are described as being the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. (see Zechariah 4). Jesus ordained the Church to be witnesses for Him by the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit nearly 2000 years ago, (Acts 1:8). Today the Church is still the light in a world of spiritual darkness and is the vessel for the working of the Holy Spirit, but our time of ministry is almost over as the many signs in the world indicate the lateness of the hour. Since we can presently see so many things being set up for the events that will be taking place during the Tribulation period, this can only remind us of how much closer the Rapture of the Church must be.
Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” (Luke 21:28).
Jesus told us that His Word will never die and even during the judgments of the Tribulation period the gospel will continue to be spread whether it is by the 144,000 Jewish servants of God, the two witnesses, or the angel that preaches the gospel to those still left on the earth in Revelation 14:6. The message of redemption and salvation through Jesus Christ is available to everyone until the end of the harvest, for the Lord is longsuffering and not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance, (2 Peter 3:9). Appropriately, the two witnesses will be dressed in sackcloth, (Rev 11:3), which is a sign of mourning and repentance, (see Matthew 11:21). Be sure today that you have made Christ your personal Savior for now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation, (2 Corinthians 6:2). If you have already done so then be a witness to those that haven’t… their eternal lives depend on it! It is our faithful duty to be the witnesses of the life saving grace that is available through Jesus Christ until this baton of witness is passed onto the two anointed ones and that transition can take place at any moment!