By Don Koenig
The ministry of the two witnesses from God in Revelation chapter 11 will last for 1260 days. This event is the most understated event of Bible prophecy. The witnesses, the two prophets from heaven will shake the world to its core and the whole world will rejoice when they are killed because they tormented those who dwell on the earth.
Rev 11:3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
5 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.
6 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.
7 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.
8 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.
9 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.
10 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.
As we see in this passage the two witnesses tormented them that dwelt on the earth. Apparently they tormented those on the earth so much that all those that dwell upon the earth will throw a worldwide party after they are killed by the Beast Antichrist and that party will still be going on 3 1/2 days later when God will raises them from the dead in the sight of all and takes them to heaven. The passage also tells us that these two witnesses will devour their enemies and they will smite the earth with plagues as often as they want. That is quite some delegation of power. Nobody in the history of the earth up to this point has been given such power. Even Moses could only announce the plagues that God told him would come if the Egyptians did not obey God. These two witnesses will be delegated the power to smite the earth with plagues as often as they deem necessary.
I am not going to get into the arguments of who these two witnesses are here. I just will just say I think they will be Elijah and Moses or Elijah and Enoch. These will be God’s top two lieutenants whom He calls Olive trees and Candlesticks (oil and light – full of the Holy Spirit and giving the light of Jesus to the world).
These witnesses certainly are men because they witnesses for 1260 days dressed in sack cloth and they are allowed to be killed after their prophetic ministry is over. They are not angels or some allegory representing the law and the prophets as Amillennialists claim. If they are Elijah and Moses they would be the Old Testament chief prophet and the law giver. Therefore, they will authenticate what is written in the Bible.
Before I get into what the ministry of the two witnesses is all about I want to say something about us Bible prophecy teachers in general. Don’t be deceived, there is not one of us who is sure that all end time events have to happen exactly as we teach. Any teacher who believes that they have all end time Bible prophecy figured out probably has delusions of grandeur. Not one of the people on the who’s who list of Bible prophecy would totally agree with any other person on that list on certain points of Bible prophecy and almost all would disagree on one or more major points. So who on this list has all the truth? Some obviously have more truth on Bible prophecy than others but no one can be certain on all points. There simply are things we do not know and the best anyone can do in many cases is give a educated guess.
One of the reasons Bible prophecy teaching may have fallen out of favor in even premillennial churches could be because today there are so many conflicting theories from the Bible prophecy “experts”. Not to mention that there are some bad apples preaching Bible prophecy. So whose view does a pastor use as a guide without offending those in his church that bought into the teaching of some other teacher? I think many Bible prophecy teachers need a little more humility and when writing books and articles we need to quit presenting our various theories as if they were absolute facts set in stone. Now having said that, I hope nobody will think that what I am about to say has to be fact. I am just throwing out some of my thoughts for consideration as an explanation for the role of the two witnesses of Revelation and why scripture says the world will hate them so much.
I suggest that everyone interested in Bible prophecy study the writing of many different biblical teachers and do no just think that any one teacher has all the truth. Many of us have it right in one area of prophecy and miss it in another area. Keep that in mind. This is not an exact science although true Bible prophecy teachers do get the most important points correct.
The two witness are the last two prophets that will come before Jesus establishes His kingdom on earth. They will start their ministry from Jerusalem for the first half of the still unfulfilled seven years period spoken of by Daniel. I do not think they will oversee the building of the third temple since they know it will be defiled by the Beast. The temple might actually be in place before they arrive on the scene and the animal sacrifice system for sin might be part of the reason why they are dressed in sack cloth morning the unbelief of Israel and Israel not accepting God’s sacrificial Lamb for sin. The sackcloth probably also means that they will take no pleasure in the comforts of the world and they will be leading Israel and the world into repentance from sin.
Not much is said in scripture about what these two prophets will do so we have to take the little information we have and see if we can deduct their ministry from our overall understanding of the Bible and the purpose of God.
The Two Witnesses may have at least ten major roles on the earth.
1. In the ancient days of Israel God always sent His prophets before judgment in order to give people a chance to hear and repent. At this future time when God is once again dealing with Israel He will send His prophets once again. Thus, the two prophets in Israel will be sent to warn Israel and the world to repent of their sinful ways and accept Jesus as the Messiah who they will proclaim is about to return. They might tell the world exactly when the Lord will come and they certainly will tell the world that He is coming to judge the world and set up His kingdom on earth.
2. I believe God intends to use the Jews to give the final witness to all the world. He will seal 144,000 Jews and send them to all the nation of the earth (Rev 7: 3-8). I believe the greater fulfillment of the following passage will also then take place. I do not see how this passage was ever completely fulfilled until now.
Mat:10,6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. 9 Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, 10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. 11 And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. 12 And when ye come into an house, salute it. 13 And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. 15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. 16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; 18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. 21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. 22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. 23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. 24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? 26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. 27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. 28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. 32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. 34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. 40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. 41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
The wording of Verse 42 strongly suggests it refers to the Sheep and Goat Judgment of the Gentiles in Matthew 25. This judgment in spite of what some Christians teach is not about how Christians treat other Christians or how others treat Christians it is really about how the world treated these 144,000 Jewish sealed brethren during the days of their ministry on earth.
The two witnesses will probably tell the nations that they must allow all Jews to go back to Israel. If they do not and resist, the prophets are likely to send judgments on those nations as often as they wish. Much like when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. It is not going to be a question of free choice. God appointed the nation of Israel for a end time purpose and now Israel will fulfill that purpose. The Gentile world will be judged on how they respond to God’s prophets and how they treat the 144,000 sealed Jews and the nation of Israel.
3. They will prepare the way for God’s Kingdom on the earth by setting up God’s eternal law for nations to follow and to repent. Perhaps they will enforce a form of Jewish Dominion Theology and the people of the earth will be tormented by living under God’s law because they loved living in their lawlessness. The “wicked one” or “lawless one” that rises out of the bottomless pit will be given the power to kill the two prophets and the whole world will rejoice. Thus, that will display that they never repented of their sins and did not receive the love of the truth that these prophets presented.
There is this misconception with some in Christianity that the Law was done away with but on the contrary the Law is perfect and eternal and all people of flesh must conform to the perfect Law or die. Christians entered the New Covenant where the Law was written in their heart and now they have a heart that by nature obeys the spirit of the Law. Many Jews will also come into the New Covenant through hearing and believing the teachings of the two prophets and when Jesus reveals Himself to Israel the second time. The New Covenant promise was always to Israel and the Jews without preconditions (Jer 31:31) but for the most part they never entered into the New Covenant because of unbelief and the Gentiles were grafted into the promise first. But, soon all Israel will hear the truth and many will accept God’s Messiah. Those who willfully reject the Law and pollute the world with flagrant willful sin will be eliminated from the earth. Only one third of Israel will survive the tribulation and be refined through the fires (Zec 13:9). I think even less Gentiles will survive this period.
4. To verify that what had happened in the past and that was written in scriptures is indeed the truth. The whole gospel will be given and God’s purpose for Israel and the the Church will be clearly presented and known to all. So everyone who rejects the truth henceforth will be without excuse.
5. To witnesses that Jesus is the Messiah and Lord of the Earth and that He is about to return in power and glory and set up His literal Kingdom on earth for a thousand years in order to restore the earth to the paradise it was before the fall of man.
6. To show the power and reality of God through many signs, wonders and judgments.
7. To expose the work of Satan on earth that will be culminated in the person we call the Antichrist.
8. To display the futility of resisting and rejecting God’s will. When God’s prophets are killed they will be resurrected by God on the third day in the sight of the whole world as a witnesses to all.
9. To warn of eternal damnation for all that reject Jesus Christ as Lord.
10. To proclaim God’s forgiveness and love for all those who put their trust in Jesus Christ.
I think we totally underestimate the impact that these two prophets will have on the world. They will be second in power to no one until their ministry is complete. No weapon formed against them will succeed. If a nuclear missile is fired at them it will land on the nation that fired it. These prophets with supernatural powers will have God’s angels at their disposal. Anyone who dares to harm them will in like manor be killed. They are going to have such a profound impact on the world that after they are risen and taken into heaven the sinful world will want to be led to believe that they can stop the kingdom of Jesus from coming. Thus, at the end of this period of Antichrist rule the Antichrist gathers all nations against Jerusalem to try to stop the second coming and the fulfillment of their prophecies.
Why would anyone on earth believe they can defeat the God of Heaven? Obviously a great deception takes place so the world will believe a lie because they did not want to believe the truth (2 Th 2:11.12). I personally think the Antichrist will claim to have come to earth as God to save it from the god of the Bible by claiming the god of the Bible is really the leader of a evil alien race of control freaks that want to enslave the people of earth. That will be the great deception and delusion. This concept is taught in “New Age” teaching and in some ufology.
The Satanic angels cast out of heaven will claim to have come to earth to save it from the biblical god when in reality their real intentions will be to destroy the Jews so that Jesus will have no Jews for His earthly kingdom. When killing the Jews fails because Michael the Archangel protects them in the mountains of Jordan the Antichrist will lead the whole world against God in an attempt to have all human flesh on the earth totally destroyed. Jesus said if he did not shorten those days no flesh on earth would be saved.
In these days the truth will be twisted 180 degrees for those who wish to believe a lie. The two prophets of God will be called the Antichrist and his False Prophet by the Bible illiterate. While the real Antichrist will be looked at by most as God and the Savior of the world.
For 1260 days on earth every day will bring new decrees from the two prophets. What they say will be the major news story of the day and the whole world will quake with fear at their words. Although there will be rebellion against their decrees the people will soon learn that they will have to comply or receive judgment. It will be to the world like superior aliens came to earth and started dictated to all earthlings what they must do or reap immediate consequence.
Like I said, this is very much how the world will spin it and that is why the earth rejoices when they are killed by the Beast Antichrist that rises out of the underworld. They will think their earthly savior stopped the plan of Jehovah and the plan of a Jewish kingdom ruled by Jesus. But instead they will receive the wrath of the Lamb and the wrath of God. God’s son will return on schedule and God will destroy all those who would not have Jesus rule over them (Luke 19:27).