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Mystery of the Two Witnesses

Researched by Rabbi D. Larue

This Article deals with the identity of the two witnesses found in (Revelation 11:3-6). As most know that with any biblical prophecy many opinions, ideas, and speculations have arisen to solve this mystery. Hopefully this study will help bring a better perspective on who they really are.

Opening text:

Rev 11:3-6 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 menorahs standing before the Elohim 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.

 

A. Understanding the Mission of the two witnesses

Verse three here reveals the direct purpose and mission of the two witnesses during the tribulation period. The English here also reads that G-d “will give Power” to the two witnesses.  However the Greek does not add the word power in the text, but simply reads that G-d will (grant or commission=gk.Did-o-mee) my two witness to prophesy. Therefore by the scripture we understand that the first priority of these two witnesses is to prophecy on behalf of G-d for 1,260 days which is the equivalent of 3 ½ yrs. The message of the two will be repentance.

B. Identity of the two witnesses

Verse four then links us to the identity of the two with the vision of the two olives trees and Menorahs (candlesticks) which are found in the Book (Zechariah 4:11-14)

Zec 4:11-14 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? 12  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? 13  And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my ADONAI (LORD).14  Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by ADONAI (the LORD) of the whole earth.

 

Who the two Olive trees and Menorahs are not

1.a The two Olive trees and Menorahs here in Zachariah do not speak of present, future, or messianic churches of today. The olive trees are neither the Jewish community nor the Christian community during the tribulation period which some have speculated them to be. The displacement of either group of people is based on Revelation 11:3. Which clearly points out that these two single individual persons are not cataloged as groups of communities, but that they themselves will be wearing or will be clothed in sackcloth during their time of prophesying. This material (Heb. =Sak) in ancient Hebraic times was a customary clothing only worn by people during times of mourning or humiliation or upon responding to hearing a message of repentance as we see referenced within the historical event of (Jonah 3:5).The two witnesses likewise are wearing the same garments as that found in Jonah 3:5 representing their message is one of repentance symbolized by their outer garments. This hardly fits what a church or people would actually wear for 3 ½ yrs strait as this point is never mentioned with any commentator’s interpretations. Which would also imply according to them that the sackcloth here is not taken literal but only to be understood as symbolic for the church of that time which will preach repentance to Israel. I find that the wording of scriptures here are to be understood as quite literal and not symbolic or allegorized. I also find again that the scripture is in fact speaking of two individual people and says nothing about them being a trib church or community of Christians or messianic prophets. They are two individual persons not churches.

2.b The two Olive trees or Menorahs of Zechariah are not Moses, Elijah, nor Enoch. As with the above we know that the two witnesses are not Jewish communities or trib Christian, Messianic churches. But what is often assumed is that the two must be either literal Moses or Elijah or for that reasoning or logic it must be Enoch and Elijah for sure. Firstly we should recognize that the two are prophets called to prophecy repentance during the first half of the seven year tribulation period. But they are not literal, physical, spiritual, or even symbolic Moses and Elijah come back to life only to die. This assumption and mistake is often made by many commentators as they view (Revelation 11:5-6) as belonging only to Moses and Elijah as follows.

Patterns of Elijah & Moses works

Rev 11:6a. power to shut heaven= Elijah

Rev 11:6b. rain not in the days of their prophecy=Elijah

Rev 11:6c. power over waters to turn them to blood=Moses

Rev 11:6d. to smite the earth with all plagues=Moses

Each of the works of Elijah and Moses pointed out here tells us that the two witnesses will also have the same abilities which once was given to the Old Testament prophets. Only there is a special feature which sets them apart from the two Old Testament prophets.

The interesting point found here in verse five specifically points out something different about the two witnesses apart from Moses and Elijah. It reads that “fire (gk.Pur) proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies”. Although Moses and Elijah spoke powerful words and judgment from G-d during their ministries their words did not devour their enemies with fire instantaneously.

Although this may be taken in the literal sense as fire is also associated with judgment. So whatsoever fiery judgment is pronounced upon the wicked it will follow with the swift manifestation of death. This is something that Moses or Elijah did not have during the course of their ministries other than the event of the death of the firstborn which was brought on by the Egyptian pharaoh (Shemot -Ex.10:28).

The second issue here is that the two cannot be harmed during the course of their ministry, again pointing out that this feature is somewhat different and apart to what Moses or Elijah had. The fact that Yohanan (John) speaks about the various types of past manifestations of Moses and Elijah does not predicate nor typecasts the two future witnesses as automatically being specifically Moses or Elijah as some have suggested.

 

Are the two witnesses Elijah and Enoch?

3.c Another  argument here with most is that if this is neither Moses nor Elijah it then must be Enoch and Elijah because neither tasted death. As (Heb.9:27) is often stated; “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”

Since Enoch and Elijah never saw death they must now be appointed to die, and they must embody the two witnesses of (Rev. 11:3-6). But this is a general principle and not an absolute rule for instance if (Heb. 9:27) is an absolute rule, it would mean that all living church saints at the rapture will also have to die some time. Both (1stCor. 15:51) and (1stThess. 4:15-17) show us that (Heb 9:27) is only a general principle. Also in light of (Heb. 11:5), it cannot be that Enoch will die in the future:

Enoch is clearly said to have been translated (gk.=Metatithemi) was instantly changed into a spiritual body and entered the heavens. It does not state that his translation was a glorification in the Messiah only a change from his mortal flesh to becoming immortal. The same issues exist with Elijah for no man can enter heaven in his flesh. This means that neither Elijah nor Enoch can die now, for they are now immortal. So the idea of the two witnesses being Elijah or Enoch is certainly out of the question here.

 

Moses is not one of the witnesses of Rev 17:3-6

 

4.d Finally we can also say with confidence that one of these two prophets won’t be Moses either, because Moses will not be brought back to life since he had already died once, and will not have to die again (Heb.9:27) as some have thought due to the reference found in the Mattiyahu (Matt 17: 1-5) account. There it shows both Moses and Elijah bearing witness to the Son of G-d or the Messiah who is the fulfiller of both the Old and New covenants of G-d. Since these two did appear to the Messiah they must also be the two witness of (Rev 11:3-6). Part of this idea also comes from rabbinic thought which taught the Jewish community in quote;

 

"that the Shekinah never descends below, but "Moses and Elias" ascend above.''

Yea, they expect that these two will come together in future time; for so they represent God saying to Moses;

"Moses, as thou hast given thy life for them (the Israelites) in this world, so in time to come (the days of the Messiah) when I shall bring Elias the prophet, "you two shall come together".''

 

Quotes: {T. Bab. Succab, fol. 5. 1. & Debarim Rabba, sect. 3. fol. 239. 2.}

 

Clearly the rabbis believed at one point that Moses and Elijah would come together during the days of the Messiah. This idea is also drawn up by some commentators of today. But as noted Moses will not come again. We have no biblical data to support this view in neither the Old or New covenant. Therefore upon this evidence we would have rule out an appearance of Moses during the tribulation period.

C. The Plain facts about the Two Witnesses

 

The plain facts about our two witnesses is that:

 

1. According to the prophet Zechariah they are: “The two anointed ones, that stand by ADONAI (the LORD) of the whole earth”.This means that the two individuals here are appointed and anointed by G-d. They are called to stand as his witnesses during the first 3 ½ yrs of the tribulation period.

 

The plain facts about our two witnesses is that:

 

2. They are two future Jewish prophets sent to preach repentance to the Jewish nation in the days ahead.

This does not mean that they have to be either Moses, Enoch or Elijah and certainly are not the church.

 

The plain facts about our two witnesses is that:

 

3. Their given spiritual authority and abilities are similar, but with some differences.

Meaning that just because they do have similar abilities like Moses and Elijah doesn’t typecast them to be the actual persons as Yohanan (John) never mentions that they are in fact Moses and Elijah.

 

The plain facts about our two witnesses is that:

 

4. Their personal identity is really unknown to us for the time being. Regardless of countless speculation and opinions it’s clear that they will only be revealed at that appointed time of the tribulation. Until then we know for certain that they will not be Moses, Elijah, Enoch, the church or the Jewish community.

 

A final note about Elijah the prophet

 

While it is yet true that Elijah the prophet will come again as we learn from (Mal 4:5-6). He will be sent to the Jewish nation first and alone sometime before the tribulation gets under way. But the two witnesses are separate in their timing from Elijah’s mission and Elijah will not be killed as the witnesses will be in the middle of the 3 ½ yrs period of the trib. Making the two’s witnesses work as following up the work of Elijah’s. So the (Mal 4:5-6) prophecy will be fulfilled during those times followed by the prophecy of the two witnesses. (See our article link on Elijah is not John the Baptist )