The Two Witnesses

In its task of prophesying before “nations and kings,” the church is symbolized by “Two Witnesses” that “testify” before the “Inhabitants of the Earth.” Their work continues for the entire “twelve hundred and sixty days” or “forty-two months” until they “finish” their prophetic ministry. Afterward, they are “slain by the Beast from the Abyss.”

Two things link the “Witnesses” and the commissioning of John to “prophesy to nations and kings,” and to the “measuring of the sanctuary” - (Revelation 10:11, 11:1-2).

First, the “Witnesses” are sent “to prophesy.”  Second, the “twelve hundred and sixty days” is mathematically equivalent to the “forty-two months” during which the “holy city” is trampled by the “nations.”

  • (Revelation 11:3-6) – “ And I will give to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the Lord of the Earth. And if any man desires to harm them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies; and if any man desires to harm them, in this manner must he be killed. These have the power to shut the heaven, that it rain not during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.”


PROPHESY TO THE NATIONS


The commission to John to “prophesy against peoples, nations, and tongues, and many kings” plays out on the earth in the work of the “Two Witnesses.” Though they are not killed until the end of the “twelve hundred and sixty days,” the “Witnesses” endure persecution for the entire period, and this s why they prophesy wearing “sackcloth.”

Persecution is the “bitterness” that John tasted when he ate the “little scroll.” And this persecution corresponds to the “holy city” being “trampled underfoot” for “forty-two months.”

As they give “testimony,” the “Two Witnesses” inflict the “plagues” of the “seven trumpets” on the “inhabitants of the earth.” Their “word” causes “fire” and other catastrophes as described in the first six trumpet blasts, including turning “water into blood.”

The book now weaves imagery from the prophetic careers of Elijah and Moses into its portrait. At the word of Elijah, fire fell from heaven and consumed his persecutors. When he prayed, it did not rain for three and one-half years. And before Pharaoh, Moses turned the waters of the Nile into blood - (1 Kings 17:1, 2 Kings 1:10-12, James 5:17).

Likewise, the “Two Witnesses” have “the power to shut the heaven, so that it does not rain during the days of their prophesying.” Like Moses in Egypt, they have the authority to turn the waters into blood and “smite the earth with every plague.”

ONE MINISTRY


The two speak with one voice. The fire unleashed by their “WORD,” singular, issues from their MOUTH,” also singular. When they are killed, their singleBODY” lies in the street of the “great city.” The same “plagues” issue from both “Witnesses,” and both stop the rain and turn water into blood.

Verse 4 alludes to a passage in the book of Zechariah when the prophet saw a “golden lampstand” holding seven lamps with “two olive trees,” one each on either side. A voice declared, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says Yahweh of hosts.”

The two “olive trees” provided oil to the lamps and represented the “two anointed ones” – Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel from the royal line of David – (Zechariah 4:2-14).

In Revelation, “lampstands” symbolize churches. Possibly, the “Witnesses” represent the priestly and kingly aspects of the church, the “kingdom of priests.” Elsewhere, this is a combined reality – a priestly kingdom – and not distinct ministries, individuals, or groups in the church (e.g., Revelation 1:20).

By their “word,” fire falls, and “waters turn into blood.” Likewise, the second trumpet produced the “great mountain burning with fire” that was cast into the sea, turning “the third part into blood.”

They “smite the earth with every plague.” Likewise, at the end of the sixth trumpet, the men who were not killed by the plagues “repented not of their work.” Thus, the plagues unleashed by the trumpet blasts are connected to the “testimony” of the “Two Witnesses” - (Revelation 8:7-9:20).

When any man attempts “to harm” (adikeō) them, fire issues (ekporeuomai) from their “mouth” and devours him. Similarly, the locust-like creatures from the “Abyss” were not “to harm” (adikeō) any man with “the seal of God on his forehead.” When the sixth trumpet sounded, out of the mouths of the horses “issued” (ekporeuomai) fire, smoke, and brimstone by which a third of humanity was killed - (Revelation 9:1-18).

Thus, the “word” of the “Two Witnesses” unleashes the judgments of the “seven trumpets.” Their “testimony” coincides with the period when the first six trumpet blasts are heard. The things described in chapter 11 do not follow the first six trumpet plagues chronologically. Rather, they provide further insight into the whole series of seven trumpets.


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