Revelation 11:3-4 NIV And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth." (4) They are "the two olive trees" and the two lampstands, and "they stand before the Lord of the earth."
These verses are a statement describing an event that will happen during the seven-year period called the tribulation. I do not see the passage as chronological and I will attempt to explain why.
The two witnesses.
My Dake's bible notes places the entrance of the two witnesses at the second half of the seven years.
Problems I have with that timing -
- Verse 3 states, “my two witnesses,” but witnesses to whom?
- If the nations are being witnessed to, what is the effect?
- You do not see anyone come to the Lord after a certain point in the Revelation (Rev 7:13-17), and if you are holding fast to a chronological viewpoint, the last of the Saints that John viewed in heaven, were seen previously in scripture. If you are going to be literal in your interpretation then you have to admit that there is no one past this point that comes into the kingdom.
- The answer to the question of who they are witnessing to really depends on when the two witnesses enter into the picture.
- If they are witnesses to the Saints, then that puts the two witnesses at the beginning of the seven years.
- But if they are witnesses to God's power and judgment, then perhaps this all makes strange sense; for what do they do? They consume those that would fight against them with fire, much like a fire breathing dragon. And, they stop the rain on whomever they see fit. There would have to be a motivation behind that, or they are merely responding to God's directives, just as Jesus did.
- If they arrive at the beginning of the tribulation then it could also be said that they are a representation of the Life of God in men, an aspect that few of us have adequately demonstrated. This makes more sense to me.From a prophets point of view. When we have attempted to move in the power of God those fearful of God's power have cried and moaned, and had us kicked out of our churches. (I speak from experience.) Pastors across this land have acted in fear and though they ask God for a move of his spirit they refuse to allow anyone the venue. I can tell that the church I go to now, they will escort you out the door if you attempt to express what you feel is a word from God. Growth in an area like this is somewhat experimental as you try to represent the heart of God and all you have is a broken human vessel to work with. God, it would seem, intentionally designed it that way. If I use Jonah as an example. He was not willing to deliver any message other than destruction upon a hated enemy, the Ninevites (The Assyrians). But he did, and they turned their hearts, momentarily, and God spared them for the time being. Reading the story of Jonah all the way through shows you how angry he was that God spared them.
The two witnesses are part of the pattern of prophesy. Allow me to refresh, or to some explain. To the Jew, prophesy is pattern. Pattern builds recognition and confidence. I suppose it demonstrates little trust, but really, was that Israel's problem all along?
We can find the two witnesses in: Zechariah 4:11-14; Malachi 4:5-6; Genesis 5:24; and Hebrews 11:5
Zechariah's account tells us that they are the anointed ones that stand before the Lord.
Malachi 4:5-6 LITV Behold, I am sending you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Jehovah. (6) And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the sons, and the heart of the sons to their fathers, that I not come and strike the earth with utter destruction.
Seeing as I am talking about pattern in prophesy, let's discuss this passage for a moment.
- Malachi was penned long after Elijah death, so there are only two ways Elijah could have an impact on fathers of the future.
- Through the record of his life,
- His reappearance as a witness at a future date. That date is not specified but the obvious factor is an appearance during the tribulation.
- For God to say, “before the coming of the great and dreadful of Jehovah” gives us no specific timing. Jesus even made the odd statement implying that John the baptist was Elijah. I do not believe that this was literal, but more symbolic, for John followed Elijah's pattern.
- One of the objectives that God spells out for Elijah is turning the heart of the fathers to their children. Has any aspect of Elijah's life had that great of an impact so far? No! Sure, there may have been a few that have been greatly affected, but do you not get the sense that God seems to be talking about a large scale result. How could Elijah possibly have that great of an impact? If he came back to earth in the tribulation period would certainly do it. Now that alone opens a can of worms for those that wish to date the return of the two witnesses, for where do you see anything in Revelation that looks like fathers turning to the hearts of the children? Only in the saints coming to the Lord after the rapture. Doesn't this imply that the future witness of Elijah has some impact on this prophecy.
- Verse 6 “And he shall turn..” sounds very definite, but is that what we see happen in Revelation? I have often described the saints turning to the Lord like this: Under the pressure of emminent death, they decide that choosing something other than Allah is a better choice, and most will merely refuse to accept the mark or worship the beast (Do not get all stupid on me here. There is no beast, it is a man, empowered by Satan, but you won't see that. What you might see is someone who came off as very charasmatic in the beginning.) These Saints will have their throats slit, or their heads removed for refusing Allah, and will enter the kingdom of God within a few seconds. Religion will have you beating your chest and crying out to God about what a sinner you are. You think he doesn't know that already. We are talking about a Father that is trying to regain a family, and all he has ever done is emplore them to come home.
There are things about the two witnesses that just make more sense to me. Those of you who chose not to learn of God have to do some backtracking. Joel chapter two tells of a powerful, spirit filled, fearless life, lived out briefly as a testimony to the living God. The two witnesses may be physical examples for you. If so, follow their lead.
ref: (i) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_in_Islam