I Will Give Power to My Two Witnesses

and They Will Prophesy for 1,260 Days

11: 1-6a

   DIG: What was John commanded to do? Why? What powers did they have? What happens to these two witnesses? Why did they have them?

   REFLECT: What do you learn in this passage about what it means to be a witness? What has been toughest about living out your faith in school? At work? At home? Why is it so satisfying to be His witness? Why is it so hard?

    Throughout human history the LORD has faithfully sent His spokesmen to call upon sinners to repentance. During the long, dark years of Isra'el’s rebellion, ADONAI warned Isra'el and Judah through all the prophets, saying: God had warned Isra'el and Judah in advance through every prophet and seer, “Turn from your evil ways; and obey My commandments and regulations, in accordance with the entire Torah that I ordered your ancestors to keep and that I sent to you through My servants and prophets” (Second Kings 17:13). Tragically, they did not listen. However, God continued to send prophets such as Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah and others who confronted wayward Isra'el and sinful Gentile nations. Through it all, the LORD has always preserved a believing remnant (Romans 9:27, 11:4-5; Isaiah 10:20-22 and 11:11). In the B'rit Chadashah, faithful preachers call for repentance and faith, offering all sinners the hope of forgiveness in Jesus Christ. This section is parenthetical and is the fourth of five events that will occur throughout the first half of the Great Tribulation.

    In the future, during the earth’s darkest hour, ADONAI will raise up two exceptional and powerful preachers. They will fearlessly proclaim the Gospel during the first three and a half years of the Great Tribulation. But in addition to preaching the Gospel, these two preachers will proclaim God’s judgment on the wicked world. They will participate in fulfilling the words of Christ: And this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14). They will also be used by the LORD to bring salvation to Isra'el.276

    John was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told: Go and measure the temple of God and the bronze altar, and count the worshipers there (Revelation 11:1, also see Ezekiel 40:3-4 and Zechariah 2:1-2). Measuring symbolizes reserving a city either for preservation (Ezekiel 40:3 to 48:35; Zechariah 2:1-5) or for destruction (Second Kings 21:12-14; Isaiah 34:11; Lamentations 2:8). The tribulation temple will probably be built after a seven-year treaty is signed between the Israeli government and the antichrist. It will reinstitute their ancient worship and sacrifices. By the time it is built, much of the first three-and-a-half years of the Great Tribulation will be completed, and the Jews no doubt will be feeling happy and secure. The tribulation temple will be measured, but so will the worshipers. This indicates that the type of measurement has to do with spiritual matters rather than physical. As always, Isra'el will be judged first (First Peter 4:17).

    The tribulation temple will be the fourth built in Jerusalem (see Bx – The Tribulation Temple). The first was built by Solomon, the second under Zerubabbel, the third (Herod's) Temple (the one in which John himslef had worshiped) had been destroyed by the Romans led by Titus in 70 AD. Ever since then, Jerusalem has been under Gentile domination. Messiah had prophesied: Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luke 21:24). After World War II, Isra'el was reestablished as a nation and regained most of Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967. But the Temple site, the most vital part of the city, remained under Muslim control.

    Because the antichrist will want to gain the trust of the Jews, he will probably allow them to build their Temple where the Dome of the Rock now exists. The Muslims will not resist. With his supposed worldwide peace, no one will resist him as he methodically gains control of the world’s nations. In time, however, he will become increasingly irritated with the Jews. Their worship, contrary to the humanistic worship promoted by him, and their bloody sacrifices will be offensive to him. Furthermore, the 144,000 Israelites have actually accepted Christ and will be preaching the Gospel everywhere. Therefore, at the mid-point of the Great Tribulation, the antichrist will place a statue of himself in the Most Holy Place and declare himself to be God (Matthew 24:15; Revelation 13:3-9). Isra'el’s love affair with the antichrist will be brief as the spiritual scales fall from their eyes and they finally realize who he is. He and the Gentiles will drive them out of their Temple and Jerusalem once more. But exclude the outer court (Ezekiel 40:17-20); do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months (11:2). For the second half of the Tribulation, or another 42 months, Yerushalayim will be trampled on by the Gentiles before their judgment would come and the times of the Gentiles would be complete.

    And I will give power to My two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, corresponding to 42 months of thirty days, or three and a half years, clothed in sackcloth (11:3). Witnesses is the plural form of martus, from which the English word martyr derives, since so many witnesses of Jesus Christ in the early body of believers paid for their belief with their lives.277 These two witnesses are clearly prophets of judgment. Sackcloth will symbolize suffering and grief worldwide. They will preach to both Jew and Gentile alike. The identity of the two witnesses has been a matter of much speculation. But whoever they are, they will be real men who speak and perform miracles, die, and rise again.

    We are given few specifics about these two people. The miraculous authority given to these two witnesses by the LORD is similar to that of Elijah and Enoch. But in the end, we must exercise prudence and admit that we simply don’t know who they are. To be definitive goes beyond what is written. But here are some thoughts:

    Malachi said: See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of ADONAI comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and hearts of children to their fathers. Or else I will come and strike the land with a curse (Malachi 4:5-6). This prophecy is even more amazing in that it records the very last words of the TaNaKh. He was taken directly to heaven without dying (Second Kings 2:11). God must have had something for Elijah to do that required him to retain his natural body. So there he remains, waiting until that time when he will return to earth to complete his ministry, just before that great and dreadful day of the LORD.

    Enoch was the only other man in all of human history who was taken directly to heaven without dying. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away (Hebrews 11:5). Enoch’s message to the wicked generation before the Flood could well be the essence of the message to the world during the first half of the Great Tribulation: See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of His holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against Him (Jude 14-15). But one of the witnesses may simply come in the spirit and power of Enoch just as John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17).

    These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth (11:4). This enigmatic description is drawn from Zechariah 4:1-3 and 11-14. Zechariah’s vision had both a near historical fulfillment and a far eschatological fulfillment. The near historical fulfillment was the rebuilding of the Temple after the Babylonian exile. But the far eschatological fulfillment looked forward to the restoration of Isra'el in the Millennium. The fact that John saw the two witnesses standing before the LORD back in the days of Zechariah points to the fact that they had lived in earlier times. ADONAI called them My two witnesses because of their special relationship with Him. They had stood by Him in the days of their flesh, in the midst of their own ungodly generations, now they stood with Him in the last . Now surely, He would stand by them.278 Their declarations of judgment will make them feared and hated. Many attempts will be made on their lives, but if anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies (Num 16:35; 2 Kings 1:10-12). This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die (11:5). These men not only have power to defend themselves, but to also call forth great plagues upon the earth.

    They shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the three and a half years they will be prophesying. And they will have the power to turn waters to blood (8:6-9) and strike the earth with every kind of plague they want (11:6). This drought will obviously bring about a worldwide famine and loss of human life. Not only that, but the world’s atmospheric circulation will begin to change (7:1), reverting back to that of a canopy before the Flood (Genesis 1:6-8). This will prepare the world for the perfect environment of the Millennium. This drought corresponds to the judgment of the third seal at the beginning of the Great Tribulation (6:5-6). The third trumpet judgment will result in the poisoning of one-third of the earth’s fresh water supply (8:10-11). In addition, the drought will last the entire 1,260 days of their preaching (Luke 4:25 and James 5:17). All the seal and trumpet judgments are also called plagues in 9:20, so it will be obvious to the ungodly of the earth that the two witnesses will cause all the plagues inflicted upon them by the four horsemen. For example, their power to turn waters into blood matches the first and second trumpet judgments (8:7-8). All these events will lead up to their death.

    The judgments that they will inflict will last for three and a half years. During that time they will be hated and despised by the nations, but especially by the antichrist. Assassins will try to kill them, only to be burned alive. ADONAI will protect them until they have finished their testimony. The two witnesses will seem indestructible. Not only that, but great multitudes will come to believe in Jesus Christ by the preaching of the 144,000 sealed Israelites who also will receive divine protection. For the antichrist, the tipping point will be reached in the middle of the Great Tribulation. Something had to change. However, it will not be what he had planned.


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