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The Christian Counter

 

The Two Witnesses Reexamined

______________________________________

“These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands
that stand before the Lord of the earth.”

                                                                                    -Revelation 11:4

 

Note:   This study utilizes certain concepts developed in the presentation on the 144,000 and the seven trumpets. For b<<est results, please read those studies first.

 

Introduction

 

There has been a great deal of speculation and confusion on the topic of the Two Witnesses. Some Christians believe the Two Witnesses could be Moses and Elijah. Others believe the Two Witnesses two religious institutions such as Israel and the Church. Still, others believe the Two Witnesses could be Enoch and Elijah, the only tow men taken to Heaven without seeing death. Of course, there are other views, but we want a solid, definitive answer. What does the Bible teach?

 

When valid rules of interpretation are followed, the Bible will tell us who the Two Witnesses are because the Bible interprets itself. The solution may not be obvious at first, but the correct interpretation will be an exclusive solution because there is only one interpretation that can meet all of the specifications given to the Two Witnesses.

 

We will discover in this study that the Two Witnesses cannot be two men even though some translators have taken the liberty of inserting the word “men” into the Greek text. For example, Revelation 11:6 in the NIV says, “These men have the power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying….” I have italicized the word “men” because the word is not found in the Greek text. NIV translators have forced the pronoun “These” to refer to men, but the antecedent of the pronoun is “the Two Witnesses.” Because the Two Witnesses are personified as “two prophets” in Revelation 11:10, some people (like the NIV translators) have jumped to the conclusion that the Two Witnesses must be two men. Under closer investigation, however, Revelation 11:4 will not permit the Two Witnesses to be two human beings. Revelation 11:4 says, “These [the Two Witnesses] are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.” (insertion mine) As we will see, these representatives of the Two Witnesses will make perfect sense once a few things are understood.

 

Who Are the Two Lampstands and Two Olive Trees?

 

We will find in this study that God’s Two Witnesses have existed throughout eternity. They are omnipresent and their testimony is infallible. The Two Witnesses are two observers! They testify about God to His subjects and they report back with their observations.

During the Great tribulation, God’s Two Witnesses will be given greater power than at any previous time in Earth’s history. They will boldly declare the truth about God. Their testimony will be confirmed with powerful signs and wonders and they will measure and observe man’s response. They will faithfully report their observations to God. In fact, Jesus will hear from the Two Witnesses before He passes judgment on any person. God’s Two Witnesses work in both directions. They come from God, they witness our response, and report back to God. Their testimony is unimpeachable.

 

Two lampstands and two olive trees are called “two witnesses” because they are an important part of a judicial process that will last for 1,260 days. This judicial process will be the judgment of the living. The Bible speaks clearly: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10, italics mine) The judgment bar of Christ will be based on fact. Therefore, two infallible witnesses will be needed to establish the facts about each person.

 

When a conflict develops between two parties and they appear before a judge, two or more witnesses are required to establish a legal fact; otherwise, the claims of the plaintiff are cancelled by the claims of the defendant. To prevent the cancellation of claims and counterclaims, God said, “On the testimony of two or three witnesses a man shall be put to death, but no one shall be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.”

(Deuteronomy 17:6) This principle will be followed during the judgment of the living. No one will be sentenced to eternal life or death on the testimony of one witness. Before He passes judgment on a person, Jesus will first hear from His Two Witnesses.

 

The Two Witnesses are the Ten Commandments (represented by two lampstands) and the Holy Spirit (represented by two olive trees). One witness is a member of the Godhead and the other Witness comes from the mouth of God. Because they are divine, these Two Witnesses have no conflict. They operate in perfect harmony. The Ten Commandments were written on two tablets of enduring and changeless stone. (Exodus 34:1) One tablet contains the first four commandments (defining man’s duty to God). The other contains the remaining six commandments (defining man’s duty to man). The Ten Commandments are based on the principle of love-total devotion to God and selfless service for others. “’Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus’ replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as your self.’ All the Law and the Prophets [the Scriptures] hang on these two commandments.’” (Matthew 22:36-40; Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18)

 

In a sense, the Ten Commandments are prophetic. They reveal what people will do when they love God and man, as they should. Paul understood this. He wrote, Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:10)

 

King David understood the perfection of God’s law. He wrote, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than from the comb.” (Psalm 19:7-10)

 

The Two Witnesses are personified in Revelation 11 as two prophets because they will work through God’s prophets during the Great Tribulation. The Holy Spirit will empower each of the 144,000 to present God’s law to the world and the results will be spectacular. Honest hearted people will be “cut to the heart” with guilt when they hear about the demands of God’s law. Jesus predicted, “When he [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.”

(John 16:8, italics and insertion mine) Of course, human beings can reject the law of God and the demands of the Holy Spirit because nothing trumps free will in God’s universe.

 

The law of God operates like a plumb line. (Amos 7:8) It defines absolute right and wrong. Any deviation from the plumb line of God’s Word is sin. (1 John 3:4) This is why    

Paul wrote, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) The bible uses the imagery of a plumb line because it defines true vertical, and God’s law of God defines the Truth about His will. The law of God measures our actions and the Spirit reads our thoughts and motives. Remember, God’s Witnesses work in both directions. They come from God and observe our response. Then they report their findings back to God. They are infallible witnesses! Their testimony is harmonious and their truthful testimony will enable Jesus to righteously and fairly pass judgment on each human being. “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks in a mirror and, after looking at himself [and seeing his sins], goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:23-25, italics and insertion mine)

 

The Bible says the Two Witnesses will be killed at the end of the 1,260 days by the beast that comes up out of the Abyss. (Revelation 11:7) I am often amused when people say, “The Two Witnesses cannot be the law of God and the Holy Spirit because you cannot kill the law of God or the Holy Spirit.” My usual response goes like this: “Revelation 11:4 says the Two Witnesses ‘are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the Earth.’ How does one kill two inanimate lampstands and two olive trees that are not on Earth?” I have not received a biblically reasoned solution to this question during the thirty years that I have been asking it. It’s as though Revelation 11:4 does not exist. Many Christians ignore Revelation 11:4 and jump to Revelation 11:7 which says the two Witnesses are “two prophets” and this leap usually prompts a second question. 

 

Unable to answer the first question, people often quote verse 8: “Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.” (Revelation 11:8) Then they ask, “How can the law of God and the Holy Spirit lie in the street of the great city?”

 

The phrase, “in the street of the great city,” does not refer to a geographical place because the Bible plainly tells us the “the great city” is not a geographical place. “Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns…. This title was written on her forehead: MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH…. [The angel said to John] the woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.” (Revelation 17:3,5,18, italics and insertion mine) The woman who will rule over the kings of Earth is identified by the title on her forehead; she is Babylon the Great.

 

We found in our study on the seven trumpets that Lucifer will modify Babylon and establish a theocracy during the sixth trumpet. He will set himself up in the place of God as “King of kings and Lord of lords” over all of Earth. Lucifer’s church-state is the great city that will rule over the kings of Earth. His theocracy is the great prostitute. After 1,260 days, the world will be like Sodom and Egypt. Sodom represents lawlessness, bold deviant behavior, and sexually immoral passions. Egypt represents defiance and hardness of heart. Remember, Pharaoh hardened his heart ten times! Lucifer’s theocracy can be compared to the ancient city of Jerusalem – where Jesus was crucified. Jerusalem had rejected God’s law and inserted its own. This explains why God was put on trial and condemned as a criminal. Lucifer will repeat the same process with Babylon the Great. She will condemn the people of God and punish them with death. “I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished.” (Revelation 17:6)

 

The phrase, “Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city,” refers to the ancient practice of victors showing their utter contempt for their enemies. In ancient times, the greatest contempt a king could show his enemies was to leave his enemies unburied. This allowed the dog, vultures, and vermin to eat their victims. The stench of death and the never-to-be-forgotten sight of human being eaten by animals was a powerful testimony to anyone wishing to rebel against the king. The Bible predicts that Lucifer and his forces will kill most (if not all) of God’s 144,000 prophets and leave their bodies unburied (Revelation 6:11; 7:3; 16:6; 18:24). Ironically, Jesus will do the same thing to Lucifer’s servants! At the Second Coming, Jesus will show utter contempt for His enemies by throwing Lucifer’s administration into a lake of fire. Jesus will kill the rest of mankind by a command (the sword that comes out of His mouth) and the bodies of the dead will lie all over the face of Earth.  Birds (vultures) will gorge themselves on their flesh.

(Revelation 19:21) Understand when the Two Witnesses finish their work, the wicked will feel no sorrow or remorse when the 144,000 are slain. In fact, they will gloat and rejoice! (Revelation 11:10) When the Two Witnesses finish their testimony, God’s servants will die and “Their bodies will lie in the streets of the great city [of Babylon the Great].”

 

I must say again, “When valid rules of interpretation are followed, the Bible will tell us who the Two Witnesses are because the Bible interprets itself. The solution may not be obvious at first, but the correct interpretation will be an exclusive solution because there is only one interpretation that can meet all of the specifications given to the Two Witnesses.”                   


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