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The Two Witnesses

"And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone desires to harm them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies; and if anyone would desire to harm them, in this manner he must be killed. These have the power to shut up the sky, in order that rain may not fall 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. And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. And those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. And after the three and a half days the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were beholding them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, 'Come up here.' And they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them" (Revelation 11:3-12 NASB).

There has been much speculation as to the identity of these two witnesses. The most popular traditional theory is Elijah and Moses, because these appeared with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:3, 4). Others think that it will be Elijah and Enoch, because they did not experience death (2 Kings 2:1+11; Heb. 11:5). Yet there is no sound basis for these assumptions. [Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992. Click here to visit her "Revelation Illustrated" site.]

One concept maybe not yet considered, is that only the "Spirit of Elijah" may appear; in other words, the prophetic Holy Spirit that spoke through Elijah may anoint two Jewish witnesses in the same way. Elijah means "Jehovah is God" (Jesus is Jehovah). Are the two witnesses not a testament to this fact, as John the Baptist was? Consider the following two verses:

"For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you care to accept it, he himself is Elijah, who was to come" (Matt. 11:13, 14 NASB).

"And He answered and said, 'Elijah is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you, that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.' Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist" (Matt. 17:11-13 NASB).

Also, if I'm not mistaken, Elijah was the first of God's prophets for His Spirit to speak through to the nation of Israel. (Some consider Samuel as one of the prophets, but he is better placed in the era of judges rather than in the era of prophets; at best he was transitional.) Therefore all His prophets came in the "Spirit of Elijah." Elijah's mantle was passed on to Elisha (2 Kings 2:1-15). The "Spirit" through Elijah began God's office of prophetic ministry; is it not then fitting that the same Spirit should consummate it? And if the nation of Israel had accepted John and not killed him; then would they have not also accepted their Messiah? Was not Jesus' Gospel theme "the kingdom of God is at hand (i.e., within reach, near)?" Therefore, if Israel had believed they would have shortly then entered the kingdom of God (His millennial kingdom on earth) and prophecy would have been finished--leaving John as the "Elijah" prophesied to come at the end (of the age). Because of Israel's unbelief, however, the kingdom is postponed. [The "mystery" dispensation (the church age) was not revealed by God until after Israel rejected her Messiah; He then raised up the apostle Paul to reveal this plan heretofore "hidden" (Rom. 16:25, 26; Eph. 1:9+10; 3:3-9; 5:32; Col. 1:25-27)]. There will be another "Elijah." A Jewish person may be alive and well in Israel today "waiting" to be anointed with the "Spirit of Elijah" (see: Zech. 4:11-14).

"Then I answered and said to him, 'What are these two olive trees on the right of the lampstand and on its left?' And I answered the second time and said to him, 'What are the two olive branches which are beside the two golden pipes, which empty the golden oil from themselves?' So he answered me saying, 'Do you not know what these are?' And I said, 'No, my lord.' Then he said, 'These are the two anointed ones, who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth'" (Zechariah 4:11-14 NASB).

The other "witness" may be in the Spirit of God's perfect character--the Law, because one has to power "to smite the earth with every plague" like Moses, the Lawgiver, did in Egypt just prior to the exodus.

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