Revelation Lesson 26: The Tale of Two Witnesses :: By Sean Gooding

Revelation Chapter 11:1-6

“Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, ‘Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.’

“These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.”

I hope that you have been experiencing the idea of the Gospel being sweet to the taste of those who have accepted the salvation that we have been offered in Jesus, but also bitter, as we see how many reject the loving gift from our Lord and King. Right now, there are two persons reading the Bible in the place where I work, other than me. One is reading it after having come to the realization that Jesus and God are the same person. Since last Christmas, this one person has read through from Genesis to the book of Ezekiel. There are always lots of questions and observations about the Lord. The other person is reading the Bible as well, but more from the perspective of just a book.

Now, the Lord promised that His Word would not return void, so this person may find out that God is real and that they need a personal relationship with Him.

If you know Jesus as your Savior, then the Gospel is sweet. Every time you hear it, it reminds you of what you have in Jesus and because of Jesus; the Holy Spirit helping us to get it!  But we can look at our family, our friends and our co-workers; and they reject the same Gospel that brightens our souls. They are indifferent to all that Jesus did for them, even though some of them know the story and are familiar with the name Jesus. It is hard to imagine them in Hell and suffering forever, but this is the reality of those that reject the loving gift of our Saviour. Let this be a motivating factor in how we share the Gospel; let us help as many people as possible see the sweetness of the truth; each of them will be one less person to feel the bitterness about.

We are going to explore Revelation chapter 11 where we meet two witnesses. I have heard some conversations about these witnesses, these 2 men, but not many lessons. From the reading and the research I have done, I have come to a conclusion on the identity of these two witnesses; and we will explore this as we move ahead into the chapter.

We are entering the second half of the Tribulation as we continue our journey in the Revelation. In this part, the focus will almost be exclusively on Israel, and in particular, we will see a lot of Jerusalem. It is difficult to pick up a story at the end and get it, so let me fill in a few of the blanks. One must understand God’s perspective, and this should help. In Exodus 20: 1-3 we find this:

“And God spoke all these words, saying: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.’”

This is how the Lord God began the commandments; “you are not to have any gods before Me.” The better understanding is: I am the only God there is; don’t go and worship anyone or anything else. This seems pretty plain; not much interpretation is needed here. But Israel constantly chased after false gods – from Solomon who was led away by his wives into idolatry in 1 Kings 11, to the kings that led Israel and Judah into their respective captivities – these people chased after foreign gods.

In the book of Hosea, the Lord tells Hosea to go and marry a prostitute (Hosea 1:2). She was the picture of Israel to the world: Hosea, the good and faithful husband representing God; and Gomer, the picture of unfaithful Israel who would worship any god, turning her back on her faithful husband. You may ask, did God see her as a wife?

In Ezekiel 18:1-8, we find this wonderful picture of God and Israel: Him seeing her as a baby wallowing and unloved, how He watched over her and then took her as His own as man would take a wife. He blessed her and treated her like royalty; and despite all this, she cheated on Him time and time again. Finally, He sent His Son, and she rejected Him and killed him. For the last 2,000 years, Israel had for the most part disappeared as a nation; but then, in May 1948, she resurrected as if from the dead, and began the ‘last’ days.

The Gentile age will come to an end with the Rapture, and there will be a transition time that includes the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem – a Third Temple in accordance with the prophecy in Daniel 9:27, 12:11; and Matt. 24:15. The Anti-Christ is in place and running the world for the most part, and he is now trying to rule the world from Jerusalem. As far as I can read and understand, the antichrist is not yet indwelt by Satan, but that is coming soon.

A line in the Temple, Revelation 11:1-2

John is told to take a reed and use it as a measuring rod. This was a common practice; these reeds resembling bamboo canes were light and hollow yet very rigid, so they could give very accurate measurements with just one man holding them. John is told to make a measurement showing where the Gentiles were allowed and where the Jews were allowed.

In Herod’s day during the time of the last Temple, the one that Jesus was in often in the Gospels, according to what has been found, there was a short wall that separated where the Jews could go and where the Gentiles could go. John was told specifically to measure the altar and those who worship there. This would include the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant was, the Holy Place where the table of shewbread and the altar of incense were, and the very outer area of the Temple where the altar for sacrificing was.

If the builders wanted to match the temple that Solomon built, then the size would be 180ft long by 90ft wide by 50ft high. If they worked off the second temple, then it was much smaller at 60ft long by 30ft wide by 90ft tall. We are not told what the dimensions of the third temple are; they are not significant for this discussion. What matters is that there is a place for the Jews ONLY and a place that the Gentiles can come, so far and no further.

Measuring is a sign of ownership; God owns Jerusalem and Israel as a whole. This is what separates Jerusalem and Israel from all other nations and cities in the world.

In Zechariah 2, the Lord gives us an insight into His feelings about Jerusalem. He tells us in verse 8 that “he who touches (hurts) Jerusalem touches the apple of his eye.” Later in the chapter, He calls Judah His inheritance. Judah had Jerusalem in its borders, and it was where David set up the throne of Israel. The Gentiles, we are told in Revelation 11:2, will be allowed to occupy Jerusalem for 42 months; and, during the course of the 42 months, God will send two witnesses to prophesy against the city. These men will be a pain in the posterior of the antichrist, and I cannot imagine the frustration of the governments of the world as they have to deal with the truth-telling prophets.

One must understand that the entire kingdom of darkness is built on a lie. That lie is that Lucifer can be like God, that he can threaten God’s place as the King of the Universe. Those that follow him on earth are simply falling for the lie. Satan knows his end, as do the millions of angels that rebelled with him. They know that their end is Hell, forever. But they have convinced their earthly followers that they can have eternal life without Jehovah.

These two witnesses will speak the truth; they must because they represent God.

The world system is not fond of the truth; we have seen it here in the current political dilemmas. Those who tell the truth are hated, and those who tell lies are elected most often. When, as sometimes happens, we get someone who tells the truth, we get rid of them as fast as possible. The truth hurts those that live in lies. The Gospel is all truth; it often hurts those that hear it, and they lash out at the speaker.

The Jews and the world system are about to get 42 months of truth; but recall that, when the Rapture happened, God allowed the delusions to take over (2 Thess. 2:11). The truth they are about to hear will hurt them and eat them up inside.

Two Witnesses, Revelation 11:3-6

These two are called “my witnesses.” They are sent by God for a purpose, and they have some serious power. They can kill you with fire from their mouths, they can stop the rain, they can turn water into blood, and they can kill with plagues. These are two very powerful men. They will be dressed in sackcloth, the Old Testament clothing of those who were mourning over sin before God. In Jonah 3 we find the entire city of Nineveh, including the animals, wore sackcloth as a sign of mourning and sorrow over their sin before God. These two witnesses are in sorrow over the sins of Israel, that rebellious and adulterous nation that denies its God who has preserved it and kept it since the days of Abraham.

As an aside, I think that the North American nations of Canada and the USA need to take stock of ourselves. We are not Israel – never have been and never will be – but the people who founded these two nations understood that there was a God in heaven, that there was and is a standard of right and wrong. There was a respect for the Bible, and certainly its precepts were and are the basis for many, if not all of the freedoms that we enjoy.

Over the years, God has allowed the US and Canada to win some serious wars and to offer millions of people around the world a safe haven from oppression both religious and political; they have offered people the chance to hope again. Over the past half-century, we have turned our backs on God, despised His absolute truth in the name of tolerance, and think that everybody can have their own god. We are running headlong into the hands of an angry God. We are warned in the scripture that “to whom much is given, much will be required,” and we have been given much.

Who are these witnesses? There is some debate over this. Truthfully, other than guys working on the end-time stuff, these two persons are rarely ever spoken about. Once I began to work on this, I found that there was an overwhelming body of work that lent to the idea that these two witnesses would be Enoch and Elijah. I had thought that for some time, but now I see that men who are way more scholarly than I feel the same way.

I just happened to have finished reading through the book of 1 Kings and saw the works of Elijah the Tishbite, as he is called. Of course, we also see Elijah, alive and well in the New Testament at the Transfiguration of Jesus in Matthew 17 and Luke 9. We are told that John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah, and some even thought that Jesus was Elijah (Mark 8: 27-28). The Jews understood that Elijah would return before the Messiah appeared, as promised in Malachi 4: 5-6,

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”

One of the reasons that the antichrist will hate these two witnesses is that they will begin to turn the hearts of the Jews in preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus in Revelation 19. Once they begin to look for their true Messiah, then the antichrist will lose all power over them. They will no longer fear him and will no longer be swayed by his words. Elijah, as we see in his ministry, was able to call down fire from heaven; and when he prayed, God shut up the heavens. And at one point during the reign of Ahab, no rain fell for more than 3 years (1 Kings 18-19). Simply looking at the promises and the action of Elijah, I am sure that one of the two witnesses will be Elijah.

The other, again as I understand it, is Enoch. He is famous in the scripture because, like Elijah, he never saw physical death (Genesis 5:24). This, along with his faithfulness to God in a very perverse generation (see Genesis 6) just like Elijah, puts him as the other witness. In Jude verse 14, we are told that Enoch prophesied that “the Lord is coming with His thousands.” This will happen after the Two Witnesses are killed and taken to Heaven. This is a prophecy about Revelation 19. This is another bit of the Bible that ties these two together.

These two will be given unmatched power to stand against the enemies of both God and Israel for 42 months. No one will be able to shut them up, sway them, bribe them or kill them for this period of time. These two faithful witnesses will call Israel back to the Messiah, preparing them to see their Messiah again, to see His nail-pierced hands and feet, to see the sword-pierced side, and to see the scars of their atonement described in Isaiah 53.

Right now, the New Testament church is the witness for the Lord. Are you and I doing our jobs? Are we faithful like Elijah and Enoch were/are? Are we making disciples and teaching others to become followers of Jesus? The Rapture is not far away; get busy. Read Matthew 28:18-20,

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’” Amen.