After the Misconception Article stating that the two future prophets of Revelation 11 are Enoch and Elijah, and not Moses and Elijah, I had a number of emails raising a point that I did not consider all that important at the time of writing, but because I have now been asked that question several times, I am going to address the matter. Admittedly, this is not a clear-cut matter.
One kind email stated this – “I do have one question – regarding Misconception 4, you mention it can’t be Moses because Men are appointed to die once, not twice. Didn’t Lazarus?? Wasn’t he dead when Jesus called him out from the grave? I don’t know how much longer he then lived, but wouldn’t he have died again??”
That is a very legitimate question, and I can see the confusion those examples might have with the verse, Hebrews 9:27 “Inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” For a moment, let us dismiss the two witnesses of Revelation 11 and look at what seems to be an apparent contradiction.
The following people died and were raised to live again (or to continue their lives) until they died again later:
- The Son of a Widow in Zarephath, raised by Elijah. The account is in 1 Kings 17:17-24.
- The Son of the Shunammite Woman. Raised by Elisha. The account is in 2 Kings 4:18-37.
- An Unnamed Man. A dead man’s body is hastily thrown into Elisha’s tomb and comes to life when it connects with Elisha’s body (2 Kings 13:20-21).
- The Son of a Widow from Nain. Jesus raises the son who was being carried to a tomb/grave (Luke 7:11-17).
- Jairus’s Daughter. The daughter of the ruler of the synagogue at Nain was sick and died before Jesus came. When Jesus arrived, he told the mourners there that she wasn’t dead but merely sleeping. She was raised and restored (Luke 8:40–56).
- Lazarus. The brother of Mary and Martha had been dead 4 days before Jesus raised him (John 11:1-44).
- Many Dead Believers in Jerusalem. This is a very unusual happening and the only time the raising of the dead involved more than one person (Matthew 27:50-53). These entered Jerusalem and appeared to many just after Jesus died on the cross. This is just my opinion, but I believe this miracle was short-lived, just for the time of appearing and for confirmation that the cross was highly significant. It was one more proof from God. They appeared to people but did not speak (at least not recorded). And they were not actually raised. They came from where they were.
I place this miracle in a different group from all the other raisings.
These Old Testament believers were in Abraham’s bosom, in Paradise, and NOT in heaven, for no one was in heaven at this point. They came from Paradise and returned to Paradise until the ascension when all the righteous in Paradise went to heaven. They did not die a second time. They had an appearance.
- Tabitha (Dorcas). She lived in Joppa, died, and was raised through Peter (Acts 9:36-42).
This disciple of the Lord fell to his death and was raised to life again through Paul (Acts 20:7-12).
The conclusion from the above examples is that those people did die and were raised, and did die later (except the many who appeared in Jerusalem).
So then, how are we going to explain Hebrews 9:27? – “Inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.”
I am going to make a suggestion here that is no more than a suggestion.
The longest time any of the above were dead was for 4 days, as for Lazarus. I believe it was very possible that none of these people who died went to Paradise (this was the time before the ascension) or to heaven (after the ascension). God knew they would be raised again (revived) to continue their lives, so He held them in a special state between their deaths and their raising from the dead.
I see that a bit like what I went through two weeks ago in an operation I had to have. I remember talking to the anesthetist in the theatre, and the very next memory was waking in a bit of a groggy state in the recovery room. However, 2 to 3 hours passed between those two events, of which I have not the slightest recall. I think that is how it was for those people mentioned above, but only for them. As they were in a special category, I think they did not go to the designated places of Paradise or heaven. They died, then woke up as if they had been in a state of unconsciousness. That in itself makes it a different category they are in. It is different for everyone else, including those abovementioned when they died the second time.
For that very reason, I do not think the above people could tell any tales of the afterlife, for they had none to tell. Paul, I believe, is the only person ever to have seen beyond the grave when he was taken to the third heaven in his vision. What he saw was not legitimate to communicate. That is the way God has decreed it.
Now getting back to the key verse here – Hebrews 9:27 -“Inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” – I think the main point is that everyone must die once (that does not include the living saints raptured when the Lord comes, who in a sense are dying to the world when they leave). Keeping to that central thought, death must come to all who have lived and passed from this world. Admittedly, 8 of them passed from the world twice but in a special sense the first time.
According to Hebrews, all who have left this earth have done so through death. That is the way it must be.
HOWEVER, there are two who, when they departed, did so without dying.
That was against the rules! It was God’s plan, but they must pass through that experience because sin causes death, physically. It is appointed to men to die once! Enoch and Elijah will have their turn or Hebrews is wrong.
Everyone must die once (yes, in those 8 special cases, they died twice).
Whether a man dies once or twice is not going to alter the fact that a man must die once. He must have that one time. Enoch and Elijah did not but will have their time.
Now I want to give a bit of an explanation on a verse in John the way I see it. John 3:13 “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, even the Son of Man.” At the point when Jesus spoke this, Paradise existed for all the righteous believers right up to that point in time. Paradise was not heaven, which is why Jesus could say that no one has ascended into heaven. The cross work of the Lord was necessary for the saints in Paradise to enter heaven.
Paradise, where there was Abraham’s bosom, no longer exists, for Christ led captivity captive when He ascended.
Only two other men are going to descend from heaven. They will be Enoch and Elijah, the two men who were caught up miraculously into heaven (up from the earth, not into God’s own heaven itself) and have never died, but who will. Both were miraculously caught up, and both will miraculously descend. To put Moses into this category cannot be done because he died and passed to Paradise, then to heaven. He will not die again.
One RR writer wrote to me with some suggestions, and he holds the view of Elijah and Moses. He said, “Enoch will not see death, so there’s absolutely no reason for him to die, just like those at the rapture won’t see death (the same holds true for Elijah).” I can see what the writer is saying, making the comparison with Enoch and the rapture of living saints. After all, I teach that the translation of Enoch is/was a type of the Rapture before the judgment comes/came – Noah’s flood.
The verse – “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. – Hebrews 11:5 – that being from the KJV, and that is fine. The ESV is substantially the same – “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.”
Bishop Ellicott, in his great commentary, says, And was not found . . . translated him – An exact quotation from the LXX (Septuagint). (Genesis 5:24).
The word rendered “translated” is a very simple one, denoting merely change of place; but nothing can equal the simplicity of the Hebrew, “he was not, for God took him.”
There is a clause – “that he should not see death.” I believe the RR writer understands that as, “He will never see death,” which discounts him from the two witnesses. I have always taken the view that it means “that he would not see death in his age,” that is, when he was living on the earth in Genesis.
Be that as it may, there are two men in heaven today who are there by default, who cheated death, once having lived but not died. I can see no other option than that the two witnesses are Enoch and Elijah.
There is a final reason why I believe Moses can’t be considered. Moses was a great leader whose gift was in ministering to his people. Although he was a prophet, his ministry was in service to his people. The two future witnesses are men of judgment. They bring curses on the earth, not blessing as Moses did. Enoch prophesied of judgment as Jude states – Jude 1:14-15 “About these also, Enoch in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied saying, ‘Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.’”
We all know Elijah’s ministry was of judgment in part. The two witnesses appear in the last half of the Tribulation when it is all about judgment and the wrath of God. That was not Moses’ ministry. This is not conclusive proof, but it is consistent with a man’s ministry.
You don’t know exactly who the prophets of Revelation 11 will be, so you can’t be dogmatic. I don’t know precisely, so I can’t be dogmatic. You can’t tell me I am definitively wrong. I can’t tell you that you are definitively wrong. However, on the balance of the evidence, I see no other conclusion other than that which I write.
Bottom line is this: I hope you are moved to examine scripture carefully for yourselves and especially now, as a lot of us think there is not that much time left before the Rapture. Each of us may see certain things differently, but it is important we examine scripture carefully and be convinced from God’s word. Don’t always accept what others say, but use the Berean approach – examining the scriptures daily to see if these things are so. God will bless you for your dedication in this.