Did you know that there will certainly be a future end-time spiritual revival upon this Earth? Jesus prophesied in Matt. 24:14, stating:
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
What will that look like during the days of the tribulation? Who will be the personalities that will be involved?
I believe that it will be almost immediately following the rapture that the “two witnesses” (Rev. 11:3) will appear supernaturally in Jerusalem to begin their three-and-a-half-year ministry. Their amazing story is told in Rev. 11:1-12.
Why would I say that their appearance is supernatural? The text strongly implies by its descriptions of them that these witnesses will indeed be Moses and Elijah (Rev. 11:6). This aligns with other prophetic Scriptures about these two particular men (see Mal. 4:4-5; Matt. 11:14; Matt. 17:1-13), both of whom were formerly great leaders in Israel.
Thus, it would seem to be the case that each of these men will be resuscitated from the dead and brought back to Earth for a second phase of ministry. They will be raised like Lazarus to live again in their natural bodies—only with a much longer gap of time in the middle than he experienced (see John 11:1-44).
Some say that these two witnesses must be Enoch and Elijah, on the basis that both were carried to heaven without dying—because “it is appointed for men to die once” (Heb. 9:27), and they would argue from Gen. 5:24, 2 Kings 2:11, and Heb. 11:5 that neither of these men have ever yet died.
In claiming this, however, they seem to discount the fact that all of us who long for the pretribulation rapture of the church, likewise, hope to escape this world without passing “through the valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4).
But I would maintain that Enoch and Elijah actually did die, albeit in some elevated fashion—and neither of them were raptured directly “up to the third heaven” (2 Cor. 12:2). Their bodies and spirits must have been somehow gloriously separated (see Js. 2:26). Being pre-cross believers, they then would have gone to “Paradise” (Luke 23:43; see also Luke 16:22) to await the victory of Christ’s resurrection (see Eph. 4:8-10)—not directly to heaven (see John 3:13).
Enoch is also ruled out because he was pre-Abraham, thus not a member of the nation of Israel. Remember, after the rapture takes place, the true church will be in heaven. The false church will continue to thrive upon the earth, but it will not be evidence of God’s work within the world. He will have turned, once again, to working by means of the nation of Israel. It will be strictly an Israelite program. The center of worship for the world will be the Temple in Jerusalem (see Rev. 11:1), and all international outreach efforts will be overseen for the first half of the tribulation by these two witnesses.
After all, Moses also had a somewhat mysterious death (Deut. 34:5-6; see Jude 9). Both he and Elijah had incredibly exhilarating ministries—yet they were both also deeply frustrated and disheartened at their lowest points (see Num. 11:15; 1 Kings 19:4). God is going to vindicate each of these men and give them opportunities to flourish as they never did before. This time, their ministries will yield such an extraordinary global impact that it almost defies description.
They will also conclude their time of service with an incredible display of God’s power. First, they will be martyred by the Antichrist, who will be energized by Satan himself (Rev. 11:7). This will lead to the institution of a new holiday celebrated across all continents, among all those who do not know or believe in the God of Israel (Rev. 11:8-10). But then, following “three-and-a-half days” (Rev. 11:9, 11), their unburied corpses will be gloriously resurrected (Rev. 11:11), “and they ascended to heaven” (Rev. 11:12)! It’s as if God will graciously grant the entire watching world the opportunity to recognize the nature of the event that transpired three-and-a-half years earlier, which we commonly call the rapture, as it will be reenacted live before them, through these two witnesses.
And, so, the ministry of the two witnesses will be very limited in time, but the effect of their ministries is virtually indescribable. You see, before they are martyred, they will have first had the opportunity to identify, evangelize, train, and commission 144,000 additional Israelite witnesses. Their story is told in Rev. 7:1-8 and 14:1-5.
Unlike the two witnesses, these 144,000 do not appear supernaturally but naturally. That means that if the rapture were to happen tomorrow, these young Jewish men must already be on the earth today—but without the knowledge of their Messiah. They would miss the rapture but then come to know the Lord quickly once the tribulation begins and become engaged in a worldwide ministry shortly thereafter.
And we’ll open next time by thinking about the identity of those intrepid men.
Paul J. Scharf (M.A., M.Div., Faith Baptist Theological Seminary) is a church ministries representative for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, based in Columbus, WI, and serving in the Midwest. For more information on his ministry, visit sermonaudio.com/pscharf or foi.org/scharf, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version.