The Ministry of the Two Witnesses (Rev. 11:1-14) :: By Donald Whitchard

Deuteronomy 18:15-22; 1 Kings 18:21; Mark 9:1-13; 2 Peter 1:16-18; Revelation 11:1-14

Summary: During the first half of the Great Tribulation, God sends two ambassadors from heaven to preach the Gospel to the people in Jerusalem. Their ministry is to call the people to repentance before it is too late.

Throughout history, even in its darkest moments, God raises up prophets and preachers to bring His Word and the promise of salvation to anyone who repents and turns to Him for salvation. Although God pours out His wrath upon the world during the seven years of the Great Tribulation, He also shows His grace and mercy by sending out the 144,000 Jewish witnesses to testify about Jesus Christ (Revelation 7:4-8), resulting in a soul harvest that cannot be numbered. The Gospel will still be preached during this horrendous time. God does not withdraw His saving grace to anyone who comes to Him, even when the Antichrist and his minions desire to wipe out all traces of Him from the world. Tyrants and dictators never learn.

Mankind will never erase nor diminish the power and presence of Almighty God, no matter what laws are passed, no matter what threats are made, nor any amount of persecution arises. The Bible says that in the end, Jesus wins, and nothing is going to stop that from happening.

Aside from the work of the 144,000 witnesses who preach the Gospel worldwide, God also raises up two men (11:3-6) who will have the task of preaching the Gospel to the people in Jerusalem at that time but are also given powers to show the foes of God that He is still on the throne and His will is going to be accomplished according to His word. These two men appear on the scene to proclaim God’s truth and give their lives for Him. The word “witness” in this context is also the same word used to describe a martyr, or someone who gives testimony about their faith at the cost of their lives.

Martyrdom is a constant theme in the history of Christianity. It started with the crucifixion of our LORD upon the cross, continued on with the lives and deaths of His disciples, and continues today. All we need to do is look at the savage treatment of Christians by terrorist groups such as ISIS and how the world essentially turned its back on this atrocity. Hatred of Jesus has not diminished, and as the days draw nearer to His return, hostility toward those who follow Him will get worse, even here in the USA.

Our current government is no friend of the church nor of Israel. Laws are written and passed that declare the preaching of the Gospel to be “hate speech” because it dares to point out the fact that people are not “good,” that they cannot redeem themselves, and that the Bible gives the absolute truth about the state of affairs in which the world finds itself (Isaiah 53:4-6, 64:6; Romans 1:18-32, 3:10-18). The idea that there is no salvation outside of Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) gnaws at the relativistic mindset of people who believe that all roads lead to heaven.

This blind hatred of Jesus and everything He stands for will intensify during the period of the Tribulation. These two witnesses remind those who inhabit the earth that they are not the center of all being and that God has the final word. The witnesses are called “lampstands” because they bring the light of God’s word to the people (Psalm 119:105).

Even in the darkest times of history, God has raised up men and women who have fearlessly proclaimed the Word and the promise of salvation in Christ. Look at the closing years of the Medieval period (300-1500 AD), when the “church” of Rome was at its lowest level of corruption and under the iron hand of popes and priests who kept the people from reading the Bible in their own language under penalty of death. God allowed an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther (1483-1546) to read Romans 1:17 on how the just shall live by faith, and that all the works in the world cannot and will not redeem us. His writings and teachings gave birth to what is known as the Protestant Reformation.

Down the corridor of history came men such as John Calvin, John Knox, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, Charles Finney, Billy Sunday, Martin Lloyd-Jones, and Billy Graham to preach the Word of God and call people to repent and place their faith in Christ for salvation. God always has His chosen vessels ready to rescue people from the darkness of eternal doom and instead to walk in the light of Christ (1 John 1:7).

The preaching and prophetic declarations of these two witnesses will be met with disdain and hatred from the world. As a result, attempts will be made on their lives, but they are under Divine protection for three and a half years. Everyone who attempts to kill them will be killed themselves through the power given to them by God (v. 5). As Eljah had the power to shut up the heavens as a sign to wicked Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kings 17:1), so these men will have the same power to shut up the skies for three and a half years as well. They are also given the power to turn water into blood and strike the earth with plagues, as Moses did to the people of Egypt (Exodus, Chapters 7-11).

Many prophecy experts have claimed that these two men are Moses and Elijah, who represent the Law and the Prophets and who were the forerunners to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration to testify to the fact that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law, prophecies, and the work of redemption that God had put into place even before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). Other Bible teachers will say that the two witnesses are Elijah and Enoch (Genesis 5:21-24; Jude 1:14-15). Neither man died a natural death but was escorted directly into heaven. These two come back to earth to serve the LORD and be killed as martyrs. They are resurrected and “raptured” back to heaven as the world looks on with surprise and disbelief.

It really does not matter who they are. The important thing to remember is that they boldly proclaim the truth of God’s Word and that He has all power and sovereignty in the affairs of humanity and creation.

Again, their preaching angers and enrages the world. True Bible preaching has that effect. It has the power to soften hearts but also harden hearts against God. The people are so enraged that when the Antichrist does kill them after three and a half years, a global celebration takes place as their bodies lie in the streets of Jerusalem. The depths of wickedness are seen as gifts are exchanged between the masses as a way of rejoicing over the fact that these two preachers are dead and rotting and will be heard from no more, or so they think (vv.7-10). God has the final word, as after three days, the two witnesses are resurrected, stand on their feet, and are called up to heaven in sight of everyone (vv.11-14).

In that same hour, the Bible says that a great earthquake happens, with a tenth of Jerusalem crumbling to the ground and seven thousand people killed. For a brief time, the eyes of many will be opened to the reality and wrath of God, and those who survive end up giving glory to Him. Whether their praise to God is temporary or permanent, the fact is that He has not left the people without testimony and the Word.

Not one is without excuse. The time to get right with Him is drawing to a close. You have no promise of tomorrow. Today is the day of salvation. If you choose to ignore the free offer of salvation in Jesus Christ, you will most likely end up in the coming time of Tribulation, the rise of the Antichrist, and the certainty of eternal death in hell, especially if you take the Mark of the Beast (Revelation 14:9-11).

The preaching of God’s Word has been presented. The question is whether you embrace or reject it. Your eternal destination hangs in the balance.