THE TWO WITNESSES


The two men called the Two Witnesses in the Book of Revelation, chapter 11 play a pivotal role in fulfilling prophesies concerning the calling of humanity to repentance and the proclaiming of God the Father's good news message to the world. As we will see, the scriptures show that these two men will be given tremendous authority and spiritual power from God in order to accomplish their mission just before the first resurrection and the return of Jesus Christ to conquer the earth and establish the Kingdom of God. See Matt.24:14.


Because the actions of the Two Witnesses will have a dramatic impact on the whole world during their 3½ year ministry, it is important to understand who they are and why God will send them. Therefore, this study of the major prophecies concerning these two men is presented in a chronological order of prophetic events.


THE TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM


The building of a temple and the establishment of the sacrificial system of worship are required under the covenant that God made with national Israel at Mount Sinai and are central to the mission of the Two Witnesses and the fulfillment of many of the prophecies leading up to the first resurrection and the return of Christ. Therefore, it is important to have an overview of how the building of the temple will develop.

 

Daniel prophesied that the daily sacrifices would be stopped and an abomination will desecrate the holy place within the temple at the end of the age. The gospel of Matthew records that Jesus referred to this same event as being one of the signs leading to his coming. In order for the daily sacrifices to be stopped and the holy place to be desecrated, there are a minimum of three things that must exist in Jerusalem in accordance with the Sinai covenant: An altar for sacrifices, priests of the Aaronic bloodline to perform the sacrifices, and a temple with a holy place in it.


Because the temple is the focal point of the Two Witnesses' ministry, it must be concluded that the Aaronic priesthood will be established with a high priest to officiate over it and a temple will be constructed in Jerusalem before Christ's return. But, who will begin the process of building the temple and re-establishing the priesthood and the sacrificial system in Jerusalem?


The Temple and God's Presence


Historically, every time that the Jews have turned back to God and his sacrificial system of worship, the Creator God has honored their effort with his presence. Therefore, it is a strong possibility that the Creator God will honor their future attempt to honor him and he will meet with them in the temple as he did anciently.


Within a relatively short time after the end of the age temple is completed, the armies of the Beast system will overrun the Jews. When this happens, the temple and the holiest of holies will be defiled. Because God cannot live with defilement, if his presence does come to reside in this end time temple, it will leave just as it did in the past before the temple was defiled. See Matt.24:15-16.


But before this happens, the antichrist will be actively opposing the Two Witnesses and the elect of God as they proclaim the Father's good news of his coming Kingdom, which will be ruled by Jesus Christ.


The Two Witnesses and others of the elect of God will have a devastating effect on the False Prophet and Beast power's and religious/governmental system as God pours his wrath upon it, and great multitudes around the world turn from this Babylonian worship system to worship the true God.


THE PROPHET, GOVERNOR, AND HIGH PRIEST


Haggai 1:1-14 Paraphrased


"In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying: So speaks the Lord of hosts, saying, These people say, The time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built" (vs.1-2).


The prophet Haggai brings a stern reprimand from God to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the high priest, regarding the lack of enthusiasm that they and the people of the house of Judah had for rebuilding his temple in which to perform his worship system. In the prophecies of Zechariah, these two individuals who were instrumental in rebuilding the temple and in establishing the sacrificial system of worship in Jerusalem (520 B.C.) are also symbolic of two prophetic individuals who will accomplish the same task just before the return of Christ.


"Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai saying, Is it a time for you, yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruin? Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: Give careful thought to the results of your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it" (vs.3-6).


God sent Haggai the prophet to tell them,"Look, here you are living in your luxurious homes and enjoying the good life, yet you are putting off rebuilding the temple" (vs. 3-6 Para). The point is that they had known for some time that they should have been rebuilding the temple, but they had been procrastinating; therefore, God sent Haggai to command them to rebuild it.


The Jews in this age have known for many years that a temple should be built in Jerusalem and that God's sacrificial system of worship should be established, yet they have been procrastinating since the formation of the modern nation of Israel. They have ignored the clear instructions of God, just as their ancient ancestors did in the time of Haggai.


Editor's Note:


It is important to note that the ministries of Haggai and Zechariah covered some of the same time period. Therefore, in order to gain a clear picture of how God viewed the Jews' procrastination in not rebuilding his temple, how he reacted, and what he expected from that time forward, please read the rest of chapters 1 and 2 of Haggai. This information is important in understanding Zechariah's prophecies concerning the building of the temple in Jerusalem in the end of this age.


The Prophetic Zerubbabel


During the end of this age, the prophetic Zerubbabel (a government official in the Jewish nation of Israel) will receive a number of different messages from Jesus Christ concerning his call to repentance and salvation. Jesus Christ will also give him special authority, spiritual power, and responsibilities during the end of this age just before the first resurrection.


His Call and Authority


"The second time the word of the Lord came to Haggai in the 24th day of the ninth month, saying. Speak to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth; And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations; and I will overthrow their chariots, and their riders and horses, and their riders shall come down, each one by the sword of his brother. In that day, says the Lord of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel, my servant, son of Shealtiel, says the Lord, and will make you as a signet: for I have chosen you, says the Lord of hosts" (Hag.2:20-23 KJV Para.).


Clearly, this is a prophecy for the end of this age when God will shake the heavens and the earth causing great destruction. He will then conquer the nations of this world. Notice that Zerubbabel is called to be a signet (Hebrew: sum hotam. English: an authorized seal) for God. This man is given the authority to use the awesome power of God in a discretionary manner in order to carry out his responsibilities during the end of the age.


His Power Over Nations


In order to understand this prophecy, keep in mind that all of this prophecy is in the context of a prophet being sent to command a governmental official in the Jewish nation to initiate the process of building the temple.


Whatever Zerubbabel is going to do for God, he is going to do it through the spiritual power that God gives him:


"This is God's message to Zerubbabel. Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of Hosts. Who are you, O great mountain [government/nation]? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. And he will bring forth the capstone [a reference to Christ] to shouts of Grace! Grace to it. And the word of the Lord came to me [Zechariah] saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you" (Zech.4:6-9 Para.).


These verses show the awesome power over this world's nations that the prophetic Zerubbabel will have. He will have a major role in the building of a temple in Jerusalem along with his participation in proclaiming the gospel message that will culminate in the first resurrection and Christ's triumphant return.


The prophecies of Zechariah leave little doubt that a high government official of the Jewish nation of Israel is the prophetic Zerubbabel who will initiate the building of the temple in Jerusalem. The prophecies also seem to show that he may be one of the two witnesses. But, if he is not one of the two witnesses, he is an extremely important and powerful man who will proclaim the gospel message to the world during the end of this age.


THE PROPHETIC JOSHUA


In the third chapter of Zechariah, we see a clear and easily understood prophecy concerning the conversion of the high priest of the temple in Jerusalem to true Christianity during the end of the age.

Zechariah 3:1-7 Paraphrased


"Then he [God's messenger] showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this [Joshua] a burning stick snatched from the fire? And Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and he stood before the angel" (vs.1-3). See also Amos 4:11.


Here, we see the prophetic Joshua in his capacity as the high priest. Besides the messenger and Joshua, Satan is present to accuse Joshua of wrongdoing. This prophetic Joshua is called a burning stick pulled out of the fire, which symbolically pictures him in the process of being destroyed because of his sinfulness; however, God has rescued him from eternal death for his own righteous purpose.


Notice that Joshua's garments are very dirty. This is another reference to the spiritual condition of this man prior to his conversion to true Christianity.

Joshua's Sins Forgiven


In verses 4 and 5, a prophet from God (the prophetic Zechariah) is directly involved in the events surrounding the high priest's conversion to a son of God under the new covenant:


"The angel [messenger] said to those who were standing before him, Take off his filthy clothes. Then he said to Joshua, See, I have taken away your sin [lawlessness], and I will cloth you with a change of ceremonial robes. Then I [Zechariah] said, Put a clean turban on his head. So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by" (vs.4-5).


The angel (messenger) says that he has taken away this man's sins, and it is the prophet (the prophetic Zechariah) who says to place a clean turban on Joshua's head. The placing of the turban again shows that the prophet from God is very involved in the conversion process of the high priest.

Concerning the messenger noted in verses four and five, it must be understood that angels do not have the authority to forgive sins. There are only two beings shown in the scriptures who can remove sins: God the Father and Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ does this through the authority given to him by his Father. Because the Father will not come to earth until his plan for the salvation of humanity has been completed, this messenger must either be Jesus Christ or someone else who has been authorized to give this message of forgiveness to the high priest. (The prophet Nathan gave such a message to David and Isaiah gave such a message to Hezekiah).


"The angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua: This is what the Lord Almighty says: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you will judge my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place to walk among these standing here" (vs.6-7).


There are four extremely important things to note from verses 6 and 7:

 

  1. The high priest has not been a righteous man, because he has livedhis life as a Jew following the practices of Judaism, which is a practice that Jesus says is in opposition to the righteous ways of his heavenly Father. See Matt.3:7; 12:33-34; 15:7-9.
  2. In order to continue in his office as high priest, this man must observe and practice the ways of righteousness that will have been revealed to him. And he must perform the mission that he will be given.
  3. This man will be offered the awesome opportunity to represent God the Father and Jesus Christ, govern the household of God (the servants of God), be responsible for spiritual things of God on earth, and to fellowship with the servants of God.
  4. This man will have an awesome opportunity and an equally awesome responsibility. However, if he does not follow through with what he has been instructed to do, he will lose his eternal salvation, because whoever functions as the high priest in the end of the age is one of the two witnesses and will have God's holy spirit. And anyone who fails to follow God's ways after receiving the holy spirit will die the second death in the Lake of Fire. See Matt.13:36-42; Rom.6:23; Rev.21:8.

THE THREE FROM BABYLON


Either just before or shortly after the temple has been constructed in Jerusalem, there will be three individuals that come to the high priest bearing gold and silver to be used in the making of crowns for his use as he officiates in his capacity as high priest and one of the Two Witnesses.


The prophecy of the three men from Babylon is an extremely technical and difficult prophecy to understand. Perhaps, the only ones who will fully understand it before Christ's return are those who will be directly involved in its fulfillment. However, there is some important information regarding the high priest and his end of the age ministry that can be gained from studying this prophecy.


Editor's Note:


Because of the complexity of this prophecy, a paraphrased translation is used with notes and a literal translation is attached for those who want to make a more in-depth study of this specific prophecy.

 

Zechariah 6:9-11, 14-15 Paraphrased


"And the Lord spoke to me saying, Take of them, from the exiles Heldai, and from Tobijah, and from Jedaiah who have come from Babylon; and in that day you go and enter into the house of Josiah, the son of Zephaniah" (vs.9-10).


These three men come from among the ten scattered tribes of Israel (the exiles) who are collectively called Babylon because of the many paganized religious systems that are practiced by these Israelitish nations.


"And take the silver and gold and make crowns, and set one on the head of Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest:" (v11).


The prophet whom God sends to deal with the high priest is responsible for taking the gold and silver and making crowns.


"And the crowns shall be for a memorial in the temple of the Lord for Helem, and to Tobijah, and Jedaiah, and to Hen, the son of Zephaniah" (v14).


There are four individuals mentioned who will be memorialized because of the good work that they will have done in regard to the high priest and the temple.


"And the distant ones shall come and build in the temple of the Lord. And you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. And this shall be, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God" (v15).


An interesting thing to note in verse 15 is that the word you is in the plural form throughout, which suggests that a group of people are being addressed by the prophet. Whoever these three are who come from afar, they will either build in or on the temple.


There are two ways to view this passage. It refers to either the physical building of the temple or the building of spiritual things within an established spiritual entity, such as the body of Christ. See the attached notes with the literal translation of this text for more comments concerning this prophecy.


Editor's Notes:


Zechariah 6:11 seems to support the premise that the crowns are the faith once delivered that will become a memorial to them in the temple (the end of the age church). If this is true, these three could be of the elect who come to Jerusalem and are instrumental in restoring the truth of God and bringing it to those who officiate over the priesthood.


Perhaps, the fourth man is a prophet of God and may, along with the other three, be instrumental in the conversion of the Two Witnesses by teaching them the restored truths of God.


It is obvious that these scriptures are speaking of a physical temple in Jerusalem at the time of the end. However, the last part of verse 14—"as a memorial in the temple of the Lord"—could refer to the spiritual temple of God, which is the elect (the church).


THE PROPHETIC OLIVE TREES


Zechariah 4:1-14 Paraphrased


"Then the angel who had been talking with me woke me, as though I had been asleep. What do you see? he asked. I said, I see a golden lamp stand with seven lamps and a bowl on top of it with seven tubes that feed the seven lamps, and two olive trees are beside it, one on the right of the bowl and one on its left. And I spoke to the angel that was talking with me, and asked, What are these my lord? And he said to me, Do you not know what these are? And I said no my lord" (vs.1-5).


In order to understand the prophetic meaning of verses 1 through 5, it is necessary to study verses 11 through 14, because they seem to be a continuation of the prophecy in verses 1 through 5:


"Then I asked the angel, What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lamp-stand? Again I asked him, "What are these two clusters of olives that are beside the two golden pipes emptying the golden oil from themselves? He replied, Do you not know what these are? No, my lord, I said. So he said, These are the two sons of fresh oil who stand by the Lord of the whole earth" (vs.11-14).


The Two Olive Trees


Trees are often symbolic of men or people and the olive tree is sometimes symbolic of righteousness and that which endures; therefore, it seems logical that the trees represent two righteous men.


Because the angel says that the olive trees are two individuals who are at the right and left side of God, it can be assumed that these two play an extremely important role in the plan of God for the salvation of humanity.


The Hebrew word translated 'lamp-stand' is 'manora', which is the Hebrew word for the lamp-stand that stood in the ancient temple.


The Oil and the Lamp-Stand


The seven lamps are light-givers and because this is a prophecy for the end of the age, it seems logical that the seven lamps are symbolic of the seven churches and/or seven spiritual leaders that exist and give spiritual light to the world just before Christ's return. See Rev.1:12,20; 2:1.


The bowl at the top of the lamp-stand is a reservoir that holds the golden oil that comes from clusters of olives on the two olive trees (i.e., the fruit of the two trees). The Hebrew word for fresh oil noted in verse 14 is 'yitsar', which refers to fresh oil used for cooking and in lamps to give light.

 

Oil is often symbolic of the holy spirit; however, the holy spirit comes from God the Father and this fresh oil will come from these two men who serve the Lord of the earth (Jesus Christ) at his right and left hand. Therefore, it seems logical that the fresh oil is spiritual knowledge that is directed through these men to the seven churches who will use this knowledge for spiritual enlightenment.


THE MINISTRY OF THE TWO WITNESSES


Revelation 11:3-14, Literal Translation


"And I will give to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lamp-stands [candlesticks] before the Lord of the earth" (vs.3-4).


This is absolute proof that the two olive trees that are noted in Zechariah 4:1-5, 11-14 are symbolic of the two witnesses. Because Zechariah 3:1-10 clearly shows that the high priest who will officiate in a temple in Jerusalem is a direct representative of Jesus Christ, he is most likely one of the Two

Witnesses.


These two men will have powerful protection from all their enemies as they proclaim God's message and cause tremendous destruction on the earth through the use of their supernatural spiritual power, in order to prove that what they say is from God. These two men will have the spiritual power to destroy anyone who attempts to stop them from completing their ministry:


"And if anyone desires to harm them, fire comes out of their mouth and devours their enemies. And if any one desires to harm them, so it is right for him to be killed" (v5).


"These have the authority to shut up the heaven, that no rain may rain in the days of their prophecy [3½ years]. And they have authority over the waters, to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire" (v6).


Their proclamation of the gospel as a witness and warning to the world will be accomplished over a period of 3½ years and will be performed with unimaginable power, signs, and wonders.


"And when they complete their witness, the beast coming up out of the abyss will make war with them, and will overcome them, and kill them" (v7).


Only after their mission is complete will God allow them to be killed by the Beast, but only for the purpose of showing that their witness was true and that they were indeed sent from the true God.


"And their bodies will be on the street of that great city, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where our lord was crucified" (v8).


After they are murdered by the leaders of the Beast system in Jerusalem, their bodies will be left to lie in the street.


"And some from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will see their dead bodies for three and a half days and refuse them burial. And the inhabitants of the earth will rejoice, and celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth"

(vs.9-10).


After killing the Two Witnesses, the world will gloat and celebrate, because these two troublemakers who brought so much physical and economic destruction to the world are dead.


"And after the three and a half days a spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear struck those who saw them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them [the Two Witnesses] Come up here. And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies watched" (vs.11-12).


Because these two men will have been dead for 3½ days, it is easy to imagine the fear and terror that will grip those who see them come back to life, hear a voice from heaven calling to them, and watch them rise through the air and disappear in the clouds.


"And in that hour was a great earthquake and a tenth part of the city fell. And seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, seven thousand names of men, and the rest became terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven" (v13).


Throughout the ministry of these two witnesses, God will bring various types of plagues upon the earth as punishment upon his covenant people and the rest of the world for their wickedness. He will also call for them to repent and be saved from his wrath that will soon come in great fury upon all of humanity. Shortly after the death of the Two Witnesses, there will be a great earthquake that will clearly show that the God of the Two Witnesses is not finished with his punishment of the wicked and that there is more death and destruction to come.


"The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon" (v14).


As these events unfold in rapid succession, the festive attitude of the people will suddenly turn to terror and panic as they realize that more devastating plagues are coming.


SUMMARY


Just before the first resurrection and Christ's return as Conquering King to establish his Father's Kingdom and during the end of this age of human rule on earth, there will be two dynamic and powerful men who will proclaim God the Father's good news message from Jerusalem. One of these men will be the high priest who presides over the temple worship system in Jerusalem. Although there is no concrete scriptural proof, it is likely that the governmental official in Israel who initiates the building of the temple will also be one of the two men who proclaim the gospel from Jerusalem.


Because both of these men will be God's direct representatives on earth, it can safely be assumed that they will become sons of the Father's new creation sometime before the beginning of their collective ministry. Together with the congregations of God scattered throughout the world, these two will preach a powerful warning message of repentance to the house of Judah (the Jews/Israelis), the house of Israel (the ten scattered tribes of Israel), and the world at large.

 

 

By B.L. Cocherell and Charles E. Barrett

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