“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.’ Revelation 11:1-2.
The above passage has been included for context; it was posted on 7-28-22. This post will cover Revelation 11:3-6.
“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.” Revelation 11:3-4.
While the identity of these two witnesses is the subject of a great deal of speculation the greatest likelihood is that they are two Israelite men who are extremely well trained (geniuses?) in the Old Testament Scriptures who accept Christ as their Savior after the rapture, and are called as God’s two witnesses.
There should be ample time between the rapture and the signing of the seven year covenant with the beast (beginning of tribulation) to bring these two men up to speed.
The apostle Paul would be a good example of a person with only Old Testament knowledge and the teaching of the Holy Spirit to come to full maturity within a short period of time.
Sackcloth is a coarse weave loose garment, made of goat’s hair, dark in color and rough in texture, it can be worn over an undergarment or in extreme cases it is worn next to the skin.
It is worn by prophets and those in mourning or repentance. In this case the witnesses wear it to show the sincerity and grievousness of their message; sackcloth is a sign of heavy affliction and the loss of joy and gladness.
These men will prophesy in sackcloth for 1260 days, or the first half of the tribulation.
The two witnesses are described as “two olive trees”. Olive oil in Scripture is a type of the Holy Spirit, so to picture these men as olive trees rather than just filled with the Holy Spirit boggles the mind, so powerful shall their witness be.
There is a precedent for this in Zechariah chapters 3 and 4, more specifically chapter four.
“Then I answered and said to him, ‘What are these two olive trees, one at the right of the lampstand and the other at its left?’ And I further answered and said to him, ‘What are these two olive branches that drip into the receptacles of the two gold pipes from which the golden oil drains?’ Then he answered me and said, ‘Do you not know what these are?’ And I said, ‘No, my lord.’ So he said, ‘These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth.’” Zechariah 4:11-14.
The two olive trees in this case are, Joshua, who was high priest (not Joshua who was with Moses) and Zerubbabel, these two men were involved with the building of the second temple.
The second temple was touched upon briefly in the opening paragraphs of the last post Revelation 11:1-2 entered here on 7-28-22.
Here in Zechariah we have two godly faithful men funneling olive oil into the lampstand keeping God’s presence first and foremost before the Israelites. In this case the two men stand beside the Lord of the whole earth, working for Him.
This is also a type of the two witnesses which will stand before the Lord during the first half of the tribulation.
These two witnesses in Revelation stand before the God of the earth witnessing for Him and representing Him and showing His power over the earth. Scripture tells us:
“By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.” 2 Corinthians 13:1b.
This is why there are two. Just as the churches were represented as seven lampstands in chapters two and three of Revelation, so these men are seen as lampstands, all serve the same purpose; to shine a light in a dark place.
The lampstand of the church today, with its emphasis on statistics and manmade programs, is going out; but these two witnesses with their mandate and unflagging devotion to God will persevere to death.
The reason that there is even a question as to who these men are is the statement that they are the two olive trees and lampstands, “standing before the God of the earth”.
The present tense makes it seem as though they were standing before God when this was written nearly two thousand years ago and even now they stand before God.
With this in mind the natural question is, “Who are these guys?” Some say that it is Enoch and Elijah, because neither of them died.
“Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah. After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and begot sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” Genesis 5:21-24.
“Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” 2 Kings 2:11.
The thought is that neither man died so that means that they are in their fleshly bodies in heaven waiting to be sent back to die.
Scripture says this of God.
“…He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.” 1 Timothy 6:15-16.
In their flesh they might be in heaven but they could not stand before God. It is more likely that these men’s souls were separated from their bodies as they were translated and so entered the presence of God as spirits like all who had died before them.
There are other suggestions but Elijah seems to be stuck with the job of being one of them. Moses is put forth because he represents the law and Elijah represents the prophets, these two also showed up at the mount of transfiguration, Matthew 17:1-8.
Remember these two witnesses will be speaking to the Jews, so the message must be brought by an Israelite like them.
But what if it is not this complicated, what if “standing before the God of the earth”, simply means that these men stand before the God of the earth as His representatives, His lampstands in the world.
Joshua and Zerubbabel as noted earlier in Zechariah were seen as standing beside the Lord of the earth, yet we know that they were not in heaven at the time.
The tense, past, present or future may not affect this verse since what was a future event in John’s day and remains so today will not be when these words are read during the tribulation or beyond that in the millennium.
“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.” Revelation 11:5.
The immediate vision that comes to mind when reading this verse is one of a dragon spewing fire. This is probably as it should be since there is nothing to contradict such an anomaly, especially with what has been going on up until now.
And too it might be as representatives of God in a demon infested world the witnesses would need to have a supernatural evidence of their calling.
If this is not satisfactory, consider this, perhaps the fire actually comes from the spoken word of these prophets, and it is the words from the witness’s mouth that burns up their adversaries.
Jesus is described as having a sword proceeding from His mouth in both the beginning and end of Revelation. For further information see Ephesians 6:10-19 which mentions, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…”
“He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.” Revelation 1:16.
“Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.” Revelation 19:15.
This sword is His word which when spoken, can create the universe, heal the sick, or destroy His enemies.
“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.” Revelation 11:6.
While it is not stated here, what is the likelihood that while the trumpet judgments are being sounded from heaven, these two men are standing before men on earth and either calling these plagues down upon them or predicting them?
A third of the trees burned up, a third of the sea turned to blood, a third of the waters turned to Wormwood, a third of the sky darkened, demon locusts turned loose, and finally a demon army of 200 million loosed to kill a third of mankind.
Moses stood before pharaoh before loosing each of the ten plagues on Egypt so an informed choice could be made by pharaoh and the Egyptian people. Pharaoh ignored the warnings, but many of the people took heed.
So too the two witnesses may stand before radio microphones and television cameras as often as they like and warn the world to seek the One true God and His Son Jesus Christ or suffer the consequences, eternity in the lake of fire.
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.
Revelation 11:3-6 taken from godisrevealed.com updated 12-22-16, reposted on 7-31-22.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.