Have you ever read a passage of the Bible and thought, Oh, I wish I were there! I have. I have longed to be the third dude on the road to Emmaus, listening to Yeshua expound on the Messiah’s role.
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Lk. 24:27)
Being present on Shavuot (Pentecost) when the Holy Spirit birthed a revival in Jerusalem would have been amazing. Many would, no doubt, choose to witness the parting of the Red Sea or the crucifixion of Yeshua. As for me, I would choose something in the future. I have always been intrigued by the prophets in the eleventh chapter of Revelation. These two witness appear sometime during the Great Tribulation and proceed to prophesy for three and a half years.
We tend to breeze through their story, but if you take a minute and meditate on what is written, it is clear that these fellows play a major role in the End Times.
I believe that the Great Tribulation will begin after the war described in Ezekiel 38-39, when God destroys the invading armies on the mountains of Israel—armies that were seeking the destruction of the Jewish nation. This will leave those nations, most of which will be Muslim, decimated—leading to a peace agreement brokered by the antichrist. Part of this agreement will be the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem (Dan. 9:27).
It may be that the destruction of the Muslim mosques, which presently sit on the Temple Mount, will serve as the catalyst for the Ezekiel war. Such an event would surely unite the divided Arab nations to attack Israel.
With the rebuilding of the Temple and the ushering in of a false world peace, the antichrist will be adored. However, over time he will become more and more oppressive, until he is killed and rises from the dead (Rev. 13). That will be all the motivation he needs to proclaim himself God. “Hellooo—who rises from dead?”
[The antichrist] will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. (1 Thess 2:4)
The religious Jews of Jerusalem, who previously revered him for allowing them to rebuild the Temple and reestablish the sacrificial system, will turn on him.
It is at this point, three and a half years into the Great Tribulation, that I believe the two witnesses will be revealed. Many respected scholars believe they prophesy during the first half of the Great Tribulation, but I arrived to my view primarily, but not exclusively, for this reason: Their ministry ends with the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet. The Seventh Trumpet is the last Trumpet and leads to the worldwide reign of Messiah.
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Rev 11:15)
We know they die in Jerusalem (v. 8), so it is quite possible that their base of operations is also Jerusalem. It is likely that they are Jewish believers, as they are referred to as olive trees, which are a symbol of Israel, and menorahs, the light inside the Holy Temple (v. 4).
When the antichrist takes over the Temple, these two arise to confront him. With the Internet and satellite television, the entire world can hear their preaching. What is their message?
- Don’t follow [insert name of the antichrist] (probably doesn’t call himself “The Antichrist”).
- Yeshua is the only way of Salvation.
- Don’t take the mark of the beast (although it will not be called ‘the mark of the beast’—bad for marketing).
- Stand firm to the end.
While many will reject their message, I believe the fruit of their preaching will be the salvation of millions during the Great Tribulation. They may even have their own YouTube channel (seriously) where people from all over the world can listen to their preaching and prophecies.
There is no doubt that these two will be a thorn in the side of the antichrist and he will send men to arrest them, even to kill them. Fortunately, they can breathe fire against their enemies! For three and half years, the antichrist will be unable to stop them. The two will be the most powerful figures on earth. They will be able to call down plagues, stop the rain and turn water to blood (v. 6).
But then, the antichrist’s fortunes will change. The two will be overpowered and killed. This will be cause for great celebration, for these two were the only obstacles to world domination for the antichrist. For all his powers, he could not shake these men. And now they are dead.
In order to shame them, and probably to prove to the world that he had indeed overcome them, he refuses to bury them and “every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies” (v. 9), via the Internet or TV, of course. His followers rejoice in their self-deception (v. 10) in a way that is reminiscent of Psalm 2:
Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.” (Ps. 2:1-3)
However, after three and a half days, as millions are still gazing upon their dead figures via satellite, life again enters their bodies. Terror strikes the rejoicing “kings of the earth,” as the two are taken up into heaven, leading to the Seventh and final Trumpet.
Can you now see why this writer would love to be an eyewitness to their ministry?