The two witnesses

The Little Book of the Revelation - Twelfth in a series

Among the sevens, twelves, three and a halfs, forty-twos and so on, there are other important numbers in the Revelation, such as two. In Scripture, two speaks of unity, confirmation and strength.

  • Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. (Ecc 4:9)
  • VERSE 3a
    And I will give power unto my two witnesses

There are two ways (at least two) to regard the two witnesses: 1) They are real men who will arise in the end time, or 2) They symbolize two aspects of God’s power to work. In both cases, Bible expositors offer numerous ideas about who or what the two witnesses may be, and in either case their prophecy is about the Lord and his coming judgment.

In the first concept it may be Moses and Elijah, for example, or Enoch and Elijah. In the second, it could be the Old and New Testaments— law and gospel, or Christians and Messianic Jews.

I favor the symbolic viewpoint, though not dogmatically, and that grace and law are the two, as delineated in 2 Tim 2:19— Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, 1) The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, 2) Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

  • The Lord knoweth them that are His.
  • Those who base their faith on Christ’s atoning death on the cross are the sheep who hear the Shepherd’s voice. “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand…” (John 10:27-29) See Rev 13:8.
  • Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
  • When we belong to Him, we are enabled by the Holy Spirit to live for Christ, in obedience to his teaching and commands. We are not those described by Jude, who turn the grace of our God into lasciviousness (license), thus denying our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4) The unbeliever mocks the true faith by saying, “Let’s continue in sin that grace may abound.” (Rom 6:1) In other words, whatever a sinner does can be forgiven, so don’t sweat it. But that is not saving faith.

The two witnesses symbolize Christians who prove their salvation is by grace alone through faith alone as they live in obedience to Scripture. (Jas 2:26; Mat 5:18) What could be a more sure or any more convicting witness than the mature Christian?

That said, we all fall far short and sin daily, even hourly. But fortunately, under intense trials, our reliance upon the Lord increases exponentially, and should we ever find ourselves in the end-time great tribulation, without a doubt we would cry out for divine help so fervently that our capacity for obedience to God’s laws would measurably increase. I have always found that my ability to please the Lord is greatly enhanced when I am humbled and incapable of helping myself out of trouble.

What is your concept of the two witnesses? As Christians strive to interpret and to apply Scripture we are warned against adding to or taking away from it by any suggestion or view. Each person will reflect upon the verses and perhaps come to no conclusion, but let us all carefully consider the power, holiness, love and fear of God.

  • VERSE 3b
    and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days

As we have noted previously, this time period connects dots between and among numerous scenes: 1) the antichrist’s reign, 2) the protection of Israel by God, 3) the testimony of the two witnesses, and 4) the gentiles trampling on the holy city.

In saying that the time period connects dots, it would seem that all these activities are concurrent, and that the ‘time, times and half a time’ denoted would be the ‘great tribulation.’* (Dan 7:25, 12:7; Rev 12:14)

Perhaps this terror is not at the start or end of a seven year period, but within it. Perhaps it is to be understood as a segment rather than a definite length of time. We do read that the great tribulation has been shortened by God, otherwise no flesh would survive. (Mat 24:21-22)

The protection of Israel by God is noted twice in Revelation 12, in verses 6 and 14. In vs. 6 the time period is a thousand two hundred and threescore days, and in vs. 14 it is a time, and times and half a time. This double reference seems to be for confirmation that the Jews will be helped while they are yet in the wilderness, not in the settled place of rest.

  • VERSE 3c
    The witnesses are clothed in sackcloth.

True believers will understand what hour it is and will be of sober spirit in the final days, crying out for the salvation of family members and friends, and for those without any understanding, and they will mourn for the earth, God’s beautiful creation.

*Time, times and half a time is 1 year + 2 years + 1/2 year = 1260 days or 40 and 2 months, if a year is 360 days.

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