WHO ARE THE TWO WITNESSES?
Copyright © 1992 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
As we understand the Scriptures, the two witnesses represent the saints who, in the last days, will bear testimony concerning the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. These saints are an army of witnesses who will testify in the fullness of the power of the “latter rain.” Their testimony will include many works of destruction of catastrophic proportions.
The evil of the end-time will be so great that God will issue a stern warning to all nations so they may prepare themselves for His coming.
The two witnesses will testify of the coming Kingdom and will illustrate the nature of the Kingdom by insisting on righteous behavior.
“And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days [3½ years], clothed in sackcloth.” (Revelation 11:3)
As we understand the Scriptures, the two witnesses represent the saints who, in the last days, will bear testimony concerning the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. These saints are an army of witnesses who will testify in the fullness of the power of the “latter rain.”
The land of Israel receives a planting (former) rain in the fall and a latter rain prior to the harvesting of grain in the spring. The Book of Acts describes the “former rain” of the Spirit of God, and the Book of Acts will be continued in our day when the Spirit of God once again is poured out—this time as the latter, harvest rain. The latter-rain revival will be much more powerful than was true of the former rain.
Joel prophesied of the latter-rain revival:
Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God; for He has given you the former rain faithfully, and He will cause the rain to come down for you—the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. (Joel 2:23)
Hosea announced the latter-rain revival:
Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning [of the Day of the Lord]; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter [harvest] and former [seed] rain to the earth. (Hosea 6:3)
Zechariah invited us to pray for the latter rain revival:
Ask the LORD for rain in the time of the latter rain. The LORD will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, grass in the field for everyone. (Zechariah 10:1)
James spoke of the latter-rain revival:
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. (James 5:7)
It is possible that the “latter rain” may have begun with the understanding given to Martin Luther and the other Protestant Reformers. The downpour of the Spirit at the turn of the twentieth century, the “latter-rain” renewal that commenced in 1948, and the refreshings that are taking place around the world today—all appear to indicate that the promised issuing of unprecedented power and revelation is accelerating. Before the latter rain ceases every nation on earth will have heard the message of the Kingdom of God (Matthew 24:14; Mark 16:15).
There are several scriptural types of the outpouring that will take place during the days of transition from the Church Age to the Kingdom Age.
One of the major types is the feast of Pentecost. The feast of Pentecost, which celebrated the end of the wheat harvest, is associated spiritually with the power of God given to us so we may bear an effective witness of the atoning death, triumphant resurrection, and soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8).
The principal ceremony of the feast of Pentecost was the waving of two loaves of leavened bread, accompanied by animal sacrifices.
‘You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the LORD. (Leviticus 23:17)
God’s witnesses are a firstfruits to the Lord.
The two wave loaves of the feast of Pentecost portray the double portion of the Holy Spirit (Pentecostal power) that will rest on the witnessing saints of the last days (during the first half of Daniel’s seventieth week—Daniel 9:27).
Another type of the latter-rain downpour is the two sets of fifty rings located directly over the veil that separated the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place.
“And you shall make fifty clasps of gold, and couple the curtains together with the clasps, so that it may be one tabernacle. (Exodus 26:6)
“And you shall make fifty bronze clasps, put the clasps into the loops, and couple the tent together, that it may be one. (Exodus 26:11)
There were fifty gold clasps and fifty bronze clasps placed directly over the veil. The veil symbolically marks the place of transition from the Church Age (the Holy Place) to the Kingdom Age (the Most Holy Place, the manifest Presence of the Lord).
The number two (two sets of rings) symbolizes the two wave loaves of the feast of Pentecost; the double portion of Elisha who is the strongest of all the types of the two witnesses; and the fact that a testimony is legal only if it is given by two or more witnesses. Two also is a symbol of the power of God.
God has spoken once, Twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God. (Psalms 62:11)
The number fifty portrays the fact that the feast of Pentecost came fifty days after the feast of Unleavened Bread. The name Pentecost means fifty.
Gold typifies Divinity. Bronze (brass—Authorized Version) represents Divine judgment. We understand before the Church Age passes into the Kingdom Age there will be a double Pentecost characterized by the Divine Presence (the gold clasps) and Divine judgment (the bronze clasps).
Another scriptural type of the latter-rain revival is that of Obadiah hiding the one hundred prophets in the cave, in two groups of fifty each.
For so it was, while Jezebel massacred the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah had taken one hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and had fed them with bread and water.) (I Kings 18:4)
The type of Obadiah and the hundred prophets suggests after the latter-rain witness has been given, the Lord’s prophets will be nurtured in the wilderness during the second half of Daniel’s seventieth week.
When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. (Revelation 11:7)
This does not mean all the saints will be slain. Rather, the Book of Revelation is viewing the army of saints as “two witnesses.” The driving of the Spirit-filled testimony from the cities of the earth is portrayed in symbolic form as the killing of the two olive trees, the two lampstands.
Some of the Lord’s witnesses will be slain. Many of the Lord’s elect will be hidden away by the Lord and will still be alive on the earth when the Lord Jesus returns.
Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days [3½ years]. (Revelation 12:6)
Perhaps the type of Obadiah hiding the hundred prophets in a cave is referring to the protecting and nourishing of the Lord’s witnesses (prophets) by the “sheep nations” during the troubles of Daniel’s seventieth week (Matthew 25:35,36). It may be that the strongest of the victorious saints, as represented by Elijah, will continue to reveal God in the earth throughout the “seven-year” (whether literal or figurative) period.
The events of the lives of Elijah and Elisha in several instances are symbolic of the double-portion witness of the last days.
To begin with, it may be noticed that the two witnesses stand before the God of the earth (Revelation 11:4).
These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. (Revelation 11:4)
Of all the Old Testament prophets, only Elijah and Elisha used the expression, “the Lord… before whom I stand” (I Kings 17:1, II Kings 3:14).
In Elijah’s life we have the three and one half year drought, typifying the destructive aspect of the testimony that will be borne by the saints during the first half of the week. We already have mentioned the two sets of fifty prophets hidden in the cave. Most of us may have heard of the fiery judgment that fell on two companies of fifty men each (II Kings 1:10), speaking of the judgments executed at the hands of the Spirit-filled witnesses of Revelation, Chapter 11. Elijah’s ascension into the heavens reminds us of the ascension of the two witnesses into the heaven.
Elijah is the prophet who is to be sent before the great and terrible Day of the Lord. Jesus referred to John the Baptist as “Elijah” who is to come, although John worked no miracles.
The Elijah-Elisha forerunner of the next coming of the Lord indeed will work the greatest miracles in the history of the world. Many of those miracles will be destructive (just as some of the miracles of Elijah and Elisha were destructive) because of the wickedness of the nations, and because of the fact that the world must come to realize the Day of the Lord indeed will be “great and dreadful.”
Elisha, the double-portion prophet, is the strongest type of the two witnesses. Because of his curse, two she bears came out of the wood and slew forty-two young men (the two witnesses prophesy for forty-two months—three and one-half years).
Elisha, the prophet of the double portion, died from a sickness, typifying the overcoming of the two witnesses (II Kings 13:14). Some time later a dead man who came in contact with Elisha’s bones was revived, typifying the resurrection of the two witnesses after having been overcome.
Both Elijah and Elisha ministered to Gentiles as well as to Israel. The Lord’s witnesses of the last days will serve as witnesses and deliverers to whoever will call on the name of the Lord.
The major clue to the identity of the two witnesses is found in Revelation 11:4:
These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.
This verse is referring to the fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah. The two witnesses are two olive trees and two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. In the fourth chapter of Zechariah there are two olive trees but only one lampstand. The one lampstand portrays Christ. The second lampstand, which is the Body of Christ, had not as yet been formed.
Zechariah asked the meaning of the one lampstand and the two olive trees. The angel gave the answer:
So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts. (Zechariah 4:6)
The vision of Zechariah, in Chapter Four, was given in association with the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity.
Since the lampstands and olive trees of Revelation, Chapter 11 are taken from the fourth chapter of Zechariah, the significance of Revelation 11:4 is that the spiritual temple of God will be completed, not by human strength and industry (as the churches have sought to do throughout the centuries) but by the power and wisdom of the Spirit of God.
The “two witnesses” of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation symbolize the outpouring of the Spirit of God in the last days. The eternal Temple of God, which is Christ—Head and Body, must be completed by the Spirit of the Lord and not by human enterprise. This is what the angel stated.
The two olive trees speak of the double portion (the Elisha portion) of oil.
The two lampstands portray Christ and His Body. The lampstands, being gold, cannot portray humanity.
The “oil” is the Holy Spirit who alone can empower the witness of the Kingdom of God. The “gold” is God’s Nature, which can be found only in Christ and in those in whom Christ is dwelling. Only Christ and His saints are the “light of the world.”
The killing of the witnesses does not mean Christ is killed. It is a symbolic method of portraying the fact that the Presence of Christ and the anointing of the Holy Spirit will be absent from the churches of Babylon (organized religion). The witness of the Holy Spirit will be driven from the large cities of the earth. The humanistic Laodicean churches will continue to conduct “worship services” throughout the reign of Antichrist.
The Laodicean churches will be “rich, and increased with goods” because they are subsidized by Antichrist. The seed concealed in the prosperity-success-positive-thinking gospel of today will bear its hideous fruit during the period of Antichrist’s rule.
In Revelation 10:11, John is told that he must prophesy “again.” The latter-rain revival is the “again prophecy.” It is the second and last testimony to be borne to the nations of the earth.
The saints of today are being trained and judged in preparation for their work of testifying to the world. The preparatory judging of the witnesses is mentioned in Revelation 11:1:
Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, “Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar [of incense], and those who worship there. (Revelation 11:1)
The witnesses are clothed in “sackcloth,” signifying that the pomp and finery of the current babylonish (manmade, man-centered, man-directed) churches are absent. The churches of today are attempting to be “queens.” They all are daughters of one mother, the Catholic Church, the “great whore” and “mother of harlots” (Revelation 17:5).
The ministry of the victorious saints during the first half of the week will be to bear witness of God’s holy Nature, of His wrath against sin, of the soon coming of the great and terrible Day of the Lord. After that, the saints will be used by the Lord to deliver those who flee from Antichrist during the second half of the seventieth week (Joel 2:32).
The empowered saints will warn, warn, warn all men and women, boys and girls, that they must repent and receive Christ for the remission of their sins or else be destroyed in the coming Day of Wrath.
Their testimony will include many works of destruction of catastrophic proportions. The evil of the end-time will be so great God will issue a stern warning to all nations so they may prepare themselves for His coming.
It is difficult to imagine the effect on the nations that the end-time testimony will have. Every aspect of life on earth will be affected. The world governments, so boastful and assured today, will be brought down in humiliation. Every nation will be forced to do the will of God’s witnesses. Full authority will have been put in the hands of the saints until their testimony has been given to God’s satisfaction.
Without rain, and with wells and rivers turned to blood by the edicts of God’s saints, the governments will be compelled to permit the witnesses to declare the whole counsel of God.
The Great Commission has never been fully carried out. The Lord Jesus directed us to go to every nation and make disciples, teaching them to keep Christ’s commandments. Instead we have gone to every nation and built churches, telling the converts they are saved by grace and are not obligated to keep Christ’s commandments.
We have baptized people into the churches instead of into the Kingdom of God. In many instances we have created a special religious kingdom, an ecclesiastical culture, instead of disciples and witnesses.
Enough power will be given to the Lord’s witnesses of the last days to bring destruction on the nation that refuses to do the Lord’s will. This will be the first time in the history of the world that the fullness of authority given to the Lord Jesus by the Father is transferred to the saints so they can, by striking the earth with plagues as often as they will, compel the nations to allow the Divine testimony to be borne.
We have understood from the Old Testament that Christ will compel obedience when He comes. We may not have realized, however, that a foretaste of Kingdom power will be experienced by the nations prior to the King’s return.
It has become fashionable among some nations of our day to say that the government must not attempt to control the moral behavior of its citizens. The truth is, the main business of government is to prevent sin by making it illegal. Any government that permits sin to go unpunished will soon be removed by the Lord. The purpose of government is to require that every citizen live in a godly manner.
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.
For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. (Romans 13:3,4)
“An avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” “Who practices evil”!
God’s rulers are a terror to evil works—evil works as defined by the Scriptures.
When Jesus returns, the laws of God will go forth from Jerusalem to all the world. Every human being will be forced to obey God. The nations that resist the Lord will be crushed with the rod of iron. The two witnesses will testify of the coming Kingdom, and will illustrate the nature of the Kingdom by insisting on righteous behavior.
No doubt the heads of the nations and the religious leaders will resist the witnesses viciously. But the common people will hear with gladness, repenting and being baptized according to God’s commandment.
This massive, earth-wide revival will occur before the Lord’s return in glory. We think most of the people on earth will become Christians, at least in name.
After the revival there will be an hour of temptation during which sin will become widespread. The “softness” of spirit caused by the multitude of believers will prove to be fertile ground for a deceived Christian to believe he can bring in the Kingdom of God by his own faith and determination.
By “softness of spirit” we are referring to the disarming effect that conversion has. Believers often are childish in their thinking. There is a difference between being childlike, which is essential for entrance into the Kingdom of God, and being “childish.”
The sense of sins forgiven, the new atmosphere of love in which the believer finds himself, leads, without proper teaching, to foolishness and lawbreaking. The current interpretation of Paul’s doctrine of grace is in error and is promoting a foolish attitude toward God and a false sense of assurance. It is as though Gentile believers are God’s pets, the environment is friendly, and all of us are going to be carried off to mansions in never-never land. The fruit of the current doctrine of grace is people of weak character who easily are led into sin and the breaking of God’s laws and man’s laws.
One does not find many stern, cross-carrying disciples in our day—people who live in the fire of the God of Israel.
Sometimes the unconverted have a stronger sense of what is lawful and fitting than do the Christians. Multitudes of Christians obey neither Moses nor Christ. Because of their misunderstanding of grace they are living in the gap of lawlessness.
The deceived Christian leader of the last days, the man of sin, soon will be possessed by a spirit from the bottomless pit and begin to proclaim he is God. The love of the majority will grow cold. The result of the rule of this deluded individual will be the great tribulation, as the Lord punishes the attempt of a man to masquerade as God.
Whoever will attempt to harm God’s anointed witnesses during the period allotted for their testimony will forfeit his right to die of natural causes or accident. He must be slain by Divine judgment (Revelation 11:5). The Word of God will kill him, as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira.
The anointed saints will dry up the physical and spiritual atmosphere.
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)
No doubt the above verse will have a literal, physical fulfillment; but let us consider a spiritual application.
Today there are all kinds of people, Christian and non-Christian alike, who are advancing various schemes for the solution of the problems of the world. Among the Christian churches there are various doctrines. Some announce the eternal security of the believer; others do not. Some practice speaking in tongues and believe the gifts of the Spirit are for today; others do not. Some Christians teach a pre-tribulation “rapture” while others do not.
Then there are numerous “Christian” churches that deny the inspiration of the Scriptures, the virgin birth of Christ, and the bodily resurrection of the dead. These “liberal” congregations often are permissive toward abortion and homosexual behavior while other churches view such practices as abominations.
Of those who are teaching and preaching the Scriptures there are many who cannot be trusted with money; others are morally unstable; still others of the ministers of the Gospel are seeking their own glory and building their own kingdoms.
The Christian churches of the present hour are in doctrinal chaos. In spite of this, souls are being saved, believers are being filled with the Holy Spirit, the sick are being healed, miracles are being performed.
Because of the lack of visible cause and effect relationship between sound doctrine and godly behavior on the one hand, and spiritual accomplishments on the other hand, the testimony of God’s Character and will has been obscured. Today there is no clear relationship between true godliness and spiritual power.
There must come a “drying up” of the spiritual atmosphere if there is to be an effective witness of God’s Character and will. Heaven must be shut up when a true witness of God is not being given. The “waters” of the flesh must be “turned to blood,” meaning the corruption that is present must be revealed for all to see.
The famine of the Presence and Word of God has begun already. The anointed saints soon will demonstrate the authority to bind and to loose. The ungodly “Christians” who say they are “Jews” but who actually are the congregation of Satan will be made to come and worship God at the feet of the true anointed elect. The ungodly ministers will be required to acknowledge that God loves His elect and that men cannot do as they please in the Kingdom of God.
The witnesses of the Lord will deliver the Divine message during the first half of the “week.” Then the latter rain will cease. The “sacrifice” and the “grain offering” will stop in the middle of the week (Daniel 9:27), meaning that redemption through the blood of the cross no longer can be preached to all the world under the anointing of the Spirit of God. The time allotted for the preaching of the Christian Gospel to the nations will have come to an end. God will turn again to the nation of Israel.
Then the Lord’s elect, Jewish and Gentile believers alike, will be forced to flee for their lives into the wilderness, where they will be protected and nourished by the Lord throughout the last half of the week. This is the night “when no man can work” (John 9:4). This is the “end” spoken of in Matthew.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
“Then the end will come.” Not the end of the world but the end of the preaching of the Gospel in the major cities of the earth.
The Christian witness will be overcome by the lust of the flesh (Sodom), by the lust of the eyes (Egypt), and by the pride of life (Jerusalem)—Revelation 11:8. In some cases the saints will be overcome from within, meaning they themselves will succumb to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. In other instances these three satanic spirits in the world and particularly in the worldly believers will drive out the Christian witness by economic pressure, imprisonment, torture, and murder.
The spirit of envy proceeding from the pride of life in the Pharisees and Sadducees caused the murder of that first great Witness, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The peoples of the earth will rejoice greatly that the Christian witness has been silenced because the latter-rain witness will be as John the Baptist—rebuking all who love this present world, reminding them that their deeds are evil (John 3:19).
Throughout the seventieth week God will deal with His elect, including the “called” among both the Gentiles and the Jews by race. The Lord “shall confirm the covenant with many for one week” (Daniel 9:27). The workings of the Lord during this period, especially during the latter part of the week, are described in Daniel 11:32-35. The closing days of this age are portrayed as follows:
“Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. (Daniel 12:10)
The end of the age will not come until Antichrist has succeeded in removing from the earth the holy influence of the Lord’s saints.
Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered [crushed], all these things shall be finished. (Daniel 12:7)
The elect Jews and Gentiles, who are hidden away in the wilderness, will be protected and nourished by the Lord. Some of the smaller nations and villages will give help to the saints They will receive their reward in the Day of Christ. A multitude of believers in Christ will be slain as Antichrist consolidates his reign. These faithful ones will be brought immediately into the Presence of God and of the Lamb (Revelation 7:9-17). God will exalt many of them to preeminence in His Kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6).
However, those who succumb to Antichrist, either through the love of money or from fear of persecution and deprivation, will “drink of the wine of the wrath of God” (Revelation 14:9-12).
When the spiritual darkness and oppression reach their climax and the “tares” have come to maturity, the Spirit of God will come upon those who have stood true to God just as the same Spirit came upon Christ when He was in Sheol, having borne away the sins of the world.
The “two witnesses” will stand on their feet.
Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. (Revelation 11:11)
We think this is a symbolic portrayal of the first resurrection from the dead and that it will include God’s witnesses of all ages. It is the same resurrection and ascension described by the Apostle Paul in the fourth chapter of I Thessalonians. It will take place at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, the last trumpet, and that is the time of the resurrection of the saints, according to Paul.
Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15)
in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (I Corinthians 15:52)
“At the last (seventh) trumpet.”
The author had a series of impressions from the Lord—almost strong enough to be termed a vision. He “saw” the saints of all ages come forth from their graves and then enter a grand season of fellowship and renewing of relationships. Antichrist and his followers stood about watching this, being filled with fear and rage (compare Revelation 11:11). But there was nothing they could do to prevent it.
The word came: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”
After that, slowly, majestically, to the sound of music and worship rolling as from the pipes of a galactic organ, the saints began to rise to meet the Lamb in the air. Then the word came: “If I were to do nothing more than this, the wicked of the earth would destroy themselves in their frustration and wrath over what they have just witnessed. But this is only the beginning of their sorrows.”
Jesus stated that the end would come after the Gospel of the Kingdom had been preached to every nation for a witness (Matthew 24:14). After the two witnesses ascend into the heaven in a cloud, the heavenly voices will announce, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
Revelation, Chapter 11 reveals that the latter-rain witness will be given, there will be a period of unprecedented tribulation, and then the Lord will come and raise His witnesses from the dead. The Lord at that time will destroy Antichrist by the brightness of His glory (II Thessalonians 2:8).
Then the saints will reign with Christ and the dead will be judged. This is what Daniel, Jesus, and Paul proclaimed.
The current teaching that a special set of Gentile Christians will be “raptured” into Heaven in order to escape the events of the end-time is not found in the Scriptures. There is no passage in the Old Testament or the New Testament that speaks of a secret disappearance of the Gentile Christians prior to the latter-rain revival or prior to the hour of temptation that will test those who are living on the earth.
The tradition of the “secret rapture” is not only unscriptural, being an extra-biblical “revelation,” but it has done immense harm by suggesting to the believers that it is not necessary they prepare themselves to stand in the day of evil. The doctrine of the “secret rapture” certainly is contrary to the teachings of Daniel, Jesus, Paul, and the Apostle John.
The resurrected witnesses, having been sharers in the sufferings of Christ and now having been installed as the kings, priests, and judges of the earth, will shine as the stars forever.
The meek of the earth will flow to the light of God’s stars. The nations of the saved will come in order to be blessed by the Presence of God and His Christ who will be dwelling in manifest splendor and majesty in the Lord’s witnesses.
(“Who Are the Two Witnesses?”, 3584-1)