The Two Witnesses
Readings: Revelation 11:1-14, Zechariah 4.
1. Political Awareness
The peoples of this world are becoming increasingly aware of political, legal and spiritual issues. Issues involving democracy, freedom of choice, human rights, legal rights, the power of the media, privacy etc. are now well discussed, even amongst the hitherto illiterate masses in the most backward nations. People have also woken up to the enormous greed, corruption and violence that is sweeping the globe. Ignorance had been the norm for millennia; but now there is a great awareness of what’s going on; an awareness largely due to the abundance of evidence provided via the media by eye-witnesses. Never a day passes but we read, hear and even see pictures of events taking place all over the world. Eye-witness reports from remote places are broadcast to audiences in all countries. Yes, eye-witness reports are invaluable as any news reporter or solicitor will tell you.
2. Two Witnesses
In the legal profession the presence of even one witness to a crime or transaction is considered good evidence: but the presence of two witnesses is conclusive. On the evidence of two witnesses, people have been put to death. Most adults know that important legal documents need the signatures of at least two witnesses.
- Marriage Certificates
- Title Deeds to land and property
- Business Contracts
- Powers of Attorney
- Peace Treaties etc.
All these transactions call for at least two witnesses to be present. In spiritual matters it is the same. Witnesses are called for before truth can be established. In Revelation chapter 11 verses 1-13 we read about Two Witnesses who are scheduled by the Almighty God to testify for 42 months to earth’s teeming millions about His Truth. Questions concerning them are numerous:
- When do they appear on the world scene?
- Who are the Two Witnesses?
- What do they witness to and what is their message?
Answers to these questions, depending on which Christian group’s literature you read, are varied to say the least; but I will not list them all. Instead I will begin by quoting the Bible passage which tells of the Two Witnesses and then, after a brief analysis, answer the three questions above.
|1: And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.
2: But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
3: And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
4: These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
5: And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
6: These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
3. When Do The Two Witnesses Appear?
The answer to this first question is: The Two Witnesses make their appearance on the world scene during the 6th Trumpet (2nd Woe) which occurs towards the latter part of the Seventh Seal. In other words, the Seventh Seal is subdivided into seven stages and the 6th Trumpet is the 6th stage. See the The Seal & Trumpet Chart to get your bearings concerning the Seven Seals and the Seven Trumpets which all occur during the Seventh Seal.
The record concerning the 6th Trumpet begins at Rev.9:13 and continues all the way through to Rev.11:14. During this 6th Trumpet (also known as the 2nd Woe) ONE THIRD OF MANKIND are slain! (Rev.9:15-18). This great multitude, some 2,000,000,000 people, is about twice the population of China! Pause awhile and consider that staggering fact.
Very briefly these are the events leading up to the 6th Trumpet, the 2nd Woe, when this unimaginable slaughter of a third of mankind will occur.
Sixth Seal (Rev.6:12-17)
There is a global earthquake and spectacular signs in the sun, moon and stars. Blind panic grips earth’s inhabitants, who run to the rocks and mountains seeking shelter from the wrath of the Almighty and His Son Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). Events under this Seal have obviously not yet occurred.
After the 6th Seal occurs, the 144,000 servants of the Most High are sealed in their foreheads with Yahweh’s Name (Rev.7). This sealing work is also still future. It has not occurred. When it does occur, sealed believers will no longer need spiritual instruction as to how to live: because they will instinctively know right from wrong (Heb.8:8-13).
Seventh Seal (Rev. 8 to Rev.20)
The Seventh Seal begins AFTER the 144,000 are sealed.
The Seventh Seal is subdivided into 7 Trumpets, the last 3 of which are called WOES.
See Understand the Revelation for a description of the first four trumpets.
5th Trumpet (1st WOE) (Rev.9:1-12)
During this Woe the following events will occur:
- The Abyss will be opened and the Beast (the Man of Sin) will be released.
Leading an army of evil angels he will torture mankind for 5 months: that is, all except those who were sealed with Yahweh’s Name (His character as expressed in His law) before the events under the Seventh Seal began.
6th Trumpet (2nd WOE) (Rev.9:13 – Rev.11:14)
During this Woe, which lasts 3.5 years, these events will occur:
- One third of mankind will be slain.
- The seven thunders sound. (Rev.10:3-6)
- The Two Witnesses begin their 42 month testimony.
- They have the power to cause a 3.5 year drought and to plague mankind at will.
- After testifying for 3.5 years they are killed by the Beast who arose from the Abyss at the 1st Woe. After 3.5 days the Two Witnesses are raised to life, much to the astonishment and terror of earth’s population.
- Their resurrection marks the end of the 2nd Woe.
7th Trumpet (3rd WOE) (Rev:11:14 – Rev.19:21)
During this Woe, which also lasts 3.5 years, the following events will occur:
- The woman of Revelation 12 will be protected in the wilderness for this period of 1260 days, which is 3.5 years. (Rev.12:6) See the SBS tract entitled The Coming Exodus.
- The Beast will cause the world’s inhabitants to receive his Mark; without which no one will be able to buy or sell.
- The seven last plagues devastate the earth. (Rev.16)
- Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots, is overthrown and the economies of all nations collapse. (Rev.17 & 18)
- Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) returns to earth at the end of this Woe. (Rev.19)
From the foregoing you will see that the Two Witnesses appear on the world scene at the 6th Trumpet (the 2nd Woe), which occurs towards the latter part of the Seventh Seal, when a third of the human race is perishing! This means that in August 1999 their coming is still future. The above points are explained further in our online booklet entitled Understand the Revelation.
4. Who are the Two Witnesses?
To identify the Two Witnesses we will look closely at several scriptural clues; the first three of which are the most important because they specifically tell us who the Two Witnesses are.
- The first clue describes the Two Witnesses in symbolic terms as “Two Olive Trees.” (Rev.11:4, Zech.4:3-11)
- The second clue tells us that “They stand in the presence of the God of the whole earth.” (Rev.11:4, Zech.4:14)
- The third clue refers to them as the “Two Anointed Ones.” These three clues are found in this passage:
|11: Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof?
12: And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?
13: And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
14: Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the LORD of the whole earth.
- They prophesy for a period of 42 months or 1260 days during the 2nd Woe. (Rev.11:2-3)
- Any attempt by man to hurt them results in immediate death. (Rev.11:5)
- They are eventually killed by the Beast, the Antichrist who is to rise from the Bottomless Pit. The bodies of the Two Wintnesses are then exhibited in the city of Jerusalem, where our Lord was crucified.
- After three and a half days they are resurrected and ascend to heaven in full view of their enemies.
Notice that the Two Witnesses are specifically referred to as ‘two olive trees,’ ‘two anointed ones,’ who ‘stand in the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.’
The first three clues identify who and where the Two Witnesses are. The other four tell us what they do and what happens to them.
From these clues I do believe that the Two Witnesses are not:
- The Old & New Testaments. The Scriptures have testified about the Almighty for thousands of years, not just 42 months. Besides, the Scriptures abide forever (Isa.40:8) and attempting to hurt them, by whatever means, has never resulted in instant death.
- The Holy Spirit. As with the Scriptures, the testimony of the Holy Spirit has continued for a lot longer than 42 months. Besides, the Antichrist could hardly kill the Holy Spirit! Nor can the Holy Spirit’s “body” be on mocking display as Rev.11: 9-10 pictures.
- Two Men (i.e. Enoch, Noah, Moses, Elijah, Daniel, John the Baptist etc.) At death, these men of God did not go directly to heaven to stand in Yahweh’s presence. They were buried. The Saviour confirmed this when he said to Nicodemus:
|13: And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.|
This means that these great men of God were not standing in Yahweh’s presence when Zechariah’s prophecy was given. They were in their graves awaiting the resurrection. John the Baptist wasn’t even born at the time. Moreover they will most certainly not be raised to life only to die a ‘second death.’ Scripture tells us that the ‘second death is the ‘lake of fire!’ (Rev.20:14) and that it is appointed unto men ‘once to die.’ (Heb.9:27) This means that Moses who died in the land of Moab (Deut 34:5) couldn’t possibly die again as one of the Two Witnesses.
5. Two Archangels
Who, then, are the Two Witnesses?
The answer is: The Two Witnesses are the two anointed archangels who stand in Yahweh’s presence. They are the highest ranking angels in the universe and were represented by the two cherubim standing on either side of the ark of the covenant. Proof of this amazing fact now follows:
|18: And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.
19: And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof.
20: And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.
21: And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.
22: And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
Many years later, when king Solomon built his famous Temple, which the Almighty graced with His sacred presence, these two cherubim were depicted as follows:
Clue 1 … Two Olive Trees
1 Kings 6:
|23: And within the oracle he made two cherubims of OLIVE TREE, each ten cubits high.
24: And five cubits was the one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the other wing of the cherub: from the uttermost part of the one wing unto the uttermost part of the other were ten cubits.
25: And the other cherub was ten cubits: both the cherubims were of one measure and one size.
26: The height of the one cherub was ten cubits, and so was it of the other cherub.
27: And he set the cherubims within the inner house: and they stretched forth the wings of the cherubims, so that the wing of the one touched the one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; and their wings touched one another in the midst of the house.
28: And he overlaid the cherubims with gold.
Did you notice their construction? The two cherubim were carved out of Two Olive Trees!
This is exactly the figurative term – Olive Trees – used in Rev.11:4 and Zech. 4:3 to describe the Two Witnesses. The inevitable conclusion must be, that the Two Witnesses, who are also referred to as Two Olive Trees, must be the two archangels represented by the cherubim made of Olive Trees on either side of the ark of the covenant. Other texts concerning them are found in Exo.37:6-9, Psalm 80:1, 99:1, Isa.37:16, Eze.10:1-12.
Clue 2 … They Stand in Yahweh’s Presence
One has only to consider the construction of the ark of the covenant to realise how true this is of these two archangels. They ‘stand in the very presence of God’ on either side of the mercy seat. The Most High literally communed with the children of Israel from between the two cherubim.
They stand in the very presence of the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel!
Clue 3 … Two Anointed Ones
The Two Witnesses are also called the two ‘anointed ones:’ because on and through them the Holy Spirit (symbolised by the olive oil) flows. Are archangels (cherubs) anointed? The answer is, yes cherubs are especially anointed to do their work. See section 6 concerning the anointed cherub Lucifer.
Clues 4 & 5 … Do Angels Prophesy?
Yes, angels have prophesied on many occasions. Angels are ministering spirits sent by the Almighty to prophesy, warn, comfort, rescue, feed and punish mankind. At the Saviour’s birth the angels of heaven visited earth and even sang anthems of praise to common shepherds. (Luke 3:8-14) The scriptures abound with evidence of angels visiting mankind with special messages from the Almighty. Here are a few texts to prove this point.
|Two angels were sent to Sodom to rescue Lot and his family before that city was destroyed.|
|An angel commissioned Gideon to rescue and judge Israel.|
|An angel visited Samson’s parents and told them they were going to bear a son who would judge Israel.|
|An angel preserved Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego in the fiery furnace.|
|An angel protected Daniel in the lions’ den.|
|An angel rescued Peter from prison.|
|An angel rescued Paul from prison.|
|An angel delivered the prophecy of the Revelation to the Apostle John.|
There are, of course, many other examples of when angels visited mankind; but the above will prove the point.
Why are the Two Witnesses sent?
The Two Witnesses are sent to earth to accomplish the following:
- To witness first hand the full extent of mankind’s sin. Yahweh, the just and righteous judge, could hardly permit the destruction of a third of the human race without first giving His highest ranking angels a chance to see for themselves the full extent of man’s unbelief and sin.
- To expose the Antichrist‘s world-wide deception as he poses as Jesus Christ: and to do so with the awesome miracles listed in Rev.11:5-6. After all, if evil archangels like Lucifer and Abaddon are allowed to reveal themselves and deceive mankind, would it not be fair to allow holy archangels to be seen?
- To warn the human race of the coming Judgement.
- To rescue believers from this corrupt system, just as they rescued Lot and his family from Sodom.
The City of Sodom
In the last days of Sodom, the Almighty visited earth with two angels, who were then commissioned to enter Sodom and verify the reports which were reaching the throne of God. On entering Sodom these two angels witnessed first hand the shameful homosexual behaviour of the men of that city. They also entered Sodom to rescue Lot and his family. (Gen. 18 & 19) They were probably the same two archangels, the anointed ones who travel the universe with the Almighty God; the two cherubim who ‘stand in His presence.’
Long before Moses built the ark of the covenant, long before Solomon made two replicas of the cherubim out of two olive trees, these two anointed archangels were with Yahweh, standing in His holy presence. Yes, the two anointed cherubim are the only beings who fit the scriptural clues about the Two Witnesses.
Will we see the Two Witnesses?
Yes, the whole world will see the Two Witnesses. I also believe that they will visit every continent on earth and warn both saint and sinner just as they did in the last days of Sodom; before that sinful city was destroyed by fire. They will preach to all mankind at a time when a third of the human race is perishing. That is why they are clothed in sackcloth, the ancient symbol of mourning. They present Yahweh’s last offer of mercy to mankind. He is holding out the Olive Branch! The olive branch, as we all know, is the universally recognised symbol of mercy and peace. In sending the Two Witnesses to earth the Almighty is offering terms of peace to all humanity. It is His final offer. Failure to accept mercy will result in death on an unimaginable scale. It is absolutely impossible for me to exaggerate the importance of these facts. Let the reader beware of ignoring them. For near to six thousand years the human race has been allowed to go its way, to do its own thing, and the Most High has patiently waited for His Day. That Day is about to begin. Are you preparing for it?
6. Lucifer, a Fallen Archangel
Long ago Lucifer (Satan) was also a covering cherub. He “stood in Yahweh’s presence.” He was an “anointed one,” full of beauty and radiant in splendour. He travelled the universe with the Most High, relaying instructions to thousands of angels under him. But Lucifer sinned. He grew proud and coveted the throne of the Almighty. He began a rebellion which continues to this day. So he was removed from office and his place was filled by another. In the book of Ezekiel we read about Satan (Lucifer), the anointed cherub who once stood in the very presence of the Eternal God.
|11: Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
12: Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
13: Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
14: Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
15: Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
16: By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
17: Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.
18: Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.
19: All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.
The chapter portrays Lucifer in days gone by when, as an anointed archangel, he stood in the very presence of the LORD; when he walked amidst the stones of fire; when he was perfect in all his ways. Yes, Lucifer was initially a spiritual ‘olive branch’ through whom the holy oil flowed to lighten others. Indeed he was called the ‘son of the morning!’ (Isaiah 14:12) Perhaps Abaddon, the Antichrist was another archangel who joined Satan in his rebellion, before he too was cast out of God’s presence. I say this because the Antichrist who rises from the Bottomless Pit has the power to kill the Two Witnesses: an act of which ordinary men are incapable.
‘But,’ you may ask, ‘Can an angel die?’ Aren’t angels immortal beings?’ See SBS article entitled Immortality for the answer to this question.
Nadab & Abihu
The story of Nadab and Abihu, the two eldest sons of Aaron was a reflection of what took place in the Temple above. (Lev.10:1-7) These two anointed sons of Aaron abused the great privilege granted them of ministering in the tabernacle. In a way somewhat similar to Satan, they had been especially anointed of God to stand in His presence and minister with their father Aaron the High Priest. (Exo.28:41, 30:30) But Nadab and Abihu sinned and were slain. They were replaced by their two younger brothers Eleazar and Ithamar. It is the same with Satan and Abaddon. Both sinned grievously; and like Nadab and Abihu are scheduled to be burned to death.
7. Holy Archangels
Only two holy archangels are mentioned in the Scriptures. They are Gabriel & Michael. They now stand in the presence of the Most High. Carefully note Gabriel’s words to Zacharias the father of John the Baptist.
|19: And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.|
The archangel Gabriel has visited earth on several occasions. He was sent to Daniel to explain the meaning of certain visions.
|16: And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.|
The remainder of the chapter contains Gabriel’s explanation of the prophecy. Gabriel re-visited Daniel some 15 years later to give him skill and understanding concerning the prophecy of the 70 weeks of years. (Dan.9:20-27) Gabriel is seen again in New Testament times when he visited Zacharias. (Luke 1:19) Later he visited Mary to tell her of the birth of Jesus. (Luke 1:26-37)
We can see from these visits that the archangel Gabriel is only sent to earth to deliver the most important messages: those which concern the coming of the Messiah. I assume from this fact that in earth’s final hour, when a third of mankind will die, the archangel Gabriel, the ‘olive tree,’ the one who ‘stands in Yahweh’s presence,’ will again be sent to deliver Yahweh’s final offer of mercy and peace.
Who is the other Witness? Probably the archangel Michael who when contending with the Devil over the body of Moses left it for the Lord to rebuke Satan. (Jude 9) Gabriel and Michael are the only holy angels named in Scripture. Michael is not the Lord.
To summarise I believe the Two Witnesses of Revelation are not the Word of the LORD, the Old and New Testaments, which have been with mankind for centuries and ‘abide forever.’ Nor are they the Holy Spirit, Who is not subject to death. Nor are they two righteous men, past or present.
The Two Witnesses are two mighty archangels who stand in the Almighty’s presence.
One is Gabriel and the other is Michael. They are the ‘Two Olive Trees” pictured by Moses and Solomon standing on either side of the ark of the testament, which represents the very throne of God. The Two Witnesses will appear on earth at the 6th Trumpet (2nd Woe) when a third of the human race is scheduled to perish. As in the last days of Sodom, they will visit this evil generation with Yahweh’s final warning and offer of salvation. They will proclaim the Everlasting Gospel for a period of 42 months after which, like their Master, they will be murdered but will rise again after three and a half days. No other conclusion fits all the scriptural clues concerning these holy beings.
The Two Witnesses preach the same message the prophets of old preached. In a sentence it is:
… Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
Indeed, this is the Everlasting Gospel; the call to have faith in God, to accept His offer of salvation through His Son Yeshua and to keep His commandments. The Two Witnesses will preach the Everlasting Gospel with the added warning of the coming Day of Judgement. The plagues they bring down on mankind will vindicate the veracity and authority of the truths they proclaim. Our reaction to their message should be to have faith in Yeshua, the Lord Jesus Christ and then demonstrate that faith by keeping the commandments of the LORD God of Israel; especially His Sabbath command which commemorates His creation. Anything short of faith and obedience is courting disaster!
Elder: David B Loughran
Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton, Scotland
First published in 1994, placed on the Internet in 1996 and updated in August 1999