In Deuteronomy 17 and 19 the Lord established that two or more witnesses are needed to convict of a crime, and that their testimony is sufficient for a sentence of death.
In Joshua 2, Joshua sent two spies into Jericho prior to his campaign to liberate the Holy Land from its usurpers.
In Revelation, two witnesses are sent to Jerusalem, prior to another Joshua’s campaign to liberate not just the Holy Land, but the entire planet Earth from its usurper. The Greek pronunciation of the Hebrew name Joshua is “Jesus,” by-the-way.
In the previous article I explained that the Great Tribulation is the second half (three & 1/2 years) of Israel’s 70th “seven,” or “week of years.” In Revelation 11 we see that the two witnesses prophesy for three & 1/2 years. Biblical years, that is, of 360 days each. The period of their testimony is given as 42 months in Rev.11:2 and 1,260 days in 11:3. During that time period, they torment the followers of the Beast (Rev. 11: 6; 10) but can not be stopped or killed (11:5). Only when their testimony is complete is the Beast allowed to slay them (11:7).
Scripture does not overtly specify which half of the seven years they prophesy in, but most prophecy teachers/preachers assume it will be the second half, or Great Tribulation, because that is the half most mentioned in Bible prophecy.
I believe it will be the first half of the 70th seven. The timing makes more sense. During the first half, Israel is allowed to conduct Temple worship with the daily sacrifice and so on, and the Beast has not yet physically occupied Jerusalem. But the witnesses infuriate the Beast and his followers by calling down plagues, and by speaking the truth during a time of pervasive deception. They are a thorn in the side of the Beast and the Dragon behind him, so that at the mid-point of the 70th seven, the Beast’s forces invade the Beautiful Land, kill the witnesses, occupy the Temple and set up the “abomination of desolation” prophesied by Daniel and reiterated by Jesus.
Who are the two witnesses? It is possible they are two people unknown to us at this time, just seemingly normal people like you and me who are called to this purpose. But most students of prophecy believe they are men we have read about in the Bible, brought back for this mission in the last days. In fact, some prominent Bible scholars believe it will be Moses and Elijah.
If it’s going to be two historical figures, why not Elijah and Enoch? After all, they’re the only two we know of that have been raptured, never suffering physical death.
Over the years, I’ve also come to share the opinion that it is Moses and Elijah. I’ll share some of my reasoning below.
I’ll start with Elijah:
Most scholars agree that he will be one of the witnesses, but that’s not why I believe it. First of all, he was taken up to Heaven without suffering a physical death (2 Kings 2:11), and in a manner which suggests to me that his work is not finished yet. You’ve got to wonder why he was taken while most other prophets were martyred(1 Kings 19:10; 14; Luke 11:47-50; 13:34; Acts 7:52; Rev. 16:6, 18:4); and why his successor, Elisha, was not also taken. Elisha had amazing faith and, careful study reveals, he performed twice as many miracles as Elijah.
Secondly, in the last book of our Old Testament, Malachi says the Lord will send Elijah in the last days (Elijah dispatched, get it? Mal. 4:5). Have you ever wondered why so many 1st Century Jews wondered if Jesus was Elijah returned (Matt. 16:14; Mark 6:15; 8:28; Luke 9:8, 19)? There are far more end-time prophesies in the Old Testament than in the New. The 1st Century Jews missed the important detail that their Messiah would come twice–once as a sacrificial Lamb and their kinsman redeemer, later as the Lion of Judah and their avenger of blood. They wanted the second visit, someone who would throw off the yoke of Roman rule and reestablish the throne of David. They conveniently ignored the first. Their wishful thinking led them to hope that their era was the end-times, and so they were hoping Elijah had returned.
Thirdly, notice that one of the plagues brought upon the earth by the witnesses is a three & 1/2 year drought. And Elijah is documented as calling down another three & 1/2 year drought in the days of Ahab (Luke 4:25; James 5:17). This may seem like a weak connection, unless you study how God seems to like to foreshadow certain events, manifest multiple fulfillments of prophecies and work in noticeable patterns.
But why Moses? After all, he already died once. Yes, and so had Lazarus, right?
Remember that the 70th seven is for Israel. The Church Age will be over at that point (though Gentiles will continue to be saved throughout the period–Rev. 7:9-14). Now think of what Moses means to the devout Hebrews. Granted, they didn’t heed his word much when he was alive, but like a lot of authors, his clout increased tremendously after his death. Remember that Jesus referred to the Old Testament as “Moses and the prophets” (Luke 16:29, 31; 24:27, 44) so apparently this was a familiar euphemism in His time. Even today, devout Jews hold Moses in very high esteem as the Law giver.
There’s a curious little verse in Jude (verse 9) describing a dispute over the body of Moses between two archangels–one of whom led a rebellion against the Most High, and one who was still faithful to God. Now why would they be fighting over Moses’ body?
Going back all the way to the garden, the devil (formerly archangel/top cherub Lucifer) has been attempting to thwart God’s plan, whether it be by seducing the chosen people into idolatry, or wiping them out via genocide, or murdering our Lord on the cross. Satan’s first attack on Moses happened when the Law giver was a baby, via Pharaoh’s death order. Could it be Satan learned of a plan to resurrect Moses at a future date, and this was why he was so interested in the body (and why the grave was in a secret location, arguably dug by the Lord Himself–Deut. 34:5-6)?
Also consider the transfiguration–when Peter, James and John saw both Moses and Elijah having a conference with Jesus (Matt. 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36). First of all, in a world with no photographic records, how did Peter and the others recognize two men who had been dead for centuries? It must have been a spiritual revelation. Secondly, what might they have been discussing (besides Jesus’ pending business in Jerusalem–Luke 9:31), and why those two men? Might Jesus have been advising them regarding their next assignment? If a day is like 1,000 years and 1,000 years like one day to the Lord (2 Pet 3:8–He operates without the limitations of the space-time continuum we are shackled by), would it be farfetched to imagine their next mission would occur over 2,000 years after Peter, James and John glimpsed into whatever dimension this meeting was taking place?
Thirdly, consider again the plagues: They turn the waters into blood (Rev. 11:6). Moses did this before, to the Nile River (Ex, 7:20-21). Not that God couldn’t use another servant to perform the same miracle. The ultimate author of the Bible–the Holy Spirit–might just be giving us a clue as to the witnesses’ identities by the plagues He chose to enumerate. If you don’t believe He is the ultimate author, then there’s a lot in the Bible you have to chalk up to coincidence.
Whoever the witnesses prove to be, their testimony is going to be something fantastic to behold: Two men, anointed by God, boldly speaking the truth with the entire world against them. Such courage is in short supply today in the Church.