During the Beast reign, or the abomination that causes desolation of the Holy place, Two Witness will appear. John in his vision sees Jesus telling him of the mystery; ‘I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth’ (Revelation 11:3). Although prophesies spoken by people is not novel, during the reign of the Beast system, any utterance of God will be forbidden and censored. Regardless of the situation, these Two Witnesses will dare to speak words of God, because they will be given divine power, which trails boldness along. Jesus further explains to John, ‘These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth’ (v4).
These are the same olive trees that Zechariah sees and writes, ‘I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lights on it, with seven channels to it. Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left’ (Zechariah 4:2-3). When Zechariah asks the angel what they symbolize, the angel simply responds, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty’ (v6). In the same way, the angel explaining to Daniel of his vision concerning the end times says that though the Beast will reign for a time, ‘Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power’ (Daniel 8:25). The Two Witness will thus be able to speak up because they do not come in their own power, but power from God. The Two Witnesses, the two olive trees, are before the lampstand, and so can speak God’s Word boldly. And ‘If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die’ (Revelation 11:6).
Besides being divinely protected, the Two Witness will be given two powers. ‘These men have powers to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have the power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they will’ (v6). It is not a coincidence that these Two Witnesses embody what two great prophets did. God tells Moses, ‘See, I have made you like God before Pharaoh’ (Exodus 7:1), and gives him ability to ‘strike the water of the Nile and it will be changed into blood’ (v17). Moses also is given power to perform eight other plagues. Elijah on the other hand decreed that, ‘there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word’ (1 Kings 17:1), and it was so. Moses and Elijah are the two major prophets in Biblical accounts, and it is no wonder that during the Transfiguration, Peter, James, and John saw ‘Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus’ (Matthew 17:3). Jesus in His glorified state was specifically speaking to these two prophets, meaning they were before God’s heavenly throne.
Both the Prophet Moses and Elijah did their wonders at a time when evil had reached its brim. The rulers (Pharaoh and Ahab) of the land were wicked, ruthless, and hard-hearted towards the things of God. In the same way, the Two Witnesses will come at a time of the Beast system, when evil has reigned in the world. They will perform the same signs Moses and Elijah did, because God will give them power to speak His Word. ‘Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them’ (Revelation 11:7). God will allow the Two Witness to be slain and ‘Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified’ (v8). Their death will usher in the complete authority of the beast system on earth, as many will be given over to delusion and accord awe to the Beast who killed them. ‘For three and a half days, men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on earth’ (v9-10).
These Two Witnesses, though speaking God’s Word, will be perceived as a threat, because at that time, the Word of the Lord will be offensive to many. The Word of the Lord will be a torment, just like it was to Pharaoh who said to Moses, ‘Clearly you are bent on evil . . . Get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again! The day you see my face you will die’ (Exodus 10:10,28). Or like Ahab who asked Elijah, ‘So you have found me my enemy!’ (1 Kings 21:20). Like the two Prophets, the Two Witnesses will be loathed by the inhabitants of the earth who will rejoice in their death. ‘But after three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here’. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on’ (Revelation 11:11-12). In the same way, Moses and Elijah were taken up by the Lord. When Moses died, God ‘buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is’ (Deuteronomy 34:6). While for Elijah, ‘suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them (Elijah and Elisha), and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind’ (2 Kings 2:11). The Two Witnesses also seem to remind the inhabitants of the earth about Jesus Christ one last time, for He was persecuted, died, and raised to life on the Third Day.
When the Two Witnesses are taken up to heaven, ‘At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven’ (Revelation 11:13). John explains, ‘The second woe has passed, the third woe is coming quickly’ (v14). The next woe will be the seventh and final trumpet that will be sounded so that, ‘God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and earthquake and a great hailstorm’ (v19).
‘Behold, I come quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book’ ~ Revelation 22:7