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The Two Witnesses

By Merrill Olson

Just as Satan will have two men to promote his evil agenda, God will have two men who will speak His truth amidst the darkness and devastation of the Tribulation. Their work and supernatural ministry is described in Revelation 11:3-13.

God says, “And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth” (v. 3). This duration of time is for three-and-a-half years. In the Tribulation there are two periods as such. Which one will involve these messengers of God? Prophetic speakers are divided into one or the other and state good reasons for their views. However, the biblical focus seems to point to the first half of Daniel’s seventieth week of seven years (Dan. 9:24, 27).

The reasons for this understanding are clear from Scripture. The ministry of the two prophets runs through much of the six trumpet judgments (Rev. 8:6-9:21; 11:1-14) in the first half of the Tribulation. The sounding of the seventh trumpet (Rev. 11:15) will be the mid-point of the seven years (Dan. 9:26-27) and will begin the second half that is known as the “Great Tribulation” (Matt. 24:21). Therefore, the execution of the two witnesses by the Antichrist (Rev. 11:7-10) and their resurrection by God (vv. 11-12) will trigger the Great Tribulation. It will also be initiated by the occurring of the “abomination of desolation” (Matt. 24:15) referred to by Jesus.

The two prophets will be divinely protected from “harm” during the three-and-a-half years (Rev. 11:5). They will be immortal until their judgment work is done. According to verse 11, three supernatural weapons will be at their disposal: (1) Drought. “These have power to shut down heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy.” (2) Death. “They have power over waters to turn them to blood.” (3) Disease. “And strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.”

Therefore, these two witnesses will be given by God authority over nature and to destroy by “fire” those who come against them until their ministry is finished (v. 5). Not even the Antichrist will be able to hurt them. As the world experiences the disruptions of nature, the two prophets will proclaim them as God’s judgments. In turn, many people will hate them but “a great multitude” will “learn righteousness” (Is. 26:9) and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation which will lead to their martyrdom (Rev. 7:9-17).

When their prophesying is completed, God will lift his protection and the Antichrist will “kill them” (v. 7). Unsaved Jews and Gentiles will gloat over their dead bodies as TV newscasts focus their cameras on them as they “lie in the street” (v. 8). As people view their remains, the world will celebrate like an international Christmas party (v. 10). However, this rejoicing will suddenly end as life enters the lifeless bodies of the two witnesses and “they ascend to heaven” as “their enemies [see] them” (v. 12).

Who are they (v. 4)? Even though there is much speculation as to their identity, God’s Word does not name them. Someday, the whole Tribulation world will know! Accordingly, be aware of those who spiritualize the text in order to explain them away.


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