A statement made in the July edition of The Bible Guys has garnered some response.
Over three years ago, we realized that we were witnessing the fulfillment of Revelation 11:2, as, the day after to Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount site on September 27, 2000, Yasser Arafat proclaimed an Intifada which would lead to numerous suicide attacks throughout all of Israel, particularly in Jerusalem itself. God revealed to Bro. Eldon McNabb that the Intifada would last for the prophesied period of time: 42 months.
In our May 2002 issue, Bro. McNabb declared in print, "This war against Jerusalem is one of the last great signs that the time of Christianity is coming to a close, and it began on October 1, 2000, when Yasser Arafat declared the present Intifada. Eighteen months have passed, and about two years remain. In that time this abuse of Jerusalem must accomplish whatever God intends should be accomplished by it. Whatever else it is, it is a sign to us concerning the next two three-and-a-half-year periods which shall immediately follow it."
This truth was repeated in the February, April and June editions of 2003, and again in May 2004 when we proclaimed that the end of the 42 months had been reached at the end of March.
Truly, the Israeli government declared "Don't tread on me" on March 21, 2004, when Israeli Defense Forces killed Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Jerusalem had had enough, and was not going to be subjected to violence any longer. They reiterated their determination on April 17, when they eliminated Yassin's successor, Abdel Aziz Rantissi.
At that time, Israel also stepped up construction of the barrier between Israel and the West Bank, and tightened the borders between Israel and the predominately Palestinian areas of Gaza and the West Bank.
One particular sister-in-Christ has on more than one occasion tried to challenge the fact that the violence of the Intifada has been halted. In her last correspondence, she said that the violence had not ended, and sent as proof an August 4, 2004 article from the Jerusalem Post with the headline: Suicide bomber arrested near Nablus. (I did not have to read beyond the headline to know that this article only served to prove our declaration, since successful suicide bombers are not arrested, they are scooped up and buried.) The article described the sixth suicide bombing thwarted at the Hawara roadblock this year.
In fact, since the assassination of Sheikh Yassin, suicide bombings have stopped - not only in Jerusalem, but in all of the undisputed territory of Israel. Only in Gaza and the West Bank has that violence continued uninterrupted. The prophecy in Revelation 11:2 quite clearly relates specifically to Israel's capital: "The holy city (Jerusalem) shall they tread under foot forty and two months."
In his June 20 editorial, noted columnist Charles Krauthammer said, "While no one was looking, something historic has happened in the Middle East. The Palestinian intifada is over, and the Palestinians have lost." So apparent is the failure of the intifada, that, on May 17, 2004, even King Abdullah of Jordan suggested Arafat "take a long look in the mirror" and consider resigning.
At the end of March 2004, three-and-a-half years (forty-two months) of violence had ended as abruptly as it had begun that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.
This brings us to the statement in last month's issue that has created quite a stir. Brother Eldon McNabb, in his message, said, "Furthermore, on March 28, 2004, when the fulfillment of the forty and two months in Rev. 11:2 had been completed the previous day, those "two witnesses" began the fulfillment of the 1260 days of their prophecy." And so, quite a few have asked, "How do you know that? Who are they?"
In Matthew 2:1-12, we are told of a group of people - Gentiles no less - that knew about a pivotal historical event that had gone unnoticed by the people among whom it had happened. "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him." These Magi had seen the great sign of the birth of the King of the Jews. They had some of the information, (they knew about the star and when it appeared,) but not enough, so they looked for this new King in the most logical place: Jerusalem.
The religious leaders of Israel, however, had information the wise men did not: that the King of the Jews would be born in Bethlehem. They were, nonetheless, unaware that His sign had appeared in the heavens (and were totally oblivious to the fact that it was, truly, time for the birth of their King). So they sent the wise men to Bethlehem to search Him out. When they that looked for Him found Him, they presented Him with gifts from their treasuries and worshiped Him. Then, being warned of God of Herod's intention to destroy the lad, they returned home without telling him where to find the child.
When Herod realized that the wise men were not going to return, still ignorant of the identity of Israel's prophesied Messiah, he ordered all the children two years old and, in and around Bethlehem, to be slain, "according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men." All this happened that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets.
Likewise have we, as the wise men of old, declared that we have seen the sign that marked the beginning of the days of the prophecy of the two witnesses. John the son of Zebedee recorded, "... and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth." A forty-two-month onslaught against Jerusalem is the sign that the two witnesses will begin to prophesy.
Revelation 11:3-14 says, "And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 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. 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. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly."
Here is what we know about the two witnesses from this important passage:
(1) After forty-two months of Jerusalem being trodden under foot, the Lord gives power unto them, and they prophesy 1260 days.
(2) They are clothed in sackcloth, apparently a sign of mourning.
(3) They are symbolized by two olive trees, and two candlesticks, a prophecy we will examine as we continue this study.
(4) If anyone tries to hurt them, "fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth" them.
(5) They are able to stop the rain during the 1260 days of their prophecy.
(6) When the days of their prophecy are ended, the beast makes war with them, overcomes them, and kills them. Their dead bodies are on display "in the street of the great city, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt," for three and a half days.
(7) They are resurrected and ascend to heaven in a cloud, at which time a great earthquake destroys a tenth part of the city and slays 7000 men.
(8) The remnant are affrighted, and give glory to the God of heaven.
(9) Their ministry is part of one of the three great woes of Revelation.
Today, many preachers preach about the two witnesses, basing their claims on this passage alone. While this passage does put together many elements of the various prophecies of these two great prophets, and is vital to any study about them, the identity of the Lord's two witnesses, and the scope and intention of their ministry, is recorded throughout the Bible - not merely in this one passage of Revelation, even as the identity of the Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth was not revealed only by one star, nor by one prophecy about the town of Bethlehem. As we examine what the Word of God as a whole says about these men, we will be able to determine what, in fact, their ministry is for, what their purpose is, and possibly have enough information to be better equipped to recognize them when we see them.
In this series, we will explore the many prophecies and allegories of the two witnesses. Our study will take us throughout the Bible: from Genesis to Revelation, from Sodom to Egypt, from Jericho to the Holy of Holies in the House of the Lord. When we have seen the prophetic profile of these highly anticipated servants of God, we will be better equipped to identify them, as they must fulfill all that is written in the law, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning them. Join me in the coming months as we answer the question, "Where are they that should come?