In part two of our study, we discussed one aspect of the two witnesses revealed in Rev. 11:4, where they are called the two olive trees. This led us to the prophecy in Zechariah chapter 4 about the two anointed ones - or sons of oil.
In Rev. 11:3, where the Lord begins to describe these two mighty men, the Word of the Lord says, "And I will give power unto my two witnesses..."
Before proceeding with any other aspect of this study, I feel it necessary to address the immediate first question that this introduction should provoke: "Witnesses of what?" In Christian circles, we are familiar with the concept of the testimony. Often we will see someone stand up and testify of the marvelous things that God has done for them in his or her life. Is that what we are supposed to assume here? Are these men testifying about how they were saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost? I do not doubt that they will indeed share their personal testimonies, but is that what God empowered them to do? Would we not all, then, fall into that same category?
Beyond one's own personal testimony, the Book of Revelation describes another specific testimony called "the Testimony of Jesus." John bare record, not only of the things he saw (his personal testimony), but also of the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:2,9). In Rev. 19:10, John records exactly what the testimony of Jesus is: it is the Spirit of Prophecy. The greatest testimony to the identity of Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah was prophecy. His entire life was ordered by God according to His Holy Word, and so many things were prophesied about the Christ, that it is a statistical impossibility that any man except the one sent from God and directed by Him could have fulfilled them all. Jesus alone overcame the law of averages, for He was so above average!
Rev. 11:7 says that "when they shall have finished their testimony, ..." they shall be killed. They indeed have a testimony, and it involves something beyond the salvation message.
I stated at the onset of this study that we will journey throughout the pages of God's word to understand the identity and ministry of these two men of God. That is necessary, because of the way God wrote it. His writing style is revealed in Isaiah 28:9-10. "Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little." While the context of any passage is very often vital to comprehending its meaning, the passage cannot be derived solely from the context. God has written the Bible "here a little, and there a little," so that the only way to truly understand its meaning is by divine inspiration.
Paul said to the church at Corinth, "Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. ... Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:1-16).
Gone is the pagan promotion that the truth is a mystery only the priests can explain. The truth is now freely given of God, and we are led into it by the Spirit of Truth: the Holy Ghost (John 16:13; Deut. 29:29).
So, when they are referred to as witnesses, is it because they testify to the world regarding the things they have seen? Or, is something else meant by the words of the Lord, when he calls them "my two witnesses"? Once again, instead of relying on this one reference, and drawing conclusions as though it were self-evident, we should see where this precept of God has been manifested elsewhere in the Scriptures.
In verse 8 of Revelation 11, we are told that the dead bodies of the two witnesses lie it the street of a city that is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt. Let us now look at the events that transpired there: it may be we will hear the testimony of the Lord's two witnesses.
Given a choice by his uncle Abram, Lot chose to dwell in the city of Sodom in the plain of Jordan. Genesis 13:13 introduces us to the nature of that city, "But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly."
In chapter 18, the Lord appeared unto Abraham. Abraham entertained three men, who confirmed to him and Sarah God's promise of a son. When they departed, "Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do? ... Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD."
Then, Abraham begins to intercede on behalf of the city, saying, "Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?" The Lord agreed to spare the city if He found in it fifty righteous. Abraham continued to intercede until he finally got the Lord's assurance that the city would be spared for as few as ten righteous. "And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place."
Three men had visited Abraham. These turned out to be the Lord and two others. When the Lord began to tell Abraham what His intentions were for Sodom, He said, "the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, ... I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know." Then, the two other men that were with Him turned and went to Sodom, while Abraham continued to commune with the Lord.
Before judgment can be executed, all the evidence must be weighed. Testimonies are given and witnesses are brought forth.
A witness has personal knowledge of something. Most of the time, testimony is based on that which has been seen and heard. "Eye-witness accounts," when determined to be legitimate, are given the most credibility. According to the word of God, we are made in His image. When He designed man, He gave us two eyes: revealing in our body the two witnesses of God.
The Lord had heard about the wickedness of Sodom, and now He was going down to see for Himself. Did He go Himself? No, He sent His two witnesses: the two men with Him at Abraham's house. Apparently, He felt confident that these were credible witnesses, and that He could believe their report.
Genesis chapter 19 declares that these two men were, in fact, two angels. They entered the city, and Lot, knowing how bad the neighborhood was, insisted that they stay with him. The men of the city threatened to deal wickedly with the visitors. When Lot intervened, they threatened him even more. The angels displayed their power, inflicting the mob with blindness. These two witnesses of the Lord had seen enough, and were satisfied that the complaints against Sodom that had come up before God were not merely hearsay, but factual accounts. The cities of the plain would be destroyed.
After the encounter with the angry mob, the angels revealed the purpose of their visit to Lot. "And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it" (Gen. 19:12-13).
Lot warned his sons-in-law and his daughters of the impending destruction, but they thought he was just kidding. Sadly, there were not even ten righteous found, and the fate of Sodom was sealed.
The next morning, the angels grabbed Lot, his wife, and two virgin daughters by the hand and hurried them out of the city. When they were safely away, fire came down from the Lord out of heaven, and destroyed the cities of the plain.
These two angels are an allegory: a prophecy of the two witnesses of Revelation 11. They were sent by God to see if the rumors were true. By their own words, they were sent to destroy the city. Not only so, but they were sent to find the righteous, and lead them to safety, hiding them from the wrath of the Lord. This three-fold commission will be at the very heart of the 1260-day ministry of their last-day counterparts.
In Part 4 of this study, we will continue to pursue this aspect of the work of the two witnesses as it is also revealed in Egypt and in Jericho.