Jesus said, "For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak" (John 12:49-50). Again He quoted an enduring truth found in the Old Testament, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4)
In the previous part of this series, I showed how the parable of the good Samaritan was tied to the subject of the two witnesses. If Jesus spoke only the words of God, and, as He said, "every word" of God is given to us for our sustenance, then every word is important. In this parable, Jesus tells us that the Jew who fell among thieves "went down from Jerusalem to Jericho" (Luke 10:30). Either Jesus was merely trying to personalize His hypothetical story, or He was speaking the mind of God, by the inspiration of God, and these words, too, are vital to comprehending the deeper intention of the parable. The latter would be more likely, for Matthew said Jesus spoke with parables, "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world" (Matt. 13:35).
To determine what Jesus' intention was in telling us that this man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho, we could see if there is a similar scenario elsewhere in the Holy Scriptures. There is no coincidence that something very similar had happened before.
"And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he, and all his host, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it; and they built forts against it round about. And the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah. And on the ninth day of the fourth month the famine prevailed in the city, and there was no bread for the people of the land. And the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between two walls, which is by the king's garden: (now the Chaldees were against the city round about:) and the king went the way toward the plain. And the army of the Chaldees pursued after the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho: and all his army were scattered from him. So they took the king, and brought him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah; and they gave judgment upon him. And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon" (2 Kings 25:1-7).
The wrath of God was coming upon the children Israel for their disobedience. Here we see King Zedekiah, fleeing from Jerusalem to escape the Babylonian army. Where was he headed? The army of the Chaldees "overtook him in the plains of Jericho." Judah was beaten and led away captive, and her king - the symbol of her glory - had his two eyes put out and was carried away to Babylon.
Paul said that the Old Testament contains a "shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things" (Heb. 10:1). While there are differences between these two stories, a clear connection can be seen. Both tell of a Jew going from Jerusalem to Jericho. In both cases, the Jew is badly hurt.
It would appear that the account of King Zedekiah's demise reveals the scattering of the Jews, while the parable of the good Samaritan deals with a Gentile outreach effort to restore the same broken people to spiritual health.
King Zedekiah lost his two eyes. In the parable of the good Samaritan, two pence are spent to pay for the Jewish man's care in the inn. This serves as an allusion to the death of the two witnesses, as it relates to the restoration of the Jewish remnant.
It was because of the wickedness with which the nation of Judah had been involved that God removed His glory from them and allowed them to be led away captive. This had happened before, and there, also, we can see the two witnesses in a figure.
In 1 Samuel 2:22-25, we see that the sons of Eli the priest were vile, wretched men. God told Eli that they would both die for their sins, and that He would raise up a faithful priest.
In chapter 4, the armies of Israel fought against the Philistines, and were losing badly. They sent for the ark of the covenant, knowing that it had always guaranteed a victory. So Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas brought the ark. When the ark came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout that echoed through the camp. It scared the Philistines, who were aware of the outcome of previous battles where the ark was involved. Nevertheless, they fought, and defeated the Israelites. The two sons of Eli were slain, and the ark was taken. A man came from the battle, and told Eli what had happened. He told him that Israel was slaughtered, his two sons were killed and the ark was taken, and when the man mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward, broke his neck and died. Now Phinehas' wife was pregnant, and went into labor when the news came from the front. She died giving birth to a son, whom she named Ichabod, saying, "The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father-in-law and her husband. And she said, the glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken."
Jehovah, the God of heaven and earth, is called "the Lord of hosts which dwelleth between the cherubim." The two witnesses, in Zechariah 4:14, are called "the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth." The two witness are represented in the tabernacle and in the temple in the Old Testament by the cherubim on the ark of the covenant. This is why, in Revelation 11, after the two witnesses are killed and raised to life again, "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 temple of God opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of the testament..." (Rev. 11:12, 19). After their ascent into heaven, the ark was seen in the temple, because they are the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth, who dwells between the cherubim.
When God's glory departed from Israel, Eli's two sons were killed. When God's glory departed from Judah, Zedekiah's two eyes were put out. This also reminds of another story where the glory of God departed, and a leader of God's people was blinded.Judges 16). At a gala event, they brought Samson out to entertain them, and they put him between the two middle pillars which supported the house. "And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood ... And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein" (Jud. 16:21-30).
Here, too, we see a time when the glory was taken from Israel, and her champion was imprisoned. He, like Eli and Zedekiah, lost his two. But God's intention has always been to bring deliverance to his people, who, like the Jewish man on the way to Jericho in the parable of Jesus, has fallen among thieves and left for dead. The priest and the Levite have passed them by, but the work of a passionate Gentile will meet their need.
"And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword. According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions have I done unto them, and hid my face from them. Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name; After that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me, when they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid. When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; Then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there. Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God " (Ezek. 39:23-29).
As for the two witnesses, the Philistines took the ark with its two covering cherubim, but later restored it. Zedekiah and Samson had their eyes put out, but Samson cried out to God to avenge his two eyes, and with the help of two pillars, Samson slew more people at his death, then he did in his life. Likewise, the dragon shall slay the two witnesses, but that hollow victory will only last three and a half short days, and the Lord will raise them up to life again.
God has a principle that He has instituted, and He Himself holds to it: in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word is established. For this reason, we have seen many examples of the two witnesses throughout the Scriptures over the course of this study. However, as you may have noticed, our journey has not exactly led us to the individuals commonly, though erroneously, mentioned in connection with the two witnesses that are to come. So, in our next chapter, we will take a look at who the two witnesses are not.