As Matthew, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, recorded the words and actions of our Lord Jesus Christ, he would often cite the prophecy which required it to be so, saying, "... that the scripture might be fulfilled ..." As we read the New Testament portion of God's word, we can quickly see that many things were written in the law, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning our Lord and His Church. Many of the prophecies were obvious, many were obscure, but all of these prophecies had to come to pass because God said that they would.
In fact, everything Jesus did, He did in fulfillment of prophecy. Likewise, the acts of the apostles were not simply chance occurrences. Every move the Early Church made, from the ordination of Matthias to the plunge into apostasy, was not only foreseen by God, but also foretold by Him in his holy word. As the Scripture says, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). And again, Paul spake concerning the Church, "Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily" (Col. 1:25-29).
Even as there were very many prophecies which foretold the identity of the Messiah, and the nature and work of the Church from its earliest days, so also is there a volume of prophecy which deals with the Church leading up to the return of our Lord, and the various individuals that will be instruments in the hand of God to minister to the Body of Christ, by whom the Lord will lead His people unto perfection. God never changes. He always raises up men to lead His people: shepherds after His own heart.
Many of the prophecies concerning the Messiah were things that might occur in the ordinary life of any number of people. For example, Zechariah declared, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass" (Zech. 9:9). I would venture to say that it was not uncommon for a man to ride a donkey into Jerusalem. For Jesus to have done this (as recorded in all four gospels) would not, of itself, be evidence that He was Israel's prophesied King. However, in the context of the entire volume of prophecies regarding the Savior's life and ministry, it was further proof that He was indeed "He that should come." Under careful examination, one can easily determine that it is statistically impossible for all the prophecies concerning the Messiah to have been fulfilled in the life of one man, except He were, indeed, the one whom God had sent.
Likewise, many men have risen to power, having characteristics similar to those describing the beast of the last days. Hitler, Stalin, and many others throughout the annals of history have left legacies of great evil. Nevertheless, regardless of the comparisons some may make, the most anticipated evil ruler and antagonist against the people of God - the one foretold throughout the pages of God's holy word - has one characteristic that none yet have fulfilled. Paul said "Then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming" (2 Thess. 2:8). This particular wicked king shall be still living at the second coming of our Lord. That rules out any who have come before, because, while many things seemed to fit, with even just one prophecy left unfulfilled, we must look for another.
The composite sketch is one of the tools used by detectives to determine someone's identity. An artist gets all of the information from credible eye-witnesses, and compiles it together to make a sketch. Depending on the accuracy of the description given to the artist, he is able to make a picture which is remarkably similar to the subject, considering he had never seen the subject himself. However, the sketch does not reveal the identity of the subject, but only makes the detectives able to recognize him when they see him.
We are, as it were, the detectives, and our sketch artist is the Holy Ghost. We have for our witness the Word of God, through which many men and women have relayed to us the information we need to identify those who are sent by God. In the case of the Messiah, there is only one man who has ever lived that resembles the composite sketch made from the many prophecies found in the Old Testament about him: Jesus of Nazareth.
The same is true for the subject at hand: the two witnesses. While analyzing the many prophecies may not at once tell you their identity, it will allow you to recognize them when they show up. My son recently asked me, "How will we know who the two witnesses are?" I replied, "When we find two men fulfilling the prophecies about the two witnesses, we'll know it's them."
And so, this is the tenth month of our exploration into the Scriptures regarding the two witnesses. Without a doubt, it has taken us into many unexpected areas of the Bible, having seen them revealed in many prophecies and allegories.
As we saw in part 2, they are, of course, found in Revelation 11, "The two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth." These are "the two anointed ones" of Zechariah 4. They are the two anointed cherubim, that cover the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant, between whom the Lord dwells (Ezek. 28:14; 2 Sam. 6:2). They are also the two "sons of oil" of 2 Kings 4:1-7, who had oil to sell, which the virgins of Matt. 25 were admonished to buy. All these reveal that the two witnesses are chosen and anointed by God, and sent to God's people at the time of the end to be a source of truth, wisdom, instruction and understanding (Pro. 23:23). It is with the unction of the Holy Ghost, and the guidance of God's two anointed prophets, that the Church will go on unto perfection (Heb. 6:3).
In parts 3 and 4, we discussed the two witnesses in "the great city, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt." In Sodom, two angels went in to get righteous Lot and his family out before the wrath of the Lord was to be pour out on the city. In Egypt, God sent two men - Moses and Aaron - to deliver His people from the oppressor. In both cases, the people of God were taken to a mountain, where, in the case of the children of Israel, they met the Lord and received His covenant. At that mountain in the wilderness, the Lord told the children of Israel, "Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself" (Ex. 19:4). This He said of His two witnesses: Moses and Aaron. This, too, reveals what is meant in Revelation 12:14, "And to the woman [the Church] were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent." These stories reveal two aspects of the work of the two witnesses: their power to cause plagues on the enemies of God, and their commission to bring the children of God to the place, where they will meet their Lord.
In parts 5 and 6, we discussed the "witnessing" of the two witnesses. The two angels, who went first down to Sodom "to see whether they had done" as it had been rumored (Gen. 19). Likewise, this work of confirming the wickedness of the inhabitants of the land is revealed in the two faithful witnesses - Joshua and Caleb - who brought back a good report from the land of Canaan, and the two spies, sent by Joshua, who did the same thing 40 years later. This work is so important, because the land would not be given to the children of God until "the iniquity of the Amorites was full" (Gen. 15:16), and the grapes of the winepress of the wrath of God were fully ripe (Rev. 14:14-19). Joshua and Caleb were threatened by the rebellious children of Israel, and God brought wrath upon them. So also does God give a defense to the two witnesses during the time of the days of their prophecy.
We discussed the surprising connection of the two witnesses to the parable of the Good Samaritan in part 7. Even as the two witnesses are killed in what appears to be Jerusalem in Rev. 11, we see the Good Samaritan "spend" two pence in the process of restoring to health a Jew who was left for dead. This reveals the part the two witnesses will have in the restoration of the Jews, and their being grafted in again into their olive tree. It is during this phase of their ministry that they are slain, only to be resurrected three-and-a-half days later.
In the eighth installment, we saw another aspect of the witnesses, revealed in a part of human anatomy: the eyes. God created the body to reveal His divine plan as it would be fulfilled in the Body of Christ - His Church. The eyes represent the two witnesses. If you can picture it, looking at a human face, the eyes, together with the eyebrows, somewhat appear to be stretching forth to cover the nose. It is in the nose that the breath of life enters and exits. This is a symbolic representation which was echoed in the temple. The Spirit of the Lord God "who dwells between the Cherubim" would come and go in the Holy of holies, above the mercy seat. The eyes, then, symbolize the two anointed cherubim that cover the mercy seat. So, in part 8, we looked at Zedekiah, in whose reign Judah fell captive to Babylon (2 Kings 25). He was fleeing to Jericho, when he was captured, and his two eyes were put out. This, we also saw, connected to the parable of the Good Samaritan, for there, too, was a Jew, headed for Jericho, who was assaulted.
We looked also at other historical allegories which deal with the two witnesses in relationship to their death: namely, the loss of the ark of the testimony and the death of Eli's sons (1 Sam. 4), and Samson, who also lost his eyes, but, with the help of two pillars, ultimately won a great victory for God (Judges 16).
Finally, in part 9, we discussed some commonly accepted, potential Witnesses. With careful examination, we can be sure that neither Moses, Elijah, nor Enoch can feasibly be one of the two witnesses of Revelation 11. Neither can heavenly angels fulfill that prophecy, for God has given that authority unto men.
This, by no means, constitutes a complete listing of the prophecies and allegories which deal with the identity and ministry of the two witnesses. But I feel like Paul, who, after having listed a great deal of the faithful followers of God, said, "And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith ..." (Heb. 11:32-40).
The time has come to summarize what we have discovered and to look at where this is all leading us.
One of our biggest obstacles is that we know the two witnesses have to appear in the time just prior to the return of our Lord. When discussing the identity of the two witnesses today, or any other prophetic entity for that matter, one is inevitably confronted with an inherent human condition: our general inhibitions to believing in that which is happening in our day.
People are generally inclined to believe historical accounts, whether fact or fiction. Even the most unbelievable of legends can enjoy widespread acceptance, because they are presented as history. Stories relating past events, both good and bad, find a relatively easy path to the mainstream. Depending on who writes the history books, events are presented to support and affirm certain positions, while vilifying others. Even knowing the subjectiveness in reporting history, it is human nature to accept the facts - as they are presented - hook, line, and sinker.
Similarly, people are apt to accept any number of ideas regarding future events. Prophecies and prophetic interpretations, prognostications, and even speculations slip into popular acceptance almost as easily as do historical narratives.
But to believe in something that is happening right now: now that is faith! It is harder to believe the present, because it requires faith on your part. The past was someone else's problem and the future will be, but the present is ours to live. So, if the two witnesses are working now, or will be working in the very near future, will you believe? Or will you reject them, because of the premise that you will not be here when they are?
The truth is, if you are one of God's children in the days leading up to the return of our Lord, you most definitely will be living in the time of the prophecy of the two witnesses, and you will have to choose what you will do with their message.
The day of the Lord is near, and the two witnesses of our Lord will receive authority in due time. As the two trumpets of Numbers 10, they will sound, gathering together the people of God. They will be two Gentile preachers, chosen by God, who will declare the time and warn the faithful to get ready to go out to meet the Lord in the place He has prepared. They will make the cry, "Go out and meet the Bridegroom!"
In the process, they will, at the command of the Lord, bring plagues against the kingdoms of man, and some will die trying to bring them harm before the appointed time.
They will lead the Elect Church of God to her place, and be sent by the Heavenly Father to work to restore the preserved of Israel: the remnant of the natural sons of Jacob.
Some time after the days of their prophecy are ended, the dragon will overcome them and slay them. Three and a half days later, they will arise, and be caught away in the sight of their enemies.
One day, Jesus was walking along, talking with His disciples, when He ascended and was taken up in a cloud out of their sight. The disciples, understandably amazed, gazed toward the direction in which they saw Him go. Two men, dressed in white, said, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).
Today, the many followers of Jesus are again busying themselves, "looking up," waiting for the rapture of the saints. Once again, even as before, God is sending His two witnesses, who will ask the question, "Why stand ye gazing up into heaven?" exhorting the people of God to make true preparation for the return of our Lord and Savior: Jesus Christ our beloved.
I say unto you, therefore, "Watch!" The time is near, in the which all these things shall come to pass.