Revelation Chapter Eleven Part II

Two Olive Trees, Two Witnesses

Two Olive Trees

Revelation 11:4-6 “These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. {5} 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. {6} 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.”

Here are the characteristics of
The Two Witnesses from the above Scriptures:

They will prophesy (or testify) for 3½ years
They are clothed in sackcloth
They are called olive trees
They are called candlesticks
They destroy their enemies with fire from their mouths
They will kill any person that hurts them in like manner
They have the power to shut heaven and stop the rain
They can turn the waters into blood
They can smite the earth with plagues
When they finish testifying, the Beast from the Abyss will kill them
Their corpses will lie in the street untouched for 3½ days

What will result from their prophesying?

Their enemies will rejoice and send gifts to one another when they are killed
When they are raised, great fear will fall upon their enemies

What do witnesses in the Bible do?

They witness contracts: Gen 20:16; 23:9
They witness vows: Gen 31:53
They witness the truth of God and His Word: Deut 4:26; Isa 43:10
They testify in criminal cases: Deut 17:6
Witnesses against a defendant in capital cases, throw the first stones: Deut17:17
They proselytize (Luk 10:8-9)
They witness the Gospel to the world (Act 1:8)
They witnessed the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for our salvation (Luk     24:48; Act 3:15, etc.)
The Greek word for witness is μαρτύριον, martyrion; similar to the English ‘martyr’

These two witnesses are similar to Bible characters we know well. One is Elijah (Eliyah—my God is Yehovah or my El is Yah) and the other is Moses. Remember that Elisha (Ely’shua—God is my Salvation or El is my Y’shuah) had a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, and John (Yochannan—Favored of Yehovah or Yehovah is gracious) the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah. Moses (Mosheh—rescued) was succeeded by Joshua (Yehoshua—God Saves).

For further information about the Two Witnesses, we need to read the parallel passage in Zechariah:

Zechariah 4:11-14 “Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? {12} And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? {13} And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. {14} Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”

Another word for candlestick is menorah. The Hebrew for candlestick in Zechariah is מנורה, menowrah. There is no doubt that these two olive branches (the same two are called olive trees in Zech 4:3) are the two witnesses of Revelation Eleven. Zechariah and John both refer to them as olive trees standing by the God or Lord of the earth. Zechariah says that the oil flows through them, which makes them a part of the menorah. John simply says they are two candlesticks or branches of the menorah. Zechariah calls them the two pipes emanating from the center lampstand ending in lamps (in other words branches of the candlestick). The oil flows through them. They are not only olive trees; they are also lamps or candlesticks or branches of the menorah through which the anointing oil flows. They are anointed. The Holy Spirit flows through them. One can positively identify that the olive trees in Zechariah are also those in Revelation. They are one and the same.

They can also be identified with Moses and Elijah:

Both Moses and Elijah were anointed Ex 3:10-12, 1 Kin 18:22), they stood before the God of the earth (Jer 15:1, 1 Ki 17:1, 18:15), they destroyed their enemies with fire (Ex 9:23, 2 Ki 1:10), they shut heaven and stopped the rain (Ex 9:33, 1 Ki 17:1).

Some other similarities Moses and Elijah shared: Both Moses and Elijah were on Mt. Sinai. Moses was there for forty days and nights (Exo 24:18). Elijah walked forty days to bet to Mt. Sinai (1 Kin 19:8).  Moses and Elijah (as well as Elisha) parted waters and crossed on dry ground (Exo 14:21; 2 Kin 2:8,14). Both Moses and Elijah had servants who took over their ministries upon their deaths. Joshua Succeeded Moses (Josh 1:1,2) and Elisha succeeded Elijah (2 Kin 2:12,13)  Both Moses and Elijah appeared at the Mount of Transfiguration (Mat 17:1-3).

This is enough to tell us at least that Moses and Elijah are types of the two witnesses. Elijah and Enoch are also types because both of them were translated by God and did not die a natural death. But that is only one similarity. John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah, so he is also a type. Elisha received a double portion of Elijah’s spirit and that makes him a type as well. There are several others in the Scriptures that can be considered as types of the Two Witnesses.

The following represent men who witnessed in pairs. However, they do not all qualify as types of the Two witnesses. We cannot assume that just because these people worked in pairs, that they could be candidates for the Two Witnesses, nor can all be types. Overall, they do represent groups of two witnesses mightily used of God:

• Elijah and Elisha (2 Kin 2:9)
• David and Jonathan (1 Sam 20:12 etc.)
• Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1:22, etc.)
• Peter and John (Act 4:19, etc.)
• The two spies at Rahab’s house at Jericho (Josh 2:1)
• The two anointed ones or “sons of oil” in Zec 4:14 (Joshua and Zerubbabel)
• Joshua and Zerubbabel (Zec 3:3-9; 4:6-10)
• Moses and Aaron (Ex 5:1, etc.)
• Paul and Barnabas (Act 13:2)
• James and John (Mat 17:1-8)

Here are some other entities that men have considered to be possible identities of the Two Witnesses:

• The two kingdoms, Israel and Judah
• Israel and the Church
• Religion and Law

We must state, once again, that the Two Witnesses are not named in the Scripture, but only described. Therefore, we should not be so arrogant to assume that we can name them. There have been many wild guesses and some studied assumptions that have attempted to name them. None are correct. We will not know their identities until the Two Witnesses are revealed.

We cannot close our discourse without discussing forerunners. The definition is:

forerunner: noun
1. predecessor; ancestor; forebear; precursor.
2. an omen, sign, or indication of something to follow; portent:
3. e.g. “The warm evenings were a forerunner of summer.”
4. a person who goes or is sent in advance to announce the coming of someone or something that follows; herald; harbinger.
5. The Forerunner, John the Baptist.

A forerunner or herald, was an officer of a king or nobleman, that would be sent in advance to announce a visit of a of the king or noble to a particular place. This herald would make sure the visit was appropriate, that the safety of the visitor was assured, and to make all the necessary arrangements for the visit. This practice is still in existence today.

For example, when the President of the United States is planning a state visit to another country, the ambassador and staff of diplomats go in advance of the visit to make the necessary preparations. Additionally, the U.S. Secret service also goes in advance to make the necessary security preparations. When a leader from another country visits the United States, their people go ahead of the visitor to make the necessary arrangements. Other states follow a similar process. This is a normal occurrence in today’s world and has been happening since ancient times.

Albert Barnes, in his “Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible” note on Isaiah 40:3, wrote, “The idea is taken from the practice of Eastern monarchs, who whenever they entered on a journey or an expedition, especially through a barren and unfrequented or inhospitable country, sent harbingers or heralds before them to prepare the way.

The Scriptures prophesied such a herald for the arrival of the Messiah. Taken together, these verses essentially state that Elijah will come before the Lord to proclaim his coming.

Isa 40:3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Quoted in Mat 3:3; Mar 1:3; Luk 3:4; Joh 1:23)

Isa 40:4-5 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: (5) And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. (Quoted in Luk 3:5,6)

Mal 3:1  Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. (Quoted in all four Gospels: Mat 11:10; Mar 1:2; Luk 1:76; Joh 1:15)

Mal 4:5-6  Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:  (6)  And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. (Quoted in Luke 1:17)

Jesus said that one had come in the spirit of Elijah (Elias in the Greek New Testament and the Septuagint). Jesus said the John the Baptist was that one. The Baptist was not Elijah himself, but came in his spirit:

Mat 11:10-14  For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.  (11)  Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.  (12)  And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.  (13)  For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.  (14)  And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.

Mat 17:10-13  And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?  (11)  And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.  (12)  But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.  (13)  Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

Mar 9:11-13  And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come?  (12)  And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought.  (13)  But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.

John the Baptist was clothed like Elijah:

Mat 3:1-4  In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,  (2)  And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  (3)  For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.  (4)  And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. (Esaias is the New Testament spelling of Isaiah).

2Ki 1:8  And they answered him, He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite.

A raiment of camel’s hair is likely sackcloth. Here is a description of sackcloth according to Thayer: “a course cloth, a dark course stuff made especially from the hair of animals.”

The information we have gleaned so far about John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, shows us that John was a herald that came before the revealing of Jesus as Messiah during His first advent.

John came baptizing and preaching repentance and drew large crowds that alerted the leaders of Israel to send priests Levites, Pharisees, and Sadducees to question him about his ministry. “John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;  He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose” (Joh 1:26-27).

The next day Jesus was baptized by John. When Jesus came up out of the baptismal water, John “saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mar 3:16,17). This was the start of the ministry of Jesus Christ on the earth. This revealing of Christ began after John’s ministry began at Bethabara, beyond the Jordan.

John the Baptist accomplished three missions. He was the harbinger or herald of Christ (Joh 1:15); he came to restore the lost spirit of faithfulness to the faithful (Mal 40:6; Luk 1:17); and to identify the Christ at the beginning of His ministry (Joh 1:29,30).

Just as John the Baptist came as a herald for the first advent of Christ, so the Two Witnesses area a herald for His second Advent. And just as John came in the spirit of Elijah, so will the Two Witnesses come in the same spirit. They will be clothed like Elijah in Sackcloth likely made of camel’s hair (Rev 11:3). They will also preach that the Messiah and His kingdom are at hand.

Similarities between John the Baptist and the Two Witnesses:

• They preach (prophesy) that Messiah is coming
• They are clothed in mourning clothing (Camel’s hair and sackcloth)
• King Herod killed John at the behest of a woman, Herodias via her daughter
• The Witnesses will be killed by the beast (referred to as the king of the abyss—Rev 9:11) from the bottomless pit we see in Revelation 17:8. Note that the woman riding on the beast is drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus (Rev 17:3,4,5,6).

Similarities between Elijah and the Witnesses:

• Both Elijah and the Witnesses have ministries of three years and six months (Luk 4:25; Jam 5:17; Rev 11:3)
• Both are clothed in Sackcloth
• Both kill their opponents with fire (1 Kin 18:38,40; Rev 11:4)
• Both have the power to shut heaven and stop rain for their 3½ year ministries (1 Kin 17:1; Rev 11:6) 

Similarities between Moses and the Two Witnesses:

• Both can turn the waters to blood (Exo 7:19; Rev 11:6)
• Both can smite the earth with plagues Exo chapters 7-12; Rev 11:6)

Similarities between Elijah and John the Baptist

• A wicked woman turned the king against Elijah (Jezebel)
• A wicked woman turned the king against John the Baptist (Herodias)

The ministry of John began before the ministry of Christ and ended during that ministry. The same thing may occur with the Two Witnesses; their prophesying may begin before the second Advent and may end during. Just as John came in the spirit of Elijah, so at least one of the Two Witness must come in the same spirit.

We will also see the spirit of Moses in them as well. That is not to say that the witnesses are Moses and Elijah; just as John the Baptist was not Elijah. The spirit of Elijah, Moses, and John the Baptist will be in them. In other words they will possess traits of all three.

Concerning the Two Witnesses’ job as heralds, here is another factor we should remain aware of: The new month was established on the accounts of two witnesses’ observance of the new moon. When the new moon was witnessed by two reliable witnesses, then the president of the Sanhedrin (the Nassi) would announce the beginning of the month.

Rosh Hashanah (The Feast of Trumpets/New Year) occurred on the first day of Tishri. (Tishri occurs in the September/October timeframe on the Gregorian calendar). Thus the festival could not start until the two witnesses came and the Nassi announced the new moon and the beginning of the month of Tishri.

Depending on the time of the coming of the witnesses, the new month could start as long as a day afterward, which happened sometimes. When they did not show up at the time they were expected, then it was up to the Nassi to announce the beginning of the month which was also the start of the feast. He could announce the start of the month or wait until the witnesses arrived. Sometimes he would wait a full day or a part of a day before he announced the new month. It could start that day or the next day and at any hour during that time period. Thus no man could know the day or hour the feast would begin; only the President of the Sanhedrin could establish that.

Jesus used that fact as an analogy for the time of His return. So, could His return be on Rosh Hashanah (New Year/Trumpets)? It is a possibility. Of course He could also return during any of the festivals, or some other time. Since He already fulfilled Passover, that day is less likely. In Matthew 24:36, Jesus said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.”

Just like the Isrealites knew the general time around when the new month begin, we can know the season when the Messiah will return. Though we may not know the exact day and time, from the prophecies we will know the time is near.

Of course, now we have an accurate calendar, so the start of the month is already known based on our very accurate calendars. They are accurate because of the well-established Kepler’s laws of planetary motion. But we are not evaluating this Scripture terms of today’s culture; we are limited by context to the time when John wrote is manuscript.

Rev 11:4  These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.

We also note there are candlesticks mentioned throughout the Old Testament, usually in reference to the menorah in the temple. That is a seven-branch menorah that is depicted on the Coat of Arms of the modern state of Israel with two olive branches, one on each side of the menorah. Zechariah wrote about the candlestick as well. It is the model for the Israeli Coat of Arms:

Emblem of the State of Israel

Emblem of the State of Israel

The Heraldry of the Emblem of the modern State of Israel is based on the passage in Zechariah 4:2-3, 11-14. Note the lampstand or candlestick (KJV) or Menorah in the center with the two Olive Branches on the left and right of the Menorah. The Hebrew Inscription is
ישׂﬧﬡל, “Israel.”

The Official Israeli Government Site explains that this is indeed from Zechariah and the two olive branches are indeed the two anointed ones. The Site says the two anointed ones are “religion” and “state”. Of course, one could say that Moses, who gave the law, represents the state, and Elijah the prophet represents religion. The same case can be made about Zerubbabel and Joshua (AKA Jeshua in Ezr 2:2), which are the two anointed ones in Zechariah chapter 4. Those are some names suggested by many commentators for the Two Witnesses. We, however, will avoid trying to assign names to the witnesses because the Scripture does not do so.

The depiction of the Menorah in the shield is based on the relief on the Arch of Titus in Rome. When Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD, He carried away the Menorah to Rome. There the Arch of Titus was built in honor of Titus’ victory over Jerusalem. That is the one of the most ancient and thus accurate depictions of the Menorah. See the notes on Revelation Chapter 1 verse 12.

Zechariah asked the angel that talked with him in his vision of the two olive branches (Zec 4:3), “What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof?” (Zec 4:4). The angel answered, “These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth” (Zec 4:11). The “two anointed ones” in Hebrew is בני־היצהר, beni ha-yitzhar, the “sons of oil.” The two anointed ones are Joshua Zerubbabel from Zec 3:8 and 4:6, respectively.

Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah and Joshua, the high priest were the first two individuals on the roster in Ezra 2:2, along with Nehemiah that returned to Israel from Babylonian captivity. In the English translation of the account of Ezra, Joshua was spelled Jeshua in order to more accurately portray the Hebrew, ישׁוּע. You will find the Hebrew spelled that same way in some Hebrew manuscripts. Other manuscripts use the word for Joshua, יהושׁע. The Septuagint translates it Ιεσου, Jesus; several English translations follow this method. Jeshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the governor built an altar to God when they arrived and offered burnt offerings to God. Zerubbabel and Jeshua with their appointed helpers, the prophets of God rebuilt the Temple. You can read the full account in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah.

In Revelation 1:12, we saw seven individual golden candlesticks or lampstands. Yes, we understand from Rev 1:20 that the candlesticks represent the seven churches that Christ dictated letters to via the Apostle John. Candlesticks or lamps disseminate light. They indicate that the church is the light of the world (Mat 5:14; Eph 5:8). It is the Church’s responsibility to show the Light of Christ (Mat 28:19-20; Act 1:8), because He is the Light of the World. (Joh 8:12, 9:5) to the world. But we also see an additional symbol there.

There in Rev 1:12, Jesus stands in the midst or middle of the candlesticks. We see Him with three on each side and the middle lampstand directly in front of Him. Jesus, God the Son is the Light of the World. What we see there is a picture of the seven branch Menorah like the one standing in the Holy Place in the tabernacle and temple. Jesus, Emmanuel, “God with Us,” the actual Living God, is standing in the exact place where the Lamp of God stood in the Menorah, that is, in the center of the other six lampstands.

The true Light of the World is standing where the center lamp, which is the Lamp of God, stood and symbolized the Light of the World. The Book of Hebrews tells that all the vessels in the Temple were shadows of the real things in heaven (Heb 9:22,23,24). John was viewing the real thing—the true Light of the World and not the shadow in the midst of the true lampstands in Heaven.

In Revelation, the angel escorting John, tells him that the Two Witnesses are the two olive trees as well as the two candlesticks. This refers to Zechariah 4:11. Hence, we have another description of the Two Witnesses. In Ezra, we understand that Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, and Joshua the high priest, the two olive trees and sons of oil, were the anointed leaders that led Israel out of Babylonian captivity.

The Two Witnesses figuratively do the same thing. They prophesy in sackcloth like John the Baptist. John’s message was repent for the kingdom of God was at hand. The Two Witnesses prophesy the same thing, that the Kingdom of God was at hand and that unbelievers should repent and turn to Christ. They lead believers out of the captivity of the sinful world and into God’s kingdom.

The two olive trees, or the two anointed ones, the “sons of oil” are represented by Zerubbabel and Jeshua. Zerubbabel represents the Davidic, or kingly lineage and Jeshua represents the Aaronic, or priestly lineage. The two candlesticks or lampstands represent the light of God shining in the darkness of the Holy Place in the Tabernacle and Temple where the table of showbread and the altar of incense stand. They also shine out into the world. These are the types.

The antitypes are the Two Witnesses who represent the church, which is the Body of Christ, the King—the kingly lineage. The people of the church, lively stones, are the light of the world and a royal priesthood—the priestly lineage.

Thus, in the Two Witnesses we have double proof that the represent Jesus the King and His church which is made up of priests. The olive trees show that they are the ones anointed of God to herald in the returning Christ and the two candlesticks show the light of Christ to the unbelieving world. This will also comfort the Christians enduring the tribulation.

Rev 11:5 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.

We must keep in mind that John is describing what he learned in heaven. He used Scriptural references in his descriptions. The only Scripture John had access to was what we now know as the Old Testament. Yahweh told Jeremiah his words would be like fire: “Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them” (Jer 5:14).

The words that were like fire told that another nation, far from Israel, that spoke another language, would overcome and conquer them, and take them away to Babylon. The Babylonians would come against them and overwhelm them like fire does to dry wood. Additionally, those words of Jeremiah, which came from Yahweh, would be like fire that quickly spreads to dry wood and consumes it. God’s words were the fire, the people were the dry wood.

In Jeremiah chapter 38, we read that Jeremiah’s words greatly offended the people. So much so they sought to kill him:

Jer 38:1-6  Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken unto all the people, saying,  (2)  Thus saith the LORD, He that remaineth in this city shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth forth to the Chaldeans shall live; for he shall have his life for a prey, and shall live.  (3)  Thus saith the LORD, This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon’s army, which shall take it.  (4)  Therefore the princes said unto the king, We beseech thee, let this man be put to death: for thus he weakeneth the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words unto them: for this man seeketh not the welfare of this people, but the hurt.  (5)  Then Zedekiah the king said, Behold, he is in your hand: for the king is not he that can do any thing against you.  (6)  Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon [cistern] of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon [cistern] there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.

Some versions translate the word for cistern as a dungeon, which is accurate but not precise. This dungeon was a pit or a hole in the ground that was open at the top. This one had no water in it, but it had soft mud in it. It was probably at least up to his waist because when they pulled him out, they had to protect his underarms with old rags from the pressure of the rope they used to pull him out. He was fairly well stuck. (Jer 38:7-13).

We are not told how long Jeremiah was in the pit, but it was apparently long enough the they the men who rescued him feared he would die it there with no food (Jer 38:9).

The people rejected Jeremiah’s words because they did not believe that Jeremiah was the LORD’s prophet; they believed him just to be a troublemaker. In modern parlance, Jeremiah was not Politically Correct. They put him in the cistern and left him there to die. They did not bury him or cover him. They left him in the open in the cistern for all to see.

After his release he began to prophesy again that the Babylonians would come and destroy Jerusalem and take away the people. We see some similarities between Jeremiah in this passage and the Two Witnesses. Their words are like fire to unbelievers and their words will make the people want to destroy them. They die, and their bodies were left in the open for all to see and to rejoice over and three days later they are reanimated. Jeremiah was as good as dead in the pit where all could look upon him. When they pulled him out it was like he was dead, then reanimated.

The world does not want God on His throne; they want to kick Him off. Therefore, anyone reminds them that it is the LORD who reigns, they are confronted with a decision they don’t want to hear. It is a decision that that makes them think about the eternal consequences of their actions. They want to live in their sins and follow Satan’s law, which is “do as you will, regardless of the consequences.” They will claim the speech that shows them their sins is hate filled and thus should not be uttered. Thus, they do not want to hear it and it will want to destroy the person who speaks such things. Just like Jeremiah’s words, which came from Yahweh, the fire that comes out of the Two Witnesses mouths are the words of God that the world hates.

If any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed

There are two ways of approaching this phrase. On is the literal. If this is literal, then the Two Witnesses can spew literal fire out of their mouths and kill their enemies. After all, the Two have supernatural powers. The are able to bring plagues upon the earth and to stop the rain. When men exhibit supernatural powers the power actually comes from God and thus these powers are miraculous.

For example, when Elijah called fire down from heaven to consume his sacrifice in the presence of the Prophets of Baal and the people, God answered by sending fire down from heaven to devour the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the water (1 Kin 18:37, 38). That was miracle that Elijah earlier prayed for (1 Kin 18:25), and God sent the fire. Other miracles like Peter and John met the lame man seeking alms; Peter said he had no money and commanded the man to stand up and walk, the man’s legs were immediately healed and he walked. That was a miracle from Peter, but it was God who did the actual healing.

However, in this verse, the fire proceeds directly from their mouths. If this is literal, then God gave them the power to spew fire out of their mouths and kill their enemies, straightforward and simply.

A second way of understanding this, which is more in line with the context of Revelation, is that the fire is symbolic of the speech of the Witnesses, as we read in above. The words of God that come from their mouths are like fire. As Yahweh told Jeremiah his words would be like fire: “Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them” (Jer 5:14).

Through Isaiah 11:4, speaking of the Branch, which is a prophecy of Messiah, God says, “He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall he slay the wicked.” The Two Witnesses are a herald or forerunner of Messiah’s return, and like the Messiah, the words of their mouth will slay the wicked. Again, in Hosea, God is speaking: “Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth” (Hos 6:5).

With the witnesses we have from the Scriptures, and from the context of apocalyptic literature in Revelation, we must conclude that the words that come from the mouths of the Witnesses are the fiery speech that condemns, and yes, even slays, the wicked.

Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? He is going to return to the world soon. Are you ready? When He does if you do not know Him as your Savior, you will join all those who do not know Him in “Outer Darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 22:13-14).

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Mark Oaks,  February 6, 2020

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