Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Two Witnesses

The two witnesses (which I capitalize inconsistently, not having a clear answer from my Harbrace Handbook)come next in our study of miracles, as an apparent contradiction to the view I have already established. To this end, I will examine in great detail who they are, why they will come and what their purpose will be. The Bible says the Two Witnesses will prophecy for 1260 days
And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.

(Rev 11:5-6)
Clearly this counts as a miracle, which I have already protested against continuing. We might say that they are simply an exception, but I find this argument extremely unsatisfying. We might also argue that miracles ceased and Benny Hinn is an exception. I cannot claim in good conscience that the two witnesses are simply prophets who slipped through the cracks. I will claim, however, that a proper understanding of who they are will be most revealing. If you are an End Times scholar, this may be a little boring to you.
Under the Law of Moses, a person could not be executed except under the testimony of 2 or 3 witnesses. 1 witness with exceptional credentials, an established motive and anything else which might be imagined made no difference. 2 or 3 witnesses were required. In the New Testament Churches, removing a member from the church rolls requires the presence of 2 or 3 witnesses to try and turn them from their sin. Rosh Hashanah - the Festival of Trumpets - is the Jewish new year. Since the Jews used a lunar calendar instead of a solar calendar, Rosh Hashanah began with the seventh new moon. When two or three witnesses came before the Sanhedrin and announced they had seen the new moon, the new year began and a trumpet was blown. Always Occuring before the beginning of September and the first week of October, The Festival of Trumpets also signaled the final harvest, when the last of the crops were gathered before winter. The last trumpet blown on Rosh Hashanah was (and is) a longer blast than any of the others, signaling the good news of the new age. It is to a people who understood this rich tapestry that John wrote the book of Revelation. To comprehend his meaning, we must also be aware of it.

The Two Witnesses prophecy for roughly the second half of Daniel's 70th week (although they appear to begin shortly before (11 days - some say) the middle and die slightly before the end) as part of the sixth trumpet. If we are to understand their role in context, we see they are witnesses to the sinfulness of Earth. Before the LORD pours out His holy wrath on the people of Earth, He sends two witnesses to see how wicked things have become. Before the final judgment, He gives them 3 1/2 years to witness the sins of the world and warn of the need to repent and accept Christ, not the messenger of Satan who claims to be the true Christ.

At the middle of the Tribulation, the two witnesses will parallel with their other purpose. They will witness the 'new moon' - the dawning of a new age. Consider these passages:
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

(1Th 4:16-17)
"And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. "And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

(Mat 24:30-31)
And the corresponding one at the time of the two witnesses:

Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever." And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, "We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.

(Rev 11:15-17)
The Two Witnesses witness the New Year indeed! When the 7th trumpet has sounded, Christ will come and reunite the dead saved with their bodies and rapture the living saved to the Earth. Then, with His church out of the way (and in one place, they will be one local church), He will shortly pour out His wrath upon the Earth (although wrath does not seem to begin immediately at the mid-point). The harmony here is much greater than in the pre-tribulation rapture theory. We see how all of the Bible is converging here, as Christ removes His church and retakes the reigns of Earth from the Devil [1]. We often are told that Satan reigns for the 7 year tribulation. This is not true. Satan rules from the Sin of Adam to the 7th trump - then, while he may still hold 'power' on Earth, God has reclaimed His rightful throne and chooses to exercise His soveirgnty. As the 24 Elders (the church and the faithful Jews) proclaim in our text above: "We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign." What a powerful passage. It was foretold in the Old Testament as well (a time, times and half a time means 3 1/2 years):
'He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. 'But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever. 'Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.'

(Dan 7:25-27)

The witnesses, proclaiming their power, will have need of miracles to combat the miracles of their enemy. They will need true miracles so the people of the Earth will be completely without excuse. We then see what the purpose of the Witnesses is and how they mark a great time in history. But who are they and why can they perform miracles? I hold, fairly confidently, to the position that these two men are Elijah and Enoch, who did not die, but were raptured into heaven.

So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

(Gen 5:23-24)
As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.

(2Ki 2:11)
So there are two (what a coincidental number!) who have not yet died. They live on. Then the spiritual gifts of miracles and prophecy need not have left them. The apostles appeared to continue performing miracles until their deaths and those who the apostles came into direct contact with did so as well until they died (Acts 8:14-19 and 2 Timothy 1:6 tell us that those who came into direct physical contact with an apostle had such power, so it died when that small radius died). Since Enoch and Elijah were both living in a miraculous time (that of the patriarchs and that of the prophets, respectively) and have not died, there is no reason to doubt that they are waiting in the wings for some greater purpose. God is no longer giving people the power to perform miracles, but from these two it has never been taken away. These two righteous men have been set aside by God to perform miracles which will bring the people back. Indeed, this testimony will bring 144,000 Jews to Christ in the first few days! It is then perfectly logical that they would be figures the Jews would recognize. It is also logical that they would be foretold in the Jewish cannon. Indeed they are!
Then I said to him, "What are these two olive trees on the right of the lampstand and on its left?" And I answered the second time and said to him, "What are the two olive branches which are beside the two golden pipes, which empty the golden oil from themselves?" So he answered me, saying, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord." Then he said, "These are the two anointed ones who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth."

(Zec 4:11-14)
So, by searching their Scriptures, Jews would see that what these people spoke was predicted and come to know Christ. Note also that they are standing beside the Lord. John hits this again in Revelation:

"And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.

(Rev 11:3-4)
They stand before the Lord because they have been raptured up, but they will return.

Now having seen that the cessation of miracles does not contradict the miracles of the Two Witnesses, we may consider the issue of miracles closed. But we are not left alone! Tomorrow, I will show you a more excellent way.

[1] Note on the Pre-Trib Rapture:
Also in Rev 11, verse 18 implies that the time of rewarding the saints of old is now, as God prepares to pour his wrath. Christ tells us He will bring rewards with Him when he returns at the rapture, not at some later point. Note that in this same verse, 'judge' is often rendered 'avenge,' so we need not believe the dead are judged at the rapture, but that the martyrs are avenged in the time which follows.

1 comment:

  1. You might enjoy Googling "Pretrib Rapture Secrecy" and "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty."