The Two Witnesses

“Mr. Wilson:
I watched a portion of a video seminar on your website and I quit because you are grossly distorting the Bible. How can you say the Bible and the Holy Spirit are the Two Witnesses when the Bible clearly says that the Two Witnesses will be two prophets that torment the people of Earth during the Great Tribulation.

The Two Witnesses will be killed by the beast at the end of 1,260 days and their bodies will lie in the street for 3.5 days. Afterwards, they will be resurrected and taken to Heaven while their enemies look on. The Bible and the Holy Spirit aren’t prophets and they can’t be killed. Haven’t you read Revelation 22:18,19? God says that if anyone distorts the book of Revelation he will receive the seven last plagues. Consider yourself warned.

Hello Joe:
I have been a diligent student of the Bible for 36 years. I love God’s Word and would not intentionally distort it. I have carefully read and considered Revelation 22:18–19 many times and I believe the threat stated in these two verses applies to a time period that is in the future. Here is the scenario as I understand this topic: During the Great Tribulation, God’s Two Witnesses will plainly and powerfully place three compelling messages from Him (Revelation 14:6–10) before the people of Earth.

These three messages will test the inhabitants of Earth to see who will put their faith in Jesus and obey His commandments. (Revelation 3:10; 6:9; 12:17; 20:4) These messages from God will be so obvious and direct there will not be any wiggle room.

Therefore, Jesus warns that if any person attempts to distort or diminish these three testing messages, he or she will participate in the seven last plagues. God knows that because people will be persecuted for obeying the commandments of Jesus, some people will attempt to distort His Word to escape suffering.

A simple survey of Christian history reveals that hundreds of honest and sincere students of prophecy have presented diverse interpretations on the Two Witnesses and other topics over the past 2,000 years. Are these people to be condemned for honestly trying to put the pieces of Revelation together?

Of course not! Therefore, these two verses have to apply to individuals who will live during the Great Tribulation and will receive the seven last plagues because that is when the temptation to distort the plain truth will be desirable.

Joe, I would like to write a few words about the Two Witnesses in an effort to help you sort out a few issues. Millions of people believe the Two Witnesses will be two men sent from Heaven. These men are supposed to arrive at the midway point of the Great Tribulation and prophesy for the remaining 1,260 days (3.5 years). It is commonly believed that the Two Witnesses will join forces with converted Jews (the 144,000) in preaching the gospel of Jesus and warning people about the deceptions of the Antichrist (the beast).

Many Christians believe these two prophets will severely torment the people of Earth by causing famine (no rain for 3.5 years) and will call down curses and judgments upon unbelievers at will. They will even have power to devour their enemies by having fire come out of their mouths! Somehow, these awesome displays of destructive power are supposed to produce more converts for Christ. Some people believe the Two Witnesses will be Enoch and Elijah because these two men were taken to Heaven without seeing death.

Further, once Enoch and Elijah are killed at the end of the Great Tribulation, they believe everyone redeemed from Earth will have experienced death. Finally, they claim that after the Antichrist kills the Two Witnesses, their bodies will lie in the street for 3.5 days and then they will be resurrected and taken to Heaven in the presence of their enemies.

Even though millions of people may believe as you do, I hope you will agree that popularity does not make every idea true. For example, there was a time when everyone believed the Sun moved and Earth stood still, but scientific discovery proved this idea was false.

Today, billions of people reject the claim that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, so truth is not necessarily on the side of the majority. I believe there are many issues surrounding the Great Tribulation and the Two Witnesses that most Christians have overlooked, and once these issues are resolved, a better schematic and a better set of conclusions become possible. Since my paradigm on the book of Revelation is very different than yours, please consider the following:

1. Pre-tribulation Judgment:

For reasons beyond the scope of this brief response, I have rejected the doctrine of a pre-tribulation rapture. You might wonder, “What does the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine have to do with the Two Witnesses?” Actually, there is a very important link. If there was a pre-tribulation rapture, God would have to pass judgment on all mankind before the rapture so that He could determine who should be taken to Heaven and who should be left behind.
Then, He would have to pass judgment a second time on those left behind to see who can be saved. I do not find any mention of a pre-tribulation judgment in the Bible. However, the Bible does teach there is one pre-Advent judgment of mankind. Everyone has to stand before the judgment bar of Christ before he can receive his reward. (2 Corinthians 5:10)

One of the primary purposes of the Great Tribulation is that of testing. God will test us during the Great Tribulation to see who can be saved and who cannot. Using three powerful messages and severe persecution, God will separate His sheep from the goats. Jesus will acknowledge this separation at His appearing. (Matthew 25:32)

The Bible says much about this topic. Remember, the five foolish virgins did not get a second chance to be saved, the rich man and Lazarus did not get a second chance, the people in Noah’s day did not get a second chance, the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah did not get a second chance, and Joe, your deceased relatives did not get a second chance at salvation because there is no second chance!

The Bible says “today” is the day for salvation. (Hebrews 3:7–11) So, I cannot accept the idea that the 144,000 and the Two Witnesses will be working together to give the people who were “left behind” a second chance. Instead, I believe the 144,000 and the Two Witnesses will be working together to save everyone on Earth during the Great Tribulation because the living will be tested during the 1,260 days the Two Witnesses are testifying.

2. – Why are there Two Witnesses in Revelation?

Many people just accept the presence of the Two Witnesses in Revelation’s story without stopping to consider the primary need for two witnesses during the Great Tribulation. What can the Two Witnesses do that the 144,000 can’t do? God inserted the Two Witnesses into Revelation’s story because the Great Tribulation is a courtroom drama. During the judgment of the living, God requires the testimony of two witnesses to condemn a person to death.

God told Moses, “On the testimony of two or three witnesses a man shall be put to death, but no one shall be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.” (Deuteronomy 17:6) Paul wrote, “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” (2 Corinthians 13:1) This point is an interesting one. No one will be lost during the Great Tribulation because he or she rejected the testimony of the 144,000. Instead, a person will be condemned for rejecting the testimony of God’s Two Witnesses. As I said earlier, all people must stand before the judgment bar of Christ before they can receive their reward and the Two Witnesses will testify about each person.

3. The Unpardonable Sin:

Jesus said: “And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” (Matthew 12:31–32) During the Great Tribulation, the Holy Spirit will be poured out on mankind with even greater power than during the time of the apostles. (Compare Joel 2:28–32 with Acts 1:8)

The Word of God will be proclaimed in every nation with power and authority. (Matthew 28:14; Revelation 14:6–10) The 144,000 will serve as God’s spokespersons because the Spirit of prophecy will rest on them and the outcome will be rather simple.

The gospel of Jesus will be presented straight from the Bible and the Holy Spirit will deeply impress everyone to surrender to the gospel. People who refuse to submit to the authority of God’s Word and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit will be condemned to death. They will be condemned because they rebelled against the Word of God and committed the unpardonable sin.

4. – Olive Trees and Lampstands: The Bible uses personification to describe the Two Witnesses. The use of personification emphasizes the fact that the Two Witnesses are not two people. One of the Two Witnesses is inanimate (the two lampstands) and the other witness is two olive trees. There is no text in the Bible indicating the two olive trees symbolize a person. The Bible says: “These [witnesses] are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.” (Revelation 11:4, insertion mine)

Most Christians do not understand these two symbols, but Zechariah 4 explains this matter. The context of Zechariah 4 encompasses the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem around 520 B.C. King Zerubbabel was having a very difficult time getting people to work on the temple, so God gave a vision to the priest, Zechariah, to encourage the king:

“He [the angel] asked me, ‘What do you see?’ I answered, ‘I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lights on it, with seven channels to the lights. Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.’ I asked the angel who talked with me, ‘What are these, my lord?’

“He answered, ‘Do you [Zechariah, a priest of God] not know what these are?’

“‘No, my lord,’ I replied.

“So he said to me, ‘This [imagery you see of the lampstand and the olive trees] is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by [human] might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty [the temple will be rebuilt and the gospel shall go forth from Jerusalem once again].’

“Then I asked the angel, ‘What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?’

“Again I asked him, ‘What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?’

“He replied, ‘[How can you – Zechariah – a priest of Almighty God, not understand these things] Do you not know what these are?’

“‘No, my lord,’ I said.

So he said, ‘These are the two [witnesses] who are anointed [chosen] to serve the Lord [throughout] of all the earth.’ “ (Zechariah 4:2–6, 11–14, insertions mine)

In other words, God showed Zechariah that His work on Earth was not sustained by human prowess and strength. At the time of this vision, the single lampstand represented the Old Testament. Israel was the trustee of God’s Word and God wanted Zechariah to understand that His Word was perpetually sustained by the golden oil that flowed from two living olive trees. The two olive trees represent the two functions of the Holy Spirit. The first work of the Holy Spirit is to bring us into a born-again relationship with God. (John 3)

The second work of the Holy Spirit is to bring us to maturity in Christ. (Ephesians 4:11–13) The golden oil that kept the lamps burning represents the energy that comes from God so that the light of His Word never goes out. Today, there are two testaments in God’s Word, the old and the new.

Thus, the two witnesses are the Word of God (the old and new testaments – two lampstands) and the Holy Spirit (the two olive trees representing the two works of the Holy Spirit) continues without change.

Joe, I hope you will consider these concepts. I hope you will go back and take another look at all of the seminar segments on the Two Witnesses. I think you will find that many of your objections will be addressed. The concept of the Two Witnesses is not easily understood because God uses personification. However, if you persist in searching for truth, I believe you will find the Bible and the Holy Spirit meet every specification given in Revelation 10 and 11!

Larry W. Wilson

Larry Wilson, founder of WUAS, became a born-again Christian in 1972. His interest in the gospel led him on a 40+ year quest to learn more about what God has revealed to Earth’s final generation. The results of his research have been shared throughout the world in books, television & radio broadcasts, media interviews, and seminars that are publicly available on all different types of media (see our Christian Bookstore).

What is Wake Up America Seminars (WUAS)?
Wake Up America Seminars, Inc. is a nonprofit, nondenominational organization with a focus on the study of End-Time Prophecy. WUAS is not a church, nor does it endorse any denomination. Our focus is singular: We are dedicated to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ and His imminent return. We are delighted that people of all faiths are diligently using the Bible study materials produced by WUAS. All study materials are based solely on the Bible alone.

Larry W. Wilson

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