The Two Witnesses Of Revelation
Before getting into this intriguing and very misunderstood topic, here is an interesting fact to introduce the illuminating truth on Revelations two witnesses.
The brightest man made light on earth emanates from the top of the Luxor hotel, which is a giant pyramid structure found in Las Vegas, Nevada. There are a total of 45 xenon lights, with each one being as big as a washing machine and using the brightest bulb available, which shoots a powerful blast of radiant light straight up into space. This light that beams from the top of this artificial mountain is so bright that astronauts can see it flying overhead. Airline pilots are warned to avoid the area, as the beam of light can blind them temporarily if they were to fly through it. Sadly, this brightest man made light on earth is totally wasted as it is not illuminating anything as it blazes into the heavens above.
Did you know there is a story in the Word of God that tells of a mountaintop blazing with heavenly light? Even though it is very seldom addressed, this event called the Mount of Transfiguration, or sometimes the Glorious Mount, is one of the most pivotal moments found in the New Testament. This monumental experience found in the Gospels of Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-10 and Luke 9:28-36 is full of profound meaning for Christians, and it helps illuminate many other amazing Bible truths including the very misunderstood truth on Revelations two witnesses.
Ascending To The Light
After a long day of teaching and ministering to the multitudes, Jesus and His disciples separate from the clamouring crowds. Jesus then says something quite unusual: “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.” Mark 9:1. It probably seemed to His disciples that Jesus was predicting something incredibly big. But what? Then six days after Jesus makes this cryptic announcement, they reach the foot of a “high mountain.” There Jesus handpicks His own trusted “trinity” of apostles; Peter, James and John and with them in tow, He leaves the others in the valley and begins the long assent up the steep hill. As the sun is setting, they finally stumble wearily onto the summit. Jesus then immediately kneels and begins to pray, and at first the disciples attempt to join him; yet exhausted, they soon drift into a deep sleep.
Then something really extraordinary happens! Combining the testimony of the synoptic Gospels Luke and Mark, we are told, “As He prayed, He was transformed before them. The appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. Exceeding white, like snow such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.” (See the full account in Luke 9:28-36 and Mark 9:2-10.)
Who are Revelations Two Witnesses?
You can begin to see why many may think that Revelations two witnesses are Moses and Elijah. But are they right or is there symbolism involved here? Suddenly awakened by this cosmic event, the disciples see Jesus Christ shining with a heavenly light radiating from within. He is not just the humble son of Joseph and Mary, but with unveiled glory, Jesus Christ now appears as the majestic Creator of the universe.
In His prayer, “He pleads that they may witness a manifestation of His divinity that will comfort them in the hour of His supreme agony, with the knowledge that He is … the Son of God and that His shameful death is a part of the plan of redemption.”
Our loving heavenly Father grants them this brief glimpse of His Son’s glory, because He knows the disciples were soon to see their Master be completely humiliated. Their teacher was about to be stripped, beaten and bleeding; appearing very helpless and very mortal. So in the same way that a little tree stores sap during the warm, bright spring to sustain it during the cold, dark winter, Jesus knows the faith of His disciples needed a bright boost on the mountain to see them through the approaching dark day on Calvary.
The disciples also needed the reassurance of this event because they continued to confuse the purpose of the Messiah’s mission with the popular Jewish fables of earthly glory. Jesus knew it was going to be devastating for them to see their hopes for earthly glory punctured by those ghastly Roman nails, so their heavenly Father granted them this vision to remind them that Jesus Christ’s kingdom was heavenly and not earthly.
Are Moses And Elijah Revelations Two Witnesses?
Along with the glorious light of heaven, the brightest ever seen on earth, two of the greatest celebrities of Scripture appeared at the side of Christ. “And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.” Mark 9:4.
Someone might ask, why these two individuals? God had also taken Enoch to heaven, so why was he not along for this special visit? Put very simply, the two prominent individuals who did come were living symbols of the Word of God. Moses represents the Law, and Elijah represents the Prophets. Jesus says in Matthew 5:17, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to [fulfil].” Moses was the great lawgiver, and Elijah was the greatest of the Old Testament prophets.
One can see why some conclude that Moses and Elijah are Revelations two witnesses. However, throughout the Bible we find the Word of God is often portrayed with a dual image. The Ten Commandments were written on two tables of stone. The Word of God is also portrayed as a sword with two edges. Two lamps and two olive trees portray the two sacred divisions of the Bible. But the ultimate testimony of God’s Word is Jesus: “In the volume of the book it is written of me.” Hebrews 10:7. The volume of the Book, the Bible, all points to Jesus who is the combination of two natures, the human and the divine. Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14).
In Luke 16:31, Jesus concludes His parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Here Jesus places a very high priority on God’s Word, and we should not miss it. No matter what miracles you witness, even someone rising from the dead, you should still place the plain Word of God on higher ground.
The Ultimate Endorsement
When it comes to election time, politicians begin to campaign and jostle for the support of voters. One common way for them to achieve this is by getting endorsements from as many popular and credible leaders as possible. The Glorious Mount experience is the ultimate endorsement.
Ever since the time of Abraham, every Jew has been looking for the coming Messiah. Several counterfeit Christ's had appeared on the landscape of Hebrew history. Now as a symbol of supreme support, Jesus Christ stands glorified flanked on the right and left by the two greatest heroes of ancient Israel. Moses and Elijah surround Jesus Christ to give us a very vivid picture that the Word of God points to and endorses Jesus as the Messiah.
This endorsement from Moses and Elijah who symbolize Revelations two witnesses represent the endorsement of the law and the prophets, God’s Word, that Jesus is the “coming one.” Matthew 11:3. No other individuals could have offered greater validation for Jesus Christ's ministry than these two giants of Scripture.
The transfiguration is also a direct fulfilment of prophecy. Malachi foretold, “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” One reason the Word of God is so wonderful is because it is so precise. Both Moses and Elijah did appear in the New Testament prior to the sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour to encourage and endorse Him.
Two Or Three Witnesses
In Revelation 11:3-12, we find the great prophecy of the two witnesses of Revelation. “These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.” Revelation 11:4. We know that a lamp is a symbol for the Word of God, “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” Psalms 119:105. When Zechariah sees these two olive trees in vision, he asks the angel what they represent. “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord.” Zechariah 4:6. It also takes the olive oil of the Spirit to illuminate the lamp of God’s Word. These lampstands have seven pipes, which is information not recorded in Revelation 11. Zechariah 4:2 “…And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof.” See also Numbers 8:2, Exodus 25:37 and Revelation 4:5.
Revelation warns what will happen to those who would harm God’s two witnesses, the Holy Bible. “If anyone wants to hurt them fire proceeds out of their mouths and devours their enemies.” This happened in the experiences of both Moses and Elijah. Fire came down from heaven on the Egyptians as they pursued God’s children and it consumed the sons of Aaron. It also consumed the soldiers when they challenged Elijah. In addition, “These have the power to shut up heaven so no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over water to turn them to blood.” Did Elijah pray and the rain stop? Did Moses pray and the water turn to blood? So again we see why God likens the two witnesses, His Word, to the ministry of Moses and Elijah.
As if the endorsement of Moses and Elijah was not enough, a cloud overshadows the mountaintop and the voice of the Almighty God is heard saying, “This is My beloved Son, Hear Him.” The Bible says, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” 1 Corinthians 13:1. On the Mount, two people redeemed by Christ testify that Jesus is the Messiah, and of course, the third is the voice of God Himself! And what better confirmation of truth could God have offered; the lawgiver and the greatest prophet and His own audible testimony? In effect we have Moses saying, “This is the One.” And Elijah saying, “This is the One.” Then God Almighty saying, “This is the One.”
After first reading this passage, I wondered, “How did they know it was Moses and Elijah?” They had no archived video footage or journalistic photographs with which to compare these beings. Then I realized they had probably overheard some of the conversation and heard Jesus address them by name.
Fortunately, the Gospel of Luke actually gives us a little more insight regarding what these great men discussed. It says, “Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” Luke 9:30, 31 NKJV. Of course, “decease” refers to His sacrifice on Mount Calvary.
One could not imagine any other two individuals who would be better qualified to encourage Jesus to go forward with His sacrifice. Both Moses and Elijah understood rejection by their own people and the sting of persecution. Keep in mind that both Moses and Elijah had been in heaven for hundreds of years, not because of their good works, but because they were enjoying what one could call an advance payment on the sacrifice that Jesus was about to make at calvary. In other words, if Jesus did not proceed with the plan to die for mankind, then Moses and Elijah had no right to remain in heaven. They were no doubt very motivated to encourage and inspire Jesus Christ to go forward. Ultimately, their purpose was to be witnesses to Christ and to support Jesus in His coming trial and sacrifice.
As the eyes of the disciples adjusted to the light and they collected their wits, I imagine the first thing they did was to remove their shoes as they realized they were on holy ground. After a few terrified minutes of eavesdropping on this divine dialogue, we find Peter feels compelled to say something. “And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Mark 9:5.
It is interesting that Bible history records three earthly temples: one in the wilderness during the time of Moses; Solomon’s temple standing during the time of Elijah; and the third temple built after the Babylonian captivity. This third one is the one Jesus cleansed. There are also three aspects or stages of salvation being justification, which is symbolized by Moses; sanctification, the ministry of Elijah; and the God filled man or glorification represented by Jesus.
We find that many of the high points in the Bible are also mountaintop experiences. The Lord often arranged profound events on mountaintops because they make natural monuments. Whenever God’s children looked upon these prominent mountain peaks, they would remember the important events of their sacred history.
For example, consider that after 40 years in the wilderness, God delivered His covenant to Moses on a mountaintop. Mount Sinai had the fire of God with smoke and thunder shaking the summit. After 40 days in the wilderness, God also spoke to Elijah on Mount Sinai with fire, wind and an earthquake (1 Kings 19:11-12). After 40 days in the wilderness, Jesus rebuked the devil on a high mountain (Matthew 4:8-10). God also makes His promises on mountains. It was in the mountains of Ararat that God made His covenant with Noah and on Mount Moriah He made His covenant with Abraham. The whole nation of Jews confirmed the Promised Land covenant from Mount Gerizim (Joshua 8:33). And of course, Elijah was on Mount Carmel when fire and rain came down, which was a symbol of God’s reviving Spirit raining on the Church. Moses first glimpsed the Promised Land from Mount Nebo and it is from a high mountain John first sees the holy city (Revelation 21:10). And most importantly, God’s loving covenant of salvation was sealed on Mount Calvary.
Like Jesus, Moses stood on a mountain with stretched out hands, supported on the right and the left by Aaron and Hur (Exodus 17:12). When Jesus died on the cross of Calvary, two thieves surrounded Him on the right and the left representing two kinds of sinners, the same way you have Moses and Elijah flanking Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. I would say that before we climb the Glorious Mount, we really need to climb Mount Calvary. God wants to confirm a covenant with you and fill you with His Spirit, and it will happen when you humble yourself upon the mountain where Jesus was slain.
The Final Word
The Glorious Mount rings with divine authority. Mark 9:7 says, “And a cloud came and overshadowed them.” (NKJV). This cloud is actually veiling the glory of the Father, who declares, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him.” God the Father comes to sanction His Son who receives His total approval.
This is very important for us to understand. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, God the Father speaks personally at Christ’s baptism in the low Jordan valley, and identifies Jesus as His Son. He says, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” announcing that the Jewish nation no longer needs to look for anyone else as the Messiah (Matthew 3:17 NKJV). Anyone who came before Him was a fraud, and anyone else coming after is a counterfeit. Jesus is the one!
Then again at the end of Jesus Christ’s ministry, God the Father again identifies His divine Son on the mountain peak, commanding something very simple. “Hear Him.” That is a complete sentence, easy to understand. But “hear” means more than just hearing the audible sounds. It very much means “listening with undivided attention and doing.” Jesus says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Church.” Revelation 2:1. Our Almighty Creator God, in person, is commanding you and I to listen to Jesus’ word and to do it.
There have been many counterfeits, frauds, impostors and cult leaders trying to impersonate Jesus Christ. But God the Father says about Jesus in the Bible, “Hear Him.” He is the true Word! That’s something very powerful to contemplate.
As the final echoes of God’s thundering voice resonate from the mountaintop, the trembling disciples cower in fear. Mark 9:8 says, “Suddenly” it all ended. Just as quickly as the light flashed on, it went off. “When they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves.” As the glory evaporates and their eyes adjust to the darkness, those who symbolize Revelations two witnesses, Moses and Elijah, and the Father and the cloud are all gone; all they can see is Jesus. He promised, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5.
It is easy to have our vision obscured by the kaleidoscope of images that we see in the Bible. And it is also easy to have our minds clouded with the collage of images we see in modern life. But after this all fades, and we are at the base of the mountain again, what really matters I think is God is telling us to only hear Jesus, to only see Jesus. He was the only one left with them; everyone else might forsake you, but Jesus says, “I will be with you till the end.” Matthew 28:20. Remember that Jesus our Lord and Saviour is still there for you even after the glory disappears.
Don't Mention It
Jesus Christ again says something else very unusual to the dazed disciples. You and I can barely imagine how these three apostles are feeling “as they came down the mountain.” Mark 9:9. That incredible mountaintop event must have been life changing, and they were probably in spiritual shock, even more so than when Christ calmed the storm or walked on water. They might have even been glowing with the lingering residue of light still dissipating from their faces, like Moses face was glowing after speaking with God. What doubts about Jesus could they possibly have now? They were probably ready to die for their Lord and Saviour that very moment.
But then Jesus commands them not to tell anyone of the things they had seen. I would imagine that would have been one of the most difficult mandates they ever received from their Lord. They had just witnessed a glimpse of heaven. They had seen Moses, and they had seen Elijah. Like ancient Israel, they had heard the commanding voice of God reverberating from a mountain, and now they are told not to make any comments regarding this remarkable event. Do not mention it they are told. Keep in mind that Jesus is asking three fishermen not to comment on the most exciting experience of their lives. I do not know if I could have remained silent on this one.
Timing To Tell
It is fortunate that they were not asked to “never mention it.” More precisely, Jesus asked, “That they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of Man were risen from the dead.” Mark 9:9.
Why would Jesus make this request knowing that their hearts had been so profoundly touched through this magnificent event? I believe Jesus wanted them to store this experience in reserve for when they would really need it. Peter, James and John were chosen to be the leaders of the early Church, and when all seemed lost, and when things got hard, they could say, “Don’t be discouraged. We want to tell you about something we saw that night with Jesus on the mountain.” But sadly, it appears just when they needed it the most, they did not remember this mountaintop experience; when their Lord went to the cross of Calvary, they forgot who He was.
Has God given you a mountaintop experience? Maybe God has answered prayers and worked miracles that right when they are happening, you say, “Wow, praise the Lord!” But then after the glory fades, you end up in a valley with the evil one crowding you. And the memory of what has happened on the mountaintop has all but evaporated.
It’s just like when God had told the children of Israel not to make idols, and they heard the voice of God, and they felt the ground shake, and they saw fire consume a mountain. They glibly promised the Lord they would obey. Yet a few days later, they’re worshiping a golden calf.
Our adversary the devil is a master at inducing mountaintop amnesia. If you give him just five minutes of your attention, he can make you forget a whole lifetime of miracles. If you entertain his suggestions and you embrace his discouragement and his doubts, all those mountaintop memories can dissipate just when you need them the most.
Last Day Significance
The experience on the Glorious Mount is especially important for the end times; that’s why after His resurrection, Jesus returned to teach on this. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets [here are Moses and Elijah again!], he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke 24:27.
Revelation 12:17 says, “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” The woman represents the Church, and the dragon, the devil, wants to destroy her. The Church in the last days has two outstanding characteristics: They “keep the commandments of God, and they have the testimony of Jesus.” What is the testimony of Jesus? Revelation 19:10 explains, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” So the members of the last day Church are identified as a people who will keep the law and have the prophets (the spirit of prophecy).
Isaiah 8:16 states, “Bind up the testimony, seal the Law among My disciples.” Moses, before he died, exhorted the children of Israel to keep the law. He repeats the Ten Commandments to them in Deuteronomy chapter 5 and says, “These words that I have spoken unto you this day shall be in your heart. You shall bind them upon your hand. They shall be as frontlets between your eyes.” So the law and the words of the prophets are sealed by the Holy Spirit in the mind and hearts of God’s people. “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30.
We must saturate ourselves with the law and the prophets, with the Word of God, for a very special purpose in these last days. Mark 9 says, “His clothing became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.” (NKJV). Mark is really struggling here for words to describe the bright aura of light the disciples saw around this heavenly assembly. The garments of Jesus Christ were radiant white, just like new snow, and glowing like the sun. Of course, the robe that Jesus wore is a symbol of His purity. It is what Jesus is wearing in heaven. Wonderfully, you and I are offered this same clothing purified by His blood, if we stay true to His Word. “These … washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:14. “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love.” 1 Peter 1:22 NKJV.
The 1260 Years and Revelations Two Witnesses
The most significant time period in Bible Prophecy is called the dark ages where God’s true Church was persecuted for 1260 years. An understanding of this very significant time period sheds a lot of light on revealing truth and error on what the two witnesses of Revelation are and are not. During this time an estimated 50-150 million Christians were murdered and tortured wrongly as heretics. The vast majority of historians agree that this period is from 538AD to 1798AD which = 1260 years. During this time period, God’s hand was upon the Church preserving it from total extinction. When Bible prophecy is symbolic in nature, the well known day for a year principle is applied and so 1260 days = 1260 years. This truly is an extremely significant time period as one can observe from the verses below that actually all refer to the same period of time. Note each of these scriptures carefully and note that Revelation 11:2 and Revelation 11:3 are referring to the time period of Revelations two witnesses. See also who is the antichrist of Revelation.
42 Months = 3.5 Years or 1260 Days (Jewish calendar = 360 days, Lunar month = 30 days)
Revelation 11:2 “But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.” (two witnesses passage)
Revelation 13:5 “And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.”
1260 Days = 3.5 Years or 42 Months
Revelation 11:3 “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.” (two witnesses passage)
Revelation 12:6 “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.”
Time = 1 Year, times = 2 Years and half a time = .5 Year = total 3.5 Years which = 42 Months or 1260 Days
Daniel 7:25 “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.”
Daniel 12:7 “And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.”
Revelation 12:14 “And to the woman 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.”
Moses and Elijah cannot be Revelations Two Witnesses
Now that we are familiar with this time period, it’s important to look at this one crucial issue that’s causing so much confusion. In Revelation 11, we read about the two witnesses of Revelation. “And I’ll give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” Please note this does not say these witnesses will only prophesy for 1,260 days, for witnesses for God witness all the time. This as we have just seen refers to the Dark Ages from AD 538 to 1798, when the Law and the Prophets, the Bible, was obscured. Do not forget that this time period is actually 1260 years and in fact has already occurred.
There are many good Christians out there who believe that in the last days Moses and Elijah will literally come down to the earth again to preach, only to be killed and lay in the streets for three and a half days. It’s a half truth because Revelations two witnesses, the Word, is symbolized by Moses and Elijah. But these two men of God are in heaven with their glorified bodies and the Bible does not tell us that He wants two others to step down from heaven to be killed. Moses and Elijah will not be coming back to earth in this way and do not forget that this time period ended in AD 1798 and so CANNOT be a future event.
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