David Jeremiah - The Two Witnesses
From the beginning of time, man has attempted to understand and to record the mysteries surrounding the Earth and the heavens. Early civilizations first looked to the stars to help them navigate across seemingly endless oceans, travel across unremarkable landscapes, and calculate when to plant and harvest crops. Then cartographers began to define our world by creating maps. From cave paintings to ancient charting of Babylon, Greece, and Asia, through the age of exploration, and even into the 21st century, maps served as essential tools to help us define, explain, and navigate our way through the world. But then, in a flash, everything changed. The camera allowed us to capture events in our world in a way we could not imagine before. And soon it even allowed us to picture the Earth and the universe as we had never seen them before. Prior to the invention of photography and satellite images from space, a particular passage in the Bible seemed unfathomable to many people.
In the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, we read scripture detailing the ministry of two evangelists during the tribulation. Most startling in this prophecy is that the death, resurrection, and rapture of these two men will be witnessed by the entire world's population the very moment it occurs. For years, critics have made fun of this verse and its impossible prediction. Many asked, "How could the entire world witness an event the moment that it takes place"? But no one alive today could make such a reckless charge. News and information that once took days, weeks, months, and even years to make its way around the globe can now be sent around the Earth in approximately 700.000 bits per second, reaching the entire world's population in a single moment. Finally, modern technology has caught up with ancient Bible prophecy, making what seemed impossible possible. Who are these preachers, the mysterious evangelists who will be killed, then raised from the dead as the whole world watches in amazement? The two witnesses: agents of the apocalypse.
The coming of the two witnesses in the book of Revelation marks the beginning of God's program of witnessing to the world during the tribulation period. I know that you know, when the rapture takes place, all Christians on the whole Earth will be raptured off of the Earth, and there will be no Christians left. It would seem that if all of the unbelievers now are the only ones left on the Earth and God has taken all of His chosen ones to heaven that God might just write off the population of planet Earth and say, "That's it. I'm done with them. Let them have their own way and plunge into their own sin". But the Bible does not allow us to believe that, because what the scripture teaches, men and women, is that God never, ever, ever allows Himself to be without a witness.
In the darkest days of God's judgment, in the midst of all of the tribulation that's recorded in the book of Revelation, throughout all of the story of the future judgment upon this Earth, one thing is consistently clear, and that is the evidence of the love of God, who reaches into the darkness of our world with the light of the message of His Son, Jesus Christ. And here in the midst of the awful judgment of this Earth, because of the rejection of God, He sends to this Earth two men, who we will learn about in just a few moments, to preach the gospel of God's love and also warn the people of the judgment to come. These two witnesses are like no others that have ever walked upon this Earth.
The Bible tells us a little bit about their personalities. In verse 3, it says: "And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth". Now, the Bible says that God is going to empower these two witnesses and they're going to have a period of time to preach the gospel and preach the judgment of God, and that period of time is 1.260 days, which translates into 42 months, which translates into 3 1/2 years on the Jewish calendar. The Bible says they are going to preach, they're gonna do miracles, and they are not people that are imaginary, nor are they symbols. Some people have said the two witnesses are the law and the prophets. No. Some people have said the two witnesses represent the Old and the New Testament. No. The two witnesses are two people, two actual people, who come to this Earth for this moment of time to present God's message to the people who are still here.
Now, many folks know that the names of these two witnesses are not given to us in the book of Revelation 11. But the questions are often asked as to the identity of these two people. So I'd like to tell you who I think they are, based upon not only Revelation but all of the scripture. I believe that the first of the two witnesses is Elijah, sent back to this Earth by almighty God. Right before the Old Testament concludes in Malachi 4, we read these words: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse". Malachi says that before the great and terrible day of the Lord, which begins at the 3 1/2 period of tribulation, God is going to send Elijah. It is probable that this is what he was talking about, Elijah would come back to the Earth to witness for God himself.
It's also interesting to put together some of the facts. Do you know that Elijah was miraculously taken up to heaven in the Old Testament? You remember that story? Elijah's already been raptured once. He was whooshed up into heaven by almighty God. And the Bible tells us that Elijah, on one occasion, withheld rain from the Earth and announced that the rain would not come on this Earth for 3 1/2 years. He did that during his life. He's gonna do it again in the tribulation, as we shall see in a few moments. Elijah also called down fire from heaven. The two witnesses used fire to defend themselves. And the length of both the drought in Elijah's day and the ministry of the two witnesses is three years and six months. I can't prove this for a fact, but I believe the first witness is Elijah. There are many things that make us believe that.
And then the second witness is often, sometimes people say it's Enoch, and they have, everybody's got an idea about the second witness. But I would like to suggest to you that the second witness is Moses. First of all, Moses appeared with Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration, so they've appeared together already since their human death, and now they've come back at the transfiguration. What would prevent them from coming back during the tribulation? Also, God gave Moses the ability to turn the water into blood. Remember that? When the witnesses give the same power in the New Testament, it's reflective of on the plagues that came upon Egypt when Moses turned the water into blood in Egypt. You remember that story? And we also know that God had preserved Moses' body so that he would be restored. The bodies of the witnesses will be restored as well.
And the Bible tells us that Satan contended with Michael, the archangel, for the body of Moses. Many people believe that that was to keep Moses from being able to do this last thing that would happen in the tribulation. And as you study the Bible, Moses and Elijah stand for the law and the prophets. And since the ministry of the witnesses will be in Jerusalem, to the Jewish nation, what two more powerful witnesses could God send to call them to repentance than Elijah the prophet and Moses the law giver, two of the most prominent and important people in Israel's history? I believe that during that period of time, for 3 1/2 years, almighty God sent Elijah and Moses back to this world to preach the judgment of God to the nation of Israel.
The Bible tells us of their prophecies. Verse 3 says: "And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days". You get an idea of their prophecy when you read in this verse than they are clothed in sackcloth. That's a special clothing for someone who is in mourning. Sackcloth was put on by Jacob when he thought that Joseph, his son, was dead. David put on sackcloth when he heard of Abner's murder. The Bible says these two men will be dressed in sackcloth. And now the Bible tells us about their power. Once again, Revelation 11: "And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth".
The Spirit of God is going to give Moses and Elijah, the two witnesses, special power. First of all, the power of their preaching. Never will men preach like these two men preached. I mean, I can't imagine what their sermons would be like. How many of you have ever heard a really, really, really fiery sermon? Anybody ever hear a sermon like that? Many of us grew up in churches where we heard them every week, right? So this will be a message that will be so powerful, if nothing else happened, you couldn't resist the impact of it. And not only will the power be in their preaching, but the power will be in their plagues. It says in verse 5: "And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies". That sounds like something you'd watch in a horror movie on Saturday night at home. The Bible says when people come after these two witnesses, they won't be able to get close to them to hurt them because out of their mouth will be the fire of God. They will be invincible until their work is done.
And then there's the plague of the drought. Scripture describes these witnesses in verse 6 like this: "hese have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy". The drought in Israel, the lack of water, will last 3 1/2 years, and it will be the longest period on the Earth without rain ever experienced. The years of this drought coincide with the first 3 1/2 years of the tribulation. Both the preaching of the witnesses and their miracle-working power seemed to keep the antichrist at bay somewhat until the middle of the tribulation, when he breaks the covenant with Israel that he makes, and then all hell breaks loose on the Earth. And then there's the plague of disease. Just as Moses did during his confrontation with Pharaoh of Egypt, the two witnesses will, according to verse 6: "...have power over waters to turn them to blood".
We must remember, men and women, that the two witnesses are not doing this out of spite. This is not being done out of revenge. This is not vindictiveness. Their intent is to awaken the people of the tribulation to their sinfulness and move them to repentance and belief. And then the Bible tells us that in the midst of all of this, they suffer persecution. Verse 7 says: "When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them". So we notice, first of all, the death of the two witnesses. At the midpoint of the tribulation, when the two witnesses have completed God's mission, the beast, or the antichrist, will break his treaty with Israel and assassinate the two witnesses, and their murder will be his first celebrated act and gain him a large following. The death of the witnesses.
Then notice the display of their bodies in verses 8 and 9. Back in ancient times, if a person were killed in the daytime, it was required that he be buried the same day. But scripture says of the witnesses in verse 8: "And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified". Revelation goes on to say that: "Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves". Years ago, people would ridicule this verse that everybody would watch this event in Israel. Nobody thinks that way anymore. I believe with all my heart that everybody in the world will watch the assassination of the two witnesses because all that's going on in Israel, and the two witnesses and the judgments and all of that have worldwide impact. And on that day, it will be very, very quickly understood that a major, major world event is happening in Jerusalem.
And I believe people will be walking around with their cell phones in front of them watching the assassination of these two men and the things that happen afterwards. And they will see, up close, pictures of the dead bodies lying in the street in Jerusalem. And then the Bible tells us that the people in Israel will turn the killing of the two witnesses into a Christmas-like atmosphere. This is quite amazing. Look at verse 10: "And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth". There will be such joy that these two witnesses, that Moses and Elijah, have been taken out and they're no longer there. There will be such joy, the Bible says they will have a Christmas party on the whole Earth. And people will literally go out and buy gifts for each other and bring the gifts, like we do at Christmastime, and exchange them in a celebration of the death and assassination and disappearance of the two witnesses of the tribulation period.
This is the only rejoicing on Earth during the entire tribulation period. There is no other place in the tribulation where anybody rejoices. And they rejoice here for all the wrong reasons. Because the messengers of heaven have been killed. How many of you know that sometimes it's not the messenger that you don't like, it's the message, but you can't get rid of the message, so you got to kill the messenger? And that's what this was all about. Kill the messengers and cut off the message. We're tired of hearing about repentance. We're tired of being told about our sin. We're tired of being told that we're go to judgment if we don't repent. Get rid of the messenger, and maybe we can shut down the message.
And then the Bible tells us of their preservation. Revelation 11:11 says: "Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them". The witnesses' death and public humiliation of their exposed corpses will not be the end of the story. As their corpses have laid in the street for 3 1/2 days, first of all, they are resurrected. The Bible says the breath of the life from God will enter them. That's the same force that brought Jesus out of the grave at the resurrection. The breath of the life of God will enter their bodies, and they will stand up.
And just as the whole Earth will witness the death of these prophets, the whole Earth will witness their return to life. As you can imagine, this event will generate an incredible amount of fear and dread, for nothing like this will have ever happened before on planet Earth. And then the Bible says, while they're watching their resurrection, immediately they witness their rapture. The Bible tells us that they hear a loud voice from heaven calling them up there. And the enemies watch as these two men they thought they have killed, that have tormented them for 3 1/2 years, these two men ascend in a cloud to heaven and they disappear and they're gone.
And then their revenge. Verse 13 says a great earthquake begins to shake the city. And the language describing the death of the people in Jerusalem is interesting. 1/10 of the city will be destroyed, and 7.000 people will die immediately in that moment right after the rapture of the two witnesses. And the scripture uses a special term to describe these people. The original text actually reads "men of name" instead of "people". The 7.000 men may not be just ordinary men, but they will be the leaders, the well-known individuals, they will be the men of name, who are destroyed immediately after the rapture. And the great joy the world expressed at the death of the two witnesses will become smothered by great fear. We will never in our best days be able to imagine or describe the drama and horror of that moment.
What do we take away from this? First of all, that the God we serve, the God we love never gives up on anybody. I hear people all the time say, "When is God gonna turn His back on this nation? When is God gonna give up on America"? Can I say something to you? God will never give up on America. He never will. He may judge America. He may let us see the fruit of our own wickedness. But in terms of the individuals who live in this great nation, God will never give up on any. It will always be God's purpose to woo the people of this Earth to Himself. What an encouragement that is to those of us who pray incessantly for somebody that we think maybe God's given up on.
I want to tell you today, listen to me carefully, God doesn't give up on anybody. No matter what they've done or who they are or how far away they've strayed from His presence, in the midst of the darkest day of deserved judgment on this Earth, almighty God sends not just anybody, He sends Elijah and Moses to this Earth to remind the people once more, "I love you; I want you to repent. I want you to come to Me. I don't want you to face this judgment. I don't want you to be in hell forever". That's the heart of almighty God. Can I get a witness? Isn't that who God is? And that's what we see in this story.
Obviously the second thing we see is that in the midst of sinful conduct and rejection of God, what God needs more than anything else is, He needs some witnesses. I need to be a better witness. All of us in this room, we need to be better witnesses. Witnesses are not just, you know, telling people the gospel but constantly being used of God to remind people of who God is and telling them about the Lord Jesus and directing the conversation away from all things on this Earth and directing the conversation to God. How many of you know that we could all take a lesson from these two men, who stood strong in the midst of all the persecution and witnessed for God?
I believe these two men teach us that when we do that, God will protect us. If you stay in the will of God, God will protect you, as He did these two witnesses until their mission was accomplished. You don't have to witness. You don't have to preach in fear. You don't have to wonder what people are gonna say. Do what God has called you to do and believe that God will take care of you in the process of doing it. And these things that are happening in our world today ought to be jogging our thought process, that whatever we're gonna do for God, we'd better be doing it. Whatever praying we need to do, whatever people we need to share the gospel with, whatever ministry we need to do, we should not be thinking that we have forever to do it. We live in perilous times, and God is with us. And I believe He's put us on this Earth for such a time as this. There's no better time to be a witness for Christ than right now.
One of these days in the tribulation, there will be two witnesses and then a lot more in the 144.000. But God has given to us in this age of grace all of these opportunities to hear His voice, to follow His direction, to bow our knee before Him in salvation. And let's not take for granted that we live in such a time. Let's make sure we do what God is calling us to do now while the opportunity is extended to us. And as Christians, men and women, let's be strong in our witness. Let's stand up tall, knowing that it's not just us. It's us empowered by almighty God to be a witness in a declining culture that used to be a Christian nation but is now fast falling from it. I want to have the same confidence and the same witness that Elijah and Moses had and will have in the tribulation.