The Two Witnesses

In chapter 10 of Revelation an angel interacts with John. In the first section of this chapter he hears seven voices that sound like thunder. Mysteriously though a voice from heaven tells him not to write down what they said (Revelation 10:1-4). There has been much speculation as to what these voices uttered but no one knows what was spoken.

In the second part of this chapter the angel gives John a little book to swallow which tasted sweet but grew bitter in his stomach (Revelation 10:9-11).  What the contents of this book were are not revealed. However, after eating this book the angel tells John that he must prophesy again to the inhabitants of the world. It is possible that this book is the Book of Revelation that John would write. Revelation is sweet in that John prophesies that Jesus Christ is coming again to set up His kingdom. It is also bitter in the fact that the world is going to suffer horribly before that event takes place.

In the first part of chapter 11, John is told to measure the Temple and the people that worship there (Revelation 11:1-2). This reveals that there will indeed be a third Jewish Temple rebuilt during the Tribulation Period This measuring might not refer so much to the physical dimensions of the Temple but as to how this Temple and the people who worship there "measure up" to the standards of God's righteousness. However, the angel tells John not to measure the outer court of the Temple since it belongs to the Gentiles for a period of 42 months or 1260 days. Some speculate this means that the Temple will be built beside the Islamic Dome of the Rock shrine, which currently is located on the Temple Mount. At the present time it is hard to imagine how either religion would allow the other to "desecrate" the Temple Mount with their religious building. Nevertheless, as we have seen so far, many supernatural events will have taken place during this time and so it is possible.

After this, John sees two powerful servants of God:

"3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. 4 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. 7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. 8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. 9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. 10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. 11 And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. 12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. 13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. 14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly." (Revelation 11:3-14)

There has been much speculation as to whom these two witnesses are. The most common belief is that they are Elijah and Moses who represent the "prophets" and the "law" of the Old Testament. Elijah is prophesied to come before the "great and dreadful Day of the Lord". (Malachi 4:5) Also Elijah did cause the rain to stop during his prophetic ministry on earth (1 Kings 17:1) and Moses did invoke the plagues which included turning water into blood. (Exodus 7:19)

Regardless of whom these two witnesses are they will be preaching salvation for forty-two months in the city of Jerusalem. If anyone tries to harm or stop them, the two witnesses will kill them with fire coming from their mouths. There is a disagreement as to when these two servants of God will start this ministry. Some scholars believe they will start it near the beginning of the Tribulation Period and others at the mid-point of the Tribulation Period.

At the end of their preaching ministry God allows the beast (probably the Antichrist (Revelation 13:1-18) to kill them. He will leave their bodies lying in the streets of Jerusalem for everyone to see. It is worth noting that only with the coming of television in the Twentieth Century is it now possible for everyone living on the earth to witness such an event. They will rejoice at the sight of God's prophets lying dead. However, after three and one-half days God will resurrect them and they will ascend to heaven with the entire world watching.

Immediately an earthquake destroys a tenth part of Jerusalem and kill seven thousand persons who live there. It is possible that this earthquake also destroys the third Temple. This event witnessed by John could take place after the Antichrist enters the Temple and declares himself God. (1 Thessalonians 2:1-4) It is also possible that the Temple may be standing until near the end of the Tribulation Period since the Antichrist's desecration of it may take place after the seventh trumpet sounds. The fact that the third or Tribulation Temple will be destroyed at some point is based on Zechariah's prophecy that the Messiah will build the Temple when He comes to set up His kingdom. (Zechariah 6:12-13 ) Thus, the desecrated Tribulation Temple will not be standing when Jesus establishes His Messianic reign on earth.

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