“And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth” (Rev.11:3-4).
God never leaves Himself without a witness. Before the Great Flood Noah faithfully testified of coming judgment so that men were warned.
When idolatry abounded after the Flood God chose Abraham and his seed to maintain a testimony to the world of the only true and living God. For centuries the nation of Israel were God’s witness on earth. Their prophets spoke the words of God not only to Israel but to the entire world and recorded those words in Holy Scripture and He preserved those words eternally.
When Israel rejected Jesus Christ, God put Israel aside and scattered them among the nations while He turned to a Gentile Church. When Paul met Jesus Christ on the Damascus road he was struck blind and Jesus said to him,
“Rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts26:16-18).
Other Apostles bore witness to the Divine testimony and by Divine inspiration recorded the Truth of God in the pages of the New Testament.
Sadly the Church has allowed tradition to replace Truth until today Christendom is a very poor witness to the Truth of God and His salvation offered freely to all mankind so much so that Jesus said:
“when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke18:8).
The Gentile Church is described as a “wild olive branch” grafted into the Olive tree in place of the “natural branches” (Israel) that have been broken off. But God warns:
“The (Natural) branches (Israel) were broken off … Because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou (Gentiles) standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches (Israel), take heed lest he also spare not thee (Gentiles) (Rom.11:19-21).
There is surely coming a day after the last soul has been added to the Church of Jesus Christ and “the fulness of the Gentiles” (Rom.11:25) has come in, that all true believers will suddenly depart this world – caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and then there will follow seven years of great Tribulation designed by God to bring Israel to repentance and faith in Christ and to judge the nations of this world.
“And so all Israel shall be saved as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them (Israel), when I shall take away their sins” (Rom.11:26-27).
The long night of Israel’s chastening will come to an end in the seven years of great Tribulation and the nation will again be God’s witness to the Truth on earth. The firstfruits of that harvest will be 144,000 Jewish men (Rev.7:1-8) who, immediately after the Rapture of the Church, will turn to Christ in true repentance and faith. These will give a most powerful witness to the nations. They will proclaim
“the Gospel of the Kingdom … in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matt.24:14).
At the same time there will be two preachers at Jerusalem whom God calls “my two witnesses” (Rev.11:3). These two preachers will have special powers similar to those given to Moses and Elijah. They will have power to call for a drought, to turn water into blood and to “smite the earth with all plagues” (Rev.11:6).
Because these same powers were given to Moses and Elijah many have thought that they are in fact Moses and Elijah but that is not possible.
Moses died and God buried him. Elijah was caught up into the air by angels in a chariot of fire and God concealed his burial place.
We know that nobody could enter heaven before Jesus rose from the dead and all believers from Adam to Christ died. Their souls went to Paradise which was part of “the place of departed spirits” which in the Hebrew language was sheol. When Christ rose from the grave and ascended to heaven He opened heaven for all believers. The Old Testament saints who had died were raised and Paradise was taken to heaven when Jesus ascended on high (Eph.4:8-10).
Jesus rose physically from the grave and because He was “the firstfruits of them that slept (died)” (1Cor.15:20-23), nobody could be given a resurrection body before Him. Scripture clearly states that
“many bodies of the saints which slept (died) arose, and came out of the graves AFTER His (Christ’s) resurrection…” (Matt.27:52-53).
Thus Moses and Elias would have risen with Christ. They would have received a resurrection body at that time and a resurrection body cannot perish or be destroyed.
However we read of these two witnesses at Jerusalem during the first half of the Tribulation that
“when they shall have finished their testimony (1260 days), the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit (Antichrist) shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. 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” (Rev.11:7-8).
Since Moses and Elias have received their resurrection body that cannot die, these most likely are two Jewish witnesses from among the 144,000. They are Jewish preachers who encourage the rebuilding of a Jewish Temple at Jerusalem after the Rapture; they are possibly two of the 144,000 who preach the Gospel of the kingdom. Just as Haggai and Zechariah preached to the Jews and encouraged them to rebuild the Temple after they returned from the Babylonian captivity so these two prophets will minister to the nation.
After the Babylonian captivity which lasted 70 years (606 to 536BC) the Jews had been given freedom by Cyrus the King of Persia to return to the land of Israel, these two prophets are described as
“the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth” (Rev.11:4).
The prophets Haggai and Zechariah are likewise referred to as “two olive trees” providing oil for the seven golden candle sticks in the temple (Zech.4:1-6).
In the midst of the fires of the Great Tribulation God will have His witnesses. A fully functional Temple will be operating for the first half of the Tribulation. Only at the mid-point of the Tribulation will the Beast be able to occupy the Temple and install his idol. The two witnesses will be martyred and after three and a half days their bodies will be raised and men will see them ascend to heaven.
The Jews are planning this Temple now; the furniture and priests garments have been made, priests are being trained and a Tribulation Temple could be operational within a few months of a decision to build. The Holy half shekel has been minted again and is sold each year. Jews have been donating it for the maintenance of the Temple since the 1990s.
There is sufficient space on the Temple mount to build the Jewish Temple in the northern courtyard of the Dome of the Rock. Gershom Gorenberg, a reporter with The Jerusalem Report, summarized the views of Jews and Christians about the “last days”. In his book entitled, The End of Days he pointed out that a British army surveyor had surveyed the Temple Mount at the end of the 19th century and this survey was published in England. He claimed to have found the drains cut in the rock from the altar so that the blood of sacrifice would drain away into the Kidron Valley and it was in the northern court of the Dome of the Rock. His book can be purchased on the internet.
Among Orthodox Jews there is a growing movement to have the Temple rebuilt and they have recommenced slaying the passover lamb each year.
Israel occupied the Temple Mount in the 1967 Six-Day War. After the War Israel allowed the Palestinians to administer it on condition that Jews could pray on the Mount. The Muslim Authorities have never kept the agreement and when Jews pray on the Temple Mount they are quickly removed.
Scripture states that
“It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem” (Isa.2:2-3).
The Bible teaches that Antichrist will make a seven-year covenant with the Jews after the Rapture of the Christians and after the first half of the Tribulation during which time Israel turns to Jesus Christ, Antichrist would take possession of the Temple that the Jews will have built. He would place his image in the Temple and demand the worship of the entire world. Paul wrote:
“so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2Thess.2:4).
When Christ returns “immediately after the tribulation of those days” (Matt.24:29), Antichrist and all who follow him will be slain and cast into the lake of fire. Then when Christ reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords a new Temple will be built to specifications given in Ezekiel chapters 40 to 43. The glory of God’s presence will be there, lighting up the entire area around Jerusalem.