By Kathy Beardsley
This is presented strictly as a possibility to contemplate.
1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: 2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
These verses make it clear that Jesus is revealing his testimony to John. Before he begins he proclaims what you read above in verse eight. He is testifying to his past and present, while also declaring the future rendering the belief of the entire book of Revelation as future only, incorrect. It is on that stance that I am presenting my findings as in the past.
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 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 the 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.
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.
1 “And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, 2 And said unto me, What seest thou? 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: 3 And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.”
11 “Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof. 12 And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?
14 Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
Let’s begin by examining a few theories others have suggested to see if who they believe the two witnesses are meet the criteria; keeping in mind that the language in all the above verses indicate the “two” are contemporary with each other—working side by side.
The first theory is Moses and Elijah. Because of the powers given to Moses to turn the waters into blood, rain down hail with fire, and cause plagues, he was chosen as one possibility. As a mouthpiece for God to communicate His message to the people Moses was considered a prophet alongside Aaron, Ex. 7:1; Deut. 34:10; Hosea 12:13 but, he did not war with the beast who ascended up from the bottomless pit, neither was he killed to be left in the street, then raised three-and-a-half days later. He died in mount Nebo, in the land of Moab, Deut. 32:49, 50.
Elijah was a prophet possessing the power to withhold the rain and also allow an abundance of it, 1 Kin. 17:1; 18:41-45. By his word he also caused fire to rain down on his enemies, 2 Kin. 1:10-12 but, he did not war with the beast nor did he die to be left in the street and raised three-and-a-half days later either. He was taken up to heaven by a whirlwind alive and well, 2 Kin. 2:12. Though it is true that both Moses and Elijah stood with Jesus at his transfiguration, Matt. 17:3, 4 and Elijah said of himself in 1 Kin. 17:1, “As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand,..”, the previous disqualifications take them out of the running as the two witnesses. While on this earth, no one was allowed to physically see the LORD God’s face or they would have died, Ex. 33:20 so, “…stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” Zech. 4:14 could mean figuratively, in support of, by obedience to God’s commands and defense of His perfect word. “Standing before the God of the earth.” Rev. 11:4 could also be figurative much like: Moses before God in the burning bush, and the glory of the LORD in the tabernacle, and so on.
The second theory is the belief of some that rather than Moses, it is Enoch paired up with Elijah. There is no need to repeat what was just covered on Elijah so, what do we know about Enoch?
The son of Jared, and father of Methuselah Gen. 5:21; Luke 3:37. His father was one hundred and sixty-two years old when he was born. After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch “walked with God three hundred years” Gen. 5:22-24 when he was translated without tasting death. His whole life on earth was three hundred and sixty-five years. He was the “seventh from Adam” Jude 1:14 as distinguished from the son of Cain, the third from Adam. He is spoken of in the catalogue of Old Testament worthies in the Epistle to the Hebrews Heb. 11:5. When he was translated, only Adam, so far as recorded, had as yet died a natural death, and Noah was not yet born. Mention is made of Enoch’s prophesying only in Jude 1:14. (Easton)
Enoch, like Elijah, did not see death. He walked by faith with God three hundred years and was purported to have prophesied according to Jude. There is no mention of Enoch being given the power to perform any of the afore mentioned actions, only that he walked by faith and pleased God, Heb. 11:5. There are some who believe that Enoch and Elijah will return as the two witnesses since they have yet to die in the flesh because Heb. 9:27 states all men are appointed once to die. If taken literally in this context, the believers of this view unwittingly deny God his sovereign right to take whom he so chooses before death without ulterior motives. Not to mention, this would invalidate 1 Thess. 4:17 wherein it states, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” If it is appointed that all men (mankind) should die once, wouldn’t these people be required to come back in the flesh at some point to die as well? Scripture does not support this. Jesus is, and will be, the only one to have been in heaven and come to earth to die in the flesh. Aside from these points disqualifying Moses, Elijah and Enoch, they were not contemporary one with another so they could not have been together.
Now to the third theory. It is a combination of the two witnesses’ identity being unknown, and speculating as to whom they might be. This is where the books of Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah (particularly chs. 3 and 4) come in to the picture. Most agree that Zerubbabel and Joshua son of Josedech (not to be confused with Joshua son of Nun who was with Moses) are the chosen candidates for representing the olive trees. The vision of Joshua in Zech. chapter three is a foreshadowing of Jesus—both being elevated from a lower position to a higher one, both fulfilling the office of priest and king, both given the name “the BRANCH”, and both have been anointed.
In chapter four Zerubbabel is also elevated to a higher position. Zerubbabel a.k.a. Sheshbazzar Ezra 1:8, 11; 5:14, 16 was a prince of Judah. He is made governor over Judah and selected by God to be raised in eminence higher than the mountains Zech. 4:7. God also tells him he will “make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee.” Hag. 2:23. Besides the two olive trees, there are two olive branches. In Zech. 4:11-14 the question asked, “what are these two olive trees?” goes unanswered, then the second question asked, “what are these two olive branches?” is answered with “these are the two anointed ones.” The olive trees and the branches are separate, yet are one stemming from the same root.
1 “Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo [Zech. 1:1, 7], prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them. 2 Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, [spelled differently in Zech. but is the same person] and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.
The twelve months of the Jewish sacred year began in March (Abib) and ended in Feb. (Adar). The civil year began in Sept.
N.B.—The Sacred Year was reckoned from the moon after the vernal equinox. The Civil Year began in September (the less productive period of the year). The prophets speak of the sacred year; those engaged in secular pursuits, of the civil year. The year was divided into 12 lunar months, with a thirteenth, or intercalary month, every third year. (1880’s Sunday School Teacher’s Edition Bible, Helps, The Jewish Year pg. 75)
Work on building the house of God started with king Cyrus in 536 B.C. and after forced delays resumed on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month (Elul; Aug. 24th see Neh. 6:15) in the second year of king Darius, Haggai 1:14, 15. It was finished on the third day of the month of Adar (Feb. 3rd) in the sixth year of king Darius, Ezra 6:15.
Aug. 24th year 2 to Feb. 3rd year 2 = (6 months) Second year of king Darius
Feb. 3rd year 2 to Feb. 3rd year 3 = (1 year) Third year of king Darius
Feb. 3rd year 3 to Feb. 3rd year 4 = (2 years) Fourth year of king Darius
Feb. 3rd year 4 to Feb. 3rd year 5 = (3 years) Fifth year of king Darius
Feb. 3rd year 5 to Feb. 3rd year 6 = (4 years) Sixth year of king Darius
Four-and-a-half years total start to finish since the work was resumed and the 1,260 days (3 ½ yrs) that Haggai and Zechariah prophesied fits nicely in that time frame. We tend to assume the 1,260 days were consecutive which would leave a year on either side of the four-and-a-half, but it also may have been spread out within that time. Either way, the pair likely used that extra year in physical labor helping to rebuild the temple as noted earlier in Ezra 5:2.
If it is agreed that Zerubbabel and Joshua are the olive trees, then it is not outside the realm of possibility to say Haggai and Zechariah son of Berechiah (Zech. 1:1, 7), represent the branches pouring the oil out of themselves. These four men were tasked together as the trees and the branches, each carrying out their part to fulfill what God commanded of them. Also, Ezra 6:14 tells us the elders of the Jews built and prospered through the two prophets’ prophesying. The books of Haggai and Zechariah tell us that there was only a remnant of people who stayed faithful. Meanwhile, these two books along with Ezra show the ongoing disobedience, apathy and turmoil throughout the building process.
Matt. 23: Jesus is speaking to the scribes and Pharisees
35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, [different spelling; same person as above] whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
At Jerusalem, in the midst of apostasy, (spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified Rev. 11:8) between the temple and the altar is likely in the street between the two. Nothing is said of Haggai here, but being together with Zechariah in the days of their prophecy, and verse thirty-seven saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killeth the prophets…” plural, means the Jewish leaders, and their fathers, were known for killing the prophets and Haggai very easily could have been one of them right alongside Zechariah.
It seems the weight of evidence identifying the prophets Haggai and Zechariah as the two witnesses is more in their favor than any others put forth so far.
A thought on the two candlesticks came to mind as well. Rev. 1:20 tells us the mystery of the seven candlesticks represent the seven churches named in verse eleven and the seven stars are the seven angels of the seven churches. First, the angels could be literal, or symbolic of the pastor (high priest; head of the church; shepherd of the flock; messenger of God). It is most likely in this case to be the pastor since the very next verse ch. 2:1, John is told to write to the angel of the church, etc. He would not have to write to an actual angel because as his messengers, Jesus himself would be telling them what He wants them to say or do. There is no guessing about the candlesticks for we are told specifically they are the churches. Now compare that to Zechariah’s vision in Zech. 4. His vision of the candlestick is high on the list of representing the church Zerubbabel and the others are in the process of rebuilding. Rev. 11:4 says two candlesticks, following the two olive trees and two witnesses, all of which are connected to Zech. 4. They may represent both the literal and symbolic of the church and the church body, both in the process of being rebuilt after the captivity.
Who is the head of the church and the church body? If we believe that Joshua is a foreshadow of Jesus in Zech. 3, then Zerubbabel could also be a foreshadow of Jesus in chapter four. Let’s look at verses 7-10. Verse 7, a mountain is as a plain before him; no one except God the Father is greater than Jesus; he shall bring forth the headstone with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it; Jesus is the chief cornerstone whom the angels sang out with great joy at his birth; verse 9, the hands of Zerubbabel laid the foundation of this house (church) and by his hands he will finish it; Jesus is the first and the last, he came to lay the foundation of his gospel and he finished it by dying on the cross to be resurrected three days later. In verse 10, the seven eyes of the LORD who run to and fro through the whole earth are angels; representing the seven lamps in verse 2.