In this book, we are going to be investigating some prophetic visions concerning the end of this age. Readers will find that almost everything presented here will be new or quite different from what is commonly understood or taught. Therefore, I would like to urge everyone not to simply react blindly and automatically to what is said. Do not shut your spiritual eyes and your mind.
Instead, open your Bible and read these passages for yourselves. Search the scriptures and become familiar with them. There is no need to take my word for anything. Weigh what is said here for yourself. Open up to God in prayer and humility and receive understanding directly from Him.
Due to the nature of biblical prophecy and the impossibility of knowing the future without personal, divine revelation, this book will include some speculation.
These ideas of the author will be indicated by words such as: possibly, could be, etc. These are not meant to be, and should not be taken to be concrete predictions or, even less, biblical truths. It is quite possible that this author is missing something or is even mistaken about some of these points.
Much of what we will study here involves prophetic visions. These things are mysterious and difficult to understand. Our God has not deemed it necessary to give us an exact, event by event, chronological timetable. He has deliberately obscured the future with a veil of secrecy and symbolism.
It is also not possible to, nor does God expect us to, perfectly understand all the details of the coming events. How all these visions of overcomers, witnesses, sealed servants, etc. exactly fit together is not clearly explained. No doubt this is because it not necessary for us to know these things so precisely.
What is important, however, is for us to hear from God. Contained in all these visions is revelation about the Person of God and His will.
Here we also find much to edify, challenge and prepare ourselves for what is coming upon the earth. It is this author’s prayer that God will use this writing to warn, equip and strengthen His people for the coming time of the end.
David W. Dyer
Chapter 1: THE TWO WITNESSES
In this chapter I would like to address a subject which has been the source of much speculation in religious circles. It is a topic about which some Christians may have fixed opinions or even dogmatic doctrinal positions. In spite of this, I would like to urge all readers to put aside for a moment, as much as they possibly can, any preconceived ideas and be open to the Holy Spirit. By so doing you will be allowing Him to speak into your hearts anything He would like to impart to you from this message.
The reason I request this is not that I am insisting that what you will read here is the definitive, “right” answer but simply because it is my desire that you might hear a word from God Himself.
If, through these words, the Almighty can reveal Himself and His purposes to you in some deeper way than you have ever known before, then all the effort put into both the writing and reading of this chapter will be worthwhile.
Biblical prophecy is very difficult to understand. No one man has everything about the end of this age figured out. In fact, if you find someone who thinks that they do, this may be a good indication that this person has lost his or her ability to be taught of God. Consequently, what you read here will be perhaps an imperfect attempt to elucidate what the Holy Spirit has revealed. But, in spite of this limitation, I believe you will find in this chapter some new ideas to re-invigorate your thinking concerning the end of this age.
Before we begin to discuss this subject together, I think it would be wise for every reader to take some time and read Revelation 11:1-15 – the passage about these two witnesses.
The reason for this is that if you are not familiar with this section of scripture, the following discussion will have little meaning for you. Additionally, it is very unwise to simply adopt other men’s opinions about such things without thoroughly searching them out for yourself.
If you are not well acquainted with the verses involved, it will be impossible for you to know if what I or anyone else is saying is correct. On the other hand, once you do familiarize yourself with the scriptures, they will become a blessing to you as God speaks to your heart through them.
As we approach this topic, many of you may remember hearing that these two witnesses are going to be a reappearance of two former Biblical figures. Some think that these might be Moses and Elijah while others speculate that Enoch might replace Moses in this duo.
The Enoch and Elijah team is customarily chosen because these are the only two men who were taken up without ever experiencing death. Thus, some reason, they must come back again and be killed since “...it is appointed for men to die once...” (Heb 9:27).
A difficulty with this line of reasoning arises however, when one attempts to reconcile it with the coming resurrection of believers, commonly referred to as the “rapture.” At this event many human beings will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air without ever undergoing physical death (I Thess 4:17). It is easy to see from this that the Hebrews 9:27 verse does not demand that physical death is necessary for everyone.
While the understanding that these are two literal prophets may prove to be the correct one, there are a few things about this Revelation passage which seem to show something very different from such an interpretation. There are several indications given to us here that something larger and even more amazing is in view.
TWO “MEN” – ONE “BODY”
One of the first significant hints that something more than just two men is in view here was brought to my attention by a brother in England. He pointed out to me that in most of the original Greek manuscripts the word “bodies” (vs 8,9) appears twice in the singular form.
While many Bible translations have “helped” us understand these verses better by changing the two singular words into the plural, this is not what was written by John the apostle.
These passages should actually read “And their dead body will lie in the street of that great city...” and “Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead body three and a half days...” (Rev 11:8,9).
Now this is a little peculiar. Why would the inspired text twice make this kind of grammatical “mistake?” What is it that we can learn from this seeming error? It is just possible that there is no mistake at all but that God is showing us some further meaning about these future prophets.
Here we have our first indication that the scripture may not be merely referring to two individual men but instead to a group of people – a corporate entity. This word “body” reminds us of the use of this same word in the phrase “the body of Christ” which of course consists of countless individuals. We read in one place: “...we are members of His body” (Eph 5:30).
Furthermore, in Revelation 11:5 we are told that fire will come out of their “mouth,” again the word is singular in the Greek language.
Verses such as this combined with many others certainly provide an adequate scriptural basis for supposing that the word “body” could be referring to a much larger group than simply the two prophets mentioned earlier.
This then leads us to the possibility that the sacred scriptures are speaking here about great numbers of men and women who, at the end of this age, fulfill some important function in preparing the world for judgment and the Lord’s return.
The first thought that most people may have concerning the above postulation is: “If these witnesses are really a group of many people, why then does the Bible use the word ‘two?’ Isn’t that quite confusing?” Yes, it may be a little confusing, but there is also a very scriptural explanation for it. Throughout the scriptures an unwavering principle is taught. It is that judgment can only be executed upon a sinning individual if at least two witnesses can be produced to verify the truth of any infraction.
We read that: “Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness” (Deut 17:6). “Two” is God’s number for verifying the truth of any accusation. Anything less than two is simply not acceptable.
The number two is everywhere in the scriptures is the “number of testimony.” The early disciples were sent out “two by two” as they testified concerning the truth of Jesus.
There were two tablets of stone in the Ark of the Covenant bearing testimony concerning the law of God. No doubt God could have written the ten commandments on one stone, but He chose to use two, the number of testimony.
On the lid of the Ark of the Covenant there were two cherubim symbolically witnessing the sprinkling of the blood, attesting to the fact that God’s righteous requirements had been fulfilled. Obviously, there are more than two cherubim in the heavens, but only two symbolic ones “testified” to the sprinkling of the blood.
Therefore, the word “two” here could be understood as being symbolic – a representation of the dual witness required by God before His sentence can be carried out.
You see, at the end of this age God is going to judge His people (Heb 10:30) and the sinful earth. The bowls of His wrath are going to be poured out on rebellious mankind. But, according to His own law, before judgment can be executed, there must be at least “two” witnesses to testify to the sins of those about to be judged. Without the testimony of these two, judgment cannot begin.
Of course the Most High does not need anyone to tell Him what is in the heart of man. He is already aware of what is happening in these evil days. Yet these witnesses serve to fulfill the demands of His law and, perhaps even more importantly, to warn a perishing world and a backsliding church to repent before judgment comes.
Another thought which leads us to believe that these witnesses might be more than just “two” is the universality of their witness. Evidently, their testimony influences “peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations” (Rev 11:9).
The celebrations of their deaths certainly seem to be universal, leading us to conclude that the whole world was impacted by them. In this situation, the sins of a few individuals are not in view. Instead the rebellion of the whole world is being exposed by these prophets.
Since the impending judgment is worldwide or universal, it stands to reason that the charges which are being brought might necessitate a larger witness than just that of two men. The idea that it will be only two men presents a tremendous problem. How could two individual men adequately prophecy to the entire world in 1,260 days?
While modern Christianity seems to think that the testimony of these two men will be spread over the globe by means of television, just a little thought about this idea renders it extremely unlikely.
Let us reason a bit together about this possibility. Is it likely that the major news channels are going to give lots of air time to two prophets who are exposing and condemning the sins of our age? Aren’t these the very sins that many of the TV producers are promoting?
Television time is expensive. Do you suppose that these two will buy hours and hours of prime time to make their case to the nations? Would many people watch if they did? Would the news media give them a fair and complete hearing, so that they could fully expound the word of judgment which God is saying through them?
Perhaps some think that the Christian television will be the medium from which these two prophets can expound their condemnations.
But is the world listening to these channels? Who would actually hear or be convicted by these means? Would those in charge of these Christian productions be happy to hear what these two prophets are saying? Isn’t it possible that they too would be convicted by what is being preached? Would they give them all the time they needed? It is very doubtful that this would work.
Still another modern Christian concept is that these two prophets will junket around the world, either by airplane or simply appearing and disappearing. Upon close examination this too seems very improbable or even ridiculous.
Firstly, we must remember that there are currently over 194 countries in our world. For these prophets to reach each one of them individually in only 1,260 days they would have to visit a new nation every six and one half days (including travel time, if any).
It is impossible for any prophet to adequately convict an entire nation of sin in the manner which these two must do, in only six and one half days. This simply cannot work. How could their message possibly reach the populations of these nations, some with over one billion inhabitants, in only six and one half days?
Today for example, in some countries there are famous preachers on television stations, some of them broadcasting for hours every day on national channels. They have been doing this for years. But have they reached everyone in their nation? Has the entire population heard their message. It is clear that they have not. Therefore, such a whirlwind ministry is not logical or probable.
Secondly, when you add to this idea the fact mentioned earlier that not only “nations” but also “peoples,” “tribes” and “tongues” are involved here, all possibility of such a tour disappears. No two men, no matter how fast they worked or were translated from place to place, could conduct such a ministry in 1,260 days. With only a small amount of logic and sound reasoning, the fallacy of such a fantasy is quickly exposed.
“TWO” MUST BE A SYMBOLIC NUMBER
With all this in mind, we are led to the logical conclusion that the number “two” is symbolic. It is meant to represent the number of God’s testimony and not indicate merely two men. Instead we are led to believe that this “body” is a group of prepared men and women who are raised up by God to testify against an exceedingly sinful generation and a backslidden church to prepare the world for judgment.
It seems logical to suppose that God is, even now, preparing in every nation, people group, tribe and tongue, faithful believers who will be anointed and raised up on the last hour to fulfill this essential ministry. It also seems reasonable that by means of a larger number of prophets this testimony could be adequately carried out in the time alloted.
Still another problem we encounter with the idea of a literal “two” men from the past being the “two witnesses”, is the efficacy of their testimony. A couple of outsiders making sweeping accusations from great distances may not be sufficient to powerfully convict the guilty. It is possible that they could not be considered true witnesses.
The evidence against each nation or group of people would be most convincingly brought by those who were intimately acquainted with each respective situation and who therefore could give accurate testimony against them.
As an example, let us suppose that you are summoned to court to testify at a trial concerning a traffic accident. But you can’t understand why you were summoned. You weren’t there at the time and did not see the accident. You know nothing about the people involved, the vehicles, or the situation. Therefore you cannot be considered to be a true witness.
A witness is someone who can give testimony to what they have seen and heard. Only those who live in each country, culture, and situation, and have seen the sin thereof, can adequately testify against the inhabitants. The testimony of some outsiders would not be readily accepted. Although some might imagine that Enoch and Elijah are right now up in heaven peering over the railing of the balcony and noting down the sins of each nation, tongue, tribe, etc. this is a little ridiculous.
It seems much more reasonable to suppose that God’s final witness will be given to everyone in their own language, by someone living within their own culture, thereby exposing their sinful condition in a way that they can easily understand. It is therefore probable that some number of “in place,” holy agents will be raised up and anointed by God to testify concerning His righteous judgment in these last days.
As an aside here, some might be curious to know why the third use of the word “bodies” in the text is actually plural in the Greek (vs 9). We read: “...and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves” (Rev 11:9).
The answer could be as follows: It is possible for the world to “see” a corporate “body” (vs 8). It is also possible for a collective “body” to “lie in the street” (vs 9a). But when you go to bury them, you must bury individual “bodies” (plural). It is rather awkward to try to bury a collective group scattered over the earth at the same time.
This use of the plural word “bodies” in the last part of verse 9 reinforces the idea that the first two uses of the word “body” in the singular was not a grammatical error but is part of an important revelation.
WAR ON THE SAINTS
Another word in this passage which gives us some indication that the “two witnesses” are not merely “two” at all is found in verse 7. Here we find the coming beast makes war against the witnesses. This word “war” in the Greek is POLEMOS. This word means a prolonged engagement spanning a considerable length of time and probably involving many battles.
Such a meaning is in direct contrast to the Greek word PHONEUO which means to murder and also to the word MACHE used to signify a single battle. The distinction between these words is certainly important. Why would the antichrist need to fight a prolonged war against two individual men? Could he not just kill them?
Of course some may point out that their power is so great that a single attack will not do the job. While God’s protection is upon them this is certainly true. During this period of time they are invincible.
But once this covering is removed, as it evidently is at some point, there is no need for a protracted struggle which could be described as a “war.” Simple murder will do the job. Furthermore, this word “war” ordinarily refers to a slaughter on a far greater scale than just the murder of two peculiar prophets.
This too reinforces the idea that these are not just two men, but a group of people, thus requiring a “war” against them and not just a single battle.
Interestingly, there are a few other places in the Bible where we find this word “war” used in a context which could have some bearing on our subject at hand.
In the Old Testament book of Daniel chapter 7, verse 21 we are told of a “horn” (which here symbolizes the coming “man of sin”) who makes “war against the saints” and prevails against them. Evidently this sinister, evil man will begin a crusade to annihilate every one of God’s people who opposes him.
In Revelation 13:7 we are reminded a second time that this man is granted permission to “...make war (POLEMOS) with the saints and to overcome them.”
So we discover that at some point in time, whatever protection has been afforded these sanctified believers (saints) is removed and the antichrist/beast is given power to begin a wholesale bloodbath.
A war of tremendous, global proportions will be waged against Christian men and women whose lives and testimony oppose the purposes of this satan-inspired madman.
While it is just not possible to prove conclusively from the scriptures that the “war” waged against these end-time witnesses is the same as the “war with the saints” mentioned above, the parallelism here is unmistakable.
At this point it seems appropriate to discuss some of the time elements involved in this passage. The almost 3.5 year (1,260 day) period found in verse 3 is possibly a reference to the first half of the seven-year period often called the “tribulation.” This then could be the time during which this powerful prophetic witness takes place. But there is also another number 3.5 mentioned – the duration of “days” which “their dead body” lies unburied in the streets (Rev 11:9).
Quite honestly, it seems a little strange that a fraction of a day should be recorded here. Are we to really understand that this “body” is left to rot until exactly noon of the fourth day? Or is it possible that something more than simple days is being indicated? Although nothing in Bible prophecy can be proven, it seems reasonable to suppose that this second number 3.5 might have some connection with the first one.
Earlier in the same book, we read that some believers of the church in Smyrna were going to suffer tribulation “ten days” (Rev 2:10). While the exact meaning of this phrase is not clear, it may have meant a ten year period of intense persecution.
If we apply this one-year-for-one-day formula to our present considerations we could then hypothesize that the coming slaughter of the saints will occur during the second 3.5 years of the tribulation.
At the end of this time they are resurrected, possibly during the “rapture.” Confirming this idea is the fact that their resurrection is precipitated by a “loud voice from heaven” which could correspond to the “shout of the archangel” mentioned in I Thessalonians 4:16. Also, it occurs just at the sounding of the seventh trumpet which is probably the same as the “last” trumpet (Rev 11:15; I Cor 15:52). This would then correspond to the “trumpet of God” also mentioned in this same verse (I Thess 4:16).
THE SPIRIT OUTPOURED
In Joel 2:28-32 and also in Acts 2:17-21 a very significant prophecy is recorded. Peter, the apostle, quotes this passage in reference to the early disciples’ experience on the day of Pentecost. However, it is clear from a careful reading of this prophecy that Pentecost was only a partial fulfillment of the prophecy. We can easily conclude this because not everything which the prophecy predicts happened in Jerusalem on that day.
Although Peter may have thought that he was living in the “last days,” the context of the passage clearly links it to an even later “last days” – the completion of the age. For example, we read that “the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord” (Acts 2:20).
This prophecy was not fulfilled exactly when Jesus died. Although there was a “darkness” (Mt 27:45) we read nothing about the moon being turned into blood.
Yet in the book of Revelation, predicting the future events, we see that when the sixth seal is broken: “...there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood” (Rev 6:12). This is something which will happen in the future.
Also we read: “Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night” (Rev 8:12). This too has not yet occurred.
Undeniably, something further is in view. Please remember what was stated at the beginning of this article – prophecy can often have more than one fulfillment. In this case, it seems evident that the full realization of this prediction which Peter quoted is yet to come.
Now we come to a further consideration. This prophecy seems to be divided into two parts, separated by the word “and” in verse 18. In the first part, the Holy Spirit is poured out upon “all flesh” (vs 17). This seems to mean anyone and everyone who believed into Jesus could receive the Spirit.
But the group of believers who receive the Spirit in verse 18 is not just anybody or everybody. It seems to be another group. It is limited to a special kind of believer, ie. “menservants” and “maidservants.”
While anyone can believe in Jesus, to be thought of by God to be a “servant” requires diligence and faithfulness. This is something quite different.
A further confirmation of the division of this passage into two parts comes when we consider the outcome of the anointings given. The first case includes “dreams” and “visions” in addition to prophesy.
The second anointing is specifically for a prophetic witness. Here we are informed that in the “last days” there will be a mighty spiritual anointing poured out upon the servants of the Lord. This supernatural unction is given for one stated purpose – so that they might prophesy.
Therefore, we find a hint here that at some time in the future, there will be a second outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This possibility corresponds with what many see as “the early and the latter rain” (Deut 11:14; Ho 6:3; Joel 2:23; Zec 10:1; Jas 5:7). In the Old Testament in Israel, the first rain came at the time of planting. The “latter rain” came shortly before the time of harvest.
At Pentecost, there was the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit – the early rain. It seems probable therefore, that before the second coming of Christ, there will be a second, mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the faithful servants of Jesus – the latter rain. This tremendous anointing will precipitate one last, earthshaking, prophetic witness to the truth of God and against the corruption of the world and the apostate church.
This thought combines smoothly with the Revelation scripture which speaks about the “two witnesses”. Remember that all believers already have one “portion” of the Holy Spirit. Yet here in the book of Revelation it seems as if these “two” are given an additional anointing or portion.
We read: “And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy...” (Rev 11:3). This giving of power clearly seems to be something above and beyond what has already been given on the day of Pentecost.
Here we have before us some substantial evidence that there may be a further, final outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon those who will prophesy for Jesus during the last days. “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev 19:10).
MEASURING THE “TEMPLE”
Revelation chapter 11, which speaks about the two witnesses, begins with an interesting scenario. While beholding this vision, John the apostle is instructed to measure the temple.
Why is this little section included here? Has God suddenly gotten old and forgotten the dimensions of this building? But wait. Not only is he to measure the temple but also the “altar” (the place of sacrifice) and very significantly, “those who worship there” (vs 1).
Probably every Christian realizes that the individual members of the body of Christ are the true “temple of the living God” (I Cor 6:16). It is quite conceivable, therefore, that John is conducting a survey, not of a physical building, but of believers. Perhaps God, before He pours out His end-time anointing is searching for those whose lives have been prepared to receive it. This “measurement” may in fact be an inspection which is being carried out to determine who among God’s people is ready and able to fulfill this last great commission.
And what is the measurement which will be required of those who are chosen? What is the standard by which they will be judged? No doubt it has something to do with the altar. In other words, the men and women who are selected must be those whose lives have become a living sacrifice to God – those who know what it means to have died with Christ completely.
Worship also seems to be a factor. In order to be qualified for such a task, these individuals must have spent much time “in the temple” – in the very presence of God.
These are ones who have become intimate with Him. They do not just “go to a worship service” on Sunday morning. Their whole lives have become a spiritual offering to Him. Moment by moment their souls are poured out in worship to God Almighty.
This surely is the requirement – to be living only for Jesus. These are the ones who have been prepared and qualified by God to receive a second “portion” of the Holy Spirit and execute an essential prophetic ministry at the time of the end.
THE COMING OF ELIJAH
No discussion of this subject would be complete without the mention of a very important event: the appearance of Elijah the prophet before the “great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Mal 4:5). Before the first advent of Jesus, this prophecy had a preliminary fulfillment in the person of John the Baptist. We read that he came in “...the spirit and power of Elijah” (Lk 1:17). His mission was to prepare one small race, located in one tiny spot on the globe for the appearance of their promised Messiah.
When the disciples questioned Jesus about the coming of Elijah He answered them in a very peculiar manner. In essence He said: “He has already come...and he will yet come in the future.”
We read: “And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things [this is the future coming of Elijah]. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist” (Mt 17:10-13).
What we are exploring now is the possibility that this “second coming of Elijah” will, in fact, be a worldwide outpouring of the “spirit and power of Elijah” upon many thousands of believers who have been prepared by God. Their job will be to testify to the entire planet that the Lord’s righteous judgment is about to be manifested and that men must make themselves ready.
If this is so, then the following features will no doubt also be true of these individuals. They will certainly be, as John the Baptist was, completely outside of any religious organization. Significantly, John’s prophetic testimony was completely separate from and even against the hypocrisy of the ecclesiastical establishment of his day.
These will be men and women who are uncompromising. They will be owned by no one. Theirs will not be a zeal for fame, fortune, or earthly power. Instead they will burn with the flame of what will glorify their Master. They will be fearless, bold prophets who are bent upon telling people exactly what they don’t want to hear. They will be the mouthpieces of God, exposing the sins of the world and the worldly church to turn them from their folly before it’s too late.
Additionally they will be the kind of people whom God can trust with His power to such an extent that their words will be backed by supernatural plagues of every description.
Can’t you see why everyone hates these prophets? The deeply rooted evil within the hearts of men desperately does not want to be exposed. How many Christians, for example, are continually attempting to cover their sins instead of repenting of them and receiving God’s cleansing power?
Oh, how we justify ourselves against the righteous requirements of the Most High! How we like to pretend that we are doing all we can to serve Jesus! And how uncomfortable such prophets will make us when they come around spouting the unbearable truth that we are not really right with God! If the church is in such a state, how much more strongly will the world react against those who try to reprove them for their wickedness.
This then is the ministry of this twofold witness. It is to bring to repentance those who will hear, thereby preparing them for the coming of the King and to warn those whose stubborn hearts refuse to bend before Him.
John came clothed with camel’s hair, eating insects and wild honey. He was different, nonconforming and offensive. He was not well received by the religious crowd. Similarly these future witnesses will arrive “clothed in sackcloth,” the garments of mourning (Rev 11:3). Whether they be two or many, one thing is sure, they will not be welcomed either.
These unpopular figures will have nothing to gain in this world. They will have already forsaken their appetite for the things of the earth. They will not be looking forward to ministering to great crowds on Sunday morning. Their “ministry” coffers will not be bulging with the contribution of widows, divorcees, the unemployed, and other poor saints whom they have sucked dry of their last penny with unfulfilled promises of health, success, blessings, prosperity, etc.
Madison Avenue building projects and theatrical productions will hold no glamour for them. Acclaim and all the trappings of today’s “successful Christianity” will not attract them in the least. The only future they have in this life is death – to be struck down for their faithful testimony to the righteousness of God.
These burning, holy prophets are evidently slain in the “great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified” (vs 8). Some have taken this to refer to Jerusalem in a very immoral state, but I believe that something much more significant may be in view.
If God were trying to indicate Jerusalem, He could have done so without all this mysterious, veiled language. It is possible that these three identifying characteristics of this great city – “Sodom,” “Egypt” and “where our Lord was crucified” – may simply be descriptive language indicating to us three characteristics of those who will participate in the coming massacre of God’s prophets.
Sodom was a city of great wickedness and sin. Egypt is often used in the Bible to typify worldliness and sensual pleasure. Finally, “where our Lord was crucified” indicates Jerusalem, the Jewish religious center at that time.
Keeping in mind that Judaism was the only God-ordained religion but it had strayed far from Him, we can identify here three elements which will join together to attack God’s end-time witnesses: sin, worldliness, and an empty Christian religious establishment. This would lead us to conclude that the inhabitants of the earth involved in sin, worldliness and vain, hypocritical religion, will combine forces, just as they did in Jesus’ day, to destroy these prophets who trouble them. They will strive to silence the voices which are condemning them.
THE ELISHA MINISTRY
As we have seen, when Jesus’ disciples asked Him about the coming of Elijah, He responded by saying two things: “Yes, he will indeed come and restore all things, and, he already has come.”
The book of Malachi informs us that before the second coming of Jesus, there will be an Elijah style ministry which will accomplish a sort of “restoration” among the people of God (Mal 4:5,6).
The first “reappearance” of Elijah – John the Baptist – was killed. His ministry, like that of the first Elijah is over. But there is another important Elijah type of ministry yet to come.
After Elijah died, his ministry was carried on by Elisha. However, Elisha’s ministry had an important difference. He was granted a double portion of the Spirit which was on Elijah.
This fits very well with what we have been suggesting: that at the time of the end, there will be a double portion of the Holy Spirit poured out upon faithful menservants and maidservants to carry out an Elijah type ministry. They will be preparing the world and the church for the soon coming of Jesus. Theirs will be a ministry of restoration of the hearts and minds of people to their God.
OLIVE TREES AND LAMPSTANDS
In Zechariah 4:14 we read about these two witnesses. There they are the “two anointed ones who stand beside [in the presence of] the Lord of the whole earth.” These last days prophets have made a trade. They have been willing to forego all the pleasures and attractions of this life – even the religious ones – for the incomparable privilege of standing in the immediate presence of God Almighty.
This fourth chapter of Zechariah shows us an eloquent picture of these future prophets. Here they are described as two olive trees continually pouring oil out of themselves. This may be a reference to the “double portion of the spirit” which was received by Elisha when Elijah departed from him. It no doubt also has an association with our previous discussion of how the Holy Spirit will be especially poured out upon God’s faithful servants in the last days.
You may notice as you read through this text that only one lampstand is mentioned here while in Revelation we are told of two. The explanation for this may be that at the end of this age the testimony of God will be intensified twofold – the number necessary before judgment can begin. While the olive trees speak of the anointing, the lampstands portray the shining testimony of all that God is. This then is what will characterize the ministry of the “two witnesses” – a double portion of God’s Spirit and a twofold testimony to the righteousness of God.
Here in the Zechariah passage, we are also given further hints about these two witnesses’ ministry with respect to the church. Here we read again about the temple (vs 9) which today consists of the people of God. Then we see that someone called “Zerubbabel” has a plumb-line in his hand.
A plumb-line is used in construction to check a building to see if it is truly vertical, to see if it is well built and sound. It appears then that the ministry of these “two witnesses” – the two olive trees of the Zechariah prophecy – has something to do with verifying the construction of God’s temple (vs 9).
We also remember the beginning of the passage in Revelation about these two. First, there was a measuring of the temple. Therefore, this passage about the ministry of the two witnesses must also be related to a checking out or verifying of how the construction of God’s house is proceeding.
Our conclusion is something about which we have already spoken in other writings: God’s house is not in order. Much of the construction which has been done and is being done, is faulty.
One of the primary functions of these “two” witnesses therefore, seems to be bringing a correction to the church. They have an important bearing on “restoring” of what really is on God’s heart. This no doubt will involve a rebuking of the careless and self-centered builders and a calling of God’s people back to Himself. It will be a doubly anointed, prophetic witness against the impurity, error, and worldliness of His church.
These prophets will have a two-fold anointing to penetrate the lies and deceptions which are so rampant today. They will have a clarity of vision to see and expose the way in which men have corrupted the scriptures and polluted the house of the Lord with their own ideas and plans. They will preach with astounding power against those who have used the people of God to further their own selfish interests.
They will prophesy against those Christians in whose hearts are lies and whose lives are a sham, not really being submitted to the rulership of Jesus. These prophets will not be popular people. Yet their ministry is essential in these last days. Theirs is a ministry of “restoration.”
Today’s church is full of sin and hypocrisy. Many, including leaders, are involved in sexual sin. The glorious gospel of Jesus Christ has been diluted and, therefore, its power to transform men and women into the image of God has been lost.
We are in desperate need of something powerful, much, much more powerful than we have seen until now, to speak the words of God into this situation and bring the needed change. We urgently need the ministry of these two witnesses!
There are some, realizing that the church is in need of profound correction, who have thought that what is needed is the restoration of the apostolic ministry.
From examining the role of the apostles in the New Testament churches and noting the apparent lack of men with such titles today, they have concluded that this is what is needed to bring the church back to God.
Let me state clearly here that I am not in any way against Spirit-led apostolic ministry. In no way am I disparaging this biblical function. But, since my youth in Christ, I have seen very many who claimed to be apostles, circulating in the church. While they no doubt have brought some benefit to some believers, the church as a whole has not changed. She has not been brought back to God. Very little has been “restored.”
In the past, especially in the Old Testament times, God has always used prophets to bring a word of correction. It has always been the prophetic ministry to point out error and shortcomings.
Yet today, we need even more than just more apostles or even prophets. We desperately need to experience a much larger anointing – a double portion of the Holy Spirit upon prepared men and women – who have God’s power to break through the darkness and error of today’s Christianity and bring God’s people back to Himself. We read: “...the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing” (Is 10:27 KJV).
I have no doubt that it will be through the ministry of the doubly anointed, end-times prophets that God will bring correction to His people, his church.
Confirming this viewpoint is what we are taught in the book of Malachi about the coming of “Elijah.” The Old Testament ends with the following pronouncement: “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” (Mal 4:5,6).
At first reading, it seems as if what is on the heart of God has something to do with the restoration of family relationships. It appears that God is mainly concerned about “children” and “fathers” getting along better.
But could this really be what our Lord is anxiously wanting at the end of this age? Is this what is necessary to prevent His cursing the earth? Are nice, fuzzy, warm family relationships the solution to today’s rebellious world and apostate church? Could this be what this doubly anointed ministry is all about? This seems doubtful.
However, reading in the gospel of Luke seems to convey a different impression. Here is something a little more cogent and up-to-date. The second part of the verse in Luke is a bit different, possibly quoted by the angel from another source and not from today’s version of the Hebrew Tora.
Perhaps, in reality, this word from God has much more to do with His family than merely with human families. We read: “He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Lk 1:17).
Here we understand that the goal of this “restoration” is to “make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” It is to prepare the church for Jesus’ coming.
This verse is not really speaking about a ministry to families (as important as that might be), but referring to an essential work of cleansing and restoration of the church in the end times. Here is a work that is at the core of God’s heart.
An important part of this preparation is to turn the “disobedient” (God’s rebellious, untransformed children) to the wisdom of those whose lives are a testimony of righteousness (those who are “just”). It is actually His family which is in view.
Further supporting this thought is another translation of the phrase “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.”
According R. N. Champlin Ph.D. in his New Testament Commentary, some have understood this to mean: “Restore the children to the devout disposition of the early fathers” or “to the faith of the early fathers.” In other words, to bring the children back to the heart attitude which the fathers had.
This interpretation may be a result of the translation of the word “to” in Greek which is “EPI.” In many versions this is rendered “to” as in “turn the hearts of the Fathers to the children” which seems to indicate “towards” or “in the direction of” in English.
Yet literally this Greek word EPI means “superimposition,” “over,” or “upon.” Therefore, we see that this probably means a superimposition of the hearts of the fathers over or upon those of the children, instead of turning the father’s hearts “to” or “towards” the children.
This certainly harmonizes well with what we have been seeing and gives a clearer understanding. The family which needs restoring today is clearly that of God.
To accomplish this end, these “fathers” – who most likely are the mature, prepared vessels about whom we have been speaking – receive an anointing: “the spirit and power of Elijah.”
If our postulations are correct, they receive a double portion of the Spirit as Elisha did. Then, they exercise a prophetic ministry with respect to the church which results in restoration. This is a restoration of the hearts of God’s people to Him alone. When this “Elijah” comes, he will genuinely “restore all things” Mt 17:10).
Of course, these prophets also have a huge impact on the unbelieving inhabitants of the world, both through their words and through the plagues which come through them. But we must never lose sight of how important these “two” prophets will be to restore and prepare the church for the coming of Jesus.
A TIME OF PREPARATION
No one could live the way these prophets will live, or carry out such a potent ministry, without going through an intense period of preparation. John the Baptist was “in the deserts” until the hour came for his ministry to Israel to begin (Lk 1:80).
Paul, the apostle, spent significant time in Arabia (Gal 2:17). Both of these men were called to do something out of the ordinary. Both of them eventually had to stand against the religious trends of their time.
John felt constrained to confront the Pharisees with their sin. Paul constantly opposed the work of the “Judaizers” who were trying to bring Christian converts back under the bondage of the dead, impotent laws and practices of Judaism. Neither of these men could have stood firm under such stress if it were not for the time of preparation through which God had taken them.
In the same way, those who are chosen by God to fulfill this prophetic calling will no doubt also pass through some kind of spiritual wilderness, much stress and difficult, painful trials. A true man or woman of God must someday learn to stand alone.
Fellowship is important. The enjoyment of true spiritual relationships with others is unparalleled. But if God is calling you to be His prophet or prophetess you may come to a time in your life when you find yourself alone with only Him to lean upon. This does not necessarily mean being in physical solitude but just somehow unable to find comfort or companionship from others.
Such experience is essential because it teaches us not to rely upon Christian friends, Bible teachers, movements, or groups but upon Christ exclusively. He must become our all in all.
These times of trials wean us from the outward props which have been keeping us going but which at the same time have been masking our inner weaknesses. Such periods of spiritual difficulty serve to expose us in a deeper way than ever before and press us to seek the only One who can carry us through to the final goal.
Only those who have undergone such “wilderness experiences” will be equipped to stand unshaken in the evil day, boldly testifying for Jesus. Coming out the other side of these fiery testings are men and women of God who are purified, anointed, and ready for the Master’s service.
I am not recommending here that Christians should be abandoning church meetings or cutting off relationships with other believers. Such is the way of fleshly individuals who are overly sensitive to criticism or are attempting to be something or “somebody” by pretending to be more spiritual than others. Neither am I sanctioning those whose impatience, self-righteous behavior, and/ or offensive personalities alienate them from their fellow believers.
This is not a word for spiritual babes or neophytes. It is not a commission which you can take upon yourself. Don’t even try. Nothing of what I have been describing here is something which can be attained by self-effort.
I am only stating here what should already be obvious: anyone who is called of the Lord to an end-time prophetic ministry will undoubtedly undergo painful testings and trials – many of which will have to be endured alone.
Now with all this in mind, I would like to ask all of you readers some important questions. Would you be willing to say “yes” if God called you to be one of these? How do you find yourself responding to this message which has been given?
If all this makes you a little uncomfortable, it is certain that there is something within your heart at this moment which is not right with God. Don’t delay. Make your peace with Him right now. Repent of whatever He is touching in your life and decide never to be involved with that unclean thing again. You can be assured that whatever it is, if you are completely willing, God will deliver you.
On the other hand I would like to ask others of you, does your heart respond to the upward call of “holiness to the Lord” (Ex 28:36)? If so, do yield yourself to Him right now more completely than you ever have before. Take a moment and pray sincerely towards this end.
Only He can do the cleansing and preparing work in your heart that is necessary for you to be truly useful to Him. If you will only present your body as a living sacrifice, He will accept it and begin to work in and through your life in ways you never thought possible.
In closing I would like to say that no one knows certainly who these “two witness” will be. However, there is one main point which I have been attempting to bring forth in this chapter of which we can be utterly confident – God knows your heart and He is calling every single believer to a life of consecrated ministry for His name before He comes.
No one is exempt. No one is too weak or spiritually impoverished to serve Him with all of their heart. It is certain that He is going to hold all of us responsible for what we did with what He has given to us.
The message of the Revelation prophets is also our message today as servants of the living God. What He will declare then in twofold power, He greatly desires to say right now today through us to a perishing world and a backsliding, compromising church.
We don’t need some supernatural appearance of angels or voices from heaven calling us to this work. The command has already been given (Mt 28:19). The fields are already white (Jn 4:35).
Perhaps only one thing hinders us from hearing His voice and responding. It is the one issue which remains central in every Christian life. It is the one choice which will become astonishingly real to all of us one day. It is the one question that each one of us must ultimately face. ARE YOU WILLING TO DIE FOR JESUS?
"Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself, alone. But if it dies, it produces much fruit!
He who loves his soul life, will have it destroyed. But he who has a deep aversion to his soul life in this world, will have it preserved [through transformation] into the eternal life of God. John 12:24-25