Saturday, August 6, 2011

Two Witnesses in the Biblical Book of Revelation

End Times Prophecy in Biblical Book of Revelation
photo by Mr. Bill

Do Enoch and Elijah play a role during the Great Tribulation? "Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment (Heb. 9:27, NIV)," according to the Bible. These two persons in the Bible never died, though. Perhaps God has a special plan for them.

Enoch and Elijah have striking similarities to the two witnesses described in Revelation 11 who will prophesy during the Great Tribulation. Enoch lived during the dawn of history, before the flood, and Elijah lived during the time of the divided kingdom in Jewish history. They were born thousands of years apart,but it is entirely possible they could join together in the latter days to fulfill ancient prophecy.

Two Witnesses in the End Times

The two witnesses will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. They will have the power to breathe fire, shut up the sky so that it won't rain, turn waters into blood, and strike the earth with every kind of plague. (Rev. 11:6, NIV)

Afterward they will be killed, left to rot in the streets for three days, and then be resurrected to the astonishment of the world. These two unnamed witnesses will then be called to heaven in a cloud, with their enemies staring after them. Who are these unusual individuals with such delineated roles?

Elijah and Bible Prophecy

The great prophet Elijah lived during the reign of several evil kings in the Old Testament. At the end of his time on earth, it's said that a fiery chariot with horses of fire suddenly appeared and took him up to heaven in a whirlwind (II Kings 2:11, NIV), so he never died a death like other men. Then, 500 years later (but still 400 years before Christ), the prophet Malachi said God would "send the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord (Mal. 4:5-6, NIV).

At that time, even theologians didn't understand the near and the far views of Messianic prophecy, and the two separate times He would come. Jesus' disciples didn't understand, either. They asked Him to explain the prophecy about Elijah after marveling at the transfiguration (Matt. 17: 1-3, NIV).

"Jesus replied, 'To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they have done to him everything they wished....' Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist (Mt. 17:11-12, NIV)." Apparently John the Baptist was the prototype of Elijah, and they are left to mull this over. During the conversation, Jesus doesn't mention He will come twice, leaving the mystery intact.

Elijah had Similar Powers to the Two Witnesses of Revelations 11

Just like the two witnesses in Revelation, Elijah had the power to shut up the sky so that it would not rain. In I Kings 17:1, Elijah told King Ahab, "There will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word." Three years later, God told Elijah to present himself to Ahab "to send rain on the land (I Kings 18:1, NIV)."

Elijah also stood against the abject evil of his day, just like the two witnesses will do. Elijah had to confront Ahab, the most wicked king in all of Israel's history. He contested 450 false prophets of Baal in front of all the people, asking them, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him (I Kings 18:21, NIV)."

Elijah's power to use fire also compares to the two witnesses. He called fire down from heaven to burn up his offering to the Lord, while Baal's prophets unsuccessfully asked the same thing of Baal. Elijah said, "'O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.' Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench (I Kings 18:37-38, NIV)."


The only other person who never died was Enoch. Genesis 5:24, NIV states "Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away." Hebrews 11: 5 also mentions Enoch as "taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found because God had taken him away."

Enoch was the seventh descendant from Adam, and obviously very special to God, but why would God take him up to heaven without his having to die first? This unusual fact begs an explanation, and puts him on the same plane as Elijah.

Just like the two witnesses in Revelation, Enoch was a prophet against evildoers. Jude 14 describes him as a prophet living during the early days of the human race, warning people about the judgment of the last days. Enoch looked forward to the end times and said, "the Lord will come with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone."

End of Days and Christian Prophecy

Some contend that Moses may be one of the two witnesses since he appeared with Elijah during the transfiguration. This is a legitimate argument since Moses represents the law while Elijah represents the prophets of the Old Testament. However, Moses died and Enoch didn't.
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A case can be made that if the two witnesses were known historical persons, God would have named them in Revelation 11. However, Elijah isn't mentioned anywhere in Revelation despite the fact he must fit in somewhere. Elijah will come before "that great and dreadful day of the Lord (Mal 4:5, NIV). Perhaps Revelation does include Elijah, just not identified by his proper name as he acts as one of the two witnesses. God is not required to reveal His every mystery.

Enoch and Elijah were prophets who witnessed for the Lord and had strong testimonies during sordid times, just like the two witnesses in Revelations 11 will do. Since the number of the tribulation witnesses is specifically two, and there are only two individuals in the whole Bible who never died, it is plausible God's reason was for them to fulfill a special role, like being the two witnesses during the latter days.

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