Watchman: Daily Devotional, In Revelation 11:3–12 Is a Description of Two Individuals Who Will Help Accomplish God’s Work During the Tribulation: “I Will Appoint My Two Witnesses”, and They Will Prophesy for 1,260 Days…

The two witnesses in Revelation will have supernatural powers to accompany their message (Revelation 11:6), and no one will be able to stop them (verse 5). When they have said everything they need to say, the beast will kill them, and the evil world will celebrate, allowing the bodies of the fallen prophets to lie in the streets (verses 7–10). However, three and a half days later, God's two witnesses would be resurrected and ascend into the heavens in full view of their foes (verses 11–12).

There are three major interpretations on the identity of the two witnesses in Revelation: (1) Moses and Elijah, (2) Enoch and Elijah, and (3) two unknown believers whom God calls to be His eyewitnesses in the end times.

(1) Because of the precise miracles that John claims the eyewitnesses would accomplish, Moses and Elijah are viewed as possible candidates for the two witnesses. The witnesses will have the ability to transform water into blood (Revelation 11:6), replicating a legendary Moses miracle (Exodus 7). And the witnesses will be able to use fire to destroy their adversaries (Revelation 11:5), which corresponds to an episode in Elijah's life (2 Kings 1).

This viewpoint is also supported by the fact that Moses and Elijah both appeared with Jesus at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:3–4). Furthermore, Jewish tradition anticipates the return of Moses and Elijah, based on Elijah's prophecy in Malachi 4:5 and God's promise to raise up a prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18), which some Jews believe guarantees Moses' return.

(2) Because of the peculiar circumstances surrounding their departure from the world, Enoch and Elijah are considered possible witnesses. As far as we know, Enoch and Elijah are the only two people that God has taken directly to heaven without experiencing death (Genesis 5:23; 2 Kings 2:11).

This viewpoint is supported by Hebrews 9:27, which states that all men are appointed to die once. The fact that neither Enoch nor Elijah has yet died appears to qualify them for the roles of the two witnesses, who will be murdered after their mission has been accomplished. Furthermore, both Enoch and Elijah were prophets who delivered God's punishment (1 Kings 17:1; Jude 1:14–15).

(3) Due of the absence of specificity in Revelation 11, two unknowns are seen as possible witnesses. The two witnesses are not named in the Bible, and no well-known figure is associated with their appearance. God is completely capable of enabling two "everyday" believers to perform the same miracles and wonders as Moses and Elijah. Nothing in Revelation 11 necessitates us to assign the two witnesses a "recognized" identification.

There is an intriguing verse in Zechariah 4 that foreshadows the two witnesses of Revelation. Zechariah sees a solid gold lampstand in his vision. A bowl of oil sits on top, while an olive tree stands on each side (verses 3–4). The lampstand provides light without the need for human intervention, as it is constantly supplied by the olive oil flowing from the trees into the bowl. God told Zechariah that his task (rebuilding the temple) will be achieved "not by might nor by strength, but by my Spirit" (verse 6).

When Zechariah inquires about the significance of the olive trees and the branches that produce the oil, the angel who speaks to him responds, "These are the two anointed ones who stand beside the Lord of all the earth" (Zechariah 4:14, ESV). In other words, God's strength to sustain His work is pouring via two people who have been designated for the assignment. These two people are Joshua (the current high priest) and Zerubbabel in Zechariah's context (the current governor of Judah). As the Messiah would unite the offices of priest and king, we can find a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ here.

Then there's Revelation 11:4. "They are the two olive trees and the two lampstands, and they stand before the Lord of the earth," John says of the two witnesses. John uses a verse from Zechariah 4. Like Joshua and Zerubbabel, the two witnesses of Revelation will have God's power pouring through them to complete God's mission.

So, who are the two Revelation witnesses? The Bible is silent on the subject. All three of the following perspectives are valid and plausible for Christians. Christians should not be dogmatic regarding the identities of the two witnesses.

 

Pray For Strength:  “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9–10). Jesus Himself pleaded for God’s will to be done in the Garden of Gethsemane. Prior to His crucifixion, He prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus was committed to seeing God’s will accomplished, and the prayer “Thy will be done” was a theme of His life.

Most simply, to pray, “Thy will be done,” is to ask God to do what He desires. Of course, we’re praying to the God who said, “Let there be light,” and there was light (Genesis 1:3), so we know that His sovereign decree will be accomplished, whether or not we pray for it. But there is another aspect of God’s will, which we call His “revealed” will or “preceptive” will. This is God’s “will” that He has revealed to us but that He does not force upon us. For example, it is God’s will that we speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and that we not commit adultery (1 Corinthians 6:18) or get drunk (Ephesians 5:18). When we pray, “Thy will be done,” we are asking God to increase righteousness in the world, to bring more people to repentance, and to further the cause of the kingdom of His Son.

When we pray, “Thy will be done,” we acknowledge God’s right to rule. We do not pray, “My will be done”; we pray, “Thy will be done.” Asking that God’s will be done is a demonstration of our trust that He knows what is best. It is a statement of submission to God’s ways and His plans. We ask for our will to be conformed to His.

The Lord’s Prayer begins by acknowledging God as Father in heaven. Jesus then models petition, presenting three requests to the Father: 1) That God would cause His name to be hallowed; in other words, as Albert Mohler explains, “that God would act in such a way that he visibly demonstrates his holiness and his glory” (The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down: The Lord’s Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution, p. 61). 2) That God would bring His kingdom to earth; that is, that the preaching of the gospel would convert sinners into saints who walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and that God would rid the world of evil and create the new heavens and new earth where God will dwell with His people and there will be no more curse and no more death (see Revelation 21—22). 3) That God’s will would be done “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). In heaven, the angels perform God’s desire completely, joyfully, and immediately—what a world this would be if humans acted like that!

As a point of clarification, “Thy will be done” is not an impassive prayer of resignation. Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane was not passive or fatalistic in the least; He bared His heart before the Father and revealed His ultimate desire: for God’s will to be accomplished. Praying, “Thy will be done,” acknowledges that God has more knowledge than we do and that we trust His way is best. And it is a commitment to actively work to further the execution of God’s will.

Romans 12:1–2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Understanding who God is, we submit ourselves to Him and allow Him to transform us. The more we know God, the more readily our prayers will align with His will and we can truly pray, “Thy will be done.” We can approach God in confidence that “if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14–15).

By faith, we know that praying, “Thy will be done,” is the best thing we can ask for. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20–21).

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