5 If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. 6 They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want. ~ Revelation 11:5-6
We return to our study of Revelation 11. In Revelation 10-11 we are introduced to an interlude or an intermission before the final series of judgments of God. This will be a time the Scriptures calls "the day of the Lord," and it will happen at the end of the seven-year period many call the Tribulation. Just after this event, the second coming of Christ will take place when the Lord Jesus Christ will establish His millennial kingdom on earth.
As we have seen, the seven seal judgments will stretch across the Tribulation, that period of seven years when God will judge sin and Satan. The seven trumpet judgments and the seven bowl judgments will happen far more rapidly, at the very end of the seventieth-seven of Daniel 9:24-27.
As we have seen with the seals and the trumpets six of them will be opened and poured out, and then there will be an interlude or an intermission before the seventh seal will be opened or the seventh trumpet will be sounded. The same pattern will happen with the seventh bowl judgment. Before the seventh bowl will be presented, there will be an interlude or an intermission.
In addition, between the seals and the bowls is a series of judgments that don’t take as long as the seals and aren’t as brief as the bowls, called the seven trumpet judgments. We’ve gone through six of them, and now we are in the interlude before the seventh. So in each case there is a pause, an interlude before the final and seventh judgment.
The purpose of the final interlude or intermission will be to comfort and encourage those believers in Christ who will still be on the earth. But another purpose is to offer yet another opportunity for those who have not believed to come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As the judgments increase in their fury, those who come to faith in the Lord Jesus will be reminded that the Lord will still be in ultimate control. And so in each case before the final and worst judgment, the Lord stops to pause long enough to remind them of comforting truth about His care for His own.
Today, we look deeper into the two witnesses the Lord provides. These two witnesses have been identified in the previous verses as two olive trees and two lampstands who stand before the Lord while on the earth prophesying for 1260 days.
In Matthew 24:15, the Lord Jesus said that the sign of the end will be when the abomination that causes desolation is seen standing in the holy place. The holy place is the temple, and the abomination of desolation, which Daniel had predicted, will be an action of the Man of Sin, the antichrist. Paul tells us in 2 Thessalonian 2:4 that "he will sit in the temple, magnifying himself as God." This means that the temple will be built on Mount Moriah, and will be occupied by the antichrist who will do some abominible act that will cause the people to leave the temple, making it desolat..
These witnesses will be allowed to witness for 1,260 days, 42 months, or 3-1/2 years. If the 42 months that the nations trample down the holy city is the first half of that period, as I think it is, then the change to 1,260 days as a time-designation here probably indicates that the witness of these two is during the last half of that final seven of Daniel's prophecy.
Here, we are told these witnesses are "two olive trees and two lampstands which stand before the Lord of the earth." In Zechariah 4 we read of two olive trees that drip their oil into two lampstands as a witness to Israel. So, we have two men who symbolically are like lampstands giving light in the midst of the darkness. They are led by the Spirit of God Himself, for olive oil stands for the Spirit; thus their witness cannot be extinguished until their work is done. They are especially protected by God for fire comes out of their mouths to destroy anyone who tries to harm them.
During the final three-and-a-half years while Jerusalem is being trampled by the antichrist and his forces, these two witnesses will be given the power so that they will be able to deliver God's message. As a result, the nation of Israel will believe in the Lord Jesus as their Messiah.
Two is a very important number in the Bible for it is the number for confirmation. Any time there is a testimony that needs to be confirmed, according to Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15 and Numbers 35:30, one must have at least two witnesses.
According to v.5, "If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die."
Then in v.6 we read, "They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want."
Breathing fire, causing drought, turning water into blood, and striking the earth with every kind of plague are judgments very similar to the judgments inflicted in the Old Testament by Moses and Elijah. In 2 Kings 1, Elijah brought down fire from heaven that consumed the enemies of God. He also shut off rain from heaven in 1 Kings 17. And Moses turned water into blood, and smote the people of Egypt with all kinds of plagues, according to Exodus 7-10.
In Malachi 4:1-6 we are told that, “Before the final day of the Lord, Elijah will come.” And, according to Deuteronomy 18:15-18, Moses told the people of Israel that the Lord would raise up a prophet like him in the final days.
Throw in the fact that in Matthew 17, Moses and Elijah were given a preview of the second coming at the transfiguration of the Lord Jesus on the mountain with James, John and Peter, it is not a far reach to believe these two witnesses will be Moses and Elijah.
Whether these two witnesses are Moses and Elijah, the most important part is the Lord will yet again make it possible for people to not only hear the gospel, but also to be given more opportunities to believe. God can never be blamed for anyone spending eternity in Hell.