The Vindication of the Two Witnesses

Revelation 11:11-14
The End Times

In my last post, we explored Revelation 11:7-10 dealing with the execution of the Two Witnesses.  In this post, we examine their Vindication.

“But after the three-and-a-half days a breath of life from God entered them, they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 Then the two heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up into heaven in a cloud, while their enemies watched them. 13 In that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were awestruck and gave glory to the God of heaven. 14 The second woe has passed; see, the third woe is coming quickly.” ~ Revelation 11:11-14 (CJB)

After 3½ days (notice the similarity to Yeshua’s time in the tomb), God will breathe life into them. I’ve tried to wrap my mind around yet another resurrection scene to no avail. Their resurrection will bring terror to the earth. Shortly after they come to life, they will be called up to heaven and ascend in a cloud while the world watches (note the similarity with Acts 1:9 and Revelation 4:1). A violent earthquake that kills 7,000 people will follow the ascension of the witnesses.

But after the three-and-a-half days a breath of life from God entered them, they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 Then the two heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up into heaven in a cloud, while their enemies watched them. Can you imagine this scene? All the major television networks and news channels throughout the world are there; their cameras are running, and suddenly, these men come alive! A voice from heaven is heard proclaiming Come up here. The two witnesses then ascend into the sky. Wouldn’t it be something to hear our worldly news commentators trying to explain this electrifying event to an unbelieving world? Think about that; it won’t be Fake News!

The Word of Adonai is powerful (Isaiah 55:10-11; Hebrews 1:3) and indestructible (Isaiah 40:8; 1 Kefa 1:23-25); it cannot be silenced by killing those who speak it.

Mid-tribulationists base much of their view on these verses. They believe that the church is raptured after three and a half years of the Tribulation, at the sounding of the seventh trumpet (which occurs in 11:15; see also 1 Corinthians 15:52). According to this view, the church will face persecution for the first three and a half years of the seven-year Tribulation period (Daniel 7:25; 9:27). In the second half of the Tribulation, the Anti-Messiah and those who chose to follow him will be the target of God’s wrath. Mid-tribulationists also believe that the book of Revelation is chronological so that this rapture will occur halfway through the years of tribulation.

The pre-tribulationists take the voice from heaven in 4:1 telling Yochanan to come up here to be a reference to the rapture of the believers. Mid-tribulationists see the Two Witnesses as representing the believers being raptured at the midpoint of the Tribulation, calling the two witnesses to come up. That they go up to heaven in a cloud compares to 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a rousing cry, with a call from one of the ruling angels, and with God’s shofar; those who died united with the Messiah will be the first to rise; then we who are left still alive will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we will always be with the Lord.” In a sense, Malachi 4:5 will be fulfilled again: “Look, I will send to you Eliyahu the prophet before the coming of the great  nd terrible Day of Adonai.” The first time, Yochanan the Immerser fulfilled Malachi’s prophecy as the forerunner of the first coming of the Messiah; in this case, it is satisfied again as another like Elijah is a forerunner of the second coming of the Messiah.

They went up to heaven in a cloud, not only like Yeshua (Acts 1:9-11) but also, according to Josephus, like Moshe. Notice how Josephus deals with the contrary witness of Deuteronomy 34:5-6:

“As [Moshe] was going to embrace El’azar [the Cohen HaGadol] and Y’hoshua [bin-Nun], while he was still talking with them, all of a sudden a cloud stood over him, and he disappeared in a certain valley ~ although he wrote in the holy books that he died. This he did out of fear that people might say that because of his extraordinary virtue he went to God.” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 4:8:48) [1]

In that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were awestruck and gave glory to the God of heaven. Great joy has been exchanged for great fear as God brings judgment upon the populace of Jerusalem. A tenth of the city is destroyed; 7,000 people are killed; no doubt thousands will experience injury to some degree. The remnant in fear, not faith, turns to give glory to God. A great earthquake occurred when the sixth seal was opened (Revelation 6:12), and there will be a greater one when the seventh vial is poured out (Revelation 16:18-20).

An earthquake is a frequent form of judgment in the Last Days (Revelation 6:12, 8:5, 11:19, 16:18; Ezekiel 38:19-20). The result, for the survivors, is nothing less than salvation, the fulfillment of God’s promise through Sha’ul that all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26a). Jews ask for signs (1 Corinthians 1:22). At Matthew 16:1-4, the P’rushim asked Yeshua for a sign, but he promised none except the sign of Jonah, whose being vomited from the stomach of the fish is a type of resurrection. The Two Witnesses’ resurrection and ascension, along with the simultaneous earthquake (in that hour), are correctly understood by the Jewish people as signs from God ~ the rest were awestruck.

Even while grieved at the death of 7,000 people, they handled their pain in God’s way (2 Corinthians 7:10) ~ it led them to repentance so that they gave glory to the God of heaven. Throughout the book of Revelation, only those in a right relationship with God give him glory (Revelation 1:6; 4:9, 11; 5:12-13; 7:12; 15:4; 19:1, 7). Conversely, those who are not in a right relationship with God glorify themselves (Revelation 18:7) instead of God (Revelation 14:7, 16:9) ~ compare the hardened pagans of Romans 1:21: “Although they know who God is, they do not glorify him as God or thank him.” This mass repentance breaks the back of the Jewish national establishment’s centuries-long opposition to the Gospel. May it come speedily, in our days.

The second woe has passed; see, the third woe is coming quickly.  The flying eagle had warned of three woes to come upon the earth (Revelation 8:13). The first woe was recorded in 9:1-12; the second woe in 9:13-21 and 11:1-13. The third woe is coming quickly. Most likely, Revelation 11:18 hints at the third woe which will include the battle of Armageddon ~ the final battle between God and Satan. This will begin when the angel sounds the Seventh Shofar.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 11:7-10 [2]

Historicist Approach:

Historicists see the three-and-a-half days as three and one-half years from May 5, 1514, the date that the Fifth Lateran Council declared that there was an end of resistance to Papal rule until October 31, 1517 [500 years ago this year] when Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg church.  They also see the Reformation as a resurrection of the true church.  The great earthquake is a reference to the political upheaval that rocked Europe during the Reformation. The seven thousand killed represented provinces or countries that broke away from Rome, including Holland, Zealand, Utrecht, Friesland, Groningen, Overyssel, and Guilderland.

Preterist Approach:

Clifton associates the death and resurrection of the Two Witnesses with the death of Yeshua Himself.  Preterists associate the great earthquake with the fall of Jerusalem.

Futurist Approach:

Futurists take the literal view of the resurrection and ascension. They are divided over the effect of the great earthquake indicating anywhere from none, some or a significant number of the remnant of Jews will come to faith as a result.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists view the resurrection and ascension symbolically fulfilled in connection with Yeshua’s Second Coming. The great earthquake is symbolic of the alarming happenings on the eve of the final judgment.

In my next post, we will explore Revelation 11:15-19 dealing with The Seventh Shofar.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

[2] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

5 thoughts on “The Vindication of the Two Witnesses

  1. Pingback: The Vindication of the Two Witnesses post by Donald Norris — My Heart is for Israel @dnorris99 | Talmidimblogging

  2. “According to this view, the church will face persecution for the first three and a half years of the seven-year Tribulation period”

    Isn’t the first 3 1/2 years of the great tribulation the fake peace brought about from the antichrist than after the first half of the 7 years is when all hell breaks loose, literally?

    Like

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