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Originally published in "The Lord's Coming Herald & Wesleyan Bible Prophecy Advocate," Spring Edition 1998

Are The Two Witnesses Alive Right Now?

    "And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two-hundred and threescore days" (Revelation 11:3).

    Most attempts to identify the two witnesses of Revelation chapter eleven do not pay sufficient attention to the language of the text. If they did, they would realize that these two witnesses are not people at all. The text says that they are candlesticks and olive trees (verse 4).

    Now we are facing the fact that the language in the text is symbolic—it will not do to try to wring out of it some past or future scenario of wooden literalism. Take the Christian classic, Pilgrim's Progress. Is Bunyan's work unspiritual because it manifestly uses allegory to convey deep Christian meaning? Neither, then, is the authenticity, inspiration, integrity, or value of Revelation chapter eleven diminished when we see it after the same fashion.

    The two witnesses in this chapter are representatives. They are representatives of the testimony of the Word of God (symbolized by the candlestick giving forth the light of truth), and the Spirit of God (symbolized by the olive trees yielding the life-giving anointing oil) in the whole Christian Church during the course of this entire gospel age.

    Why the number two? Because two is the lowest common denominator that may constitute the entity of a local church— "where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them. . . if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. . . in the mouth of two witnesses shall every word be established" (Matthew 18:18-20 cf. with 26:60 and Mark 14:56-57).

    Why the 1,260 days? Because this number refers to the last half of Daniel's seventieth week, which has been elongated in conjunction with the death and resurrection of the Savior in the midst of the week (Daniel 9:26-27) to embrace the entire Christian (messianic) age, now stretching between Christ's first and second advents. "Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and you shall be witness unto me—I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy 1,260 days" (Acts 1:8; Revelation 11:3).

    So the final outcome? "And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them" (Revelation 11:7). When they have finished their testimony!

    Friends, let me ask you this: where does Jesus ever tell the Christian Church to stop witnessing to Him? Defeat in God's great plan for total world redemption now through the power of the cross can only come when the Church decides within herself to quit! Have you finished your testimony? Have you given up on making this old-sin-cursed-world a truly Christian place? Why? Jesus hasn't! In fact, my Bible tells me that's what He died for.

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