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The Acts of Moses, Elijah and the Two Witnesses

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The two witnesses in Revelation 11:3 Revelation 11:3And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth.
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are enigmatic to many. Some view them as a return of Moses and Elijah, while others see them as the Church or martyrs of the Church, or even a return of Peter and Paul or Enoch and Elijah. Some think they are simply two prophets, two groups or two principles ( The Expositor's Bible Commentary, 1981, Vol. 12, p. 504).

God describes these two witnesses as representative of two olive trees and two lamps or lampstands that stand before the God of the earth (Revelation 11:3-4 Revelation 11:3-4 3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth. 4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
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).

Each of God's symbols of them is significant and communicates to the reader characteristics of God and His two representatives. Christ sent His disciples out two by two. Witnessing is giving testimony. Olive trees refer to God's Spirit and, by extension, God's truth (compare John 4:23-24 John 4:23-24 23 But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
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). Lamps give light to a dark world. Putting together all of these symbols in the context of Revelation 11, God's two witnesses give testimony of how God's Spirit gives light to and illuminates humanity in a darkened world (Matthew 5:14-16 Matthew 5:14-16 14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
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; Hebrews 6:4-5 Hebrews 6:4-5 4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
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; John 1:4-9 John 1:4-9 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world.
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; Isaiah 9:2 Isaiah 9:2The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, on them has the light shined.
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).

These two witnesses are closely connected to the two olive trees and the two lampstands of Zechariah's vision. There, God indicates a primary allusion to Joshua and Zerubbabel, who are also said to serve the Lord of all the earth (Zechariah 4:1-6 Zechariah 4:1-6 1 And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep. 2 And said to me, What see you? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are on the top thereof: 3 And two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl, and the other on the left side thereof. 4 So I answered and spoke to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? 5 Then the angel that talked with me answered and said to me, Know you not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 6 Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, said the LORD of hosts.
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, 10-14). They are, in some ways, types of the two witnesses.

The two witnesses of Revelation 11 warn Babylon the great one last time, as human instruments of God have always done through the ages.

It's all about Babylon

The book of Revelation, in general, addresses the progression of and, in particular, the consummation of mankind's failings brought on by the corruptive influences of Babylon the great. That's a great overall key to Revelation, if one stands back from the various seals, trumpets and plagues and observes its underlying theme and purpose. Revelation shows two great polar opposites: mankind's self-destructive way of life and God's constructive way of life. Knowing this great key helps one to better understand the catastrophes prophesied in this unique book.

Remarkably, in the book of Revelation there is a guarantee that God will stop humanity from destroying itself, through Christ Jesus' intervention and sovereignty (Revelation 11:18 Revelation 11:18And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward to your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them which destroy the earth.
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; 19:11-21).

As God's representatives, the two witnesses will conduct themselves, at least in part, in the ways of Moses and Elijah.

Moses and the two witnesses

Moses is sometimes described as a lawgiver. He was called by God to deliver His laws to Israel (Malachi 4:4 Malachi 4:4Remember you the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded to him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.
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).

God also used Moses as Israel's physical leader, a type of deliverer and a representative of God (Exodus 4:16 Exodus 4:16And he shall be your spokesman to the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to you instead of a mouth, and you shall be to him instead of God.
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). God used him to confront the king of Egypt and demand that Pharaoh let His people go. When Pharaoh refused, God performed miraculous deeds through Moses. The 10 plagues are now legendary acts that God conducted to make His point of freeing His people from sin and sinners: “Let my people go” (Exodus 5:1 Exodus 5:1And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus said the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.
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).

In the New Testament, Jesus was transfigured and appeared in vision along with both Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:1-5 Matthew 17:1-5 1 And after six days Jesus takes Peter, James, and John his brother, and brings them up into an high mountain apart, 2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3 And, behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him. 4 Then answered Peter, and said to Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if you will, let us make here three tabernacles; one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 5 While he yet spoke, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear you him.
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). Here God made the point to show that Jesus was much greater than Moses and Elijah: “Hear Him!” (verse 5).

The prophet Malachi addressed both Moses' and Elijah's service. “Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Malachi 4:4-5 Malachi 4:4-5 4 Remember you the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded to him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. 5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
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).

The two witnesses of Revelation 11 perform miraculous acts similar to those Moses did, especially by bringing plagues on those who would not heed God's demands. “And they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire” (Revelation 11:6 Revelation 11:6These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
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; compare this with Moses in Exodus 7:17-21 Exodus 7:17-21 17 Thus said the LORD, In this you shall know that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in my hand on the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. 18 And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall loathe to drink of the water of the river. 19 And the LORD spoke to Moses, Say to Aaron, Take your rod, and stretch out your hand on the waters of Egypt, on their streams, on their rivers, and on their ponds, and on all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone. 20 And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. 21 And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.
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). God is consistent.

Elijah and the two witnesses

Elijah is often considered the most important prophet of the Old Testament, and with good reason (Malachi 4:5 Malachi 4:5Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
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). He was a no-nonsense, direct-to-the-point prophet who simply laid it all on the line. His antagonists could not kill him (2 Kings 2:11 2 Kings 2:11And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
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).

Elijah prayed and God shut up the heavens for 3 ½ years (1 Kings 17:1 1 Kings 17:1And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
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; James 5:17 James 5:17Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
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). God also devoured with fire those who commanded Elijah to appear before King Ahaziah (2 Kings 1:10 2 Kings 1:10And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume you and your fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.
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).

The two witnesses of Revelation 11 replicate Elijah's miracles against those who refuse God's will. They will also have the power to stop any rainfall for 3 ½ years (Revelation 11:3 Revelation 11:3And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth.
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, 5-6). Whenever they are threatened, fire will proceed from their mouths to devour their enemies, a symbol of God's judgment (Hebrews 12:29 Hebrews 12:29For our God is a consuming fire.
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).

Two witnesses act as did Moses and Elijah

For 3 ½ years God will warn all mankind, especially the warring nations and their tyrannical leaders, of their evil ways through His representatives, the two witnesses. God loves all human beings because He created them to one day have the opportunity to repent, be converted and become children of God (2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
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; 2 Corinthians 6:18 2 Corinthians 6:18And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty.
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). Yet He will judge the recalcitrant with a rod of iron (Revelation 2:27 Revelation 2:27And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
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). Sometimes this is the only way mankind will be receptive enough to listen to and learn from God (Malachi 3:5-6 Malachi 3:5-6 5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, said the LORD of hosts. 6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed.
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).

The book of Revelation reveals how God will both warn and punish Babylon (Revelation 17), the False Prophet and the Beast (Revelation 19). The False Prophet and the Beast will set themselves to kill the two witnesses, which they will do at the end of the two witnesses' testimony (Revelation 11:7 Revelation 11:7And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
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). After 3 ½ days they will be resurrected to life (Revelation 11:11-12 Revelation 11:11-12 11 And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell on them which saw them. 12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying to them, Come up here. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
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).

There are undeniable similarities between the two witnesses and Moses and Elijah:

“'And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.' These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire” (Revelation 11:3-6 Revelation 11:3-6 3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth. 4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceeds out of their mouth, and devours their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. 6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
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).

God's punishment of sinners is timeless

God's testimonies and judgments against sinners never change. This is a significant lesson and loving instruction from God.

When God delivered a captive Israel from Egypt through Moses, God used Moses to demand that Pharaoh release Israel. With each demand came a consequence. Ultimately, God leveled Egypt with 10 great plagues in order to convince Pharaoh to let His people go.

God used the great and dedicated prophet Elijah to warn Israel to mend its sinning ways against God. When the king did not comply, Elijah was given the power to prophesy that Israel would have no rain (1 Kings 17:1 1 Kings 17:1And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
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). When Elijah was challenged by the king's demand that he come down from a hill to answer to his army, Elijah responded that if he were indeed a man of God, then let fire come down and devour the squad of 50 men. After the first two squads were burned up, the third officer was much more respectful (2 Kings 1:12-14 2 Kings 1:12-14 12 And Elijah answered and said to them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume you and your fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. 13 And he sent again a captain of the third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and sought him, and said to him, O man of God, I pray you, let my life, and the life of these fifty your servants, be precious in your sight. 14 Behold, there came fire down from heaven, and burnt up the two captains of the former fifties with their fifties: therefore let my life now be precious in your sight.
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).

God is indeed patient. He waits for Babylon's “golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication” (Revelation 17:4 Revelation 17:4And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
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) to fill all the way to the top. Then He steps in, for if He didn't, humankind would destroy itself (Matthew 24:22 Matthew 24:22And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
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). Christ will “destroy those who [attempt to] destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18 Revelation 11:18And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward to your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them which destroy the earth.
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).

Plagues, drought and fire get attention

The two end-time witnesses will have the power to provide plagues, drought and fire as testimonies and judgments against all sinners who would try to destroy them and mankind. These will help open the eyes and ears of the spiritually blind and deaf.

The acts of the two witnesses are as the acts of Moses and Elijah. They show that God remains the same when acting against sin and sinners, to show Himself strong and loving in reconciling mankind to God. Christ is our Savior, not our destroyer; destroying people is what Satan does.

God will not allow humanity to self-destruct; He will save and deliver us, giving all human beings their one opportunity to know God and live His way of peace and prosperity (Hebrews 8:10-12 Hebrews 8:10-12 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, said the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
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; Isaiah 11:1-10 Isaiah 11:1-10 1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. 6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatted calf together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. 10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
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). WNP

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