The Two Witnesses – Would You Want This Job?

The Two Witnesses are impressive end time prophets able to stop the rain, send plagues and survive the Beast and False Prophet who they prophesy against. Understandably, they are the subject of much speculation and even envy today among Christians. Christians alternately believe that they are Enoch and Elijah (who allegedly never died), Moses and Elijah (from the Transfiguration), or even Christians among us today who claim to be them. But are they here and do we need to figure out who they are or worry about what happens if we don’t? Find out why they are not here today and no one in their right mind should want to claim to be the Two Witnesses.

What If You Don't Identify the Two Witnesses?

Over the years I have received a steady stream of questions about the Two Witnesses. After considering those questions and others, I have noticed a trend. There is clear anxiety and worry over the Two Witnesses and other end time prophecy topics.

It's almost as if we tend to view the Book of Revelation as a study guide to the Great Tribulation coming as our "final exam." If we do not learn enough to figure out, say, who the Two Witnesses are or what the Mark of the Beast is, we may miss the real prophet, listen to a false prophet, be deceived and lost thereby flunking the exam and suffering through the horrific scenarios Revelation graphically describes to us. This includes being left behind from the rapture, missing the protection of the 144,000 or the Woman or, God forbid, taking the mark of the Beast.

Imagine being saddled with this stressful view and encountering one of several believers on the Internet who come forward claiming to be the Two Witnesses. (Isn't the Internet grand?) Obviously it only compounds the situation. What if we reject them and they turn out to be God's true end time prophets?

The good news is that, as with everything else in the difficult book of Revelation, God does not expect us to figure out who the Two Witnesses are. When they come, they come. You definitely do not have to fear they have already come or fear rejecting them when they do come. As we shall see, they are not coming for you and I, or to rule over us like head prophets of the modern church.

Let's look at what Revelation says and get the peace from it that we're supposed to have, rather than be stressed about what we do not understand yet or worry about missing out when it comes to pass.

The Two Witnesses' Mission

The first thing to get straight is that the Two Witnesses are not here today any more than the Antichrist or Mark of the Beast can be here already. The people who become them may be alive, but they are not in that role yet or under that title. Just like them, their official appearance is directly tied to the future 3½ year, 42 month, 1260 day Great Tribulation:

Revelation 11:3-6 (NKJV) — 3 "And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth."...5 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. 6 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.

Their job seems to be to counter-program the lies of the Beast and False Prophet for the entire period of their 42 month rule (Rev 13:5). The Two Witnesses are situated in Jerusalem (Rev 11:8), the Beast's headquarters (Dan 11:45), for this reason.

Would You Take This Job?

If one considers the above and everything else Revelation shares about the Two Witnesses, it is ironic that some continue to claim to be them. The next time you encounter someone who thinks they are the Two Witnesses, it might be fun to point out what Revelation says is ahead for them:

  • A hard and stressful mission for 1260 straight days (Rev 11:3).
  • To be hated by everyone, the whole earth (Rev 11:5,10). (Probably the only human friend they will have will be the other witness.)
  • The tasks of killing numerous people, causing a 3½-year-long drought, bloodying drinking water, and otherwise plaguing the earth (Rev 11:5-6).
  • After all that, a vicious martyrdom in Jerusalem, by Satan himself without a proper burial (Rev 11:7-9) at which everyone else celebrates by giving presents (Rev 11:10). (By the way, in case you were wondering, no, it does not happen anywhere near Christmas time, but actually in September three days before the Day of Trumpets on Tishrei 1.)

Plainly, this is a job that not only would no one in their right mind take, but one that few who God has to pick from would even be able to handle. In fact, I can imagine the person who God assigns the job to trying to get out of it just as Moses did for the leader of the Exodus role.

Numerous Bible-based Candidates

Certainly it's a relief to rule out bumping into the Two Witnesses in church, on the street, the 'Net or anywhere else before the Great Tribulation starts. We do not have to worry about mistakenly denying or disobeying the real Two Witnesses this side of the Great Tribulation, either.

However, this does not address the problem of all the Bible-based theories you will find on the Internet about future candidates and being asked to consider or accept them by your well-intentioned friends. For example, are the Two Witnesses...:

  • Elijah and Enoch: This theory is by far the most popular one. It is based mainly on the argument that these are "the only two men who never died." However, that assumption is easily disproved with one of many plain verses (Heb 11:5, 13).
  • Elijah and Moses: This is a much more convincing theory as the miracles that the Two Witnesses do are all ones that Moses and Elijah did. Also these two appeared in the Transfiguration with Jesus when he was glorified and shown as he will be in the Kingdom (Mt 17:3). They will be resurrected and have obvious key top positions under him. The problem here is that they are dead and would require a special resurrection just for this job. There simply is no precedent for this in the Bible. On the contrary, the precedent we have for prophesies of coming prophets always show a new person being raised up for it. When the Malachi 4:5 prophesy of Elijah coming in the last days was fulfilled, it was a new person named John the Baptist. Jesus was "the prophet like unto Moses," not a resurrection of Moses (Acts 3:20-22). We should expect the next and final Elijah as well as the Two Witnesses to again be someone new coming in the spirit of those great prophets, Moses and Elijah.
  • Israel and the Christian Church?
  • The Old and New Testaments?

The last two theories are allegorical interpretations. These run into difficulty when you consider everything mentioned above about the mission of the Two Witnesses such as being killed and their bodies left in the streets and seen by everyone to much celebration. The allegory has to go very far to work.

Literal, Symbolic, Allegorical...or All the Above?

But does that mean the entire prophecy of the Two Witnesses is literal? Not necessarily. Context must always be considered. As those familiar with my book or website are aware, I do advocate reading Revelation just like the rest of the Bible: as plainly and literally as the context permits or directs. I find that most of Revelation reads quite plainly this way with few exceptions.

As I covered in my article on the 144,000, Revelation does occasionally have truly allegorical passages. The 144,000 men are not literal "virgins," literally "undefiled by women," literally following a literal "Lamb everywhere he goes" (Rev 14:4). Revelation 12 talks about a Woman who is both figurative woman (a constellation of a virgin woman, Virgo) and allegorical woman (she flees on the ground after giving birth to the Messiah, a picture of righteous Israel), but not literal single flesh and blood woman.

Yet for many, the verses on the Two Witnesses require a symbolic interpretation because the literal interpretation seems to present insurmountable difficulties. For example:

  • The two witnesses must create real plagues (Rev 11:6): No problem here if you remember that Moses created real plagues, ten of them. Elijah stopped the rain for 3½ years (Jas 5:17). It's nothing new for God's major prophets.
  • A real temple must exist in Jerusalem, with sacrifices being offered (Rev 11:1): This is what Daniel's 70th week prophecy predicts (Dan 9:27). Likewise, Paul said the Antichrist would sit in the temple at that time declaring he is God (2Th 2:4)
  • There must also be a real temple in heaven containing the ark of the covenant (11:19): Moses was told when he built the tabernacle on earth that he was building a copy of what God showed him from Heaven (Heb 8:5). The angels at the 7th trumpet are shown coming out of a heavenly sanctuary with the last seven plagues (Rev 15:5-8).
  • Precisely seven thousand people must be killed in an earthquake (11:13): The Bible is full with many such exact numbers of deaths which seem . God is sovereign and can direct things so that exactly 7000 die or as he made it take exactly Ten Plagues before Pharoah decided of his free will to let his people go (with a little hardening of his heart to help).
  • And, fire must come from two human mouths (11:5): This last one may not be literal despite the rest of the descriptions being literal. If we look at it in context, we can see why.

Revelation 11:4-5 (HCSB) — 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 If anyone wants to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and consumes their enemies; if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way.

Just as we saw with the 144,000 above, we have metaphorical and figurative language introduced here for two verses that is difficult to take literally. They are not literal lampstands and candlesticks obviously. (Certainly not both at the same time!) Therefore, perhaps when it says fire comes out of their mouth, it is figurative speech reminiscent of Jeremiah: "I am going to make My words become fire in your mouth. These people are the wood, and the fire will consume them " (Jer 5:14). (Compare also Jesus' return at Armageddon described as having a sword comes out of his mouth to strike the nations also amidst figurative language (Rev 19:15).)

The End In 2026? It's Now Possible

Since learning in 2001 that Yeshua must return in a Sabbath year, I've had to rule out three Sabbath year cycle windows for the final 7 years (2003-2009, 2010-2016, 2017-2023). With the next window (2024-2030) less than 7 years away, I'm ready to share why I believe, based on the real end time sign of Mt 24:14, that this can be the one. If it is, the "birth pains" (WW3 + Wormwood, Lk 21:10-11) would hit near its middle in 2026 with Yeshua returning in 2030. Find out what's changed to convince me about 2026 and what you can do about it...

Because, there is no precedent of literal prophet fire-breathing and also because the preceding verse has such clear metaphorical language, I would say the fire is probably not literal unlike the plagues of the next verse and details in following verses.

If it seems unreasonable of God to mix literal, metaphorical, symbolic and allegorical language together in this way, leaving us little chance of knowing how to read it, well, no one said understanding the future in advance was going to come easy or that your life depended on getting it right anyway.

Conclusion

The Two Witnesses are central end time figures who oppose their counterparts of the evil Beast and False Prophet. They are not here now to tell you or I what to do, but come only when their counterparts take over for the Great Tribulation.

Like past fulfillments of promised prophets, someone of the current generation will step into the prophesied role like John the Baptist did, rather than long-dead prophets being given a special resurrection to do it.

However, even if we understand or accept none of this now (or none of this article is correct) it will not affect our chances of being safe when the Two Witnesses come. Here's the simple focus/intent (not understanding) that will determine our chances:

Revelation 14:12 (HCSB) — This demands the perseverance of the saints, who keep God’s commands and their faith in Jesus.”

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Tim McHyde

Tim is the author of this site (since 1999) and the book Know the Future that explains Revelation literally at last--including the key event of Wormwood (Rev 6-8). To read more from Tim and not miss a single new article, sign up for his free newsletter above.

9 comments
chip griffin - February 14, 2017

i think i know one of the two. do you have any questions that would prove or disprove in your own mind? 7707221415 chip, give him a call

Reply
Don - March 8, 2017

I’ve met people that have claimed to be one of the two witnesses. I also know someone that says that he “may ” be one; but does not want to believe that he is; but he says that if God puts him in the position to become one, even though he fully understands that the whole world will hate him, they will try to kill him, he will not have a home for 3 1/2 years, he will have to kill people in “many” ways = drought, poisoned water, no food because of drought, massive crime against people that believe in Yeshua (Yesh-u-a), and then have to fight Satan himself and be killed by Satan; then knowing that people will do all kinds of things to their bodies, he says that just to know that within the hour he’s brought back to life, Yeshua will come and take him to heaven, it would be his honor to be one. People don’t think of it that way. They think it will be all fun being one of the two witnesses. Think seriously about having to go through 3 1/2 years of what I just described and tell me if you would be willing to go through that (remember even your family and friends will hate you). As I read a few minutes ago the only earthly friend they will have is each other. Of Course Yeshua will be with tjem all the way. I truthly don’t think that there are very many people alive today that would be able to handle that life. I can’t imagine what living that life would be like.

Reply
Sam Miller - July 14, 2017

Here is a question I just thought of. Elijah will be the one who gathers everyone to Jordan prior to WW3/Wormwood. Then later, we’ll flee to Judea to be protected during the GT.

If the two witnesses (including Elijah) will be in Jerusalem for the entire 3 1/2 years of the GT, does that mean there will be NO prophet leading those being protected?

Reply
    Tim McHyde - July 14, 2017

    Sam, this will be a time of the outpouring of baptism of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-30). Just as the first century church had several prophets as Acts frequently mentions, so too will we in the end time. There is no doubt that we’ll have prophet leaders even they are not named in prophecy yet.

    Reply
Ryan Zombro - August 9, 2017

Surely, the Spirit of God will raise these prophets up from the wilderness of this world. They will have experienced a great amount of testing to prove themselves worthy of this calling. I think they will be nobodies in the site of the world, at first, until God starts working miracles through them. God is preparing them right now for service. I may be one of them, who knows for sure? If God works miracles through me, then I would accept the calling as one of the witnesses. I am a nobody right now, but God is good, and He will make a way for me. I would gladly take the call to be His witness.

SINCERELY

I am spirit

Reply
Subin - September 10, 2017

Sir,

Why is is not possible that the Witnesses are the actual Enoch and Elijah?
After all, both of them did not “die” in the usual way. In fact, they are not said to have died.

So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him (Genesis 5:23,24).

Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven (2 Kings 2:11).

Why isn’t it possible that they are sent to die in the usual way this time along with their mission?

P.S. Your website is awesome and I am learning a lot.

Reply
    Tim McHyde - September 11, 2017

    Subin, Enoch and Elijah did die just as Scripture says: “appointed to men to die” (Heb 9:27). Of course, some will miss that appointment with death because of the rapture.

    Reply
      Subin - September 12, 2017

      Oh, I see. Thank you for that link.

      May God bless you.

      Reply
God's Servant In Training - October 5, 2017

It should not be hard to understand, that if it is written then is shall be done. Whom ever these two shall be our God and Creator shall prepare for what lay ahead of them. Such as all other things we see all are created by him and for him. That which is ahead has been written and will come to pass. God walked with our Great Prophets and prepared each of them for their own journey and he will these two as well. If we belong to God and he dwells in our hearts we to are his servants in training.

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