The identity of the witnesses of Revelation 11 has long puzzled scholars. Christians and Jews are both witnesses to God. Christians witness in belief of His Son Jesus, Jews are witnesses in disbelief of their Messiah, but witnesses that God does what He says He will do. Revelation 11 is describing the witness of the Jews in disbelief. Revelation 12 describes the witness of Christians and their conflict with Jews (See Great Sign of Woman in Heaven) There are 2 witnesses in Revelation 11 because God refers to Israel as a kingdom divided – split into Israel and Judah.
RETURN OF 2 WITNESSES TO ISRAEL
Ezekiel 37:19-22 describes the return of the 2 witnesses (Israel & Judah) to the Land as an end time sign –
‘I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel associated with him, and I will put them together with the stick of Judah. I will make them into a single stick, and they will become one in My hand.’
When the sticks on which you write are in your hand and in full view of the people, you are to tell them that this is what the Lord GOD says: ‘I will take the Israelites out of the nations to which they have gone, and I will gather them from all around and bring them into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and one king will rule over all of them.
Not all of this prophecy is fulfilled as yet. Jesus is the one king referred to who will rule Israel. That is when Israel will be cleansed.
Revelation 11 opens with 2 witnesses – described as olive trees and lampstands – being measured in God’s Temple.
“I was given a measuring rod like a staff and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count the number of worshippers there…And I will empower my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. These witnesses are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.” Rev. 11:1-4
The symbol of the Olive tree and lampstand are found in the Old Testament applied to the Jews
“What is my beloved doing in my temple as she, with many others, works out her evil schemes?…The Lord called you a thriving olive tree … But with the roar of a mighty storm he will set it on fire…The Lord Almighty, who planted you, has decreed disaster for you, because the people of both Israel and Judah have done evil and aroused my anger by burning incense to Baal.” Jer 11:15-17
ISRAEL The LIGHT/LAMPSTAND Witnesses
I will also make You a light to the nations so that My salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Is 49:6
God declared Israel His witnesses –
You are My witnesses, declares the LORD, and My servant whom I have chosen. Isaiah 43:10
However, because Israel broke God’s covenant, worshipped other gods and failed to recognize Jesus as the Messiah – They became witnesses in disbelief –
“Tell the house of Israel that this is what the Lord GOD says: ‘It is not for your sake that I will act, O house of Israel, but for My holy name, which you profaned among the nations to which you went. I will show the holiness of My great name, which has been profaned among the nations—the name you have profaned among them.” Ezek. 36:22-23
INTERPRETTING REVELATION 11
|I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers. But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the nations. They shall trample on the holy city for 42 months.||The outer court of the temple was the court of the Gentiles. They are not to be measured at this time. The events of chapter 11 primarily concern the 2 Witnesses in the Land of Israel. They went back at the end of the 42 month trampling by the nations.|
|42 Months, 1,260 Days, 3.5 Years, Time Times ½ a Time 42 months is the same representative period as 1260 days which is three and a half years. It’s a reminder of the last 3.5 years of the Daniel 9 prophecy. If the Jews had accepted the 3.5 year ministry of Jesus, then Daniel’s 70 week prophecy could have come to pass in the literal time promised. But because the Jews rejected their Messiah (in the middle of the final ‘7’) the final 3.5 years became a representative 42 months or 1260 days. It points back to what might have been – (See 70 Weeks Prophecy)
In a similar way the 40 days spying out the land was extended to 40 years in the wilderness – a long reminder – pointing back to the 40 days that could have preceded entry to the Promised Land.
The woman of Rev. 12 (Christians) spends 1260 in wilderness or ‘time, times & ½ a time (a time’ is understood to equal 360 days). In this context ‘a time’ does not refer to literal days but is a pointer to judgement.
God’s people (Jews) of Dan. 12 have a time of trouble for a time, times and half a time, ending in the shattering of their power – matching Rev. 11 where the witnesses are killed.
All these symbols come together to give meaning to the 70 week prophecy and the 2 witnesses of Revelation 11.
The morphing ‘Beast’ that attacks the 2 witnesses is empowered by the Dragon
They worshiped the dragon who had given authority to the beast. Rev. 13:4
The Beast of the earth speaks like a Dragon and does signs in front of the first Beast…
Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. This beast had two horns like a lamb, but spoke like a dragon. And this beast exercised all the authority of the first beast and caused the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose mortal wound had been healed.
And the second beast performed great signs to cause even fire from heaven to come down to earth in the presence of the people. Because of the signs it was given to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived those who dwell on the earth, telling them to make an image to the beast that had been wounded by the sword and yet had lived.
We are in the middle of End Time prophecies.
To understand how Revelation works See Revelation – A Message to Israel