Introduction; The Two Witnesses
Bible prophecy students throughout the centuries have marveled at the description in Revelation 11 of two rugged men with the fiery witness of God and how they do so without being stopped for an incredible 1260 days. As a teenager, I would read and reread the description of the two witnesses in wide-eyed wonder even though it was more than a decade before I became Born Again! What amazed me years later was the clue to the two witnesses identity had always been in front of my eyes. In this series we will not only discover who they are, but we will see the entire timeline of the 70th Week of Daniel. But before we jump right in, we need to brush up on some numerical facts so that when the time comes later in the series, we can have a solid footing on the Biblical time frame of the end.
By The Numbers
God’s timeline of the end events of history are seen in the book of Daniel as split into three groups; 7, 62 and 1 week (Dan. 9:24-27). Each of these weeks are defined as seventy sevens or more commonly seventy weeks of years; weeks of 7 years with each figurative day consisting of one prophetic 360 day year. It is the final week of 2520 literal days that we are most concerned with here (the separated 1 week in Daniel 9), as the final week contains the subject of our multi-part series; The two witnesses. In order to find these answers we are going to have to look for clues; many of which reside within the book of Revelation itself or point to other books in the Bible.
Below, we will take a look at a breakdown of descriptive numbers used in the book of Revelation specifically, for the 70th and final week of human history. Please forgive the ensuing redundancy, but we are going to repeat ourselves here. The objective of this exercise is to create a pattern in one’s mind so that you can understand the interchangeability of these number sets and see how they connect and create the final week’s timeline. In the book of Revelation, numbers play specific roles per their subject; some literal and some a little more elusive.
Let’s start with the numbers associated with the 70th Week of Daniel in all their various parts. Again, some are quite literal and others are figurative knowing ahead of time that a prophetic year is literally 360 day years per the Biblical Hebrew calendar as apposed to the modern Hebrew calendar; they are not 365.24 day solar years which results in a leap year every fourth year.
42 months is = to 3.5 prophetic years is = to 1260 literal days is = to 3.5 figurative days is = to half of the 70th Week
3.5 prophetic years is = to 1260 literal days is = to 3.5 figurative days is = to half of the 70th Week is = to 42 months
1260 literal days is = to 3.5 figurative days is = to half of the 70th Week is = to 42 months is = to 3.5 prophetic years
3.5 figurative days is = to half of the 70th Week is = to 42 months is = to 3.5 prophetic years is = to 1260 literal days
Half of the 70th Week is = to 42 months is = to 3.5 prophetic years is = to 1260 literal days is = to 3.5 figurative days
In other words, all those variations say the exact same thing! Now, let’s do some basic 70th Week math:
3.5 figurative days + 3.5 figurative days = 2520 days of the 70th Week
42 months + 42 months = 2520 days of the 70th Week
1260 literal days + 1260 literal days = 2520 days of the 70th Week
3.5 prophetic years + 3.5 prophetic years = 2520 days of the 70th
Here is another equation of which you can mix and match yourself (as seen in the book of Revelation) we will show you these two examples below:
1260 literal days + 42 months = 2520 days of the 70th Week
3.5 figurative days + 1260 days = 2520 days of the 70th Week
And so on. Any two combinations of these half weeks, 1260 days, 3.5 prophetic years, 3.5 figurative days and or 42 months makes a sum of the whole 2520 days of the 70th week of Daniel. Keep these numbers in mind as we go through our expose’ of the two witnesses as they will come into play during our discussion. Though we won’t go deep into them in this installment of the series, they are something to ponder going forward. They will help reveal the timeline of the two witnesses, the trampling of the holy city by the Gentiles, the rise of the Beast and many more events that happen throughout the book of Revelation, not just the two witnesses account. keep in mind the varying numbers (ex. 42 months vs. 1260 days) also have a tendency to show a delineation between those who dwell on the earth and the Beast (the wicked) and those who are in Christ (the saved).
God Doesn’t Use Common Core Math
Perhaps one of the biggest stumbling blocks in finding out who the two witnesses are, has come from a lack of paying attention to the central clue given in the description. Some may have gone as far as just blowing it off and relying on the often parroted “It’s Elijah and Moses” or “Enoch and Elijah” or some other combination of biblically important persons without paying attention to the main clue(s) given. God challenges the believer to search and not make presuppositions…
It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. Proverbs 25:2
So, with Proverbs 25:2 in mind, the defining clue that we have is given in the announcement of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. Revelation 11:3-4
As we can see here, we have what appears to be a mathematical conundrum that even a first grader could pick out. We’ve got two witnesses who are the two olive trees and two *candlesticks (other translations say lampstands). The Greek phrasing does not combine these two sets but makes them separate and distinct groups connected (as we will show in this series) for a bigger purpose. The verse clearly says that there are two witnesses who are the two olive trees and the two candlesticks. In the real world, 1 + 1 = 2 and 2 + 2 = 4. So far so good, but this account says something different…it says 2 = 2 + 2 which is 4. If we are to take it quite literally, one witness is 2 olive trees and the other is 2 candlesticks which equals 4. When does 2 = 2 + 2? It doesn’t. So, if we have the two witnesses who are defined as the 2 olive trees and the 2 candlesticks, we have got something else in play here; the number 2. This is just one part of the major clue into who these two witnesses are as a plain reading of the Scripture tells us this answer is deeper.
Defining the Number 2 and Its Biblical Use
The number 2 is commonly known as the number of witness and testimony in the Bible. We can see this physically carried out through the disciples as Jesus sent them out two by two in Mark 6:7 and Luke 10:1. Also, in 2 Corinthians 13:1 we see this:
This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.
Here we see the numbers 2 and 3 are defined as a witness with the number 3 being linked to the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The prime motive of the two witnesses is in establishing the witness and the testimony of Jesus which is the overlying theme of the Book of Revelation. They could not do this alone but corporately, just as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 13 above. Every word is established in the mouth of two or three witnesses; the two witnesses under the power of the Holy Spirit to preach repentance (for breaking of the Law that God the Father gave Moses) of which sin is redeemed through the testimony of Jesus Christ. This is the power of all those who are born again in Christ. We know they are preaching repentance because of the symbology of their clothing; sackcloth. Sackcloth (or burlap) is something very humiliating to wear. It’s uncomfortable, and you won’t be finding anyone strolling down the red carpet in it. It is truly ugly and partially representative of our sinful nature while also displaying a high level of humility in the person who wears it. It is an admission of ones guilt under the law and need of a Savior to overcome that guilt. It is also a sign of mourning and as the two witnesses plead, you can bet their hearts are breaking inside as many turn their backs on the testimony of Jesus and go headlong into an eternal Hell.
The Two Witnesses; Witness and Testimony
One of the challenges of the Bible and these passages is that many verses aren’t easily distinguishable on the surface in English. To live out PTheroverbs 25:2, we’ve got to find something that has been concealed in the original Hebrew and Greek writings. The words witness and testimony are two such examples with a deeper root than just “witness” and “testimony”.
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. 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. And when they shall have finished their testimony…… Revelation 11:3-7a
In verse three we have the word witness which when seen in the Greek, is martus. We see the word testimony in verse 7a in the Greek is marturia. Here are the definitions of both:
Strong’s 3144 martus: a witness; an eye- or ear-witness.
Strong’s 3141 marturia: witness, evidence, testimony, reputation
Marturia finds its origins in the word martureo which comes from the word martus. That is definitely a tongue tying declaration, but let’s state the obvious connection of the words. We can see all of these words are connected to the word martyr. We see through their testimony and witness it ultimately leads to persecution and death or what we call martyrdom. So from the start, the two witnesses know the testimony of Jesus is going to be a battle, for our Lord himself states in Mark 10:2 that we will be hated by all men for his name’s sake. The battle is for souls and there will be many casualties on both sides….some of temporary discomfort leading to ultimate victory in and through Christ, while others suffering eternal punishment for denying the Truth.
The Two Olive Trees and Two Candlesticks
The olive trees and candlesticks are the defining clues of who the two witnesses are. The other descriptions like the number 2, the sackcloth and the meaning of witness and testimony are in and of themselves not identity, but show us the agenda and characteristics of who they are. The olive trees and the candlesticks are what most people just walk by and never contemplate. Some of those that do find the answer but disregard it because it damages their doctrinal paradigm (this will become evident later). For now, let’s just blow the lid off this thing and get to who the Bible says they are.
The Olive Tree
The olive tree can be found in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible and considering that most of the Bible has a central figure (outside of the Savior!) in Israel, it should not be surprising that the olive tree is representative of her. Jeremiah 11 says this:
The Lord called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken. For the Lord of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves to provoke me to anger in offering incense unto Baal. Jeremiah 11:16-17
In this passage, we see the declaration of the LORD that HE is the one who planted the olive tree and that olive tree is Israel. In Romans 11 the olive tree shows up again where like Jeremiah, it is speaking of Israel:
And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.
Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. Romans 11:17-27
Romans 11 is centered on the olive tree and how some of its branches are broken off. Because of the unbelief of many in Israel, this allowed for the grafting in of the Gentiles (the wild branches) to that original olive tree; faithful Israel. It is also interesting to note, (though not from the Bible itself) is that the current nation of Israel has adopted the olive tree as its national tree, which they did so in 2007. Coupled with the fact that Jesus sat outside the city on the Mount of Olives facing Jerusalem in Matthew 24, we can see a strong tie, in and out of the Bible, of the olive tree to Israel.
The answer to the candlestick lies in a mystery and only one that Jesus could reveal himself….
And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches. Revelation 1:13-20
In the above verses we see through John’s eyes the awesome picture of the Lord Jesus himself standing in the midst of seven golden candlesticks. The number 7 being one the of the numbers associated with God’s perfection and completeness as the days of Creation were seven complete evenings and mornings of which God called everything good i.e. perfect and complete. Jesus tells John the answer to the mystery of the seven stars and seven candlesticks, but did you think to ask yourself why he did that? Instead of saying it in a veiled way, why didn’t he just come out and say it if he was going to answer this “mystery” in the following verses? The answer lies in the fact that these words exchanged for stars and candlesticks would come into play later in the book of Revelation. We are not going to focus on stars here, but as many prophecy scholars agree, stars are symbolic of angels and thus Jesus even states that here; the seven stars are the seven angels and again the number 7 is symbolic of completion and perfection; these are holy angels, not the wicked angels who follow Satan. But before digressing too far, what we are concerned with here is that the candlestick is code for church and the word rendered churches in the Greek is ekklesia.
Strong’s 1577 ekklesia: an assembly, congregation, church; the Church, the whole body of Christian believers.
Again………the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches. The word for candlestick in Greek is luchnia.
Strong’s 3087 luchnia: a lamp-stand
The luchnia is the ekklesia. To put it plainly, yet with profundity, the candlestick is the complete and perfect Church! Having put this out in the open, we fast-forward to Revelation 11 and we find our mystery uncovered in one of the two witnesses for the two candlesticks are the two luchnia; Jesus told us the luchnia was a mystery answer for the ekklesia i.e. the Church! So much for the Church being out of the book of Revelation after chapter 3 before returning with Christ later (this according to dispensational pre-tribulation rapture proponents). The Church in fact, is smack dab in the middle of things according to Revelation 11….
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks [luchnia= Church] standing before the God of the earth. Revelation 11:3-4
Jesus tells us in Revelation 1:20 that the luchnia is a type of code name for the ekklesia or the Church. He describes them as a mystery and as we know, mysteries need to be solved. Thus we have used Biblical references that speak directly to Israel (Jeremiah 11, Romans 11 compared to Revelation 11) being the witness of the (2) olive trees and the Church being the witness of the (2) candlesticks (Revelation 1:20 compared to Revelation 11). In the next part of our series we will move further into the text of Revelation 11 and the two witnesses timeline and show conclusively that indeed the two witnesses are not two literal people.
*Many translations use the word lampstand instead of candlestick, but for cohesiveness, I only quote with the King James Version while referencing directly from the Hebrew, Aramaic and or Greek, and therefore will repeat the word referenced as such from the King James Version; we won’t jump from one translation to another in the midst of this series. This is not because I prefer the KJV over others, it is because many believe the KJV is the authoritative translation and thus, we state our case from their choice while relying on the original texts as the final authority.