Shortly after the Rapture and the signing of the peace treaty between Israel and her enemies, two Witnesses will appear in Jerusalem who will preach the word of God and proclaim Jesus as Messiah.
The following scripture is a little lengthy, so I've broken it down into bite sized pieces.
Rev. 11:3-5 “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way.”
These two men will suddenly appear on the scene in Jerusalem. They will begin proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ and prophesy for 1260 days. You would be right if you said that 1260 isn’t exactly 3½ years… or would you? The Jewish calendar is made up of 12 months, each having 30 days. Their calendar is not like ours. Their year has 360 days, not 365. So, 42 months (3½ years) x 30 days per month = 1260 days. This scripture also shows us that the two witnesses will be invincible, for the duration of their appointed time on earth.
Rev. 11:6 “These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.”
As the scripture states, they will be able to prevent rain from falling for 3½ years and will be able to turn water into blood and cause all kinds of plagues on the earth as often as they want. Add this to the seven seal judgments. Think about it. One third of the earth’s fresh water sources are poisoned by a meteor strike, the two witnesses prevent rain from falling, and they will be able to turn fresh water into blood. Can you imagine the thirst this would cause worldwide? The lack of rain will devastate the world’s production of food and will play havoc with the world’s ecosystem. You can see why almost everyone on the earth will want these two men dead after a 3½ years of drought.
Rev. 11:7 “When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them.”
We see that after 3½ years, the Antichrist (possessed by Satan) will be allowed by God to kill the two witnesses. There is a reason why God allows them to be killed:
Rev. 11:8-10 "And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. 9Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. 10And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.”
Imagine, the two men who have struck the earth with plagues, killed men with fire from their mouths, turned fresh water into blood and have caused a drought for 1260 days are finally dead! Rain once again begins to fall as the human race begins to rejoice and have hope that things are finally going to get better. Their ‘savior’ has finally defeated these two men! Not only are they celebrating their deaths, but they leave their corpses out in the street, in plain view of everyone. One thing about a party though... it always has to end.
Rev. 11:11-13 "But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them. 12And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here.’ Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them. 13And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.”
After 3½ days of laying dead on the ground in full view of the television and web cast audience, God breaths life back into their bodies. Can you imagine the fear that strikes the heart of everyone who sees these two men stand on their feet! But that’s just the beginning. God speaks in a voice that everyone can hear! He speaks to the two Witnesses and says, “Come up here.” Then, in full view of everyone present and everyone watching the live feed on their television, computer, iPad and cell phone, a cloud forms around and under the two Witnesses and lifts them up to heaven!
As if that wasn't enough, while everyone is panicking and trying process all that’s just happened, there is a terrible earthquake that destroys a tenth of Jerusalem and kills seven thousand people. Those who survive this event begin giving glory to God.
NOW BEGS THE QUESTION: "WHO ARE THESE TWO WITNESSES?"
Let me state that we are not told by God who the two witness are. Though their true identity will not be known until their arrival, the Two Witnesses have the same authority demonstrated by two Old Testament prophets: Moses and Elijah. Could these two be the olive trees and lampstands that are before the Lord of the earth? Let’s dig a little deeper.
Who were two people who appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Olives? Moses and Elijah. These were not “spirits” of dead men, they were alive and in a physical form and appeared standing with Jesus. In fact, Peter wanted to construct three tents (one for each of them), so that they could have shelter and a resting place.
Let’s go one step further. The witnesses have the power to turn water to blood and cause all kinds of plagues. If you've ever read Exodus or watched “The Ten Commandments” on television, you know that this description fits only one person: Moses.
The witnesses will be able to stop the rain for 3½ years. If you read 1 Kings chapters 17 and 18, you’ll see that this has happened before, and who was it that prayed that it wouldn't rain for three and one half years? The same person that appeared before Jesus along with Moses... Elijah.
Some say that Moses could not be one of the two witnesses, since it's appointed for a man to die once and then judgment. Although Elijah didn't die (he was taken up to heaven in bodily form in a chariot of fire), Moses did die. The only other person in the bible who is said not to have died was the prophet Enoch.
Gen 5:21-24 “And Enoch lived sixty-five years and fathered Methuselah. 22And Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he fathered Methuselah. And he fathered sons and daughters. 23And all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. 24And Enoch walked with God, and then he was not, for God took him.”
Heb 11:5 “By faith Enoch was translated so as not to see death, and he was not found, because God had translated him; for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”
Jude 1:14-15 “And Enoch, the seventh from Adam, also prophesied to these, saying, 'Behold, the Lord came with myriads of His saints, 15to do judgment against all, and to rebuke all the ungodly of them concerning all their ungodly works which they ungodly did, and concerning all the hard things ungodly sinners spoke against Him.'”
So we have three potential candidates for the role of "Witness" during the first half of the Tribulation. At first I was totally convinced that it would be Elijah and Moses, since the power given to the two Witnesses reflects the power given to Elijah and Moses when they were alive here on earth, but then I realized that if the OT saints are going to be part of the Rapture, Moses will have received his new glorified body at the resurrection of the saints, so he will not have a body that can be destroyed by death. If OT saints are NOT part of this resurrection (and instead will be resurrected at the end of Christ's millennial reign), the fact that he's already died once would exclude him from being one of the two witnesses, because it's appointed for a man to die ONCE and then judgment. Then again, God can do whatever He wants, right? LOL
If Moses is out of the equation, then that just leaves Elijah and Enoch, two men who have never tasted death. How perfect is THAT plan! The two who have never tasted death will experience death when they are struck down by Satan, who will be possessing the body of the Antichrist at that time. Then 3.5 days later, they will be resurrected and finally be given their immortal and incorruptible bodies as they are lifted back up to heaven.
What a great and memorable day that will be, especially for those born again believers who are alive and witnessing this miracle. What an encouragement it will be for those Christians who are enduring the Tribulation. And this encouragement comes just before the most horrific attack on the church since it was formed on the day of Pentecost. How many of our brothers and sisters will go to their death with the confidence of their salvation not only because of what they know through the Word of God, but because they have also witnessed the resurrection of the two Witnesses!