I've been taught that these 2 witnesses are the 'old' and 'new' testaments of the Bible. While that explanation was very helpful in its day, it should be obvious to us that this is not the interpretation to fit the literal events at the end of time. Or am i off-base by taking the Bible literally? I've been thinking that things should be taken more literally ever since discussing prophecy with a friend who went to a Sunday church in Atlanta around 15 years ago. Here was a dedicated Christian who really didn't have a clue what the prophecies were about, and so took them all literally. As a Seventh-Day Adventist, i have the privilege of knowing much more because of a modern-day prophet. But sadly, i slipped into the idea that all the main prophecies had been worked out, and that i didn't really need to dig to discover truth on my own. What a mistake! The prophecies that were fulfilled 150~200 years ago were valid for their day. Just like Paul and those of his day saw the times and applied the prophecies to their day. Neither of them were mistaken. It's just that this is a different time, and demands new interpretations. This doesn't mean that this is the absolute final interpretation, but i really believe we are very VERY near the absolute last day, as we've been living in the 'end of time' since 1844. We are required to be ready at the end, and if we don't improve the chances we have now to study, God isn't going to force us escape the deception that if possible 'will decieve the very elect'.
Something that made me rethink the prophecies from 'symbolic' to 'literal' was a couple of internet sites i saw last summer. You can see them at:
For me it was an eyeopener as it showed what some Catholics, including possibly the pope, are expecting and preparing for. Maybe Revelation 12:1 won't be an actual huge Mary in the sky clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and a garland of 12 stars. But then again, maybe it will... have you ever thought about it as a literal event?
With these thoughts in our heads, let's look at Revelation 11:3. The 2 witnesses will be given power, will prophesy 1260 days, and will wear sackcloth. This could be just about anybody or anything. Verse 4 shows that these are the same ones mentioned in Zecharaiah 4. Verse 5 seems to say that some people will try to kill these witnesses but "fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies." Verse 6: "they 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. This verse seems to point to Elijah (no rain), and Moses (plagues) as the 2 witnesses.
Verse 7 "the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them." This beast is most likely Satan. 8: "And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified." This is a crucial text. How anyone can read this and not believe that this will actually occur in the same exact city where Jesus was crucified, is not attempting to be true to the letter of what was written. Maybe i'm taking liberties by saying it's time to take what's written literally, but what's wrong with that??! Nothing happened anything like this during the French Revolution! So these 2 beings will be killed in Jerusalem. 9: "Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies 3 1/2 days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves." The witnesses have 'bodies'. It's likely that they are humans. 11: "Now after the 3 1/2 days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet". The 'breath of life' is a term used frequently in Genesis to describe how God created humans, animals, birds, and creeping things. And the final verse, 12: "And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, 'Come up here.' And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them.
So this is the story of the 2 witnesses. What do you think? Who are they?
I can only come up with 3 good candidates to fit the description:
Just as Christ's prophecy regarding the destruction of Jerusalem applied to those listening to him in his day, it also applies to those who live in the last days. In the same manner, couldn't the 2 witnesses be applied to something in the past, and something in the future? The more i study this, the more certain i am that this will be literally fulfilled in the future.
Why do i believe so?
There are several reasons. One of the biggest is: that us SDAs as a people do not have any deep persuasive power to turn hearts to God when we give the fulfillment of most of the prophecies as something that occured in Northeast America in 1833, or in Lisbon 1755, or in Paris in the 1780s. People could really care less, and with good reason, it doesn't bring any conviction to the heart of the need to get right with God NOW. We know that the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation are especially for those in the last days, so why are we trying to force-fit an explanation to something that happened hundreds of years ago? People laugh if you try to explain the traditional Adventist view regarding the witnesses being something that happened over 200 years ago. And rightly so. If that is the final answer regarding the two witnesses, then they are basically irrelevant to the end-time people. There are many people who take Daniel&Revelation courses, but these courses don't usually seem to call forth any greater devotion or ardor for the Saviour than before.
I've studied Revelation quite heavily for the last 6 years or so, listening to it on tape (Japanese:) etc. manymanymany times. That doesn't make my conclusions true, as there are many people who study and still come to odd conclusions, but of the traditional SDA interpretations of the prophecies, the one regarding the two witnesses seems the most obvious as having a different interpretation. Of course no interpretation is of private thot, and i do not try to make this a test of faith for anybody, but we as a people need to study more, and dig into God's Word!
Also from about 6 years ago, i have been studying this original 1858 Great Controversy heavily. I've spent a total of around 1,300 hours reading it, typing it, scanning it, taping it, and translating it. It has had a powerful effect on me more than any other book after the Bible. Nothing comes close. I recommend it very highly! You can download it from my site: www.earlysda.com Also at that site is a book by William Miller. I put that up on the internet last winter. It was exciting to read about the farmer that God used to raise up his last-day church. In that book is quite a long piece about the two witnesses. I recommend you download that book also. If you have trouble downloading, please tell me, and i will send you a copy by email:)
There are some things regarding the two witnesses in William Miller's book: "Views of the Prophecies and Prophetic Chronology Selected from Manuscripts of William Miller with a Memoir of His Life" (1841) (whew! what a loooooong title!)
Review of gA Bible Readerh on the Two Witnesses, Rev. xi. 8 . Remarkable Fulfilment of Prophecy relating to France and the gTwo Witnesses.h Quotations from eminent Expositors of Prophecy, with Remarks by Mr. Miller.
But as you will see if you read the whole book, Mr. Miller was required to force all the prophecies to finish by 1843. So he makes statements like this: "Then arose up the wonderful beast, Papacy, which is the Gog of our day, and ruled over kings, filled the world with her abominations, and must and will fall upon the mountains of Israel. Already have the kings of the earth eaten her flesh, and no one can dispute but that the present signs of the times indicate her final dissolution; together with the false prophet, the Turkish empire, and Eastern Gog". In other words: he had the Papacy destroyed permanently in 1798! Of course we know now in 2001, that the papacy is alive and well and growing stronger and stronger every day! Again, as i mentioned earlier, this was God's plan to strengthen the faith of his people in 1843/4, and i'm not saying that Mr. Miller was in error.
We should look for the final fulfillment tho, in the future. Mr. Miller has several rules for interpreting prophecy in that book, and this one (#13) is especially relevant to my interpreting the two witnesses differently from tradition. "To know whether we have the true historical event for the fulfilment of a prophecy. If you find every word of the prophecy (after the figures are understood) is literally fulfilled, then you may know that your history is the true event. But if one word lacks a fulfilment, then you must look for another event, or wait its future development. For God takes care that history and prophecy doth agree, so that the true believing children of God may never be ashamed".
Let's look at it. Revelation 11. First of all, the timing is way off for this to have happened in the 1700s. The timing for chapter 11 is DURING the 7 angels blowing their trumpets. This particular event is the SECOND woe. Speaking in 2001, have the other events like the hail and fire mingled with blood (8:7), a great mountain burning with fire being thrown into the sea and a third of the sea becoming blood (8:8), or even the first woe of the 5 months of nasty little stinging things (9:1) already happened?
11:3 Please notice, they only prophesy 1260 days (or years if that is the interpretation), then they are finished.
11:5 Many people even today hurt the Bible with spurious translations etc. but i haven't heard of anyone being burnt. And no, this isn't talking about burning them when Jesus comes back, because many of those who despised and hurt the Bible have died peacefully.
11:6 Notice it says: "in the days of their prophecy". Again, is this supposed to mean that their prophesying ended in 1798???
11:7 Has the Bible finished it's testimony??? Has the beast ascended out of the bottomless pit yet?
11:8 Was our Lord crucified in Paris?
11:9,10 Not very many peoples or nations saw the dead bodies of the Bible in the 1700s.
11:10 Lots of wicked men lived between 538 and 1798 who weren't tormented at all by the Bible.
11:11 Did the Bible not have any Spirit of Life for 3 1/2 years in the 1700s???
11:12 How many people saw the Bible going up to heaven in the 1700s?
11:13 Did a tenth of Paris fall in an earthquake around 1798? Did those left give glory to God??
11:14 If this was finished in 1798 or so, then we should look for the 3rd woe coming quickly. Has it come?
So just applying William Miller's own rules for interpreting the Scriptures, we see that the two witnesses prophecy has not been fulfilled yet here in 2002.
Any comments about this would be highly appreciated.
More prophecy thots in the future.
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