Revelation Witnesses Prophesy
Next Previous Index Tellout Home

44. Revelation Witnesses Prophesy
Revelation 11.1-6

"I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, "Go and measure God's temple and the altar, with its worshippers. But exclude the outer court; do not measure it because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. They are 'the two olive trees' and the two lampstands, and 'they stand before the earth's Lord.' If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. Anyone who wants to harm them must die this way. They have the power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the prophesying time and can turn the waters into blood and strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want." (Revelation 11.1-3)✞

Measure Temple

ElijahJohn now participates in his vision in measuring the temple. As he does so, he also declares what is to take place. The Greek word for "Temple" comes from the Latin word "Templum," meaning the "building itself and not the surrounding courts." It indicates that the area measured out would be preserved during the coming destruction.

Moses and Elijah?

Idol Baal"The two witnesses prophesied," for they had experienced death and resurrection. These two individuals are a potent reminder of Moses and Elijah, two of God's mighty men representing both the Law and the Prophets. Moses called plagues down upon Egypt's nation with God's power, and Elijah defeated Baal's prophets. "Baal" was a pagan god's title meaning "lord" associated with the "storm and fertility god Hadad." Moses represented the Law or "Torah," and Elijah represented the Prophets. Both Elijah and Moses appeared at the Transfiguration with Christ.

Two Olive Trees

MosesThe two olive trees and the two lampstands are symbolic of the Old Testament's two great heroes, the prophet Elijah and the premier law-giver Moses. In Zechariah 4.1-3, we read, "Then the angel who talked with me returned and woke me up as someone awakened from sleep. He asked me, 'What do you see?' I answered, 'I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lamps on it, with seven lamp channels. Also, two olive trees are by it, one on the bowl's right and the other on its left.'" The angel identified two olive trees in Zechariah 11.14, "These are the two anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth." The "two anointed ones" means "the two who bring the oil," hence the olive oil for the lamps. These two olive trees are symbols of the two witnesses. They wear sackcloth, a very coarse, rough woven material usually made from goat's hair or flax or hemp, often symbolizing mourning. Prophets sometimes wore sackcloth as a submission sign. In Christianity, wearing a sackcloth hair shirt in the Middle Ages continued as a deliberate mortification of the flesh. Penitents wore it on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and other Lenten season Fridays. Sackcloth could mean an empty sack with holes for the head and arms or otherwise a loin-cloth. It could be worn all the time under one's clothes as a repentance sign. "They should be wearing sackcloth and ashes in token penance for committed wrongs." The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, or Thomas a Becket (1119-1170 AD), was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by four of King Henry 2 knights in 1170 AD. When Thomas' servants removed his ornate outer clothing to prepare his body for burial, they were astonished to find a vermin-infested sackcloth hair shirt, a sign of his repentance to God!

Seeking Mercy

In 1 Kings 20.31, we read that Aramean soldiers sought mercy from Israel's King, "wearing sackcloth around their waists and ropes around their heads. They went to Israel's king and said, 'Your servant Ben-Hadad says: "Please let me live."'" On another occasion, Isaiah wore nothing, not even sackcloth. In Isaiah 20.2, we read, "at that time the Lord spoke through Isaiah, son of Amoz. He said to him, 'Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.' And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot. Then the Lord said, 'Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush, so Assyria's king will lead away the stripped and barefoot Egyptian captives and young and old Cushite exiles, with buttocks bared to Egypt's shame.'" "Egypt and Cush" describe the Upper Nile Region of the country.

Water into Blood

God gave both Moses and Elijah miraculous powers. Elijah closed the sky so that it did not rain. Moses turns water into blood. In Exodus 7.19, "The LORD said to Moses, 'Tell Aaron, "Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the streams and canals of Egypt's waters, over the ponds and reservoirs and they will turn to blood." Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in wooden and stone vessels.'" Moses used the miracles and plagues before Egypt's Pharaoh to persuade him to finally let Israel's people leave Egypt and journey to the promised land. Control over rain and turning water into blood are two characteristics given in Revelation to the two olive trees or two lampstands indicative of Moses and Elijah.

"Revelation Witnesses Prophesy"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

^Top Page Next Previous