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In Revelation Chapter Eleven, we encounter two witnesses sent by God to testify. Naturally, The Book Of Signs - which we are reviewing - places this in the supposed Tribulation Period. Personally, I find the teaching in the last chapter [The 144,000] and this chapter, as presented in The Book Of Signs, confusing. So before we look at the two witnesses specifically, let me ask some questions.
The Rapture will draw all authentic Christians out of the world and leave only unbelievers to endure the horrors of the Tribulation. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 299). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
So there are no authentic Christians in the world at the beginning of the Tribulation, according to Dr. David Jeremiah. Who are the 144,000 who are witnesses in the Tribulation?
During this time [Tribulation], His care will rise through the agency of 144,000 specially-chosen Jewish evangelists…The witnesses’ sterling example of unimpeachable character coupled with their persistent declaration of the gospel will draw millions of Jews to Christ as the world suffers increasing natural and human-caused disasters…How many souls will be saved by the message of these evangelists? “A great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues” (Rev. 7:9). Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 285, 290, 293). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Are these 144,000 Jewish evangelists not authentic Christians? Does this mean there is a second way of salvation: being a Christian or being a Jew? If they are not authentic Christians, why are they preaching the gospel? Why are they then drawing Jews to Christ? We are told that the Holy Spirit left with the Church at the Rapture; isn’t it His job to draw people to Christ? If they are authentic Christians, why weren’t they Raptured with everyone else? Are they preaching just to Jews or to all nations? If these Jewish evangelists are witnessing in Israel with such tremendous success, how can the two witnesses have everyone against them in Jerusalem [and the world]? Maybe I am missing something, but this whole scenario seems to be full of contradictions to me.
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 Lord of the earth.” Rev. 11:3-4, NIV
I believe they [the two witnesses] will arrive at the beginning, immediately following the Rapture. For God, in His infinite love, will never leave men and women without a means of turning to Him. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 299). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
If God is not leaving Himself without a witness, why did He take the church out of the world? If these two witnesses are necessary in order for there to be a witness to God, where are the 144,000?
Now let’s look at what The Book Of Signs says about the two witnesses themselves. Dr. Jeremiah believes these two witnesses refer to two actual people who will appear at this time. It is interesting that he notes that some people believe that they represent the Law and the Prophets. He doesn’t believe this. Instead, he thinks they are Moses and Elijah personally. But what do Moses and Elijah represent? The Law and the Prophets!
“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty… “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” Mal. 3:1, 4:4-6, NIV
Some believe John the Baptist fulfilled this prophecy [Mal. 4:5-6]. Luke 1:17 tells us that John came in the “spirit and power of Elijah,” but this simply means that John did his work by the power of the Spirit, just as Elijah did. He was not literally Elijah reincarnated…Clearly, Malachi’s prophecy points to someone other than John the Baptist—someone yet to come. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (pp. 300-301). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
What does the Scripture say?
For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. Whoever has ears, let them hear. Matt. 11:13-15, NIV
Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah HAS ALREADY COME, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist. Matt. 17:11-13, NIV
Dr. David Jeremiah says the Elijah mentioned in Malachi was not John the Baptist but referring to a reincarnated Elijah during the Tribulation. Jesus says the Elijah mentioned in Malachi was John the Baptist, and that is how His disciples understood what He said. Once again, The Book Of Signs presents us with the choice of who we are going to believe…the choice of who we will accept as the higher authority of interpreting Scripture. [I am going to assume that Dr. Jeremiah meant ‘resurrected’ not ‘reincarnated’ as Christians believe in resurrection, not reincarnation.]. I know my choice.
The Book Of Signs then goes on to propose a literal Moses for the second witness.
So who or what are the two olive trees and the two lamp stands? Contrary to The Book Of Signs, there is no reason in such a prophetic book to assume that they represent literal people. One of the keys to understanding prophetic Scripture is to let Scripture define its own terms. This keeps us on solid ground and away from flights of fancy.
The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches. Rev. 1:20, NKJV
The word ‘lampstands’ is used five times in the New Testament - all in the Book Of Revelation. The other four times it is used, it clearly represents Churches. There is no reason to suppose that it suddenly changes meaning in Revelation 11. What do lampstands do? They hold the light and shine in dark places. What did Jesus call His people? The light of the world [Matt. 5:14].
What about the olive trees?
“And you shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually. Ex. 27:20, NKJV
And you shall take the anointing oil, pour it on his [Aaron/High Priest] head, and anoint him. Ex. 29:7, NKJV
Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah. 1 Sam. 16:13, NKJV
Oil often represents the Holy Spirit, Who gives light through His people and anoints them for service.
I think it is highly possible that these two witnesses represent the Holy Spirit and the Church. Of course, The Book Of Signs would disagree since the Holy Spirit and the Church are supposed to have left Earth at the Rapture before the Tribulation, where these witnesses are supposed to testify. But let us move on…
The duration of their ministry is stated in exact terms. It will last 1,260 days, which is equivalent to forty-two months or three-and-a-half years…To both groups [Jews and Gentiles], however, the content of their prophecy will be the same: judgment. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 302). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
This is absolutely correct, although I believe the application to the period of the alleged Tribulation is incorrect. An interesting fact that is ignored by the futurists is that the Jewish War of AD 66 - 70, which destroyed the Temple and the Jewish nation, lasted this exact period of time - three-and-a-half-years. Also, the ministry of Jesus lasted three-an-a-half years. However, we should not tie ourselves down to a literal interpretation of the numbers any more than we tie ourselves down to a literal lamp stand, beast or Lamb.
Because The Book Of Signs sees the two witnesses as literal people, it also sees the plagues of judgment as literal. It envisions fire literally coming out of the mouths of the witnesses. This is not the only way this passage can be interpreted. It is certainly far from being an undeniable evidence. Fire coming out of the mouth is symbolic of God’s judgment.
Smoke went up from His nostrils, And devouring fire from His mouth; Coals were kindled by it. 2 Sam.22:9, NKJV
Here we see God Himself spoken of as having the fire of judgment coming from His mouth.
Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts: “Because you speak this word, Behold, I will make My words in your mouth fire, And this people wood, And it shall devour them. Jer. 5:14, NKJV
Here we see God putting the consuming fire of judgment in Jeremiah’s mouth, just like He did for these two witnesses. No one imagines that Jeremiah literally had fire coming out of his mouth!
In Numbers 16:35, fire came down from heaven at Moses' word and consumed the false worshipers who had rebelled against him; and, similarly, fire fell from heaven and consumed Elijah's enemies when he spoke the word (2 Ki. 1:9-12). This becomes a standard symbol for the power of the prophetic Word, as if fire actually proceeds from the mouths of God's Witnesses. As the Lord said to Jeremiah, "Behold, I am making My words in your mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall consume them" (Jer. 5:14). Chilton, David. Days Of Vengeance (p. 227)
These two miraculously imposed droughts will be the longest the earth has ever experienced. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 305). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
So these droughts for three-and-a-half years during the Tribulation are the longest? The Middle East has experienced a 14-year drought. Even if this drought lasted the entire supposed 7-year tribulation, it would only be half of the record.
A recent 14-year dry spell in the Middle East was the worst drought in the past 900 years…In the study published this week, they concluded that the years from 1998 to 2012 were drier than any other period, and that the drought was likely caused by humans, the Associated Press reported. foward.com
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit. Jer. 17:7-8, NKJV
The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, Is. 58:11, NKJV
Prophetic Scriptures can use the term ‘drought’ to refer to a spiritual drought of which the Godly person has no fear.
The contaminated water will cause epidemics of disease. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 305). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
There is no reason to believe that turning the water into blood is something that will literally happen. Just as the other signs are references to incidents in Israel’s past, so this is a reference to Moses turning the Nile into blood. This was God’s forceful way of showing his power over Pharoah’s Nile god - the source of Egyptian life. Even so, false gods fall before the True God and what people look to as their source of life is revealed to be a source of death.
Halfway through the Tribulation period, the Beast will order the two witnesses assassinated…The Antichrist will defile their bodies by leaving them unburied to demonstrate his contempt for them and their message. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 306). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Of course, The Book Of Signs takes this literally. If I am correct and the two witnesses represent the Holy Spirit and the Church in the time leading up to and during the Jewish War of AD 66 - 70, then we see the constant message of judgment that was given to and rejected by the nation of Israel. They stubbornly refused to repent and went blindly on their way to God’s full judgment. How were the witnesses killed? When their message was finally rejected, it was dead. The Jewish Christians fled the nation of Israel, and the nation was left without a witness.
On the surface Jerusalem will seem to have reached its peak of glory and holiness. But from within it will emanate the stench of decay and death. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 307). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Why are we looking into the future when we have a record of the total evil nature of Jerusalem in the days of apostles leading up to and during the Jewish War? Jerusalem was a city full of murder - with the courts of the temple literally running with human blood - and sexual perversity of every kind. Eyewitness Josephus comments:
"That neither did any other city ever suffer such miseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this was, from the beginning of the world." [Book 5:10:5]
Decades ago, critics dismissed this passage as impossible. How could this grisly spectacle be seen around the world? Today, however, with satellite TV, social media, and the Internet, the question no longer even arises. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 307). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
As I am sure you recognize by now, this interpretation violates one of our basic Bible Study rules. If only decades ago, people couldn’t understand the interpretation of this passage; then it would have meant nothing to the people who first read/heard it. Yet Scripture must have meaning to those to whom it was originally given.
After their resurrection, “a loud voice from heaven” will call to the witnesses, saying, “Come up here.” A cloud will envelop them, and they will rise into heaven as their enemies gape in astonishment (v. 12). Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 308). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
If The Book Of Signs’ literal interpretation is wrong, what does this mean? After the message of judgment from the Holy Spirit and the Church was rejected [killed], it seemed as if they had been wrong. It seemed like evil would triumph. Both the Jewish nation and the Romans tried their best to stamp out Christianity. However, the Word of God is True. The judgement did come. The nation of Israel and the temple were destroyed. Their message came alive again. With the destruction of Israel, the wrath of God was finished, their mission of judgement was over, and they were recalled to heaven. This does not do away with their ongoing mission of evangelism and establishing the Kingdom of God. One mission was finished, and another is ongoing.
When the heavens close over the two risen witnesses, a sudden earthquake will reduce a tenth of the city to rubble, killing seven thousand people in Jerusalem alone (Rev. 11:13). Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 309). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Why is a tenth of the city said to be destroyed when we know the entire physical city of Jerusalem was razed to the ground? A tenth is a tithe. From Abraham on, the people of promise in the Old Testament covenant [Israel] were God’s special possession - His tithe from all the nations of the world. Now His tithe - physical Israel - is rejected. The Old Covenant has been transcended by the New Covenant in which all true believers are spiritual Jews, spiritual Israel. The 7,000 killed [7 - complete X 1,000 - large unknown number] is the reverse of the time of Elijah when there were only 7,000 righteous [1 Kings 19:18]. In the Old Covenant era, the righteous were the minority; in the New Covenant era, the ungodly will be the minority.
You may disagree with my view on the two witnesses, and that’s fine. I know many consider them to represent the Law and Prophets, the Old Covenant system or something else. Many of these ideas have Biblical merit. And it requires more study and understanding. There are various legitimate ways to understand what this section of Scripture means, but I do not believe the view presented in The Book Of Signs is one of them. And it certainly cannot be an undeniable prophecy of the apocalypse.
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