The Two Witnesses
In Zechariah 4, we learned about two anointed ones who would stand beside the Lord of the whole earth. These two anointed ones drank of the Spirit of Christ, “not by power, nor by might, but by My Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6), translated as “by My Word” in the Targum. These were described as “two olive branches that drip into the receptacles” (Zechariah 4:12). The Spirit of Christ was the Rock that hit the Statue of the beast, in Daniel 2:45, using these two anointed ones.
Daniel described these two anointed ones in Daniel 12:11-12, “from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be 1,290 days. Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the 1,335 days.” See notes at Daniel 12:5-13.
The first witness was Jan Huss, who freed the saints from the hands of the beast, after “time, times and half a time.” In 1471, the Moravian Church broke free from the power of the Papacy. Jan Huss was burned at the stake. The second was Martin Luther, who “45 days” (1,335 days – 1,290 days) later appeared to start his Reformation, which, according to the Lutheran Church began in 1516 AD.
The relationship between Jan Huss and Martin Luther was actually emphasized by both of them. In 1415, when Jan Huss was burned at the stake, he said to the executioner, “Today you burn a goose, but in one hundred years a swan will arise which you will prove unable to boil or roast.” The word “Huss” in Czech literally means “goose.” One hundred years later, in 1516, when Martin Luther began his protest against the Catholic Church, he saw himself as the fulfillment of that prophecy. In his famous trial at the Diet of Worms, Martin Luther declared, “I am a Hussite.” Today, the pulpits in Lutheran churches are often in the shape of a swan in memory of this prophecy by Jan Huss.
there was given to me a measuring rod – this brings us back to Ezekiel 40:3, and the vision of a man with the appearance of bronze, having a measuring rod to measure the temple. The measurements, from Ezekiel 43:11, are the boundaries of the sanctified Church. The measurements are the Gospel of Jesus Christ that allows “the glory of God to come in,” Ezek 43:2.
measure the temple of God and the altar – here John measures the sanctified Church, the true Church according to the measurements of Gospel of Christ, and counts those who are true.
leave out the court which is outside – the Gentiles or Nations, were confined to the outer court under the Old Covenant, and John is told that they will also be excluded from the New Covenant grace.
they will tread the Holy City underfoot for 42 months – the Gentiles trampled the Gospel for 42 months, which are 1278 days, 1278 years, from 193 AD until 1471 AD, when the first Protestant Church broke free from the Papacy.
And I will give power to My two witnesses – the word power, or authority, is not in the original text. The two witnesses, like the beast and the false prophet, are not “real persons.” However, they are represented by real persons. The Two Witnesses represent the faithful saints who prepare to protest against the beast, and can be particularly identified as Jan Huss and Martin Luther (blessed is he who waits and comes to 1335 days, Dan 12:12). These are the two great spokesmen who liberated the saints from the power of the beast.
they will prophesy 1260 days – this is the 42 months as “days.” The prophets are the saints who recognized the false teachings of the beast over this period, for example, the Waldenses and Albigenses, from 1175 to 1180 AD. “From Constantine to Hildebrand, from the third to eleventh centuries…Every country in Europe swelled with dissidents who repelled as the Antichrist the Bishop of Rome.” 1
in sackcloth – sackcloth in the Bible is a sign of personal or national disaster, described in verse 2, the saints have been “tread underfoot” by the nations.
the two olive trees – see Zechariah 4:3,11-14, the anointed ones, meaning the saints, who are represented by Jan Huss, and Martin Luther.
and the two lampstands – the Moravian and Lutheran churches. Jesus equated lampstands to churches in Revelation 1:20.
fire comes out of their mouths – to preach the truth, and to protest. They speak the word of God, “is not My word as fire” (Jeremiah 23:29). The “fire” of course was the protest against the Nations, the Gentiles described in Revelation 11:2.
The Gentiles had completely distorted the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By this time, they were selling the forgiveness of sins by way of “indulgences.” Indulgences were a payment to the Church in exchange for relief from purgatory, the place of suffering that the Church taught was necessary to endure, after death, before entering heaven. This was only one of many corruptions to the Gospel, to which these witnesses protested.
If anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way – by the word of God, which will devour him; “I am making My words in your mouth fire, and this people wood, it will consume them” (Jeremiah 5:14).
power to shut up the sky – literally “heaven” as it bears the meaning of “heaven” in Revelation 10:5,6, etc. The two witnesses are “the anointed ones” (Zechariah 4:14), who have been “anointed” by the Spirit of Christ. They have the keys to the kingdom of heaven. They have the power to bring forth the spiritual rain of the Spirit of Christ, the “Rock” that strikes the “statue,” of the beast (Daniel 2:35). These are also great men of faith, like Elijah, “who prayed earnestly that it would not rain,” because God’s people had bowed down to Baal (and to the beast in the New Testament) … “then he prayed again, and the sky produced rain,” (James 5:17, 18, and 1 Kings 17:1).
Jesus and James told us that Elijah “shut up the sky” for 3 years and six months (Luke 4:25, James 5:17). This prefigured the coming spiritual drought of “3 1/2 years” for the saints in the hands of the beast. This time is not mentioned in the Book of 1 Kings, but becomes a spiritual prophecy in the New Testament.
turn the water into blood and strike the earth with a plague – the false religion of the beast has been exposed by the preaching of the two witnesses, and baptism into the kingdom of the beast now results in spiritual death for those who seek to be saved in the kingdom of the beast. (This metaphor of water turning into blood is also used in Revelation 8:8, 16:3, to describe the spiritual deaths of those who refuse to be baptized into the end time Sanctified Church.)
the beast that comes up out of the abyss – this is of course “the beast” in Revelation 13; “the beast…that will ascend out of the abyss” in Revelation 17:8 , the religious-political power that oppressed the saints. The Ten European states gave “their power and authority to the beast,” as described in Revelation 17:13.
Understanding that the beast which comes from the abyss is the same beast in Revelation 17:8, is yet another proof of this prophecy. This is the same religious-political beast described in Revelation Chapter 17.
will kill them – most notably Jan Huss, the founder of the Moravian Church, and the Moravian saints who formed the first Protestant Church. Jan Huss was burned at the stake, in 1415 AD, for his opposition to Catholic theology. The Moravian Church brothers were slaughtered in the forest, from 1468 until 1471 AD. See notes at Daniel 12:5-13, for more detail.
the Great City – their bodies are figuratively murdered by the Great City of Mystery Babylon, the Great Harlot, which is Sodom and Egypt, the place of sin and captivity.
those from the nations…– the nations or Gentiles described in verse 2, and throughout the Book of Revelation, are those who are not the true saints, those who do not belong to “New Jerusalem.” The “nations” and “those who dwell on the earth” have the same meaning in this verse, as we shall see.
will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days – the Two Witnesses have been “killed.”
Albert Barnes, in his commentary asks:
“is there a time in history, when the nations considered the Reformation dead for a period of “three and a half days” or rather 3 1/2 years? Yes, in fact, in the ninth meeting of the Council of Lateran, the Orator of the Council stood up and announced – ‘Jam nemo reclamat, nullus obsistit ‘- ‘There is an end of resistance to the papal rule and religion; opposers there exist no more:’ This was on May 5, 1514. Exactly 3 years, and 180 days later, on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the door of the Catholic Church.”
those who dwell on the earth will rejoice – “those who dwell on the earth” has the same meaning as Revelation 13:8, “all those who dwell on the earth will worship (the beast).” The worshippers of the beast rejoice, believing that the Reformation has been stopped.
they will send gifts to one another – those who worship the beast rejoice, such that they even send gifts to one another. Such behaviour was common among the Papists. Pope Alexander VI (1492 – 1503), apparently sent a gift of four mule loads of silver in order to secure his position as Pope in 1492. It is doubtless that the Papists sent gifts to each other to encourage each other in opposing the Protestant reformers.
and their enemies watched them (ascend to heaven) – symbolically the whole persecution and massacre of the Reformists became a public event where the Martyrs willingly accepted God’s call up to heaven, into the First Resurrection described in Rev 20:4.
a great earthquake – meaning a great war. See Rev 16:18 for the great earthquake that describes the battle of Armageddon. Ongoing religious wars and persecutions followed the Reformation for about 100 years. The Book of Revelation refers to people as “the earth,” and the battle of the people as a “quake.”
a tenth of the city fell – those of the “Great City” who died. The estimate of the deaths in this period range from 6 to 18 million; being one tenth of the 80 million people in Europe in 1600 AD.
seven thousand were killed – see 1 Kings 19:18, “the knee who did not bow to Baal” that is the saints “in the wilderness” Rev 12:14, who did not “worship the beast” – the comparison is with Elijah in verse 6. These seven thousand represent the faithful matyrs.
- Historical Studies, Eugene Lawrence, 1876, pp. 202. ↩