Wed, Mar 12, 2008
I was wanting to know if you had any insights/holy musings about the identity of these two. From what I’ve studied and been exposed to regarding this, I’ve heard the following conclusions:
1. They are symbols for the “dispensation” of Israel & the Church
2. Elijah & Moses ala James, Peter’s, and John’s vision/visitation on the Mountain.
3. Daniel & John (a different take I thought)
4. Enoch & Elijah, or Enoch and some other combination.
5. Some other hitherto, unrevealed, yet comprehensively fulfilling (for all ages), symbolic designation per Zechariah chapter 4.
Of course, many, many er…”inspired” folk have also taken upon…(suprise) themselves!- to be either one or both of these personages as well, but in a precious moment of spiritual sobriety, I will forgoe the conclusion that these cases are moot for the negative. Now, I have just got my copy of David Baron’s commentary on Zechariah, so I don’t know what he has/had to say about it…but regardless, any further insight would be appreciated.
I’ve yet to check out what David Baron has written on Zech 4 in particular, but you could scarce get a more reliable guide than Baron in most things pertaining to Israel in prophecy. I recently consulted his commentary on Zechariah to get his take on the woman and the ephah.
I see Zechariah chapters 3 & 4 to be the key. Rev 11:4 explicitly ties these two witnesses of the end to what was first symbolized in the offices and ministries of Joshua, the high priest, and the governor, Zerubbabel of the royal seed of David. “These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth”.
Twice in Zech 4 the question is asked concerning the identity of the two olive trees that stand on either side of the golden, seven lamp candelabrum, which we know as the Menorah (Zech 4:4, 11). The answer that follows the question of verse 4 is less specific concerning the identity of the two olive trees but addresses itself to the the vision in its entirety, as this will be crucial to the more specific identification the two olive trees and the two golden pipes in that answers the second question of verse 11.
2 And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof:
3 And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.
4 So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord?
This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. 7 Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it … The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you. For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth.
11 Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? … Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
So before coming to the more specific question of verse 11 concerning the two olive trees in particular, the prophet inquires in verse 4, “what are THESE?”. Here, the prophet’s question is referring back to what is represented in the whole of the vision in every aspect of its configuration. The point of all being that what Zechariah will personally witness of Zerubbabel’s successful completion of the temple (the house), but this will amount to a disappointing ‘day of small things’ that will witness to something far greater that will follow upon the yet future day of the Lord and the greater return that follows that great transition. This becomes evident, not only by the later chapters of the book of Zechariah, 8, 10, and 14 in particular, but the prophecy of his fellow contemporary prophet, Haggai. (see Hag 2:2-3, 6-7, 9, 21-23).
2 Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and to the residue of the people, saying, 3 Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? … 6 For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; 7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts … 9 The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts… 21 Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth; 22 And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. 23 In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts.
Clearly, this is the background of Rev 11’s reference to the two witnesses. This suggests very strongly that we are to understand the work of the two witnesses in the light of the eschatological “restoration of all things” (Mal 4:5; Lk 1:17; Mt 17:11), which reaches its predestined climaxin the return of Jesus from heaven (Acts 3:21). Their task will be to fulfill the roles pre-typified in the anointed offices of Joshua and Zerubabbel in the completion of the house. Taken with all that scripture reveals concerning a great final work of restoration that will prevail to remove the veil over the hearts of the elect nation, it becomes clear that there is a spiritual house waiting to be completed BEFORE the physical house that will be the new, millennial temple to be erected atop the plateau that will rise with the splitting of the Mount of Olives (Zech 14:4-5, 9-11).
This spiritual restoration of the spiritual house that will precede the final earthly witness of a new temple centered in a restored Israel, will take place in the final 3 1/2 years of ultimate, world wide gospel witness. This great work of turning and restoration will happen, not only because the two witnesses are ministering the Word of the Lord from the streets of Antichrist infested Jerusalem, but because throughout the nations, the saints of the final persecution (i.e., the ‘maskilim’ who have insight and understanding of the meaning of these things) will be turning a “multitude which no one can number” to faith in Jesus (Dan 11:32-33, 35; 12:3, 10; Mt 24:14; Rev 7:9, 13-14; 14:6).
So who are the two? When I think of two anointed ones “that stand by the God of the whole earth,” I think of the Mount of Transfiguration, when Moses and Elijah appeared standing by Jesus. This is rich. What they represented then is what I believe is represented in the two witnesses in the over all divine purpose to “restore the fallen house.” There is much to this, as I believe ‘the house’ (in this spiritual sense) must first be restored before captive Israel can return.
Just as the anointed offices of priest and king meet perfectly in Christ in Zech 6:13, so here is the combined witness of Moses and the prophets all pointing to the perfection that is in Christ. This does not mean, however, that I expect the literal Moses and Elijah to show up in the streets of Jerusalem for the final witness, although certain of the same phenomena associated with their ministries are reproduced in the tribulation judgments. It is enough to see that whoever the witnesses are, they come, like the Lord’s reference to John Baptist, “in the spirit and power” of Elijah, not necessarily the literal individual (which creates more problems for interpretation than it solves).
Note also that in Zech 4 there is mention of the seven candlesticks of the menorah, and this is carried over in John’s revelation as reference to the seven churches of Asia, very significant. The two witnesses pour the oil (the illumination of the truth that empowers for anointed service) through two pipes into the bowl that feeds the seven candlesticks, which the Spirit by John will interpret as the seven churches in all their mixed spiritual condition. The symbolism obviously intends much more than seven principal local assemblies in ancient Asia Minor.
The seven churches stand for the light of witness, in both sickness and in health, that has characterized the confessing bodies of believer’s in Jesus throughout this age. And not this age only, since the Menorah obviously symbolized the light of Israel in the restoration under Joshua and Zerubabbel before it is used by the Spirit to symbolize the seven churches, and thus most climactically the saints of the last and unequaled tribulation.
Although this figurative imagery is rich with meaning for the church of all time, once more, it seems that there is a special corporate fullness in view for the saints of the last, ‘great tribulation’. If these witnesses are more than mere symbol, and if they are not re-incarnations (which is contrary to scripture), then something has brought these two servants, our brothers, to this point of special empowerment, and this is full of significance for all the body of Christ that will be enduring the last tribulation, because not only does the two witnesses receive ‘power’ at this point, but according to my reading of Rev 12 and other related passages in Daniel, so does all the true body at this time, or at least a vanguard remnant. This raises the compelling question: What has brought the church to this for such a time as this?
The answer to that question touches everything that is currently at stake. It has all to do with God’s use of Daniel’s end time vision and its definite chronology to cut off all confidence in the flesh and to crowd the church to a place of reality, urgency, and ultimacy with God, (“another will gird you and take you where you would not have gone”). The same convergence of revealed truth and chronological certainty will powerfully move the church into a corporate urgency (‘travail’ in analogy to Daniel’s prevailing prayer in Dan 10) hat will enforce the victory of Calvary in the heavenly realms (great corporate apprehension of the power of the gospel), empowering Michael to evict Satan affecting the final exposure of evil and the last persecution of the victorious martyr witness church who “love not their lives unto the death,” because perfect love has cast out fear even in the face of the most fearful and certain prospect of death. No wonder the heavens respond with such glorious hallelujahs.
All of this is nothing new. It was lived out in the apostolic period in principal, but must have a time of final expression and vindication of fulfillment in the last 3 1/2 years, which is why I’m so personally interested in the critical role that the first half of Daniel’s last seven years plays in the church’s preparation for the last half of the week, which is the unequaled tribulation. I can’t go into all of it now, but if you’re interested, I’ll give the evidence for why I’m convinced that the two witnesses prophesy, not in the first three years and a half, but in the second half of the week.
Ever yours in the Beloved,