Who Are The Two Witnesses?
It is our understanding that Moses and Elijah, two great men of Israel, will fulfill the office of the “two olive trees” and “two candlesticks” spoken of in Revelation 11.
Elijah was a servant of God who shut the heavens so that it would not rain. Moses raised his rod and turned the waters into blood. Revelation 11:5-6 reads, “…if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.” By supernatural power, these two witnesses will be in Jerusalem testifying the truth of God to the world.
During that time, the Church of Jesus Christ, the light of this world, will be in the presence of the Lord. Israel will remain blind, having accepted the Antichrist as her redeemer. As a result, God will supernaturally interfere, to leave a testimony on earth by sending Moses and Elijah as His witnesses.
Prophets Must Be Killed In Jerusalem
However, we read that these two prophets will be killed by the beast who rises up out of the sea. Their bodies will openly lay in the streets of Jerusalem as a testimony against the world. Revelation 11:8 confirms this by reporting, “… their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.”
Jerusalem, the most glorified city, will have experienced a negative transformation. No longer will she be considered the city of the peace and joy of the Lord, but she will be called “Sodom and Egypt.” Sodom was the epitome of sin against the Lord because of the Sodomites—or in today’s vernacular, homosexuals—who ruled that city with their publically exhibited practice, which is an abomination to the Lord.
Romans 1:24 testifies, “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves.”
To be called “Egypt” would remind Jerusalem of the land of bondage, which prophetically shows that Israel will come into the bondage of the Gentile nations. This time, however, it will not be by force, but voluntarily, for Jesus prophesied that when another shall come in His name, they will receive him.
The fact that these two great prophets will die in Jerusalem reminds us of the words of the Lord “…for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem” (Luke 13:33). Elijah did not see death but was raptured into Heaven, therefore he did not die in Jerusalem. He crossed the Jordan River and then ascended into Heaven outside the borders of the Promised Land. Neither Moses nor Elijah have fulfilled Luke 13:33 in that they did not die in Jerusalem or in the Promised Land.
These two great prophets will return to Jerusalem, the center of the world, where they die, but will resurrect after 3 1/2 days and ascend into Heaven. Again, we see the Rapture demonstrated right in the city of Jerusalem.
When these two prophets are resurrected after 3 1/2 days, they will be raptured into the clouds of Heaven in view of all the people. As a result, a great earthquake will occur and, “… the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven” (Revelation 11:13). Subsequently, the Rapture of the true prophets will result in a revival among “the remnant” which undoubtedly refers to Israel, and they will give God the glory.
On the other hand, when the Rapture of the Church takes place, we find no indication in the Bible that it will result in repentance or the glorification of God. However, we believe that the “remnant “of Gentiles left behind, whose family members have been raptured, will indeed be very afraid and many will give God the glory and be converted.
The effect of the testimony of these two witnesses in Jerusalem points to Israel’s preparation for the outpouring of the Spirit of grace and supplication at the coming of Jesus.
Non Believers-Non Repentance
Let’s look at the different reactions to God’s supernatural interference as outlined for us in the book of Revelation. At the opening of the sixth seal we see that man is totally unrepentant. Beginning in Revelation 6:15-16 we read, “…the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.” Instead of repenting they try to hide from the wrath of the Lamb!
After one-third of the world’s population is killed, we read in Revelation 9:20-21, “…the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.”
When the fourth and fifth angel pour out their vials, we hear this shocking testimony, “… the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds” (Revelation 16:8-11). Instead of repentance there is blasphemy! This should have been enough to bring everyone to their knees. Verses such as this leave no room for the mocking attitude of those who say, “Well, I only believe what I see.” The people referred to in Revelation 16 see the indisputable evidence of the God of Creation with their own eyes, yet they still find no room for repentance, or space to believe.
Michael The Archangel
The book of Daniel specifically identifies Michael the archangel as being on Israel’s side, “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book” (Daniel 12:1). This verse is referring to the Great Tribulation. Michael the archangel is standing for the defense of Israel. We can well imagine that when the Rapture takes place, the “shout” that is heard will be the voice of Michael, for he will come in defense of Israel.
With the Church gone, there will be no more prayers for Israel, resulting in total darkness for her. For the first time in history, the Jews will be in danger of totally losing their identity. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that Michael come into action for this people because the Church is gone.
It is significant to note that Michael’s action on behalf of Israel will not be evident from the beginning. When the Church is raptured, the Jews’ trouble will have only just begun. After Israel has accepted the Antichrist as her Messiah, they must go through to the end of the seven-year tribulation. . .only then will Israel experience salvation.
The Meeting Place
Jesus is not coming to earth at the time of the Rapture. That will only happen when Jesus’ feet literally stand upon the Mount of Olives. This event will be fulfilled only after the Rapture takes place. In the very same manner He left Israel, He must return for Israel.
According to the Acts of the Apostles, when Jesus ascended into Heaven, the disciples looked up toward Heaven. Two unidentified men dressed in white gave this message, “…Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Jesus will physically come back to the Mount of Olives for Israel just as the prophets declared, “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (Zechariah 14:4).
The meeting place for the Church with her Lord is described very clearly, “… in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air….” This first phase of the Second Coming, which we call the Rapture, is not for Israel or the world; it is only for His blood-bought believers, Jews and Gentiles!
Two Rapture Categories
The Rapture involves two categories of believers: those who have already died in the Lord and those who are still alive at that moment. It is this great hope that the Church of Jesus Christ has had for many centuries: the sudden removal and translation of our bodies which leads us into the presence of the Lord.
The apostle Paul’s prayer and deep yearning gave him the comfort, “For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life”‘(2nd Corinthians 5:4). He had a living hope of the reality of the Rapture!
The apostle Paul also accepted the possibility that he would have to die and be separated from his physical body which he reveals in 2nd Corinthians 5:6, “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.” In verse 8 he confesses, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” This is a demonstration of genuine faith, “…for we walk by faith, not by sight.” From the beginning, his hope, and by association, the hope of the Church, was the coming of the Lord in the clouds of Heaven. The early
Christians were waiting for the Rapture to take place at any moment, just as we are today. Nevertheless, they fully accepted the possibility that they might have to die first.
The Glorified Body
What is the difference between dying now and being in the presence of the Lord, or not dying and being raptured into the presence of the Lord? We have already seen the desire expressed by Paul in 2nd Corinthians 5:4 to be “…clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.” In other words, to have their body instantaneously translated into the likeness of His glorious body, which believers are to receive the moment of the Rapture. Read Paul’s words: “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed, we shall not be found naked” (2nd Corinthians 5:2-3).
To understand this better, let us take a look at one of the mysteries that the Bible reveals in relation to the Rapture, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1st Corinthians 15:51-53). This will take place instantaneously. A Dutch translation says “…in an inseparable moment of time…” In simple words, this means that the bodies in which we now dwell have no promise or future on earth.
Knowledge Of Death Brings Wisdom
May we urge you, dear reader, to recognize that day by day, we are getting older. You may have more aches and pains and some parts of your body may not function like they used to. If you are physically fit, you can rest assure that it won’t last. As impossible as it may sound, do not despair-but rejoice, for the end of this very short earthly life is the beginning of eternity. We do well to heed the admonition found in Psalm 90:12, “… teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” When our hope and faith is anchored securely in Jesus and not in our own works, we can rejoice with the full assurance that the best is yet to come!
Glory Without The Body
For this reason, we should not spend too much time or energy promoting the healing of the body, as many prosperity preachers and healing ministries try to do. The Bible says “… it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” While the body is important, as we have seen in Moses’ case, we must understand that our flesh and blood are only part of the outer shell which contains the new person. All who have died in the Lord Jesus are already in His presence without their glorified bodies. This means they are not “made perfect.” They are saved for all eternity, are secure forever and are already experiencing the glory of the Lord. Yet they must wait until they receive their glorified body which will take place at the Rapture.
Receiving our glorified bodies also includes the Old Testament saints. Hebrews 11 is the chapter of faith that begins with its definition: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Followed by the definition is the testimony of a great host of saints who claimed the victory because they believed.
Verse 35 reveals the difference between physical resurrection unto life and the better resurrection unto eternal life, “Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.” The last two verses summarize their reason for waiting, “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, recieved not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:39- 40). In simple terms, the saints cannot be translated until the Bridegroom receives His Bride: The Church.
The Best Is Yet To Come
To further clarify this matter, we read again from 1st Thessalonians 4:15, “For we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.” What does it mean to “not prevent them which are asleep”? Luther translated it this way, “We shall not advance (or be ahead) of those who sleep.” Verse 16 concludes with the following statement, “… the dead in Christ shall rise first.” They have been waiting longer than us and will be the first to receive their glorified bodies.
At this point we must express to you a strong warning. When the Rapture does take place, it will be too late for you to belong to the Church. If you are not born again at that time you will definitely be left behind! The Rapture is the perfecting of the Bride of Christ. If you are left behind it will be too late to belong to the Church.
Dr. Wim Malgo used this example: “This change, the sudden renewal, will take place as quickly as the response of an electric lightbulb to the operation of a switch that is turned on. Suddenly, it is light! Only a moment before, the bulb looked grey and dismal but because it is connected to the power supply and the switch is operated, it is instantly transformed. This can be seen every evening in towns and cities everywhere, as thousands upon thousands of little glass bulbs are transformed in an instant when the switch is operated. This is a wonderful illustration of the transformation of God’s children when Jesus comes.”
Everything you have done for the Kingdom of God up until that point will count for eternity. In the same way, everything you have neglected to do or postponed will be a loss for all eternity!
No Endtime Signs For The Rapture
No signs will precede the coming Rapture. How vain is the attempt of man to think that he can pick the mind of the Almighty God by using mathematical theories to calculate the day of the Lord’s return? Many have been put to shame in the past and great damage has been done to the Church of Jesus Christ because some have tried to “figure out” the exact date of the Rapture. We may no the season that we are in, but none of us will know the exact date.
Waiting For Him Alone
Virtually all Bible-believing Christians agree that the Word of God warns us to be ready at any time. That being the case, any statement regarding the timing of the Rapture is contrary to Scripture. If someone tells us that the Rapture will take place at the beginning, middle, or even after the Great Tribulation, then we logically wouldn’t have to wait for the Lord today. If we are told to wait for something else to happen, such as the tribulation or the appearance of the Antichrist, our priority will shift: we do not need to wait for Jesus because something else is to take place first.
When we transfer this to the event of the Rapture, it becomes extremely dangerous because now we would have to change Titus 2:13 from, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,” to, “Looking for the coming of the Great Tribulation and the appearance of the Antichrist.” If that were true, we would have to wait for the beginning of the tribulation, or as recently popularized, the beginning of the Pre-wrath period.
Such an idea is extremely dangerous and diametrically opposes the teaching of the Holy Scripture.
Someone may object to this and say, “Hasn’t the Lord given us many signs that we should take notice of preceding His coming?” Yes, that is true. However, these signs were given for His physical coming to earth, or to be more precise, for Israel when He comes to the Mount of Olives. He was specifically addressing the people of Israel and gave them signs to notice. When He sent out His disciples, Jesus told them not to go to the Gentiles but only to the house of Israel because a promise was given to them that the kingdom of God would come on earth. In general, the signs of the Bible are given to the Jewish people, but the Jews themselves are a sign to us!
The fact that Israel became a nation in 1948, and is being established today as one of the power centers of the Middle East, indicates that the time is drawing near. We must heed the Lord’s words more than ever, “… when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).
(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)