The Way It Happened

Revelation 11:3-14, The Two Witnesses, V of V

These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. … But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on.

//Moses & Elijah, Peter & Paul, Ananus & Jesus. How did all these pairs get so tangled in John’s head? Who are the real two witnesses? Let me bring it all together with one final comparison. John may have put coincidences together in a way that conceals an under-the-surface meaning.

1 . First, you must understand that many rabbis taught that there would be not one Messiah, but two: A prophet and a king. Today’s reference of two olive trees and two lanpstands, which refers to the two witnesses, directly quotes from Zechariah, a primary text of the two-Messiah doctrine. The original “two witnesses,” from the book of Zechariah, are Zerubbabel, the king, and Jesus/Joshua, the high priest (Joshua is Jesus, both names English derivations of the same Hebrew name, Yeshua).

2 . As we saw in part IV, wartime priests and martyrs Jesus and Ananus became the inspiration for Revelation’s two witnesses.

3 . Merging (1) and (2), we end up with Jesus the king and Jesus the high priest, both of whom die ignominiously as the earth rumbles its displeasure and then rise from the dead after three days to ascend to heaven.  Does this sound a little like the entire New Testament theology wrapped up in one sentence?

I’m sure an entire book could be written about these two witnesses:  their fulfillment of the return of Elijah and Moses; their relation to the two-messiah doctrine spelled out in the book of Zechariah; their place in history as the priests Ananus and Jesus; the legends they helped inspire of Peter and Paul; and, finally, their merger into one, the Lord Jesus.  John certainly grinds a lot of mileage out of these few verses! John’s Gospel explains further that Jesus himself is the fulfillment of the expected arrival of both Moses and Elijah.

If you’d like a further discussion of this topic and how it intertwines with the message of Revelation, it’s all in my book: Revelation: The Way It Happened

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