Revelation 11 calls the two: witnesses, olive trees, and lampstands. We discussed what could be meant by two witnesses in the last post: the Old and New Testaments (a testament is a testimony, or witness), or the Old and New Temples for the indwelling of the Spirit of God. Second, the two witnesses are also called two olive trees. These two olive trees appear before in Scripture:
- The house of Israel and the house of Judah – which together make up the twelve tribes of Israel – are said to be a green olive tree, planted by the Lord, in Jeremiah 11:16.
- Then in Zechariah 4, Zechariah sees a vision of a lampstand, with two olive trees who stand beside it, one on the right, and one on the left. A lampstand has been explained to us already in the book of Revelation: a lampstand is an ekklesia (church). By the end of the chapter, the angel tells Zechariah that the two olive trees are two anointed ones; literally, two sons of new oil (ponder that in light of Matthew 25:1-13), who stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
- Then Paul also speaks of two olive trees in Romans 11: one is the cultivated olive tree of Israel, whose sight has been temporarily blinded in part, so that they do not see their Messiah, and the second is the wild olive tree of the Gentiles, who by faith in the Messiah have been grafted into Israel, into the root of Israel. The root of Israel is Jesus, and one day, which has already begun, Israel’s blindness will be healed, and they will see their Messiah, and the two olive trees will become one olive tree with one root, Messiah Yeshua.
Called out of what? Called out of the world, to be a people holy to God, with citizenship in heaven rather than with the “kingdoms of this world,” to bear witness to the God of the whole earth to the fallen world. The called out are the chosen, the predestined, the elect. Perhaps “church” is not the best translation for ekklesia; for when we think of church, we think of a building where we go to partake in a set service; a church service. But ekklesia speaks of citizens of heaven who live a called out and set apart life. Not everyone who attends a church service lives such a life. So who are the two olive trees, the two lampstands, and the two witnesses?
To be continued …
Update: continued in Revelation 11: identity of the two witnesses, continued