“And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire. Rev 11:3-6
We saw that one appearance of the two witnesses in Scripture was at the Transfiguration, with Messiah Yeshua. Moses and Elijah appeared with Him, as He shone with the glory that all will one day see upon Him (Mat 17:1-3). We saw that Moses represented the Law, or Judah, the Jews; and that Elijah represented the Spirit, or Ephraim, the Gentiles or Christians. The Law and the Spirit are not at odds in Messiah Yeshua’s kingdom. They are not opposites. But rather, those who are His, obey His Law by His Spirit, as both the prophets and the apostles attest.
The description of the two witnesses here in Revelation confirm their identity as the two who were transfigured with Jesus. Their power is to shut heaven so that no rain falls during the days of their prophecy. This is the power that was given to Elijah. And also, they have power to turn the waters into blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues. This is the power that was given to Moses.
I am not sure that Christians and Jews, witnessing of the LORD God and the Lord Jesus Christ, will literally turn water into blood. But I believe this symbolism is included here, to help us connect the two witnesses thematically with Moses and Elijah, who appeared with the Lord in His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration.
There is one other possibility for the two witnesses. There are two men, two prophets, and two witnesses, who witnessed the LORD’s truth to an unbelieving and idolatrous world, and were taken up alive into heaven. They did not taste death as they should have done as descendants of Adam. If they were to return, and witness, and then be killed as Rev 11 describes, they would partake of mortality as all of Adam’s descendants have done.
We will not know until it happens. It could happen both ways: the prophecy can be fulfilled by the witness of Christians and Jews for 1260 years, and it can be fulfilled by the return of Enoch and Elijah, before the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, as a warning to the unbelieving world.
Just one more note, about the two witnesses witnessing while they are clothed in sackcloth. Sackcloth is what people wore when they were in mourning for some great disaster or a death. It just so happens that if the two witnesses, Christians and Jews, have been witnessing for the past millennia or so, they have been doing so under the threat of death. Nominal Christians and compromising Jews do not come into the crosshairs of the kingdoms of this world. But those who are bold in their faith and their witness are the ones who suffer death at the hands of the corrupt Roman church, the Inquisition, Hitler, extremists, and every other agent used as a tool of the enemy to persecute the people of God.
Christine’s book The Revelation of Jesus Christ Revealed, based on these studies but greatly expanded, is now available at Revelation Revealed Online. You may also be interested in reading the Book Extras and joining in on the Discussion.