The two men called the Two Witnesses in the Book of Revelation, chapter 11 play a pivotal role in fulfilling prophecies concerning the calling of humanity to repentance and the proclaiming of God the Father's good news message to the world. As we will see, the scriptures show that these two men will be given tremendous authority and spiritual power from God in order to accomplish their mission just before the first resurrection and the return of Jesus Christ to conquer the earth and establish the Kingdom of God. See Matt.24:14.
Because the actions of the Two Witnesses will have a dramatic impact on the whole world during their 3½ year ministry, it is important to understand who they are and why God will send them. Therefore, this study of the major prophecies concerning these two men is presented in a chronological order of prophetic events.
THE TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM
The building of a temple and the establishment of the sacrificial system of worship are required under the covenant that God made with national Israel at Mount Sinai and are central to the mission of the Two Witnesses and the fulfillment of many of the prophecies leading up to the first resurrection and the return of Christ. Therefore, it is important to have an overview of how the building of the temple will develop.
Daniel prophesied that the daily sacrifices would be stopped and an abomination will desecrate the holy place within the temple at the end of the age. The gospel of Matthew records that Jesus referred to this same event as being one of the signs leading to his coming. In order for the daily sacrifices to be stopped and the holy place to be desecrated, there are a minimum of three things that must exist in Jerusalem in accordance with the Sinai covenant: An altar for sacrifices, priests of the Aaronic bloodline to perform the sacrifices, and a temple with a holy place in it.
Because the temple is the focal point of the Two Witnesses' ministry, it must be concluded that the Aaronic priesthood will be established with a high priest to officiate over it and a temple will be constructed in Jerusalem before Christ returns. But, who will begin the process of building the temple and re-establishing the priesthood and the sacrificial system in Jerusalem?
THE RED HEIFER
One of the major signs that human rule on earth is rapidly coming to an end is the eventual discovery of the ashes of the red heifer, which were used by the Levitical Priesthood in various rituals. The reason this event is so important is that these ashes are necessary in order to reestablish the sacrificial system of worship at a temple in Jerusalem. Without these ashes, the sacrificial worship system specified under the covenant between the Creator God and national Israel can neither be established nor performed, which means no offering of atonement can be made to cover the sins of the people and the nation.
The finding of the ashes of the red heifer will be very exciting to Orthodox Jews who desperately want to begin the sacrificial system in order to reconcile themselves and the House of Judah to the Creator God. Another group of people who will be very excited about the finding of these ashes are those who understand the prophecies in the biblical record concerning the end of the age events and the importance of these ashes to the fulfillment of these events.
Of course, many people will be outraged by the institution of the sacrificial system enabled by the ashes of the red heifer. Among these people will be animal rights activists, professing Christians, followers of Muhammad who despise Jews and their religion, and major world powers which will view the establishment of a sacrificial system of worship in Jerusalem as a threat to political stability in the region.
The following information is not meant to set dates or to be an exhaustive explanation of the symbolic meaning of the red heifer; it is meant to provide an overview of one of the major events that will set the stage for the great tribulation and the Messiah's return.
The Ashes Disappear
Because the law of sacrifices under the first covenant with national Israel required the existence of the ashes of the red heifer as a prerequisite for the temple system to begin and continue its function, it is logical to assume that just before the destruction of the Temple by the Romans, the Priesthood hid the existing ashes of the red heifer. There is no record of these ashes being found and used after 70 A.D., so it is logical to conclude they still remain hidden, awaiting the proper time in God's plan for their discovery and use in a new temple.
During the First and Second Temples, the heifer's ashes were divided into three parts: one portion was given to the Levites guarding the Temple entrance; the second portion was stored on the Mount of Olives to be used in the purification of the priests; and the remaining third was placed in a wall which faced the Women's Gallery of the Temple. According to Numbers 19: 9-10, a portion of these ashes were to be kept outside the camp. These undistributed ashes may have been kept in reserve to mix with the ashes of the next sacrificial red heifer. Perhaps, these are the ashes that have been safely hidden for centuries.
Theories abound as to where these ashes are and a number of individuals have dedicated most of their lives and resources to finding them. Of course, they may well already be in the hands of the priesthood who are waiting for the right time to announce their discovery. It is certain that, without these ashes, there can be no lawful sacrificial system of worship established in Jerusalem.
The Red Heifer Altar
According to scripture, the red heifer must be sacrificed and burnt outside the camp (Num.19:3). Historical evidence, Jewish oral tradition, and rabbinical writings tell us that the place of sacrifice was about 2,000 cubits east of the Chamber of Hewn Stones, which was located on the left side of the altar of burnt offerings on the temple mount during the time of Herod's Temple (Middoth 5:4; Sanhedrin 11:2; Yoma 25a). This means that the place of sacrifice was somewhere near the top of the Mount of Olives, which is close to where Christ was crucified, according to the best scholarly sources and evidence.
The sacrificial law requires the red heifer be sacrificed and burnt in a clean place (Num.19:9). According to biblical law, a clean place is a place which has been purified and kept pure through sacrificial ritual. Since the sacrificial system of worship ceased in 70 A.D. with the destruction of the temple, there has not been a clean place within the nation of Israel. Therefore, in order for a clean place to be established for the sacrifice and burning of the next red heifer, the mixture of ashes from the previous heifers must be found and used to purify the place of sacrifice and burning.
If it were not for historical evidence, the proclivity of the priesthood to follow biblical law and oral tradition, and the prophecy about where the Messiah's feet will touch down when he returns to earth (Zech.14: 3-4), it would seem that the red heifer could be sacrificed and burnt anywhere outside the camp (i.e., Jerusalem).
The priesthood will most certainly put forth every effort to perform the sacrifice of the red heifer on the Mount of Olives, but much of the Mount of Olives is under the control of Arabs who are opposed to the Jewish religion, so if the location chosen for the sacrifice is controlled by the Arabs, there will have to be political, military, or supernatural intervention, or some other arrangement made in order to allow the priesthood continual access to this place of sacrifice.
The Coming Temple
The functioning of the sacrificial system requires a sanctuary and altars for sacrifice. After a sanctuary is built and furnished, it must still be dedicated and made acceptable for sacred use. One of the primary aspects of the setting apart of the sanctuary for sacred use involves the blood of the red heifer, which must be sacrificed outside the camp in a clean place, which can only be cleansed with the ashes of the red heifer that have been kept in perpetuity since the time of the sacrifice of the first red heifer. Without the blood of the red heifer, no temple can be dedicated. The following are four other reasons that finding the ashes of the red heifer are essential to the sacrificial system:
Sins of ignorance cannot be atoned for, unless there is a clean place cleansed by the ashes of the red heifer to burn the portions of this offering, which are not allowed to be burnt on the altar of sacrifices at the sanctuary. See Lev.4:1-12.
The ashes from the burnt offerings made at the sanctuary must be disposed of at a clean place, which has been cleansed by the ashes of the red heifer in compliance with the law of sacrifice. See Lev.6:8-11.
The test and curse for adultery cannot be performed without holy water, which requires the ashes of the red heifer. See. Num.5:17-28.
The water used to make a separation of the unclean from the clean (i.e., the unholy from the holy) and to expiate sin requires the ashes of the red heifer. Once the sin is expiated through the use of the holy water, the object or the person is in harmony with the realm of the sacred. See Num.19:9.
Building the Temple
The only real obstacle to building a temple for the worship of God in Jerusalem at this time is the stubbornness of the Levitical Priesthood and its supporters who adamantly refuse to consider any location for a temple but the Temple Mount where Herod's Temple was built. It is well known that a number of biblical scholars have shown beyond doubt that Solomon's Temple was not located on the Dome of the Rock or where Herod's Herod's Temple was built, but was located at a lower elevation at the City of David. Moreover, there is no biblical restriction as to where a temple may be built before the return of the Messiah.
The Last Red Heifer
It is said that the last red heifer appeared in a Gentile herd during the first century before the destruction of the Temple. According to rabbinical sources, no flawless red heifer has been born within the biblical land of Israel since 70 A.D.. If these accounts are true, the appearance of a red heifer in a Gentile herd and the absence of a flawless red heifer surely indicate that God is telling the house of Judah that a change has been made in the method of purification and atonement, pointing directly to the fulfillment of the prophecies of the promised Messiah (i.e., Christ).
There have been and still are a number of breeding projects, which are attempting to produce a pure red heifer for sacrifice. As interesting and well meaning as these projects are, according to Jewish oral tradition, when a red heifer was required for the continence of the sacrificial system, one simply appeared in the herds of Israel.
According to orthodox rabbis and scripture, the red heifer must be totally red, without physical defect, never been put under the yoke, and be three years old, otherwise it is unsuitable for sacrifice (Num.19:2; Jer.38:34). Some orthodox rabbis believe that, even as few as three black or white hairs or red hair mixed with any other color, renders the animal unacceptable for sacrifice. Although there seems to be some disagreement about how red is red, this will all be sorted out when God deems the time is right for the sacrifice.
Because God is guiding the events that lead up to the building of a new temple at Jerusalem, we can be sure that he will provide a red heifer at the right time without the intervention of humans.
Red Heifers Sacrificed
There are two opposing opinions as to how many red heifers have been sacrificed to date: One source says there have been seven and another says there have been nine. Either way, it is important to note that it is a rare sacrifice and the number of red heifers sacrificed is important from a symbolic and perhaps a prophetic point of view.
The biblical record was written by dozens of men over centuries of time, most of these men were not scholars, scientists, or mathematicians; however, an intricate mathematical pattern is found to exist from the first verse of scripture to the last.
Every word, sentence, phrase, and concept, pertaining to any given subject is linked together with a specific numerical value or mathematical equation which is unique to itself.
The mathematical construction of the Bible is beyond the ability of modern technology to reproduce and it is far beyond the realm of mere blind chance. The mathematical complexity and structure of the biblical record proves beyond a doubt that a supreme intelligence guided its construction. Therefore, we should consider the symbolic and prophetic symbolism of these sacrifices.
The number 7 is symbolic of perfection, completeness, finalization, or bringing to an end. The sacrifice of an eighth heifer would be significant, because the number 8 is primarily symbolic of a new beginning. When the Messiah returns he will end human rule on earth and begin the next phase of God's plan for the salvation of humanity.
The number 9 is symbolic of an end, conclusion, finality, and judgment. The sacrifice of a tenth heifer would also be significant, because the number 10 is symbolic of perfection of divine order, testimony, and the law. When the Messiah returns he will institute his heavenly Father's order and law over the entire earth.
The rules concerning exactly how the red heifer must be sacrificed and burnt are undoubtedly full of symbolic meaning, because the red heifer, as well as all the other animal sacrifices offered for sin or purification were in some way symbolic of the sacrifice of the Messiah and the expiation of sin. While explaining that Christ was the ultimate and final sacrifice for sin, the writer to the Hebrews makes the following summation:
"For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb.9:13-14).
Just as the red heifer was sacrificed outside the camp, the Messiah was sacrificed outside the city of Jerusalem, possibly on or near the very spot where Abraham was prepared to offer Isaac two thousand years earlier.
The theological debate over the importance of the red heifer's ashes will be short lived once the discovery of the ashes is made known. If, indeed, this is the end of this present phase of God's plan for the salvation of humanity, these ashes will be used to institute the sacrificial worship system. 1,150 days after the institution of sacrifices at the temple these sacrifices will be stopped and the greatest trouble the world has ever seen will begin in earnest as the Messiah begins to prepare the world for his return and rule.
For the purpose of understanding the sequence of events which will occur just before the great tribulation begins in preparation for the return of Christ, the essential thing to understand is that, if we are living in the end of the age just prior to the Messiah's return, the sacrifice of a red heifer must happen. Without this sacrifice, the fulfillment of prophecies concerning the sequence of events which must occur during the last 3 ½ years before Christ's return, will not go forward. However, once this sacrifice is made, the events that follow will irrevocably alter every aspect of human life on earth. From this time on, you must prepare in earnest to meet your maker.
For those who want to keep current on Jerusalem, the temple project, and the ashes of the red heifer, the following website is an excellent source of information: www.templemountfaithful.org
THE TEMPLE AND GOD'S PRESENCE
Historically, every time the Jews have turned back to God and his sacrificial system of worship, the Creator God has honored their effort with his presence. Therefore, it is a possibility that the Creator God, who became Christ, will honor their future attempt to honor him and will meet with them in the temple as he did anciently.
Within a relatively short time after the end of the age temple is completed, the armies of the Beast system will overrun the Jews. When this happens, the temple and the holiest of holies within this structure will be defiled. Because God cannot live with defilement, if his presence does come to reside in this end time temple, it will leave just as it did in the past before the temple was defiled. See Matt.24:15-16.
As the events leading up to Christ's return unfold, there will be intense opposition to Two Witnesses and others of the elect as they proclaim the coming Kingdom of God to be ruled by Jesus Christ.
THE PROPHET, GOVERNOR, AND HIGH PRIEST
"In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying: So speaks the Lord of hosts, saying, These people say, The time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built" (Hag.1:1-2 Para.).
The prophet Haggai brings a stern reprimand from God to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the high priest, regarding the lack of enthusiasm that they and the people of the house of Judah had for rebuilding his temple in which to perform his worship system. In the prophecies of Zechariah, these two individuals who were instrumental in rebuilding the temple and in establishing the sacrificial system of worship in Jerusalem (520 B.C.) are also symbolic of two prophetic individuals who will accomplish the same task just before the return of Christ.
"Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai saying, Is it a time for you, yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruin? Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: Give careful thought to the results of your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it" (Hag.1:3-6 Para.).
God sent Haggai the prophet to in essence tell them, Look, you are living in your luxurious homes and enjoying the good life, yet you are putting off rebuilding the temple (Hag.1:3-6). The point is that they had known for some time they should have been rebuilding the temple, but they had been procrastinating; therefore, God sent Haggai to command them to rebuild it.
The Jews in this age have known for many years that a temple should be built in Jerusalem and that God's sacrificial system of worship should be established, yet they have been procrastinating since the formation of the modern nation of Israel. They have ignored the clear instructions of God, just as their ancient ancestors did in the time of Haggai.
It is important to note that the ministries of Haggai and Zechariah covered some of the same time period. Therefore, in order to gain a clear picture of how God viewed the Jews' procrastination in not rebuilding his temple, how he reacted, and what he expected from that time forward, please read the rest of chapters 1 and 2 of Haggai. This information is important in understanding Zechariah's prophecies concerning the building of the temple in Jerusalem in the end of this age.
The Prophetic Zerubbabel
During the end of this age, the prophetic Zerubbabel (a government official in the Jewish nation of Israel) will receive a number of different messages from Jesus Christ concerning his call to repentance and salvation. Jesus Christ will also give him special authority, spiritual power, and responsibilities during the end of this age just before the first resurrection.
His Call and Authority
"The second time the word of the Lord came to Haggai in the 24th day of the ninth month, saying. Speak to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth; And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations; and I will overthrow their chariots, and their riders and horses, and their riders shall come down, each one by the sword of his brother. In that day, says the Lord of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel, my servant, son of Shealtiel, says the Lord, and will make you as a signet: for I have chosen you, says the Lord of hosts" (Hag.2:20-23 KJV Para.).
Clearly, this is a prophecy for the end of this age when God will shake the heavens and the earth causing great destruction. He will then conquer the nations of this world. Notice that Zerubbabel is called to be a signet (Hebrew: Sum hotam. English: an authorized seal) for God. This man is given the authority to use the awesome power of God in a discretionary manner in order to carry out his responsibilities during the end of the age.
His Power Over Nations
In order to understand this prophecy, keep in mind that all of this prophecy is in the context of a prophet being sent to command a governmental official in the Jewish nation to initiate the process of building the temple.
Whatever Zerubbabel is going to do for God, he is going to do it through the supernatural power God gives him:
"This is God's message to Zerubbabel. Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of Hosts. Who are you, O great mountain [government/nation]? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. And he will bring forth the capstone [a reference to Christ] to shouts of Grace! Grace to it. And the word of the Lord came to me [Zechariah] saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you" (Zech.4:6-9 Para.).
These verses show the awesome power over this world's nations the prophetic Zerubbabel will have. He will have a major role in the building of a temple in Jerusalem along with his participation in proclaiming the gospel message that will culminate in the first resurrection and Christ's triumphant return.
The prophecies of Zechariah leave little doubt that a high government official of the Jewish nation of Israel is the prophetic Zerubbabel who will initiate the building of the temple in Jerusalem. The prophecies also seem to show that he may be one of the two witnesses. But, if he is not one of the two witnesses, he is an extremely important and powerful man who will proclaim the gospel message to the world during the end of this age.
THE PROPHETIC JOSHUA
In the third chapter of Zechariah, we see a clear and easily understood prophecy concerning the conversion of the high priest of the temple in Jerusalem to true Christianity during the end of the age.
"Then he [God's messenger] showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this [Joshua] a burning stick snatched from the fire? And Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and he stood before the angel" (Zech.3:1-3 Para.). See also Amos 4:11.
Here, we see the prophetic Joshua in his capacity as the high priest. Besides the messenger and Joshua, Satan is present to accuse Joshua of wrongdoing. This prophetic Joshua is called a burning stick pulled out of the fire, which symbolically pictures him in the process of being destroyed because of his sinfulness; however, God has rescued him from eternal death for his own righteous purpose.
Notice that Joshua's garments are very dirty. This is another reference to the spiritual condition of this man prior to his conversion to true Christianity.
Joshua's Sins Forgiven
In verses 4 and 5, a prophet from God (the prophetic Zechariah) is directly involved in the events surrounding the high priest's conversion to a son of God under the new covenant:
"The angel [messenger] said to those who were standing before him, Take off his filthy clothes. Then he said to Joshua, See, I have taken away your sin [lawlessness], and I will cloth you with a change of ceremonial robes. Then I [Zechariah] said, Put a clean turban on his head. So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by" (Zech.3:4-5 Para.).
The angel (messenger) says that he has taken away this man's sins, and it is the prophet (the prophetic Zechariah) who says to place a clean turban on Joshua's head. The placing of the turban again shows that the prophet from God is very involved in the conversion process of the high priest.
Concerning the messenger noted in verses four and five, it must be understood that angels do not have the authority to forgive sins. There are only two beings shown in the scriptures who can remove sins: God the Father and Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ does this through the authority given to him by his Father. Because the Father will not come to earth until his plan for the salvation of humanity has been completed, this messenger must either be Jesus Christ or someone else who has been authorized to give this message of forgiveness to the high priest. (The prophet Nathan gave such a message to David and Isaiah gave such a message to Hezekiah).
"The angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua: This is what the Lord Almighty says: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you will judge my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place to walk among these standing here" (Zech.3: 6-7 Para.).
There are four extremely important things to note from verses 6-7:
The high priest has not been a righteous man, because he has lived his life as a Jew following the practices of Judaism, which are practices Jesus said were in opposition to the righteous ways of his heavenly Father. See Matt.3:7; 12:33-34; 15:7-9.
In order to continue in his office as high priest, this man must observe and practice the ways of righteousness that will have been revealed to him. And he must also perform the mission he will be given.
This man will be offered the awesome opportunity to represent God the Father and Jesus Christ, govern the household of God (the servants of God), be responsible for spiritual things of God on earth, and fellowship with the Father's earthly servants.
This man will have an awesome opportunity and an equally awesome responsibility. However, if he does not follow through with what he has been instructed to do, he will lose his eternal salvation, because whoever functions as the high priest in the end of the age is one of the Two Witnesses and will have the Father's holy spirit. Anyone who fails to follow God's ways after receiving the holy spirit will die the second death in the Lake of Fire. See Matt.13: 36-42; Rom.6:23; Rev.21:8.
THE THREE FROM BABYLON
Either just before or shortly after the temple has been constructed in Jerusalem, three individuals will come to the high priest bearing gold and silver to be used in the making of crowns for his use as he officiates in his capacity as high priest and one of the Two Witnesses.
The prophecy of the three men from Babylon is an extremely technical and difficult prophecy to understand. Perhaps, the only ones who will fully understand it before Christ returns are those who will be directly involved in its fulfillment. However, there is some important information regarding the high priest and his end of the age ministry that can be gained from studying this prophecy.
Zechariah 6:9-11, 14-15 Paraphrased
Because of the complexity of this prophecy, a paraphrased translation is used with notes and a literal translation is attached at the end of this chapter for those who want to make a more in-depth study of this specific prophecy.
"And the Lord spoke to me saying, Take of them, from the exiles Heldai, and from Tobijah, and from Jedaiah who have come from Babylon; and in that day you go and enter into the house of Josiah, the son of Zephaniah" (vs.9-10).
These three men come from among the ten scattered tribes of Israel (the exiles) who are collectively called Babylon because of the many paganized religious systems being practiced by these Israelitish nations.
"And take the silver and gold and make crowns, and set one on the head of Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest:" (v11).
The prophet whom God sends to deal with the high priest is responsible for taking the gold and silver and making crowns.
"And the crowns shall be for a memorial in the temple of the Lord for Helem, and to Tobijah, and Jedaiah, and to Hen, the son of Zephaniah" (v14).
There are four individuals mentioned who will be memorialized because of the good work they will have done in regard to the high priest and the temple.
"And the distant ones shall come and build in the temple of the Lord. And you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. And this shall be, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God" (v15).
An interesting thing to note in verse 15 is that the word you is in the plural form throughout, which suggests that a group of people are being addressed by the prophet. Whoever these three are who come from afar, they will either build in or on the temple.
There are two ways to view this passage. It refers to either the physical building of the temple or the building of spiritual things within an established spiritual entity, such as the body of Christ. See the attached notes with the literal translation of this text for more comments concerning this prophecy.
Zechariah 6:11 seems to support the premise that the crowns are the faith once delivered, which will become a memorial to these men in the temple (the end of the age church). If this is true, these three could be of the elect who come to Jerusalem and are instrumental in restoring the truth of God and bringing it to those who officiate over the priesthood.
Perhaps, the fourth man is a prophet of God and may, along with the other three, be instrumental in the conversion of the Two Witnesses by teaching them the restored truths of God.
It is obvious that these scriptures are speaking of a physical temple in Jerusalem at the time of the end. However, the last part of verse 14—"as a memorial in the temple of the Lord"—could refer to the spiritual temple of God, which is the elect (the church).
THE PROPHETIC OLIVE TREES
"Then the angel who had been talking with me woke me, as though I had been asleep. What do you see? he asked. I said, I see a golden lamp stand with seven lamps and a bowl on top of it with seven tubes that feed the seven lamps, and two olive trees are beside it, one on the right of the bowl and one on its left. And I spoke to the angel that was talking with me, and asked, What are these my lord? And he said to me, Do you not know what these are? And I said no my lord" (Zech.4:1-5 Para.).
In order to understand the prophetic meaning of verses 1 through 5, it is necessary to study verses 11 through 14, because they seem to be a continuation of the prophecy in verses 1 through 5:
"Then I asked the angel, What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lamp-stand? Again I asked him, "What are these two clusters of olives that are beside the two golden pipes emptying the golden oil from themselves? He replied, Do you not know what these are? No, my lord, I said. So he said, These are the two sons of fresh oil who stand by the Lord of the whole earth" (Zech.4:11-14 Para.).
The Two Olive Trees
Trees are often symbolic of men or people and the olive tree is sometimes symbolic of righteousness and that which endures; therefore, it seems logical that the trees represent two righteous men.
Because the angel says that the olive trees are two individuals who are at the right and left side of God, it can be assumed that these two play an extremely important role in the plan of God for the salvation of humanity.
The Hebrew word translated 'lamp-stand' is 'manora', which is the Hebrew word for the lamp-stand that stood in the ancient temple.
The Oil and the Lamp-Stand
The seven lamps are light-givers and because this is a prophecy for the end of the age, it seems logical that the seven lamps are symbolic of the seven churches and/or seven spiritual leaders that exist and give spiritual light to the world just before Christ returns. See Rev.1:12,20; 2:1.
The bowl at the top of the lamp-stand is a reservoir holding the golden oil, which comes from clusters of olives on the two olive trees (i.e., the fruit of the two trees). The Hebrew word for fresh oil noted in verse 14 is 'yitsar', which refers to fresh oil used for cooking and in lamps to give light.
Many hold the belief that this golden oil is symbolic of the holy spirit; however, the holy spirit comes from God the Father and this fresh oil comes from these two men who serve the Lord of the earth (Jesus Christ) at his right and left hand through the clusters of olives. Therefore, it seems logical that the fresh oil is spiritual insight, knowledge, and understanding that is directed through these two men to the seven churches (i.e., the elect) who will use this spiritual enlightenment to fulfill their functions and responsibilities.
THE MINISTRY OF THE TWO WITNESSES
Revelation 11:3-14, Literal Translation
"And I will give to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lamp-stands [candlesticks] before the Lord of the earth" (vs.3-4).
This is absolute proof that the two olive trees that are noted in Zechariah 4:1-5, 11-14 are symbolic of the two witnesses. Because Zechariah 3:1-10 clearly shows that the high priest who will officiate in a temple in Jerusalem is a direct representative of Jesus Christ, he is most likely one of the Two Witnesses.
These two men will have powerful protection from all their enemies as they proclaim God's message and cause tremendous destruction on the earth through the use of their supernatural spiritual power, in order to prove that what they say is from God. These two men will have the spiritual power to destroy anyone who attempts to stop them from completing their ministry:
"And if anyone desires to harm them, fire comes out of their mouth and devours their enemies. And if any one desires to harm them, so it is right for him to be killed" (v5).
"These have the authority to shut up the heaven, that no rain may rain in the days of their prophecy [3½ years]. And they have authority over the waters, to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire" (v6).
Their proclamation of the gospel as a witness and warning to the world will be accomplished over a period of 3½ years and will be performed with unimaginable power, signs, and wonders.
"And when they complete their witness, the beast coming up out of the abyss will make war with them, and will overcome them, and kill them" (v7).
Only after their mission is complete will God allow them to be killed by the Beast, but only for the purpose of showing that their witness was true and that they were indeed sent from the true God.
"And their bodies will be on the street of that great city, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where our lord was crucified" (v8).
After they are murdered by the leaders of the Beast system in Jerusalem, their bodies will be left to lie in the street.
"And some from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will see their dead bodies for three and a half days and refuse them burial. And the inhabitants of the earth will rejoice, and celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth" (vs.9-10).
After killing the Two Witnesses, the world will gloat and celebrate, because these two troublemakers who brought so much physical and economic destruction to the world are dead.
"And after the three and a half days a spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear struck those who saw them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them [the Two Witnesses] Come up here. And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies watched" (vs.11-12).
Because these two men will have been dead for 3½ days, it is easy to imagine the fear and terror that will grip those who see them come back to life, hear a voice from heaven calling to them, and watch them rise through the air and disappear in the clouds.
"And in that hour was a great earthquake and a tenth part of the city fell. And seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, seven thousand names of men, and the rest became terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven" (v13).
Throughout the ministry of these two witnesses, God will bring various types of plagues upon the earth as punishment upon his covenant people and the rest of the world for their wickedness. He will also call for them to repent and be saved from his wrath that will soon come in great fury upon all of humanity. Shortly after the death of the Two Witnesses, there will be a great earthquake that will clearly show that the God of the Two Witnesses is not finished with his punishment of the wicked and that there is more death and destruction to come.
"The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon" (v14).
As these events unfold in rapid succession, the festive attitude of the people will suddenly turn to terror and panic as they realize that more devastating plagues are coming.
Just before the first resurrection and Christ's return as Conquering King to establish his Father's Kingdom and during the end of this age of human rule on earth, there will be two dynamic and powerful men who will proclaim God the Father's good news message from Jerusalem. One of these men will be the high priest who presides over the temple worship system in Jerusalem. Although there is no concrete scriptural proof, it is likely that the governmental official in Israel who initiates the building of the temple will also be one of the two men who proclaim the gospel from Jerusalem.
Because both of these men will be God's direct representatives on earth, it can safely be assumed that they will become sons of the Father's new creation sometime before the beginning of their collective ministry. Together with the congregations of God scattered throughout the world, these two will preach a powerful warning message of repentance to the house of Judah (the Jews/Israelis), the house of Israel (the ten scattered tribes of Israel), and the world at large.
Zechariah 6:9-15 Literal Translation
"And the word of He Is was to me [i.e., Zechariah, 'Yah has remembered'], saying, Take from the exile: from Heldai [my durations], and from Tobijah [my good is Yah], and from Jedaiah [Yah has known] and you [the prophet] will come in that day, and you will come to the house of Josiah [Yah will support], the son of Zephaniah [Yah has treasured/hidden] who have come from Babylon" (vs.9-10).
"And you shall take silver and gold and make crowns, and you [the prophet] will place on the head of Joshua [He Is, is salvation] the son of Jehozadak [He Is, has been righteous], the great priest" (v11).
"And say to him [the high priest]: Thus said He Is armies, saying, Behold a man—Tsemah [sprout/growth] is his name, and from under him [Tsemah] it will sprout, and he will build the temple of He Is" (v12).
"And he [the prophetic Zerubbabel] will build the temple of He Is. And he will carry splendor and he will sit and rule on his throne and a council [abstract noun, not a person] of peace shall be between the two of them [the priest and his throne]" (v13).
"And the crowns will be for Helem [a dream], and to Tobijah [my good is Yah], and Jedaiah [Yah has known], and to Hen [grace], the son of Zephaniah [Yah has treasured /hidden] for a memorial in the temple of He Is" (v14).
"And the distant ones will come and they will build in/on the temple of He Is and you [plural] will know that He Is armies has sent me [the prophet] to you [plural]. And it will be so if you [plural] listen well to the voice of He Is; your God" (v15).