The Two Witnesses

Throughout the Bible and throughout human history, there are two important entities that are credited with standing by the Lord. We see direct references to these two entities in many places throughout the scripture, and even more indirect illusions to these entities. There is powerful imagery used to highlight them and communicate their attributes, their work, their relationship to God, their impact in the world, and their legacy both on earth and in eternity. 

In one of the places that the Bible directly references these two entities it calls them "The Two Witnesses" - a clear explanation of one of their purposes on the earth - to provide a testimony to the plans and purposes of God and to make those plans and purposes known to the people of the earth who will listen. They are a testimony to the earth, a joy to those who hear, but a torment to the lost - those who refuse to listen.

Powerful symbolism is used to highlight the function of these two entities. They are called the two olive trees and the two lampstands. Lamps provide light and oil fuels the lamps. Their light is a light to the world, causing some to rejoice, but exposing the deeds of others, causing them anguish, and consequently anger and hatred.

These two are each made up of twelve smaller units. We also see the twelve and twelve scattered all throughout the Bible, both in the stories of the Old and New Testaments and throughout the symbolism and prophetic language of books like Daniel, Zechariah, and Revelation. 

We also see the two witnesses, the twelve and twelve, working hand in hand with God, and even ruling and reigning along side Him in the powerful imagery of the throne room in heaven.

We also see that there are thousands upon thousands of people who make up the twelve and twelve, who serve as God's witness and light, and who are rewarded with salvation.

So who are these two witnesses and the twelve and twelve of which each witness is comprised? 

The first witness, the chosen of God, who brought the word of God into the world is the nation of Israel. Comprised of twelve tribes, Israel provided the foundation to the Kingdom of God in the world. This witness is Judaism.

God promised Abraham that in his Seed, all the nations of the world would be blessed. And in keeping that promise, Christ was brought into the world as that Seed. And through the life, ministry, and work of Jesus Christ, the second witness was given: Christendom. Christ called the twelve disciples, who later became the twelve apostles and who spread the word throughout the world. 

Our two witnesses are Judaism and Christendom. One witness brought the Word into the world, one witness spread the Word throughout the world. 

Check out Zechariah chapter 4. It is a fantastic introduction to this entire concept. It starts with Zechariah being awoken by an angel who shows him a vision of two olive trees on either side of a lampstand and whose oil flows to the seven lamps of the lampstand. Chapter 4 ends with the angel interpreting the vision for Zechariah, explaining that the two olive trees are the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord all throughout the earth. 

In the new testament we are given additional clarity regarding the olive trees in Romans Chapter 11. In a discussion that highlights the challenges faced by Israel, the loss of some of them through unbelief, and also their salvation, Israel is called a cultivated olive tree, and that Christians, though a wild and uncultivated olive branch, are grafted into this olive tree by their faith. Romans 11 tells us that Israel will be saved and that Christianity should not boast of their salvation apart from Israel, for we have been grafted in - that both Israel and Christianity are important to God, that both will be saved, and that we should rejoice in God and in His wisdom, knowledge, and judgment.

Now take a look at Revelation Chapter 11. Here we are shown an incredibly clear picture of our Two Witnesses. The two witnesses will prophesy to the world. They will be powerful in that their prayers are heard by God and that He responds to their requests. It is clear that they are opposed by the world, and that many die in the cause of their mission, and that the world rejoices over their death, but that their resurrection is assured and they will be gathered into heaven with God while their enemies look on. 

Revelation Chapter 11 is also important to this discussion because it clearly reveals that the two witnesses are the two olive trees and the two lampstands (Rev 11:4). And in the same language as Zechariah 4, it declares that these are the two olive trees and lampstands that stand before the Lord of the whole earth. 

The twelve and twelve play an important role fulfilling all the plans and purposes of God. He does not do his work alone, we of the twelve and twelve play a part. 

In Revelation Chapter 4 we are given a tour of the throne room of heaven. Of course God is there at the center. Surrounding Him and His throne are 24 thrones upon which are seated 24 elders with golden crowns on their heads. Twelve and twelve are obviously 24. The scripture doesn't say specifically in this case that the 24 elders are the twelve tribes of Israel and twelve apostles of Christ, but a later verse in Revelation does provide this correlation for us. 

See Revelation 21:12 where John is shown the New Jerusalem as it came down from heaven. It is described as having twelve gates and twelve foundations. On the gates were written names of the twelve tribes of Israel and on the twelve foundation stones were written the twelve apostles of the Lamb. This symbology is incredibly powerful: the tribes of Israel provide the gates into the Kingdom of God and the apostles of Christ are it's foundation. (It may not be significant, but I do find it interesting that the verse address of that scripture of Revelation is 21 and 12)

So we can comfortably conclude that the 12 and 12 of the gates and foundations of New Jerusalem are the same 12 and 12 that surround the throne of God. These various references highlight the importance of the Jews and Christians to the plans and purposes of God.

The next important revelation is the count of the sealed and saved. Revelation 7:4 tells us that 144,000 is the number of those who were sealed, and that they came from every tribe of the sons of Israel. It is probably obvious that 144,000 is 12 times 12 times 1000. The number 1000 is used several times in scripture to mean a vast number and generally to mean "all", or "complete", or "the full number", and if you remember back to the fact that Christians, the wild olive branch, are grafted into the cultivated olive tree, then you'll know that both Jews and Christians make up this number. 

We see the 144,000 again in Revelation 14:1 where the Lamb is shown standing with those who have His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. So a vast amount, the full number, of those who are saved, coming from the twelve tribes of Israel, times the twelve apostles of Christ represent the number of the saved.

So when you are tempted to think that we as Christians or that the saved of Israel aren't a significant force on the earth and an important part of God's plan for salvation, or that the witnesses of Revelation are two "end times" characters that have some special power, instead be reminded that we Christians, along with the Jews, are one of the witnesses of God, both on earth, and in heaven. We are the ones anointed with the power to call down fire from heaven; we are the ones who rule and reign with the Father from the throne room of heaven; we are the ones who stand beside Him; and yes, we are the ones who are saved.